Combat approach

The C-130 is the backbone of USAF tactical airlift. But it is vulnerable to small arms fire during takeoff and landing. To minimize this vulnerability, they routinely use a technique known as an assault landing. Let’s just say it isn’t your usual approach into DFW or ORD.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq5LtIcxHTc&feature=player_embedded#!]

Spotted over at Eric Palmer’s place.

Book Reviews?

Sorry for the absence. Limited internet access and all that. And worse, I just haven’t found a lot of stuff I want to comment on.

I do have an idea for a couple of book reviews though. I read “Kaboom” recently, and owe it a review, especially since my copy came courtesy of the publisher.

I’m also rereading the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber. Any CS Forrester fans would feel pretty much at home with these.

And finally, my sister is so upset by my lack of posting, she wants to write some book reviews, most of which would be outside the primary focus of this blog, but interesting nonetheless. I told her to hurry up, so I can at least post something…

Takin’ it to the streets…

I’m a little surprised this hasn’t been done on a more systematic basis before this:

A tough-talking, muscular Los Angeles police sergeant steadily rattled off tips to a young Marine riding shotgun as they raced in a patrol car to a drug bust: Be aware of your surroundings. Watch people’s body language. Build rapport.

Marine Lt. Andrew Abbott, 23, took it all in as he peered out at the graffiti-covered buildings, knowing that the lessons he learned recently in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods could help him soon in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“People are the center of gravity and if you do everything you can to protect them, then they’ll protect you,” he said. “That’s something true here and pretty much everywhere.”

Abbott was among 70 Camp Pendleton Marines in a training exercise that aims to adapt the investigative techniques the LAPD has used for decades against violent street gangs to take on the Taliban more as a powerful drug-trafficking mob than an insurgency.

Counter-insurgency warfare is often low-intensity conflict. Very rarely do the Taliban attempt to decisively engage our forces. More often, they attempt to inflict casualties, and melt away. The purpose is to show not that they are in control, but rather that our forces are not and cannot be in control. That’s classic guerrilla warfare.

The key to defeating that type of warfare is intelligence. And the key to generating that intelligence is the local population. The local population is the base of support for the insurgents. They either provide support willingly, or they are coerced into it. Until our forces can provide services and security that convince the local population that the benefits of cooperation with us outweighs the risks of it, they will continue to provide some level of support to the insurgents.

The LAPD is well accustomed to patrolling in areas with less than, shall we say, whole-hearted support for them. They have made good inroads in convincing the local folks to support them, and curtail their support for criminal elements. And while there are obviously huge cultural differences between SouthCentral, and Khandahar, there is an even larger cultural gulf between the normal light infantry warrior culture and that of a police department. Giving these Marines a practical exposure to how they think can only help them as they turn to their duties in Afghanistan. Here’s hoping this program becomes more widespread.

5 Stars?

DB Grady, writing at The Atlantic, proposes promoting GEN David Petraeus to 5 star rank:

For that reason, and because President Obama has recommitted this nation to war in Afghanistan and the continued campaign in Iraq, General Petraeus should be promoted to General of the Army, and given a fifth star.

He would be the first man to hold that rank since the revered Omar Bradley in 1950. It would require authorization by the president and confirmation by the Senate. In practice it wouldn’t change the job of General Petraeus. But it would not only show that President Obama believes in Petraeus — that he’s not simply throwing America’s best general into the arena for political expediency — but would also reassure soldiers and civilians alike that this White House expects this man to win. This man’s plan to work.

Um… how can I put this politely?

No.

There’s currently about 95,000 troops in A-stan. Let’s call it the functional equivalent of a field army ( a field army is the higher headquarters of two or more corps in a theater). By all rights, that should be a 3-star job. Heck, Bradley fought almost all of the war in Europe as a LTG (3-stars), and was only promoted to GEN at the very end of the campaign, in spite of commanding a force larger than today’s US Army. Indeed, the only real reason Bradley received a 5th star was to ensure that as Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff he outranked MacArthur, his subordinate in the Far East commanding the troops in Korea.

Normally, the 4-star commander would be CENTCOM, the combatant commander for the region. But due to the fact that CENTCOM is fighting two different wars in its area of responsibility, the US has taken the unusual step of appointing two intermediate theater commanders, one for Afghanistan, and one for Iraq, as the immediate subordinates for CENTCOM. Promoting Petraeus to General of the Army would be a serious case of grade inflation.

Further, one of the problems the services all face right now is grade inflation across the board. There have been increasing numbers of general and flag officers for the services since World War II, despite the fact that the services have shrunk to a fraction of their former size.

It was one thing to have 5-star generals (and admirals) when the armed forces were almost 10% of the population. But today’s army is less then 10% of the size it was in WWII. If I were in charge, there’d only be two 4-stars in each service. And none of the combatant commanders, with the possible exception of PACOM, would be 4 star billets.  I’d also probably bump back corps command to a two-star billet. And you wouldn’t believe the number of GO/FO slots on the institutional side I’d get rid of. Given that there’s only 10 division equivalents in the active force, I can’t really think of any reason we need more than about 20 Major Generals.

Mind you, I don’t want anyone to think this is any criticism of GEN Petraeus. It isn’t. But the bureaucratic bloat in the services is getting to be as bad as any other department of the government, and promoting officers to ever higher levels for no good reason isn’t going to help that situation.

Load HEAT

I like fit women. Not enough to work out in a vain attempt to attract one, mind you. But I like ’em.

And as our recent discovery of a spy ring has shown us, many of the former Soviet Union’s wimmens are not only fit, but cute as a button as well.

This week’s Hottie, Maria Sharapova, may not be a spy, but I’m pretty sure she could convince me to collaborate on some undercover work…

Inspired by a post at The Brea Canyon Monument.

Independence Day

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[71] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries andusurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such disolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.