Well, crap.

Just as I start to get back to posting regularly, I’m losing my internet connection. Posting will be sporadic at best.

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I’ll check in when I can.

News Flash! The Air Force has more comforts than the Army

A mere 63 years after the establishment of the US Air Force, Stars and Stripes Newspaper catches on that the folks in the Air Force often have it a bit more cushy than the folks in the Army.

The second major difference between the services is that the Air Force makes quality of life a prerequisite for completing the mission. It expects to have basic upgrades like showers, air-conditioned sleeping tents and latrine tents in place within three days of airmen’s arrival.

“If you take care of the people, the people will take care of the mission,” Butler said.

For example, he said, pilots must be rested to do their demanding job. They need a quiet, cool place to sleep and to get ready for their next combat mission.

“It’s not a luxury,” Butler said. “It’s absolutely necessary so our pilots and our technicians can provide the services they provide.”

Included with the rest of the equipment and supplies labeled war-readiness material that the Air Force had pre-positioned in the Middle East before the Iraq conflict were enough “housekeeping sets” to support 1,100 troops at each location.

Those sets include 12-man air-conditioned tents, dining tents, toilet tents and shower tents.

“Those housekeeping sets need to be there before troops deploy. That’s the best-case scenario,” Butler said.

This “news” will hardly come as a surprise to anyone who’s been in the service (though seeing just how MUCH nicer the Air Force tends to have it can be a bit of a shock). It’s just a fact of life. There’s an old joke that the first thing the Air Force builds when it opens a new base is the golf course and the swimming pool. The very last thing they’ll build is the runways. They know good and well Congress will eventually fund those.

Of course, I have to admit thinking that many of the troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan actually have much nicer quarters than I ever had in the field. Every time I went into the field, my “housing” was either carried in my rucksack, or at best was the inside of an armored vehicle.

Any place you go, there’s always someone an echelon behind you, and guess what? They have it better than you. The flip side of the coin is that there’s almost always someone who has it worse than you. It just isn’t very emotionally rewarding to complain about that, though.

Segway Company Owner saves uncounted lives.

I saw the bit in the news about the owner of the company that currently makes the Segway, James Heselden, fell to his death off a cliff while on his personal Segway. Other than a chuckle about the irony of it. But what I didn’t realize was that Mr. Heselden invented a product has saved untold numbers of American and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Hesco barrier is the modern replacement for the sandbag. A simple open box reinforced with wire, the Hesco is versatile, cheap, reusable, and very good at stopping bullets, RPGs, car bombs, fragments and virtually every other direct fire threat to troops.  It is somewhat amazing that no one thought up the Hesco Barrier before, but they are ubiquitous now, and saving lives every day. Their light weight (before you add dirt, of course) and low cost has allowed our outposts to be fortified to a level that was previously unheard of. We’ll never know just how many lives have been saved by Hescos, but it is surely hundreds, and probably thousands.

Set up for failure?

Via NepLex, the Washington Post has an editorial that says that Obama’s minimal addition of troops to the surge in Afghanistan may not have been so much a strategy of minimalism, but a check-the-box exercise intended to generate an excuse to cut and run.

Perhaps the most damning assessment of the president comes from Gen. Lute, who Mr. Woodward says concluded that “Obama had to do this 18-month surge just to demonstrate, in effect, that it couldn’t be done . . . the president had treated the military as another political constituency that had to be accommodated.”

Apparently, being Commander-in-Chief is a distraction for golf and driving the economy into the ditch.

Did you ever kill anyone?

That was the question put to the wonderful wordsmith, Neptunus Lex.  Indeed, it was a question put to him under, shall we say, inappropriate circumstances, from an almost complete stranger.

His answer:

I took a moment to reply, before responding, “This is not a question we ask even of each other.” Nor was this a conversation I wanted to be in.

I’ll just say this. My father and I never discussed his wartime experiences until after I came home from mine. We went to lunch one day, and over clam chowder, discussed our wars. And never spoke of them again.

His interrogator then when on to state that she was a pacifist- against violence and whatnot.

I’ll tell you my take on pacifism. People that tell you they are pacifists will say there is nothing worth fighting for. Wrong. They just haven’t found something worth fighting for. I’m willing to bet I could find something they’d be willing to resort to violence to protect. Their home, their spouse, their children. Something. And if that’s the case, their purported pacifistic stance is a fraud.

The state of the Army

The US Army has been constantly at war since 2001. For nine years now, the Army has fought active campaigns on two separate fronts, and conducted warlike missions across the globe. The soldiers of the Army have endured a deployment rotation schedule that was unimaginable during my time of service. They have been hardened by combat, and seen their efforts sneered at by liberal and elites that have little comprehension of the hardships they face, and less inclination to learn.

The Army has changed in many ways. Virtually every piece of personal equipment a soldier uses today was not in the inventory, or at least not in widespread issue, in 2001. The  tasks and missions a soldier is called upon to execute today are far, far more complex than those an infantryman of the Cold War was expected to train for. But for all the changes in the force today, the basics are almost immutable. Learn how to shoot, move and communicate, and you can adapt and overcome anything else. Much of the Army’s training of late has been focused on CounterInsurgency Warfare. But we’re starting to see the Army lean back a little to conventional warfare (what the Army’s current doctrine calls “Full Spectrum Warfare”).

If a world crisis erupts affecting national security, the first U.S. unit ordered into action would almost certainly be the 82nd Airborne. The division is the nation’s designated “global response force” — what paratroopers call “the president’s 911 call.” One brigade is designated to be first on call — at the moment, the 3rd Brigade.

The paratroopers could be ordered to support special operations forces attempting to rescue civilians held by terrorists, or to assist an ally’s troops in a military crisis. They also could be sent to assist civilians in a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.

They could face a showdown with a conventional army as well, Korb said. For instance, the Obama administration has said that military action against Iran is an option if that country continues to develop nuclear weapons.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Army is currently trying to read the tea leaves and discern what types of war it will have to fight in the future, and it will quite likely be a hybrid of conventional war and insurgency.

From the LA Times article:

“This is about as hard as it gets,” LaNeve said as his paratroopers boarded their planes. “If you can get this right, you can do anything.”

Like I’ve said before, it is a heck of a lot easier for a conventional force to downshift to COIN warfare than for a COIN force to cope with conventional war.