The last shuttle

Roamy here.  The rollout of STS-135 was a little delayed, so I shanghaied my son into taking my picture with the astronauts.  Then we ate some messy ice cream and waited some more.  Bought a couple of T-shirts.  The sun had sunk behind the Vehicle Assembly Building.  We could see the stack, waiting for its journey out to the launchpad.

And finally, FINALLY, the last rollout of Atlantis began.  The flood lights hit the vehicle, turning the orange External Tank a pale yellow and the white tiles of the orbiter incandescent.

We cheered, but it was still a bittersweet moment.

Godspeed Atlantis.

President Obama to Award Medal of Honor | You Served® – Veteran and Military Blog and Military Podcast

On July 12th, President Barack Obama will award Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Sergeant First Class Petry will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan in May, 2008. He will be the second living, active duty service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sergeant First Class Petry’s wife, Ashley, and other family members will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

via President Obama to Award Medal of Honor | You Served® – Veteran and Military Blog and Military Podcast.

Dempsey’s Plans for a Better Army

Craig here.

I’ll give this report from Inside Defense a grain of salt.  But the article is at least worth a quick read.

A draft version of Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey’s “Intent for the Army” lays out a host of markers for the service on everything from acquisition to uniforms, while sketching a narrative about the need for flexibility in the face of budget constraints.

New uniforms?  Oh, not again!

According to the article the memo is scheduled for release on June 15, on the Army’s 235th birthday.  What makes this high level statement important is the lineup of the planets at this time.  The Army WILL downsize, there’s just no way around that.  And the Army WILL retain significant operational commitments in active theaters of war.  So this document might well form the plan, from the Army’s perspective, to close out the current wars, transition off the wartime mobilization, and at the same time step up for the “third war” or “fourth war” which seem to loom on the horizon.

I struggle to find even a single historical parallel that matches the situation.  Even in the closing stages of World War II, when everyone in the room knew “the bear” would be the next opponent, nobody considered a “Win-Downsize-Reorganize-Remobilize” cycle.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have used Sherman tanks in Korea.  So I’m interested to see what experiences the paper draws upon.

As the article notes, the draft follows many earlier public statements by General Dempsey.  He’s  already “called his punches” here.  But there are two paragraphs that caught my attention in the article.

In the area of acquisition, the draft document picks up the oft-cited theme of buying new equipment more often but in lower quantities. The idea goes against the traditional acquisition process of large-scale procurements that offered little chance for in-process modifications to weapon systems.

If there is a dead horse worth beating, it is the inadequacies of the current acquisition system.   But let’s hate the game, not the players here.  I know many working in the acquisition process.  And they will agree something’s got to change.

The other paragraph catching my attention discussed this “Building Partner Capacity” (BPC) mission:

The concept of building partner capacity rests on the idea that U.S. intervention in global crises can be limited by picking factions most aligned with American interests and providing them with material support and training. Such is the case in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the Army has supported fledgling government forces to help them fend off bloody insurgencies.

Perhaps the old guard has finally dropped that 90’s term “nation building” here?   I recall those long, boring lectures about this “new facet” to Army operations that emerged from the dust as the iron curtain collapsed.  The new spin here is that part about “picking factions.”  The old “nation building” notion prescribed a non-affiliated and non-partisan peacekeeper force that would naturally work through the complexities to forge a new “happy land” out there in which the Krasnovians and Mojavians would hold hands and live together in harmony.  Yea, right….

The approach to BPC will emphasize “rule of law” and “anti-corruption.”  That means the national command authority has got to invest a lot of confidence in decisions made on the ground by guys with bars and stripes on their collars.  Those junior leaders will be in effect “picking factions” that will define the BPC engagement.  This also puts the Army in the role of consciously defining the future of the “partner.” All this, of course, when the same Army practically has “apolitical” enshrined as a core value.

I’m interested to see the doctrinal changes this approach brings, as well as the changes to leadership methods.  The bigger question, of course, is how much of this would General Dempsey carry forward as the Chairman of the JCS.

Gallup: Vets and active-duty military rate Obama lower than civilians « Hot Air

Color me shocked.


Gallup: Vets and active-duty military rate Obama lower than civilians « Hot A

The military isn’t a monolithic bloc of conservative voters. Lots of troops aren’t political at all. But there is a decided conservative slant to the culture.

Having said that, you’d THINK the military would be an almost ideal recruiting ground for liberals. It is full of young, idealistic people who are motivated enough to take action to achieve their goals. It has long been the most minority-friendly employer out there, where people can rise based on competence and effort, not political connections.


Memorial Day

I posted this two years ago, and frankly, I don’t think I can really improve on it-XBradTC

Today is Memorial Day. Today is the day we remember all those who gave their lives in the service of this great nation.

Most of us have seen pictures or film of Arlington National Cemetery, or perhaps the beautiful National Cemetery of the Pacific, better known as The Puchbowl.

Of course, over the last 7 years, we’ve seen servicemembers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq come home to be laid to rest. The older folks among us remember the constant stream of casualties brought home from Vietnam.

Today, if you are killed in action, you will be escorted all the way home, from the battlefield to your final resting place. The Air Force will fly you from the theater of operations to Dover, Delaware. You may well be the only cargo on the entire aircraft. A servicemember will accompany you from Dover to your hometown, or to Arlington, or wherever it is that will be your grave.

But it was not always thus. In WWI and in WWII, thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen made the ultimate sacrifice far from our shores. Thousands upon thousands of American men died in the fields of Europe. They were usually buried very near where they fell, in crude, makeshift graves, with perhaps a single wooden slab as a marker. After the fighting had moved on, they were disinterred, and moved to more permanent cemeteries. After the war, the US government offered to disinter these heroes again, to bring them home to our native land. Many were brought home. But many families, for many reasons, chose to let them rest where they were. And so, throughout Europe, there are cemeteries.

The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains these tiny patches of American soil, paid for and consecrated with that most precious currency, the blood of patriots. If you find yourself traveling to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, or one of the other nations with an American cemetery, by all means, go visit. It is a moving experience.

And even if you aren’t in Europe today, please, enjoy the day off, enjoy the BBQ and cocktails with friends. Enjoy the sales at the store. By all means, do so.  But take just a moment, please, to remember those who answered their nations call, and gave the last full measure of devotion.

Many thanks to an anonymous reader of Neptunus Lex for the use of the photos.

I would like to add this- when our fallen troops come home, their “other family” the soldiers still fighting, feel a hole where they used to be. It is a small comfort to have a memorial service for them in their unit. I’ve been to a couple. A couple too many. But like everything else in the service, there’s a ceremony that is enshrined in tradition. The same template is used across the Army, and across the years. It gives soldiers a chance to say farewell to comrades in arms, before turning back to their duty. Time Magazine’s Viewpoint column has a post by Rajiv Srinivasan, a former Stryker platoon leader, about this ceremony. 

Bari Weiss: David Mamet’s Coming Out Party –

Hear him take on the left’s sacred cows. Diversity is a “commodity.” College is nothing more than “Socialist Camp.” Liberalism is like roulette addiction. Toyota’s Prius, he tells me, is an “anti-chick magnet” and “ugly as a dogcatcher’s butt.” Hollywood liberals—his former crowd—once embraced Communism “because they hadn’t invented Pilates yet.” Oh, and good radio isn’t NPR (“National Palestinian Radio”) but Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt.

via Bari Weiss: David Mamet’s Coming Out Party –