Jedi Knights and the Clone Wars

Upon successful completion of the Army’s Command and General Staff School, a small percentage of students are retained to attend the School of Advanced Military Studies, or SAMS. SAMS graduates are prized staff members of key commands, and form the intellectual backbone of those staffs. They are the subject matter experts on operational planning at the division, corps, and theater level of warfare. They are also informally known as “Jedi Knights.”

So what does a Jedi Knight think of the George Lucas’ Clone Wars?

Not only did the clone troopers literally wade slowly forward into battle without using any cover while firing their weapons from the hip, there was no sign whatsoever of any coordination among them. It was a vastly scaled up brawl of millions of individual fights rather than a cohesive battle. They continually inserted fresh troops directly into the middle of the battle rather than in a safe landing zone or better yet, to maneuver for the enemy flank. Even when Yoda or others give commands, they are directing individual weapons systems to fire on a particular target, not to establish the synergy of combined arms and maneuvering units. A special team of commandos linked up with Mace Windu and he led them on a charge directly into the center of the battle! Countless clone troopers marched into a the machine onslaught. Every droid they destroyed could be easily replaced on an assembly line at a comparable rate. The only attempt to break with attrition style warfare was led by Obi-Wan Kenobi by pursuing the escaping leaders, but again is attributable to the Jedi’s preferred individual role and not an attempt to guide the army.

Be sure to also see his take on the underlying flaws with the choice of the Jedi to lead the Clone Army and why the campaign was doomed to failure.

Astronaut will spin tunes from space |

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will host a two-hour special radio broadcast on the Internet radio station Third Rock Radio while aboard the International Space Station. “The Joe Show: New Rock from Space” will debut at 3 p.m. CDT on Aug. 3.

via Astronaut will spin tunes from space |

This got me thinking about all the music the astronauts choose. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong is a popular choice for a wake-up call. An iPod or portable CD player with earbuds helps make the exercise time go by faster. We’ve heard flute, guitar, keyboard, and even didgeridoo from ISS.

What music would you play if you were DJ?

UK Experts To Assist In Destruction of Saddam Hussein's Remaining Stores of Chemical Weapons


Yes, you read that correctly. Not even a hint of acknowledgement in this AP report that the question of Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare stocks is something of a contentious point in US and world politics.

So, these chemical weapons will be destroyed, without anyone much bothering to note that they exist.

via Ace of Spades HQ.

These are not the droids you’re looking for…


I often disagree with Galrahn at Information Dissemination, but I also greatly enjoy his work and especially the thought provoking discussions in the comments over there.

Two great posts over there right now. First, the challenge for the Army to be expeditionary in light of the “Pacific Pivot” strategy.  The challenge is finding a way to make the Army light enough to deploy, and yet heavy enough not to get blown off the map. Obviously, I disagree with G on how best to achieve that. But I’m not blind to the fact that it IS a challenge.

Second, a look at what the fleet’s disposition will be in coming years. G looks at the various theaters, and the expected forces that will be available to them.

The pivot to the Pacific has completed, and this major pivot ends up being 4 Littoral Combat Ships, 3 amphibious ships, and 2 Joint High Speed Vessels. I am very unclear how the politics of the pivot to Asia somehow became a public diplomacy centered around the maritime domain with the US Navy doesn’t even move a single major surface combatant or submarine to the Pacific as part of this touted pivot.

The obvious answer to G’s question in that paragraph is that the Navy learned its lessons about forward basing prior to World War II. It’s arguably safer to forward deploy, than to forward base.  The Japanese were capable of striking Pearl Harbor. If the fleet in December ‘41 had been stationed in San Diego (as the commander wished), they wouldn’t have been able to gut the heart of the fleet. The inherent Mahanian flexibility of a fleet is its ability to move to where the action is.

What *is* that thing?

Working on an Army base, I’m used to seeing all kinds of airplanes and helicopters and now drones. But seeing this thing flying around made me wish for a pair of binoculars.

The Huntsville Times obliged with a nice article about this Siamese twin of an aircraft. It’s a Eurocopter X3, with the VTOL of a helicopter and a maximum speed of 232 knots so far.

Interesting with the twin rudders as opposed to a tail rotor. The rudders have some funny styling, too, kind of a sawtooth pattern in front of the flap.

There’s a video at the link, too, that I couldn’t successfully copy here. That video is better in my opinion than the ones on Youtube in that you can see and hear it in flight, and it’s not just a pretty ad for EADS.

How to Defeat the Air Force's Powerful Stealth Fighter | Danger Room |

The fast, stealthy F-22 Raptor is “unquestionably” the best air-to-air fighter in the arsenal of the world’s leading air force. That’s what outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wrote in 2009.

Three years later, a contingent of German pilots flying their latest Typhoon fighter have figured out how to shoot down the Lockheed Martin-made F-22 in mock combat. The Germans’ tactics, revealed in the latest Combat Aircraft magazine, represent the latest reality check for the $400-million-a-copy F-22, following dozens of pilot blackouts, and possibly a crash, reportedly related to problems with the unique g-force-defying vests worn by Raptor pilots.

In mid-June, 150 German airmen and eight twin-engine, non-stealthy Typhoons arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska for an American-led Red Flag exercise involving more than 100 aircraft from Germany, the U.S. Air Force and Army, NATO, Japan, Australia and Poland. Eight times during the two-week war game, individual German Typhoons flew against single F-22s in basic fighter maneuvers meant to simulate a close-range dogfight.

via How to Defeat the Air Force’s Powerful Stealth Fighter | Danger Room |

No, despite the impression you might get from Danger Room, the F-22 isn’t a turkey. The F-22 was designed explicitly to avoid the “knife fight” and go for the long range kill. Its high speed and high altitude, in addition to making it a much tougher target, also impart range to its main battery, the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. The entire philosophy behind the F-22 was “see first, shoot first, kill first” in an effort to avoid the type of maneuvering fight that had previously been the norm in air to air combat.

The article of course notes that while this has long been the ideal of Air Force tactics, it hasn’t really been the case for most of the history of missile armed combat. But the raw numbers are a tad deceiving.  While technology and rules of engagement in Vietnam and other conflicts of that time led to the requirement of visual identification before engagement (leading to a turning fight), by the time Desert Storm rolled around, BVR engagements were the norm. And while the early Sparrow missiles were poor at the dogfight engagement, again, by Desert Storm, they were far more reliable, and accounted for the vast majority of air-to-air kills. And with the introduction of the AMRAAM right after Desert Storm, the trend has accelerated. To the best of my knowledge, every USAF kill post-Desert Storm has been via AMRAAM.

To be sure, BVR engagement isn’t perfect. Witness the shootdown of two US Blackhawks in the norther No-Fly zone in 1994 (actually, one of those was shot down by an AIM-9).

The Typhoon’s large delta wing and canard planes make it a formidable opponent in the turning engagement. Now, the F-22 is no slouch there, either, but in that environment, you are entering the realm where training and native ability begin to override technological aspects of the airframes. Further, without access to the rules of the training engagements, it is impossible to tell how much the set-up favored one side or the other. But let’s just say that sending the Germans up to get clubbed like baby seals again and again wouldn’t provide them much in the way of valid training, which is kind of the point of having exercises in the first place.


Incredibly, I can’t really find a lot of good pics of this classic lady. But I’ve been a fan of Olivia Newton John since way back in the 70s. Or, as my brother in law called her, Olivia Newtron Bomb.


I’m actually no big fan of Grease. And while Xanadu wasn’t much of a movie, the soundtrack was pretty good. For the 80s…