Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Morning Links

CDR Salamander’s front porch resident Byron (occasional visitor here) coined the term “Little Crappy Ship” a few years ago to more accurately portray the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program. It’s gone mainstream.


I’ve been watching North Korean saber rattling a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it reach this level. Whether that’s an artifact of the way its being reported, or is in fact an increase in belligerence, I don’t know. It’s been three years since the Norks sank the South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan, and a few months after the shelling of the island of Yeonpyeong. But we’ll see. What signs have we seen of mobilization and increased alert status by Nork units? ROK and US units?

As Craig noted on Facebook, the Red Dawn remake is starting to look like a documentary.


There’s little doubt the US foreign policy the last four years has been something of an unmitigated disaster. The GOP, chastised by public pushback (and a systematic Democrat smear campaign) over the war in Iraq, is loathe to press for a strong stance that even contains the possibility of opening a new war front. Hence the dithering over Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. A nuclear armed Iran would have potentially catastrophic consequences for decades, but the GOP can only see the potential for short term electoral problems should the press the White House and the public for a strong stance.

They’re missing the forest for the trees, argues Spengler, who notes that even after a decade of the War on Terror, the public generally places more faith in the GOP on national security issues then the Dems. And if the GOP won’t be strong on one of the few areas that they have an electoral edge, why vote for them?


Military reporting and the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

Most reporters end up reporting on subjects which they know little about. Not surprisingly, they therefore tend to get a lot of stuff wrong. How many times have you read an article about a subject with which you are very familiar, and shaken your head at how someone could get basic precepts to wrong? Move on the the next article, and not realize that the author of that article likely makes the same sort of errors, only you don’t know enough to notice them? That’s the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

Inside the Army has a nice little post showing this basic tendency to flub in action.


So… what’s that on the centerline station?


No Purple Hearts for Ft. Hood Shooting Victims

The Army has formally stated that it does not wish to award the Purple Heart to the victims of a murderous rampage allegedly perpetrated by Army Major Nidal Hasan.

The U.S. Army on Friday formally declined to award Purple Heart medals to the victims of Major Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, saying the move would damage his ability to receive a fair trial.

The Army in a position paper said that awarding the medal to those wounded and posthumously to those killed in the November 2009 attack would ‘set the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist’ because the medal is presented to military members who are ‘wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States.’

Hasan, 42, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire on a group of soldiers who were preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, killing 13 and wounding 32 before he was shot and permanently paralyzed by two civilian Fort Hood police officers.

Many people are outraged that brave American soldiers gunned down in their own garrison won’t receive the recognition they would have if they’d been killed or wounded overseas.

But in this, the Army is right.

While I’m a strong proponent for recognizing our soldiers and their sacrifices, I’m an ever stronger proponent of forcing our government to follow the rules when it comes to the rights of anyone accused of a crime, particularly in a death penalty case.

Make no mistake, I’m pretty damn sure Hasan did the shooting, was criminally culpable in doing so, and deserves the ultimate sanction. I’ll shed exactly zero tears when he is eventually tried, convicted, and put to death.

But the process matters. In this case, it’s pretty clear cut. But precedent set here will affect later cases (and in criminal law and the UCMJ, there are always later cases).

If the Army were to award the Purple Heart to the shooting victims, it would be in effect declaring that Hasan was in fact a terrorist. And that would give any defense counsel a day out of law school grounds to move for setting aside any conviction on the basis of undue command influence. The Army and other services make damn sure of the integrity of the court martial process in not allowing commanders to push for a conviction of a soldier unless the court is fully convinced of guilt, regardless of the convening authority’s feelings on the matter.  So the Army isn’t going to give defense an easy option like this.

In addition to the issue of undue command influence, any award of the Purple Heart would almost certainly raise jurisdictional issues. Defense would argue that since the PH  is only awarded to persons injured or killed in combat, then Hasan by rights must be an enemy combatant, and the Army court martial has no jurisdiction to try him. Years and years could be spent trying the case up. Do we want federal courts deciding whether Hasan should be tried by Army court martial or by the military commissions in place at Gitmo for other enemy combatants? Since shipping him to Gitmo would prove to be a practical impossibility politically, where else to try him? Federal court? As I say, the process would take years.

And if defense was really outrageous, the could really make some twisted claims.  If the shooting victims were awarded Purple Hearts for combat, what about Hasan.  Major Hasan was alongside them, and wounded too. Would he not also qualify for the Purple Heart? After all, he was on active duty, and wounded too. Why not also award a Combat Action Badge?

The victims and their families aren’t doing themselves any favors suing the Army, either. Whatever goodwill existed at Big Army went away with the first filing. Big Army wants to take care of its people, but it must take care of Big Army, first. That’s the bureaucratic imperative.

A little bit of bragging

I waffled on whether to post this or not, but XBrad said, “Hurry up already!”

There is a huge amount of research being performed on the International Space Station, and the ISS Science website has been sharing some of the success stories. One is the electrically conductive coating used on the SpaceX Dragon capsule, so this was published when the resupply ship was released and splashed down 225 miles west of Baja California a couple of days ago. That article links to this video (warning: autoplay).

I can’t listen to it, because I think I sound weird. I am grateful that the video crew did not include the footage of me laughing as one of my co-workers walked like an Egyptian and made faces at me through the lab window.

A little inside baseball

So, I’m stealing this from a forum I belong to:

52 Lima who’s stationed in fort Gordon GA, ” all grunts are stupid dumbasses that couldn’t score over a 35 on the ASVAB, and are good for nothing but cannon fodder, that don’t make up the backbone of the army, we’re better off without them. “


A little translation. As far as I can tell, 52L isn’t even a current MOS, so I think someone is just yanking some chains.

The ASVAB, Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery, is a battery of tests designed to show, well, aptitude in several areas, in order to judge the likelihood that an enlistee will be successful in training in whatever specialty they enlist for. There are about half a dozen different scores such as General Technical and whatnot. And then there’s the score that counts when you enlist. The “overall” score is from 1 to 99, roughly indicating the percentile one falls into in terms of IQ across the population. It’s a cross between native intelligence and education. The minimum score for enlistment in the Army is 32.

There’s long been a perception that the combat arms, Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Combat Engineer, etc, are jam packed with enlistees who scored in the lower tranches of the ASVAB. A common insult of a not so bright fellow soldier is to call him a CAT IV, for the lowest tranche of the ASVAB.

But here’s the thing. Yes, combat arms, and the Infantry, take their fair share of folks who are not towering intellects. But oddly, there are a ton of people who are incredibly bright, scoring far, far above average, in the 90 percentile and above, who chose the Infantry.

Think about it. A lot of very bright young men go through high school and just aren’t challenged. They live comfortable suburban lives, hear the tales of their elders, play sports maybe, and cruise through high school with little or no effort.  But the summons of the trumpet is strong. They know they’re smart, but do they know if they are men? What more traditional test of manhood is there than war?

Anecdotal evidence (and yes, I know the plural of anecdote is not “data”), when I was a recruiter, applicants with scores from 32-50 that enlisted tended to end up either in Field Artillery, Motor Transport, or other related support fields. Applicants with scores from 50-80 tended to end up in technical fields. With only one exception* can I recall an applicant with a score over 80 not joining the combat arms. He enlisted  as a Blackhawk mechanic, became a crew chief, and enjoyed the heck out of it.

As my Bradley crossed the berm into Iraq at the opening of Desert Storm, the topic of conversation amongst the grunts in back was… Shakespeare.

*Women excepted, of course. The field of choice for very high scoring women was either Military Police, or the medical field technical specialties.