Ukraine says Russian tries to seize airports, base |

KIEV, Ukraine — Armed men described as Russian troops took control of key airports in Crimea on Friday and Russian transport planes flew into the strategic region, Ukrainian officials said, an ominous sign of the Kremlin’s iron hand in Ukraine. President Barack Obama bluntly warned Moscow “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily.

The sudden arrival of men in military uniforms patrolling key strategic facilities prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” – a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.

In a hastily arranged statement delivered from the White House, Obama called on Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.

“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said.

Such action by Russia would not serve the interests of the Ukrainian people, Russia or Europe, Obama said, and would represent a “profound interference” in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.

via Ukraine says Russian tries to seize airports, base |

I told you Putin wasn’t just going to shrug off the loss of access to Sevastapol.

Tarnished Brass

Shortly before Gen. James Amos took over as the Marine Corps’ top officer in 2010, he visited all seven of his surviving four-star predecessors, seeking their guidance and counsel on what was important to remember as the service’s commandant. But it was a stark warning from one of them — Gen. Carl Mundy, commandant from 1991 to 1995 — that Amos recalled later in a room full of Marines at the legendary training grounds at Parris Island, S.C.

“If you fail to maintain the spiritual health of the Corps,” Amos recalled Mundy saying, “you will have failed as the 35th commandant.”

via Tarnished Brass.

I’ve yet to hear a Marine singing his praises. Not every Commandant is universally popular, but most have at least some staunch advocates.

Ukraine, Russia, The Crimea

It’s anyone’s guess how events will turn out in Ukraine, following the relatively peaceful overthrow of the Yanukovych regime. But one thing is almost certain. Russia will not allow its access to the Crimea to be denied. Whether this takes the form of a diplomatic solution (Ukraine currently leases the bases at Sevastapol to Russi, since 1997, and renewed for 25 years in 2012), a Russian annexation of all or parts of Crimea, or some other solution remains to be seen.

Charles King, writing in the American Thinker discusses this:

Via Insty:

One of the results of the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s government has been the rising specter of the break-up of Ukraine and the secession of Crimea. The interim president, Olexander Turchynov, spoke recently about the dark prospect of “separatism” in his country, while early reports of the whereabouts of Yanukovych placed him in Crimea itself. Is Crimea likely to become the ex-president’s redoubt, and if so, would Russia intervene to support the secessionist region?

Both scenarios are unlikely. Yanukovych’s support is limited across the country as a whole, and if the new government is able to act calmly and deliberately, there will be little incentive to push toward a strategically risky—and potentially devastating—separation, either by Crimeans or by other Ukrainian citizens in areas of the country with sizable Russian-speaking communities.

Crimea is that little dangling peninsula on the southern edge that juts into the Black Sea, and thus gives the Russian Black Sea Fleet access (via the Dardanelles) to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It is effectively Russia’s only warm water port in the West.

And it isn’t as if Russia doesn’t have a historical claim t the region. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Russia ceded the peninsula to Ukraine. Given that at the time both Russia and Ukraine were part of the USSR, it was seen more as a PR stunt for outside observers, rather than any real transfer of power from Moscow. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 made a reality out of what had been a sham, but Russia was still able to maintain access to the port, and still has an outsized influence in the immediate region.

With luck, in the short term, Ukraine will be able to achieve some modus vivendi with Russia. Russia will, of course, attempt to continue to exert influence in the region, and likely continue to attempt to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, particularly in  the Crimea, but also throughout the nation.  A worst case scenario will see Russia simply seize by force the Crimea, and possibly the entire country.

Ten Years Ago Today


We flew in to Habbaniyah on a C-130 out of Kuwait, and the pilot juked on the way in, just in case.   Once on the deck, we were dispatched into an Army-Marine Corps convoy headed to Ramadi.  On the way out the gate of the laager, a VBIED detonated next to one of the lead security vehicles, killing two soldiers.  It would be an interesting eight months in Iraq.   The First Marine Division, led by MajGen James N. Mattis, whose ADC was John Kelly and Chief of Staff Colonel Joe Dunford, was one hell of a team (that included the Army’s excellent 1-16th Infantry).

The 1st Marine Division (not including Army casualties) suffered 118 killed and more than 1,400 wounded in those eight months in places like Fallujah and Ramadi, Haditah, and a lot of other dusty villages and towns nobody could find on a map except the men who fought there.   A high price was paid to hold the line in Anbar, to hold elections, and cultivate conditions for the Awakening.   For the Marines and soldiers who did so, recent events with AQ flying flags in Anbar’s cities and towns are particularly maddening.  It was clear that the “cut and run” philosophy of the White House was an exceedingly poor one, and subsequent events show that the so-called “zero option” is as descriptive of the President’s credibility as force levels in Iraq.  And we are set, with the same litany of excuses, to do it again in Afghanistan.

I wondered then what all this would be like, ten years on, should I be fortunate enough to survive.  Some things remain very vivid, the sights and smells, and the faces of comrades.  Others I am sure I would have to be reminded of.  And a few memories, thankfully few, are seared into the memory for the rest of my time on this earth.

“Just a flesh wound” – Miles O’Brien | Journalist

I wish I had a better story to tell you about why I am typing this with one hand (and some help from Dragon Dictate).

A shark attack would be interesting. An assassination attempt would be intriguing. Skydiving mishaps always make for good copy. An out-of-control quad copter that turns on its master would be entertaining (and would come complete with a grim, potentially viral, video).

No, the reason I am now one-handed is a little more prosaic than those scenarios.

via Miles O'Brien | Journalist.

You remember Miles O’Brien from the days when CNN was a respected news source. He still covers the space beat through PBS, Spaceflightnow, Discovery Science, and other outlets.

I know we’re praying and sending good thoughts for XBrad’s family, but if you could spare one for Miles, I know he’d appreciate it during this challenging time.

Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon to enter full production with $2.4 billion contract for 16 planes | Air Capital Insider | Wichita Eagle Blogs

The Navy has ordered its first production lot of P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Boeing in a $2.4 billion contract, Boeing said Tuesday.

The order for 18 additional aircraft means the program will enter full production.

The order takes the total fleet to 53 and marks the transition from preliminary to low-rate production of the P-8A, which will bolster maritime patrol capabilities, the company said.

via Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon to enter full production with $2.4 billion contract for 16 planes | Air Capital Insider | Wichita Eagle Blogs.

I hope and pray that P-8 is one program where the end buy in the out years keeps getting stretched out. No matter what the Navy says, they need more than 117.

Rights vs. Authority

Don’t bother reading all this nutterfluffer in this Althouse link. She’s so damned smart, why did she vote for Obama… TWICE?!

But this snippet hits one of my personal hot buttons:

As Freudenberg told Bittman: “What we need… is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.”

This is me seeing red. People have rights. Groups of people, associations of people, corporations (which, in the end, are simply avatars of groups of people), have rights.

The. Government. Has. No. Rights.

What our government has, be it at the municipal, county, state, or federal level, is authority. But it doesn’t even have a natural, inherent authority. It has authority delegated to it by the people, the citizenry which it was constituted to represent.

It’s bad enough government forgets that far too often. But for policy advocates to not only ignore it, but condemn it is a shame.