Combat Proud

Phat’s story here was inspired because I asked him about one of GEN McPeak’s protégés.

Most people in the service don’t get a lot of face time with general officers. In the Army, as far as my day to day life went, it didn’t really matter who the two, three, and four star generals were in my chain of command. The Army is the Army, and it goes on as it always has. A general really has to work at it to make a genuine negative impression on the troops.

And one Air Force officer, McPeak’s protégé, did so. GEN Robert  H. (“Doc”)  Fogelsong was a career fighter pilot, eventually working his way up to four stars, and command of all US Air Force units in Europe, or USAFE.

Fogelsong had a reputation as a micromanager. Like, demanding to know the daily attendance at the base theater, or how many kids in the Child Development Center went to book readings.

The Air Force likes to give programs code names with two names. Cobra Judy, Pave Spike, Commando Solo… you get it?

Fogelsong, as USAFE, decided his units weren’t on the ball as much as they should be on the important things. No, not ability to fly, fight and win… the important things!

Combat Proud: Aims at improving base appearance to foster pride and productivity.

Combat Nighthawk: Links senior noncommissioned officers with junior officers on a night shift to act as the base commander’s eyes and ears, as well as help hone leadership skills.

Combat Education: Helps airmen pursue higher education by offering more flexible and innovative class schedules.

Combat Touch: Focuses on the spiritual needs and well-being of airmen and their families.

Combat Flightline: Helps enhance flying operations by making sure that the best personnel are in the right jobs.

Combat Intro/Exit: Streamlines base in-processing and out-processing.

Combat Fitness: Works to improve airmen’s physical fitness.

Combat Care: Improves care, resources, attention and information spouses and families receive while the military member is deployed.

Hidden Heroes: Encourages active-duty military members, Department of Defense civilians and family members to volunteer on base and in their communities.

Young men and women join the Air Force or other service with a great deal of idealism. They want to do an important job, and take pride in doing it well.

And, of course, the Air Force already had programs in place to address virtually all of these areas of concern. Ah… they didn’t have the cool “Combat….” code name for the program.

By far the least popular program was Combat Proud. Everyone wants to live and work on a nice installation. But Combat Pride was insulting to Airmen throughout Europe. Money was spent to build and paint cinder block walls to keep dumpsters out of sight behind buildings. Airmen were out raking leaves… in a forest!

Gussying up the most mundane chores of the service with a “Combat” nickname, and focusing on them at the expense of truly mission critical tasks, was the hallmark of the micromanager.

If a junior Airman cannot publicly disparage his theater commander by name, there is another way for him to express his displeasure.


If GEN Fogelsong really thought some part of an air base was failing to meet the standards of appearance, there was another, far more appropriate method of addressing shortcomings. USAFE has, as  a right hand man, a Chief Master Sergeant (a super E-9) as his principal advisor on enlisted matters. And that Chief should have gone to the Chief on an air base and remonstrated with him about the standards of appearance.

Toxic leadership is just that, toxic. More than a few good officers and men have simply walked away from a service they loved because one toxic senior leader made the game not worth the candle.

After his retirement from the Air Force, GEN Fogelsong was appointed president of Mississippi State University, where he promptly instituted a similar leadership paradigm.

MSU fired him about a year and a half later.

Quartermaster’s Travels

Since my day was a total crapfest, I’ll share frequent commenter Quartermaster’s travel adventures. Take it away, QM. –XBrad

Few of the denizens here know that I am a Professional Engineer (PE) and Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) employed by an Indian tribe. As a consequence, I am forced, by my duties, to travel. Last week (20th-26th) I was in the Anchorage, Alaska area for the National Tribal Transportation Conference.

My colleague, another PE, and I went up on the 20th because flights on Sunday were terrible, so we had Sunday to bum around and see a few things. We went to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and took the Tunnel to Whittier (also a tunnel of the Alaska Railroad, with the area around the tracks paved), just we could say we did. Along the way we saw some of the glaciers, and got a pic of the snow blower that was used by the Alaska Railroad, part of which was an old troop car from WW2.

Outside of a few birds, the only wildlife we saw was at the conservation center, although we did see bear sign (partially eaten salmon) along one of the streams, and on the trail next to that stream. Now I like Yogi, but I have no desire to meet him up close and personal, so I judiciously retreated after going about 100 yards past the mostly eaten Salmon on the trail and hearing some crashing in the bush just across the stream. I was particularly disinclined since I was armed only with a Victornox Swiss Army Knife. I doubt Yogi would have been impressed.

The most excitement we had during the conference was at the Hotel. A quake, magnitude 6.2, the most powerful since the most powerful on record in ’64, shook the Anchorage Hilton. I had just finished a shower and was drying off when I felt the shaking on the 11th floor. And it did sway! It brought proceedings to an absolute stop on the 15th floor, and my colleague felt the initial vibration through the floor on the 1st floor about 30 seconds before the greater magnitude S-waves hit, which are what cause the swaying.

No serious damage, but I was inspired to look up at the ceiling and say “you stay up there” while waiting for the shaking to completely die down. I was also dry before the shaking stopped.

At the Wildlife Conservation Center we saw several species that are being raised for release later. They have about 150 head of Wood Bison and they intend to release them up around Fairbanks in ’15. They also have a good herd of Muskox, which were hunted out in Alaska, but are being re-established from a Greenland herd. They also had some Elk, which they plan to release in the next year as well.

They also had a few head of Caribou and Reindeer and two Grizzlies they obtained as cubs. Those were the only Grizzlies we encountered, and they were behind wire and didn’t seem too interested in us.

All told a good stay, but I despise Delta Airlines and the trip back was far worse than the trip up. One day I’d like to go up and take my bride* and really visit. We simply didn’t have time to take a Glacier trip out of Whittier, and certainly not a trip to Denali, alas. Just enough of a trip to whet the appetite and make me wish I could stay about 2 more weeks.

*She didn’t want me to add “of 40 years.”

Quartermaster Sends

Elk 3Moose 3Musk Ox 1Musk Ox 3Musk Ox SkullOwlBlower Fan with me for scaleBlower engine with kitchen car. Kitchen car used to be a troop car during WW2At least they're honestTurquoise Lake 2Turquoise Lake

Of course, you have to get the hat too.

The Hat

Goodness me…

I think I liked the news better when the power was out.

First Ebola in the US.

One huge, HUGE advantage here is that the hospitals here, even the very worst, are light years beyond the conditions in Africa. The statistical chances of containing an infection are much better. As to individual patient outcomes, the level of nursing care and palliative care is also much, much higher here. There’s a considerable school of thought that this will also greatly lower mortality rates.


The President, while visiting the CDC in Atlanta a while back to discuss Ebola, shared an elevator with an armed man, that the Secret Service didn’t know was armed, and who had a criminal record.

You know, if letting illegal aliens into the Army is such a good idea, maybe we should also assign them to the President’s security detail. It’s not like they could do much worse.


An interesting and informative look at the truly herculean effort sometimes overlooked in the epic that was World War II.


Salvaging and reclaiming tanks and vehicles destroyed in combat was sometimes a disturbingly gruesome task, as the late Belton Cooper wrote so eloquently about.   But the salvage effort was truly impressive, and saved the cost of manufacture, transport, and time to supply the gigantic American arsenal in Europe and the Pacific with the spare parts needed to keep fighting.

Is the Bradley due for upgunning?

Developed in the 1960s and 1970s, and entering service in the 1980s, the M2/M3 Bradley series of fighting vehicles was designed to counter first generation Soviet BMP and BTR series vehicles. As such, the Army equipped it with the 25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun. The M242 performed very well against Russian and Chinese built armored vehicles in Desert Storm, and later in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But the threat is not static. More and more, infantry carriers and other armored vehicles are getting bigger and bigger, and carrying more and more armor. And small anti-tank missile teams are employing longer ranged missiles. The armor piercing ammunition for the M242 has been improved, but there is little room for growth. To achieve more armor penetration, the Bradley will simply need a larger gun. And to that end, the Army is experimenting with a 30mm autocannon.

The 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II gun isn’t new. It’s been around in various forms for almost as long as its little 25mm brother. It was intended to be the main armament of the cancelled Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. And it is mounted as secondary armament on the Navy’s LCS and LPD-17 ships. Various foreign powers have evaluated or adopted it. So adapting it to the Bradley would seem to be a simple matter.


But it isn’t quite that simple.

The Bradley was designed with the smaller 25mm in mind. The size of the gun here wasn’t so important. The gun and its mount are in the gunhouse portion of the turret, above the hull of the vehicle proper. The size of the gunhouse itself wasn’t critical.

But the ammunition cans for the gun are stored inside the turret basket. That’s the part of the turret, the ammo system, turret drives, and support that extends down inside the vehicle, and rotates on a roller path on the bottom of the hull.  And the turret basket size, essentially its diameter, went far to fixing the exact size of the Bradley.

You can simply put a new turret on the Bradley, with the same size turret basket. The 30mm round isn’t that much larger than the 25mm. 25mm ammo is 13.7 centimeters long. The Bushmaster II 30mm ammo is 17.3cm long.

But that extra inch or so of length cuts into the crew space of the Bradley. Already fairly cramped when designed, the turret crew space has further been crowded by installation of additional electronics, fire control, and networking equipment. An inch doesn’t seem much, but even my relatively small 5’10” frame, when seated in the commanders seat, had my knees in uncomfortable contact with the ammunition cans.

We’ll see if the Army decides to pay to upgrade the Bradley, search instead for a whole new vehicle, or just continue to move along with what we have and hope for the best.

Obama Calls For 'Moderate, Inclusive' ISIL Beaheadings

THE WHITE HOUSE — In an interview with 60 Minutes on CBS that aired Sunday, President Obama called on the leaders of ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, to exercise more moderation and inclusivity in their beheadings of infidels.

The president was responding to a question from 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, who asked whether the administration was specifically addressing the beheadings and mutilations of thousands of Yazidi, Kurdish and other minority groups in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

Brian did a screen grab from the video; no photo credit required

Obama insisted that his administration is taking firm, decisive action to resolve the situation and bring peace back to the region.

“As I’ve always said,” Obama asserted, “we need to make sure that the victory that I won in Iraq when I ordered our troops out of the country in 2011 was not in vain. Except, remember, I didn’t actually order the troops out. President Maliki wanted us to leave, and I had no choice, even though he said he would sign the immunity order. But that’s neither here nor there.”

The president continued: “To, uh, to that end, I have launched a vehement Twitter campaign calling on ISIL to stop beheading and torturing so many Christians and minorities. Maybe spread the love to some Jews or Turks and other groups. These folks … [if] they can chop people’s heads off, maybe they can start tryin’ to be more fair about it.”

via Obama Calls For ‘Moderate, Inclusive’ ISIL Beaheadings.