Friday, August 31, 2007

Girl Friday, 31 AUG 07

It's Friday and the end of August. Summer's almost over. Another month down here in the suck. In about 20 days or so it will be a year since we arrived in country. It's hard to believe that much time has passed.

This week our "Girl Friday" is Raquel Gibson...Playboy Playmate and model.

Have a great weekend!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

The Little League Big League

I happened to stumble across an article today lamenting the fact that the Little League World Series has lost it's least to that observer.

Written by a gentleman who calls himself King Kaufman, the article notes the business-like demeanor with which the young players go about their work in an almost joyless manner. He then says he never watched an inning of any of the games in the entire does he know what they are like if he never saw them?

Why am I describing what he wrote? Read for yourself...

This is the first time I can remember not watching a single pitch of the annual tournament. Used to be you could only watch the championship game, but I'd make a point of catching at least some of that. The Little League World Series was the only championship I could watch on network TV and say, "I used to play in that league."

Wherever the champs of the Penmar Park youth basketball league go after clinching, the cameras don't follow.

Now, after growing increasingly uncomfortable with the LLWS over the years, at long last I can't stand it. There's such a lack of fun emanating from these little mini-professional ballplayers, the whole thing's just depressing. I'm with Yahoo's Dan Wetzel: They should pay those kids. They're seriously, stoically, providing a service.

Now I want to say I don't entirely disagree with him. But this situation with little league or any other sport played by children where there are state or national championships has always been this way.

I happened to play in the Waco, Texas Northwest Little League when I was young (I played for the Whataburger a game get a free burger...with incentives like that how could you loose?). It also so happened that the "All Star" team from that very league ended up going to the Little League World Series. I was not on that team. I played on one of the teams that were essentially the practice teams for the team that was supposed to win...the rigged team...the team they put all the "good" players on. It was pretty obvious what was going on in that league even to my 11 year old eyes. Even so, I still had fun and I still enjoyed the game. So much so I kept playing and ended up playing semi-pro ball later in life. I can't say the same for most if any of the guys that played on the team that went to the World Series.

I played on a team back then that lost quite a bit, and while I didn't enjoy that too much, later on I can appreciate the lessons that taught me. Lessons I would say a lot of pro athletes never learned as children. Sometimes to be a good winner, it helps to be a good looser (by the way being a good looser doesn't mean you need to like it, just don't be an ass...there are too many of those around already). And at least that way when you do finally win you can REALLY appreciate looser.




After I ragged on W. Thomas Smith Jr. over at The Tank he was gracious enough to say hello in the comments section of the post below.

Today he has a post about the Marines cry of OO-RAH! He also mentions the Army habit of saying HOOAH! Additionally he posts his puzzlement at the expression and wonders about it's origins.

Personally, I am repulsed by that expression. I once entered a test of wills with a Battalion commander who was talking to me about something...I forget what it was, I don't really think it was that important. It usually isn't.

The conversation went like this:
LTC: ...and then we will go out and execute blah, blah, blah (he actually said that!), HOOAH?
Me: Yes sir.
Me: Yes sir, we'll do that.
Me: I don't say that word sir.
Me: exactly
Me: To me, that word is the sound the mind makes when it slams shut...sir.
Me: I'll see you later sir.

Seriously, I've been in the Army 20 years now. When I was in flight school never heard that expression. Air Assault school never heard it. In the 90's it started creeping its way into the mainstream Army culture, I seem to recall hearing that it's beginnings were from somewhere near a place called Fayetteville, NC. There's always a paratrooper to blame if there's stupidity involved.

No matter, for once I'm with the Marines, they can have their OO-RAH. I don't care to be HOOAH. I don't care to hear HOOAH. For the life of me I can't understand why the Army with rich traditions (especially the CAVALRY) wants to invent crap like HOOAH and then turn around and ban REAL traditions like STETSONS and SPURS. HOOAH!

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Sometimes You've Just Got To Laugh

Sometimes over here you have to find entertainment where you can. One of those unlikely places, for me at least, has been the Stars and Stripes letter to the editor section.

In OIF 2 I was entertained by letters written mostly by people serving in Kuwait, who complained loud and long about how they weren't being appreciated enough. Those letters were in turn answered by people serving in Iraq, who related tales of comrades being blown to bits by IEDs and how the people in Kuwait should shut the "F" up...and be happy with their lot in life.

During OIF 06-08, I'm entertained by letters demanding that soldiers who carry their M-9 pistols in a "Don Johnson" style holster, shouldn't. The reason being that soldiers who sport the "non-issue" holster are not practicing proper muzzle discipline.

Where to start...where to start?

First let me get this out of the way, "Don Johnson"? Who the hell references "Miami Vice". I wasn't a big fan of the TV show but I am fairly certain that the character being referred to did not wear a shoulder holster like the one pictured below.

For this and other fine holsters go to the Galco website

If Mr. Johnson did in fact wear a holster like that I apologize for my ignorance. In any event the use of the "Miami Vice" card to belittle a particular thing is the gun equivalent of using the word "Nazi" in a discussion about politics.

Getting back to carrying weapons, muzzle discipline etc...

If one weren't into buying a holster and wanted an issue holster for their M-9, Army aviators are issued a holster similar to the one in the picture above, but it is made out of a fire resistant material and is issued with the "Air Warrior" ensemble.

So if the Army issues it, it must be safe right? Not so fast, this is the same outfit that bought the Gamma Goat.

But actually I wonder if any of these goons who are using my oxygen and wasting electrons or God forbid even paper to complain about these holsters, has ever even held an M-9, let alone fired one?

It takes more than a few steps to fire an M-9 pistol. Demonstrator post!

ONE: Insert magazine with bullets installed into pistol. (PSSST! it's the empty well in the bullets go up and face forward...OK)

TWO: Pull back on the slide to place a round into the chamber...ready to be fired.

THREE: Place the ARM/SAFE switch to ARM (the red dot should be showing now)

FOUR: Aim and pull the trigger. (WOW that's really hard to pull the trigger...yeah that's because it's a double action trigger, it's actually easier if you pull the hammer back first and then pull the trigger otherwise it takes about twice the amount of energy to pull the trigger)

I've never ever heard of an M-9 going off by unless someone followed those steps. If I'm wrong please tell me.

Then we have the fact that on most FOBs weapons are not "supposed" to have a magazine in them and most certainly not "supposed" to have a round in the chamber. You can see the odds for a weapon being carried in a holster of that type going off are pretty much slim and none. But yet the letters appear and they are followed by rebuttals by gun aficionados who site this or that, or by soldiers who just love to stir the pot. And then finally the other day a Marine had to jump into the argument. Of course he first let us all know how the USMC was vastly superior to the Army before making his point about the holster and weapons safety in general.

On a side note, when I read that letter I could have sworn it was written by W. Thomas Smith Jr. (of The National Review's on-line column The Tank), it had all the earmarks, disdain for anything not associated with the Marines (I was embedded with the 82nd Airborne, good troops but not Marines; Sgt Joe Blow Marine graduated #1 in his Army Ranger school class, but he still prefers to be called by the tile of United States Marine or I ate some apple sauce in the DFAC at Camp Liberty but it was nowhere near as good as the apple sauce being served at Camp Falluja (I made that last one up but you get the drift)), and an overall superior haughty attitude as if he were casting pearls before swine.

Sometimes presentation is everything. Me personally I don't really care to be lectured to by someone who thinks they are better than me, who's doing all us poor Army saps a favor by letting us in on the superior Marine Corps way. God help you if you don't capitalize "marine" or you inadvertently call one of their medics, a medic. They can butcher Army terminology all day long and they don't give a care, but if one dares question the superiority of the USMC above all others Lord help you.

You are welcome to the fight brother, if you need help on the battlefield I am there for you. But give it a rest with telling everyone how great you are...or I will point my non-loaded, holstered M-9 muzzle right at you next time I'm standing in line at the DFAC.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Girl Friday, 24 AUG 07

It's Friday!

I know everyone who frequents this site expects to see some scantly clad example of the female of the species in this space. Today I'm taking a break from that.

Today would have been my mother's birthday...she left us almost seven years ago. But were she around I know she'd be worried sick about me being over here and the things that are going on in this world.
I don't have any photos of mom over here in Iraq, but I was able to find a picture of one of her favorite things and in some ways that's just as good...
The bluebonnets in bloom will always remind me of my mother.
Bluebonnet photos and other great nature photography can be found HERE



Thursday, August 23, 2007

From My Foxhole

I know, I don't really have a foxhole, or as it's known in the military today, a fighting position, but it's an expression used to mean, "here's what I think."

I don't know if I really needed to type that explanation but I guess it may have saved someone a few seconds before they left this page and started looking for p0rn again. Because you never know "FOXHOLE" might be some code word for some kind of kinky act I never even heard of. I don't know I've been out of the country for almost a year now...a lot can happen.

Anyway here's some stuff you might find interesting or not:

Nothing says femininity more than hearing two female soldiers you pass in the hallway say they need to leave the office door open because it smells like "feet and ass" in there.

You know it's really hot on the flight line when you walk behind an aircraft that has an APU (a small jet engine used for electrical power on the aircraft prior to starting the main engines) running and you move through the exhaust and can feel no difference in the temperature.

A chicken quesadilla tastes a lot better after a 5 hour mission than before.

You never really crave a certain type of food/treat from the DFAC/PX until they have run out of it. Who the hell runs out of Tostitos? They've got thongs galore for sale in the PX and no Tostitos? WTF?!?

The law of supply and demand is null and void when it comes to Dr Pepper and Iraq...the PX always gets one pallet and it's gone in one hour. A month later cases upon cases of Diet Coke sit in the sun baking and another pallet of Dr Pepper arrives and it's gone in an hour. I wish I could perform my job as well as the managers of AAFES do theirs and be considered a success. In case you couldn't tell I really really really like Dr Pepper.

It's almost never as bad as it seems to be...whatever it may be.

We all want to go home...but most of us don't want to quit before the job's done.

Most of the news media can kiss my ass.

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Here Comes The...BOOM!

How do you like me now?



Sensitivity Training

Well worth the two minutes of your life it will take to watch...even if they do go a little over the top at the end.


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Friday, August 17, 2007

Girl Friday, 17 AUG 07

Half the month of August is gone!
This is the end of my 11th month in, time really flies...well times flies when you're working.

The Girl Friday for this Friday the 17th of August in the year 2007 is Patrycja Mikula, Playboy's Cyber Girl for this August.


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An Inspiring Story

I received this story via e-mail from a friend and I thought I'd share it with everyone.

The moment I read this heartwarming story, I knew you'd be a person who would appreciate it. It will only take a couple of moments to read about Mike Membre's elephant encounter, but you will remember it for a long time to come. Enjoy! I don't usually like these heartwarming stories, but this one is truly interesting...

In 1986, Mike Membre was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Membre approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Membre worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Membre stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Membre never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Membre was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Membre and his son Cantri were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Membre, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Membre couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Membre summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Membre's legs and raised him high into the air and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

There's a moral to this story somewhere...

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Air Farce

Like the chairman of the high school Audio Visual club who's pissed off because the the jocks are getting all the press in the school newspaper, the USAF has published their own COIN manual.

And boy do they feel under-appreciated.

From the Danger Room we get these insights from various proponents of "airpower"

In March, Air Force Magazine executive editor John Tirpak spoke for many under the Air Force's aegis when he wrote:

In a counterinsurgency, airpower is mostly useful as a means of hauling around ground forces while keeping an eye on the bad guys. Air strikes are probably too blunt an instrument to be of much value, and ground commanders should think twice before asking for them. If air strikes are used, though, a ground forces commander definitely should control them.

Quaint musings from a dusty, pre-“joint” Army field manual? Nope. Fresh ink from Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, tapped by President Bush to be the new commander of Multinational Force-Iraq...

Petraeus... damn[s] airpower with the faintest of faint praise, cautioning that, aside from the purely supportive functions of battlefield mobility and persistent ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance], airpower can be too heavy-handed to be of much use...

The views... reflect a limited knowledge of airpower’s true role in the current operation and suspicion that airpower can all too easily prove counterproductive. This is all the more distressing in light of the view that Petraeus will set direction for the ongoing fight in Iraq.

Months earlier, in Armed Forces Journal, Major General Charles Dunlap railed against "boots-on-the-ground zealots" and "neo-Luddites" who "quot[e] counterinsurgency manuals from the horse cavalry era." Instead, Dunlap insisted, we should be pouring money into "air power — our most effective national security component."

Along those lines, the Air Force manual has a message for the ground-pounders: We're just as -- if not more -- important than you grunts...

Oh yeah, sing it brother...let me tell you, the AIF are scared shitless of you guys flying around at the speed of heat at eighty gazillion thousand feet. If we'd just get out of the way the good ole USAF could have this Iraq thing wrapped up in no time.

Yeah, let me tell you the only way the USAF could wrap this thing up in Iraq is by dropping a nuke on the place...and that isn't going to happen.

Both side have a point...but it is hard to take the USAF serious about COIN when they only have a handful of AC-130s, the C-17 production line is closing down and they are spending all the money they have on JSF and F-22s. Actions speak louder than words. SO put up or shut up, you son's of Billy Mitchell.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Girl Friday, 10 AUG 07

Happy Friday...or at least I hope it was for you.

This comes a day late but hopefully not a dollar short for you.

This week's lovely lady is Meritt Cabal...Playboy Cyber Girl of the Year...sorry don't know which one and if you really care, GOGGLE it.

Well it feels like a cold front came through, it's only 110 or so...quite refreshing. Maybe the worst of the heat is over.

You be safe out there!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

They Had This Figured Out In 1943

What was blinding obvious to some people in 1943 is not so much today...funny how history repeats itself.


Sorry about the lapse in fixing this...the browser wasn't cooperating, and things going on around here caused me to loose interest for a while.



Friday, August 03, 2007

Reading is FUNdamental...

From time to time I "read" something and I see where I think a sentence is going to and "read" what I think it was going to say versus what the sentence actually said.

That is a tortured way of saying I wasn't really reading anything I was skimming through other words I failed basic reading comprehension.

It appears that I am not the only one...

In a rush to call some COL a unfeeling zealot in the religious war that isn't, some folks at the Danger Room call out COL David Rice (not named in the Danger Room article but named in the Ares article that was linked as the reference) for a statement that he made about GMLRS and their effectiveness in Iraq.

Here's the statement as quoted in Ares

U.S. Army commanders and troops have come to view the Army's Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) as their "70-kilometer sniper rifle," but enemy forces in Iraq see the weapon in a starker light.

"The enemy is calling it the 'Hand of Allah,'" said Col. David Rice, Army program manager - Precision Fires Rockets & Missile Systems.

For enemy forces, the rockets seemingly come from nowhere, Rice said Aug. 1 during a press briefing on the program.

Now the good folks at Danger Room (Sharon Weinberger and various commenters) say this among other things:

You'd think after all that someone, somewhere in the Pentagon would inform people to be a tiny, little bit sensitive when talking about religion, particularly other people's religion. Then again, maybe not.

Now we've got an Army colonel, who in a briefing earlier this week with reporters, claimed that the Army's Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) is being called the "Hand of Allah" by the enemy (the provenance of the colonel's information is a bit unclear).

The colonel's apparent explanation: the weapon he calls the "70-kilometer sniper rifle" seemed to "come from nowhere."

It's just so, so, so wrong.

Hey, I got news for you about what is wrong...maybe you don't realize, the enemy we face aren't observant Muslims. They hide weapons in mosques. They take drugs to get themselves hyped up for attacks. They read porn (our troops have found it, while raiding their buildings).

Christians and Jews blaspheme their own religion all the time...I'm sure you've heard or seen the Lord's name taken in vain. SO why would it be unreasonable to suggest that we have encountered captured enemy on the battlefield who have referred to a weapon system that strikes without warning as a hand of GOD? And the COL is the one who needs to be more sensitive?

Maybe if someone read a little closer they would see it's the enemy not the COL who said this stuff...oh wait, you said that in your own article. But then you go on to infer that maybe the COL made that up "(the provenance of the colonel's information is a bit unclear)"....because we don't KNOW where he got that quote from. How insensitive we are to say such things.

These animals we face, blow up hundreds innocent people on a daily basis. They commit unspeakable acts in the name of God and you get rilled up because the head of the GMLR program repeats what some prisoner on the battlefield said during an interrogation. I hope the AC is working where your at lady...because it's pretty hot where I am at and I really don't give a shit if I'm sensitive enough for you or not. I'm glad the people at home have the luxury to be able to sit back and debate on the wisdom of a COL to have revealed to the world that an enemy combatant referred to a weapon that we used against his buddies as the "hand of Allah"...that has got to be some of the dumbest crap I've had the pleasure of reading in quite some time. And believe me tons of stupid crap appears on my desk and monitor every single day.

Danger Room takes the "Stupid Crap" award for the first week of August...if there were in fact a stupid crap award...geeze.

By the way GMLRs are the SHIT.

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Girl Friday, 3 AUG 07


Another month has passed and we are now in the midst of a boiling hot August (at least where I'm at it's boiling hot).

This week's Girl Friday is a former Playmate, I'm sure she has distinguished herself somehow in the time since she appeared in the pages of Playboy...goodness knows what she does now, I don't especially especially care...unless she's running some verterans outreach program...which I really doubt. But I do wish her the best of luck, really...I mean it.

Her images now appear on this page as a celibration of female beauty and as a way to park the passing of time in my own little personal prision.

The appropriately named Summer Altice is the Girl Friday, for this Friday, the 3rd of August, 2007.
Enjoy your weekend! Only two more working days till Monday.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's Not Fair Damnit!

The Report on Military Bullying
Via Neptunus Lex

Report on military bullying
August 1st, 2007 by lex

I received an advance copy of the investigation results into allegations that bullying was widespread in the US military - allegations that, if true, might have shaken a volunteer organization to its very core. Fortunately for the US Army and Navy, the results are reassuring.
But I’m sufficiently worried about the Air Force to quote the entire report at length:

“DEFENSE BULLYING REPORT - Air Force Worst of the Three Services

A recent report by experts has found that allegations of “a culture of widespread bullying and brutality” within the Military are, in the most part, unfounded. The audit team, which traveled to every Defense establishment across the country and abroad and interviewed staff from all three services, found surprisingly few cases of unfair treatment and bullying within the Army and Navy.

When it came to the Air Force, however, the report told a different story. Complaints to the team came from a total of 3,555 Air Force members, compared with three from Navy and just one from Army...

For the rest of the article please go HERE

You know, someday this war's going to be over.