28 November 2006

Academics trying to talk about the military again

Wired News: Army Game Proves U.S. Can't Lose
'You don't see the day-to-day boredom, you don't see broken legs and equipment failure,' she says. 'You don't see that the military is mostly grunts and only the grunts on the ground die.'

1. The Army is not mostly infantry. That's part of the probelm: we don't have enough of it.
2. "Only the grunts on the ground die"? Hardly - that's another big issue right now, that there are a lot of non-combat MOS's in harm's way in Iraq. Guys who expected to be driving trucks behind friendly lines are out in "injun country" most of the time.

11 November 2006

Words of advice from someone who should've heeded them

George F. Will - Inoculated for Exuberance? - washingtonpost.com
'Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it,' he told the New York Times. 'It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?'

Who is he? Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, 1991.

09 November 2006

Marines in 4th Grade

I have no idea how legit this is, but it's still funny, especially the sniper with the wagon. This was received from a friend through email, as most humorous things are these days...

A buddy of mine used to do tech support for a school district in the Chicago area. Back in 2004 he was pulling a late night shift cleaning up after one of those nasty viruses that showed up in emails as playboy.scr and inevitably got passed around the office by dimwitted staffers. He was having a lot of trouble on a computer in an elementary school classroom so he created a hotmail account, installed MSN and started talking to me to kill time. When he finally finished up for the night and bid me adieu he forgot to uninstall MSN. Over the next few months I periodically noticed the MSN account he had created would come online during the day and then log off in the middle of the afternoon. I mentioned it to him and he said he must have just left it on there and he assured me he would get around to uninstalling MSN.
After a quiet summer in 2005, the account started coming back online just in time for the school year. I ignored it for a few months, but around September of 2005 it started messaging me. Once or twice a week I would receive the occasional "eat a butt" or "shitshitshitshit". One of my favorite head-scratchers was, "LANKIN BULLET 2 i said allready". I mentioned these messages to my friend even as they became increasingly cryptic, but he had moved on to greener employment pastures and any hope of uninstalling MSN on that elementary school computer had evaporated.
When it started again this August I resolved to put a stop to it the only way I knew how: become a nuisance to the school teacher until he or she got the new tech support guy to uninstall MSN. That meant somehow making the teacher think leaving MSN installed on the computer was a bad idea. I didn't really want to get arrested for exposing the kids to porno links or, god forbid, just ask them to uninstall it. I decided on the much more patriotic course of changing my MSN name to Sergeant Haymaker and posing as a particularly unethical recruiter for the United States Marine Corps.
In retrospect, that's probably illegal too, so I would like to apologize to the Marines. I specifically do not apologize to Marine Corps recruiters, who were absolutely annoying fuckers back when I was in high school and there wasn't even a war going on. I can only imagine what they're like these days. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy the prank.
+ + +
Tekwarz: hello
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Oorah! How are you doing today?
Tekwarz: hi
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Have you considered the opportunities we can offer you in the United States Marine Corps?
Tekwarz: my name is caleb
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Caleb, let me ask you, have you ever wanted to see a 500 pound JDAM drop down a cave entrance and frag a pack of terrorist scum plotting to destroy America?
Tekwarz: i dono
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Caleb, could I talk to your teacher?
Tekwarz: miss barons
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Oorah. You got it, kid. Let me talk to her.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Are you still there?
Tekwarz: One of my students said he was speaking with you.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Hey yeah, my name is Staff Sergeant John J. Haymaker, United States Marine Corps oorah! wanted to ask a quick question or two.
Miss Barons: Alright.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: When do you think I could come down and have these kids take some ASVABs?
Miss Barons: I'm sorry, what are those?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. It's a test that'll help them pick their MOS and serve the forces of democracy.
Miss Barons: Sir, this is a fourth grade class.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: I think you're way underestimating your students' abilities and that's tragic.
Miss Barons: Sir, I appreciate your interest, but these kids are learning fourth grade level earth science.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: I wasn't talking about getting them to join tomorrow, ma'am.
Miss Barons: Oh, excuse me, I misunderstood.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: No problem, oorah. We test them now, offer them some career options, and let them finish out the school year. Then we give them their signing bonus, or in the case of these kids give it to their parents, and then ship them off to Parris Island for boot. Then it's on to the school specific to their MOS to learn how to take part in the War on Terror.
Miss Barons: You're talking about fourth graders. That's unreasonable!
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Between fourth and fifth, and no offense ma'am, but I think you're the one being unreasonable.
Miss Barons: How is that?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Ma'am, I'm just trying to give these kids the opportunities they deserve in life. A chance to serve their nation and become a real Marine. Oorah!
Miss Barons: How could a fourth grader possibly become a real Marine?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: There are so many ways, ma'am. This is part of the Early Advantages Program we just started last year. It has been a resounding success. I've got almost 95 signups that will be shipping out to their units in two to four weeks depending on their MOS.
Miss Barons: What job could they possibly do?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Oh, anything under the sun, ma'am. You'd be surprised. Some things the little rascals are better at than regular Marines. They have trouble humping an 80 pound ruck uphill but in hand-to-hand they will put an e-tool right through a coccyx, oorah!
Miss Barons: They're fighting?!
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: One of those little guys scored an expert on rifle and went straight to sniper school. Little dude has a wagon he carries the gun around in, but he can head shot a terrorist from 900 yards over open sights.
Miss Barons: That is ridiculous.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: I know it sounds like it, but America has a proud tradition of youth induction into the Armed Services. Did you know that during the Civil War both sides employed drummers and buglers as young as seven? We're not going that young. Right around ten.
Miss Barons: Ten?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: That's the sweet spot. Very fast learners and at the same time they don't have to forget any garbage they might have picked up in civilian life. Drug abuse is almost a non-issue with them, just have to watch them around sweets or they'll be off the walls.
Miss Barons: I really don't know what to say. This is frankly disturbing to me.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: I am really sorry to hear that, ma'am. All I ask is the opportunity to come talk to you and the class about the opportunities available in the Marines.
Miss Barons: I think some of the parents would have a real problem with that.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Heck, invite them too! I have a pamphlet I can talk about how the EAP can provide tax incentives and credits to parents. Did you know that if you have two children ages 10 and 11 and you send both of them to the Marines you get almost 1500 apiece back on your next filing? Plus 50% combat bonus if their kid's unit is deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Miss Barons: You're paying the parents?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: We tried toys for the kids at first but the parents complained a lot in our test program. Once we switched over to giving the money directly to the parents they were happy to cooperate.
Miss Barons: Staff Sergeant, this all sounds inappropriate. I am going to say firmly no to you and ask you to please leave my students alone.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Fair enough, but you're passing up on a sizable referral bonus.
Miss Barons: What?
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Yeah, if we get a kid to sign up the person who refers them, in this case you, gets a bonus equal to 25% of the signing bonus. So say, if I get a kid to sign up and send him to field artillery school then you get 350 dollars. Another one hundred if he speaks Arabic.
Miss Barons: This is disgusting and it's like selling these kids into slavery!
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Ma'am, I'm offended. Would slavery pay for them to go to college? Will it cover their braces when they turn 12? Would it provide three squares a day, free juice boxes and a fruit snack in the afternoon? The United States has a volunteer military and I would not even want a kid who is not 110% behind making the world a better place.
Miss Barons: I don't want you to ever contact my kids again.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Caleb messaged me and he seemed very interested in joining the Marines. I think you just need to let them find their own way in the world. I bet Caleb would like to drive a big green tank all over and make it shoot its big gun at the bad guys. Why don't you ask him?
Miss Barons: He's a child, I'm not asking him that.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Do you think that's what a terrorist teacher says when she straps a bomb to Al Calebbi? Do you think she underestimates her students so much that she thinks they can't walk into a checkpoint and blow themselves up trying to destroy freedom?
Miss Barons: I don't think what you're saying really happens.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: It does too happen. I read a report about it. They're killing us with their children so it's time we kill them with ours.
Miss Barons: You're joking.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: I'm more serious than a Hitler shirt. I am wake-up-next-to-a-dead-hooker serious. Oorah! If you don't believe in America and Freedom, and you don't believe in your kids, then I will park our big Hummer outside your classroom and put up a sign for free mini-Snickers. Then they'll come to me.
Miss Barons: I'll call the police.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Go ahead. Marines beat police. It's like asking paper to throw scissors out of the parking lot.
Miss Barons: They'll throw you off school property. This is morally repugnant.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Oorah. Well, you just take your high-and-mighty morals and your three-dollar words and you see how well they do against our interactive videogame kiosk. You've got, what, high ideals? We've got puffy American flag stickers and free bracelets. Do you really think your text book of science can hope to compete with our brochure about the Harrier? It's four-color glossy on 110 card stock. CARD STOCK! Oorah!
Miss Barons: Don't ever contact any kids in my classroom again.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: As long as they message me with questions I am empowered by the President of the United States of America and God to answer them.
Miss Barons: We'll see about that.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Yeah, right, what are you going to do? Uninstall MSN? Right, like a teacher could do that.
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: You're not trained for MOS 432224 Instant Messaging Technician, but I bet I could turn one of your kids into a dadgum expert. I will teach those little dudes to tear the throat out of a shark with their teeth. Oorah!
Miss Barons did not receive your message because they are no longer logged in to MSN
Staff Sergeant Haymaker: Oorah!

04 November 2006

Information Warfare: The John and Seymor Show

Information Warfare: The John and Seymor Show
Senator Kerry's comments concerned an alleged lack of intelligence among the troops and the notion that many of the recruits are poor. First of all, the comment was grossly inaccurate.

No, your interpretation of it is grossly inaccurate. He was clearly taking a swipe at the President, and in an election season in which no Republican can claim any real policy successes, the right-wing echo chamber has reduced themselves to endlessly parsing the statements of a man not even running for office. Absent any legitimate progress on Iraq, they're left to slap around a man not on any ballot - mostly out of a reflexive habit left over from 2004.

Every year since 1983, over 90 percent of all recruits have at least a high school diploma. Many officers and enlisted personnel tend to get college degrees (both graduate and undergraduate), often paid for by the armed services.

And yet the Army has very publicly lowered the educational standards for entry...

The claim that most of the recruits are poor also did not stand up to facts. Most of the recruits come from middle-class families. These recruits also score high on the AVSAB tests (two-thirds of recruits score over 60 percent on the test).

The ASVAB is not a "percentage" test where a high or low grade is relevant. It is a test to determine what job skills you're best suited to, in the interest of matching you up with a good job in the military. You'd think a military website would recognize that.

Galloway says what the administration doesn't want to hear

Our 'friend' in Baghdad

Our 'friend' in Baghdad
McClatchy Newspapers

Just when it seemed that the situation in Iraq couldn't get any murkier, more muddled or more dangerous, it did.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, our "friend" or our client, if you will, has openly declared his independence from us and his dependence on his most important domestic supporter, the anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.
Maliki, it's becoming clear, is as big a part of the problem in Iraq as al-Sadr and his gang of thugs and murderers. But President Bush is, well, staying the course with Maliki with all the obstinacy that he's displayed throughout his sojourn in Iraq.
The Iraqi prime minister threw the idea of benchmarks for progress toward disarming the Iraqi militias and standing up competent and capable Iraqi army and police units back in the administration's face last week.
Then, this week, he ordered American troops to pull down their security checkpoints around al-Sadr's power base in Baghdad's Sadr City, home to 2 million Shia.
American troops had sealed off all the routes in and out of the neighborhood in an attempt to find an Iraqi-born American soldier who's believed to have been kidnapped by the Mahdi Army militiamen.
Maliki obviously is never going to have any part of disarming the Mahdi militia, the Badr Corps or any other Shiite militia, as his nation descends into civil war. He doesn't trust the Iraqi army or police any more than anyone else does. If there's going to be a fight to the finish, Maliki wants the deck stacked in favor of the Shiites.
What Washington wants is irrelevant and immaterial to Maliki at this point. Benchmarking and videoconferences with President Bush and rush visits to Baghdad by national security adviser Stephen Hadley won't make any difference.
As we approach a December benchmark - standing up 330,000 ill-trained, ill-equipped and unreliable Iraqi army and police units who aren't up to the job of keeping the lid from blowing off - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that he's inclined to approve a plan to add 30,000 more Iraqi troops to that force.
That guarantees that American trainers and advisers to the Iraqi forces, as well as the other 147,000 embattled U.S. troops, will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future unless the newly independent Maliki orders all of them to go home.
As if 30,000 more Iraqi troops, with the same hasty training, questionable leadership and ambiguous loyalties as the first bunch, might somehow make a difference.
In a war full of futile gestures, that one takes the cake, Mr. Secretary.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that an important benchmark - a classified briefing chart prepared each month by the intelligence section of the U.S. Central Command - shows that Iraq is steadily edging closer to chaos.
The chart, an "Index of Civil Conflict," measures the escalation in sectarian violence since last February and highlights the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi security forces and the waning influence of moderate Iraqi religious and political figures.
It highlights a growing number of urban areas where ethnic cleansing is under way and reports that violence is at an all-time high and spreading geographically in Iraq.
The civil strife index chart mirrors the growing concern among the military commanders most closely involved with the war in Iraq, and it's a warning that even worse news could be on the horizon.
Contrast that with President Bush's recent declarations that although Iraq is a tough situation, we're winning, and victory and glory will be ours - or his - in the end.
It's also clear that our uniformed military leaders are worried that, when push comes to shove, the administration's micromanagers will try to blame them for failing to achieve that victory with too few troops and too little freedom to change a failing course.
The most recent polls indicate that the number of Iraqis who want us out of there is approaching 70 percent. It may be ironic that the number of Americans who want us out of there, too, is nearing the same percentage.
They want us to leave. We want us to leave.
There's nothing standing in the way of satisfying both majorities except a president, a vice president and a defense secretary who are willing to fight to the last man - willing to drive our military to utter destruction - before they'll admit that they were wrong, wrong, wrong from deluded beginning to wretched end.