31 October 2010

Order Of Battle: US Army Tank Company

Kicking off our new ORBAT series of current US Army company-level combat units, which will alternate weeks with ORBATs from other places around the world.

Here's a tank company. Why are the tanks up first? Because I said so!

Click image to enlarge

image extracted from FKSM-71-8

By: Brant

GrogNews Weekend Headlines

Iraq's parliament is still deadlocked, but now the Saudi king has offered to help break the deadlock.

Remember that joint US-Russia drug raid? Well, it looks like Karzai isn't too happy about it, claiming it violates Afghan sovereignty. Y'know what violates my sovereignty? Your inability to control your own country, which means we have to do it for you...

Are there lessons to learn for DADT by looking backwards toward desegregation?

A suicide bomber in Turkey has wounded 22 in Istanbul.

And commercial air traffic returns to Baghdad.

By: Brant

Canada In Action: Armoured Overwatch

A Canadian Forces Leopard2A6M main battle tank provides combat overwatch in Afghanistan. Canada originally leased 20 Leopard 2A6M mine-protected tanks from Germany as an interim measure to replace its Leopard 1A5/C2 tanks that were deployed to Afghanistan but were found to suffer from a lack of air conditioning and insufficient armour protection. Canada later purchased 100 older-model surplus Leopard 2 tanks from the Dutch. The first of 20 Leopard 2 A4M CAN modernized battle tanks was delivered by the German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann to the Canadian Forces on October 7th 2010.
Image: militaryimages.net

By: Shelldrake

Upgrade Coming For US Army Recce Helicopters

Defence Talk has reported details of the planned upgrade to the US Army's fleet of OH-58D reconnaissance helicopters.
The Kiowa Warrior OH-58D, the Army's primary armed reconnaissance scout aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, is about to get a makeover that will extend its life well into the future.

Col. Robert Grigsby, project manager for the Kiowa Warrior Product Management Office, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., told aviation writers during the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Exhibition Tuesday that a new equipment package planned for the OH-58D includes such items as an upgraded sensor, digital inter-cockpit communications, and software for enhanced situational awareness that will keep the aircraft fighting for years to come.

"Once the Army determines what the path to the future is for the armed aerial scout, that will determine how long the Kiowa Warrior will be in the inventory," he said. "What we've done is provide the capability to keep this aircraft viable while the Army makes that decision."

Several upgrades are slated for the OH-58D, which will be re-designated as the F model, but perhaps the greatest with will be the level-2 Manned-Unmanned teaming. Grigsby said this technology will enable Kiowa aviators to receive and transmit full motion video between other aircraft to include unmanned aerial vehicles. Working with the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va., the system was successfully tested in July 2009 and recently integrated into the aircraft.

"This is the first opportunity for the scout aircraft to have the same capability that was put into the Apache fleet and (it will) give them the opportunity to see data in their cockpit that's coming in from UAVs of a potential target area. This gives them situational awareness prior to coming on the scene and (and enables them to) be able to rapidly engage the target."

Kiowa pilots will now be able to transmit their own sensor data to troops on the ground as well.

Among several other improvements to the aircraft will be an advanced Nose Mounted Electro Optical Sensor, improved cockpit control hardware, full-color multi-function displays, and digital HELLFIRE missile future upgrades.

Grigsby said all these changes will make the Kiowa Warrior more effective on the battlefield. "What it will do in my opinion is provide an aircraft that is more suited to the operational environment in which our Soldiers are having to fly in, and allow them to provide better support to the warfighter on the ground."

For an aircraft the Army has relied on for 39 years and seen its share of combat, the upgrades could not come at a better time. Grigsby noted that since 2001, the Kiowa accounts for nearly 50 percent of reconnaissance and attack missions flown in Iraq and Afghanistan, the highest of all Army aviation assets. He added that while the aircraft is designed to fly about 14 flight hours per month, the operational tempo from supporting two wars has resulted in the OH-58D pulling lots of overtime.

"We are flying an average 85-90 hours per month on these aircraft because the warfighter wants them flying. They depend on the Kiowa Warrior being there when they need them. "

Meanwhile, Grigsby said changes to the OH-58 platform will come over time. "It's an incremental approach to how we upgrade the aircraft, to get it where it needs to be and provide the warfighter with this enhanced capability," he added.

He said upgrades such as the reinforced floor armor is being install now, while the man-ummanned teaming system is scheduled to be installed in 2011. The Army plans for the OH-58F model to begin fielding in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015.

In the meantime, Grigsby said the Army intends to bolster its inventory of the OH58D by continuing to convert older OH-58A models. There are currently 331 Kiowa aircraft on hand after losing 44 of them since 2003 to enemy fire and accidents.

"We have an authorization to go out and buy wartime replacement aircraft, so what we are doing is taking Alpha model OH58s and converting them into D models. The plan is to eventually convert to new metal production aircraft as we move forward and the supply of OH-58A's dries up."
By: Shelldrake

Failed Attack Costly To Taliban

The failed attack on a NATO outpost by Taliban fighters that took place on Saturday may have resulted in the deaths of 80 insurgents... if you can believe Afghan intelligence sources.
An Afghan official said Saturday that 80 Taliban insurgents were killed during a failed attack on a NATO combat outpost near the border with Pakistan.

"Fresh information that we received from intelligence sources shows that 80 Taliban have been killed. The bodies of the militants were left on the battlefield," said Mukhlis Afghan, spokesman for the governor of eastern Paktika province.

NATO said earlier that 30 Taliban had been killed as international troops repelled an attack on the outpost in Barmal district, which sits on the border of Pakistan’s lawless North Waziristan tribal area.

A statement from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the insurgents launched the attack at 1.30 am Saturday (2200 GMT Friday) "from all directions" using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms fire.

Five ISAF soldiers were injured, it said, adding that they kept fighting.

"The coalition forces called for air weapons team and close-air support during the engagement. A coalition aircraft engaged an insurgent firing position with three precision-guided munitions," it said.

"The air weapons team also engaged a large number of insurgents near the outpost," it said, adding: "Initial operational reporting indicates more than 30 insurgents were killed in the failed attack on the outpost."

The proximity of the combat post to the border hints at the possibility the insurgents had crossed from Pakistan, where the Taliban’s leadership council is believed to be based.
By: Shelldrake

30 October 2010

CF-18s Respond To Latest Terror Threat

Canadian CF-18s were scrambled in response to suspicious behavior by a UAE flight bound for New York.
As a precaution, a pair of Canadian fighter jets escorted a United Arab Emirates flight from Dubai bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to the U.S. border, where two American military fighter jets flew with it to New York. The escort was due to the fact that the plane was carrying Yemen cargo, officials said.

NORAD spokesman Maj. Brian Martin refused to say how long the passenger jet was in Canadian airspace.

The two Canadian planes were CF-18s that were scrambled out of CFB Bagotville, Que., Defence Minister Peter MacKay told reporters in Halifax.

“They continued to shadow the aircraft until it came into the United States,” he said.

MacKay said suspicions were roused by the fact the aircraft did not respond to air traffic controllers somewhere in Eastern Canada when asked to identify itself.

Canadian Transport Minister Chuck Strahl said in a statement that Canada has “implemented increased vigilance.”

“Currently, we do not have information that these incidents were targeting Canada,” Strahl said. “Still, travellers may see signs of this increased vigilance during their travels.”
By: Shelldrake

Afghan Militia Fighters Train Australian Soldiers

In a surprising and controversial bit of role reversal, Afghan militia fighters are reported to be training Australian special forces troops who are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan.
Six senior fighters reportedly loyal to influential warlord Matiullah Khan, the most powerful figure in Uruzgan province, were flown to Australian bases last week to help strengthen military operations against insurgents.

Air Marshall Angus Houston, the head of the Australian Defence Force, said that the men would be "fighting side by side with our special forces when we do the next deployment."

His department said that the men were members of the Afghan National Police Provisional Response Company, which reports to the Afghan Ministry of Police. He did not comment on reports in the Sydney Morning Herald that they also reported to Khan, a contentious figure in Afghanistan.

"They are brought over here to do the final part of preparations for the next deployment," Mr Houston said.

"The important thing everybody needs to understand is this makes the operating environment safer for the Australian troops who are going to deploy."

The fighters were shown combat training displays at bases in South Australia and outer Sydney. News of the unlikely alliance has prompted concern.

While US forces have worked with Khan for years Dutch forces have refused to do the same and blocked his appointment as local police chief because he has been accused of murder and extortion, both of which he denies. Khan is also suspected of sponsoring Taliban activity in Uruzgan in an attempt to tighten his control over the region.

William Maley, director of the Australian National University's Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, warned that Khan was a questionable ally.

"Muttiallah is a classic example of the wisdom of the old warning that those who sup with the devil should use a long spoon," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"Very often it's all too easy to be seduced by the charms or the apparent skills of a particular tribal actor without properly absorbing the extent to which this then reshapes the wider environment in which one is working in an undesirable direction."

Retired Major General Jim Molan, an Australian who was the US-led international forces' chief of operations in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, said training with Khan's militia was a calculated risk.

"It's not confirmed that they're worse than the Taliban and if you can do a greater good, then I think morally you've got to take a risk," he told the ABC.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Morning Headlines

Investigators are looking into more suspicious packages around the US. And the tentacles of this plot are pretty widespread, too, as they're investigating a plane in Yemen, too.

Another attack in Afghanistan, another NATO victory, and how's the overall progress on the war going? Who knows - we still don't have a mission statement against which to evaluate progress.

A new documentary called Wartorn chronicles stories of soldiers' traumas.

Those paragons of human rights and equal treatment, the Arab League, are insisting the US investigate the WikiLeaks files for war crimes. Put your own house in order, guys.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: Russians in the Field

Russian Military Humor

Colonel to soldiers during some building task:
"you dig here and there, and I'll go and find out where we are supposed to dig"

The same situation
"Anybody here an artist?"
"Yes sir, me!"
"Good! Draw me a square 3 feet by 3 feet on the ground, and dig it 3 feet deep!"
"Anybody here a photographer?"
"Yes sir, me!"
"After he is finished, enlarge this square three times in all dimensions!"

By: Chuckles

29 October 2010

DOD Announces 2010 DOD Chief Information Officer Award Winners

The DOD CIO 2010 Award Winners have been announced. And the world trembled before them in their mighty geekness.

Department of Defense announces the recipients of this year’s DoD Chief Information Officer Awards at a Pentagon ceremony yesterday.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the DoD CIO Award and is the highest honor recognized by the department for achievement in information management and information technology. More than 70 nominations were submitted worldwide including both civilian government employees and military.

The applicants were evaluated based on their outstanding achievement in one or more of the following eight critical areas: acquisition; architecture and interoperability infrastructure; identity and information assurance and cyber operations; management and standards; synchronized and responsive operations and services; capital planning and optimized information technology investments; information management/technology/assurance workforce; and information sharing and data management.

The award winners were chosen because of their exemplary performance in improving information delivery and dissemination, management capability, cost reduction and savings, a broad user base, process, mission impact, and net-centricity.

Team awards were presented to:

First Place: Defense Communications Systems – Southwest Asia (Army), Fort Belvoir, Va.
Second Place: Collaboration Support and Information Division, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.
Third Place: Office of the Chief Information Officer, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.
Fourth Place: Defense Information Systems Agency, Falls Church, Va.
Fifth Place: Apps for the Army (A4A) Challenge Team, Washington, D.C.

Individual awards were presented to:

First Place (Tied): Lt. Cmdr. James Gateau, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany; and Jack Summers, Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.
Second Place: Lee James, U.S. Army Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), Radio Frequency-In Transit Visibility (RF-ITV), Fort Belvoir, Va.

By: Brant

Who's Next for Army Chief of Staff?

The Army Times has some speculation on the next Chief of Staff of the Army. There are 11 generals in the Army of 4-star rank (12 if you count the current CSA). Here's the rundown.

- GEN Martin Dempsey, Commander of TRADOC
- GEN Ray Odierno, Commander of JFCOM
- GEN Peter Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff

- GEN JD Thurman, Commander of FORSCOM
- GEN Lloyd Austin, Commander, US Forces Iraq
- GEN Walter Sharp, Commander USFK
- GEN Carter Ham, Commander AFRICOM
- GEN William Ward, outgoing Commander of AFRICOM

Probably Not
- GEN Ann Dunwoody, Commander AMC
- GEN David Petraeus, Commander, US Forces Afghanistan
- GEN Kieth Alexander, head of the NSA

Now, there's nothing saying you can't bump up a 3-star to the top job, but it's unlikely.

By: Brant

Innovative Ship Designs Revealed At Euronaval Show

New design concepts for a Spanish multirole frigate and a French drone carrier attracted considerable attention at the recent Euronaval show.
Spain's Navantia, designer and builder of a wide range of warships, presented its Multimission Future Frigate, or F2M2. The stealthy ship at first glance looks like a combination of two new American designs, but Navantia naval architect Juan de la Cueva insisted it is intended for different uses.

"We are not thinking of the F2M2 as a littoral combat ship [LCS]," de la Cueva said. "This is intended as a multirole frigate, not for littoral missions."

The F2M2 is not based on a particular government requirement, de la Cueva said, but incorporates a number of concepts and innovations developed in the past few years by Navantia. The ship, meant to be produced in the 4,500- to 5,000-ton range, is notionally about 140 meters long with a beam of 30 meters and a draft of about 5 meters.

A combined diesel-electric and gas turbine plant featuring two electric motors and one gas turbine would drive three water jets, the outer two being steerable. Speed would be about 30 knots, and a total of 150 personnel could be accommodated.

Forward, the F2M2 presents a conventional frigate bow with a medium-caliber gun and vertical launch system. The superstructure, however, bears a striking resemblance to the U.S. Navy's DDG 1000-class destroyer, with angular, flat-sided faces that incorporate all the ship's sensors. No masts or sensors project from the superstructure block; a single exhaust is located on the topmost deck, and air intakes are flush with the structure.

The hull amidships widens to a trimaran configuration and reaches its full width over the last third of the ship. A hangar is fitted in the aft part of the superstructure, and the flight deck is spotted for two NH90 helicopters. Space and weight for surface-to-surface missiles is located ahead of the hangar, atop which secondary guns can be mounted.

As in the U.S. Navy's LCS, a mission bay is located beneath the flight deck, with aside door ramp fitted to starboard. Unlike the LCS, though, above-water torpedo tubes are intended to be fitted in the bay.

While a ramp for a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) was on the model displayed here, de la Cueva said a roll-on/roll-off deck, somewhat similar to that on the Danish flexible support ship Absalon, could be fitted.

The ship would be built with a steel hull, de la Cueva said. Final determination of the superstructure material has yet to be made, he said, although it is likely to be a composite material rather than aluminum.

Navantia will make its official presentation of the F2M2 concept Nov. 4 at Ferrol, Spain, in conjunction with the launch of the Cristobal Colon, last of the F100 Aegis frigates for the Spanish Navy.

A different type of ship, but one that also attracted onlookers, was on display for the first time by Bureau Mauric, a French naval architecture firm in Nantes and Marseilles.

The 70-meter drone carrier or offshore patrol vessel (OPV) also features a trimaran hull, but with a beam of 28 meters is meant to provide excellent seakeeping and stability characteristics, said Vincent Seguin, the project's chief engineer.

The ship's steel hulls are topped by a flight deck, with an aluminum superstructure offset to starboard to provide a portside deck spot for a medium-sized helicopter, or flying area for small UAVs. The hangar embedded in the superstructure features roller doors both aft and to port to simultaneously accommodate manned and unmanned aircraft operations.

Like the F2M2 and the LCS, the drone carrier features a mission bay, with ramp doors on each side, and an RHIB ramp in the stern.

One somewhat unusual feature is that the ship has twin propellers rather than the water jets of other ships - a nod, Seguin said, to the design's emphasis on seakeeping rather than speed.

With an average displacement of 1,800 tons, the drone carrier would not be a small ship, but could be adapted to a variety of OPV and multirole uses.
By: Shelldrake

Helicopter 20, Taliban 0

Taking potshots at an armed NATO helicopter? Some Taliban have found out the hard way that this is definitely a bad idea!
A NATO helicopter crew killed more than 20 insurgents in southern Afghanistan after the men fired on the aircraft, the coalition said Friday.

The group of fighters shot at the helicopter with small arms and machine guns before the crew returned fire, a NATO statement said.

A ground team found 20 bombs, firearms and several vehicles, it said.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Morning Headlines

Another day, another massacre in Mexico. This is at least 4 in the past 7 days.

Remember that "rogue hit squad" disguised as an OSINT program? Well, now the ringleader is under investigation for misleading military leadership about the purpose of the program.

Tense moments on the Korean border as as the two nations exchange shots. Ah, but who shot first?

The US and the Russians have teamed up for a joint drug raid in Afghanistan.

GEN Odierno is taking command of JFCOM. Will he be the last commander there?

By: Brant

Military Maps: White Plains

Contested during the American War of Independence, the Battle of White Plains was fought on October 28, 1776.

image: britishbattles.com

By: Brant

GrogNews Overnight Headlines

They may have some evidence that the Taliban are taking it on the chin in Southern Afghanistan, but NATO doesn't seem to be doing any lasting damage to the Taliban, who appear to be content to melt away and lay low until the US surge is over. Gee, we didn't see this coming.

Russia wants the US to probe events in the WikiLeaks documents. Tell you what, you probe the events of South Ossetia, and we'll get on it.

Not all of the stories of courage and daring are about soldiers. There's a very good article about one of the best photojournalist that is a must-read.

The Somali government can barely convene a meeting of a department within itself, so you really think they could hire a pair of teenage girls to spy on the Islamist militants? Well, the Al Shabaab-ians thought so, and killed them.

Back on the home front, the commander of the USMC air station in Cherry Point, NC has been relieved following a DUI incident.

By: Brant

Canadian Military Cuts to Focus on Defence Bureacracy and Reservists

Canada's military is the latest to look at cost cutting measures in response to a large federal government deficit.
The soldier in charge of coming up with a leaner Canadian Forces is signalling that the axe will fall on the defence bureaucracy and the ranks of reservists to spare a fighting force that will be deployed to war zones and natural disasters.

In his first major speech since he took the role as “Chief of Transformation” in June, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie outlined a vision of a post-Afghanistan Canadian military that has fewer paper-pushers and that won’t skimp on mission might.

“Let’s not think about tinkering with outputs, the folks who actually go outside their bases,” the three-star general said during a speech to Toronto’s Empire Club on Wednesday. “... Let’s focus on the overheads, and not on the field force.”

The military appreciates the taxpayers’ top-ups of the past decade, he said, but “we know that every penny is important.”

In a new era of deficit constraints in Ottawa, the military’s choices are stark: It must cut soldiers and military hardware or redundant bases and staff. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs – and untold lives in future hot spots – hang in the balance.


The Canadian Forces has about 11,200 full-time reservists and another 23,700 part-timers. These “unprecedented” numbers, Lt.-Gen. Leslie said, have to come down. He expressed hopes the full-timers will join the conventional forces or settle into part-time work.

He said he is consulting widely – even probing “all sorts of information databases” – to figure out the military of the future. The world is unpredictable, he said, and Canada’s soldiers will have to respond to volatile foreign conflicts, natural disasters, increased cyber-attacks, and continued terrorist threats.

The military’s current budget projections amount to $44-billion less than the $490-billion earmarked in the 20-year-plan that the Conservatives came up with a couple of years ago.

The 2008 plan had called for expanding the numbers of both regular forces and reserves.

Now Lt.-Gen. Leslie is looking at cutting personnel at headquarters – which now has about 12,000 uniformed soldiers and 28,000 civilians – to shrink the military’s overall ranks, which now number about 69,000.

How much of this can be done in Ottawa rather than on bases in rural communities will have to be determined. “The fact of the matter is, we have so many redundant bases, it’s a drag on the system,” said Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, formerly head of the Senate’s national-security committee. “... You could easily find a billion in overhead [there], but I don’t think there is the stomach to do so.”
By: Shelldrake

28 October 2010

New DOD Recruiting Portal Targets Youths

The DOD has launched a new website to help younger surfers make decisions about their future careers.

The Department of Defense’s Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) program announced today it has launched http://www.myfuture.com, a new website to help America’s youth explore opportunities for their future. Myfuture.com provides comprehensive, unbiased information about career, education and military options for young people, ages 16 to 24.

Powered by information from the Departments of Defense, Education and Labor, myfuture.com provides young people with a resource that helps them formulate a plan for their future by establishing goals and identifying and understanding the steps necessary to reach those goals. The website brings clarity to the process by connecting visitors with factual, practical information and tools.

“People may wonder why the DoD is launching an exploration website for young people who are considering their options for the future,” said JAMRS Director Matt Boehmer. “The fact is, we found existing career and/or college exploration websites not affiliated with the DoD provide little, if any, coverage of the military and its career opportunities. Myfuture.com helps inform young adults who might not normally consider service about the benefits of a military career. By placing the military side by side with college and career opportunities, the website allows them to explore all possibilities and gain insight into each option. We also make the point that the three do not have to be mutually exclusive.”

Myfuture.com provides a breadth and balance of information not available anywhere else, allowing visitors to discover possibilities and opportunities that appeal to their own unique personality and goals. The website provides details on more than 1,000 civilian and military career fields and nearly 7,000 accredited colleges and trade schools. In addition to college admissions details, average salaries and employment trends, myfuture.com provides advice on everything from taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test to interviewing for a first job to preparing for basic military training. Step-by-step planning checklists are also provided as a guide for users, and favorite job and school information can be saved for return visits. For more information, visit http://www.myfuture.com.

By: Brant

GrogNews (Sorta-)Morning Headlines

On the heels of the birthday party massacre in Mexico comes a 15-fatality shootout at a carwash. Seriously folks, there's a war on our southern border and we can't be bothered to secure it?

I was just on the Metro for a good chunk of yesterday, and now we find out that the feds have arrested a man in a plot to bomb the system. Apparently he thought the metro offered a target-rich environment to target US troops.

A boatload of weapons (literally!) was seized in Nigeria, including artillery.

According to one of the UK's top intel officers, nukes pose a wider threat than just terrorism.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Return FIre!

Soldiers of 6 Platoon, B Coy, The 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh, return fire against insurgents in the Green Zone. 1 Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) were busy patrolling the area surrounding their check point in the Green Zone in the Spring of 2010. Their objective was to search for an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which was believed to have been planted in a nearby compound. During the task the patrol came under attack from small arms fire, however the patrol managed to successfully extract under fire without casualties. Despite the disruption to the patrol the area was searched and proved clear of IED’s.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

LCS Variant For The Saudi Navy?

Iran's steady progress towards nuclear weapons capability may be one reason the Saudi government is showing interest in an LCS variant with ballistic missile defense capability.
The Saudi Arabian government is in discussions with the US Navy about the purchase of the Aegis combat system-equipped Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Orlando Carvalho, president of Lockheed Martin's MS2 division, told reporters at Euronaval in Paris that the Saudi Navy was looking at the purchase of eight LCS-variant ships, called Surface Combat Ships, equipped with the lightweight SPY-1F Aegis system as part of an expansion of the oil-rich state's naval forces.

They have also shown an interest in the ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities of Aegis.

Both Austal USA and Lockheed Martin are awaiting the outcome of the LCS programme. Lockheed Martin is offering its Freedom-class single hull vessel, while Austal is competing with its Independence-class trimaran.

A decision on the chosen design is now expected towards the end of the year. The second Freedom-class ship, the USS Fort Worth, is 70% complete and should launch on 4 December.

On the company's stand at Euronaval is a model of the LCS equipped with the Aegis system, featuring the SM-2 missile vertical launch systems fitted into the superstructure just forward of the helicopter deck.

Unlike the US Navy's LCS, the Saudi examples will not be equipped to take modular mission packages but equipped like traditional warships.
By: Shelldrake

3/1 CAV DIV Headed to Iraq

They're going under the name of 3/1 Advise and Assist Brigade, but it's 3/1 CAV and they're headed to Iraq.

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today the deployment of the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Calvary Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas, to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. The unit consisting of approximately 3,800 personnel will deploy in January 2011.

As part of Operation New Dawn, the 3rd AAB will have three primary missions: advise, assist, train and equip Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations; and support and protect civilian and military efforts focused on developing Iraqi civil and institutional capacity.

The 3rd AAB was formed from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which has been deployed to Iraq three times previously in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The unit is expected to deploy early 2011 and will replace redeploying units with no increase in overall force levels.

By: Brant

Smart Tank!

h/t Wargamer.com

By: Brant

Leave No Man Behind: WWII Edition

The US has identified more remains from the Pacific Theater in WWII.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces Staff Sgts. Claude A. Ray, 24, Coffeyville, Kan., and Claude G. Tyler, 24, Landover, Md., will both be buried today -- Ray in Fallbrook, Calif., and Tyler in Arlington National Cemetery. These two airmen, along with 10 other crew members, were ordered to carry out a reconnaissance mission in their B-24D Liberator, taking off from an airfield near Port Moresby, New Guinea, on Oct. 27, 1943. Allied plans were being formulated to mount an attack on the Japanese redoubt at Rabaul, New Britain. American strategists considered it critical to take Rabaul in order to support the eventual invasion of the Philippines. The crew’s assigned area of reconnaissance was the nearby shipping lanes in the Bismarck Sea. But during their mission, they were radioed to land at a friendly air strip nearby due to poor weather conditions. The last radio transmission from the crew did not indicate their location, and searchers that day and the following weeks were unable to locate the aircraft in spite of multiple searches over land and sea areas.

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service conducted investigations and searches for 43 missing airmen, including Ray and Tyler, in the area but concluded in June 1949 that they were unrecoverable.

In August 2003 a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) received information on a crash site from a citizen in Papua New Guinea while they were investigating another case. He also turned over an identification card from one of the crew members and reported that there were possible human remains at the site of the crash. Twice in 2004 other JPAC teams attempted to visit the site but were unable to do so due to poor weather and hazardous conditions at the helicopter landing site. Another team was able to successfully excavate the site from January to March 2007 where they found several identification tags from the B-24D crew as well as human remains.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of relatives of Ray and Tyler -- in the identification of their remains

By: Brant

27 October 2010

AUSA Footage

More from the floor

AUSA Panorama

Another view of the floor

AUSA - The Tour Bus

I don't know if it's an EM50 or not, but it looks cool...

Bungled Keel Construction Leads To Lloyd's Monitoring

The Australian Submarine Corporation will be closely monitored by inspectors from Lloyd's Register Asia following a costly blunder that has derailed construction of the Australian Navy's new air warfare destroyer.

Independent inspectors have been ordered in to monitor the construction of the navy's first air warfare destroyer in a Melbourne shipyard after a central keel block was bungled, throwing the $8 billion project into chaos.

The decision to tighten the scrutiny of the Melbourne arm of the AWD project reflects concern about the quality of work being carried out by subcontractor BAE Systems Australia, which manages the Williamstown shipyard where the mistake was made.

The Australian yesterday revealed that faulty welding and inadequate quality control at Williamstown had resulted in the central keel block of the first AWD warship, the Hobart, being made to the wrong dimensions -- a blunder that will cost tens of millions of dollars and delay the project by about six months.

It is understood the chief shipbuilder in the AWD project, the Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation, has asked shipping experts from Lloyd's Register Asia to visit the Williamstown shipyards to ensure the blocks are being built to internationally recognised standards.

ASC is believed to have asked Lloyd's to become involved about four weeks ago when it became aware of the gravity of the keel bungle. The Lloyd's advisers are likely to visit the shipyards once a week for at least the next six months to help oversee the construction.

Spokespeople from ASC and Lloyd's declined to comment yesterday. The three new 6500-tonne AWDs are being built in Melbourne, Newcastle and Adelaide and were due to enter service from 2014, but this schedule is now unlikely to be met.

By: Shelldrake

China Holds Live-Fire Exercises In Tibet

Is China gearing up for another border war with India? The recent PLA exercises in Tibet can only add to India's worries.
China's military on Wednesday said it held its first live-fire joint ground and air drills on the Tibetan plateau, likely setting off alarm bells in nervous neighbor India.

The exercises were held at an altitude above 15,420 feet (4,700 meters) and involved fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, artillery, tanks and electronic warfare units, the official People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper said.

No exact locations for the exercises or other details such as numbers of troops involved were given in keeping with usual military secrecy. Almost all the vast Tibetan plateau lies at or above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).

The exercises stand to add to concerns in India over a Chinese military buildup in Tibet. The countries fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962 and continue to argue over territorial claims. More recently, New Delhi has complained that Chinese troops along the frontier have grown more aggressive and expressed concern over China's increasingly close ties to the military of India's archrival, Pakistan.

The drills are part of a strategy by Beijing to upgrade training - increasingly involving the firing of real ammunition - and the integration of air, land and sea assets following a two decade-long process of acquiring sophisticated new equipment, much of it from Russia.

The PLA Daily report said the exercises included precision strikes on simulated enemy command posts, artillery positions and other targets.

It said participants successfully overcame hardships related to the high altitude, low oxygen, and extreme cold.

"This is extremely significant in regards to exploring models for training in mountainous terrain and raising the overall level of systematized warfare," the newspaper said.
By: Shelldrake

Russian Military May Return To Afghanistan

Russia and NATO are planning a joint initiative in Afghanistan that may see Russian forces in Afghanistan for the first time since 1989.
A Nato summit next month will be attended by Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, to discuss the plans. Nato officials said Russia had agreed to sell helicopters to Afghanistan and provide training.

Moscow will allow Nato forces to withdraw equipment from Afghanistan overland for the first time, in proposals expected to be agreed in Lisbon.

"The summit can mark a new start in the relationship between Nato and Russia," said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general.

"We will hopefully agree on a broad range of areas in which we can develop practical co-operation on Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics."

He also said that British and US troops would remain on Afghanistan's front lines for years under an open-ended agreement to be signed at the summit. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has demanded that his forces take over the fight against the Taliban by 2014.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Morning Headlines

I'm going to try for more timely loads from AUSA today. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, here's some headlines for your morning...

The US lost contact with about 50 missile launch silos but says they never lost control of the nukes. I'll bet the UFO conspiracists are already lining up to explain this one, eh?

One of the USS Cole bombers/planners was interrogated in Poland, and now that he's on trial in there, local authorities have granted him "victim" status because of his interrogations.

Western powers are taking a two-pronged approach to shutting down the Taliban: either lure them out of fighting with jobs and development, or shut them down with local militias. Or a third, I guess: kill them.
This as Gorby is telling NATO that they can't win in Afghanistan. No. You couldn't win. Doesn't mean we won't.

EADS is pointing to their success with the Lakota helicopter to bolster their case for the new KC-X tanker. This as Boeing runs a bunch of disingenuous radio ads around DC (and has for at least 6 months up here).

The FBI has linked the shootings at the Marine Corps Museum and the Pentagon, and is looking at linking a local recruiting station shooting, too.

By: Brant

COA Analysis: AfPak-Taliban Treaties? (Reader Participation Required!)

The ISI claims they own the Taliban. Karzai's government is trying to talk to them. What's going to happen? Who the hell knows? But hey - here are a few options for you to discuss!

By: Brant

Photos from AUSA

It's a crap signal in the convention hall, so here are some of the photos that I took today and uploaded later...

By: Brant

26 October 2010

AUSA Name that vehicle!

Can you ID this vehicle? Sound off in the comments!

overlooking part of the AUSA hall

By: Brant

Tuesday Q&A: Rick Young

This week's Q&A subject is Mr Rick Young, a tabletop designer primarily associated with GMT.

If my plaque was to go in the Wargaming Hall of Fame next week, the 2-sentence bio on it would say this about me:
He only designed games that he himself wanted to play and loved to play, hoping others would love them too. For many of us, his hopes rang true.

You would know me from my work in this corner of the wargaming world:
Primary block game designer for GMT Games.

I'm currently working on:
FAB Sicily, a block and counter game on the Allied conquest of Sicily in 1943.

What wargame made you want to be a designer?
World in Flames, it was amazingly fun, but took sooooo long to play.  I wanted to design games that were just as fun, but playable in a faster time period.

What was your first game convention?
The Origins that took place in San Francisco, fairly early in their history. It was the year SPI released SPIES, and they had a huge tournament with a large cash prize. I won in the first round as Italy, and then in the second round drew Germany and thought I had a great chance of making the final, until somebody working for SPI announced "Germany won 80% of the games in the first round - so watch out for Germany" - I looked around the table and knew I was toast (sigh).

What kind of wargame do you never see yourself playing?
One with more than 48 pages of rules. In fact, if it has more than 24 pages, then it better come highly reccomended by a fellow gamer I know and trust.

If you could be in one general's command post the night before a battle, which one would you choose, and which battle?
Julius Caesar, [at] Alesia, I would love to see him poised and confident, being the donut with donut-hungry enemy forces outnumbering him significantly and being both inside the donut-hole and outside the donut.

When did you first start to find online communities for wargaming?
November of 2000, when I discovered Consimworld.com.  That was amazing.  I had thought the hobby that I loved was long dead, what an eye-opener to find it not only alive, but vibrant. 

Favorite current TV show?
I haven't watched TV in over a year.
All-time favorite TV show?
The first season of Eli Stone, it was amazing!  The second season they went in the wrong direction and wrecked the show.
And promptly got it canceled, too...

First music cassette, LP, 8-track, or CD you bought yourself?
Uriah Heep, Demons & Wizards.
Rock on!

What was your favorite subject in school?

images mostly from Boardgamegeek, GMT Games, and Wikimedia

By: Brant

Canada Needs To Trim Military Infrastructure

The Canadian Forces will need to cut back on its current infrastructure spending in order to find the funds needed for upcoming major equipment purchases like the F-35 stealth fighter.
Across the country, the 23 Canadian Forces bases and a host of stations, posts, and support units are what connect men and women in uniform to the society they defend. For small towns and rural areas, they are a key driver of the local economy; for regions, part of the community. And for politicians, they're a way of life they're wary of messing with.

Some former military figures argue the Canadian Forces could get by with as few as a dozen bases. But can Stephen Harper's minority government, always facing a nearby election, risk the politics of closing bases such as CFB Borden in Simcoe County, Ont., where former Tory Helena Guergis is running as an independent?

The conundrum is that if Canada's military doesn't cut bases, it will have to trim people, or training, or planes, or ships. All the plans, including expanding the forces and purchasing a shopping list of equipment - fighter jets, navy ships, maritime-surveillance planes and more - can't be paid for with the money now set aside. Operating costs - personnel, training, maintenance, buildings, and bases - will eat away money to replace equipment.

"It's a sure-fire route to obsolescence, irrelevance, and rust-out," says retired Navy Commodore Eric Lerhe, now an analyst critical of the Forces' overhead costs.

After deep cuts in the 1990s when equipment aged and the forces were downsized, Canadians have seen defence spending increase substantially - up 40 per cent since 2004. But hard long-term choices still have to be made. The Forces will have to cut infrastructure and administration. Even so, buying the fighters the air force wants now might mean passing on ships the navy needs later.

Deficit pressures and a slow economy loom. Those who call for vastly increased spending are unlikely to be satisfied. Barring a major public shift, the political reality is we're unlikely to spend much more. Mr. Harper's pro-military Conservatives trimmed spending-increase plans in their 2010 budget.
By: Shelldrake

Russian Navy To Launch Next-Generation Frigate

The first of a new class of frigates for the Russian Navy will be launched this Friday.
The Admiral Sergei Gorshkov frigate will be floated out on Friday, a Russian Navy spokesman said.

"It is planned that the sea trials of the ship constructed using the latest methods in shipbuilding will begin in 2011," the spokesman said.

The warship is part of an upgrade program of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

The Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigate is capable of carrying out long-range strikes, anti-submarine warfare and air defense missions in distant maritime zones.

The Russian Navy said earlier it plans to build 20-30 frigates of this class in the future to supplement all four of its fleets.
By: Shelldrake

Japanese Consider Larger Sub Fleet

Concerned about the recent growth and greater capability of China's navy, Japan is looking to boost the size of its submarine fleet.
Japan may increase the size of its submarine fleet, officials said, as concerns rise that the expansion of the Chinese navy is tipping the regional balance of power.

The Defense Ministry said a bigger submarine fleet is under consideration, with a firm proposal likely to come as early as December. Officials who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday refused to give further details because the plan has not yet been formally tabled.

According to Japanese media reports, the number of submarines would be increased from 16 to 22 over the next four years, a substantial rise that could generate concern from neighboring China.

Though well outnumbered by the Chinese — who now have about 60 subs — the Japanese navy's submarine fleet is significantly augmented by U.S. subs deployed throughout the region. Japanese subs are generally believed to be better equipped than many of the Chinese vessels and are hard to detect.

Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Waseda University, said the move by Japan reflects a desire to counterbalance the Chinese navy's growth and to strengthen joint Japan-U.S. operations.

Yamamoto said Japanese military planners are particularly concerned that China is seeking to have a more credible "blue-water navy" that can operate farther away from its coastlines.

"That has created a sense of insecurity," he said.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Morning Headlines

India is holding a flurry of war games with international partners, not just the Brits.
Oh yeah, Iran is holding some, too.

Tariq Aziz has been sentenced to death. Let's hope his execution doesn't turn into the cell-phone-filmed catastrophe that Saddam's did, where the guards were chanting the name of Moqtada al-Sadr when they pulled the lever.

Speaking of Iran, they're loading fuel into first nuclear reactor. Cue Israeli strike force?

And the Feds are searching the home of a missile systems expert in connection with an investigation on classified info.

According to Transparency International, countries wracked by war tend to be more corrupt. Yep. Probably could've figured that out ourselves, eh?

By: Brant

Off to AUSA!

Hey y'all - I'm headed to AUSA for 2 days. Posts will still be coming from the staff, and stay tuned for photos and notes from the show as I can upload them on-the-go.

By: Brant

GrogNews Update: Latest WikiLeaks Headlines and Links

Iran has characterized the WikiLeaks disclosures as "diabolical". No word about how they characterize their involvement.

The US is defending their Iraq record amid a flurry of accusations and complaints. Odd that those who are treating the WikiLeaks trove as gospel to hammer the US about "human rights" issues are making no mention at all of the chemical weapons disclosures in the same archives.

While the headlines are coming fast and furious, it also appears that there's a power struggle inside of WikiLeaks going on.

And the NY Times has an interesting idea: an ask-a-reporter page where readers can request info on the WikiLeaks archives from the reporters digging through them.

By: Brant

25 October 2010

India and UK Conduct Joint Air Exercise

An ongoing UK-India joint air exercise will give the Indian Air Force the opportunity to kick the tires (so to speak) of the Typhoon, which may be adopted by the Indian Air Force as its new Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.
India and the United Kingdom began joint air exercises in the Indian state of West Bengal on Oct. 20. Exercise Indradhanush, which concludes Nov. 3, will see the Indian airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft participate for the first time in any joint operation.

Along with its E-3D sentry AWACS and VC-10 midair refuelers, the U.K. Royal Air Force is fielding the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is competing for the Indian Air Force's $10 billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. The exercise marks the first time that the Indian Air Force has engaged a Typhoon and will help the service evaluate the European combat aircraft, an Indian Air Force official said.

The Indian Air Force is fielding its Russian-built Su-30MKI and MiG-27 and French-built Mirage 2000-H aircraft.

The joint air exercises will include operations against each other and combined maneuvers to help the pilots improve their skills.

The emphasis will be on exposing the controllers of AWACS aircraft to large-scale engagements and protection of high-value aerial assets in addition to management of logistical needs, the Indian Air Force official said.
By: Shelldrake

UK In Action: Tornado in Nevada

A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft from 13 Squadron, is pictured in a hangar at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, USA during a pre-deployment training exercise. The massive desert ranges around the US base covering 15,000 square miles (38,850 sq km) of airspace provide conditions similar to those faced by British forces operating in Helmand province. And the involvement of the United States Air Force at Nellis, which is home to more squadrons than any other American base, provides the experience of working in a multi-national environment that British troops who operate as part of NATOs International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, also encounter.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

GrogNews Morning Headlines

So there are reports of Karzai's office getting "bags of cash" from the Iranians, which the Karzai government says is completely legit. Really? Then why go through all the trouble of defending it?

The EU is deploying to the Balkans again. This time, they're trying to help defend the Greek border against an invasion of illegal kimmigrants. Hmmmm...

China is trying to use the WikiLeaks drama to bang on the US about human rights. Really? Let's talk Tibet there buckos. Oh, and let's talk about locking up political dissidents before we ever talk about the US letting a sovereign nation govern themselves. And the rest of tbe world is piling on after the WikiLeaks allegations, too.

Muslims attacking Muslims in Pakistan again.

By: Brant

WW2 Bombs Force Rennes and Woippy Evacuations

The discovery of unexploded bombs from the Second World War triggered large scale evacuations in the northern French cities of Rennes and Woippy.
Sixty five years after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, the city in Brittany was closed as engineers worked to defuse a 550lb RAF device. It was one of thousands dropped on northern France in 1944 as Allied troops prepared to invade. Some 10,000 people living in Rennes were involved in the evacuation as the centre of the city resembled a ghost town.

"I remember the bombing raids during the war when hundreds were killed," said Maurice Leclerc, an 81-year-old pensioner who was among the evacuees.

"The fact that the bombs are still disrupting our lives all these years on is truly incredible."

Further east, 4,500 people were moved out of Woippy, in the suburbs of Metz, as bomb disposal experts worked on devices around a former Wehrmacht supply centre. It is now being converted into a bus station, but was bombed so many times during the war that its basement and foundations are littered with ordnance, including RAF and US air force devices.

All of the work was being coordinated by France's Département du Déminage (Department of Mine Clearance), which recovers around 1,000 tons of unexploded munitions every year. Since 1945, around 650 of its staff have died handling unexploded munitions, two as recently as 1998 in the former First World War battlefield of Vimy Ridge. Their work is concentrated on the so-called 'Iron Harvest' of unexploded ordnance which is littered around the battlefields and bombing targets of northern France. Many of the devices are still live, and the workers are particularly wary of artillery shells containing chemical warfare agents like mustard gas, which was widely used during the trench warfare of World War I.
By: Shelldrake

Monday Video: The Women of the PLA

Starting your week off with an Asian BANG...

The women of the PLA

ignore the one with the Korean flag patch. sigh.

Someone - anyone - PLEASE nominate your own videos in the comments below for future inclusion

By: Brant

What's in the WikiLeaks Files?

Reuters fills us in...

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks on Friday released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military files chronicling the Iraq war from 2004 through 2009, the largest leak of its kind in U.S. military history.

The documents themselves are known at the Pentagon as 'SIGACTs,' raw field reports chronicling "Significant Action" in the conflict as seen by U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq.

According to an initial review of the documents and reports by other media that have had access to them for at least 10 weeks, the broad themes from the "Iraq war log" attracting the most attention are:


* U.S. authorities face accusations of failing to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi police and soldiers, including cases of rape and even murder that are detailed in the logs. WikiLeaks says there are also cases of abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody, but media given advance access say those cases pale in comparison.


* WikiLeaks said the reports detailed 109,032 deaths in Iraq, composed of 66,081 'civilians,' 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents, Britain's Guardian reported.

* In February 2007, an Apache helicopter killed two Iraqis suspected of firing mortars even though they were trying to surrender. A military lawyer is quoted in one file saying, "They can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets." Other cases involved civilian killings at checkpoints.


* Military intelligence reports released by WikiLeaks detail previously well-known U.S. concerns that Iranian agents had trained, armed and directed militants in Iraq.

* In one document posted by The New York Times, the U.S. military warned that a militia commander believed to be behind the deaths of U.S. troops and the kidnapping of Iraqi government officials was trained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


* Britain's Bureau of Investigative Journalism says it found documents detailing new cases of alleged wrongful killings of civilians involving a firm previously known as Blackwater. Blackwater, which has now changed its name to Xe Services, saw its reputation badly damaged by a 2007 incident in which its security guards were involved in a shooting that killed 14 civilians.


* Documents in the WikiLeaks file also show that U.S. officials privately believed the three American hikers detained in Iraq last year were on the Iraqi side of the border, not in Iran as Tehran contends. Iran is still holding two of them and the document says Iranian leadership hoped to benefit from the incident by focusing the nation "on a perceived external threat rather than internal dissension."

By: Brant

England and The Taliban: What's Next

There are a few articles out there about the IK and the Taliban....

A Sky News article about the Taliban includes their claim that the Brits are their main source of money.

And a Daily Mail article describes claims that Taliban sympathizers are planning attacks in England.

By: Brant

Closer Look At Taliban Chain of Command

The LA Times has a great article about a mid-level Taliban commander and how current events are affecting him.

Commander H. is nervous.
He rarely sleeps twice in the same place, and tosses away his cellphones almost as often as he changes houses. He can't stay in close contact with the foot soldiers who report to him. And he wonders, sometimes uneasily, whether his leaders are looking to cut a deal with the people who are trying to kill him.

Midlevel Taliban field operatives such as Commander H., who leads a cell of fighters outside the southern city of Kandahar, are acutely aware that they are being hunted more intensely than ever before: The NATO-led force in Afghanistan says that in the last three months, it has killed or captured hundreds of insurgent commanders and thousands of lower-level fighters.

Increasingly, the Western alliance's effort to find a way out of the deadlocked conflict in Afghanistan centers on a two-track approach: seeking to devastate the Taliban field-command structure while trying to woo the movement's leaders to the bargaining table. But some analysts, officials, diplomats and other observers say this strategy could backfire, perhaps even providing the insurgency with fresh impetus, stronger motivation and more recruits.
They point out that the loose and decentralized nature of the insurgency means that many of those on the battlefield have no real pipeline to the upper echelon. And it is not at all clear that the Taliban fighters on the ground feel it's time to make a deal.

Commander H., for example, insists that his troops are ready to continue the battle, and says that he himself could be readily replaced if he were killed or captured.

He succeeded an older cousin who was killed last year, and said avenging that death and other killings and destruction of property guides his belief that the fight must go on until all foreign troops have left Afghan soil.

By: Brant

24 October 2010

BUB: Weekend Headlines

Ah yes, WikiLeaks fallout. We'll be dealing with this for a while, eh?

So the AP says that the WikiLeaks archives show Iraq as a weak and divided nation. Of course,
Maliki's supporters are trying to claim that WikiLeaks is a giant plot to discredit their man. You know, because the US had nothing by the discrediting of him in mind when they were compiling daily SIGACTS reports for 5 years.
In other dysfunctional government news, an Iraqi court has ordered parliament back to work on forming a new government.

Pirates have seized a Singapore tanker off Kenya.

And Mexico's insurgency continues, with 13 dead in Ciudad Juarez at a massacre at a party.

By: Brant

Danger Room Catches Up... 4 years later

So Danger Room has an interesting dig thru the 'new' WikiLeaks archives for evidence of WMDs in Iraq and finds multiple instances of reports throughout the years.

Heck, we excerpted an article back in 2006 over at StrayVoltage where a general admitted they found them right before a classified briefing to Congress.

So yeah, anyone who says that we never found WMDs in Iraq is probably under the delusion that we "lost" in Vietnam, too.

By: Brant

Dealing Death and Going Green at the Same Time

The USAF is testing biofuels in their F15s.

The F-15 Eagle is the latest jet fighter to receive the alternative fuels treatment, flying October 22 on a 50-50 blend of conventional jet fuel and an alternative—in this case made from specially processed animal fat: beef tallow bio-jet fuel.

Already, nearly the entire fleet of 40-plus aircraft flown by the U.S. Air Force has been certified to fly on jet fuels made from natural gas or coal—the exceptions being the drone aircraft that have been too busy abroad to be tested at home. The goal: "by 2016, to be able to replace up to half of the fuel used Air Force wide with an alternative blend that was both cost-competitive and had no worse greenhouse gas footprint than petroleum products," says Jeff Braun, chief of the Air Force's alternative fuels certification division.

By: Brant

Possible Preparations For Nork Nuke Test

It is still not clear whether or not North Korea is preparing for another nuclear weapons test, despite evidence of increased activity at the site where previous tests were conducted.
North Korea appears to be preparing for a third nuclear test, a South Korean newspaper reported Thursday, just days after Pyongyang declared it was ready to return to nuclear talks.

But South Korean government officials said there was no concrete evidence that the communist state was readying such a test, saying Seoul and its allies are closely watching developments related to the North's nuclear facilities.

According to South Korea's biggest-selling newspaper Chosun Ilbo, US satellites detected movements of personnel and vehicles at the site where the the North carried out its first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

"Hectic movements of personnel and vehicles have recently been detected in Punggye-ri," Chosun quoted an unidentified government source as saying.

The North also appears to be restoring tunnels demolished during the first two tests, according to the source.

"However, it is unlikely (the North will) carry it out soon. It is expected to take another three months (to complete preparations for a third test)," the source said.

But a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said there was no evidence of any such preparations.

"We have no concrete evidence to support the news report," he told reporters. "We're watching closely any development concerning the North's nuclear facilities and sharing information with countries concerned."

A South Korean defence ministry official also told AFP on condition of anonymity that such movements were being constantly detected, possibly for the daily maintenance of key strategic facilities at the site.

Another government source told Yonhap news agency that since the North's last nuclear test in May 2009 there has been consistent movement of personnel and vehicles around Punggye-ri.

"It is difficult to regard these moves as signs that a nuclear test is imminent," the source was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
By: Shelldrake

Order Of Battle: Duke of Lancashire's Regiment

Excerpted from the official The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment Website

1st Battalion
The 1st Battalion (1 LANCS) is a Regular Army Infantry battalion (600 men and women) of the Regular Army, stationed with its families in Somme Barracks, Catterick.

2nd Battalion
The 2nd Battalion (2 LANCS) is also a Regular Army Infantry battalion, based with its families in Episkopi in Cyprus.

4th Battalion
The 4th Battalion (4 LANCS) is the Territorial Army Infantry unit in the North West of England. 4 LANCS is based in four company locations and four detachment locations, totalling over 500 men and women.

The Regimental Band
Made up of part-time Territorial Army musicians, the Regimental Band plays at prestigious military events throughout the north west of England and frequently elsewhere, including at overseas venues from time to time.

By: Brant

23 October 2010

Anniversary: Beirut

Beirut Memorial On Line

By: Brant

BUB: Weekend Headlines

Yep, WikiLeak fallout started in about 12 seconds.

The opposition Iraqiya bloc says the allegations demonstrate the need to ensure al-Maliki does not succeed in staying in office through the political dealmaking that has dragged on since March 7 national elections that failed to produce a clear winner.
"The kind of practices and violations committed by al-Maliki is what makes us insist on a mechanism to participate in the decision-making because al-Maliki wants to have all powers in his hands," said Iraqyia spokeswoman Maysoun al-Damlouji.
"Putting all the security powers in the hands of one person who is the general commander of the armed forces have led to these abuses and torture practices in Iraqi prisons."

There was an attack on a UN office in Afghanistan. By those standard-bearers for the Religion of Peace, of course.

A suicide car bomber and three armed militants wearing explosives vests and burqas attacked a United Nations compound Saturday in western Afghanistan, but Afghan security forces killed the attackers and no U.N. employees were harmed, officials said.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three guards working at the compound were injured.

DADT being fought against by Republicans? Actually, yes.

The decorated Iraq war veteran had been serving in the Army, with some in his unit aware that he was gay. And yet, he said, no one had ever tried to get the officer discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
"This is not an example of why the policy works, it's an example of why it is broken," he said.
Almost two years later, Cooper finds himself leading a 19,000-member group for gay Republicans that has managed to accomplish what its fellow gay rights activists on the left have not — bring the 1993 Clinton-era law closer than it has ever been to being abolished.
A federal judge ruled last month in a lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans in 2004 that the ban on openly gay troops was unconstitutional, and ordered the Pentagon to stop its enforcement. An appeals court has temporarily frozen that order while it considers a government request to suspend it pending an appeal of the case.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: When Lawyers Write PAO Statements

C'mon, we've all seen what happens when the lawyers get involved.

Q: How many military information officers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: At the present point in time it is against policy and the best interests of military strategy to divulge information of such a statistical nature. Next question, please.

By: Chuckles

BUB: Return of the Leak

Like a bad case of syphilis that won't stop dripping, WikiLeaks just keeps on "leaking"...

So WikiLeaks has dropped a fresh load of "secrets" about the war in Iraq. Keep in mind that the definition of "secret" can be kinda, well, flexible. I mean, they published the authorization doc for TF ODIN once, thinking it was some sort of state secret.

So anyway, Comrade Julian, who excels at putting the "Ass" in "Assange", is trying to defend the release of the classified docs as though the future of the human race depends on it. His claim is that they show "the truth" about the Iraq war, but as WIRED has recounted after the Afghanistan leaks, what shows up in terse SIGACTS reports - sometimes submitted hours after the actual event - isn't the full context of what happened on the ground.

MSNBC.com - not the overtly left-leaning TV channel, but the more balanced website - has an interesting article about how different news organizations look at the leaks with different viewpoints.

- For example, Al Jazeera's website has a huge headline about how the "US turned blind eye to torture" while burying at the bottom of the page an article entitled "A snapshot of Al-Qaeda in Iraq".

- The New York Times has chosen to focus some attention on details of Iran’s aid for Iraqi militias.

- WaPo took a broader view, but focused on deaths and torture.

- WIRED preferred to examine a lot of technical details of the operations, including a report that Iran was smuggling chemical weapons into Iraq for use by militias.

And while everyone wants Xewater's head on a plate, including the crusading activist Spencer Ackerman, WaPo's SpyTalk blog says that the WikiLeaks files likely pose little threat to Blackwater.

And yes, there was an official condemnation from the US military.

By: Brant

10th Mountain Division Soldiers Train ANA Troops

Future ANA leaders are learning their trade with the help of instructors from the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.
In one of the most memorable presidential speeches ever given, U.S. President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation and spoke words that still strike a chord with many today, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Although born long after President Kennedy’s words were spoken and raised in a war-torn country thousands of miles from the United States of America, thousands of today’s young Afghan men are following Kennedy’s advice and stepping forward for their country by serving in the Afghan National Army.

To help them achieve success, a group of nearly 40 Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment spent the last nine months mentoring, instructing and assisting ANA leaders at the ANA’s basic training program at Camp Parsa.

The camp is located just outside of Camp Clark in eastern Khowst Province about 20 miles west of the Pakistan border. For the last four years, thousands of ANA soldiers attended training there to learn basic soldiering skills.

“Our mission is to directly support the Regional Based Warrior Training for the Afghan National Army,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class William Dunn, platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2-22 Infantry, and native of Salem, Mass. “The goal is to establish a sustainable education program and maintain capable training support systems to assist in the development and growth of the ANA.”

The challenging mission consists of a partnership between the U.S. Soldiers and the RBWT’s battalion commander, battalion sergeant major, company commanders and first sergeants who are responsible for the training of new ANA recruits during their eight-week basic training cycle at Camp Parsa.

During each cycle, U.S. Soldiers spend the majority of their time with the ANA leadership elements advising, instructing, training, coaching, developing and helping them overcome any problems they run into along the way.

“We help them with everything from initial logistic issues through the entire scope of training,” said Dunn. “We try to spend as much time with them as possible, shoulder to shoulder, so they can see and learn our procedures and techniques. We not only show them how to make on-the-spot corrections, we also do a lot of demonstrations, such as proper squad formations and movement drills.”

Each class of recruits contains about 600 Afghans. The training starts off with the basics and becomes more advanced each week.

“The first couple of weeks covers basic soldiering skills, weapons immersion with the M16A2 rifle, cultural classes and generally gives the new students an overall welcome to the ANA,” said Dunn. “After that, they begin learning how to use buddy teams. From there the training advances to squad movements such as reacting to ambushes and squad attack techniques. The highlights of the training are basic rifle marksmanship and live-fire exercises.”

Although Dunn and his team seem to be making progress with leadership development, the team still faces its share of obstacles.

“One of the main challenges we have is logistical difficulties due to the distance from here to the ANA’s main supply base in Gardez,” said Dunn. “Another challenge is trying to introduce technology to the leadership, because many of them never even used a computer before.”

Despite those challenges and others, Dunn said he enjoys the mission.

“This is a rewarding job for a couple of different reasons,” he said. “One is we are helping build the Afghan army from the ground up. Secondly, every eight weeks we see the ANA soldiers graduate, and we know they are going off to serve their country by either protecting the border, providing security for their villages or supporting their government. What they do is making a difference for the future of Afghanistan and we have had a part in that.”
By: Shelldrake

Russian Military Reforms Command Structure

Russia's military is using compass points as the basis of its new command structure.
The creation of four unified strategic commands to replace four military districts as part of Russia's military reform has been completed ahead of schedule, Defense Minster Anatoly Serdyukov said on Friday.

President Dmitry Medvedev set the original date for December 1, Serdyukov said.

There were six military districts prior to the reform.

"We finished the work just last week," he added.

Command West, with headquarters in Moscow, will control all military personnel and hardware in the Western Military District. The new district will incorporate the former Moscow and Leningrad military districts and the Baltic and Northern Fleets.

Command South, with headquarters in Rostov, will be in charge of the Southern Military District, which will include the former North Caucasian Military District and the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla.

Command Center, with headquarters in Yekaterinburg, will control the Central Military District, including the former Volga-Urals Military District and the western part of the Siberian Military District.

Finally, Command East, with headquarters in Khabarovsk, will have command over the Pacific Fleet, the Far Eastern Military District and the larger part of the Siberian Military District.
By: Shelldrake