30 September 2013

Are the Norks Watching the Syria Fallout?

Do the Norks really care what the response is in Syria?

Standing just steps from the heavily armed border with North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday that Pyongyang is closely watching the international response to Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people.

And, with North Korean soldiers eyeing his every move, Hagel told reporters traveling with him that the U.S. has no plans to reduce its military presence in South Korea, despite the ongoing budget crisis.

Hagel's visit is timed to the 60th anniversary of the signing of the mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and South Korea, and to reinforce America's commitment to the security of the peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region.

"There is no margin for error up here," Hagel said after a stop in one of the three small blue conference houses that sit on the border of North and South Korea. "This is probably the only place in the world that we have always a risk of confrontation. Where the two sides are looking clearly and directly at each other all the time."

Inside the house, Hagel stepped briefly onto the North Korean side. And when he moved back outside to speak to a crowd of reporters, North Korean soldiers stepped up to the border just alongside the building and watched from about 40 feet away.

By: Brant

Swiss Army Exercises - Invaded by France?

Look, every exercise needs a premise, and when you have no real enemies, sometimes you just make up weird stuff and go with it.

A bankrupt France tears itself apart into several regions, and one of them marches over the border to Switzerland to get back its stolen money. The Swiss army has this imaginary scenario covered, according to military simulations revealed over the weekend.

Switzerland's army simulated a French attack against their country in training exercises in August, the newspaper Matin Dimanche revealed on Sunday.

The army imagined a scenario in which France was in financial turmoil and had split up into several regional entities.

One of these, "Saônia," was preparing attacks on Switzerland to retrieve money it had apparently stolen from it.

By: Brant

27 September 2013

EU Advisors in Somalia Increase Their Security

Following the attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya, the EU has raised the security level for their Somalia team.

The European Union has increased security precautions for its military advisers in Somalia after the deadly attack by Somali Islamists on a Kenyan shopping mall, it said on Thursday.

The EU has 120 military experts, split between the Somali capital Mogadishu and Uganda, training and advising Somali security forces battling the al Shabaab group which claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack.

The EU's top military officer, French General Patrick de Rousiers, said it was routine to raise the alert level. "Of course we do this. Everybody does this, every embassy does this. Everyone is concerned," he told a news conference.

The EU has had no word of any planned attack on its team and no EU member state had asked to pull its staff out of Somalia, de Rousiers said, but he noted that al Shabaab struck the main U.N. compound in Mogadishu in June when 22 people were killed.

By: Brant

26 September 2013

Bullets! - Language Maintenance

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

We spend a lot of time every maintaining our weapons, which we only use 4-6 times a year, and rarely have a big impact on our career. We spend as much time on our masks, which we probably use less and have an even smaller impact on our career. We use the English language daily, it has a huge impact on our careers (OERs, NCOERs, Awards, etc.) and yet when was the last time you did any "language maintenance" or refresher training?

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

25 September 2013

GameTalk - Counterfactuals

What makes a good counterfactual game and how does one design the historical backstory such that it maintains plausibility and still creates a compelling game?

By: Brant

DOD Identifies Next Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

The DoD has announced the next units for upcoming Afghanistan rotation, which doesn't look at all like a drawdown...

The Department of Defense today identified six units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan.

The scheduled rotation involves elements of two infantry brigade combat teams (IBCT) – one with roughly 1,830 personnel (4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division) and one with roughly 2,000 personnel (2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division); elements of one armored brigade combat team (ABCT) with roughly 1,160 personnel (3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division); elements of one combat aviation brigade with roughly 1,800 personnel (159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division); a division headquarters element with roughly 630 personnel (10th Mountain Division Headquarters) and a corps headquarters element with roughly 560 personnel (XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters) to rotate in winter 2013-2014 in support of the combatant commander’s mission requirements. The deploying units include:

Brigade Combat Teams/Combat Aviation Brigades:
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Division Headquarters:
10th Mountain Division Headquarters, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Corps Headquarters:
XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters, Fort Bragg, N.C.

By: Brant

24 September 2013

Sound Off! Military Animals

More important to the military...

... horses?

... dogs?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Progress with the Norks?

China is playing tougher with the Norks?

China has banned exports to North Korea of technologies and goods that could be used to make missiles and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the government said, as it moves to comply with UN resolutions.

Beijing, the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline, has publicly supported sanctions against Pyongyang in the past, though it has come in for criticism from the US and other countries for alleged lax enforcement.

China, which has tended to prioritise regional stability in its relations with the North, regularly calls for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But it has been reluctant to push North Korea too hard over fears it could result in a messy collapse of the regime.

Since North Korea conducted its third underground nuclear test in February, however, China has taken a harder stance, with President Xi Jinping telling an international forum in April there should be no tolerance for those who foster "chaos", remarks widely interpreted at the time as a criticism of North Korea.

The prohibition covers items including components for nuclear explosion devices, certain rocket systems and toxic gas monitoring and testing systems, according to a 236-page list released by the Ministry of Commerce and three other government agencies on Monday.

By: Brant

A Failure of Investigation

I've been through the process several times, and you're always told that omissions will almost certainly disqualify you even more than embarrassing disclosures will.

The Washington Navy Yard shooter lied about a previous arrest and failed to disclose thousands of dollars in debts when he applied for a security clearance in the Navy.

Then federal investigators dismissed the omissions, and made one of their own — deleting any reference to Aaron Alexis' use of a gun in that arrest.

The gaps in his record eventually allowed him to work in the secure Navy building where he gunned down 12 workers last week, underscoring weaknesses with the clearance process that Navy officials are targeting for change.

some of the details

When a check of Alexis' fingerprints disclosed the Seattle police incident, it triggered a follow-up interview for the security clearance. An OPM memo about the interview included multiple questions about debts he failed to pay and problems with collection agencies. In each case, the memo noted that Alexis was having financial troubles, was arranging repayment plans and only he and his mother knew of the debts.

"The subject does not feel that knowledge of any of his financial issues could be used against him for blackmail or coercion," the memo said.

The fact that Alexis did not disclose the debts on his security form was dismissed in the memo, which noted that he answered "no" to the questions because he was working on payment plans and thought the issues would be resolved. He also answered "no" to questions about his police record, including whether he had been arrested, charged, convicted or issued a summons, citation or ticket to appear in court in a criminal proceeding.

The OPM memo said Alexis told the investigator he answered "no" to those questions "because the charge was dismissed and he was told by Connell (his attorney) that the charge would be removed from his record."

You don't leave out shit. You tell them everything and you tell them that charges were dismissed, or reduced, or whatever.

But my real question is this: why was he granted a clearance when the investigators were able to verify that he'd omitted details from his background? WTF?!

By: Brant

23 September 2013

USAction! - Aviation at Sea

U.S. Navy Seaman Kendahl Chmara, left, signals to the USNS Arctic as U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Michela gives commands to riggers during a replenishment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Sept 13, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Karl Anderson
By: Brant

22 September 2013

Savages Being Savages

As Guardian likes to say, it's another episode of Savages being savages.

Gunmen stormed a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, killing at least 39 people including close relatives of Kenya's president and children, in an attack claimed by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab.

Shooting continued hours after the initial assault as troops surrounded the Westgate mall and police and soldiers combed the building, hunting the attackers shop by shop. A police officer inside the building said the gunmen were barricaded inside a Nakumatt supermarket, one of Kenya's biggest chains.

"We got three bodies from this shop," said volunteer Vipool Shah, 64, standing a dozen meters from the supermarket entrance and pointing to a children's shoe shop where blood lay in pools.

Shah turned to a nearby burger bar where piped music still played and food lay abandoned. "And a couple of bodies here."

The attack appeared designed to achieve maximum global impact by targeting a place frequented by Westerners as well as Kenyans.

As Doctrine Man noted: "No wonder nobody like them"

By: Brant

19 September 2013

Bullets! - Proactivity

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

Encouraging proactivity in soldiers has yet to backfire.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test

As released by the DoD, the Aegis BMD system completes successful intercept flight test.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully conducted a flight test today of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, resulting in the intercept of a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (8:30 p.m. EDT), a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target. The first SM-3 that was launched successfully intercepted the target warhead. This was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target.

Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

This test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles. This was an operationally realistic test, in which the target's launch time and bearing are not known in advance, and the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to date.

Today's event, designated Flight Test-Standard Missile-21 (FTM-21), was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System.

FTM-21 is the 27th successful intercept in 33 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 63rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 79 flight test attempts since 2001.

Is it common to drop a press release on the 27th successful intercept? Or are they just trying to get something other than the Washington Navy Yard shooting on the newswire?

By: Brant

18 September 2013

GameTalk - Multi-player II

How do you structure the ORBATs for a team game, where multiple players are playing in cooperation, but not necessarily with full knowledge of each others' orders, forces, plans, etc?

By: Brant

17 September 2013

Sound Off! Warrior-Scholars

Should we prioritize sending

... military members to civilian schools?

... civilians to military schools?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

16 September 2013

VCJCS to the Army: Forget Long Land Wars(?!)

At the AUSA conference this past weekend, a Navy man gave the Army a hard wake-up call, but what will it result in?

So what is the Army’s future role in Winnefeld’s vision? “If we get in another fight – and some day we will get in another fight on the ground – I think it would be a different fight: one that’s shorter, faster-paced, and much harder,” Winnefeld said in his opening remarks. “The battlefield will be a more hostile environment than it’s ever been. The fog of war, despite all of our technology, will not clear for us, and the adversary will use the tools we have employed so successfully recently, such as quality ISR and networks and precision guided weapons, against us. We will need ground forces that can handle this.”

“Speed of deployment, whether by being there already or through prepositioning or through lift, will become more important than it’s ever become,” Winnefeld went on. Getting to the war zone quickly, by the way, has been an agonizing issue for the Army since the failure of Task Force Hawk during the Kosovo campaign of 1999. Indeed, even further back, many in the Army remember the desperately vulnerable position of the much-vaunted but lightly-armed 82nd Airborne after it flew to Saudi Arabia in 1990, only to have to wait months for heavy backup to come by sea: For a stinging critique, read the Defense Science Board’s 2006 Summer Study: Search for the words “speed bump.”

Yet Winnefeld said he wanted the Army take on even more rapid-response missions. “I’d like to see the Army place more emphasis on the growth industry… of protecting American citizens abroad,” he said. “Don’t yield that entirely to the Marine Corps.” (The Marines are famed for their role in short-notice Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, or NEOs, as well as their standard duty of protecting US embassies and consultates).

By: Brant

Are They Hiding Something Else, or Just Incompetent

With the NSA, you just assume incompetence in the 'overcoverage' of what they investigate. But the CIA, especially the overseas guys, you expect more from, and so you can't help but wonder if the refusal to let Mr Lady off the hook isn't covering up something worse that the CIA really doesn't want out.

First, some backstory from the article.
On Feb. 17, 2003, Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, a heavyset and bearded man in his early 40s, went missing en route to midday prayers at his mosque in Milan. The CIA and Italian police considered the man, better known as Abu Omar, to be a recruiter for al Qaeda. His family and the Italian police had no inkling where he'd gone.

Fourteen months later, Abu Omar emerged from jail, called his wife from Egypt and described his abduction and mistreatment in captivity. Italian authorities listened via a telephone tap on his home phone in Milan and started to look into a kidnapping.

Their investigation led to the CIA and its man in Milan. The political mood in Italy, initially sympathetic to the U.S. in the wake of 9/11, turned to outrage when the alleged breach of sovereignty was revealed in 2005. An aggressive magistrate named Armando Spataro got indictments for 26 Americans and five Italians, the first known time that employees of the CIA had ever been prosecuted by a friendly government for doing their jobs.

Then, the frustrating parts...
More recently, Italy worked with the CIA to grab an al Qaeda member—a "high-level guy"—and put him into an Egyptian prison "forever," he says, but "I can't tell you the details."

Thinking of his current predicament, Mr. Lady says he's struck by "the hypocrisy of this whole thing." Bill Clinton approved extraordinary rendition and so has every president since. "In every case, in every rendition I have ever been involved in, the local government was a partner," Mr. Lady says, and Abu Omar was no exception.

Who in Italy knew what about the Omar rendition remains unclear and controversial. The government of Silvio Berlusconi, then in power, denied direct knowledge. The brass at the CIA's Italian counterpart, the SISMI, was aware of the operation. An Italian policeman, who testified that he was tapped by Mr. Lady to take part, stopped Abu Omar on the street to check his documents seconds before American agents threw the cleric into a white van. Mr. Lady denies he recruited the policeman for the rendition, saying "I'm convinced that he was forced to say that so he could get immunity."

He has no doubts the Italian government was on board. "Everything we did in Italy was joint. Everything," he says. "Italy is one of our closest allies. Our only interest in Italy was working on common targets."

Mr. Lady, who arrived in Milan in 2000, developed close personal relationships with Italian counterterrorism police. He says he brought Abu Omar to the Italians' attention a month before 9/11, identifying him as rising militant.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, field operatives were under pressure to take "hard measures," as in the title of the memoir by former CIA clandestine service chief José Rodriguez, to produce "legitimate, actionable intelligence against terrorists," says Mr. Lady. "They were desperate times. We were working endless hours." He says his superior, Mr. Castelli, wanted to pull off a notable rendition just to help his own career. He calls Mr. Castelli "human exhaust" and suggests the feeling was mutual. "Castelli hated me so much," Mr. Lady says, "that he wouldn't let me near an operation like that." (Mr. Castelli, who has since left the CIA, didn't respond to requests for comment submitted through his office.)

The CIA station chief in Rome insisted on grabbing Abu Omar over objections from Mr. Lady and skepticism in Washington, according to Mr. Lady and Ms. de Sousa. Mr. Lady says Abu Omar was "a bad guy" but "not a major al Qaeda figure." His capture, the CIA agent worried, would irritate the Italian police, who had put in time and resources to monitor him.

Once Washington approved the rendition, Mr. Lady says he was told "either do it or get out of Dodge." Why not resign? "I was," he says with a long pause, "one year away from retirement. Would you throw away 23 years of your career and resign without a pension?"

As Italian investigators showed with excruciating detail, the "Italian job" was sloppy tradecraft. The several dozen agents brought in for the rendition—many more, says Mr. Lady, than the 20 identified by the Italians—used cellular phones and paid hotel bills with credit cards that were easily traced back to them.

What do you think? International payback for the accidental killing of an aid worker in Iraq? Trying to punch above their weight diplomatically? The US trying to distance themselves from the fact that rendition exists, has always existed, and will continue to exist, just more quietly?

By: Brant

How Painful Will the Coming Budget Cuts Really Be?


Going where the “real money” is invariably leads to compensation, about half of all defense spending, broadly defined as all pay and benefits, military and civilian, current and retirees, direct and in-kind (such as DoD schools and the commissaries). The 2000s saw substantial military pay and benefit increases leading to a compensation package that cannot be sustained under today’s budget circumstances — at least without making truly damaging (and dangerous) cuts elsewhere. Unlike “overhead,” significant savings are possible in the compensation category that could mitigate the sequester’s damage — between $50 billion and $100 billion over the next decade if riskier and more controversial options are included.

But, unlike a private corporation looking to downsize its overhead and personnel costs, the Defense Department cannot make pay or benefits changes — like modest raises to some health insurance fees for working-age retirees — without legislative approval. And, as with BRAC, the Congress has consistently rejected any proposal — including those unanimously endorsed by the uniformed leadership — that could be portrayed as cutting military compensation. So between one-third and one-half of the Pentagon’s budget is effectively off limits. That is why cutting the defense top-line by a tenth, in reality, means a much higher percentage reduction to the military’s size, readiness and technological capability.

Here we are talking about the proverbial “teeth” of defense spending: force structure (primarily measured in Army brigades, Air Force wings, Navy ships, Marine battalions), modernization investments (procurement, research and development) and readiness (training, maintenance and related operations).

One major source of savings would come from reducing the size of the active Army. SCMR concluded that the Army’s projected end strength could be reduced by about 50,000-70,000 at minimal strategic risk if there is no requirement for large, protracted stability operations along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet again, unlike in the private sector, the Defense Department doesn’t have the option of shedding large numbers of people quickly by handing out pink slips — nor would we countenance doing so. Involuntary separations to shrink the Army, the equivalent of civilian reductions in force, cost money at first and would do little to close the severe budget gap the department faces next year. And are we really going to do this to members of the military service that bore the brunt of the wars after 9/11?

So long as the DoD is seen by many legislators as a jobs program first and an instrument of national policy second, the cuts will be painful, and nonsensical.

By: Brant

12 September 2013

Bullets! - Idiots

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

No one ever called the victor an idiot.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

Video Coverage of Connections UK

By: Brant

11 September 2013

GameTalk - Multi-player

How can you put together a multi-player wargame in such a fashion that it doesn't devolve into everyone ganging up on one guy?  How do you make sure that the conflict and tension exists between all the players?

By: Brant

Rick Rescorla is someone you should know

Rick Rescorla is someone you should know.

(I've quoted liberally from the original site b/c there's a malware warning that comes up when you try to navigate directly to it)

Rick Rescorla is the guy on the cover of the book "We Were Soldiers Once, And Young"
The PAVN Commander knows that he had severely weakened and damaged the defenders in the Charlie Co sector the previous morning. What he does not know is that a fresh company - B Co 2nd Bn 7th Cav, had taken over the position after that engagement. That company, unmolested the previous afternoon, had cut fields of fire, dug new foxholes, fired in artillery concentrations, carefully emplaced it's machine guns and piled up ammunition(1).

Rescorla directed his men to dig foxholes and establish a defense perimeter. Exploring the hilly terrain beyond the perimeter, he came under enemy fire. After nightfall, he and his men endured waves of assault. To keep morale up, Rescorla led the men in military cheers and Cornish songs throughout the night(2).

Rescorla knew war. His men did not, yet. To steady them, to break their concentration away from the fear that may grip a man when he realizes there are hundreds of men very close by who want to kill him, Rescorla sang. Mostly he sang dirty songs that would make a sailor blush. Interspersed with the lyrics was the voice of command: "Fix bayonets - on liiiiine? Reaaaa-dy - forward." It was a voice straight from Waterloo, from the Somme, implacable, impeccable, impossible to disobey. His men forgot their fear, concentrated on his orders and marched forward as he led them straight into the pages of history.(3)

The PAVN assaults four separate times beginning at 4:22 AM. The last is at 6:27 AM. They are stopped cold, losing over 200 dead. B Co has 6 wounded. At 9:55 AM, a sweep outward is made which results in more enemy dead and the position secured(1).

The next morning, Rescorla took a patrol through the battlefield, searching for American dead and wounded. As he looked over a giant anthill, he encountered an enemy machine-gun nest. The startled North Vietnamese fired on him, and Rescorla hurled a grenade into the nest. There were no survivors(2).

Rescorla and Bravo company were evacuated by helicopter. The rest of the battalion marched to a nearby landing zone. On the way, they were ambushed, and Bravo company was again called in for relief. Only two helicopters made it through enemy fire. As the one carrying Rescorla descended, the pilot was wounded, and he started to lift up. Rescorla and his men jumped the remaining ten feet, bullets flying at them, and made it into the beleaguered camp. As Lieutenant Larry Gwin later recalled the scene, "I saw Rick Rescorla come swaggering into our lines with a smile on his face, an M-79 on his shoulder, his M-16 in one hand, saying, 'Good, good, good! I hope they hit us with everything they got tonight - we'll wipe them up.' His spirit was catching. The enemy must have thought an entire battalion was coming to help us, because of all our screaming and yelling."(2)

"My God, it was like Little Big Horn," recalls Pat Payne, a reconnaissance platoon leader. "We were all cowering in the bottom of our foxholes, expecting to get overrun. Rescorla gave us courage to face the coming dawn. He looked me in the eye and said, 'When the sun comes up, we're gonna kick some ass.' "

Sure enough, the battalion fought its way out of Albany. Rescorla left the field with a morale-boosting souvenir: a battered French Army bugle that the North Vietnamese had once claimed as a trophy of war. It became a talisman for his entire division.(4)

He had grown up in a village on England's southwest coast and left at age sixteen to join the British military. He'd fought in Cyprus and Rhodesia. He then came to America, he said, so that he could enlist in the Army and go to Vietnam. He welcomed the opportunity to join the American cause in Southeast Asia. He worked his way up through the ranks to Sergeant before being commissioned.

The survivors of the 7th Cavalry still tell awestruck stories about Rescorla. Like the time he stumbled into a hooch full of enemy soldiers on a reconnaissance patrol in Bon Song. "Oh, pardon me," he said, before firing a few rounds and racing away. "Oh, comma, pardon me," repeats Dennis Deal, who followed Rescorla that day in April 1966. "Like he had walked into a ladies' tea party!"

Or the time a deranged private pulled a .45-caliber pistol on an officer while Rescorla was nearby, sharpening his bowie knife. "Rick just walked right between them and said: Put. Down. The. Gun." recalls Bill Lund, who served with Rescorla in Vietnam. "And the guy did. Then Rick went back to his knife. He was flat out the bravest man any of us ever knew."

After fighting in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and used his military benefits to study creative writing at the University of Oklahoma. Literary minded, even before college he had read all fifty-one volumes of the Harvard Classics and could recite Shakespeare and quote Churchill. He had started writing a novel about a mobile-air-cavalry unit, and had several stories published in Western-themed magazines. He eventually earned a bachelor's, a master's in literature, and a law degree.

Rescorla then moved to South Carolina for a brief teaching career. He left for greener pastures; jobs in corporate security eventually led him to Dean Witter in 1985. He moved to New Jersey, commuted to Manhattan, and rose to become vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.

And, oh by the way, was still in the Army, as a Reservist, having advanced to colonel before retiring in 1990.

Rescorla's office was on the forty-fourth floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. The firm occupied twenty-two floors in the south tower, and several floors in a building nearby. In 1990 Rescorla and Dan Hill, an old Army friend, evaluated the security, identifying load bearing columns in the parking garage as a weak point. A security official for the Port Authority dismissed their concerns. On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded in the basement.

Rescorla ensured that every one of his firm's employees was safely evacuated, and was the last man out of the building.

Rescorla met his wife while running barefoot. Still determined to be a writer he had been scripting a play set in Rhodesia, based on his experiences there. Few of the native Rhodesians had worn shoes, which was why, he explained to her, he had to feel what it was like to run barefoot.

In St. Augustine, Dan Hill was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, "Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It's a terrible accident." Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.

"Are you watching TV?" he asked. "What do you think?"

"Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can't see a commercial airliner getting that far off."

"I'm evacuating right now," Rescorla said.

Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice. Then Hill heard him break into song:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors' pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

Rescorla came back on the phone. "Pack a bag and get up here," he said. "You can be my consultant again." He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

"What'd you say?" Hill asked.

"I said, 'Piss off, you son of a bitch,' " Rescorla replied. "Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it's going to take the whole building with it. I'm getting my people the fuck out of here." Then he said, "I got to go. Get your shit in one basket and get ready to come up."

Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband's office. No one answered.

About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn't talk.

"Stop crying," he told her. "I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life."

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn't coming back. "No!" she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.

From the World Trade Center, Rescorla again called Hill. He said he was taking some of his security men and making a final sweep, to make sure no one was left behind, injured, or lost. Then he would evacuate himself. "Call Susan and calm her down," he said. "She's panicking."

Hill reached Susan, who had just got off the phone with Sullivan. "Take it easy," he said, as she continued to sob. "He's been through tight spots before, a million times." Suddenly Susan screamed. Hill turned to look at his own television and saw the south tower collapse. He thought of the words Rescorla had so often used to comfort dying soldiers. "Susan, he'll be O.K.," he said gently. "Take deep breaths. Take it easy. If anyone will survive, Rick will survive."

When Hill hung up, he turned to his wife. Her face was ashen. "Shit," he said. "Rescorla is dead."(2)

The rest of Rick Rescorla's morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th Floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.

John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. "Rick, you've got to get out, too," Olson told him. "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out," Rescorla replied.

Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that "today is a day to be proud to be American" and that "tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you." They say he also sang "God Bless America" and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don't sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis. But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn't evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog's tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself.

Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated.

By: Brant

10 September 2013

Sound Off! Media Coverage

Embedded reporters?

Or freelancers responsible for their own security?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

06 September 2013

Russian Med Naval Presence

What do the Russians have in (or on the way to) the Eastern Med near Syria.

anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev (flagship?)
missile cruiser Moskva
destroyer Smetlivy
destroyer Nastoichivy
frigate Neustrashimy
large landing ship Minsk
large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov
large landing ship Novocherkassk
landing ship Alexander Shabalin
landing ship Admiral Nevelsky
landing ship Peresvet
reconnaissance ship Priazovye

By: Brant

News Flash: Taliban Are Bloodthirsty Savages

As Guardian likes to say, it's just savages being savages.

An Indian author whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban became a Bollywood movie was shot dead by militants in Afghanistan, police said Thursday.
Sushmita Banerjee, also known as Sushmita Bandhopadhya, was killed outside her home in Paktika province, according to Dawlat Khan Zadran, the police chief of eastern Paktika province.
He said suspected Taliban insurgents broke into her house Wednesday night, blindfolded and tied up her husband, and fled with Banerjee.
Her body was found Thursday, dumped outside a madrasa, or religious school, in the outskirts of Sharana city, the provincial capital.
She had around 20 bullet holes in her body," Zadran said.

By: Brant

05 September 2013

Russian Warships Steaming to Syria

Several Russian warships have crosses the Bosphorus Straits.

Three Russian warships crossed Turkey's Bosphorus Strait Thursday en route to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, amid concern in the region over potential US-led strikes in response to the Damascus regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.

The SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, accompanied by the two landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk passed through the Bosphorus known as the Istanbul strait that separates Asia from Europe, an AFP photographer reported.

The Priazovye on Sunday started its voyage from its home port of Sevastopol in Ukraine "to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean", a military official told the Interfax news agency.

Russia, a key ally of Damascus, has kept a constant presence of around four warships in the eastern Mediterranean in the Syrian crisis, rotating them every few months.

By: Brant

Bullets! - T/P/U

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

T/P/U might be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Army. The two extremes are pretty easy: (This is based on a rant by then-CPT R.L. Dewell)

T=Trained, which means you can do it letter-perfect every time, on demand. Load up the tanks, roll out, and conduct assembly area procedures with everything clicking and no steps missed. It's very tough, but you can get there, especially if you rehearse it enough.

U=Untrained, which means you haven't got clue one how to do it. An example of an Untrained platoon/task would be taking the nearest Army band and asking them to conduct assembly area procedures on a platoon of tanks. There's no way they're even going to get close, and that's with the manuals open and in front of them.

What, then, to make of "P"? P=Proficient, which should mean that you can execute the task reasonably well, although you may miss a step or two every once in a while. You may not get every critical or leader task letter-perfect, but you know what they are and you don't leave any out or forget to do them. There's a very [-----------------------wide-----------------------] range of P. You can have a lot of people that are Ps in a lot of tasks.

Unfortunately, the trend in the Army today is to throw "U"s around as some sort of motivational tool or punishment for a platoon that might not be just perfect. Let's be clear: if a tank platoon executes an Assembly Area mission, and their range cards aren't exactly right, and the hot loop takes some time to get set up and the LP/OP isn't in the best ground to cover a dismounted avenue of approach, that unit is not "Untrained." They know their tasks and they execute them. What they need is some refresher training on executing them perfectly every time.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

UK General Rates Afghan Forces

UK General John Lorimer, on the NATO training mission, says Afghan forces effective and developing their own leaders.

The top British commander in Afghanistan says the country's own military is proving to be an "effective force" despite rising casualties.

Lt Gen John Lorimer told the BBC that Afghan troops had demonstrated "resilience" in the face of Taliban attacks and were taking on insurgents.

Nato troops are handing over security responsibility to local forces before a withdrawal from Afghanistan next year.

Taliban attacks have left scores of civilians dead in the past week.

"When you are fighting a ruthless enemy inevitably you are going to take some casualties," said Gen Lorimer, Nato's second-in-command in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the BBC's Karen Allen in Kabul, he described the Afghan military as "well trained".

"They're developing leaders," the general added. "They are going on the front foot, taking the fight to the insurgents."

more at the link

By: Brant

04 September 2013

GameTalk - Who Wasn't Even There

If a unit wasn't present at a battle, but was in range and might have participated in different circumstances, do they go in the game?

By: Brant

03 September 2013

Sound Off! Women in Combat

How far should we go to integrating women into combat arms?

Universal fitness standards for all combat arms?

Maturity / personality test for aspiring entrants?

Do we take all men if we put women through a selection process, or put the men through the same thing?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Egyptian Strikes "Militants" in the Sinai

After Egyptian helicopters strike in the Sinai can we expect the hard-hitting Wikileaks exposé about how they 'accidentally' targeted innocents? No? So we're expected to believe that the Egyptians are soooooo much more accurate than US aviators that there was no collateral damage? Or are we finally going to drop Wikileaks charade that they're all about exposing "the world's secrets" and just admit that they were Assange's cult crusade against the US?

Egyptian helicopter gunships fired rockets early Tuesday at militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula, causing "dozens" of casualties in an ongoing effort by authorities to assert control over the largely lawless region, security officials said.

Egyptian government troops have stepped up their crackdown on militants in the peninsula bordering Gaza and Israel, arresting suspects and destroying tunnels along the Gaza border used for smuggling weapons and people. Attacks by Islamic militants surged in the lawless Sinai after the toppling of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 coup.

Security officials said military helicopters targeted multiple locations along the borders with Gaza and in northern Sinai, apparently going after hideouts of suspected militants and weapons caches.

One official said the helicopter attacks surprised militant gatherings in three houses in al-Muqataa and Touma near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of militants were believed killed and wounded but fighting was still ongoing, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media. He did not say if there were any soldiers on the ground assessing the number of casualties.

By: Brant

USS Nimitz and escorts headed to Red Sea

The Navy is calling it a 'prudent' move.

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea early on Monday, U.S. defense officials said, describing the move as "prudent planning" in case the ships are needed for military action against Syria.

The officials said the Nimitz entered the Red Sea around 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT), but the strike group had not received any orders to move into the Mediterranean, where five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship, the USS San Antonio, remain poised for possible cruise missile strikes against Syria.

Moving the Nimitz into the Red Sea was aimed at putting more U.S. assets in place if they are needed to support what U.S. officials still describe as a limited attack against Syria after it used chemical weapons against civilians.

"It does place that strike group in a position to respond to a variety of contingencies," said one official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The nuclear-powered Nimitz is accompanied by the Princeton, a cruiser, and three destroyers - the William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup, according to the officials.

By: Brant