Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Summer of Lisa's Discontent

--Arend van Dam

Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic--
see I think there are two ways
in which people are controlled
First of all frighten people,
and secondly demoralize them.

An educated, healthy and confident nation
is harder to govern


Lisa has been very sick for a week and a half, hence no postings. I'm not a sickly sort, but this has been rough going.

Because this has been such a remarkable journey, I am going to document it here so as not to have to recount the tale of woe ad infinitum. This is the Scary Health Story you hope never to hear at the Blue Plate Special, but cannot avoid.

I feel like Charlie Alnutt in the African Queen after his leech-induced fever, except in Tallahassee, which amounts to the same thing. Since last Monday I have suffered a constant 102 degree fever, spiking every 8-10 hours above 104, accompanied by violent shivering and a four-hour refractory period after which I could walk again.

Monday night I spent almost four hours in the recovery room of Tallahassee Memorial "YOUR HOMETOWN" Hospital without being seen. The only people who seemed to get wheeled from the waiting room were those whose eyes rolled back into their sockets following a vomiting episode. I do not know where they went; out of sight, out of mind.

This is your tax dollars in inaction. For many folks the ER is obviously their primary care, and the attitude of the intake personnel was a resounding, "Eff You." I did not feel a priority of any kind in the ER.

The next day, I was mis-diagnosed by my doctor as having the Flu, possibly H1N1, on no basis other than presenting with a persistant, cycling fever.
I futilely took Tamiflu for the next four days.

Friday, in between bouts, I drove to Jacksonville to pick Ranger up from a flight, and to his credit, he drove me directly to the doctor's office upon return, at 4 p.m. The office had just closed, but he correctly said the doctor would still be there.
He did the Right Thing.

After this comedy of errors I told the nice 12-year Navy doctor, "I don't think we have the Flu here, doctor." He finally did a urinalysis and prescribed antibiotics, which is what I had requested in the first place. "Well," he said, "I don't like giving antibiotics, but when I do, I tend to do it big."

I do not care about his lived articulation of medical style; I just want to get well. I am on Levaquin now, and have had a couple of restful nights. I am still exhausted, but hope I am on the mend. I suffered unnecessarily and a endured an unneeded tax on my system.

This is not a UTI or kidney infection, the only illnesses the doctor could imagine. It is now a "fever of unknown origin". It is possible I was pre-stressed: I might trace the origins to a smash-and-grab burglary of my auto on 5/18 in which my pocketbook, a lot of money and all my i.d. were stolen. I swim in municipal pools, some of which have notoriously high bacterial counts. Who knows how and what gained entree to my system.
Cause and effect has an infinite regress.

In retrospect, after a stunningly awful stay in Tallahassee Memorial several years ago I had wanted to create T-shirts saying,
"I survived TMH"; I felt those of us who had were members of an elite club. I am convinced most doctors here will kill you if they can, and the key to survival is remaining healthy as possible.

Anyway, I'm on the mend, and may post a sporadic piece in the next few days. For sure, RAW will be back online next Monday, regular schedule.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soldier's Handbook, Continued

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier

--Colin Powell,

p. 1-20 Soldier's Handbook


On page 6-49 the pamphlet calls the M240B a machine gun, but on page 6-19 the M249 is called an automatic rifle, which is not correct.

If one is a machine gun,then both are MG's. Ditto the rifle appelation. A rifle generally doesn't fire from the open bolt nor is it belt-fed.

The BAR was called a rifle but was magazine-fed, though it did fire through the open bolt. The Bren gun skirted this issue by being called a
gun. Both were squad automatic weapons, as is the M249B. The M249 is hardly a rifle.

That such a distinction exists in a Department of the Army pamphlet is confusing to an old soldier, and would clearly confuse a new soldier.

Page 6-37 - Riot Control, Hand Grenades CS are shown but no where is the soldier told that this item is outlawed under current Chemical Weapons protocols. Why is the U.S. Army still using this item?

Page 1-17, under (3a)
Courtesies says:

[1] When talking to an officer, stand at attention unless given the order, "At ease." When you are dismissed, or when the officer departs, come to attention and salute.

If a soldier is at attention, how can he talk or respond in any way? When at attention, the soldier is not communicating.

Page 1-21 brings The Declaration of Independence, The Star-Spangled Banner and The Constitution, which are followed in short order (page 1-23) by "Soldier and Family Benefits" and "Tricare" with no segue, as though what preceded logically related to medical benefits.

This struck Ranger as a strange linkage.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Soldier's Handbook Cover Errors

--Bill Mauldin Now

Evil man make me kill you

Evil man make you kill me

--Machine Gun
, Jimi Hendrix

Here is the deconstruction of the cover of The Soldier's Handbook, HQ DA, Tradoc Pamphlet 600-4, which depicts a Light Machine Gun Team using their machine gun in what appears to be a medium MG application.

This means that a tripod and traversing & elevating mechanism appear to be attached to the gun. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the T & E appears to be present. If so:

[1] Why is the gunner looking so intently at his sights, since the gun is locked in?

[2] Why isn't the gunner's left hand in position to adjust the T & E?

[3] Why is the bipod folded down when it is not being used?

[4] No eye or ear protection

[5] Why is the gun on a tripod, as this is not a prepared firing position?

They are set up as a hasty position and their gun is too high. Their profile adds to their being placed where bullets can hit them more easily. If you are shooting at them, then surely they are shooting at you.
Tripods are usually dug-in to present a lower profile and less of a target signature.

[6] The soldier's faces are camouflaged but not their hands.
How can you have camouflage on your face without covering your hands? The gunner has a light reflective wristwatch on his left wrist.

[7] Where is the assistant gunner's assigned weapon? It should be within easy reach, since he is the gunner's last defense.

[8] Why is the belt of ammunition apparently resting upon the ground? This is poor service to the gun as the ammo should not be contaminated by trash or dirt.

Ranger finds the error-ridden cover photo sets the tone for the rest of the handbook. Who writes these pamphlets? NEXT: Weapon mistakes

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soldier's Handbook Errors


Since our last contest went over like a lead zeppelin, Ranger offers another chance. In line with his fascination of minutiae:

Find the errors on this cover
of the
1 September 2006
Soldier's Handbook?

O.K., it's not exactly the cover of the Rolling Stone, but it's close enough for government work. Answers to follow.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Being Presumptuous

--Bill Mauldin

Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is
--Time is on My Side,

The Rolling Stones

You're in the Army now,

You're not behind a plow;

You'll never get rich,

You son-of-a-bitch

--You're in the Army Now

What am I now that I was then?

Time is the school in which we learn,

Time is the fire in which we burn.

--Calmly We Walk Through This April Day,

Delmore Schwartz


DAV Magazine (May/June) reports, "New 'Presumptive' Illness Proposal for Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans":

"In a long overdue decision affecting veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Veterans Affairs has moved to grant presumptive service connection [SC] for nine illnesses, making it much easier for those veterans to obtain health care and disability compensation."

"The National Academy of Sciences [NAS] Gulf War and Health report recommended in October 2006 that the VA establish new presumptions of service connection for brucellosis,
Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetti (Q fever), malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, non-typhoid Salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile Virus.

"The proposed federal rule authorizing the presumptions cover the nine diseases associated with military in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War, or in Afghanistan on or after 10/19/01. It includes all veterans of Iraq since Operation Desert Shield.Desert Storm in 1990."

The reason for this piece is twofold: To inform former soldiers of these developments and to discuss Black Ops and presumptive ailments. [Previous posts
Nuts and Double Jeopardy discussed the CRSC issue.]

The Special operations community takes great pride in being special, but they often forget that even tabbed-up soldiers may find themselves in the beaten zone of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This same DAV issue highlights the fact that the VA
routinely takes an adversarial stance in veteran's appeals:

"In recent oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts expressed shock at the government's admission that in litigating with veterans about their benefits, VA routinely takes a position that is unjustified. In other words, the government sometimes makes veterans jump through hoops to obtain benefits to which they are entitled by virtue of their service" (Some Veterans Given Runaround at BVA and CAVC).

You're in the Army now.

Though the DVA was tasked to help vets prove their claims, the reality is often the opposite. The DVA has historically been a stonewalling agency that blocks veterans efforts to gain compensation for their service connected conditions by requiring them to provide often difficult to obtain medical evidence to prove their claim of service connection.

How do Special Operators prove that they were even on such a mission, in such a country, when all records of the activity are classified and sterilized?
Black Ops types are cool, until they must prove their exposure to an illness-causing agent that occurred in that secret realm.

Let us say you were on a Top Secret assignment to Gitmo and you contract mycobacterium TB from a prisoner, or anything else from anywhere else in the Third World.
Or your Q fever goes away, but not really, and 20 years later you're facing organ failure? Sand-borne infectious agents abound, many activating only after years of service. What then?

These same soldiers will be facing other compensation issues. They may have to do battle with the DA to receive Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), an arcane process with many hoops to jump.
What if you are ill and cannot jump very well?

To receive CRSC one must apply through HQDA and have a service connected DVA SC condition that fulfills Army guidelines as Combat Related. This is difficult, as the DVA does not address the concept of "Combat Related", nor are they legally required to do so.

The Army applies a harsh yardstick, and neither gives the applicant any presumptions nor accepts sworn testimony from vets or witnesses. Only official documents are accepted -- a Catch-22 if you were on a mission that didn't exist on the books.

Ranger's case is typical, and involved Lieutenant Colonel Fred Sisson, Officer in Charge of the DA program. The issue was the infamous crushed testicle operated on in theatre at the 24th Evac Hospital, whose records had long since been deep-sixed.

The crushing occurred in a Stabo Rig in RVN, fitting all definitions of combat related
ness. No records, so LTC Sisson refused combat relatedness -- and yet there you have the thing, incurred while SF, Infantry, drawing combat pay and on jump status! Was there another explanation for entering the country with uncrushed testes and leaving with one squashed, and it NOT be combat or training-related?
(Ranger was not a bronco-rider.)

Next was my bilateral tinnitus, again denied as being combat-related by Sisson due to lack of documentation. However, ear damage -- and tinnitus, in particular -- are common combat related conditions. One can get tinnitus from high blood pressure, nerve damage or exposure to blast and gunfire, engine noise and all the classic combat arms stuff.

It was incumbent upon me to seek out an audiologist at Shands Hospital specializing in tinnitus to confirm my condition was blast-related. LTC Sisson then conceded the point, assigning combat
relatedness --
but why the exercise in futility? If one has tinnitus and a combat arms background, the DA should presumptively grant the award.

Finally, my neck injury from parachute whiplash. My cervical spinal damage was not accepted as parachute related, though the DVA rated it as SC. Talk about a verbal whiplash! How would one injure one's neck as an airborne infantryman? Duh! Duh to all but LTC Sisson, that is, who refused to accept the damage as combat related/realistic training related.

Fortuitously, I found a sick slip in my records from 1979 indicating an airborne connection, and once again Sisson awarded the correct relatedness adjudication. But why the battle? Who has sick slips from 1979?

If not for the slips of paper and savvy specialists, my word as an officer seems to have no value to the CRSC staff. Benefit decisions do not favor the position of the veteran.

Please don't disregard this as the writings of an old disaffected trooper. Apply my lessons to your life and career. When injured have your medical personnel clearly state that your condition is combat related or from realistic combat-related training.

Do not trust fate or the Army to serve your best interests 25 years down the road. Army loyalty doesn't stretch that far. My experiences with the DVA and DA CRSC are not exceptional but are tediously average. If you don't believe me, talk with another wounded old soldier.

Not only must you be a good soldier,
but you must be a good record keeper documenting your career. If you fail to do so, you will pay the price.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
--Big Yellow Taxi, Counting Crows

“A planet doesn’t explode of itself,” said drily

The Martian astronomer, gazing off into the air--

“That they were able to do it is proof that highly

Intelligent beings must have been living there.”

, John Hall Wheelock

I had to smile ruefully coming across a stack of bookmarks this weekend for a new book of essays by local authors celebrating the Gulf Coast -- "UnspOILed". A day late and a dollar short.

report issued in April by United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) uses the idea of "peak oil"as a basis for strategic planning (The Joint Operating Environment 2010). The report states that diminishing returns from established oilfields will necessitate of drilling new ones offshore, like the Deepwater Horizon.

Still, that would leave the U.S. behind the power curve in terms of new energy development and in competition for dwindling supply with emerging nations. The vast undersea reserves sound impressive until put into perspective with consumption rates.

From today's Daily Finance
The World Can't Live Without Deepwater Oil
) The Tiber reserve [into which the Deepwater Horizon well tapped] "is expected to produce in its lifetime some 3 billion barrels of oil. Sounds impressive, but it's less than six months of current U.S. consumption."

That article also reports that "the majority of new production is assumed to come from the development of existing reserves, such as the offshore and deepwater deposits in the Gulf of Mexico, which currently yield 30% of America's oil production. Deepwater wells like the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon made up 15% of total U.S. production in 2002 and
are expected to rise to 30% of total production by 2015."

I have a friend doing post-doctoral work developing alternative materials for solar cells. The work is very promising and could see widespread applications; however, he said he will have to work in Europe as there is no market for this kind of R & D in the states.

Perhaps the next book by the coast advocates will be called, "SpOiled".

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Coffee Shop Talk, II

[Continuation of Coffee Shop Thoughts . . .]

Ranger Contest:
Submit your best life lesson learned from Jump Commands.
You will receive some kind of an award (as yet to be determined).
Winners chosen next Monday

Stand Up:

This is where standing solidly on two legs is essential, since doing so is difficult. A heavy load and an unstable platform is where we do our job. The aircraft is usually bucking like a Phenix City whore, and there is nothing to grab onto for stability.

Hook Up:

This act locks you in for the jump. From this point forward you will be functioning as a member of a team, and there is no turning back. You are decisively engaged in the jumping endeavor.

Being hooked up actualy stabilizes the troop because this gives him an anchor point to grip. This is a fleeting sense of stability, however, because the jumpers are within minutes of exiting the aircraft.

Check Equipment:

This is critical and essential to the success of the mission and gives a sense of security, as we all realize that the man behind and in front are essentia; to the success of the endeavor.

While checking equipment one tactiley goes over one's personal equipment from static line to resrve parachute. The man in front is checked by the man to the rear. Static lines are checked to insure that they not be misrouted. It is usual for the jumpers to gain eye contact and visually reassure one another

Sound Off for Equipment Check:

The stick sends forward the reply of "o.k" from the rear to the front. The first man in the door points at the Jumpmaster and yells, "All O.K.!" This is a go situation and is critical, since it is unheard of to overfly a DZ twice. It is essential to make the jump on the first pass; otherwise is unwise.


The stick is tight up against one another while two jumpers are in the door ready to exit and under the physical control of the Jumpmaster. Upon the command, the aircraft empties and the Air Force gets to go home and live in luxury.

The jumpers? Well, we know what they do.


Next week we will hopefully have some illuminating contributions from readers.

My life lesson is that one must have a pre-ordained mission and follow it through to completion.

These posts are dedicated to Lowell Jergens and Les George, outstanding jumpmasters in Ranger's life.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Put a Lid on It

George Costanza with the Titleist fix

We are in the same boat, and we're seasick
--G.K. Chesterton

But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied

Lost me way and don't know where to roam

--My Old Man
, Marie Lloyd

Right now, there are 600 Titleists that I got

at the driving range in the trunk of my car.

Why don't we drive out to Rockaway and

hit 'em...
into the ocean?
, Seinfeld (The Marine Biologist)

What do you do when you have a lot of toxic fluid spewing forth from a pipe sticking out of the ocean's floor? Well, BP really hasn't any idea, so it's borrowing from semi-analogous situations in terrestrial life.

First it was the LEGO-like roof or diaphragm non-solution, if you will. No go -- the flow was too incessant. Could be 5,000 barrels a day, other models say up to 80,000 barrels
(Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf.) No way to know because when oceanographers from Wood's Hole offered this week to give a definitive measure, BP turned them back saying it would not affect their efforts anyway.

Yesterday it was
the sippy-cup solution (a tube surrounded by a stopper), which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said had run into indeterminate problems (Latest Effort to Stop Leak Hits Snag). Clearly, BP is grasping at straws.

Reports today say the pipe part of the sippy cup was successfully inserted into the pipe on the ocean's floor, but BP says there is no way to know how much oil is being sucked up. "At optimum this pipe will suck up 75% from the most significant tube, leaking 85% of the oil." This means if everything is perfect, this "fix" will only suck up ~64% of the oil being released.

Using the 25,000 barrel per day figure as a charitable mid point between what BP says is being released and computer modeling, that means
9,125 barrels per day will continue to flood the Gulf. As the final fix (another well) cannot be completed for at least two months, that means this spill will still exceed that of the Exxon Valdez sometime next month. (Even at BP's lower estimate of 5,000 barrels/day, their fix leaves 1,813 barrels escaping daily, still exceeding their cheery initial estimates of 1,000 barrels per day.)

The spill has also most likely
entered the loop current, the largest in the Gulf, which will take the oil around to the Eastern US coast.

"Junk Shot" is next: "The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well" (Junk Shot is Next Step). This one is straight out of a Seinfeld episode, when the hapless Kramer lodged a Tilteist in a whale's blow hole providing a glory moment for opportunist George, who feigns being a marine biologist.

It is all a bunch of schmegegge. It is closing the barn door after the horse is out. It's going to couple's counseling after you've been loathing each other for years. It's just not gonna work. And nothing will set the Gulf back to where it was a month ago. This "accident" will foul our ecosystem for decades or more.

The booms or dams which are set up in hopes of holding the oil offshore are notoriously flimsy, and a friend tells me some are already collapsing in the wind. It is like using a condom after an ejaculation
(Officials' forecast grim about massive oil spill), and calling the resultant pregnancy a "miracle baby" after that one unfortuitous shot.

It is just as wrong as Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement that the spill was an
"act of god" -- it is nothing of the sort. It is humans screwing up as they are wont to do, and looking for a justification. There is none; in both cases the buck stops with Piss Poor Prior Planning.

BP has also been using tons of chemical dispersants both on the ocean floor and on the surface. This deep use has never been done before, and the chemical manufacturers will not release their composition citing proprietary interests
(In Gulf of Mexico, Chemicals Under Scrutiny.)

The main dispersants applied so far, from a product line called Corexit, had their approval rescinded in Britain a decade ago due to limpet die off, and the bacteria that feed off the dispersants (as well as the oil) deplete the oxygen in the Gulf. One report says "a few countries forbid their use because their long-term effects are
somewhat uncertain" (Methane Bubble May Have Triggered Oil Rig Blast), but that is a squidgy statement -- something is either certain, or not.

It was reported today that giants plumes of oil lie throughout the Gulf -- too numerous to count. Some are up to 10 miles long and three miles wide. The oxygen content around the plumes is reduced by 30%.

Recent hearings in Washington and
Louisiana "uncovered a checklist of unseen breakdowns on largely unregulated aspects of well safety that apparently contributed to the April 20 blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon: a leaky cement job, a loose hydraulic fitting, a dead battery. Company officials insist what caused the accident is not yet clear" (BP's Next Try to Stem Oil Gusher: Smaller Tube.)

Unseen, but not UNFORESEEN. I understand the need to offset journalistic liability, but it seems we would be on safe footing to declare that these failures DID contribute, though the degree of culpability assigned to each failure is a guessing game.

A tragedy has occurred due to greed and lax oversight. Where have we heard that before? An accident at the deepest oils well yet drilled should have been an anticipated eventuality, and every protection should have been in place.

Instead, we are fed the lie that this was
"inconceivable". Just as with the Miracle Baby, it is all quite conceivable, and preventable. Humans are so good at self-deception.

UPDATE (5.17.10):

AP reports:

"BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC's "Today" that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 42,000 gallons of crude a day from a blown-out well into a tanker ship.

"That would be about a fifth of the 210,000 gallons the company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated are gushing out each day, though scientists who have studied video of the leak say it could be much bigger and even BP acknowledges there's no way to know for sure how much oil there is.

Speaking of the uncounted oil plumes discovered this weekend, Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia says:

"The discovery of these plumes argues that a lot more oil and gas is coming out of that well every day, and I think everybody has gotten that fact except BP," she said (Worry that Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Current.)

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coffee Shop Thoughts

Fr. Manpurse blog

I think I'm paranoid


I think I'm paranoid

Too complicated

--I Think I'm Paranoid
, Garbage

Did you know that water's

not to blame if you drown?

Can't blame the stone
for being cold

The Wired, Machinae Supremacy

Got to concentrate

don't be distractive

Turn me on tonight

Cause I'm radioactive

, The Firm

HAPPY ARMED FORCES DAY to all of youse!
(except the guy in the photo.)

While sitting in a coffee shop recently, an Army memory was awakened watching two young male customers of military age. One was schlumpy, slouchy and gamboling about and the other was standing strongly and calmly on both legs while waiting behind the first for service.

mise en scene returned Ranger to memories of jump school and general thoughts on having been a paratrooper. While most writing here is about the fallacies of the military and the folly of war, positive life lessons were gained from my military experience.

The start of this process was Jump School in August of '68, and the first lesson was to stand firmly on both legs, and not to cock one's hips like a girly man. As we were expected to carry heavy loads, only that stance would gain the objective. As men we should stand on two legs; what could be simpler and more profound?

From stance emerged memories of the jump commands grilled into every jumper's brain. This is doubly true for those that trained for jumpmaster duties. The jump commands elicit
immediate, ingrained reaction-response from any former trooper. We never forget the jump commands because they kept us alive; they were valuable tools for life.

The verbal jump commands are issued in tandem with visual hand cues from the jumpmaster. It's extremely noisy in a troop carrier when the doors are opened approximately twenty minutes prior to hitting the release point, so the double message insures the command will not be missed.

The aircraft is usually blacked out for security purposes so we learn to use our eyes and ears in a coordinated manner. This synchronization is not always employed in daily life. However, the more input we have, the better decision we can make. Look --> Listen --> Act, that is the formula.

From commands, thoughts went to equipment. Being a soldier implies having a near-religious belief in your fellow troopers, and by extension, one's equipment. Our lives hung from pieces of nylon sewn together and rigged by other men. Jumping out of an aircraft at 180 knots at 700 ft. altitude in pitch black is not an act of blind faith but rather a result of training and trust. If we did not trust we would never exit an aircraft in fl(r)ight.

The jump commands themselves are simple:

  • Get Ready
  • Stand Up
  • Hook Up
  • Check Static Line [thanks to an astute reader]
  • Check Equipment
  • Sound Off for Equipment Check
  • Stand in the Door
  • GO
Each carries its own lesson. We will break them down now:

Get Ready:

This may seem a superfluous command, but it is accurate and significant.

Hours, days, weeks and years compress into this one command. We are sitting there tighter than a dick's hatband, and do we need to be told to "get ready"? You bet. This command locks-and-cocks us, telling us that everything is going as planned and now it is our turn to enter the fray. Whether it be actual or training in nature, the response is the same.

Get ready means you kick the switch. This initiates last-minute adjustments in preparation for and anticipation of the next command.

Next post:
Stand Up.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Death of History

For the benefit of Mr. Kite

There will be a show tonight on trampoline

Messrs K. and H. assures the public

Their production will be second to none

And of course Henry the Horse dances the the waltz

--Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,

The Beatles


History used to be something that Ranger believed was, at minimum, a reflection of truth albeit told by the victors (or the losers), but that may not be the reality.

As we are witnessing unfolding daily, history is like pipe smoke, blown about by the winds of chance. There is history, revisionism, and outright lies posing as history. When the history of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is told, it will fall in the latter category.

Historians can detail the physical wars utilizing news stories, unit histories and OPLANS to discuss the realities, but what about the weight of issues that are cloaked in national security and classified secret? So much of the
PWOT © falls in that realm: Secret budgets, prisons, black sites, black funds, torture and assassination -- programs cloaked in levels of secrecy/security, surrounded by lies, guarded by liars.

The history of the
PWOT © will be a glorious lie that will never approach a modicum of truth. Like Al Franken wrote, it will be lies by the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

That is a thing to consider.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Share the Love

To live is to war with trolls
--Henrik Ibsen


A few days ago a brave ANON commenter called Ranger a "latte-drinking faggot" on an older post "Bait and Switch". The recent post, Dead Babies Don't Cry, must have got him searching for other places Ranger disparaged what has become of the Special Forces.

In part, ANON brags: "We LOVE to KILL our enemies!! HA! what do you think of that? DOES THAT REPULSE YOU? Good... Bunch of queers."

The attacks are always prompted by my anti-war stance, which logically leads my antagonists to imagine I do not really have my tabs and am, therefore, a godless poseur. I must be a phony, and the presumption continues that I must be anti-military, which may be understandable in our new Glenn Beckian world, if unjustified.

It returned me to the days when I drank thousands of cups of C-ration coffee in a nasty, dirty canteen cup. The closest I came to latte was when I mixed the C-rat creamer and sugar in my hot cocoa mix to help fight off the cold.
Ranger doubts this individual ever drank out of a canteen cup or used ration issue toilet paper.

If he did, the military experience was wasted on him. Those who have served in the military should understand perhaps even better than those who haven't the reasons we fight. The reason should be to protect our freedoms, premier of which is freedom of speech.

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Even Zombies Get the Blues

--A Good Taleban, Peray (Thailand)

Well, you know I need a steam shovel

mama to keep away the dead

I need a dump truck

mama to unload my head

--From A Buick 6
, Bob Dylan

This is about key terrain, Counterinsurgency, hearts & minds and all the dithering which we call asymmetrical warfare. Call it an exercise in
everything old is new again.

One day in Vietnam, Camp Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Howard Glock (he of unremitting chart-love infamy), instructed me to periodically sweep our garbage dump, which was outside our perimeter. Our camp had a dedicated dump into which we threw our old batteries, discarded oil, contaminated oil and other sundries.

The locals habitues gleaned goodies from the trash, and this LTC Glock could not countenance.

Keep in mind before we proceed that we were a Special Forces camp with Special Operations Forces -- supposedly the go-to guys for Hearts & Minds. Keep also in mind that neither the U.S. Camp Commander or XO had the Special Forces flash (the equivalent of today's tab.) Both LTC Glock and Major Passalaigue were awarded "paper flashes" by virtue of being assigned to the unit, fairly standard for the period as SF was hard-put for warm bodies.

In a spirit of charity, it is possible that real "flashed" Commanders at other camps shared LTC Glock's and Maj. Passalaigue's Scrooge-like mentality. But as a young man who bought into the H & M creed, Ranger felt he was witnessing an aberration.

For the LTC and Major had no interest in life outside of the camp. They never visited the villages or saw how the people lived. Our efforts in SOG (Studies and Observations Group) covered the U.S. war effort. They had no positive benefits for the citizens of the supposed Republic of Vietnam.

Both Glock and Passalaigue loved their charts, briefings, clean clothes, warm food and water, and surely these two always made meal call when possible. Certainly neither spent a discernible iota of energy pondering the reality of the impoverished denizens plundering our garbage. Their only thought was to stop it, thereby denying the Vietcong access to our valuable toss offs.

Whether the VC
used our garbage is debatable, but it seems incontrovertible that the people desperately needed the scraps mined from the castoffs of our bevy. This affluence was wondrous, especially considering we were a unit at war; our lives were fat city indeed, and the surrounding Vietnamese saw this without too much effort.

But for Ranger, it seemed that here we were fighting Communism and pretending to care about the people of the Republic of Vietnam, yet we wouldn't let them root about in our garbage for salvage. It seemed a mission disconnect, then and now.

This dump was key terrain for their lives in an inexplicable war, and my leaders who were supposed to be the best in the Army failed to grasp or even acknowledge the point. As a young officer there was no way to get my point across.

Related to the dump issue was the PIR issue. We received a large shipment of compromised PIR's (Provisional Indigenous Rations) -- precursors to the LRRP rations used by U.S. troops. These PIR's had been chewed through by rats, which had left droppings in the food. A problem, but a soluble one.

Unfortunately, the LTC discovered that the camp had a 2 1/2 ton truck filled with rat-shit infested food before Ranger could handle the problem. His predictable solution was to destroy they food so the indigenous could not retrieve any of it from the dump. Ranger confesses that in direct opposition to instructions, these rations ended up in the 'ville; we traded upholstery work for our Jeeps in return.

The point is, people living in mud-floor huts were happy to eat this food, and this though often crosses my fat and dumb-ass mind. This is the point we do not get when we disingenuously claim that H & M are our objective.

To keep the people from these rations I would have had to throw a Willy Pete grenade on them to incinerate the mess, and to what end? A waste of provisions and materiel.

By the end of my tour, I disliked or hated Glock and Passalaigue as much as they hated me. the only difference was, they wrote my OERs. To this day Ranger still has the taste of rat shit amongst his overflowing memories of chicken-shit duties.

Hearts and minds are never won by rifles hanging at your side. It is more closely related to three hots and a cot.

Since we
were fighting Communism the thought often crossed my mind regarding what
they would have done had the tables been turned. But even that thought is irrelevant since the point is it is what we do as American soldiers that is relevant.

We did not get it in RVN, and we do not get it in Iraq or AFPAK.

An old retired Infantry NCO recently asked me why I hated the Army so bad. I didn't answer him, but this story gives a hint.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


--Den of Vipers, Arend van Dam

George Will's description of General Petraeus's approach to counterinsurgency as the "civilianization of the military" has been getting some play the past few days.

"Petraeus wanted to know: Why had the Shiite finance minister closed the bank? How quickly could the local manager reopen it? How many guards did the bank need and what was the plan to train them?

"This is not the militarization of U.S. policy. Rather, it is the
civilianization of the military, an inevitable consequence of nation-building (The Military Tries Nation-Building in Afghanistan)."

But this is not a good deconstruction of FM 3-24, co-authored by Petraeus. If either Will or Petraeus went by that manual, they would understand that the military has inappropriately usurped functions rightfully belonging to the State Department.

COIN is not a unilateral military mission, nor should we
civilialinize the military. It should not be played like a game of scrabble, in which the tiles are shuffled and rearranged endlessly. Furthermore, a greater concern is that we have militarized the civilian agencies such as the State Department. When former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice introduced the concept of "Clear-hold-build" in 2005, she was muddling the agencies' missions.

COIN should be a synergistic interplay between State and Defense, but its execution has instead morphed into a miasma that nobody seems to understand -- not Will, Petraeus, Obama or Secretary of State Clinton.

A well-oiled machine with discrete and integral parts this is not.

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Quid Pro Quo

But here, cleverly disguised
as a bomb, is a bomb

--The Bullwinkle Show

I like to watch

--Chance the Gardener,

Being There

Eric Holder's announcement of the foiled Times Square would-be bomber's ties to Pakistan was hailed as an intelligence victory, despite the rather large hint that Mr. Faisal Shahzad boarded a plane to that country after his would-be firework show fizzled.

Forgetting the suspicious fact for the moment that the car was left parked illegally at one of the busiest intersections in the country, as one source close to the investigation told AOL news today, why are we seeing a small cottage industry among these Bombers Manque, Inc.? The source noted:

"The Nissan Pathfinder carrying fireworks, nonexplosive fertilizer, gasoline tanks, propane and alarm clocks was left Saturday in a turn-only lane -- lights and flashers on and motor running -- in one of the busiest intersections in the world, this person noted to AOL News (Times Square Bomb: "It Doesn't Make any Sense.)"

On the same page as the original 5/5 story (
Catching Bomb Suspect was rare Moment for Holder to Celebrate) was an article stating that a U.S. missile strike killed six (last Sunday, 10 more were killed, and today, 14 --"U.S. Drone Strikes Kill 14.") And the would-be Times Square bomber has ties to Pakistan ... imagine that? As Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. would say, GOL-LY!

This isn't rocket science. The U.S. is killing Pakis and Talibs, and of course, they will respond.
Stimulus - Response, a physical reaction. Does the U.S. imagine they will sit on their thumbs forever in the face of such provocation?

Why does the U.S. not consider ceasing aggressive killings in Pakistan, thereby defusing their need to reactively target the U.S. homeland?

If killing Pakistanis in Pakistan is o.k., then why isn't it o.k. for Pakis to kill Americans in America? Why is one o.k. and the other is not?

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Saw your picture on a poster, in a cafe out in Phoenix
Guess you're still the sweetheart of the rodeo

--Everything That Glitters
, Dan Seals

You're a liar and you're a cheat

And I don't know why

I let you do these things to me

--I Never Loved a Man
, Aretha Franklin

The love that dare not speak its name

Two Loves, Lord Alfred Douglas

We elect politicians to be leaders, but politics has corrupted even that concept.

Take two Governors who have shared the spotlight recently -- Sarah Palin and Charlie Crist.

Florida's Governor Crist is an actively serving governor doing what the people elected him to do, for better or worse. However, due to extreme partisanship, the Republican party has emasculated him and thrown him under the bus just prior to party nominations. All because he hugged a man belonging to the wrong party.

Contrast this to the adulation heaped upon the exceedingly mediocre former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, by elements within the Republican party. She abandoned her elected office and became the sweetheart of the Teabagger Movement, which fancies itself a reformation movement. However, to choose as their figurehead a disloyal betrayer hardly bodes well for their pretensions to integrity and will only serve to further fragment the Republican party.

So one is adored for her
lack of leadership, while the other is scorned while doing his duty and not pandering to the vocal reactionaries. When did forsaking one's duties become a
family value? Moreover, when did reaching across the divide to one's (ideologically separate) brothers become not a Christian value?

America chooses its leaders by mistaking demagoguery for greatness, when it is really a sign of mental midgetry. Where lies integrity when shirking one's responsibilities is transvalued into a New Age positive: "Going Rogue"?

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy V-E Day

Never in the field of human conflict
was so much owed by so many to so few

--Winston Churchill

Liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence,

of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life

Justice Anthony Kennedy, Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Today is the 65th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) -- the end of World War II in Europe.

History Channel has a new series on WW II and has an online interactive companion broken down regionally (Asia, Europe and Africa and North America), featuring the social, economic, military and technological developments during the war.

here to view.

From Winston Churchill's address to the House of Commons 18 June 1940, after the fall of France:

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

Here's to broad, sunlit uplands.

[From Wired's Danger Room, a bit on active-duty U.S. troops marching in a parade in Red Square celebrating
Victory Day (День Победы).]

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Black Gold

--Water, Pavel Constantin (Romania)

Down by the banks of the River Charles

That's where you'll find me

Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves.

I love that dirty water

--Dirty Water
, The Standells

Up from the ground came a bubbling crude.
Oil that is. Black gold. Texas tea.

--Beverly Hillbillies
theme song

Dirty water and Willie Horton ushered George H.W. into the Bush White House, and in a sense set the tone for the world to come.

Bush 41, the child of Ronald Reagan, viewed terrorism as warfare, and this legacy still affects our daily lives. George W. Bush took those ideas and turned terrorism and warfare on its head. All with the help of dirty water and a touch of racism.

Today we are flipping out over perceived terror threats when real threats to our health and safety are not being addressed by any level of government.

The dirty water is back, both in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the tap water of Boston ("'Boil-Water' Issued for Nearly 2 Million in Mass.")
Millions of Bostonians were left without water last week when the system failed. It is but a few days in such a situation to disease and pestilence. What happens when the water and sewer systems of the older, tax-starved, rust-belt (former) metropolises -- Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit -- crash?

According to the Boston Globe [a paper that almost went bankrupt last year], "
A major pipe bringing water to the Boston area sprung a 'catastrophic' leak dumping eight million gallons of water per hour into the Charles River." Connections in a series of Rube Goldberg connecting pipes which had patched the "riddled with leaks" 1940's Hultman aqueduct failed. Speaking on the pipe failure, Governor Deval Patrick said, "We have so much neglected infrastructure."

The BP oil spill and the Boston water failure show threats come in many packages, and we ignore the less sexy ones at our peril. Terrorism is a threat, yet it pales to insignificance when compared to Hurricanes Andrew or Katrina, massive oil spills and the crumbling utility infrastructures of our cities.

The Environmental Protection Agency's website cites water profligacy and an "infrastructure gap" for both wastewater and drinking water over the next 20 years, and addressing the repairs could top $200 billion (at today's costs.)

When the inevitable happens, what level of government
will possess the funds and ability to address the calamity? Should cities like Detroit even be saved, and is the cost worthwhile? The same formula should have been applied to the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) before we deployed one set of boots to occupy foreign ground. Our own ground has rotten, past-expiration date utilities under the surface -- that should take priority in our national interest.

Our government is
reactive versus proactive in all actual threat areas. It fails to reform decrepit financial instruments; it fails to protect us from avoidable oil spills off our shores, and fails to protect us from predictably failing utilities. All of these situations pose a significantly greater threat to our well-being than a shoe- or underwear bomber

Bacteria in our water is more dangerous than the terrorists that we are told want to kill us. There is bacteria in my water but there sure aren't any terrorists camped out in the alleys.

Willie Horton is gone, but the dirty water remains.

--Jim and Lisa

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Dead Babies Don't Cry

Dead babies can take care of themselves
Dead babies can't take things off the shelf

--Dead Babies
, Alice Cooper

We've shot an amazing number of people

and killed a number and, to my knowledge,

none has proven to have been

a real threat to the force

--General Stanley McChrystal

My father is no different than any powerful man,

any man with power, like a president or senator

Do you know how naive you sound, Michael?

Presidents and senators don't have men killed.

Oh. Who's being naive?

--The Godfather

Whenever I take up a newspaper and read it,
I fancy I see ghosts creeping between the lines.
There must be ghosts all over the world.

They must be as countless as the grains of the sands,

it seems to me.

And we are so miserably afraid of the light, all of us.

Henrik Ibsen

The Special Forces that Ranger served in is as gone as last month's rent.

The Vietnam era SF fought main force Vietcong, hardcore North Vietnamese Army, and conducted special missions with various programs such as Delta, Omega and Studies and Operations Group (SOG). These programs produced results that were soldierly and based in good faith efforts.

Personally, Ranger was never trained to kick in doors or assassinate. We were not assassins, since that violates the rules of land warfare. There were isolated incidents of killing suspected enemy agents, but this was never officially sanctioned U.S. or SF policy.

The assassinations conducted by Project Phoenix were not a U.S. military mission, although most of their U.S. shooters were U.S. Special Forces soldiers on detached duty. The killings were done by combat-numb SF assets detached to do a mission not military in nature; the program was undeserving of having utilized good SF personnel for a dirty, nasty business.
Phoenix was the devil's work and will remain a stain upon our national dignity, both civilian and military.

But it's now 2010 and the SF top dog in Afghanistan has dusted off the Phoenix prototype for
Counterinsurgency applications. General McChrystal has done this without asking how the U.S. SF assassins are differentiated from the Nazi SS assassins of WW II. How have McChrystal, our command authorities and the American people enabled the Special Forces to become a criminal organization?

There is no middle ground here:
When SF employs assassins they have become criminals and murderers rather than honorable soldiers.

Do our SF soldiers no longer bother to question the legality of their black ops missions? Further, why do we even allow a concept like Black Ops to exist within our military structure? Assassination is one of the key tactics of terror organizations, whether they be state-sponsored or groups like al-Qaeda.

When U.S. SF assassinate, this is an act of state-sponsored terrorism.
If it is a crime for al-Qaeda to assassinate, then it is a crime for U.S. SF to assassinate.

When an SF team killed pregnant women while on an assigned mission to kill or capture mid- or low-level Taliban members, they mutilated the bodies in their efforts to dig out their bullets
(U.S. Special Forces 'Tried to Cover Up' Botched Khataba Raid"), also a violation of the rules of land warfare and every bit as serious an offense as cutting the ears off dead VC.

My Army became infamous for those actions and as a result for a generation was portrayed as being composed of crazed killers by the entertainment media. Contrast that with today's support for SF assassins because they are "the troops".

These SF assassinations at McChrystal's behest are not military in nature and are a cynical expression of an American military gone wrong. Their morals are gone missing and this is a blight upon all of us.

Even if the mission were to kill every Talib in Afghanistan America still loses, as on a strategic level this removes the regional counterbalance to Iran, concurrently strengthening the warlords of the Northern Alliance.
With every assassination, an SF soldiers is doing Iran's dirty work, making the effort doubly perverse.

Assassinations in theatre do not benefit the safety of America, nor do they contribute to the birth of democracy. They constitute meaningless cynical violence.

What attributes are being rewarded in today's tabbed-up, Christian Army? The contradictions are overwhelming.

The SF assassin soldiers will bear a heavy burden. The silence that will surround these men is the absence of a baby's cry in a remote Afghan village, and the silence will condemn their souls. They may never be officially charged for their crimes, but they will always hear that silence, even in their sleep.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Off the Charts II

In the hyperreal the map "precedes the territory."

The model builders are imperialistic

in that they "attempt to make the real, all of the real,

coincide with their models of simulation
--The Precesssion of Simulacra
, Jean Baudrilard

For the record: There are two types of briefings: Action/discussion and information. Both can be formal or informal.

The two should not be confused. Formal briefings are what the Army usually uses at the General officer level, and little is left for discussion. Formal briefings usually become the centerpiece of the day when the situation is least understandable and actionable. It gives all involved a sense of doing something constructive.

Decision briefings should be minimal since any Commander worth a bean should know the facts before the briefing begins. Today's Army briefings have become a separate sacred event that is more of a happening than than a useful tool for implementation.

It is also constructive to know that a distinction must be made between facts/events and statistics and trends. These are briefed by different staff sections and can be synergistic if coordinated and fact-based.

We are back to one of Ranger's basic concepts: We now accept opinions and assumptions as fact, rather than for what they are. For example, how does one prepare a chart for a Rumsfeldian assumption, "The Iraqis will greet our soldiers with flowers!", or something similar?
As the early computer programmers said, "Garbage in, garbage out [GIGO]".

Military briefings are not the only ones to be faulted. The same techniques are used by General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, AIG, Golman Sachs, Congress, CIA, FBI ...

You get my point.

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