Military

National Airborne Day 2015 - The Video Edition

Here are some awesome videos.  [Reality videos after the "jump" (ha, I kill me).]

 

 In order to send the Air Force some love, there were two USAF Pararescue (PJs) HALO jump videos which are shared below and then one rockin' compilation video after the jump that's a must see:


I swear, that @#%& is better than a cup of coffee...

Jimbo posted these before:

Oh man, that was fun. I don't care whether you have or haven't ever jumped out of an airplane, this is a great look at it. I think what it reminded me most is exactly how much of a giant bag of shite on a rope you are on a static line jump. Even so, I still felt the rush.

Continue reading "National Airborne Day 2015 - The Video Edition" »


National Airborne Day 2015

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The first official Army parachute exercise was conducted on August 16, 1940.  The Army Test Parachute Platoon convinced "the powers that be" that forcible entry or mass vertical envelopement - or whatever you want to call dropping thousands of pissed off paratroopers to take and hold ground until reinforcements arrive - was possible.  On August 15, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division was re-purposed and renamed...well, you know damn well what they were renamed...AIRBORNE!

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This led to the creation of a force of airborne soldiers that included the 11th, 13th, 17th, and 101st Airborne Divisions.  

These men knew, as do Airborne men and women of today, that, in the air and certainly upon landing, will be outnumbered by the enemy, surrounded, and have to fight like hell until they are reinforced by heavier ground units...in many cases, surprising and quickly killing the enemy is the only way that they will survive.

In November of 1942, just a few months after the unit was formed, those paratroopers would perform the first combat jump into North Africa.

AirborneAirborne 1943 - Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division jump en mass, during a demonstration at Oujda, French Morocco, North Africa, on 3 June 1943, shortly before the Sicily invasion. (World War II Signal Corps Collection).  Photo courtesy of SOCOM.

In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed that August 16th was National Airborne Day.  In 2002, he issued this proclamation, which more or less, has been designated by Congress.  That means that you Legs have to deal with our glorious egos for one whole day.

Here is the first proclamation from President GW Bush:

The history of airborne forces began after World War I, when Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived the idea of parachuting troops into combat. Eventually, under the leadership of Major William Lee at Fort Benning, Georgia, members of the Parachute Test Platoon pioneered methods of combat jumping in 1940. In November 1942, members of the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conducted America's first combat jump, leaping from a C-47 aircraft behind enemy lines in North Africa. This strategy revolutionized combat and established airborne forces as a key component of our military.

During World War II, airborne tactics were critical to the success of important missions, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Southern France, and many others. In Korea and Vietnam, airborne soldiers played a critical combat role, as well as in later conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans. Most recently, airborne forces were vital to liberating the people of Afghanistan from the repressive and violent Taliban regime; and these soldiers continue to serve proudly around the world in the global coalition against terrorism.

The elite airborne ranks include prestigious groups such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, "Sky Soldiers," 82nd Airborne Division, "All American," and the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Airborne forces have also been represented in the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions and numerous other Airborne, glider and air assault units and regiments. Paratroopers in the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment and other Special Forces units conduct swift and effective operations in defense of peace and freedom.

Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous soldiers to our Nation and the world.

Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2002, as National Airborne Day. As we commemorate the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, I encourage all Americans to join me in honoring the thousands of soldiers, past and present, who have served in an airborne capacity. I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.

George W. Bush

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Today, Airborne forces of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force serve around the world.  Not only did they volunteer to go into harm's way and be tired, cold, wet, and hungry, they also volunteered to be delivered to that fight by a very violent and risky means...

 

Today is the day that we honor those who have honored that commitment - past and present.

ALL THE WAY!

#NationalAirborneDay


Ghost Fleet - A Review

Ghost Fleet.  PW Singer & August Cole, (2015). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. New York, NY: 404 pages

GhostFleet cover

 If you've ever wondered what an operationalized version of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” might look like, noted national security analysts Peter W. Singer and August Cole have a book just for you.  A true triad of military, bureaucrats, and corporations overthrows a long-running government to form an uneasy alliance to run a rather large country.  Singer and Cole throw us the first of many curves by teeing this up, not in the US, but China...or, as they now call themselves, "The Directorate."

 This first fiction effort by the duo delivers wide-ranging action at a frenetic pace. The story begins in outer space and, in mere moments, the action plunges far below the Pacific Ocean's surface.  Throughout the story, as venues change, the reader gasps for breath and delves back in as the action continues.  This is a Tom Clancy-esque thriller with most of the pieces one would expect:  people unexpectedly thrust into difficult situations; well-researched, accurate portrayals of current capabilities; imaginative exploration of new, emerging, or desired technology; as well as good old fashioned palace intrigue and political gamesmanship.  For those making the Clancy connection, you’ll find this book of the Red Storm Rising genre - a look at how a world war type scenario would likely go. 

   Ghost Fleet looks at how the "Pivot to Asia” could go - and it can go bad pretty fast.  It also plays on many of the fears that serious analysts ponder regarding military procurements, military readiness and other economic tradeoffs.

 Buoyed by the massive changes spurred by their recent revolution, the Directorate decides that it is time to achieve their "Manifest Destiny" in the Pacific.  A major energy discovery gives them the opportunity to challenge US supremacy in the Pacific and even take on the US militarily, with the tacit assistance of Russia.  What ensues is a massive and coordinated sneak attack that cripples US capabilities throughout the Pacific Rim, most notably in Hawaii.  The Directorate, now occupying US sovereign territory and positioned to prevent response either from space or across the vast ocean, looks to turn America into a third-rate client state.  To counter this the US decides to reactivate ships (and some aircraft) mothballed by the significant cuts that US politicians foisted upon itself.  This is the rebirth of the Ghost Fleet that gives this story its name.

 It also evokes a slightly different comparison: this is the Navy's version of "Team Yankee".  Team Yankee was a very popular "must read” in the late 1980s, especially popular with the mechanized/armor community of the Army.  It is about warfare at its base level, but with existential impact.  In this case, the crew of a one-of-a-kind ship – rejected by the Navy when cuts were made – is being brought back to life by a crew trying desperately to make it work in very trying circumstances – fights the battle of its life for a noble cause.

 Singer and Cole introduce a number of characters including a Navy Officer whose transition to retirement is rather violently interrupted; a Marine thrust into the role of guerilla; a Sun Tzu-quoting Chinese Admiral; and a seductive assassin.  The story explores the very tempestuous relationship between father and son bonded in a moment of crisis while wrestling with demons of the past.   The duo’s style offers some nice bonuses.  The reader gets a murder mystery. The idea of "privateers” in the 21st Century is presented.   For the geopolitical thinkers, Singer and Cole skewer a lot of the shibboleths of current alliances and ask “who will really ‘step up’ when the going gets tough?”  The authors present some very interesting ideas of what could happen and what could emerge if all the geopolitical knowns were to suddenly change. Rather than distract, these threads are woven into a complex but compelling story that is both provocative and frightening.

 What this book does do well - and in a scary way - is show how pervasive a wired world could be and what would happen if a major actor were to severely upset the proverbial apple cart. Among the discoveries in the opening salvos of The Directorate’s aggression are the vulnerability of so much of the electronics used both in military equipment as well as the networks that course through the US.

  Ghost Fleet explores the extent to which autonomous systems change life and warfare. .  Can we trust the electronics we buy from overseas? Do we depend too much on automatic, autonomous and “linked” systems in our basic and daily lives?  What if a major competitor played on those fears with ruthless precision and execution?   This will confirm the worst fears of the Luddite or conspiracy theorist.  Those that are on the fence about the impact of autonomous systems will likely find that this book tips them one way or the other. 

Two things that one would expect to find in such styled books are not found in this one.  One is probably the book’s only serious flaw. The story does not give time stamps and the reader may not realize that the scenario has advanced in time as it changes chapter.  Without this context, the reader may become confused on why or how things changed so fast within the story.

The other creative difference is a positive: there is very little discussion of the machinations of the American politicians.  Singer and Cole - in a choice very likely calculated to avoid the politics of the moment - do not really describe much, if anything about the moves, motives, or response of the President, or most of the National Security apparatus.  While the Secretary of Defense is omnipresent, no one else is - nor are there any real discussions on the national politics at play.  Some may be greatly disappointed by this while others may find it a welcome departure in the genre.

Although cyberspace capabilities are a significant aspect of the storyline, this is not a book about “cyber war.”  If anything, this is may be the first real exploration of Demchakian "cybered conflict" in story form. Cybered Conflict is a construct provided by Naval War College professors Chris Demchak and Peter Dombrowski.  The premise is that the nature of conflict remains the same but that cyberspace capabilities add a new dimension.  They further purport that cyberspace is not a separate domain, per se, but is instead just another aspect of how humans interact and compete.  Cyberspace is itself not decisive but can certainly tip the scale in an existential conflict.  There are ample examples in this book on how this could occur. It is certain to ignite debate on the nature of “cyber war”.  

Thriller readers will find this a welcome addition to their collections.  Thinkers, advocates, policy wonks, geeks and nerds will all find something to chew on that will confirm or challenge their own biases.  Scheduled for a June release, this highly recommended story is a daring look at the fusion of traditional and modern warfare, delivered at "machine speed".  


In Time for Father's Day! - BlackFive readers get 10% off on MuzzleShot glasses

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Thank you, OriginalMuzzleshot.com!


Daily Beast: Wounded Warrior Project Fights - to Get Rich

The Daily Beast's Tim Mak reports...

[Stephen] Nardizzi is an advisory board member of the Charity Defense Council, an outfit with lofty ambitions. The organization wants to remake the entire charitable sector to be more permissive of high overhead and high executive compensation,explicitly citing as its model the oil industry’s efforts to rehabilitate its public image.

This is because Stephen Nardizzi is the CEO of Wounded Warrior Project and was paid $473,000 by WWP in 2014.  FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

Then there's this tidbit:

Nardizzi’s group not only engages in the selling of donor information, but he’s apparently proud of it, brazenly arguing in its favor.

So if you want your name and address sold to other entities, keep donating to WWP.

Read Tim Mak's whole piece at the Daily Beast.

 


Never Forgotten

The Washington Post brings us the story of the Dutch who continue to honor the fallen Americans who fought the Nazis.

On Sunday, they came again, bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never knew, but whose 8,300 headstones the people of the Netherlands have adopted as their own.

For the American relatives of the fallen, it was an outpouring of gratitude almost as stunning as the rows of white marble crosses and Jewish Stars of David at the Netherlands American Cemetery. Each grave has been adopted by a Dutch or, in some cases, Belgian or German family, as well as local schools, companies and military organizations. More than 100 people are on a waiting list to become caretakers.


Talking Syria raid on FOX & Friends

We executed a brilliant raid into Syria, ventilated a bunch of bad guys and got all our folks home safe. Bravo!.

But why did we tell the whole world about the raid before we even had a chance to catalogue the intel we picked up? This compromised our ability to exploit that  intel properly and seems like another example of Obama spiking the football on an extra point.

We also still have no strategy in Iraq and may as well be acting as the Iranian Air Force as they are the Iraqis main allies now. Not that the fight there is even going at all well, with Ramadi falling. So Yay for dead tangos, and Boo for all the rest.


New CJCS nominee Dunford - "Not a Cyber Expert"

President Obama has nominated current US Marine Corps Commandant General Joe "Fighting Joe" Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).  As such he would be the President's top military advisor and would replace General Martin Dempsey.  The anecdotal reporting from multiple vectors is that General Dunford is the right pick and that the President should be lauded for this selection. #CreditWhereDue   

General Dunford's a "proven combat leader who had distinguished himself as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in 2013-2014 as foreign forces shifted responsibility for fighting the Taliban to Afghan troops. Dunford also commanded a Marine regiment early in the Iraq war."  h/t:  Washington Post

With all the big ideas that the JCS has to wrestle with, I found this article on Dunford a particularly odd take on the nomination.  In it, The Hill's Cory Bennett opines that the President opted for a "strategist" rather than a "cyber expert" to execute the recently published DOD Cyber Strategy.  Apparently, despite all his other qualifications, including being the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the cyber zealot class things SecDef Ashton Carter was selected for his cyber expertise.  (He was a physicist, not a computer guy, but what do I know?)  The article presents a view point that a number of recent DOD appointments were "cyber" focused.  (Umm, ok..)

President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next top military officer, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., bucks a recent trend of cyber-focused appointments.

“He’s not a cyber expert,” said Peter Metzger, a former CIA intelligence officer and Marine who served with Dunford on four occasions. “But he doesn’t need to be.”
 
Cyber military specialists believe the Obama administration is seeking an operational expert and relationship builder, not a technological savant, to carry out Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recently unveiled cyber vision.
 
“They went with a strategist,” said Chris Finan, a former military intelligence officer and adviser to the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. “An operational artisan.”

I agree with Metzgar and Finian that there is a need for a "strategist" in the role of CJCS.  I am amused at the degree to which Bennett rates the Cyber Strategy on the Chairman's agenda. 

While cyberspace in  undoubtedly important, apparently Mr Bennett is unaware that there are two able four-stars (USSTRATCOM's Commander as well as Commander of USCYBERCOM/DirNSA) that are more than capable of focusing on the the implementation of the cyber strategy.  And, if one understands the strategy, every Service Chief and all of the other Combatant Commands will also be keenly focused on this, particularly in terms of policy and resourcing.   The Chairman has much larger fish to fry, including the "pivot to Asia" (however that manifests itself), the continuing struggles with ISIS/AQ et al, and Iran's territorial ambitions - as well as a shrinking force, an aging fleet, and a recalcitrant air power Service insisting on going their own way.  

Cyberspace is important, but it isn't the Chairman's biggest issue.


 

 


Stock Photos - Sometimes Not So Cool

A recent piece making the rounds of the interwebs has a junior Naval Officer sharing her reasons why, in her frustration, she must resign from the US Navy.  In it she lays out her rationale, which has drawn both support and (significant) derision.  There have been a number of rebuttals, the most eloquent of which came from the Duffellblog.

At the top of the piece is the picture of a female Navy officer, saluting.  Here's the problem:  the woman pictured is NOT Anna Granville, the discontented officer and authoress.

Apparently the original publisher (Task and Purpose) opted to use stock DOD footage to headline the public resignation.  And many of us presumed the saluting woman was the writer.  

This was brought to my attention by a colleague, Ben Armstrong, who shared the following (emphasis added by me):

You know who I feel bad for? The saluting Lieutenant in the DoD stock photo which Task & Purpose decided to use to "illustrate" the most recent "why I'm leaving" article. The woman in the photo isn't the author of the uber-hyped article. But now Duffleblog used the same stock photo and her face is all over FB for something she hasn't done, said, or was even involved with. Maybe DoD's fair use policy is nice for pictures of ships and planes, but when it comes to people the Media can really hose somebody for no reason.

One would have to surmise that the pictured officer (still serving) is not very happy about this.   

As bloggers we use cool photos for our posts because, lets face it, it adds pizzazz.  And, as Ben notes above, while that's no issue with ships and planes, we ought to be much more careful when we use pictures of people - particularly where an association between pictures and content may be made.  

Shared for your consideration and comment.