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August 2008

Preparedness Week Repost

It's been a while, and though I have meant to do this as a yearly post, things slipped away. While this is too late if you are in the path of Gustav (and I hope any readers down there have already done the bug out boogie), it is still a good time for those elsewhere to think, take stock, and stock up.

Looking After Yourself
Room Kits
Car and Power
Bugging Out, Snivel Gear, and More
Packs, Cans, and Protection
Some Thoughts

Be sure to check out some excellent suggestions in the comments to those posts.

Remember, preparedness is not things: it is a state of mind. As such, it is on par with choosing to be a victim, or a Victor. Make preparedness a part of your life, do a little along, and you will ride out most crises in style and comfort.


Commanding Alaska's Guard w/ 24/7 missile defense

One area of Sarah Palin's background that may help her is Alaska's unique role in our national security and homeland defense. Several folks have have mentioned this but Tom W. was specific and his info jibes with the record.

Palinbunkerhill Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system.  The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks.  It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism.  Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.

Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense.  Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out.  This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.

I agree with that assessment except for the thought that her access to classified material may rival Biden's. Highly unlikely as Biden's seat on the Foreign Relations committee would expose him to information on a very wide array of topics. But her experience in keeping the homeland safe fits perfectly with her image as the competent American woman.It's not the same as having your finger on the button, but it a heckuva lot closer than Biden or Barry O has ever been.

It will be tremendous fun to watch a couple of complete political tools like the Hope&Change duo attempt to attack a record of substance not words, a record of action not bloviation, a record of kicking ass and taking names against what now.......?


Soldiers of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion defend America from an intercontinental ballistic missile threat 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while maintaining  competency in all warrior tasks. (Photo by Sgt. Jack W. Carlson III, Unit Reporter, 49th Missile Defense Battalion.)

U.S. Northern Command brought the 100th Missile
Defense Brigade (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) to
operational level for the first time in response to the July
2006 North Korean missile crisis. Previously maintained
in test mode, the brigade, headquartered at Colorado
Springs, Colorado, and its 49th Missile Defense Battalion
(Ground-Based Missile Defense) at Fort Greely, Alaska,

remained at high alert status for the duration of the crisis.

Georgia Roundup 31 Aug. 08

Things are in a curious pattern right now, and the rumors continue to fly thick and furious. The Russians are taking a somewhat new tack, which may or may not be because they were met with a response they took as serious. They have not honored the withdrawal; yet, they are pulling back in some areas even as they dig in or even expand a bit in others.

Continue reading "Georgia Roundup 31 Aug. 08" »

Warthog pilot describes fight in Afghanistan


A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft moves into position to receive fuel May 29, 2008 from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission over Afghanistan. A-10 is deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom and the KC-135 is assigned to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan and is deployed from 141st Air Refueling Wing Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

An email (via Corporal Seamus) from Tim, a USAF Warthog pilot in Afghanistan:

...I just had a rather exciting flight.  "Balz" and I launched to support standard tasking and were immediately retasked airborne to a Troops In Contact (TIC) situation near the location the French lost 10 troops two days ago. Unlike the French, these were Army SF supported with attack helos and us.

From the second we showed up it was a running gun battle with the SF guys taking RPGs, sniper and Heavy machine gun fire.  We took out two sniper positions with confirmed kills in the first 5 minutes.   The helos were marking the locations they were taking fire from with WP (white phosphorus) rockets and we were cleaning things up with the 30MM.

I shot 1100 rounds of 30MM and my wingman shot 750.  I then used WP rockets to get my #2's eyes on a heavy machine gun position so he could put a 500lb airburst on it. Which he did.

In the middle of the fight we were running low on gas so I sent Balz to the tanker and I remained on station single ship suppressing enemy fire on a helo trying to extract the team.  I told Balz to have the tanker drag him as close to the fight as the KC-10 crew felt comfortable.

Balz comes off the tanker and I asked him for its location because I was on fumes.  He said look up!  The tanker was in the target area at 20,000ft exactly were I needed him.  I jumped on, took 8000lbs of gas (the jet only holds 10,000).  I recommended the tanker stay West of the fight due to possible man pads but when I came off the boom I looked down and I was again directly over the fight, exactly where I needed to be.

I did 8 total gun runs and 2 rkt attacks.  A CH-47 and a HH-60 extracted the team while we laid cover fire along with the OH-58s.  We then did a low altitude helo escort providing hover cover.  They were hauling ass at 50 ft while we kept eyes on from 3000-5000ft.  The Army helos guys said they thought their helo was coming apart when we shot the 30mm.  They thanked us for the heavy guns and cover then landed safely at their FOB.

We then proceeded North to the High Mountain area looking for more action but not much can compare to the fight we were just in.   I can't believe how awesome the embedded Air force Combat Controller was. He was one cool cat as he laid waste to anything (expletive deleted) with his guys.

Having fun at summer camp,


The Warthog's 30mm cannon is called the Avenger.  Here is a video of the system being tested:

Why Do You...

In comments and in e-mail, there are sometimes complaints, that I call "Why Do Yous'" The prime one of these, in my experience, is "Why do you keep asking for us to give money to people and organizations?"

Well, Michael Yon has up a post on one reason why we do so. Hurricane Afghanistan details some of the costs associated with doing what he does. When you look at those figures, you get a very good idea of why we often suggest that if you like the reports he does, that Michael Totten does, or the work that organizations like Soldier's Angels do, that you give.

Personally, I think that he is underreporting some of the costs he lists there (he notes that he is not giving detailed costs). It is thanks to Michael that I have my combat insurance (important note here is that he has been extremely helpful to me on my embeds, and helped make my second embed possible), and when you add in the other insurance policies needed, the amounts get a bit steep. Add in the need to replace armor on a regular basis, wear and tear on regular gear and things like computers and cameras (you really don't want to know what basic maintenance on a video camera that has spent time in those conditions costs), communications, and more; well, it is a bit pricey. A corollary to the "Why Do Yous" are the "Why Don't Yous" that generally revolve around why don't you blog and embed full time. I don't because I do know pretty much how much it will cost to do so and keep a roof over Jenny's head while I do so -- and it ain't pretty. Hence the reason I continue to slave at the day job.

So, go take a read and think a bit. Those costs are why we often suggest that if you like the work being done by an individual or organization, that you support them. Even small amounts help all of them, for small amounts add up.

Just a little food for thought this Saturday...

who plans to have a new Georgia roundup tomorrow

In Memoriam: Spc. Travis Dowd


At the start of this year, we here at Blackfive had the honor of helping bring DJ home. DJ was an Iraqi puppy, who you can learn more about here, who was brought to America to the mother of a fallen soldier (you can click here to learn more about him and those with him who paid the ultimate price in Iraq).


As noted in the story, DJ's full name was Dowd Junior in a bit of humor aimed at one of the other soldiers in 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Ft. Hood, Texas. Travis Dowd took the ribbing in good humor.


It is with regret that I report that Travis has passed away. There is not a lot of information available yet, but Captain. Tom Hickey, who was his platoon leader, remembers him as not only a good soldier, but one who also stood up for anyone weaker and smaller, and for his extremely positive attitude towards both the mission and life.


His mother, who reportedly is not a fan of tattoos, had her son come home with several. So, she is getting a tattoo of his pet iguana as a means of remembering and honoring her son. His two brothers are going to be hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail in his memory, since he will not be able to do the hikes he planned and was looking so forward to doing.


I ask that you keep him, his family and friends, and his brothers-in-arms in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.


Roundtable: MND-C DCG (O)

We spoke with the Deputy Commanding General for Operations for MultiNational Division -- Center, Brigadier General Jeff Buchanan.  (Transcript here).  MND-C is where 4/3 is located, so see our recent discussion with COL James as well.

BG Buchanan reiterates the impressive numbers representing the progress made in his AO over the last year.  I asked him about the departure of the Georgians, because MND-C had the area for Georgian operations; and what that meant for his force-level requirements.

First of all, we're very thankful to the Georgian forces. You know, they were the third-largest -- at the time they departed, they were the third largest contributor to the coalition of all the forces. And they provided significant security in parts of Wasit province. They also were operating -- we had one of their battalions operating at the time in southeastern Baghdad province under the command and control of one of our coalition force brigades...

Obviously the world situation being what it is, they had to redeploy and did so in a hurry. I want to recognize the professionalism with which they departed. They got out in a hurry. Of course, we helped them do hat. But nobody left a post unmanned. We were able to hand off the checkpoints that they had to a combination of coalition force, U.S. dominantly, and Iraqi security forces, every one of those posts.

What had been, in some cases, just a checkpoint, we are turning into a joint security station, which includes an Iraqi platoon from the 8th Infantry Division, the 8th Iraqi Army Division and a company or a platoon from our brigade that's operating in Wasit.... [W]e have not seen any change in the level of security. And because our focus is on development and professionalization of the ISF, this actually has given us an additional opportunity to partner with Iraqi forces that we had not been partnered with previously.

MND-C has taken the difficulty of an unexpected departure of a brigade and turned it into an opportunity to advance its operations.  The change of the checkpoints in Wasit to JSS will give the Iraqis direct experience in watching the roads from Iran, and searching for contraband weapons, explosives, and so forth. 

That comes at a cost, however.  MND-C was a 'Surge division,' as it was set up at the time of the Surge where there hadn't been a separate DIV-level command before.  The plan at one time had been for it to stand down at least a brigade, but that is not now possible:

[W]e don't have any redeployments or any unanticipated draw-downs or anything like that throughout our operational environment. And honestly, as the tasks are laid out, when you lay out those tasks for the area that I gave you and you intersect that with the level of professionalization development of the Iraqi security forces and overlay across all of it where we are in governance, we have the right amount of forces that we have for the tasks that we're facing.

Something to keep in mind as we debate force level plans for the future in this election season.  The Iraqi Army is increasingly able to take over duties that were Coalition duties before, and their professionalism is constantly improving -- BG Buchanan lauds them in his full remarks, if you want to read more about that.  That said, there is going to be the need to stand down in a responsible manner, and to ensure that our commanders have the force levels they need to finish the job.