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November 2010

Hoping for the Best

Wretchard the Cat, founder of the Belmont Club, is one of the wisest who writes to the blogs.  Today he writes:

Now the Republic’s enemies must be asking themselves: where is the bottom to these people’s incompetence? Can they do anything at all? How safe is it to rush ahead? Why don’t we try?

And if they do, what tools will President Obama have left? Diplomacy? Economic incentives or sanctions? Moral authority? Maybe the military. Yes that’s it. But his competence at war is predicted by his incompetence in peace. One would hope he’d have the sense to stay away from truly dangerous tools and that probably means he doesn’t know better.

It's all right, Wretchard.  If he turns to war, he turns to us.  We are the truly dangerous tools, as swords are dangerous tools.  When the time comes, we'll be there to save what needs saving.

We are what we ought to put faith in during dangerous times; therefore, there is nothing to fear.  There is only duty, and the oaths we have sworn.  When this is all over, we'll have lived -- or died -- as men ought to do.  

May God defend the right.  Perhaps the right is North Korea, where tyranny lives and all else starves; perhaps it is the madness of Iran's leadership, and not the wise children who want freedom and an honest chance to think for themselves.  

Perhaps:  but, if it comes to that, let's run the chance.

Help Honor Major Dick Winters

Easy Company's Wild Bill Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Hefron joined up with film maker Tim Gray and Baseball great Curt Schilling and are trying to raise enough money to build a statue of their commanding officer, Major Dick Winters, at Utah Beach in Normandy. It was there that E Company, under Winters’ leadership (as a Lieutenant), parachuted behind German lines and captured four big German guns above the beach, saving many lives.  That short brutal fight was taught as a classic infantry engagement at West Point and in ROTC classrooms (and in my own ROTC class in 1988).


Lots of media coverage on this:

Former Major League baseball star and 3-time World Series winning pitcher Curt Schilling is interviewed on ESPN about his role as national spokesperson for the Winters project.

If you'd like to help contribute to build a statue to honor Major Dick Winters, you can go here to Curt Schilling's Dick Winters Leadership site.

WikiLeaks site beaten down. Assange to face Holder?

Well it looks like somebody is beginning to play a little "payback is a medevac" with the Wikiwankers.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) – The WikiLeaks website says it’s under a forceful Internet-based attack, and content on the site was inaccessible to some users in the U.S. and Europe throughout the morning Tuesday.

About damn time! At this point every time these losers pop their heads up, we ought to be digitally prison raping them. Heck I'd be willing to put a bunch of hackers on parole if they spent at least 10 hours a week, screwing up Julian Assange's world. And did you hear, our Aussie ass clown may have to face the wrath of Eric Holder, oooooooh I bet he is quaking.

Federal authorities are investigating whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group's release of government documents, including possible charges under the Espionage Act, sources familiar with the inquiry said Monday.

They are investigating whether he broke laws, FFS shouldn't they have knocked out that little detail the first time he threw our classified mail out in the street? If for some reason there isn't a law allowing his prosecution, then it's probably time for some of that bi-partisanship we always hear we need. Let's pass the "We really did mean Secret" Act and line up Assange as the case in point.

Or we could just shoot him (cue lefty outrage). Since he has actively attacked our war efforts and has almost certainly cost the lives of innocents, declare him an enemy combatant and rain down some Hellfire and damnation. Instead the government is  hijacking web domains for the heinous crime, well heinous bad taste maybe, of stealing Lady Gaga CDs

At a news conference Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder said law enforcement authorities have seized 82 domain names of commercial websites, disrupting the sale of thousands of counterfeit items such as sports equipment and illegal copies of music and software.

Why in the hell haven't they seized every digital footprint of the WikiWankers for exposing classified info stolen on a Lady Gaga CD? Shut these bastards down, NOW!

Into The Light: John Steakley

Well, damn. John William Steakley Jr. has passed into the light. John was an acquaintance from way back, and one of those people that when you bumped into him it was as if no time had passed at all. A character, in the good sense, he was an author, a speaker, and much more. His book Armor is one of those that most should read but don't. He was a good person to share a panel with, listen to when he spoke, and even better when you just sat and talked with him. He will be missed.


Are you B.A. enough to win $100,000

Some friends of mine are helping with casting for a new show on Spike TV called "Most Lethal." They are searching for candidates with extensive special operations experience to compete in a series of mentally and physically challenging events. They are looking for SEALs, SF, Rangers, Force Recon, PJs, as well as our foreign "specl ops" counterparts like SAS or Canada's JTF 2.

Here is the flyer (click it for a larger version):


Restrepo the Movie on Nat Geo tonight

A can't miss movie about Afghanistan is showing tonight on National Geographic at 9 pm Eastern, Restrepo.

You have heard about it here numerous times, it is the tale of Battle Company, 2nd of the 503rd, 173rd Airborne and their time in the Korengal Valley. When all is said and done the combat tour of the 2nd of the 503rd will go down in the annals of the Airborne with the Battle of the Bulge. don't forget they awarded a certain medal to a gentleman served in Battle Company. Just watch it.

State Department Cables, Wikileaks, and Classification

Let's talk about this Wikileaks issue.  The State Department cables leaked this week represent, we are told, the greatest diplomatic disaster in the current era.  So, considering the list of bombshells disclosed by these documents:  was there anything in them you didn't already pretty much know?

I'd say the biggest bombshell of the report is realizing that Hillary Clinton would have made a fantastic President of the United States.  I have to admit that I voted for her in 2008, in the primaries, mostly on a triage basis.  Look at her squarely today, though:  that's exactly the combination of guts and devotion to American interests I want to see in a President.  We made a terrible mistake as a nation in not putting her forward as the Democratic candidate in 2008.

Let's review the other great revelations; I'll use Drudge's list for ease of reference:

Iran smuggled arms to Hezbollah!  C'mon, everyone knows that.  

Iran obtained missiles from the DPRK!  Surprised?  Of course not -- there have been regular reports in the press about such efforts for years.

China is conducting computer sabotage!  Their interest in cyber warfare as an asymmetric lever is very well known.

Saudis urge US attack on Iran!  Anyone surprised by this?

How about those assessments of foreign leaders?  Putin is the real power in Russia!  Karzai is weak and paranoid!  Kim Jong-Il is a basket case!

It's important to keep diplomatic secrets, but it's also important to recognize how little most of them are secrets.  The United States -- and every other nation -- has well known, established interests.  Foreign leaders aren't, in general, black boxes.  Nobody's really surprised by any of this.

What's the point of this?  Diplomatic cables' inclusion in SIPRnet is of real benefit to interagency operations.  It would be a mistake to restrict them.  I used to read the things every morning in Iraq, to keep visibility on what was happening at the top that might filter its way down to our level.  Those 'secrets' won't ever appear in the newspaper because they aren't important to the world, but they were sometimes important to us.  

A cable treating, say, the probability of Iraq's federal government enacting new agriculture protections would be of tremendous interest to tribal leaders in the agricultural regions.  Knowing about it gave us advance notice and leverage, and the ability to be clued-in when we went out to talk with folks.

About six years ago the JASON panel put forward a suggestion that we needed to push information classification down to much lower levels than previously.  

Among the first steps, the authors say, is to define an acceptable level of risk.

 "As a nation we can afford to lose X secret and Y top secret documents per year. We can afford a Z probability that a particular technical capability or HUMINT source is compromised."

 Clearly, X, Y, and Z must be more than zero. Otherwise, "all operations stop, because all operations entail some nonzero risk."

 The next step is to *increase* information distribution "all the way up to the acceptable risk level."

They were, I submit, absolutely right about that.  This Wikileaks thing is the logical consequence of following that policy.  We're going to lose a certain number of classified documents every year; but we're also going to benefit from information sharing between State and the military.  We're going to benefit tremendously from pushing information down to the lowest possible level in the military -- to the platoon leaders, the company commanders, the battalion commander and his staff, to the TPTs and Civil Affairs teams going outside the wire.  

The more people who see this stuff, the more likely we'll lose some of it.  We have to be smart about deciding how to manage that risk.  Pushing things to higher levels of classification isn't the answer.  Part of the answer is probably better counterintelligence:  Manning should have been seen for the obvious security risk that he was.  He should not have had the access that he had, but that doesn't mean that soldiers in general shouldn't have access.  It means we should be looking for people who have personal reasons to betray our trust.  Just as we should be looking for bombers and not bombs in counterterror efforts, we should be looking for traitors in CI, not taking steps that would keep people who need to know this information from having access to it.

The loss of these cables is regrettable, and the traitor who passed them ought to be punished.  However, it was the right call to put these things out on SIPRnet:  the benefit of having that information available to our forces in the field outweighs the damage done by the release.

Great Americans Interviews MG (R) Bargewell

The "Great Americans" project has an interview with retired Major General Eldon Bargewell.  During his career Bargewell served with MACV-SOG (Reconnaissance Team Viper) as an enlisted man, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross.  As an officer he served most notably with the 75th Rangers, as commander of the Delta Force, and as operations officer for MNF-I.

 The interview begins with the Vietnam days.  It's worth watching for Sergeant Major Billy Waugh's commentary alone.  Of course you all know who he is.

Into The Light: Leslie Nielsen

He asked to play the heavies for years, as they had the more dramatic and challenging parts, but was finally recognized as the comic genius he had always been.  A prankster behind the camera, he always ran with the roles given -- and thankfully they finally went to being a prankster in front of the camera with the timing of comedic sniper. 

In part to escape an abusive home, he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force at 17 and trained as an aerial gunner despite being legally deaf.  While he never deployed in WWII, he served and apparently gave his best in that role while in it.

Leslie Nielsen has given a lot of entertainment (and good acting) to the world, and a huge amount of much needed laughter.  For it all, and especially for the laughter, my thanks.  You will be missed.