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November 2011

Aussies and Americans


An Australian army soldier (left) with 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, shows U.S. Marine Sgt. Anthony Simmons (right), with 2nd Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team out of Norfolk, Va., the basic functions of the F88 Austeyr assault rifle during an exchange of weapons tactics, techniques, and procedures at Robertson Barracks, Darwin, Australia, Nov. 24, 2011. FAST Marines are attending Exercise Semper Fast 2011, a combined training event hosted by 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, focusing on small arms ranges, direct fire ranges, military operations on urban terrain, and light infantry operations.  Photo by Sgt Pete Thibodeau.

US Navy - a force for "Globalisation"?

It is, according to CNAS's Robert Kaplan in the Financial Times:

...A world without US naval and air dominance will be one where powers such as China, Russia, India, Japan and others act more aggressively towards each other than they do now, because they will all be far more insecure than they are now. Even China and Russia take advantage of secure sea lanes partly provided by the US...

We have been handing off way too much resources, access, and influence to the Chinese and now the Russians are re-emerging (nice Reset there Madame Secretary).  We need a strong defense as well as a strong economy...

The Keils - A Family You Should Know

"Enough bedrooms to have kids. We've got a lot of time on our hands." Tracy Keil talking about having just one requirement for their new home in 2007.


This video will be the best four minutes you'll spend today...We last saw the Keils in 2007...


[Thanks to SSG Keil's Aunt Deb for sending the update!]

Nov. 29 in US Military History

1760: Rogers’ Rangers under the command of Massachusetts-born Maj. (future Lt. Col.) Robert Rogers capture Fort Detroit from the French. U.S. Army Rangers in the 20th and 21st centuries will trace their lineage to Rogers and his British Colonial irregulars.

1804:  Marine Corps 1st Lt. Presley O’Bannon, William Eaton, Navy Midshipman George Mann, and seven Marines land at Alexandria, Egypt with the intention of overthrowing the ruler of Tripoli. Five months -and 600 miles – later, the men would arrive in the port city of Derne and defeat the Bashaw’s forces.

1890: Navy beats Army, 24-0, in the first-ever Army (West Point) – Navy (Annapolis) football game.

1929: U.S. Navy Commander Richard E. Byrd Jr. makes the first-ever flight over the South Pole.   Byrd – a future rear admiral and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his 1926 flight over the North Pole – is the navigator of the South Pole flight. His companions include pilot Bernt Balchen, radio operator Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley.   The team crosses the Pole in a modified Ford tri-motor airplane.

1941: The Japanese decide that the terms issued by the United States are unacceptable and that Japan must go to war. The passenger ship Lurline sends a radio signal that they have spotted Japanese fleet in the North Pacific, heading East.

1944: The submarine USS Archerfish sinks the Japanese carrier Shinano, the largest warship sunk by a submarine during World War II, off Honshu. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the battleship USS Maryland and two destroyers are heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks.

1952: Newly elected president – and former Gen. – Dwight Eisenhower fulfills his campaign promise of visiting Korea in hopes of ending the conflict. Upon taking office, President Eisenhower informed the Chinese that he would unleash Nationalist Chinese forces in Taiwan against Communist China unless peace negotiations progressed. An armistice was signed in July of 1953.

1968: Viet Cong High Command issues a directive to its forces to wage a new assault to “utterly destroy” US and South Vietnamese forces, specifically targeting the highly effective Phoenix counterinsurgency program.

Medal of Honor: For nearly two weeks,SSgt. Andrew Miller engaged in a "series of heroic events," to include single-handedly silencing multiple machinegun positions; killing or wounding dozens of German soldiers, and capturing scores more. Then on Nov. 29 1944, SSgt. Miller's platoon was pinned down by German fire. He led a charge that smothered the Germans, but the attack cost Miller his life.

Adapted (and abridged) in part from “This Week in US Military History” by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at Human Events.

Photo of the Day: Navy Lt. Alexander Vraciu shoots down six Japanese bombers

Cross border casualties

This is not good.

Administration officials did not respond Monday to Pakistani demands for an apology for the cross-border U.S. airstrike that killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers early Saturday. Instead, they expressed condolences for the loss of life while saying that the facts about what happened were under investigation.

Properly placing the blame for this is important, but it isn't going to change the fact that our relations with the Pakistanis are on a rapid downward trend. You can argue about whether they should be our allies at all, and I would agree that is an open question. But currently we are losing even the semblance of alliance and cooperation for which we have been shipping all those satchels of cash to them.

We had the CIA contractor shooting a couple of civilians (likely trying to rob or kidnap him), then of course the bin Laden excursion and now a couple of dozen of their soldiers dead. All in all we will have a tough time bouncing back from this, especially as they know we are pulling out of Afghanistan for all intents and purposes.

So you get back to that most basic question, does it matter if the Pakistanis are our "friends"? In one word yes, in another explanatory word, nukes. They have them, we don't want them spreading them around, so we pay them and deal with all the ancillary back stabbing and double and triple dealing. All of the talk about not allowing the region to be a haven for terrorists etc is true, but absent those little atomic wonders, we would not be taking the crap we do.

So feel free to call for an end to this charade of an alliance and our efforts to create some sort of stable governance in the region. But understand that we cannot escape the need to keep as wary an eye as possible on the folks with their fingers on nuclear triggers.

Bing West comments at NRO

The description in the New York Times today of Pakistan-based assassination squads operating in eastern Afghanistan is disturbing. It is further evidence of how difficult it is to prevail in a war when your neighbor next door provides a sanctuary for the insurgents. Another press story quoted an American official as whining that “we were just starting to crawl back” from the Pakistani reaction to the killing on their soil of Osama bin Laden. 

The administration has to adopt a tough, transactional negotiating posture with Pakistan. 

— Bing West is author of The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan.

National Guard to have a seat at the Joint Chiefs Table?

No more eating at the kiddie table?

National Guard Backed For Spot On Joint Chiefs

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a voice vote, the Senate on Monday night backed expanding the Joint Chiefs of Staff to include the National Guard despite the opposition of the current chairman and service chiefs.

Some 70 co-sponsors joined Senators Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, in their effort to expand the group.

Mr. Leahy argued that the roles of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard had changed significantly in a post-Sept. 11 world. The service chiefs said there was no compelling reason to alter the status quo.

I think that the Long War has proven the need for and the effectiveness of the Guard (National Guard and Air National Guard).

M.O.H. Awardee Tells B.A.E. To Pound Sand

This ain't going to end well for BAE.

Wall Street Journal
November 29, 2011

Decorated Marine Sues Contractor
By Julian E. Barnes

Two months ago, Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for his service in Afghanistan, the military's most prestigious award. On Monday, Sgt. Meyer alleged that a defense contractor has called him mentally unstable and a problem drinker, ruining his chances for a job in the defense industry.

In legal papers filed Monday, the Marine claims that BAE Systems, where he worked earlier this year, retaliated against him after he raised objections about BAE's alleged decision to sell high-tech sniper scopes to the Pakistani military. He says his supervisor at BAE effectively blocked his hiring by another defense contractor by making the claims about drinking and his mental condition...

Read the whole piece at the WSJ. Leave your opinions in the comment section.

Nov. 28 in US Military History

1941: The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) departs Pearl Harbor to ferry F4F Wildcat fighters from VMF-211 to Wake Island, thus saving the carrier from the coming Japanese attack.

1941: Adolf Hitler meets with Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the two determine that Jews in the Middle East must be exterminated.

1942: The first Ford production B-24 Liberator rolls off the new production line in Ypsilanti, Mich. By war’s end, the plant would turn out some 8,500 Liberators – and by June of 1944, at the incredible rate of one per hour.

1943: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet in Teheran, Iran for the first time to plan a strategy to defeat Nazi Germany.

1950: Gen. Walton Walker, Commander of the Eighth Army, declares that his offensive is over. Gen. Douglas MacArthur informs the Joint Chiefs that “We face an entirely new war.” Nearly half a million Chinese soldiers drive US forces before them.

Medal of Honor: The Chinese launched a massive offensive with their stated objective of wiping out the First Marine Division. On Nov. 28, 1950, three Marines from the 2nd Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division – one in E Company (SSgt. Robert S. Kennemore) and two in F Company (Capt. William E. Barber and Pvt. Hector A. Cafferata Jr.) – would receive the Medal of Honor.

Photo of the Day: US Marine about to (posthumously) earn the Medal of Honor in Korea