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October 2012

USMC and Navy Training for the Zombie Apocolypse - For Realz


Over at the Christian Science Monitor, Anna Mulrine writes
about a counter-terror exercise centered around a Zombie Apocolypse:

That’s the latest training exercise that US Marines and Navy special-operations forces will be taking part in on an island off the coast of San Diego – starting on Wednesday, aka Halloween.

“This is a very real exercise. This is not some type of big costume party,” Brad Barker, president of the Halo Corp. security company, told the Associated Press.

So why train for a "fictional" event?

...This scenario is dire, modeled in part on a public-service campaign that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched last year, warning that US citizens should be prepared in the event of a zombie invasion.


Zombies will invade Paradise Point Resort, which covers 44 acres on an island that will be transformed with Hollywood-style sets, including a Middle Eastern village and a pirate cove. Some 1,000 US military personnel, police, and state and federal government officials will be charged with responding.

So I was going to call Brad Barker and ask him some questions about the exercise...

...The training scenario has not come without its share of unwelcome attention, he noted, adding that “every whack job in the world” has called about the exercise...

There's a lot more at the CSM.

New Jersey National Guard Answers the Call

Within a half hour of the early morning call, Soldiers from the New Jersey National Guard rushed into deep flood waters to rescue their fellow citizens in Moonachie, NJ. It is still unclear whether it was a levee breach or a tidal surge that caused the flooding, but Hurricane Sandy proved she wasn’t done with Jersey yet.

For over 12 hours New Jersey Guardsmen ferried hundreds of stranded citizens to dry ground where they were taken to a number of shelters in the area. The National Guard has transitioned to a State Active Duty Joint Task Force with more than 1,100 Airmen and Soldiers. More than 450 high-water vehicles including Humvees and heavy trucks are available to assist civil authorities.

Their individual civilian and military skill sets will greatly enhance the support they provide to law enforcement, municipalities, and residents of the great state of New Jersey. Soundbite includes SSG. Bryan Schooley - A. Co. 250th PSP Teaneck, NJ, New Jersey Army National Guard. Produced by TSGT. Carl Clegg - 108th Wing Public Affairs.

More videos after the jump.

Continue reading "New Jersey National Guard Answers the Call" »

Oct. 31 in U.S. military history

1941: Although the United States has not yet entered the war, a German submarine torpedoes and sinks the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245), which was providing convoy escort. 115 sailors perish in the first sinking of a U.S. warship in World War II.

1943: Lt. Hugh D. O'Neill, flying at night in a specially modified F4U Corsair, shoots down a Japanese Betty bomber over Vella Lavella, scoring the first kill for the radar-equipped night fighters.

1968: Five days before the elections, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson ends Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Over three-and-a-half years, 864,000 tons of bombs fell on the Communist nation - more tonnage dropped than either the Korean War or the Pacific Theater of World War II. Hundreds of U.S. planes and aircrew are shot down.

1971: Saigon begins releasing the first of around 3,000 Viet Cong prisoners of war. American POWs won't be released until Feb. 12, 1973.

1976: The Air Force's E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft makes its first flight.

Medal of Honor: On this day in 1972, Navy Petty Officer Michael E. Thornton became the only Medal of Honor recipient to save the life of another Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Thomas Norris, who was believed to be dead. Thornton fought and ran through a harrowing field of fire to rescue his officer, then swam out to sea for four hours before being rescued while holding two incapacitated teammates - even though he himself was wounded multiple times.

Image of the Day: Elvis and a bazooka

For more "This day in U.S. military history" content, visit the Center for American Military History

Rumors of General Officers Arrested, Relieved, or Resigning in Protest

We've received many emails over the last week or so from readers asking us to get to the bottom of this situation/rumors du jour...I'm not sure that we can actually do that quickly, but here is what we've been hearing...

First of all, over the last week there have been many reports that the AFRICOM commander, GEN Carter Ham, had been arrested by his second in command and relieved of command.  The reasoning in several articles from journalists and bloggers is that GEN Ham was ready to violate a do-not-assist order with regards to Benghazi. I would think that there are too many people who would know about this that could keep an event like that as quiet as it seems to have been kept. 

HamPhoto courtesy of Armed Forces Press

GEN Ham, with 42 years under his belt, could actually retire TOMORROW, and we should see what he has to say when he retires.  Since the announcement of his being replaced, GEN Ham has been seen speaking at several functions.  Hardly the position of someone who was arrested for insubordination...or as some are suggesting, the leader of a coup.  But it is possible that he was removed for violating orders in a manner without arrest.

On back channel, there has been talk that GEN Ham is actually being relieved for another mission - one that was denied airspace access by a sovereign nation, and that GEN Ham intentionally violated airspace rules/laws in order to complete a mission (not Benghazi).  There is also talk that GEN Ham is resigning in disgust of the chain of command - literally, with the Commander in Chief - and that he is trying to do so as apolitically as possible (and Ham is seen as being one of "the President's guys").  One would think that someone would wait for an election just days away to be over before resigning in protest (because you might have a new CinC), but who knows?  On Monday, GEN Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that GEN Ham's departure was part of a planned rotation in the works since July.  Hhmmm...

Then, we have an up and coming Rear Admiral being relieved of command of the Stennis carrier group.  This is significant as it is not due to conduct unbecoming, personal conduct, or for incompetence, but for "inappropriate leadership judgment".  What?!

Gaouette01Photo Courtesy of USS Stennis/US Navy

Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was relieved of command mid-deployment which is rare (understatement).  From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Navy said Saturday it is replacing the admiral in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment...

One theory is that GEN Ham asked the Stennis strike group for assistance with intelligence and military response in the face of a "do not assist" order and that Admiral Gaouette attempted to follow through on GEN Ham's requests for assistance for the men in Benghazi.  Another theory is that Gaouette was also part of a military coup.  I think that's ridiculous and not in the cards with our GO's (and you would see an entirely different reaction that just relief of command).

It's hard to say what is truth and what is fiction right now.  This is all speculation for the moment. And some of these rumors might have been started to ensure that the truth doesn't come out until after the election.

Are the two removals related?

Are Ham and Gaouette fall out from a cover up of Benghazi?

Is there any truth behind the rumors?

When you head to the polls ...

A couple of things to remember:

In an effort to cut defense spending, the Obama Administration plans to cut health benefits for active duty and retired military personnel and their families while not touching the benefits enjoyed by unionized civilian defense workers.

The move, congressional aides suggested, is to force those individuals into Obamacare, Bill Gertz reported at the Washington Beacon.

Gertz added:

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Unions, however, got a waiver for health care cost increases.

And this:

The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts.

Oh ... and Benghazi:

Having been in a number of similar situations, I know you have to have the courage to do what’s right and take immediate action. Obviously, that courage was lacking for Benghazi. The safety of your personnel always remains paramount. With all the technology and military capability we had in theater, for our leadership to have deliberately ignored the pleas for assistance is not only in incomprehensible, it is un-American.

Somebody high up in the administration made the decision that no assistance (outside our Tripoli embassy) would be provided, and let our people be killed. The person who made that callous decision needs to be brought to light and held accountable. According to a CIA spokesperson, “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need.” We also need to know whether the director of CIA and the director of National Intelligence were facilitators in the fabricated video lie and the overall cover-up. Their creditability is on the line. A congressional committee should be immediately formed to get the facts out to the American people. Nothing less is acceptable.

That's from retired ADM James A. Lyons who was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.  He knows, given his former position, how much BS the current administration line is.  And he is right --- nothing else is acceptable.


Oct. 30 in U.S. military history

1918: Famous World War I flying ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker shoots down his 26th - and final - enemy aircraft over Rémonville, France.

1940: The Royal Air Force's First Eagle Squadron, consisting of volunteer pilots from the United States, becomes operational. Thousands of Americans would apply, but only 244 were chosen for service during the early days of World War II.

1950: Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur orders U.S. forces north of the 38th Parallel to "mop up" the North Korean Army.

1954: The last racially segregated unit in the U.S. Armed Forces is abolished; the military is officially desegregated.

Medal of Honor: On this day in 1944, Pvt. Wilburn K. Ross almost single-handedly fought off a German attack that devastated his company. Pvt. Ross killed or wounded dozens of enemy soldiers, forcing their retreat

Image of the Day: Warthog flies over Egypt

Find history for other dates at the Center for American Military History

Mr. President, Is this naval game with China "Battleship"?

Over at Foreign Policy, John Arquilla - the professor and chair of the defense analysis department at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School - writes about Game Theory with regards to the state of our Navy and recent overly-confident statements by our own President.  Instead of using complex algorithms, Professor Arquilla uses games we all know - Battleship and Stratego - to demonstrate the lack of strategic understanding at the highest levels of the Obama Administration.

...In the final candidates' debate last week, President Obama delivered a telling, somewhat snarky zinger in response to Governor Romney's call for naval expansion: "This isn't ‘Battleship.'" He then went on to school Romney about how having some aircraft carriers and submarines means we don't need more ships. The governor had no adequate reply.

But the fact of the matter is that the old "Battleship" board game -- not the more recent movie flop that was somehow based on it -- offers exactly the right metaphor to describe strategic affairs in the information age. "Battleship" does so by capturing the distilled essence of naval operations today: the hider/finder dynamic...

Read the whole piece here.