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August 2013

First to die for a mistake

Over at the Althouse blog, there has been an interesting rewrite of the infamous quote from  Vietnam-protesting, medal-tossing, enemy-collaborating F John Kerry. Back then he asked

Meade IM's a rewrite of John Kerry's famous Vietnam question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
The rewrite goes
“How do you ask a man to be the [first] man to die for a mistake?”

How indeed? But since it will only be a fireworks display, not an actual military mission with, you know, an operational objective and all that. This is just a hundred million dollar fig leaf to cover the mouthing off done by our lead from behind President. Plus the only people to die will be Syrian military and civilians, so who cares right? Gee where are all the lefty war protesters these days?

Cascade Effects

Welcome Instapundit readers!  There is some good and interesting food for thought on the topic and on Syria in particular in the comments.  Kick the tires, look around, and I commend to you the "Someone you Should Know" section, the writings of Grim, and of course my own humble efforts

No, I'm not talking physics, but something that can make basic physics seem easy. It is something we see every day in the corporate, academic, and military worlds and it can have profound effects on people and institutions. Let's take a hypothetical look at a situation.

You are in a telecon, with people scattered around the country. Leading the telecon is a manager that is known to be ambitious, somewhat unscrupulous, well-connected, and not terribly connected to reality in terms of consumer wants, needs, and buying habits. He has a plan to advance sales (and market share), and is somewhere between announcing it and trying to sell it to other managers and offices. To his mind, the plan is a slam-dunk that no one of any intelligence can not see as a slam-dunk.

Problem is, none of the other managers and offices were consulted. They were told a plan was in work, but none were truly brought in to the development process. Marketing research had been asked to provide specific data sets and analysis of those sets, but that was all. This fact, but not the reasons behind it, are known to those taking part in the discussion. There are some other considerations in play, but this is a hypothetical.

Mr. Manager launches into his pitch, and is asked a question by the manager for Northeastern sales, who is from and residing in Maine. Mr. Manager is a touch thin-skinned (to be polite), and so answers the question with a retort rather than an answer, using a phrase common in the Southwest where he is from. That phrase has the meaning there of "shut up the answer is coming" but has a much stronger meaning in Maine.

Out of the almost infinite range of possibilities, we really have three probable responses that are going to take place. First, in the ideal world, the Maine rep will sit back, be a professional, and objectively analyze what is to come before making any decisions or even speaking again. Second, the Maine rep is going to respond immediately, but both sides will call a truce and get information and facts out, though the process will not be fun for anyone. Third, Maine will respond and Mr. Manager will take it personally, and things will go downhill fast.

Cascade effects.

We see this all the time, and in many facets of life where we have to interact with others. Even the best of people can have an off day or moment. Even the best intentioned of people forget the concept of mores, the cultural "blinders" that almost everyone tends to wear such that we think that everyone thinks in the same way we do. Even when it is critical not to, we also let personal opinions of people cloud our judgement about the professional opinions and actions of others. Conversely, leadership can and does (on a regular basis even) take personal ownership of ideas/programs/etc. well beyond the point of healthy, so that any question is taken as a personal attack.

Cascade effects.

When we role-play, excuse me, conduct training exercises, it gives a chance to experience this first hand and to develop mechanisms to detect and limit the cascade effects of bad decisions and actions. These are both personal and institutional mechanisms, and are critical to ensure good outcomes. The fact that such exercises also allow us to get to know others involved, develop professional and personal opinions of them, get a feel for how they will act or do (so we can make allowances for same), and can allow us to detect and learn mores that WILL have an impact on what is said and done, well that's really what it is all about on higher-level exercises.

When it comes to politico-military issues, Hollywood and bad literature always tend to put the blame for bad cascades on Private Snuffy who is always ignorant, scared, bloodthirsty, etc. The fact that Pvt. Snuffy should not be in that position and would not be except for bad decisions on the part of politico-military leadership is never discussed or even to be considered. The fact that in alien scenarios the peaceful intentions of the saintly ET happen to look like 'I'm going to kill you slowly and painfully and barbecue you while still alive' to Private Snuffy is a discussion for another day (mores again). I have to agree a good bit with David Drake, who has noted that if you don't want Private Snuffy deciding your diplomacy for you, you should not have put them there.

I've noted before that while individual leaders may be great and noble people, governmental responses and actions tend to follow the toddler property laws model and responses are based on a similar level of maturity. Good leaders will recognize that the positive needs of the state (and its Citizens) must come first, and factor that into their thinking. Bad leaders will respond along the lines of "L'etat, c'est Moi!"

Over on Facebook, both at my page and in a discussion on the boss's page, I've made note of a book that the current situation has brought to mind, "Alas, Babylon." Note: I have not read the new introduction by David Brin and can simply hope it is more knowledgeable and honest than some of his discussions on firearms. The book itself deals with a very bad cascade effect caused when a Navy pilot fires a missile that misses it's target, hits something that explodes, and sets of lots and lots of explosions -- ultimately triggering WWIII. The location of this attack? Syria, and a certain warm-water port that has figured (and most likely still does) strongly in Soviet and now Russian thoughts and plans.

In "The Sum of All Fears (Jack Ryan) " Tom Clancy explores what happens when key players in events don't know each other and react both to worst-possible intents and on a purely personal basis (they attacked me/they tried to kill me). Of course, the day is saved by Jack Ryan who bravely blocks the cascade and ends it with that block, but keep in mind that is fiction. Honest question time: Can anyone tell me if the current POTUS, Valerie Jarrett, and other senior staffers have ever taken part in any serious emergency response exercise, or have they (like Clancy's characters) blown them off?

Now, consider the following.

In Iran, there is a dominant trend in current leadership to hold the religious view that a great (final) battle is needed to bring about the return of the 12th Imam. To that end, they have embarked on a variety of efforts including nuclear and quite likely chemical and biological warfare efforts. Iran has pledged that any attack on Syria will bring about an attack on Israel. While the standard response of (too) many in the U.S. is to dismiss those as posturing (easily bolstered by the ridiculous photoshops put out by Iran), sober analysts are not as dismissive, and an attack against Israel does not have to succeed in hitting Israel to be successful, it simply has to provoke a response. Keep in mind that Syria is a partner (potential client state), has received quite a lot of weapons and support from Iraq, and is a hell of a lot closer to Israel than Iran.

In Syria, you have a rather ruthless dictator who's back is against the wall in several respects. You have there all of whatever it was (cough, cough) in those trucks from Saddam's Iraq that even the media has acknowledged went over the border to Syria. Within the government faction, you have those who happen to share the 12th Imam scenario; those that happen just to hate Israel (and other Muslims who are not them); and, those who might just be feeling a bit of "take them all with me" right now. Add to that a group of rebels that are backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and AQ, and you get even more players in the game (cascade points) that one can pretty much count on to make personal (bad from our viewpoint) choices.

In Russia, you have a leader who's response to being protested and strongly contested in recent elections is rather draconian by our previous standards. This leader also has international problems resulting from some of the internal actions, problems that can affect revenues, trade, and more. Factor in a history of bad relations with the current administration (reset button anyone?), and the perception that previous and current leadership have lied to them on matters of import, and… Also consider that previous efforts at power projection (Georgia invasion and seizure of American military equipment as but one example, Poland and SDI another) have not met with any real opposition or consequences.

Lather, rinse, and repeat with China, France, Israel, and Egypt.

To make it really interesting, consider the following. Unless the Russian and other foreign intelligence organizations have gone completely out of business, the leaders in those countries know that there are discussions that military plans by the administration are considered by some (including political leaders) to be a "wag the dog" scenario; that there are strong divisions in the country around the Constitutionality of those proposed military actions by the administration; and, that many foreign leaders consider our leadership to be weak and inept when it comes to foreign policy. Then, add in consideration of how the administration might react to events/proclamations from abroad based on both past performance and their response to domestic considerations -- and that foreign leaders have been briefed on this and could see it as standard mode. Add in personal opinions of current leadership as expressed by foreign leaders involved. Let's not even get into the fact that the administration has been leaking details of attack plans like a sieve giving everyone and their pet time to prepare a response…

Now, add in the fact that no one in the administration has made a case for national interest, and have admitted that there is no plan beyond making a strike to 'send a message.' No goal has been articulated beyond that: immediate, intermediate, or end-state. Consider that Russia has begun moving fleet (and possibly other) military assets into the region, and indicated that it will regard any attack on Syria (ally/semi-client state) in the strongest possible terms. Consider that Iran has said it will launch against Israel if Syria is attacked. Consider what China has said about the situation. Look at what others in the region have said, much less among our allies in Europe and elsewhere.

All it will take for things to go bad, to extremely bad, is one "failure" at one cascade point. While the world is filled with cascade points and the potential for bad cascade effects, there are times, places, and valid reasons to proceed -- one of the best being that consideration of all the possibilities and probabilities can freeze one into inaction, which has its own negative consequences. That said, there being no clear and compelling reason of national interest (as opposed to internal political interest), and a host of obvious problematic (negative) cascade points, why proceed?

If you have not read the books noted above, I will recommend them to you if for no other reason than that they present good studies on decision trees, cascade points, and cascade effects. I will also remind you of a truism (that is true) in regards war and CBN war: we are all hostage to the least stable person involved.

Have a good weekend.


NOTE:  Updated to fix some typos/possible-Freudian-slips. 

Foregone Conclusions....

"I hestitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.

And we found out the level of competence that statement defines during Inmate Hasan's sentencing today....

Nidal Malik Hasan was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Tex., the worst mass murder at a military installation in U.S. history. 

The death penalty was handed down by a panel of 13 senior military officers in a unanimous decision. If even a single panel member had objected, Hasan would instead have been sentenced to life in prison.

The jury deliberated for a little more than two hours.

Two Hours?  I would like to point out that NCO's could have had this wrapped up before the second pot of coffee in the First Sergeant's office was done.  Next time, let us handle that for you sir....

Now that we have dispensed with the particulars and gotten this Jihadi on the hit list for his 72 virgins, this is how it should work from here on out.

In courts martial, appellate review is mandatory and cannot be waived or withdrawn when the sentence includes death. Under military law (UCMJ), any sentence calling for more than one year of incarceration gets an automatic review by the US Army Court of Military Review, and after that it goes to the Armed Forces Court of Appeals.

I know it has been since the time my Dad was in high school since the US Military actually got to the business of executing someone on their Death Row.  My question is how is it that an organization dedicated to killing bad people can't seem to find their day-planner long enough to put some dirtbag on the schedule to the see the hooded man with the long rope?

I thought, "can't we just get to it?" and then I saw this little nugget and was nearly overwhelmed by evil...

He will be transferred to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., on the first available military flight, officials said.

Attention US Army!  I am free this weekend....  This presents quite an opportunity.  How about we save ourselves as a country a great deal of aggravation and just take this dude up to altitude and shove him down the ramp and bid him adieu as he tumbles into the Wild Blue Yonder?  Perhaps we could coat him in some napalm and hook a pressure sensitive detonator to him and well?  There is lots of open country to fly over between Ft. Hood and Ft. Leavenworth, so no real danger of him and his wheelchair landing in someone's Labor Day barbeque.  Then we can nuke the site from orbit, just to make sure....

His last statement to the jury was "the defense rests."  I hope he rests, in peace(s), real soon....

Death for Hassan

The sentence is in, and it is death.  However, given the speed at which military executions take place, and the extreme reluctance/complete inability to do right by their people of the perfumed princes it is life in prison for all intents and purpose.  Given that cradling "diversity" and being politically correct is far more important than seeing to it that the people and families you are sworn to protect are taken care of and done right by, want to bet that someone senior commutes the sentence to life with possibility of parole? 

Now, that's just me.  So, what do you think?


Warrior Aviation to Honor Returned Vietnam-Era USAF MIAs



On July 8 1969, Major James E Sizemore and his navigator Major Howard V Andre were flying an A-26 Invaderas part of the 609th Special Operations Squadron in support of Special Forces working in Laos. They were shot down on a night mission and have been MIA for 43 years. Their aircraft and remains were found this year and Major Sizemore is now returning home to be buried by his family at Arlington National Cemetery. 

You could say Major Sizemore has some pretty stalwart military aviation DNA in his body.  His brother is RDAM Gene Sizemore USN (ret) (over 7,000 flight hours and more than 1,000 arrested landings in over a dozen navy aircraft from 1948 through his retirement in 1982) and nephew is RDAM Bill Sizemore USN (ret), (over 6,000 flight hours and mor ethan 1,000 arrested landings in fighters and strike-fighters, and just happened to be my boss at the CAOC in al Udeid in 2003).

Here's where things get interesting.  Although Major Sizemore died in combat and has earned the right of a missing man formation, sequester cuts have forced the Air Force to be unable to provide fly-over services.

His son, James Sizemore, has arranged for flight of civilian aircraft, including an A-26 to fill the space in the sky where our military honors should have been.

The Warrior Flight Team of Warrior Aviation got to work and have arranged for a 8-ship fly over and the their Vandy 1 jet will be leading the missing man.  All flight crew participating in the missing-man fly-over are USN,USMC and USAF Veterans themselves. 

However, this comes at a cost. They are asking for donations to help cover the cost of $20,000 in fuel. Paypal donations can be made on the http://www.a-26legacy.org/ Scroll to the bottom and click the paypal button. On the confirmation page ADD SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SELLER and indicate the funds are for the Warrior Flight Team flyover.

The A-26 Invader that will accompany the flyover is privately owned by George Lancaster with no affiliation to them)


Let's see if we can step up and help out the Warrior Aviation/A-26 Legacy team give a spectacular fly-by.  Right now, 8 aircraft are in the mix for this honor.  If you are in or around DC/Arlington at noon on 23 Sept, keep your ears and eyes open for both the roar of radial and turbofan jet engines.

Warrior Aviation can be found here.  Good bunch, them boys...and girls!

Bunny small

Syria, A Simple Question

Given that it is simple and straight to the point, I have to wonder if anyone inside the beltway is asking it.  So, I will ask it of you: 

Can anyone posit a compelling national interest for intervention in Syria?

Compelling is not simply because a politician said we should, but because it is in the clear national interest to do so.  It means it is worth the large amount of resources required to do so, it will be worth the blood that will be spilled if we do so, and it will be for a valid and measurable goal.  Not feelings, not sweet and fluffy rhetoric, but a measurable objective goal (put man on moon, remove Hitler from power, etc.).  

Also, if there is an immediate measurable goal, then there needs be an end-state in mind from the start.  What is it?  What will be required to achieve it?  

I have my own thoughts, but I want to give each and every one of you a chance to make your case.  



You Are Cordially Invited

UPDATE II:  Thanks to everyone who came out.  It was a good start getting Team Rubicon better known in Atlanta, though no where close to what I had wanted to raise.  My only regret is that I did not get to spend as much time talking with everyone as I would have liked. 

UPDATE:  We've added a raffle to the evening, with a chance to win some prints.  How many?  That's up to you and how many tickets you buy.  If there's enough interest, we will add more. 

A Different View at the Doo

WHEN: 24 August 2013
WHERE: The dooGallery, Unit J, 205 Holtzclaw St. SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
TIMES: 3-6 Family hours, 7-midnight reception and fundraiser
COST: $10 per person at the door

In partnership with the dooGallery, "A Different View at the Doo", a special showing of my digital photography work is being presented as a fundraiser for Team Rubicon. Coffee for the evening is being provided by Ranger Coffee (an Atlanta-based veteran-owned company), Pensadores Cigars will be providing a limited number of free samples in the back garden of the gallery, and Bacon's Heir will be joining the festivities and in addition to providing samples of their wonderful product they are also bringing a very different sculpture for your enjoyment.

Parking is in the gravel lot in front of the gallery, and I hope you will come join us for the event.