I always liked Don King. I never quite knew why--there was no obvious reason--but apparently my instincts were right on. That's a good story, B-5.
JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) has proposed a new Real-time ISR system by 2008. ISR is an abbreviation for "Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance." It is part of C4ISR, which is itself a part of information operations generally. C4, in this case, is "Command, Control, Communications, Computers." When you add the two parts together, C4 & ISR, you get a mental model of how the military thinks about the information needs of the warfighter. (These things can be broken out in several ways; you'll people talk about C3I by itself, or C2I, or, as here, just ISR.)
The idea here is to develop a system, which warfighters can access, that will provide intelligence reports and SR data on a nearly to-the-minute basis. It doesn't take much imagination to see the benefit of having access to updated sat imagery, yesterday's reports from the DIA that may touch on your target, and maybe a scouting report from Marine Recon.
It seems to me that there are two critical challenges, one pratical and one technical. The practical challenge will be getting the intelligence aspects of this up to speed--intelligence products are analysis as much as information, and the analysis has to be done before the product is ready to be disseminated to the end-user. There will always be in any intelligence ops a competition between the desire to get these things out fast ("Hurry up with that report from al-Anbar province--we've got a series of ops there at 0200 Zulu!") versus getting things right ("Last week's reports were so rushed that we didn't notice two critical flaws, with the result that we lost men."). Putting things into a computer pipe increases the pressure for speed--think about how much less patient you are for news in the age of the Internet v. when you had to wait for tomorrow's morning paper ("Why aren't the results from the Belmont up yet? That race was over five minutes ago!"). Further, the analysis will have to be increasingly clear--they are talking about dissemination direct from DIA, not to a trained field intel officer, but to the tank-driver or platoon commander. Their needs will require clarity of analysis (in a hurry!). Keeping the balance will be that much more challenging under these twin pressures.
The technical challenge is security. Putting all this information on tap in one platform will mean that a security failure is devastating. Should an enemy (say, Chinese hackers) manage to access the system, we'll find ourselves in real trouble, real fast. Keeping on top of that will be the work of giants.
One of the things I've been reading lately are English translations of the old Muslim myths. Those of you who have been reading the Hall for a year or more will remember that we talked a lot about mythology during the invasion of Iraq. Mythology, out of which arise people's visions of who they are and what they ought to be, is probably more important than any political speechmaking. It is in the symbols of mythology where wars are really won, or really lost.
Here's a piece that I pass on largely without comment, except to say why it struck me as interesting. In the wake of certain recent events, we have heard a great deal about how being seen naked was an unmitigated humiliation for Arabs. Yet I find that one of the great heroes of early Islam was called Naked Dhiraar:
Because of the Roman archers, Dhiraar kept on his coat of mail and helmet, and in his hand carried a shield made of elephant hide, which had once belonged to a Roman. Having gone halfway to the Roman line, he stopped and raising his head, gave his personal battle cry:
I am the death of the Pale Ones;
I am the killer of the Romans;
I am a scourge sent upon you;
I am Dhiraar bin Al Azwar!
As a few of the Roman champions advanced to answer his challenge, Dhiraar quickly disrobed; and the Romans knew him at once as the Naked Champion. In the next few minutes, Dhiraar killed several Romans, including two generals, one of whom was the governor of Amman and the other the governor of Tiberius.
We had a post recently about HMS Exeter, which is going to be engaging the PLA in exercises on the mainland. Still no word on how they're going to get the ship on shore--my own guess is that it'll be towed on rickshaws.
While searching for answers, I checked The Royal Navy's Offical Exeter Page. This part is the honest truth:
The ship was launched in 1979 by Lady Mulley and entered service in 1980. She is the 5th Ship to bear the name Exeter, her predecessor being famous for her role in the Battle of the River Plate and the sinking of the German "Pocket Battleship" the Graf Spee on 13 Dec 1939. The current Exeter saw service in the Falkland Island War in 1982.Now how do you like that? Speaking of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marine Commandos have a flash game, if you want to see how they do their recruiting.
Ship's Motto Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)
Over at The Green Side, there's another letter from "Dave," whose previous letter home was featured here at Grim's Hall. The second one is at least as good as the first. If he could be asked, I imagine that Mr. Reagan wouldn't mind sharing the page with this Marine at all.
Here's an excerpt. For those of you who aren't associated in some fashion with the USMC, let me begin by noting that "aggressive"--unlike in civilian life, where it's normally employed as a synonym for "unemployable" or "unstable"--is considered a high compliment among Marines.
During one of the ordered pauses in the Falluja fight, we chopped a rifle company off the line with a very aggressive battalion commander. Basically he was told that we thought the muj were running lose in the area and that he should head up there and "develop the situation." I have gotten to know this guy pretty well here. He is a very good commander and a tough guy. In fact, I remember telling him that if he went past a certain point, he would be decisively engaged. We had estimated that if he got into a decisive engagement, he could be outnumbered by as much as 5:1. You can imagine what he did. He took his Marines right to that point.
Sure enough, the fight was on. It was a 360 degree engagement that lasted 8 hours. An 8 hour firefight is an eternity. To put it in perspective, this guy was in both OIF 1 battle for Baghdad as well as the Falluja fight. He states that the firefight up near this town was the toughest he has been in. We fired quite a bit of artillery and brought in a number of sorties of close air for them. By the time it was over, the estimates (now confirmed) are that they killed over a 100 muj. We could not understand why they kept coming but they did (more on that later). Throughout it all, very accurate mortar fire up to 120mm was falling inside the Marine position. Automatic weapons and RPGs were crisscrossing through the perimeter. The Marines just
laid their in the micro terrain and squeezed of well aimed shots.
The Battalion Commander stayed that day until his guys broke the muj and he "owned the field" (his words). He then withdrew back to his original position. In the same town, we now have Marines living 24/7. They are conducting joint patrols with the Iraqi Police and the ICDC (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps). When they first arrived, the people were very standoffish and even hostile. Now we are getting more and more walk up intelligence (where the locals literally risk their lives in order to walk into our lines and tell us where the muj are). The reason for the turnaround is simple. We have pushed through the bow wave of intimidation and terror that dominated the town when the muj were there. The Marines did it through aggressive raiding and downright obstinate refusal to budge regardless of the costs. The people were watching the entire time and have made up their own minds where their best future lies. It has gotten to the point where the mujahadeen are now firing mortars indiscriminately into the town as it is the only effective means of maintaining any kind of influence over the people.
Rest in peace, Ronald Reagan, American, former President, honorary Doctor of Philosophy, honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Of those titles, only the first two were of any real import, save that they showed the honor that men felt he deserved even in his own lifetime. I suspect that the honor in which he is held will only increase now that he is dead. It was not only the British, but the Swiss who saw nobility in him; the Swiss government registered arms in his name in 1984:
The arms are: Or, a bear rampant sable, armed and langued gules holding between its forepaws a mullet argent; on a chief of the second, standing on a ducal coronet of the first a falcon argent, armed and langued of the third, wings displayed and inverted. Crest: On a gentleman's helmet proper a demi-horse sable, unguled or, charged on the shoulder with an actor's mask of the last. Motto: "Facta non verba".The motto translates, "Deeds not words." It was quite a list of deeds.
UPDATE: Some curiousity has arisen about the heraldry. I can't guess what it's meant to symbolize, except one part: the black bear on the field of gold. The Latin name of the black bear is "Ursus Americanus," that is, "The American bear."
UPDATE: From the day of the funeral procession:
No commentator I heard noticed that the Baroness Thatcher curtsied to the coffin--a gesture which protocol reserves at state funerals to the corpses of royalty. I am sure the Queen will not reprimand her.
Now we know why we really went to Afghanistan... "Famed Afghan Gold To Dazzle The World":
The world could soon catch a glimpse of Afghanistan's fabled Bactrian gold, as preparations get under way to exhibit some of the 20,000 pieces that make up the country's most important ancient treasure trove.Hosting, yes... that's the word. It's all about the gold!
Dates and locations have yet to be finalised, but the US, France, Germany, Japan and Greece are among the countries interested in hosting the 2000-year-old haul that has remained intact despite years of war and upheaval.
While other important archaeological sites are plundered or have been ruined by war, the Bactrian gold, discovered by a Soviet team near the northern town of Shiberghan just before the Red Army invasion of 1979, has had a number of narrow escapes, adding to its allure and mystery.The Red Army found it, and it wasn't plundered? That is a narrow escape.
The favourites to host the collection first are the Americans and French, and Rahin hopes interest in the treasure will generate funds to build museums and combat looting.Now what does this remind me of? Oh, yes...
BELLOQ: Dr. Jones, you choose the wrong friends. This time it will cost you.Never can trust the French. Hand me my hat.
Today we have two examples of the worst in news service writing. The first is from the Associated Press:
A British Navy warship [The HMS Exeter] with 249 sailors aboard arrived in Hong Kong for a five-day routine port call on Friday, a consular official said.... The port call in Hong Kong is for ``rest and recreation'' but the vessel will participate in a series of training exercises with the People's Liberation Army on the mainland, Gould said.How do you suppose they're going to get the ship onto the mainland?
The second example is from the Agence France-Presse:
A US navy carrier battlegroup is to launch a 'show of force' in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea off west Africa as part of an unprecedented global operation to demonstrate America's command of the high seas, a US diplomatic source told AFP on Friday.Really? The diplomat said we were going to stage an exercise off "oil-rich" west Africa? The State Department's even worse than I thought.
Black Five has organized a MilBlogger's tribute to the D-Day operations. As we approach the 60th "birthday" of European freedom, it's worth taking the time to read through these retrospectives. The MilBlogs have mustered a lot of expertise and skill for this exercise, and the results are impressive.
I was reading an article the other day, in the local newspaper, about an elderly Korean gentleman who has moved into town and opened a martial arts studio. He chastened the reporter who had come to interview him not to suggest that the martial arts were 'all about fighting.' "No!" he said. "The purpose is social harmony."
That is exactly right. The secret of social harmony is simple: Old men must be dangerous.
Very nearly all the violence that plagues, rather than protects, society is the work of young males between the ages of fourteen and thirty. A substantial amount of the violence that protects rather than plagues society is performed by other members of the same group. The reasons for this predisposition are generally rooted in biology, which is to say that they are not going anywhere, in spite of the current fashion that suggests doping half the young with Ritalin.
The question is how to move these young men from the first group (violent and predatory) into the second (violent, but protective). This is to ask: what is the difference between a street gang and the Marine Corps, or a thug and a policeman? In every case, we see that the good youths are guided and disciplined by old men. This is half the answer to the problem.
But do we not try to discipline and guide the others? If we catch them at their menace, don't we put them into prisons or programs where they are monitored, disciplined, and exposed to "rehabilitation"? The rates of recidivism are such that we can't say that these programs are successful at all, unless the person being "rehabilitated" wants and chooses to be. And this is the other half of the answer: the discipline and guidance must be voluntarily accepted. The Marine enlists; the criminal must likewise choose to accept what is offered.
The Eastern martial arts provide an experience very much like that of Boot Camp. The Master, like the Drill Instructor, is a disciplined man of great personal prowess. He is an exemplar. He asks nothing of you he can't, or won't, do himself--and there are very many things he can and will do that are beyond you, though you have all the help of youth and strength. It is on this ground that acceptance of discipline is won. It is the ground of admiration, and what wins the admiration of these young men is martial prowess.
Everyone who was once a young man will understand what I mean. Who could look forward, at the age of sixteen or eighteen, to a life of obedience, dressed in suits or uniforms, sitting or standing behind a desk? How were you to respect or care about the laws, or the wishes, of men who had accepted such a life? The difficulty is compounded in poor communities, where the jobs undertaken are often menial. How can you respect your father if your father is a servant? Would you not be accepting a place twice as low as his? Would you not rather take up the sword, and cut yourself a new place? Meekness in the old men of the community unmakes the social order: it encourages rebellion from the young.
The traditional martial arts tend to teach young men to undertake flashy and impressive, but not terribly effective, fighting techniques. Only as you grow older do the masters of the art teach you the real secrets--the subtle, quick, physically simple ways in which the human body can be destroyed. In this way, the old retain their power over the young--although they lack the speed and strength, they have in discipline in training more than enough to maintain the order. Social harmony is maintained in the dojo: the young revere the old, and seek to emulate them. Your father may be a servant, but he is still a warrior--and a more dangerous one than you. The father, being past that age in which biology makes us vicious, guides the son or neighbor to protect society rather than to rend it. It is not particularly different in the military.
If we would have a stable society, we must have dangerous old men. This means that, if you are yourself on your way to becoming an old man, you have a duty to society to begin your preparations. The martial arts are not the only road--my own grandfather did it through a simple combination of physical strength, personal discipline, and an accustomed habit of going armed about his business. There was never a more impressive figure--or, at least, there was never a boy more impressed than was I.
The martial virtues are exactly the ones needed. By a happy coincidence, having a society whose members adhere to and encourage those virtues makes us freer as well--we need fewer police, fewer courts, fewer prisons, fewer laws, and fewer lawyers. This is what Aristotle meant when he said that the virtues of the man are reflected in the society. Politics and ethics are naturally joined.
I normally don't link to things that The Sage of Knoxville links to first, simply because I assume most people will have seen it. However, Professor Bainbridge's post on civil and military virtue is one that everyone should take a moment to read. I'm not sure that the subject heading will entice everyone--few are interested in reading about, let alone practicing virtue--but the matter could not be more important:
The professional soldier gains more and more power as the general courage of a community declines. Thus the Pretorian guard became more and more important in Rome as Rome became more and more luxurious and feeble. The military man gains the civil power in proportion as the civilian loses the military virtues. And as it was in ancient Rome so it is in contemporary Europe. There never was a time when nations were more militarist. There never was a time when men were less brave. All ages and all epics have sung of arms and the man; but we have effected simultaneously the deterioration of the man and the fantastic perfection of the arms.There the good Professor relies upon Chesterton, who wrote just before the horrors of the first World War. He then turns to General Washington:
An energetic national militia is to be regarded as the capital security of a free republic, and not a standing army, forming a distinct class in the community.Is that not precisely where we are? Do we not see each year bringing more public odium upon the Boy Scouts? What do you suppose would be said about an organization that was today 'established to elevate the minds of the youth in the ways of honor and virtue' except for cries that it was 'Hitler Youth' redux? Does not each year bring more demands that "effeminancy of manners" be set aside as an outdated concept, while the practice of such manners by men be accepted? Is not public spirit degraded by people who say that the poor soldiers in Iraq joined the military only because of their poverty and the hope of college money? By people who say they are slaves?
It is the introduction and diffusion of vice, and corruption of manners, into the mass of the people, that renders a standing army necessary. It is when public spirit is despised, and avarice, indolence, and effeminacy of manners predominate, and prevent the establishment of institutions which would elevate the minds of the youth in the paths of virtue and honor, that a standing army is formed and riveted for ever.
Aristotle taught that the ethics of a man should be precisely mirrored in the politics of the state--that, if you can develop the right kind of man, the state will follow. Aristotle begins his treatment of right ethics with the virtue of bravery. His overview sounds familiar after Washington:
[W]isdom is goodness of the rational part, gentleness and courage of the passionate, of the appetitive sobriety of mind and self-control, and of the spirit as a whole righteousness, liberality and, great-spiritedness.There is a further treatment of each of those concepts here, for the interested. See also the writings of other men, less famous but many as brave as any Ancient Greek, at the Mudville Gazette.
How to restore the martial virtues in the public generally? It is a difficult undertaking--indeed, it is plagued by several 'chicken and egg' problems, as most of the public steps you could take to encourage them require the acceptance of the virtues that you're hoping to encourage. How would you get a state legislature to vote to institute courses in military science at the high school level? (There is another question as to whether that would work--Plato's Laches begins with the question of whether practice-fighting in armor encourages bravery in the young. That bravery in fighting should be encouraged was never in question for them.) How to approve any such program? You'd need a strong bloc of voters to speak to their legislators.
Where to get them? Through argument--and yet I was approached just the other day on the streets of D.C. by a fellow from something called the Center for Nonviolence, who was canvassing in the opposite direction. He was rather dismayed, even shocked, by my assertion that nonviolence in and of itself was not something to be encouraged. Nonviolence is not a virtue. Nonviolence is a state--usually a pleasant one, but demonstrably inferior to, and to be set aside in favor of, the state of justice. Violence can be a very good thing. Yet this "Stop the Violence" movement has won so many converts that I hear children echoing the slogan the way they might say "Go Team!"--as a blandly acceptable premise that should win approval from all quarters.
We would have a lot less of the sort of violence people wish to stop if we encouraged more people to be prepared to fight bravely for the common peace. This I'll treat separately in another post.
JHD sends the following with this comment: "Talking about pissing the rags off! he-he! Grunts can stay out longer and the rags can't track them. Next thing you know a Strike Team hits them and they have no clue where they came from!" He's talking about the 1st FSSG, "Force Service Support Group," Air Delivery Platoon. They run a KC-130, which is a fairly big monster, but they claim they can drop to you without giving you away:
The KC-130 cargo plane, loaded with 22,000 pounds of food and bottled water, took off in total darkness, with its running lights extinguished and the pilots and crew donning night-vision goggles for the hour-long flight.Now that sounds like a fun ride.
"We come in low and fast. We give the enemy very little opportunity to acquire us," said co-pilot Lt. Col. Jeffrey V. Young, 42, a reservist from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234, based in Fort Worth, Texas, which was one of the two squadrons supporting the mission.
The plane slowed as it approached the drop zone. Then, as the pilot pulled the aircraft up hard and increased power, the loadmasters in the cargo hold opened the back door.
"They release their gate and everything just slides out," said the pilot, Capt. Matthew W. Crocker[.]
Regular readers know that I lived in the People's Republic of China for a while back before 9/11. The Chinese are a rising power who intend to dominate the entire East and Southeast Asian region. Part of their strategy is an ongoing "information warfare" assault on the United States, particularly an attempt to degrade the US' standing to bring China to heel on human rights.
Here's a good example, from Xinhua: Chinese Religious Leaders Condemn US Religious Freedom Report.
The report, claiming the commission "remains especially concerned about the human rights situation in China", said that a total of 11 countries, including China, have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious abuses of freedom of religion.Is it still hearsay when we heard you say it yourself?
Zhang Jiyu, vice president of the China Taoism Association, said that the United States, in the name of religion, has been wielding evil assaults at China's religious policies and freedom situation simply by paying attention to hearsay materials and evidences.
"The U.S., in the pretext of human rights, is grossly meddling in China's internal affairs on issues such as Hong Kong and Falun Gong cult issues," Zhang said.
From the DOD today, we have this story on newly appointed leaders of the Iraqi government:
The interim government that will run Iraq after the June 30 transfer of sovereignty took shape today, as U.N. officials in Baghdad announced the members of the government's presidential council and recommended the composition of a new cabinet to the country's prime minister-designate.As has been widely noted, the UN envoy was involved in exactly none of these decisions. Indeed, the US State Department was roundly ignored by the Iraqi Governing Council as well. The IGC took charge and, by unanimous internal consent, delivered a fait accompli about which State and the UN have to pretend to be happy.
Lakhdar Brahimi, special envoy for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, announced that Ghazi al-Yawar will be Iraq's president, and that Ibrahim Jaafari and Rowsch Shaways will serve as deputy presidents.
Brahimi also announced today that on May 31 he forwarded his recommendations for the composition of the new Iraqi cabinet to Prime Minister-designate Ayad Allawi. News reports indicated names of other new cabinet members and that the existing governing council had dissolved itself....
Brahimi's statement said consultations in forming the interim Iraqi government have been going on without interruption for the last four weeks. "These consultations have involved the (Iraqi) Governing Council, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and a very large number of representatives of the Iraqi public, including political parties, professional associations, trade unions, tribal and religious leaders, academics and intellectuals, women's and youth organizations, and others," the statement said.
It's always tempting to assume that a defeat for the UN is a victory for civilization, and in fact this appears to be the case. For more than a year the IGC has squabbled, quarreled, bickered and (especially the efforts of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, which caused the abandonment of a already-active plan to transfer power to a government chosen by local 'town hall' sessions) shot the process in the back. Suddenly, however, the IGC has stepped up and become exactly what it was supposed to be all along. It became a functional government, which has just dissolved itself to make way for its replacement.
What caused this? My personal suspicion is that it was the raid on Chalabi's INC. The official record of charges against him was that he was an Iranian agent, as proven by the fact that he had demonstrable ties to Iran and occasionally passed information their way. Every member of the IGC, considering this, realized that they themselves had at least as strong a connection to Iran as Chalabi--many of them, in fact, had been living in Iran this last little while.
We have, therefore, a new Iraqi government that is genuinely sovereign. It is free in the only way you can really be free--by driving off those who would control you. This is precisely what the government and the UN has claimed to desire all along.
Is it a good thing? Probably. It certainly limits the likelihood of civil war, as this new government has the unanimous support of the outgoing IGC, which includes some powerful figures who lend to the new government some measure of their credibility. We are informed that these new appointees have little support among the Iraqi people; but the CPA has less, and the UN even less than that. "Support us, or the foreign devils will return" is an appeal that is widely understood wherever you may travel. It is probably as good a start as could be hoped--certainly imperfect, but so is the world.
I'll refer you to Sgt Hook for a review of the situation in Afghanistan. Many of you who frequent the Milblogs ring will have seen this linked from the Mudville Gazette. In it Sgt. Hook takes on Robert Novak, and gives an impressive account of the 25th Infantry Division ("Tropic Lightning").
Today the Pacific Fleet's news service is reporting that the USS Wasp will be adopting a new battle rifle for her watchmen. We've all been eagerly awaiting the XM8: will the Navy get to field-test the weapons?
Well, no. Actually, the Wasp is finally catching up to the Army, by choosing the weapon that became the standard Army battle rifle in 1969.
After 15 years of use, USS Wasp's (LHD 1) ordnance division VG is finally saying goodbye to the ship's traditional rifle, the M-14, and hello to a more compact, quick-action rifle, the M-16.One wonders what they were using 15 years ago. "Muskets ready!"
The sudden[!] transition is expected to improve external shipboard security by allowing watch standers to intercept potential enemies with a faster and lighter weapon.