The life of the American cowboy is alive and well -- as proven, in abundant irony, by a pair of this week's obituaries. We lost a couple of men this week, both of whom had chosen the Western way as their life.
The first one was only a youth, killed while practicing for a rodeo. Stuart Mazanec took his mortal wound when a bronco rolled on him, bruising his heart. He was seventeen -- a young man who loved coyote hunting and riding. Tex Ritter wrote his eulogy long before he was born, poor fellow, in Blood on the Saddle. Sudden death has always been a part of the life, a life which therefore only honors the young men brave enough to choose it.
The other was Joe Beeler, the last of the founders of the Cowboy Artists of America. His creation lives on, and is doing quite well for itself. Mister Beeler died at the age of seventy-four, and he died well: suddenly, in the saddle, while helping a neighbor at branding time.
As always at such times, with such men, we mourn and celebrate at once.
The life of the American cowboy is alive and well -- as proven, in abundant irony, by a pair of this week's obituaries. We lost a couple of men this week, both of whom had chosen the Western way as their life.
I see from this morning's Washington Post a piece of very good news in Iraq: the killing of al Qaeda's emir in Samarra.
U.S. troops tracked Hamadi al-Takhi al-Nissani, al-Qaeda's "emir" in Samarra, to a safe house north of the city Friday morning, the U.S. military said in a statement. As the soldiers approached the house, Nissani fled and was killed. Two other armed insurgents in the house were also killed, according to the statement.Either way is fine, really.
Police in Samarra who spoke on condition of anonymity gave a slightly different account, saying that the house was east of the city and that the three men were running to a getaway car when fire from an American helicopter killed them.
On Thursday night, U.S. troops also arrested Abdul Qadir Makhool, another al-Qaeda leader in Samarra, and released a police officer who had been kidnapped by the group, Maj. Jamal Samarraie, an officer at the provincial Joint Command Center, said in an interview.Good job, Post. Now, here's the bad news:
The U.S. military referred to capturing an armed insurgent in a statement on Friday but did not give the man's name or say precisely when he had been captured.
A) This article comes from page A10. On page A1? A story about difficulties training the Iraqi army.
B) Also on A1, there's this article on State Department statistics showing a spike in terrorist attacks in 2005. The spin on this is that it is bad news, and that Iraq represents about a third of all worldwide attacks.
Yes, it would be better if there were fewer terrorist attacks, because everyone simply put down their weapons and stopped fighting us. On the other hand, a rise in terrorist attacks -- if coupled with a sharp drop in other kinds of attacks -- can signal that the enemy has lost the strength to fight in any other way.
In 2003, we saw combat in Iraq featuring armies; in 2004, uprisings in cities and regions across the country, including both a Shi'ite insurgency led by Sadr and an al-Qaeda led insurgency in the west. Neither survived the US military, and in 2005 we saw mostly terrorist attacks and snipers.
That's the missing context. That is why a "spike" in terrorist attacks is not a sign of an insurgency waxing in its strength. It is the sign of an insurgency that is losing strength.
This is a major complaint with war reporting. We get the numbers -- the number of dead troops, the number of attacks, etc -- but no context for understanding the numbers.
COUNTERCOLUMN has yet more context for the situation.
I haven't said much about the Fran O'Brien's story, because quite a few of the major MilBloggers seem to know a lot more about it than I do. I would like to point out, however, that this is the day on which a resolution is to be expected one way or the other.
Our friend FbL has done a lot of work on the issue, and I expect that Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk will be tracking developments with their usual devotion. (Andi, who certainly deserves some credit here, says she's traveling today.)
Keep an eye on those sites, and if there's anything we can do to help at the last minute, I expect it'll be posted there.
One of the bloggers I finally got to meet at I MBC was Bill Roggio. I've dealt with Bill enough online to consider him a friend, so it was good to have the chance to shake his hand.
I think we've all been impressed with the quality of his writing, and his embed in Iraq was of great use in getting a better picture of how things are going there. Now, Bill's wanting to go off to Afghanistan, either with the Marines or the Canadians.
One of the things about not being a "journalist" is that you don't get paid. You want to go off for a few months to do this kind of embedded blogging, you pony up the cash. For the trip, and for your family while you're away (and for the life insurance policy you'll want, just in case).
We've been talking about ways to improve our communications efforts. Bill is one of those ways. If you'd like to help him get to Afghanistan, and back to Iraq again later this year, he wouldn't mind your help.
Also at Kim's place, an interesting thought experiment. It's a repeat of an old game he played, which was popular. The rules are as follows:
You have the opportunity to go back in time, arriving on the east coast of North America circa 1650, and your goal is to cross the North American continent alone, taking as much time as you need. When/if you reach the opposite coastline, you’ll be transported back to the present day.Now, it's always dangerous for a married man to put down on paper answers to questions that could be translated, "What two guns and two knives do I think are all a man might need?" If that were all you needed for such an undertaking, you might find yourself invited to dispossess yourself of the rest of your collection -- in some moment of financial strain, perhaps.
Your equipment for this journey will be as follows (taken back in the time capsule with you):
-- enough gold to buy provisions for the first five days’ travel;
-- a small backpack containing some clothing and toiletries;
-- a winter coat, raincoat and two pairs of boots;
-- waterproof sleeping bag;
-- an axe;
-- a box of 1,000 “strike anywhere” waterproof matches;
-- a topological map, binoculars and a compass;
-- a very small toolbox, including a firearm cleaning kit and a few spares for your firearms;
-- and a U.S. Army First Aid kit.
-- ONE long gun (and 800 rounds, but no scope)
-- ONE handgun (and 1,000 rounds)
-- TWO knives
plus of course holsters/scabbards for them all.
Once you arrive at the starting-point, which can be on either coast, you’ll be given a horse, a mule and a dog—and apart from that, you’re on your own. Remember: you’ll be traveling through deep woods, open prairie, desert and mountains. You may encounter hostile Indian tribes and dangerous animals en route, which should be considered when you answer the following questions (and only these):
1. What long gun would you take back in time with you?
2. What handgun?
3. Which knives?
There are only a couple of rules.
1. Multi-caliber long guns are okay (drillings, combos, etc), but you’ll still only be allowed 800 rounds in total for that firearm. The mix is up to you.
2. Email your response to kim -at- kimdutoit dot com; subject: Crossing America II.
3. Try to keep your responses short.
I wasn't going to play, therefore, but Doc wanted my opinion on one of the knives, and so I found myself thinking it through. For what it's worth, I think Doc's almost exactly right on the firearms -- I would prefer a Ruger Vaquero or New Vaquero to a Single Action Army, because with the transfer bar safety system you can carry it with six rounds instead of five (in the old style Colt, you need to leave an empty chamber under the cylinder to avoid accidental discharges). The Rugers have an excellent reputation for durability, as well -- they are apparently indestructible.
I told Doc what I thought about the knives over at his site. I won't repeat the comments here, in part because you should go read his answers too.
Now, here are three additional questions, which I'm going to tack on because they're at least as interesting to me as the weapon considerations:
1) What kind of horse would you pick for the journey?
2) What kind of dog?
3) What kind of mule?
The answers to these questions will be as revealing as any gun-related ones (which you should email to Kim instead of me, anyway).
The guys over at OPFOR noticed this bit of news the other day: President Robert Mugabe is inviting those white farmers he ran off to ummm....come and farm the land they were run of of.
I'll bet that works out.
They also note that Algeria is buying billions of dollars worth of combat aircraft from Russia and wonders why.
I'll take a stab at an answer: Russia. Needs. Cash.
And while we're on the subject of supplying arms;
Trudy Rubin, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has written a column about the ongoing mess in the Darfur.
She asks: "Can an individual do anything to stop a genocide?"
I think so.
1. Get a gun.
2. Go to the Darfur.
3. Shoot janjaweed militiamen dead when they show up to rape, pillage and burn.
Three simple steps.
but nooo....Trudy says: "What's needed now is grassroots pressure on the White House. One million postcards, and one million people in the capitol April 30 might motivate the Bush team to lean harder on the AU, Sudan, China and Russia to approve a U.N. force."
Right. A UN force. Given the recent UN shenanigans in the Congo, I'm thinking that a UN force is going to be less than effective.
I say send them guns. Help them to help themselves.
We don't do sex on Grim's Hall much, but since I made an exception for the last item, I suppose we might as well get it out of our systems today. Cassidy links to this poll at the New York Post on the topic.
"Only thirty percent of men prefer makeup on their mates; 50 percent would rather they ditch the lipstick and go unadorned."
Grim's comment: And rightly so.
"What is sexier on a woman.. great looks or a great personality?"
The results: "67 percent of men who own a gun place a premium on personality, compared to 61 percent of gun-free men."
Grim's comment: With a possible exception for certain foreign countries, there is no such thing as a gun-free man. Reference the question comparing lumberjacks to "metrosexuals" for a restatement of this concept.
Kim du Toit wanted us to all link to this guy's webpage, as part of a bet the fellow is running with his girlfriend. I won't get into it; if you want to know, go see for yourself.
What's sad is that Grim's Hall has had only like 140,000 hits ever, all put together, in more than three years. This guy's got almost seven hundred thousand already. Obviously, it isn't philosophy, history, and warfighting theory that gets people to link to you. :)
I hope his girlfriend was serious about that contract, because I'm guessing she's going to have to pay up.
Sgt. Gehlen from CENTCOM PA would like you to take a moment to view this transcript of Zarqawi's latest statement. It's part of a CENTCOM effort to simply help the terrorists get their message out.
Well might we want to do so. I believe it is written that "you shall know a tree by its fruit." Zarqawi asks, "Where are the lions of al-Anbar?" But he should know: many of them followed him to Fallujah, where they boasted they would be the end of the United States Marine Corps. Zarqawi decided not to stay with them when the Marines came, but left them alone to fight America's best. There they are still, and will remain, until the world is made new.
Today's Day By Day cartoon made me suddenly remember why the name "Neil Young" means something to me. Neil Young, in his heyday, represented everything that was wrong with music -- men shouldn't sing in high-pitched, whiny voices, for example; songs should have a melody that is pleasant to hear.
I've always detested most of the songs to come out of the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Partly it's that there was so little good music, and yet all my life I've been listening to greying protesters talk about these musicians like they were some sort of living gods. Well, here's the truth as I see it: during the same time, Johnny Cash was producing music that was not only good, it was insightful. Most of these "legends" couldn't produce music that was either.
The musical duel between Young and Lynnard Skynnard is one of the few enlightening things to come out of the 1960s/1970s protest songs. Not only is the contrast instructive as to the difference in cultures between the whiny protester and the man who loves his home, but one of the two songs is actually pleasant to hear. Pity more of these "legendary" rock musicians couldn't manage that!
In recognition of heroism... he was awarded a Mamluk sword, which our officers, such as Joel, carry today. Us enlisted grunts had to make due with a pretty fine Cavalry sword... the oldest weapon in the US military today (though I stood in front of a merit board and argued, successfully, that the Marine was the oldest weapon in the Marine Corps inventory).
Semper Fidelis Marines.
I went out to the gun range the other day, with a full selection of firearms: rifle, shotgun, and revolver. It's a small but nice range, and when I got there I saw that the shotgun section was occupied by a group of young men with military haircuts. They turned out to be Army Reservists.
I went to the rifle range and zeroed my rifle, and then went over to the pistol range. By this time, the young soldiers had finished their shotgunning, and were also at the pistol range. They were shooting a stainless 1911 variant, and the youngest (and tallest) of the three was missing everything. At fifteen feet. From a rest.
"Dude, stop hitting the wood," one laughed, meaning the planks between which the targets were stapled. "No, really, stop it."
The young soldier with the .45 finally set it down, and told one of his companions to finish up the magazine. He was rattled.
I popped off a few rounds from my Ruger Single Six, which is a .22 revolver while the other soldier finished the last two rounds that were left. Then, as they were reloading, I called the young soldier over.
"Try mine," I said. "Sometimes the .45 can be a handful if you're starting out. A .22 barely has any recoil, and so it lets you get your skills down. Once they're polished, you can easily swap up to the .45 pistol."
He looked a little unsure, just as I remember being unsure when I was given similar advice at about the same age. I wanted to be able to handle the hottest rounds out of the heaviest calibers, like I'd been born to it! It seemed like an insult to start off on a .22, which was like a toy gun next to a combat pistol.
Still, here I was shooting it, and he could see from my target that I knew something about shooting. Must not be anything to be ashamed of, then. You could see it all play out on his face.
He loaded the revolver and went through a cylinder. It wasn't a good group, but they were all in the eight ring or better. He was obviously impressed with how well he'd done, once the recoil wasn't a factor.
"See?" I said. "You're shooting pretty well, now. Just practice with a .22 until you get your skills down, and then you'll have no trouble with the .45."
He looked at me and said, "Thank you, sir." That's all he said, but you could see the new confidence in his eyes. He'd put down that .45 feeling like a failure, but he put down the revolver feeling like a man.
I can't express how proud I was to help him, even in that small a way.
Now how do we do this?
Well, perhaps programs like this could be expanded, because they do stuff like this.
(How the hell do you get picked for this? I wanna go to Florida and get briefed by the deputy commander of CENTCOM.)
Or, I suppose, you could go here. And just follow the links.
Or, like I do, go here, and sign up for all the emails available.
My favorite? DOD Contracts. Check this out.
Synchronous Serial Personal Computer Memory Card. What. Is. That? And why does Special Operations Command want it?
And what is hairy buffalo?
Google it and find out.
What gets me about this is that its all out there already. Paid for. Like, if you're a US citizen, you paid for that website and the General's salary and all that. I want to know what I'm paying for, if nothing else.
And and look at this. Oh wow. What the fresh hell is that? The Colonel going back to the Kentucky state bar to figure out what the hell to do next? What are they doing down there? And this is all available. So much for secret trials. You can read the charges here. (its a pdf, be warned.) After reading that, I say shoot him.
Shoot. Him. Now.
Not that I expect to be consulted, but hey, I'll bet I know more about this case than Katie Couric does right now.
So back to the original point. Part of being an informed citizen is that you want to be informed in the first place.
I've put in a new section of links for people who attended the I MBC (First MilBlog Conference), and who weren't already on my link list. One of the great things about the I MBC was learning how many outstanding blogs exist, many of which I'd never encountered. A lot of people have commented about "putting faces to names," but for me a lot of the good was in learning that there were names I didn't know, or had only barely encountered before.
If you were there, and you want on the list, let me know.
Meanwhile, I notice that Jimbo and Andi are calling for II MBC. I'll certainly come if I can, but I have to laugh a bit at Jimbo's desire to hold it in Madison, WI:
State St. in the Mad City is world famous and Kev might as well be Mayor of it.I'm sure the second part of the line is true. Kev and I had some Guinness at Biddy's after lunch, and I can see how he'd be a fixture. He's a good guy, nihilist though he may be.
On the other hand -- "State St. is world famous"? This reminds me of when I lived in China, and all the little students who wanted to practice their English would come up to me. "Welcome to HangZhou," they would say, "a beautiful city that is famous in the world."
Yeah, sure it is, kid. Here's five mao, go away.
On the other hand, I can't think of anywhere better to hold it than Madison -- I hate cities one and all, and I don't suppose ya'll will want to hold II MBC at Yellowstone or Grandfather Mountain. Pity, but there we are.
Over at Mudville, I mentioned in the comments a sidebar conversation several of us had with the CENTCOM PAO who showed up to talk with us. For ease of reference, here's most of what I said:
Really two things: the degree to which MilBlogs should be embraced by the military leadership and ways in which they can be; and also some friendly advice on how PA and IO can and must be improved.C4 asked me to expand on this, but I don't have much more to say about the particulars of what we discussed. I would like to reiterate that the PAO was a good guy, and although he came with talking points, he came to work with us. He seemed genuinely surprised by how much we'd thought about how the relationship should work, and I think both sides learned a lot from each other.
He came to talk to the first point, and got a bit blindsided by the degree to which we wanted to talk about the second. However, he was a good guy, and once he got out of his PAO "I need to turn this conversation back around to my talking points" mode and started to listen, which didn't take very long, he started climbing the learning curve fast.
My sense from several previous conversations is that we've got the guys in the field understanding what needs doing and how -- some of them are on the leading edge of developing these solutions. We've got the top level leadership, mostly, coming around -- Abizaid, Cartwright, Rumsfeld, and according to the PAO, Bush. We still have to move the hardest bunch, though, which is the middle level officers who are just removed enough from the war to be attached to regulations instead of effect, and just powerful enough to throw up bureaucratic walls that can stop things from happening even when the combatant commander wants it (e.g., "well, sir, the lawyers say..."). Once you can get that middle on board, you'll see things start moving fast in the right directions.
Our PAO also said the funding was finally coming on line, which I can believe. That will improve his capabilities -- so, if he also knows what to do with his newly funded capabilities, we can make things happen. One of the complaints I heard voiced was the degree to which MilBloggers have been "carrying the weight" of responding to charges, and it's true. If we can work together with PA, and especially if we can use their language resources to get these counterarguments pushed into the media space in the Muslim world (e.g., Malaysia, Indonesia, the Arabic world), we'll really be doing something to change the dynamic of the war.
What I would like to do, though, is describe the issues at work here and throw the floor open for comments. It's an area in which a wider degree of comment and involvement would be welcome -- not just by me, but according to the PAO, by Abizaid, Rumsfeld and Bush. They want to engage the MilBlogs, though they're still thinking about how to do it the right way. There are some legal and some ethical issues to work through, and a few practical ones also.
One issue at work is that there is a division in the military between two fields that overlap. There is a field called Public Affairs, and a field called Information Operations. These two fields are, as anyone who's dealt with bureaucracies will immediately understand, mutually hostile. This is precisely because their missions overlap at key points, and they are therefore constantly having to engage in turf battles for control over certain aspects of the operations, and the associated budgets.
Public Affairs has the mission of communicating with the public -- especially the American people. Their job is to explain the military's mission and perspective honestly and accurately, and objectively. They do this mainly by talking to the press, and therefore that's where their head is -- they spend their time thinking about how to remain credible with the press, how to build and maintain relationships with the press, and how to structure those relationships with the press (e.g., how to construct the embedding process).
Information Operations handles a wide variety of tasks some of which, like Public Affairs, deal with communicating messages from the military to a public audience. These missions are (in theory) distinct because they are designed not simply to explain what is going on, but to achieve some larger goal: PSYOPs are IOs, as is the tracking of mis- and disinformation. ("Misinformation," in military terms, is accidentally wrong information; "disinfo" is intentionally wrong information, that is being put out by hostile forces).
Whereas PA is "designed" only to convey accurate information, IO is "designed" to achieve some particular purpose. There are laws and rules governing military IO -- messages must be truthful, for example, and IO may not target Americans. As a result, there is a legal separation of IO and PA, as any messages that are meant to be communicated to the American public has to go through the PA stream. This often means messages that aren't designed for the American people, but which are likely to enter the global media stream and get back to Americans.
In a war against an enemy ideology, especially one that puts out anti-American propaganda, IO is cricital. It is also, increasingly, problematic.
Problem #1: All media is now global. An example: the IO whereby the Lincoln Group placed favorable (and true!) stories in the Iraqi press. Some of the stories got back to America, as did the larger story that they were doing it.
As a consequence, the sphere in which these kinds of IO can operate is increasingly small.
Problem #2: The interdepartmental infighting previously mentioned.
PA, for legal reasons, has to handle the coverage of messages that occur in the American media space. IO tracks mis/disinformation. A major thing that PA needs to be responding to is exactly that mis/disinfo: an example we talked about at the conference was the Willie Pete story. MilBlogs did a great job of responding to that in the English language media sphere. We can't do much in the wider European/Arabic/Southeast Asian sphere. Since so much of this deals with arguments that overlap into the American space, PA has to handle the response, either by pushing our messages out, or by pushing their own.
They need language experts for that, and they are competing for those language experts both with IO and with Military Intelligence.
Additionally, these responses need to understand the process of creating/pushing disinfo, as a lot of these messages are intentionally hostile. Responding to them, and predicting the next enemy message/counterpropaganda, is IO work. That's where the experts are in this field.
So, PA and IO really need to work in integrated closeness. Because they are legally required to be separate, however, the bureaucratic infighting destroys that cooperation and trust. This is a disaster.
Problem #3: Just as there is internal military competition, there are other agencies in the government that have similar missions. So, at the macro level, there's even more bureaucratic infighting. The CIA, State, and the NSC all have fingers in this pie. There is some overlap even though the missions are somewhat different (e.g., like military IO, the CIA can't target Americans; unlike either military IO or PA, the CIA can lie). The NSC is supposed to be coordinating between them, but... well, let's say there's room for improvement.
Problem #4: Because these kinds of IO are designed to manipulate the viewer -- although, again, only through honest messages -- they are instantly distrusted when they are revealed as such. PA wants the wall to remain up, not just because the law currently requires it, but because they think it adds to the credibility of messages coming from military PA.
Those are the problems, more or less.
Here are some thoughts of my own. I invite, and encourage, you to share your own in the comments.
A) The separation between PA and IO is counterproductive. Every PAO I've ever talked to has mentioned the benefit of having the wall; and yet every one has also allowed that all their messages are still taken as simple propaganda by the media, and to some degree by the public at large.
If that's true, there is no advantage to the military of having a split between the operations. There are serious disadvantages, but no advantages. If everything you write is assumed to be propaganda anyway, you may as well take advantage of having the propaganda / misinfo / PSYOP people on board to help you.
In addition, to a large degree the "wall" is an illusion. All group messages are designed to manipulate the receiver -- otherwise, there is no reason for an organization to convey a message. A man might tell a stranger something kind for no particular reason. A corporation will not. If a corporation says anything, there's a reason for it: to sell products, to improve public opinion of the company, to recruit talent, to lobby for desired changes of one kind or another. The military is in the same boat.
There is a strong public benefit -- as opposed to a military benefit -- from having strict rules about the type of manipulation that is acceptable. For example, we could say that we would approve honest messages from the military to manipulate American public opinion for the following reasons only:
1) To recruit or retain soldiers,
2) To defend the military in cases when there is mis/disinformation that would tend to slander it;
3) To defend the military's or the nation's honor (this differs from the above in that it isn't a question of the information being right or wrong; it might be a case where the military is countering an opinion from an antiwar or Communist organ. Such opinions may not be "wrong," but might still be unfair and in need of answer).;
4) To suppress enemy recruitment;
5) To explain a military operation, either in progress, completed, or about to get underway.
All such messages would have to be honest and truthful, but that is already the case. We might also wish to stipluate that the precise acceptable purpose be spelled out at the top of the press release/article (e.g., "The purpose of this article is to spur recruitment.") That would tend to increase credibility: instead of people suspecting that you were trying to manipulate them, they would know you were, and furthermore what you wanted. Understanding that up front, they could greet the message as an honest communication, rather than a suspect one.
There are other difficulties that would have to be overcome, but I don't see that the separation is helpful to our war efforts.
B) PA should be able to engage the blogosphere. Currently they are structured around the media, as mentioned -- it's what they have mostly done for decades, so that's where their heads are. Ask Bill Roggio what that means for a blogger who wants to embed, say, without being a credentialed "journalist."
By the same token, PA should be able to pass useful messages from the blogosphere (esp. MilBlogs) through to other populations. They would need to figure out whether to rewrite but attribute (e.g., issue a press release saying, "We are here responding to the following wrongful claim of war crimes. Much of the investigation was produced by the Mudville Gazette"), or to simply start translating and publishing a "best of the MilBlogs" paper (as many Muslim countries are not as wired as ours) in local languages. I like the second idea much better.
C) One suggestion I made to the PAO was that its press releases need to be longer. MilBlogs will carry them, even though the MSM mostly excerpts (and misunderstands, so badly excerpts) their contents.
A good press release meant to communicate with Americans needs to remember that the average American has no military background. The message should therefore explain the meanings of all military terms, and give a basic tactical/strategic context and explanation of the subject of the release. In that way, we can begin to educate Americans about the business of the military, as well as conduct some very necessary public education in military science and history.
An example is Operation Swarmer. The press release referred to 'the largest Air Assault since...' etc. Neither the media nor most Americans knew what an air assault was; and more to the point, they didn't know what it signified. They interpreted it as a sign of major hostilities, when in fact it was nothing of the sort.
We've got to educate Americans about basic strategy and tactics, and remember to explain the context of any current conflict. This is not only important for mantaining public morale. It's important because in a 4th Generation conflict such as this one, the odds are that the enemy will bring the war home to us from time to time. We don't just need to start developing a citizenry that is engaged in the war. We need to start developing a citizenry that knows how to think about war.
Comments are encouraged.
I'll post a fuller review of the First MilBlogs Conference later, but I will say a few things right up front:
Matty O'Blackfive is a prince of a fellow, and if you haven't heard his story about the wedding, you should make him tell you.
Uncle Jimbo is a really great guy.
Bill Roggio is heading back to Afghanistan (and Iraq, I gather), as you may know. It was good to meet up with Bill, as I've written at his site from time to time.
TC Override has excellent taste in music. He got to the jukebox at Finn Mac Cool's, which is right across from Eighth and Eye, and impressed the whole place.
I met Holly Aho, who is indeed a wonderful person just as you'd imagine; and also the Red Headed Infidel, whose paratrooper stories were almost as good as Matt's. By the way, Doc, I referred her to you for a
second third opinion on a Kimber; she's apparently in your neighborhood.
Finally, the officers at Op-For asked me about our own Eric Blair. "Don't you have a guy called Eric Blair writing over there?"
"Yes I do," I said.
"Is he here?" they wanted to know.
As far as I know, he wasn't, so they asked me to pass on this message:
"He comes over and argues with us all the time, and @#$@#, he always knows better than we do. Ask him to say, just once, 'Good post, guys.' Please!"
Consider it done.