More Good News From PACOM:

Nothing brings a smile to the face like the words "Muslim Extremist Leader Dies In Shootout":

Government troops killed a leader of the notorious Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf in a shootout in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Munap Manialah, also known as Commander Munap, was shot dead late Saturday in a firefight with Philippine army and navy troops in southern Basilan island's Isabela city... Bacarro said Manialah is wanted for murder and the Philippine government has offered a $6,241 bounty for his capture.
Doubtless the pay for soldiers and sailors in the Philippines is not better than it is for our own fighters. Good news all around! And just in time for Christmas.

Abu Sayyaf is a vicious and criminal organization even by the standards of al Qaeda. Their butchery and hostage taking is not even driven by real religious fervor, but by a desire for power and profit; and far from opposing the sins of the West, as we are told al Qaeda does, Abu Sayyaf funds its enterprises by trading in methamphetamines.

War is a horrible thing, but every now and then, it brings around something that everyone ought to feel good about.

Nepalnews. com Mercantile Communications Pvt. Ltd.

Good News from Nepal:

There have been several military reverses for the Nepalese Maoists in the last few weeks. I suspect that this will count for more than all of those, although to some degree the reverses are why this is possible:

For the first time since the insurgency started in these mountains of mid-western Nepal nine years ago, a women-led anti-Maoist uprising has spread across Dailekh in the past week.

“Down with Maoism,” the demonstrators shouted at a big rally in Dullu on Monday, “Down with Prachanda.” Most demonstrators were surprised at their own audacity, wondering where they got the courage to be so defiant.

The protests were started by women, the men joined in and some came from as far as a day’s walk away. They were protesting rebel demands for money and food. Krishna Shahi, 42, says she and others in her village had complied fearing they would be killed: “When they said every family had to give one son, that is when I lost all my fear. We told them, kill us but you can’t take our sons. We had nothing left to give them, we couldn’t take it any longer.”

Indeed, the rebel threat to take away young sons and daughters appear to have been the main reason the women spearheaded protests in Dullu, Salleri and other towns in northeastern Dailekh.
When you've turned the mothers of the countryside against you, you've usually lost your insurgency. Guerrillas need the populace as 'the ocean in which the fish swims,' to paraphrase Mao. Mothers in traditional cultures are the ones at home, who know what and who passes in their village. They raise the children, from whom the guerrillas must raise their next generation. If they aren't telling their children the tales you want told, you will not have recruits.

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Natural defences

Intellectual Diversity:

Alive and well in America... at least in the Department of Defense:

It all started last year when the US assistant secretary for defence and other senior officials within the Pentagon read In the Blink of an Eye, a book I wrote on the Cambrian explosion. It triggered a series of meetings in Washington and Britain, involving all manner of political and military figureheads, as well as defence analysts, computer programmers, tacticians and statisticians. Their hope was to see what a knowledge of evolution could do for national security. They emerged with a plan to create an extraordinary piece of software. Dubbed the 'Cambrian program', it will take perhaps the broadest overview of the world's social and defence systems, and use evolutionary theory to predict possible threats and outcomes. I and a team of experts at the [British Ministry of Defence]'s defence science and technology laboratory have already begun work on the program in Britain, and a similar consortium is planned at the Pentagon under Tony Tether of the Defence advanced research projects agency (Darpa).
If DARPA is involved, we can expect a brilliant but extremely complicated and expensive computer system to show up somewhere... ah, here it is:
At the heart will be a neural network, itself a piece of software, that must first be trained to handle the disparate information it will be fed. This is where the Cambrian explosion comes in particularly handy. The fossil record of the event documents how major advances, like eyes, and myriad minor changes in creatures, put pressure on other animals to evolve responses, be they new defences or different attack strategies. To train the Cambrian program's neural network, it will be fed data from the fossil and genetic record of life just before the explosion. It will then be given data from the very end of the explosion. As the program runs, the neural network will look at both sets of data and work out what connections lead from life before the great arms race to life afterwards. Once it has achieved this, the program can be fed hypothetical new data, for example the early emergence of an electrical sting as a weapon, to see what impact it might have on other creatures.
The notion seems to be that, by first plotting and then tracking how life evolved to deal with particular threats, we can predict probable routes for humans faced with similar threats. That can both be useful for defensive purposes (given a weapon using chemical X, what kinds of natural defenses can be employed?) and offensive ones (if we design a weapon using electrical bursts, what kinds of defenses can we expect to be raised against it that we'll need to overcome?).

Part of this sounds like a resurrection of the TIA program:
It would very likely be able to suggest obvious responses to the threat, but might also spot links between factors that humans might not have noticed and alert defence experts to weaknesses in their planned countermeasures.

The inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US showed that a breakdown in communication was largely to blame, there was no single chief who could make decisions using all of the data collected by various disparate security organisations. The Cambrian program, on the other hand, could manage all the data it is fed and provide constant updates on the size of the threat from different areas. That would allow officials to continuously modify their defence strategy.
Success depends, the author says, on information dominance: "[T]he system is dependent on receiving all the relevant data needed to reach a decision, and at the moment, we simply do not know what the data are. But we will get there."

That is a scientist's answer, confident about accomplishing the technical task, but dismissive of the ethical issues. Still, there are evolutionary pressures here too. The advent of processor capacity allowing this level of data mining means that someone is going to be doing this kind of thing. If it isn't the American and British governments, it will be someone else. Even a moment's reflection is enough to realize what will happen to the "little fish" if the next evolution is mastered by a predator state, instead of a sheepdog.

The Adventures of Chester


The Adventures of Chester today posts President Washington's proclamation of Thanksgiving Day:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

'Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

'And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplication to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

'Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789.'
The George Washington Papers project has a section on the history of this proclamation, as well as an image file of the handwritten original.

The Commissar has posted Lincoln's proclamation:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
And here is President Bush's, for this year:
All across America, we gather this week with the people we love, to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America.

On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God. Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter.

President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with "one heart and one voice."

Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings. Thanksgiving is also a time to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate.

Americans this week will gather food and clothing for neighbors in need. Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries.

On Thanksgiving, we remember that the true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. By seeking out those who are hurting and by lending a hand, Americans touch the lives of their fellow citizens and help make our nation and the world a better place.

This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to our dedicated firefighters and police officers who help keep our homeland safe. We are grateful to the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch.

And we give thanks for the Americans in our armed forces who are serving around the world to secure our country and advance the cause of freedom. These brave men and women make our entire nation proud, and we thank them and their families for their sacrifice. On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, Nov. 25, 2004, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship to reinforce the ties of family and community and to express gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth.

Happy Thanksgiving, America. Waes Hael! Drinc Hael!

Spirit of America

The Leatherneck Bloggers:

Down at the Spirit of America blogger challenge, I've started a team for bloggers with a USMC background. It's called the Leatherneck bloggers. Doc Russia and Deuddersun have agreed to participate. I've extended other invites as well.

Any of you who would like to donate to SoA, which supports Marines and other deployed combat forces in the field, you might consider tossing our team the cash you're planning to send. We won't beat the big boys, but the "smallest service" ought to make a respectable showing.

Of course, as I said, I know some of you have divided loyalties. I won't take it personally if you give to Roger L. Simon instead. On the other hand, he won't notice, and I will.

Happy Thanksgiving. Semper Fi, Ooh-rah, out.

Funds for Atomic Bomb Research Cut From Spending Bill (

Cutting the PLYWD:

Apparently the debate on developing the Precision Low Yield Weapons Design is over. Congress has cut the funding in a sufficiently bipartisan fashion that there is little chance that next year's increased Republican majorities will revive it.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, earth penetration weapons are going to be needed in the future. On the other hand, nukes may not be the best way to go about it. There were two sets of concerns about the nukes from a technical side: they might not work (i.e., it wasn't clear that they would be able to achieve the necessary penetration) and they might kick up so much particulate material as to be very damaging to the environment.

An alternative mechanism would be the high-altitude version of the concrete bomb. Improved accuracy means that you can get by with much less firepower than in ages past. The concrete bomb is accurate enough to reliably hit a particular building, so they can take out the explosives and replace it with concrete. Simple physics does the work, with no chemistry necessary.

The earth-penetration option here is the mass driver. Scroll down on the PLYWD screen until you get to the section called "Long Rod Penetration." This explains both of the key objections to low yield nukes -- the physics suggest that it isn't possible with current materials and electronics to penetrate deeply enough to contain a nuclear explosion. Thus, they may not work, and you'll get a lot of particulate matter in any case.

But that matters only if you have to preserve the integrity of electronics or other internal structures. If you're just dropping a steel or titanium rod from orbit, you don't care about that. It can hit at a far higher velocity, and therefore can penetrate quite effectively. If you happen to know what you want to hit -- and neither a bunker nor a reactor is easy to move -- this should be quite sufficient without any explosive power. You can simply drop something heavy on it from high enough.

These same capabilities would be useful in other regards. Scroll down to "mitigation options."

A quintessential general by Victor Davis Hanson

U.S. Grant:

I've recently read Lodge's history of Grant's Vicksburg campaign, and I realize that I have been unjust to the man in accepting the common reading of historians. Grant was indeed the equal of any general of his age, at least.

Interestingly, there is a new biography of Grant by one of the gentleman soldiers of VMI. It's gotten a positive review by V. D. Hanson. Here's a piece of it that caught my eye, given our recent discussions:

What made him a great general? The campaigns to take Forts Henry and Donelson were inspired; the capture of Vicksburg was beyond the powers of any contemporary Northern general save Grant. But it was not just know-how that made Grant singular. As Bunting rightly notes, "Grant understood that his predecessors in command in the East had failed not because of inferior tactical brains but because they lacked, simply, will."


Hello everyone,

My name is Daniel and I've been asked to teach the Tactics portion of the Military Science project here in Grim's Hall. I'm a former Marine, infantry of course, who also went to a few advanced schools to develop Close Quarter Battle skills. The end of my tour saw me in a Heavy Weapon's Platoon as part of a CAAT (Combined Anti-Armor Team) unit ; essentially three heavy machine-gun vehicles and two TOW vehicles per squad, with 3 squads. My area of expertise is small unit actions.

Now, I'll sit back, shut-up... push the 'publish post' button... and hope this thing works.


Grim's Hall

MilSci #2

You may have missed KGC's early reactions to Warfighting, but I'd like to draw your attention to what he noticed:

I finished Chapter 1 this weekend, and here are the key phrases I underlined / took home with me.

Human will factors hugely into the author's descriptions of war.

"The object in war is to impose our will on our enemy."

"One essential means to overcome friction is the will; we prevail over friction through persistent strength of mind and spirit. ...we must attempt at the same time to raise our enemy's friction to a level that weakens his ability to fight."

He also points out the inherent chaos of war, and what little we can do to combat it (as well as noticing the "butterfly effect" of "small actions":

"The very nature of war makes certainty impossible; all actions in war will be based on incomplete, inaccurate, or even contradictory information."

"...we can never eliminate uncertainty, we must learn to fight effectively despite developing simple, flexible plans; planning for likely contingencies; developing standing operating procedures; and fostering initiative among subordinates."

"Outcomes of battles can hinge on the actions of a few individuals... ."

FLUIDITY, p9: "Since war is a fluid phenomenon, its conduct requires flexibility of thought."

He points out that war is an event somewhat like a symphony (my analogy) with rising and falling action:

p10: "The tempo of war will fluctuate from periods of intense combat to periods in which activity is limited... ."

"...we cannot think of today's battlefield in linear terms... ." "The natural result of dispersion is unoccupied areas, gaps, and exposed flanks which can and will be exploited..."

"...we must not only be able to fight effectively in the face of disorder, we should seek to generate disorder and use it as a weapon against our opponent."

This struck me as being an especially effective insurgency tactic.

COMPLEXITY, p12: "In reality, each belligerant is not a single, homogenous will guided by a single intelligence. ... War... emerges from the collective behavior of al the individual parts in the system interacting locally in response to local conditions and incomplete information." -- the obvious home-court advantage. "...Efforts to fully centralize millitary operations and to exert complete control by a single decisionmaker are inconsistent with the intrinsically complex and distributed nature of war."

PHYSICAL, MORAL, and MENTAL FORCES, p15: "Although material factors are more easily quantified, the moral and mental forces exert a greater influence on the nature and outcome of war."

The SCIENCE, ART and DYNAMIC of WAR: "Art includes the creative, situational application of scientific knowledge through judgment and experience, and so the art of war subsumes the science of war." "...the conduct of war is...human competition requiring...the knowledge of science and the creativity of art but driven ulimately by the power of human will."
I think this would be a good place to begin a discussion, for those who've had time to read this far. War is primarily about human will. Napoleon said "the morale is to the physical as three is to one."

One of the tasks of the enemy in warfighting, then, is to try to sap your will to fight. What are some ways to counter that? This is posed as a general question for discussion, not specific to the situation in Iraq, or to insurgency/counterinsurgency fighting. In all wars, it will be necessary to raise, boost, and maintain morale in the face of an enemy effort to break it. What kinds of things can you do in this regard?

NPR : A Marine Unit's Experience in Fallujah

"Lava Dog" & Devil Dogs

NPR has a report from Fallujah. The commentary is nearly worthless -- actually, in the mode of most of the reporting, it's of negative worth.

If you ignore most everything Anne Garrels says, however, you will get to hear several Marines allowed to speak for themselves. Set aside how she characterizes what they have to say, which she does at length before every clip in order that you won't come away thinking for yourself about what you've heard. Just listen to the men talk.

Hello the Hall.

Greetings, Everyone.

Those who haunt the comments will know of me already. Posting topics, (as opposed to commenting from the peanut gallery) is a new experience for me, so I'll thank you all in advance for your forebearance, and we'll see what happens next.

I look forward to it, and hope you all do too.


Slight Format Change:

Since this is now a group blog, I've changed the format slightly. The author's ID is now printed above the entry, so you'll know up front who is speaking. Carry on.

Fallujah, Iraq

Fallujah from Space:

The Federation of American Scientists has posted a new view of Fallujah, Iraq. Taken 14 November, it is the most up-to-date sat image on the web. You can see in the full-sized version the destruction in the southern sectors, where Blackjack had to operate.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Postcards From Iraq

A Good Day for the NYTimes:

Tom Friedman has the best day in living memory. The highlight:

Readers regularly ask me when I will throw in the towel on Iraq. I will be guided by the U.S. Army and Marine grunts on the ground. They see Iraq close up. Most of those you talk to are so uncynical - so convinced that we are doing good and doing right, even though they too are unsure it will work. When a majority of those grunts tell us that they are no longer willing to risk their lives to go out and fix the sewers in Sadr City or teach democracy at a local school, then you can stick a fork in this one. But so far, we ain't there yet. The troops are still pretty positive.

So let's thank God for what's in our drinking water, hope that maybe some of it washes over Iraq, and pay attention to the grunts. They'll tell us if it's time to go or stay.
There's an insight for the ages. But here's a better one, an insight ad astra:
We are trying to host the first attempt in the modern Arab world for the people of an Arab country to, on their own, forge a social contract with one another. Despite all the mistakes made, that is an incredibly noble thing.
That's the finest single thing I've seen written about the war in the NY Times. And, it is only the half of the truth.

The full truth is this: faced with extraordinary danger, and an enemy that was pledged to our destruction, the United States has chosen not to destroy him but to embrace him. We are spilling the blood of our own sons, not to raze the enemy that might destroy us; but, instead, to raise him. Out of poverty, out of tyranny, out of misery, and into hope.

We are faced every day by people who point to the problems and the difficulties that remain. The fact that those difficulties exist does not change the fact that the human spirit is greater than they. The enemy has power, power to destroy and to ruin, to slaughter and to oppress. Yet we have the greater power, which is to hope.

We have embarked upon a project like Shelley's Prometheus:
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To Love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates.
Faith is not a fool's project. The hopeless looks at the difficulty, and sees the power of the cruel, and wearies at the thought.

The faithful man walks in the morning of the world. Everything can be, and might be, through hope and sacrifice.

The Basic School

Reference Material:

Daniel, who will be joining us as a teacher of tactics in February, sends a link to the reference pages at The Basic School. TBS is in Quantico, VA, and is the USMC's school for newly minted officers. There are short, introductory papers to most topics of military science.

I'll review these and see which ones we might want to examine. In the meantime, if you'd like to look around yourself, feel free.

Yahoo! Mail -

Old Men Like Us:

Bill Faith sends this item, under a heading he describes in terms that would have pleased Fritz Leiber:

Of Unsung Heroes and Split-second Decisions. Of Mo Duc and Fallujah. Of Soldiers and Marines and Killing or Dying. Of Kevin Sites and a Camera. Of Doing The Right Thing.
It's not as noble a story, but I told a similar tale from my days with the Southeastern Detective Agency here. In many ways it mirrors the story Bill's friend has to tell.

One of them is the epistemology of risk. It's interesting to notice the similar breakdowns in these two groups:

1) Those who say that it was right to take down Saddam, even though the WMD evidence was uncertain,

2) Those who say the Marine in Fallujah was right to finish off the terrorist, though the question of the threat he posed was uncertain.

I know one fellow -- our honored friend Deuddersun -- who is group 2 but not group 1. Everyone else seems to be breaking down the same way.

Both Bill's friend and I made the same choice, and accepted a real risk to avoid carrying the guilt of killing an innocent. It happened to work itself out right in both cases. It could have gone otherwise.

When you're guarding the weak, or the backs of your brothers, you've got to look at things differently. What is an acceptable risk when nobody but you is on the line, may not be acceptable when you're protecting a child, or a brother Marine. Any Marine would rather go before a court martial than carry the guilt of having gotten his brothers killed. He would rather go to prison. I suspect it is likely that he would rather go to Hell.

Rethinking doomsday |


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, keepers of the Doomsday Clock, have some theories they'd like to share on what scenarios are most likely to lead to the end of the world.

It's always been a harum-scarum project, the Doomsday Clock. Take what they say with that grain of salt -- they're serious thinkers, but they want you to be scared so you'll not argue with their policy ideas. That said, you might want to take a few moments to see what they've got to say. When they say you shouldn't bother worrying about something, you can really stop worrying about it.

Intelligence Overhaul Bill Blocked (

A Win:

Oddly, this bill was highly popular. I didn't expect anything to be done about it, as all sides endorsed the idea of an "Intel Czar" during the campaign. I thought and still think that centralizing intelligence is a bad idea, because it will encourage rather than diminish the problem of stovepiping. If you've got a central authority over all intel agencies, all intel agencies will be wanting to tell him what he wants to hear. At least now, having both a DCI and a SECDEF, you get two independent pictures instead of just one.

In addition, there are different notions of how to go about intel. We had this discussion during the elections, as re: the person of retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, who very strongly favors SIGINT over HUMINT. He caused a great deal of damage at CIA through that prejudice; but at least we had a DIA that was still serving the needs of the military, and the country.

But Congress seemed sure to follow the principle Dogbert advocated to prospective management consultants -- centralize everything that is decentralized "to improve efficiency"; then, when the new system breaks, decentralize all those centralized functions "to remove bottlenecks." I'm pleased and impressed to read this in today's paper:

Hunter said he opposed the bill because Senate conferees had removed a White House-drafted section ensuring that tactical or battlefield intelligence agencies would still be primarily directed by the secretary of defense, even as they reported to the new national intelligence director. The compromise called for the president to issue "guidelines" on the respective authorities of the director of national intelligence and defense secretary, which Hunter said, "was elevating for the DNI but detrimental to the defense secretary . . . a change that would make war fighters not sure to whom they report and translate into confusion on the battlefield."

Collins called Hunter's argument "utterly without merit," saying the measure actually would improve the real-time satellite intelligence that troops receive in combat. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), another key negotiator, said: "The commander in chief, in the middle of a war, said he needed this bill" to keep the American people and military safe.

Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a House conferee on the legislation, said, "Clearly, House Republicans never really wanted this bill. . . . Sadly, there are those who are so wedded to the Department of Defense that they, ultimately, ensured the bill's demise."
Partisan wrangling aside, this looks like a win to me. Not "a win for conservatives," though that is how the Post is billing it; but a win for a thoughtful and needed reform of American intelligence. This was a move to set aside campaign rhetoric, and take the time to think things through in an quieter environment.

The Green Side

A Postscript Explained:

The Green Side has a letter from the front. It is a complete account of the battle for Fallujah -- at least, as complete as has been written so far. Some future Teddy Roosevelt or Henry Cabot Lodge may write a better, fuller version in future days. For now, this will do.

At the end, the author, Marine LtCol Dave Bellon, mentions some writing he encountered on "Kos' Bridge":

On the Fallujah side of the bridge where the Americans were hung there is some Arabic writing on the bridge. An interpreter translated it for me as we walked through. It read: "Long Live the Mujahadeen. Fallujah is the Graveyard for Americans and the end of the Marine Corps."
You may remember a story from earlier this week about a message the 3/5 Marines left on that bridge:
This is for the Americans of Blackwater that were murdered here in 2004.
Semper Fidelis

P.S. Fuck you.

Now it all makes perfect sense.