Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winning the Information War in Iraq

Major Mike
(re-printed with permission of

Vietnam forever changed the relationship between the military and the Mainstream Media. I think that the case can be made to some degree that the real issue is between various administrations, their Pentagon inhabitants, and the media…not between the media and the troops on the ground. But what happens in this food fight is that the cafeteria fare almost always ends up on the faces, and uniforms of the troops. (good references here…A Bright and Shining Lie, Dereliction of Duty, Once Upon a Distant War, The Best and the Brightest, The Pentagon Papers) And all the troops I know are pretty unforgiving when their uniform is stained by someone else’s careless behavior, or their reputation is smeared through careless and biased reporting. (LtGen Mattis makes the case here.)

This fissure, first noticed after ApBac in Vietnam, and widened irreparably by Walter Cronkite’s 1968 Tet reporting, has only festered since. The military has done its part…successful campaigns in Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm and the current war in Iraq. There have been setbacks, Iranian Hostage Rescue, Beirut (driven by political constraints of the day, see The Root by Eric Hammel ), the USS Cole, but-by-and large, the military has more than upheld its contract with the citizens of this country by responding superbly when tasked by the National Command Authority.

Their reward?...continuous deriding and minimalization of their accomplishments by the MSM corps. The badgering of generals, the callous showing of soldiers and Marines dying at the hands of snipers, the blatant disregard for other metrics of success other than US casualty counts, only reinforces the utter disrespect and disdain that the MSM has for the military, and by extension…the troops in the field.

As a result of the MSM messaging, our field generals, and our troops are being portrayed as failing. I think this is an incorrect representation of what is happening…we are really losing the information war, and as with Vietnam, if we don’t adjust fire soon, we may lose the war in Iraq…a vital battle in the Global War on Terror.

Part of the problem is that the military doesn’t get that trying to deal with the MSM as partners will not work. Even the new Insurgency Field Manual (3-24) still expects the military forces to deal with the MSM as responsible parties…

5-33. Good working relationships between counterinsurgent leaders and members of the U.S. media are in the Nation’s interest. Similar relationships can be established with international media sources. When they do not understand COIN efforts, U.S. media representatives portray the situation to the American public based on what they do know. Such reports can be incomplete, if not incorrect. Through professional relationships,
military leaders can ensure U.S. citizens better understand what their military is doing in support of the Nation’s interests.

5-34. The media are ever present and influence perceptions of the COIN environment. Therefore, successful leaders engage the media, create positive relationships, and help the media tell the story. Operations security must always be maintained; however, security should not be used as an excuse to create a media blackout. In the absence of official information, some media representatives develop stories on their own that may be inaccurate and may not include the COIN force perspective. (See JP 3-61, FM 46-1, FM 3-61.1 for public affairs doctrine.)
” (my emphasis)

Sorry…this is Mission Impossible IV. News flash…this is already happening through no fault of the dutiful military PA types. This is already occurring because of an agenda driven media, that is decidedly anti-Bush, then anti-war, and consequently anti-military. PAOs all over the military could run textbook FM 3-61.1 plays, and it would make no difference…it is time to change the playbook when it comes to Insurgency Information Warfare.

To do this we can use some of the techniques that we us in other forms of warfare.

By-pass strongholds of enemy opposition

The MSM is a “dead” outlet for the military. Regardless of the hopeful encouragement above in paragraphs 5-33 and 5-34 to commanders and PAOs…the MSM needs to be cut off from military support in the theater. They are of no use, and they are only haggling and counter-messaging the provided information anyway.

By cutting them out of the pattern, you diminish their ability to claim to be “fair.” They are making things up anyway, by cutting off their information and access you publicly cut on their credibility…when they decide they can be fair, they can come back, until then take away their ability to claim to be impartial.

This cuts at the very essence of their existence, and their ability to compete in the information marketplace. Hit them in the pocketbook…they’ll come back, AND play nice. Anyone see the news on the Strib sale?

Establish Air/net Supremacy

The six O’clock news isn’t what it once was…how is Katie doing? Print media isn’t what it once was…anyone see the news on the Strib sale? Skip those, go to talk radio, go to the big blogs. These out outlets that friendly to the effort and will go a long way in letting the military get their information out.

Pay for theater insurance twenty more Michael Yons. Get your field commanders on the air with Hugh, Laura, Bill Bennett, Rush, etc. everyday, don’t just chum the waters once a week. This is the “media” in the new information age, not personality driven reporting and anchoring.

Quit caring what the MSM thinks, establish air/net dominance on talk radio and on the internet.

Prepare for Battle

The obituaries for former President Ford that are finding their way into the papers and onto television today were not written last night. News agencies, papers, and networks have been assembling files so that a competent story could be written in a timely manner after his death. Good job, good planning.

Coincidentally, a few days ago the MSM took great pains to emphasize that the number of casualties in Iraq and now exceeded the number of casualties that we suffered in the World Trade Center Attacks on 9/11…as if there was some correlation or relevancy. Our military should have been prepared for that messaging. We knew it was coming…it is SOP for the lame, redundant MSM.

We know that the press/networks are numbers, date, coincidence driven in finding angles for their stories; we need to anticipate this and execute pre-emptive messaging and effective counter-messaging. We need to be proactive, and anticipate the MSM moves, so that we are either ahead of them with more effective messages, or able to cover their messages with effective themes and responses.


Yes, we need to counter attack the media when they are out of bounds. When they publish something false, we need to quit ignoring the issue, in the hopes that one day they will be nice to us…they will not…and fire back. We need to put young troopers in front of Ollie North and let them describe to America how CNN, AP, or CBS lied, or misrepresented a story. They need to be getting it back in spades from our generals and field commanders when they imply that we are failing…we need to point out where they are failing…press room composition data, objectivity, and published falsehoods.

It needs to be open warfare, until the MSM realizes that the American public will side with the troops, and the media will be diminished as the fourth rail. The MSM has been firing broadsides at the military for nearly forty years it is time to fight back.

Indeed this is the crux for our victory…this endeavor and our goals to win this intermediate objective in the GWOT, can be all but wiped out by another Walter Cronkite moment. We truly lost Vietnam through a MSM induced erosion of public support and will, and if we do not actively fight their tactics, we are on the precipice of losing in Iraq in exactly the same fashion. Fight back…they are not likely expecting it.

They need to be taken to the woodshed like the impudent child they are emulating.

Metric agility

The current, preeminent measure of success in Iraq is the media “body count.” Iraqi civilian or US military, it doesn’t matter. They keep that metric in the forefront every day. They are intentionally using that metric in an effort to erode support for President Bush and the war. We need to neutralize that as a metric. We need to become metric agile, and metric profuse.

But, before we go there we need to understand, that if we pick one or even just a few alternative metric(s), the enemy, because of our media’s complicity in undermining our effort, will target that/those metric(s). If we define a measure of success, then the enemy will do everything in their power to present to our media, that we are failing. Our media, because of their bias, will do everything in their power to present it to the American public.

Hence we need to be both metric profuse and metric agile. We need to develop dozens of “metrics” that help us define, not military victory, but movement towards a state of normality. These metrics could include GNP growth, unemployment, commercial airliner traffic, gross vehicular traffic, small business openings, construction projects completed, pedestrian traffic in commercial zones, internet address registrations, internet traffic, Iraqi blogs, etc., the more, the better. We need to overwhelm the current metric, and saturate the media with alternative metrics…metrics too numerous to count…too numerous for the insurgents to effectively target.

Essentially, strip them of their metric, substitute with our own, equally…possible more viable, metrics. And don’t let up. Use all outlets, all the time. Change and update frequently. Overwhelm their recourses and their ability to target.

It is time for our military to accept the fact that the media is working against us. Yes, they pretend they aren’t, and they posture behind the thinnest of guises, but they are actively trying to subvert the intentions of the President, and in doing so, “fighting” the military. It is time to fight back.

I am not talking about closing them down. I am talking about countering their methods and their messaging, and rendering their tactics harmless to our efforts. It can be done, and we should start by accepting that we no longer should be seeking their coverage as validation of our efforts or righteousness. They have gone beyond the pale, we no longer need them on our team, and in fact it is time to rid ourselves of them.

Then don’t look back.

© Michael McBride 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

We Are Marshall

Major Mike
(re-reprinted wwith premission of

What is it about American football that is so compelling?

Is it the preparation… the planning? The beautifully executed “set” play that works to perfection? The shocking turnabout that a turnover can cause? The athleticism? The physical energy expended? The pain endured? The victories? The losses? The “locks?” The upsets? The many ways to score? The variety of offensive and defensive schemes?

Its ability to serve as a metaphor for our lives, here in America?

Baseball, long “America’s game” and oft used to teach us about life, falls short of capturing us, because in the end, it is not so much a team sport, but simply a collection of individual efforts. We may be compelled by the late inning comeback, or a Bill Buckneresque moment, but baseball does not parallel life nearly as much as football.

Hockey and basketball were ruined by Gretzky and Jordon. Not by the Great One and Michael, but by the selfish ball and puck hogs who followed, posers and imposters who attempted to shine in the same light, but never measured up. While the fluidity of each game provides a certain grace and beauty, they are compelling only for rabid fans, and teach us little about life.

I’ve never played organized football. I play, and have coached, hockey. I am drawn to football because of its tactical AND strategic nature. I am drawn to football because of its athleticism and brutality. I am most drawn to football because of its structure. The setting of plays, allows each of us a moment to project our hopes out onto the field, for the coaches to adjust, and for the players to dig down for more effort. This setting of plays is what sets football apart from all other games. As much as I love hockey, it is not football.

Life is a lot like football. We all run set plays sent in by the coaches. Grade school, middle school, high school, college maybe, work, family, joy, happiness, tragedy, and finally death. Set plays.

Perfect execution often, not always, produces outstanding results. We emulate successful set plays…high school graduation, college degrees, marriage…and we execute according to the play book, we score in the game of life. But sometimes there are fumbles, interceptions, blocked kicks, botched plays, and career ending injuries. These miscues often send our lives into different directions, re-shape us, or re-enforce our successes.

Sometimes, tragically, there are broken plays, broken bones, and broken lives. Some lives are not lived as the playbook designed. They are beset by illness or injury. They are burdened with continuous and repeated challenges that never reveal the goal line. They are cut short by death.

We Are Marshall, is such a story.

On November 14, 1970, the Marshall Football team, less the freshmen and four starters, were killed in a plane crash while returning from an away game. It was my fourteenth birthday. The Detroit Free Press had a picture on the front page the next day of a helmet adorned with an “M” in the foreground, and the wreckage in the background. Its image forged into my memory by the unimaginable tragedy.

It is impossible to imagine a wound as deep as instantaneously removing seventy-five members of a community. It produces a scab so fragile that the wound itself is in jeopardy of remaining into perpetuity. It is a scab that is torn at by the simple living of life, by the fragilities the mind, and by the mere breathing of air. It is a pain that is deep and lingering. It produces sorrow, lethargy, apathy, confusion, listlessness, and bitterness. It is impossible to envision a time when such a wound may be healed.

Tragedy is a unique human experience. It is usually mortal and created by the unexpected. This combination of factors challenges the human spirit, which is what makes tragedy a classic literary form. It is a compelling human experience, yet it produces myriad of results…some sad, some compoundingly tragic, but sometimes tragedy produces glorious redemption, a strengthening of will, a shaping of character.

Such it is with the town of Huntington, West Virginia; Marshall University; and the Thundering Herd Football team. We Are Marshall is a powerful, yet gentle, retelling of their stories. It is a story of grief, of coaching, of personal growth, of overcoming challenges, of losing, of winning, and of football.

I don’t pride myself in being a good movie critic. In fact, I am probably a lousy one. I get too caught up with the characters in most movies…I fail to notice artistic flaws, cinematography shortfalls, lack of avant-garde scene sculpting. I fail to notice the actors have the wrong accents, or that costumes are slightly out of sync with the period of the picture…I miss all that. But I don’t miss when a movie pulls me into its considerable substance. I don’t miss when a movie artfully exposes the nature of life, complete with its maddening unfairness. I don’t miss when a movie gently handles the fragile psyche of a town still in scab from a tragedy thirty-six years in the past, and shows us the glory of all things that make us human…our fragility, our toughness, our resiliency, and our indomitable spirit. I don’t miss that.

You shouldn’t miss We Are Marshall.

What you’ll find is a superb movie that puts you on the path, via football, to discover that We Are all Marshall.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Counterinsurgency Manual FM 3-24; A Book Review

Major Mike

Writing a book review on a good book is easy. A well written book is consumed at high speed, digested with zeal, and understood with the same clarity that a sun-soaked, crisp, Michigan winter morning presents. The ideas pop. The reader learns, and seeks more.

Such as it was for my first published book review on Robert Timberg’s The Nightingale’s Song. The Nightingale’s Song is a powerful book that easily melded a story around five Naval Academy graduates that all found their places into government during the Reagan era. I put the book down. I went to bed. Got up and hour later, and wrote my review. I signed my publishing release the next day. Easy.

Timberg did such a masterful job with his book I couldn’t sleep…the outlined popped into my head, and I soared through the typing. Done. Easy.

It was much the same with my review on Once Upon a Distant War, by William Prochnau. This is also an excellent book. It revolves around the early reporting in Vietnam. It is replete with recognizable names, and it is wrapped around one of the most compelling events of the last century, the Vietnam War. Again, Once Upon a Distant War proves a focused book…well written, well organized, easy to digest, thought provoking, and educational.

It was a slam dunk for a review. My history degree (American, Asian), and my depth of study of the Vietnam War, made me the perfect bridge for that review. I wrote favorably about a book generally critical of the military and its mishandling of the news, and the reporters of the day. There was some wrangling with the editor of The Marine Corps Gazette, but it was published. Again, Prochnau’s knowledge of the topic, organization, and writing skill made it an easy review to write.

Writing reviews on good books is easy. Sadly, writing reviews on bad books doesn’t seem so easy. This will be my first shot at it.

On December 15th, in the midst of the turmoil in the Pentagon, DOD released the final copy of the Insurgency FM-3-24 (MCWP 3-33.5). For those unfamiliar with the military publication system, this work is to be the “fighting” or operational guide for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. I was left wanting.

Writing a review on a bad book is daunting. It has taken a solid week of mental gymnastics just to wrap my mind around a way to outline this review. A good review can (and should, so as not to spoil the book for readers) deal in generalities, and flowing complimentary prose. A bad review on a two hundred and sixty page book, however requires a lot of specificity, for the effort that goes into the publication of such a lengthy document deserves to be treated with respect, even if the result misses the mark.

Early in the Introduction 3-24 set this as its lofty goal…

This publication’s purpose is to help prepare Army and Marine Corps leaders to conduct COIN operations anywhere in the world. It provides a foundation for study before deployment and the basis for operations in theater. Perhaps more importantly, it provides techniques for generating and incorporating lessons learned during those operations—an essential requirement for success against today’s adaptive foes. Using these techniques and processes can keep U.S. forces more agile and adaptive than their irregular enemies.”

Typically, one used to sifting through one of these “Green Sleeping Pills” would then be expecting some specificity of options or choices. What we get in Chapter 4, Designing Counterinsurgency Campaigns and Operations, perhaps the crucial foundation for success, is a lot of the following…

4-8. COIN design must be iterative. By their nature, COIN efforts require repeated assessments from different perspectives to see the various factors and relationships required for adequate understanding. Assessment and learning enable incremental improvements to the design. The aim is to rationalize the problem— to construct a logical explanation of observed events and subsequently construct the guiding logic that unravels the problem. The essence of this is the mechanism necessary to achieve success. This mechanism may not be a military activity—or it may involve military actions in support of nonmilitary activities…”

Huh? Followed by…

4-27. In an ideal world, the commander of military forces engaged in COIN operations would enjoy clear and well-defined goals for the campaign from the very beginning. However, the reality is that many goals emerge only as the campaign develops. For this reason, counterinsurgents usually have a combination of defined and emerging goals toward which to work. Likewise, the complex problems encountered during COIN operations can be so difficult to understand that a clear design cannot be developed initially. Often, the best choice is to create iterative solutions to better understand the problem.”

Huh, 2.0? Concluding with the somewhat contradictory to goal…

“…There should only be one campaign and therefore one design. This single campaign should bring in all players, with particular attention placed on the HN participants. Design and operations are integral to the COIN imperative to “Learn and Adapt,” enabling a continuous cycle of design-learn-redesign to achieve the end state.” (my emphasis)

To avoid confusion and contradictory efforts, a certain amount of specificity is needed. This esoteric “what” does not, however lead us to the “how?” There is no “how,” and there is certainly not enough detail to prepare the Operations Officer awaiting deployment to fully integrate his ideas into formulating an effective “design.” The very specific “one campaign/one design” criteria heavily implies strategic or National Command Authority level “design” responsibility, which then, aside form some esoterically described feedback channels, effectively diminishes the field commanders’ ability locally.

View it as if being the Offensive Coordinator for a football team. 3-24, as it is written, would go no farther in providing guidance on wining, than this…

“There are two teams playing football in a stadium. When you have the ball you are offense. When they have the ball you are on defense. You need to get ten yards in four downs in order to keep the ball. Getting across the end line is worth six points. Some people will be rooting for you. Some people will be rooting against you. Now figure out how to win.”

One would expect a few guidelines in order to fit the pieces together into a winning strategy. There are dozens of “offenses” to choose from; there are dozens of wrinkles to each one. There are good plays to run on first and ten; there are bad plays to run on first and ten. There are plays you run in the first quarter to test the opposition; there are plays you save to the fourth quarter to run, in order to surprise them and gain an advantage. There are dozens of defensive schemes to choose from, and dozens of variations of those. Some defenses are run with a big lead; some, more aggressive defenses are run when you’re trailing. Third and long is treated different from fourth and goal.

So, what I was expecting, instead some managerial jargon was some “direction.” I was looking for the integration of conventional patrolling strategies into the various phases of insurgency. I was looking for “plays.” I was expecting some delineation of the patrolling types; let’s say…combat, community security, community stabilization/support building, intelligence gathering, infrastructure security, etc.

I was expecting some tactical considerations for each type…full combat load on an offensive insurgent hunt; maybe no weapons at all on a community stabilization/ support building patrol. Route planning considerations. Analysis points. Insurgency specific tactical reporting…contact reports, community events reports, small business operations statistics, traffic volume reports, but I see none.

I was also looking for some suggestions on how to get inside the insurgent OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). How can the local commander break up his enemy’s pattern of decision making and throw off his operations? How can he get the enemy to react our initiatives vice us reacting to theirs?

Good football example…using the no-huddle offense after a large gain, or even periodically during a game. Imagine that the offense runs a successful counter play, and break it for thirty-five yards…if I were the coach, my quarterback would have three or four plays that he could call from a no-huddle offense. So, after a big play, the offense would execute the next play as soon as the ball was placed. By doing so, you are “getting inside your opponents OODA-Loop”…you’re breaking down his usual processes and forcing him to adapt to a new set of factors. You are compressing his usual decision making cycle in order to get him to make a mistake. Your next play might not be anything special, but because he has not had time to adjust, you may be more successful than normal.

I expected some of that, but I didn’t get it.

I specifically expected this kind of aggressive thinking in the one area that we are actually losing the war…the information/messaging theater. We should recognize that the MSM is casualty focused, so our enemy is focusing on producing casualties. We have done little to counter this messaging, and we have done nothing to get inside his OODA-Loop. How about measuring commercial traffic through in a variety of communities? How about the number of restaurants open? How about the number of community meetings? How about visits to the zoo? Things that are measurements of normality, or for Warren G. Harding fans…normalcy. By measuring and disseminating this type of data, we begin to counter the insurgents most powerful, but focused messaging…that we are losing the war because of our casualties, and that Iraq is in total chaos. Our messaging would a measure of how “normal” things are.

But hold on, we have to be more agile then that…the first time we continuously report about commercial traffic, they blow up some intersections. If we focus too long on restaurants, they will start targeting restaurants. They will continue to try go win this issue…they will try to get inside our information dissemination OODA-Loop. How do we counter this? We mix it up…we inundate the theater with a wider variety of “measureables,” too numerous to effectively target…open market stalls, GDP, pounds of produce sold, pedestrian traffic, unemployment rates…whatever, but by failing to anticipate his counter we would be surrendering the issue., they would shortly redefine the information fight and we would be on the defensive again. By anticipating their moves, and having effective countermeasures readied, we continue to drive the battle.

There is precious little of this kind of direction in a guide designed to “prepare Army and Marine Corps leaders anywhere in the world.”

Maneuver warfare manuals dictate that speed, lethality, and attacking weak points are the keys to maneuver warfare success. Reading this manual, I am not sure what the keys to success are in fighting an insurgency…except maybe for talking in some jargonesque managerial speak, and spending a lot of time talking about campaign “design.”

Sadly, I don’t think the insurgents in Iraq have any more to worry about today, than they did on December 14th , this document will not prove the difference.

© Michael McBride 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Sting of Snow...


Its a pitty that when the Whitehouse Press Corps gets publicly humiliated, that doesn't make News... especially as the media try so very hard to both make and be the stories. A recent exchange between Tony Snow and the White House Press Corp, regarding the remarks from Oregon's Senator calling the War in Iraq 'criminal,' left both Press and Gordon Smith feeling the formidable sting of Snow. Compliments of Newsmax, via Free Republic.

    Reporter: Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, last week, said, "Our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day, it's absurd. It may even be criminal," and that he can no longer support this. What is your reaction to a Republican senator saying that what's going on right now in Iraq is criminal?

    Snow: Well, we dispute the "criminal" part, obviously, and at the same time, understand the senator's concern.

    We share the concern about not doing well enough fast enough. But do not assume that people are simply being blown up. They are on missions. And as General Corelli said last week, "There's not an engagement our people have lost, but it is still important to continue the work of building greater capability and capacity on the part of the Iraqi government and helping them out."
    People on both sides are going to have disagreements, much as Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, apparently run out of his party for disagreeing with what was seen as orthodoxy at that time . . .

    Reporter: Republican Sen. Smith is challenging the strategy. What he basically said yesterday, as well, was, when you do the same thing over and over again without a clear strategy for victory, that is dereliction, that is deeply immoral. Such is the dispute. He's saying what the president is doing is immoral.

    Snow: Well, then we disagree.

    Reporter: You're just going to blow it off? A Republican senator is saying the president's policy may be criminal and it's immoral, and you're just saying, we just disagree?

    Snow: And what would you like me to say? Should I do duels at 10 paces?

    Reporter: Don't you think you should answer for that? You're saying — you've said from this podium over and over that the strategy is a victory, right? And you have a Republican senator is saying there is no clear strategy, that you don't have a strategy.

    Snow: Well, let's let Sen. Smith hear what the president has to say. We understand that this is a time where politics are emotional in the wake of an election. And you know what? Sen. Smith is entitled to his opinion. But I'm not sure exactly what you would like —

    Reporter: Well, how about answering the central thrust about the strategy, not about, like, politics —

    Snow: OK, the strategy is pretty simple. If you take a look, for instance — if you take a look at the Baker-Hamilton commission report, what do they talk about?

    They talk about building greater capability on the part of the Iraqis so that you can have an Iraqi government that governs itself, sustains itself, defends itself, who's ally in the war on terror is a democracy.

    I don't think it's immoral to be a democracy. I don't think it's immoral to have a state that is able to stand up and defend itself against acts of terror. I don't think it's immoral to defend the Iraqi people against acts of terrorism aimed at Muslims.

    Reporter: The senator is not saying that's immoral. He's saying that the U.S. — he's saying, of course democracy is a great goal . . .

    Snow: You know what, Ed? Ed, I'll tell you what. You're engaging in an argument and you're trying to fill in the gaps . . .

    Reporter: It's not an argument. It's a Republican senator saying it, not me. It's a Republican senator saying it, and he's not . . . Are you saying Republican Sen. Smith is not in favor of democracy?

    Snow: Well, I don't know. You just said he said it's immoral; when I listed the elements of the policy, you said that's not what he was talking about. So please tell me what he was talking about.

    Reporter: He's saying that day after day, U.S. soldiers are . . . caught up in the middle of a civil war — not about the government there —

    Snow: OK, here's what's immoral: the killing of American soldiers. We agree.

Bravo, Tony! Would that our so-called Republican Senator from Oregon were likewise acccomplished in the art of Reason, he'd not feel the need to pandor to the fetid core of Leftwing politics in an effort to save his seat. Soon enough, Smith is sure discover what his Senate colleague, Chafee, has since learned, that the Left will never lend their support to a Republican...

... and Republicans will never lend their support to a listless coward.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What Did You Do When America Was Attacked? Part II…The Santini Effect

Major Mike
(re-published with permission of

Dean Barnett, via Scott Johnson, has commented on, and linked to an essay by Pat Conroy…an essay that speaks directly to Hugh Hewitt’s question posed above…What did you do when America was attacked? Pat Conroy, an accomplished author…The Water is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, Beach Music, The Prince of Tides…bares his soul in the essay entitled… “An Honest Confession of an American Coward.”… excerpted from his new nonfiction book, My Losing Season.

I am a great Pat Conroy fan. I presented my mother with a signed collection of his works a few years back. I was able to pick them up when I was stationed in Beaufort, SC. My mom loves Pat Conroy.

My mom begged me to read The Great Santini, which I finally did immediately after completing OCS. It is a powerful book on ego and matriculation into manhood. It is also, not accidentally, one of the funniest books ever written. Made more so to me because my dad was also a Marine pilot.

While Conroy’s father, Colonel Donald Conroy, a.k.a. “The Great Santini” was immortalized, both reverently and disdainfully, in the novel of the same name, he was not flying solo as a parental example around the Marine bases of the day. Cherry Point, Beaufort, El Toro, Yuma base housing units were all populated with dozens of Santinis. Each the all-mighty master of the household…wise, somewhat aloof, often harsh, and only rarely of human proportion. They were pilots in a combat age. They might die in training the next day. They may die in combat the next year. They were fearless and feared. They were never fully understood by us mere mortals.

My mom loves Pat Conroy, because she sees our family in each of his novels. She doesn’t have to look hard. I remember her squeal when she discovered that we (five Irish Catholic boys, our youngest brother died at two months) shared three of five first names with the Conroy sons. She loved comparing my father, an accomplished pilot with the same set of disciplinary standards, but lacking the humor of Santini, to Colonel Conroy. She says my dad and he flew together, but this is likely an implanted memory of some fictional wishfulness. Yet both “Santinis” produced similar oldest sons.

While my oldest brother would have never have actively protested the Vietnam War, and he dutifully registered for the draft on time, and he stood ready to serve if called; he generally rebelled against all of the constraints that living under a Santini produces. He rebelled against the buzzcuts that were the household standard until high school. He avoided contact with my father to the extreme. He was attuned to my dad’s greatest faults more so than the rest of us. And while rarely in open rebellion with my father…following his footsteps and becoming a Marine would have been his last choice of occupations…right after snake handler.

My brother, like Pat Conroy, was a gifted athlete…a college baseball and basketball player. Possessing, certainly as Pat Conroy did, all of the physical skills it takes to be a superior fighter pilot….agile mind, good eye-hand coordination, ability to adjust in a fluid environment. But they likely never chose the Santini path simply because they had been over Santini-ized. They could never embrace the cold and sometimes brutal aspects of Marine pilot fatherhood. They feared becoming their fathers, and in the end, correctly chose different, and respectable, paths.

My brother wrote long, never mailed letters to me while I was deployed to Operation Desert Storm. These letters, like Conroy’s cathartic essay, are an open expression of a man, who has had to come to grips with his choices. Choices that often leave us questioning ourselves out into the future. Questions that revolve around our courage, our sense of honor, our sense of duty. Questions that sometimes have us calling into question our own manliness, or even our maleness.

We can all be haunted by the stark choices of our days, and we can become self-critical as the consequences of these choices become more clear or magnified by time. I think it is important to keep in context the circumstances surrounding our choices in the perspective of the day…as my brother and Pat Conroy should. There is no way Conroy or my brother could have joined, they were too heavily influenced by forces they would not likely come to grips with or fully understand, before their time had passed.

Men are different, and men are called to different things. As with my brother’s letters, and Conroy’s essay, there are those who do not clearly recognize the gifts this nation has provided, or the value of selfless service to the country. Sometimes it is only when the sacrifices of others is squarely placed in front of you…having your younger brother in peril vice yourself, or a teammate endure unimaginable hardships in combat…that you come recognize the full gravity of your choices and their impact on your life.

This was, nonetheless the point of my previous post…if you can live with your choice, then your have made the right choice.

For those like my brother, and Pat Conroy, I am not sure that there was a “choice” on the table. It is entirely possible that their fathers had stripped them of that choice…in which case I would say…forgive your fathers…forgive yourselves. It was likely impossible to move into the shoes of “giants.” There is nothing to question about your roles…your public, and private, introspections clears that up.

And to my father, dead now for 18 years…I forgive you for creating possibly the best fighter pilot that never served, and pushing him in another direction…my brother. I will never forget the one hour simulator ride my brother and I shared in the Hornet dome in El Toro…he was terrific. To my brother…your letters, finally read after my return, are exactly why I would ALWAYS serve in your stead…you deserve it.

Please read Pat Conroy’s eulogy to his dad, Colonel Donald “Santini” Conroy…you will be moved.

Friday, December 15, 2006

What Did You Do When America Was Attacked?

Major Mike

Hugh Hewitt asked this question yesterday, as a by-product of a discussion that evolved during an appearance at Biola University. His point was that in 2028, for those running for public office, the answer to that question may prove pivotal to their chances of getting elected. That question splinters the conversation into a few directions…why serve?...will it make a difference in my future? will it separate me from my peers?...and to Hugh’s larger question…how will I be perceived if I do, or don’t, serve?

I’ll deal with the last question first.

Guy Sajer, in his excellent book, Forgotten Soldier… a recounting of a French citizen’s conscription into the German Wehmacht, because of his mother’s German heritage, interestingly opens with his observation…that upon his return to France after the war…he never met a man his age that had not served in the French Resistance. His inference was that this was a mathematical improbability, and that a large preponderance of the male population in France, were abject liars about their service to their country.

A credible recounting of the Resistance movement can be found in Raymond and Lucie Aubrac’s account…The French Resistance 1940-1944. This accounting will support Sajer’s inference that few actually served in the Resistance, thus many Frenchmen must have been lying about their participation in resisting the German occupation. Lies, that by their very nature, are intended to mislead the listener as to the bravery of the teller…his selflessness, his courage under fire, his audacity, his sense of purpose, his coolness under pressure, his service to his country or a higher good, his physical hardships endured, and the mental challenges that accompany the depravities of war. When combined, these lies are designed specifically to elevate the stature of the teller in the eyes of all.

B.G Burkett’s Stolen Valor will greatly reinforce Sajer’s simple observation, in regards to service exaggeration among our own Vietnam era veterans and, incredibly even, non-veterans. It seems that when faced with Hugh’s question…What did you do when America was attacked? Or …What did you do when your country asked for your service? Apparently there are significant numbers of people who do little or nothing, yet they feel compelled to behave as if they contributed in a meaningful way. Or more plainly put…lie about their service to this country.

I would set the standard in this way…if you will routinely visit a national cemetery. Always shake the hand, or stump, of an injured vet and thank them for their sacrifice when you seen one. And always firmly state your reason for not serving, while NEVER making an artificial excuse as to why you didn’t serve. And be able to NEVER say, imply, infer, that you did serve, when you didn’t…then not serving may be a good choice for you. For when asked, you will be able to give a credible, conscience backed answer that you can, and must, live with. Seems a lot of people can’t…(VVA article about rampant impostering…including reference to many Civil War imposters).

Just be prepared to choke on your “justification” when you stand in the middle of the Gettysburg National Battlefield. Or visit Arlington National Cemetery. Or visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These sites and hundreds more across this land and across the globe, pay tribute to the solemnity of the sacrifices millions have made for our freedoms. Visit these sites and you will feel the gravity of that sacrifice. A sacrifice made so that a preponderance of our citizens can live free from fear and sacrifice.

Measure your choice against the enormity of that, then swallow hard.

As long as you don’t diminish the service of others; fabricate or exaggerate your contributions; and are comfortable with your decision, in light of those who have sacrificed so much; then not serving may indeed be an appropriate choice.

Why serve?

To repay this country for the freedoms it has afforded you, your ancestors, and your offspring. To share the in sacrifices that are required to keep this country free…sacrifices being made every day by others unknown to you and your family. To measure up to other men of your generation, and previous generations, who have endured hardship and sacrifice. To learn teamwork, leadership, courage, conviction, honor, camaraderie, brotherhood. To “set” your mettle early in life. To travel the world, and learn from direct experience. To do, rather than to watch.

Will it make a difference in my future?

If you think keeping a clear head in combat will help you keep a clear head in business. If you think that leadership is more valuable than management. If you think that learning to adapt, and to overcome challenges will help you in life. If you think that hard work and discipline will help in a competitive business environment. If you think that people respect selflessness more than selfishness. If you think that being responsible for others’ lives will help you be a better boss. If you think that learning to give and receive orders will help you be more successful at work. If you think that learning how to reward those who work for you for their efforts is a good thing. If you think that being a doer rather than a watcher will make a difference to an employer. If you think that respecting yourself and your accomplishments will make a difference in the rest of your life.

How will it separate me from my peers?

Your peers will have never endured the physical hardships that you will endure on a daily basis…you will be harder, and tougher. You will have seen many things first hand…the world itself; third world poverty, deprivation, and corruption; laziness and excuse making; heroic achievement and self sacrifice; excellent role models and moral examples; organization and efficiency…all things that your peers will only read about at college, or never experience at home…you will become a realist. You will come to recognize and admire qualities in other men/women that you had not previously understood. You will not be deterred by challenge. You will excel under pressure. You will become a judge of men and their character. You will immediately recognize bulls**t when you hear it…you will come to despise it. You will learn to tell the truth…always. You will have integrity and character…always. You will respect the accomplishments of quiet, modest men. You will become…indeed, an adult…many of your peers will never clear this hurdle.

I owe all of my successes to my time spent with my wonderful comrades in the Corps… ‘nuff said.

I spent a lot of time on the impostering aspect of this question for one simple reason…when having served seems to become admired and respected, and possibly a ticket to some future endeavor…the imposters will come out of the woodwork. So to those who choose not to serve…don’t dare claim that you have. Live with your decision, but always respect the sacrifices made by those that have. Don’t claim their golry for your own.

Friday, December 08, 2006

ISG Report – Escher Drawing by Committee

Major Mike

Maurits Escher renowned graphic artist was famous for his…

so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity,…”

These prints are memorable for their seemingly perfect architectural design, but upon closer study, the viewer is treated to myriad of staircases, hallways, and elevation changes that all lead to themselves, and to…nowhere. They are masterpieces for their impeccable dimensioning, shading, and realism…all things that initially lead the viewer to trust the drawing as a true presentation of a real building, but again, upon inspection the viewer sees that the hallways lead to nowhere and the stairways lead to themselves. Such it is with the Iraq Study Group.

Suffice it to say that the ISG report is the Escher print, and the expected result, of an “independent, bi-partisan committee” seeking consensus and unanimity as its objectives. It is the archetypical prototype product for recycled DC insiders, bundled together, seeking fifteen more minutes of influence in the waning years of their lives, on an issue in which they have not been asked to participate, and in which they have no real expertise. As expected, it looks real, contains some great “buzz-words,” and seems complete, but it is replete with contradictions, and it relies heavily on a series of unlikely events, whose probability of occurrence within the wishful constraints of the ISG, is lower than that of my probability of opening for the Yankees next year.

ISG “findings”….
Syria is also playing a counterproductive role. Iraqis are upset about what they
perceive as Syrian support for efforts to undermine the Iraqi government

There are also reports that Iran has supplied improvised explosive devices to groups—including Sunni Arab insurgents—that attack U.S. forces. The Iranian border with Iraq is porous, and millions of Iranians travel to Iraq each year to visit Shia holy sites. Many Iraqis spoke of Iranian meddling,…

U.S., Iraqi, and international officials also commented on the range of tensions between the United States and Iran, including Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s support for terrorism, Iran’s influence in Lebanon and the region, and Iran’s influence in Iraq. Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran’s
nuclear program and allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq.

Escheresque “recommendations”…

RECOMMENDATION 5: The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states
bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria
; the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself. Other countries for instance, Germany, Japan and South Korea—that might be willing to contribute to resolving political, diplomatic, and security problems affecting Iraq could also become members
.” (my emphasis)

The list of incentives for these, rogue, murdering states to cooperate with us, the “western Satan,” in our endeavors in Iraq, in spite of the above findings are…

“- An Iraq that does not disintegrate and destabilize its neighbors and the region.
- The continuing role of the United States in preventing the Taliban from destabilizing
- Accession to international organizations, including the World Trade Organization.
- Prospects for enhanced diplomatic relations with the United States.
- The prospect of a U.S. policy that emphasizes political and economic reforms instead of (as Iran now perceives it) advocating regime change.
- Prospects for a real, complete, and secure peace to be negotiated between Israel and Syria, with U.S. involvement as part of a broader initiative on Arab-Israeli peace as outlined

Sorry, but it is doubtful that regimes that murder indiscriminately, are running full tilt boogie in pursuit of nuclear weapons, and who are sworn to the destruction of Israel, are going to be moved in the least by the prospect of …an "Accession to international organizations, including the World Trade Organization." This attempted selling of this simple premise alone makes the entirety of the ISG rejectable out of hand.

The assumption that something so esoteric would garner concrete results from criminally run governments is Escheresque in the extreme…the “incentives”, combined with their findings, cannot possible allow them to infer, logically, that dealing with Syria and Iran would be useful for establishing any kind of a lasting, stable environment in Iraq. It is plainly…absurd.

Conversely, one of the strategic objectives that MUST be accomplished in fighting and WINNING an insurgency is to …isolate the battlefield from outside influence, and external resources. This allows commanders to choke off lightly armed, and irregularly supplied insurgents, and perhaps, diminishing their will, as well as their combat power. It is a necessity in winning an asymmetric war.

Instead of coming up with recommendations that facilitate the accomplishment of this intermediate strategic objective…the ISG actually recommends inviting the biggest perpetrators of cross-border influence to the table as “partners.” This is like having the mafias participate in a forum designed to crack down on organized crime. That would work. In a word…ludicrous.

They over-stroke the concept of imbedding...

"RECOMMENDATION 44: The most highly qualified U.S. officers and military personnel
should be assigned to the imbedded teams, and American teams should be present with Iraqi units down to the company level. The U.S. military should establish suitable career-enhancing incentives for these officers and personnel

For those that want an education what happens to imbedded US advisors trying to rally unprepared foreign troops in the face of a determined enemy read The Easter Offensive and The Bridge at Dong Ha. These two books alone will give the reader the feel for what our “imbedded” troops can expect. They can expect more danger…not less. And by coupling this recommendation with this proposed “pull out” date…

"RECOMMENDATION 42: We should seek to complete the training and equipping mission by
the first quarter of 2008, as stated by General George Casey on October 24, 2006
."(my emphasis)

We ensure that our troops will be imbedded with units that are not prepared to assume the full duties of fighting this difficult insurgency. Our isolated “imbeds” will become desirable targets for insurgents, and without the security of large numbers of US troops around them, our soldiers and Marines will be at a greater risk of being cut off and killed individually.

POW-MIA and preventable deaths will also rise, as US support infrastructure…med evac units, field hospitals, and response capabilities are diminished. So, troops that would have survived with an elevated US force presence will now be doomed to die from injuries, isolated from their brothers in arms, and literally alone on the battlefield.

Ask LtCol. Earl “Skip” Kruger USMC who described his Easter Offensive ordeal, after he and other advisors had been abandoned by their ARVN forces in the face of an NVA on rush (also detailed in the book Easter Offensive)…when I asked at AWS… "Why do you have such a great sense of humor?" …most grunts are notoriously serious…he replied, in deadpan… "(my callsgin), when you’re the guy, holding on to the guy, holding on to the skid of a Huey, with an NVA tank main gun pointing at you, the rest of your life doesn’t look so serious." This is the peril we will put thousands of our troops in.

Ripley at Dong Ha…a single Marine, with virtually zero help from his imbed unit, was left to destroy a bridge in the face of blistering enemy fire…he could have easily been killed in isolation and his heroic action left unrecognized.

This recommendation is only valid for stable, highly-trained, and combat experienced units, and even then our “advisors” will be there at great personal risk…significantly more than they are in now. Yes we will have fewer troops on the ground, but those there will see a logarithmic climb in their risks on the battlefield. Again…this seems a valid “recommendation” in Washington circles, but it does not lead to where the ISG believes it will lead.

My last critique will be the Washington “doublespeak” that is always, cleverly hidden in documents such as these…


Additionally, the defense budget as a whole is in danger of disarray, as supplemental
funding winds down and reset costs become clear. It will be a major challenge to meet ongoing requirements for other current and future security threats that need to be accommodated together with spending for operations and maintenance, reset, personnel, and benefits for active duty and retired personnel. Restoring the capability of our military forces should be a high priority for the United States at this time

Their na├»ve and incongruous solution…rely on annual DOD budgets to fund the war…no mention is made of baselining these budgets, or protecting them from Congressional stangulation...

"RECOMMENDATION 72: Costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the President’s
annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year, and the normal budget process should not be circumvented. Funding requests for the war in Iraq should be presented clearly to Congress and the American people. Congress must carry out its constitutional responsibility to review budget requests for the war in Iraq carefully and to conduct oversight

On the surface this seems reasonable, but this buries the sustainment funding for the war in Iraq in the operational budgets of the individual services. So at the very same time that the services need to be “restoring their capabilities,” they will be forced to trim other areas of their operational budgets, as Congress…who overwhelmingly supported the start of the war, begins to trim funding for Iraq. The services will be forced to scavenge other operational and maintenance programs in order to sustain adequate funding levels. I know from which I speak…I was a Requirements Officer for CINCPACFLT, N83 in Pearl Harbor at the end of my career.

Supplemental funding assures that support for the war is not diminished, and that the services can continue to modernize weapons systems, and NOT at the expense of those in the field. It also forces the snakes in Congress to play in the open in showing their support of our troops deployed to combat…either they support it or they don’t. A typical Democrat Congressional strategy here would be to reduce funding levels from today’s combined regular and supplementary budgets, and then still claim “they supported our troops.” Hogwash.

The combining of the funding is the first step in the abandonment of our troops in the field. Ask the South Vietnamese how that worked previously.

I do have some serious recommendations that are not in Beltwayspeak…

-Aggressively isolate the battlefield and the insurgents. This means cutting off all un-inspected cargo, and eliminating all undocumented border crossings. Cut off the insurgents from support and reinforcements. This is the first step in cracking their capabilities and their will. Yes, this means enforcing the Iranian and Syrian borders, and not including them on our team.

-Suspend all normal curricula in each level in our formal military training, and focus on devising integrated tactics, strategies, logistical plans, transitional government plans, follow-on ops strategies, etc. and et al. We need to figure out HOW to win at these wars as effectively and as efficiently as possible, and we should focus all of our efforts in getting this doctrine defined and perfected.

-Immediately create tactical working groups to speed the development and evolution of our counter insurgent tactics and strategies. These groups should be populated with Battalion Commanders, Battalion/Squadron Operations Officers, Platoon commanders, Special Ops planners, etc. These groups need to be writing the template for our involvement in these conflicts going forward. We have conventional land warfare down. We have amphibious warfare down. We have air war domination down…we need to get a firm grip on asymmetrical war, and develop a doctrine as workable as the rest of our operational guides.

-We need to outfit the Iraqis with top of the line equipment. They need to achieve and sustain a technological advantage over the insurgents to be successful. Getting substandard gear produces substandard units. These units need to have confidence in their equipment and its advantages over the enemy, every bit as much as they need confidence in their tactical abilities.

-We need to be more lethal on the battlefield. We need to kill more insurgents faster. This will take more aggressive action by our local commanders, and it must be sustained over time. Success in asymmetric war demands constant and lethal pressure on the enemy forces. Contrary to what the ISG may think…this involves near constant contact with the enemy, and an elevated level of risk in the near term, but it is REQUIRED to be effective and to win, and it will greatly diminish the insurgents’ capabilities and will over time.

-We must have the national will to win. The ISG, and like groups, and their feckless recommendations, only give hope to the enemy. The enemy recognizes the ebbing of our will and is strengthened by having a timeline on the horizon…see ISG recommendation above. Adoption of, or proselytizing for, myriad of hollow recommendations only elevates the expectations of the American public, and sets up the path for defeat and humiliation. We have not been defeated, and except for the weak willed in Washington and the MSM, we have not been humiliated. Our troops have performed admirably in harsh conditions, and we need to evolve slightly to win, but we are a looooong way from defeat…unless we quit, again, on our troops in the field.

We do need a shift in Iraq, but the ISG recommendations are not the template. They are simply a recycling of the losing Vietnamization strategy by some retreaded Beltway insiders, seeking the limelight in their golden years. We need fresh ideas, but they should come from people who have spent more than four days in Iraq, have spent less than four years in the beltway, and are not collecting Social Security checks. We must get on path to succeed, not on some Escher staircase that leads to neither victory, nor success. Reject the ISG report and its recommendations.

© Michael McBride 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

lest we forget...


Sadly we stand there again, 65 years later to the day, at the frontier of chaos...

...back's turned.

Ironically, The USS Arizona's Sister Ship, The USS Pennsylvania survived the infamous attack. Although rarely mentioned in any reference to Pearl Harbor, 24 of her crew were killed, 14 were missing in action, and 38 wounded. She was one of the first to return fire that day at Pearl Harbor and survived to deliver incredible fire power on enemy positions for the next 4 years. Feared by the enemy, and bearing a sister's vengeance, she fired more rounds than any other ship in Naval history.

How proud do you feel now, Pennsylvania?... one of the first States to collapse and cower in this crisis. If fate has any justice, the Navy will change the name of this ship to the USS Santorum.

Have we forgotten?

Image courtesy of The Naval Historical Center.

Pearl Harbor Remembered
USS Arizona Casualty List

Roosevelt's Address to Congress

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Unintended...


If there is a corollary to the Golden Rule, it should be, "those who live by good intentions, must suffer their unintended consequences."

As the furor grows over the myth of man-made Global Warming, and feeds the groping search for alternative fuels, the lust to cater to unsubstantiated consensus is yielding its own
inconvenient truth; that rash judgements and fabled solutions can render an alternative devastation.

On the cover of the
Wall Street Journal today (subscription only), Barta and Spencer, show us a few of the devastating consequences of replacing petroleum.

    Indonesia - Investors are pouring billions of dollars into "renewable" energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel and solar power that promise to reduce the world's reliance on petroleum. But exploiting these alternatives may produce unintended environmental and economic consequences that offset the expected benefits.

    Here on the Island of Bornea, a thick haze often encloses this city of 500,000 people. The cause: forest fires that have blazed across the island. many of them set to clear land to produce palm oil - a key ingredient in biodiesel, a clean-burning diesel alternative.

They go on to decribe the ugly atmospheric conditions of the tropical island, where volunteers distribute face-masks on the streets of it villages and cities to protect citizens from the sky-rocketing spread of respiratory illness.

But, Borneo is not alone. the story continues to describe the situation throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Canada, where forests are being eliminated as acreage for new energy-yielding crops or other unconventional fuels products. And the story goes on to A13 with disturbing photos and much much more. I encourage everyone to get it and read it.

In a previous post,
Harvesting Dependency, I noted similar UN concerns about the growing and somewhat irresponsible quest to encourage the production and use of biofuels... and their unintended consequences. At the time, I pointed to new standards imposed by West Coast Legislatures that encourage and promote - indeed even compell by law - this dictate.

    Recently, both Oregon and Washington implemented California's LEV II Standards for lower emissions. It includes a requirement for the mandatory distribution of ethanols and biodiesel products in place of so-called fossil-fuels... namely petroleum products. In the interests of Oregon, and in accordance with certain Sustainability principals (see Conservation Economics), the intention is for this state to convert much of its agricultural industry to fuel production, according to Oregon Business Magazine.

At the time, believe it or not, I sided with the concerns of the UN in this matter, submitting this query,

    Are we to believe that the world, in its entirety is so well fed, that we can surrender millions of acres of fertile land to the production of fuel for commerce and industry? Many would have us believe that to be a wise choice, arguing that farm production is currently suffering an abundance of yield. Supply is high, and produce prices are simply too low for most farmers to maintain a sustainable profit margin in the area of food production. Perhaps it is presently the case. But, is there not an inherent danger in encouraging the conversion of food production to infinitely more lucrative fuel production?

In our quest to come to terms with the mechanisms of Global Warming, we should always remember one convenient set of facts. They happen to be true. We know THAT it happens; the extreme cyclical temperature variations that have occurred throughout the geologic history of the planet. We know HOW it happens. Every 100, 000 years or so, the globe freezes dramatically, then it thaws for a time. Ice caps grow and shrink, glaciers spread and recede and sea levels change by as much as 500 vertical feet. The cycle repeats indefinitely, as far as we know. What we don't exactly know is WHY it happens, however. That is where the theories on Global Warming are important. The theories attempt to explain the facts. And the facts regarding the history of this planet can be vague at best. But, there is one fact that we can deduce. Since the cycle has been occuring for some 4.8 Billion years, and Man has been on this Earth for only 200 Million, we can be fairly certain of one inconvenient truth, Global Warming is not the result of the activities of Mankind.

The convenient myth that is being propagated to throttle Western Civilization, may yet prove to have unintended consequences far more destructive than any the discovery of petroleum and the invention of the internal combustion engine have yet produce.

(edited for clarity,

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Information Warfare


    We at MySandmen have a keen interest in the news media, especially as it relates to information warfare, and most especially in regards to our friends at the New York times. StrategyPage recently posted the following story, which I will shamelessly reprint here.


    What If Today's Media Had Covered World War II?

    December 1, 2006: Today's mass media is far more mean spirited, cynical, partisan and manipulative than was the case back in 1941-45. Actually, anyone unfamiliar with World War II history would believe that the following headlines are actually from American newspapers of the period. But those of you who do know your history, will catch the differences in attitude, and greater use of spin, between then and now.

    5, Not 2, Sunk at Pearl Harbor

    Victims' Families: Pearl Rescue Efforts "Disgraceful"

    "Writing Off" Philippines, Sources Say

    $500,000 from Manila Bigwigs


    *The Chicago Tribune did actually print this story. Fortunately, the Japanese didn't see it. Tribune owner Robert McCormick was sternly told never to let this happen again, and it never did.

    Critics Charge "Stunt" To Help Dems in '42 Elections

    Military Experts Agree This Is Where We'll Land

    German Tank Superiority Causes GI Morale Crisis

    Catholic Bishops Condemn Secret "Manhattan Project"

    Monty to Be Fired in SHAEF Meltdown

    British papers which did report, inaccurately, tensions between Ike and Monty, were stepped on hard by the British government.

    Experts: Suicide Tactics May Be War-Winner – Fleet Demoralized

    Warm Springs Scandal – Old Flame Watches President Die
    First Lady Outed As Lesbian

    Soviets Have Proof Dictator Escaped Berlin

    Bond Drive Collapses After Controversy

    B-29 Crews Laugh, Take Photos as Thousands of Children Die

    Sources Say Hiroshima Strike Had No Military Purpose

    Who Hosts Ceremony?
    Whose Flag Flies Higher on Battleship's Mast?

    *The full and interesting story of the Chicago Tribune blowing the codebreakers is at The actual headline was "NAVY HAD WORD OF JAP PLAN TO STRIKE AT SEA." Monty's near-firing by Ike, and its contemporary media misrepresentation, are discussed at length in General Omar Bradley's book "A General's Life."


    Oh, how I long for the days when the news media both understood what was at stake in warfare and had the self-confidence in - yes, I'll say it - American superiority to do what was necessary to protect the Nation. And by Nation, I mean a group of individuals united by the idea that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . ."

    We must balance the need for truth and honesty with the need for survival.

    The Flying Imams; Tucson Chapter...I Pick Answers b. and c.,...the C.A.I.R. Edition

    Major Mike

    Michelle Malkin caught my eye with here December 1st post entitled "PJM exclusive: The flying imams police report." She links to a PJM story by Richard Miniter, here. He starts off confirming something that I suspected last week...

    "The case of U.S. Airways flight 300 gets stranger by the minute. When six traveling Muslim clerics were asked to deplane last week, it looked like another civil rights controversy against post-9-11 airport security.
    Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security…."

    I suggested on November 22nd, that it was an operation designed to achieve one, or a combination of three ojectives...

    "But what if there were one, possibly more factors at play here? What if the Imams were… a. Directly testing US Airways by pushing an extreme set of circumstances upon them. Circumstances specifically designed to embarrass them and garner empathy from the MSM; and/or… b. They were directly challenging the security system to test for a response, a response they could perhaps compromise under a different, more serious set of circumstances; and/or… c. They were given the exact response they expected, and that they are using the resulting clamor to get the TSA and airlines to become “more sensitive” to Islamic travelers, and eventually creating a gap in our security… a gap created by this “respect” for Islam…a gap that they could possibly leverage for future attacks. Attacks possibly carried out by some disguised as Imams.(?)" (my emphasis, new)

    I pick both b. and c. This was an active test, and the subsequent CAIR PR work is specifically designed to get us to be more "sensitive" to traveling Muslims...translate "sensitive" into more lax, and they will have created the the opening they wish to have for their next attack.

    Richard Miniter connects the dots for those who empathize with our poor distressed, airport protesting, abused Imams...

    "Other Muslim passengers were left undisturbed and later joined in a round of applause for the U.S. Airways crew. “It wasn’t that they were Muslim. It was all of the suspicious things they did,” Pauline said."

    "Sitting in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Airport Gate C9, she noticed one of the imams immediately. “He was pacing nervously, talking in Arabic,” she said."

    "But a note from a passenger about suspicious movements of the imams got the crew’s attention. A copy of the passenger’s note appears in the police report."

    "Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports."

    "Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm. The U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said she did not dispute the report, but said the airline’s internal investigation cannot yet account for the seat-belt extension request or its subsequent use.

    A seat-belt extension can easily be used as a weapon, by wrapping the open-end of the belt around your fist and swinging the heavy metal buckle."

    "Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket."

    "And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them." (My emphasis)

    If we are too intimidated by CAIR and some blathering Imams (has anyone checked their credentials?) to connect the dots, then we are doomed to suffer another, devastating attack. Note, other Muslims were not targeted by the FBI and others...this was, is and will continue to be...a ploy to weaken our security...don't fall for it.

    Additionally, I think you'll find that no charges will be brought against the Flying Imams;Tucson Chapter, and no action will be taken against the airlines. Note...the very fact that six "individuals" will have been able to cause such a disturbance that will result in no charges, means that the op was well planned and well orchestrated. Combine that with the fact that it was executed along a very fine line, to the point that no crime was likely committed, and you have to ask yourself...accident or op? Op.

    Combine this with the new CAIR offensive against Dennis Prager for his opposition to allowing Keith Ellison to take his oath of office on a Koran vice a Bible. Read the whole article...Prager is not trying to make this a Christian/Muslim fight, but a principled fight on the use of the Bible for all ceremonial purposes (he is against Mormons likewise using the Book of Mormon for the same purposes). Again...CAIR is trying to make PR hay out of this in order to advance their "woe is us" campaign...all designed...again, to create gaps in our security as we go overboard in "respecting" Islam and Muslims.

    Have the argument. Haggle about it. Come to a resolution. But rest assured, everytime CAIR goes off high order like this, it represents an intential over-blowing of the issue to gain more "sensitivity" to Muslims...a sensitivity to be plied in tactical operations against us in the future.

    I will be satsified if we keep our guard up...I would rather not write an "I Told You So" piece in the future to those knee jerk liberals who side with anyone who is pushing against the government...whether they are in the right or not. Don't fall for this CAIR package...this was an op...treat it that way.

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    Negotiations To Failure

    Major Mike

    Normally I wouldn’t connect the opinion/editorial page drivel that comes from the Oregonian to a brilliant piece by Dean Barnett, who writes with Hugh Hewitt at, but there are some parallels between a local Portland story, and his take on the Baker Commission report that provide us some insight to the liberal mind…and the massive failings of liberal ideology in the real world.

    The Oregonian almost gleefully cheers the departure of Schumacher Furs from downtown Portland today. Schumacher has been operating a legal enterprise in downtown Portland for 111 years, yet they are being forced to leave because they are on the radar screen of the liberal uber-left…the animal activist groups.

    These schizophrenic animal “rights” groups (leather shoes anyone?) have been targeting Schumacher on Saturdays for over a year with escalating protests, and antagonistic tactics. Pictures provided in the Oregonian (like these provided by the protest group) clearly reveal an intimidating presence in front of Schumacher store, and undoubtedly, and unfairly impacted their business…to the point they felt they had to move.

    The Oregonian falsely claims that “…police, the city and downtown business representatives all worked hard to help Schumacher counteract the protests.”

    Their listless observation of the protesters from across the street, their failure to moderate the intensity or frequency of the protests, and their failure to ensure that shoppers could enter the store without feeling threatened, don’t constitute “working hard” at a solution in my book. Maybe the Oregonian editorial staff should read their own columnists...or do a little research on line...

    "That Schumacher, 51, has lost patience with the raucous rumba line of protesters is understandable. There have been bullhorns, paint splatterings, sidewalk obstructions, online death threats, and naked demonstrators in front of his door (we're still efforting photos for the blog). Schumacher is still fuming about the police response; only when a police officer was assaulted, he said, did "we have 14 police cars at the door." "(my emphasis)

    It is representative of liberal City leadership blindly supporting an uber-left liberal cause, and leaving an innocent business owner as the victim. It is not representative of a City "working hard" as a force for moderation.

    And we get to the crux…what of those “negotiations?” Painting the windows with an opaque paint…requiring Schumacher to display a large tag inside of the garment proselytizing the bible of some fringe animal rights group whose entire membership may constitute a number somewhat less than that of a men’s synchronized swimming team…and generally allowing a business to be bullied by protestors can hardly be considered fair “negotiations.”

    But that IS what the left considers “negotiation,” and they are smug about it. The Oregonian editorial board chides Schumacher …

    The loss of any downtown business, small or large, is troubling, and the loss of a venerable one is particularly distressing. But Schumacher's farewell, cast as an all-purpose attack on doing business downtown, was off the mark. Put it this way: It ought to be swallowed with a large squirt of mustard.”

    Maybe the Oregonian editorial board should read their own mailbag, where support for the Schumacher’s was published at four-to-one for Schumacher and against the naked, paint throwing, death threatening, sidewalk obstructing, peaceful furry animal defenders.

    So, one-way “negotiations” where an innocent party is rode out of town on a rail is considered a successful negotiation by the left…which brings us to the Dean Barnett piece and Jon Carrey’s testimony before the widely vague and unharmonious Baker Commission…

    Kerry seemed quite satisfied with what the Baker Commission was going to recommend. He seemed especially tickled that the Commission was poised to seek a diplomatic settlement with Iran and Syria to bring about peace in the Middle East. The fact that a diplomatic settlement with these nations would depend on the good faith of their lunatic leaders either doesn’t bother or fails to register with the Kerry and the Commission.” (my emphasis)

    Beware America…Kerry, the Dems, and their liberal membership don’t want solutions, they want “negotiations,” and the results, as Schumacher proves, don’t really matter…it is all about feigning an effort, and moving the ball forward on minority driven, liberal causes…the good of the country and the rights of others be damned. This is a harbinger on how liberal officials implement their minority driven, liberal agendas, and how they approach problem solving. They don't acutally solve problems they negoitate, defer, delay, deny, and then the innocent party becomes a victim of their malfeasance.

    Wake up America, or we will soon have “negotiated” our rights away to Islamic extremists, and we’ll be looking to set up shop with the Schumacher’s in the suburbs.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    We Are John Galt...


    In response to a recent
    letter to the "Noble Americans" from Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, allow me to rescucitate the famous words of one fictional American who would have had the courage to tell the impotent thug and his entourage of Kleptocratic fascist atavists exactly where to cram their perverted Dogma...

    For the moment let we American's be united as one voice speaking to butchers of Islam, and their feckless Eurocentric enablers. Tonight, we are
    John Galt ...

      "Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate violence—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others.

      "To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force-him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man's capacity to live.

      "Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of your right to force my mind. Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can no longer claim the sanction of reason—as no advocate of contradictions can claim it. There can be no 'right' to destroy the source of rights, the only means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

      "To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument—is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgment: you threaten him with death if he does. You place him into a world where the price of his life is the surrender of all the virtues required by life—and death by a process of gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

      "Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: 'Your money or your life,' or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: 'Your children's education or your life,' the meaning of that ultimatum is: 'Your mind or your life'—and neither is possible to man without the other.

      "If there are degrees of evil, it is hard to say who is the more contemptible: the brute who assumes the right to force the mind of others or the moral degenerate who grants to others the right to force his mind. That is the moral absolute one does not leave open to debate. I do not grant the terms of reason to men who propose to deprive me of reason. I do not enter discussions with neighbors who think they can forbid me to think. I do not place my moral sanction upon a murderer's wish to kill me. When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him—by force.

      "It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man who starts its use. No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own. He uses force to seize a value; I use it only to destroy destruction. A holdup man seeks to gain wealth by killing me; I do not grow richer by killing a holdup man. I seek no values by means of evil, nor do I surrender my values to evil.

      "In the name of all the producers who had kept you alive and received your death ultimatums in payment, I now answer you with a single ultimatum of our own: Our work or your guns. You can choose either; you can't have both. We do not initiate the use of force against others or submit to force at their hands. If you desire ever again to live in an industrial society, it Will be on our moral terms. Our terms and our motive power are the antithesis of yours. You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours.

      "You who are worshippers of the zero—you have never discovered that achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death. Joy is not 'the absence of pain,' intelligence is not 'the absence of stupidity,' light is not 'the absence of darkness,' an entity is not 'the absence of a nonentity.' Building is not done by abstaining from demolition; centuries of sitting and waiting in such abstinence will not raise one single girder for you to abstain from demolishing—and now you can no longer say to me, the builder: 'Produce, and feed us in exchange for our not destroying your production.' I am answering in the name of all your victims: Perish with and in your own void. Existence is not a negation of negatives. Evil, not value, is an absence and a negation, evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us. Perish, because we have learned that a zero cannot hold a mortgage over life.

      "You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.

      "You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear and joy are incentives of equal power—and secretly add that fear is the more 'practical'—you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you to the existence you have damned. You dart in panic through the trap of your days, looking for the exit you have closed, running from a pursuer you dare not name to a terror you dare not acknowledge, and the greater your terror the greater your dread of the only act that could save you: thinking. The purpose of your struggle is not to know, not to grasp or name or hear the thing. I shall now state to your hearing: that yours is the Morality of Death.

      "Death is the standard of your values, death is your chosen goal, and you have to keep running, since there is no escape from the pursuer who is out to destroy you or from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself. Stop running, for once—there is no place to run—stand naked, as you dread to stand, but as I see you, and take a look at what you dared to call a moral code.

      "Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose, means and end.

    So be it! We will oblige you accordingly.

    Do you hear us?