Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mastering "the Word"

Major Mike
(re-printed with permission of

The daily functioning of Marine Officer’s Candidates School (OCS) is hinged on “the Word.”

“The Word” is the culmination of instructions that guides the conduct of the next event. It includes uniform, time, method of transportation (usually the Shoe Leather Express, or individual buses), other equipment, such as rifles/packs/etc., and any special instructions. Much of OCS, after push-ups and bends-and-muthas, is spent waiting for the Word.

The Word has its pre-determined pathway. The Company Commander reviews the training schedule and expresses any special instructions to the Company Executive Officer. The XO distills those instructions into a language most Candidates should be capable of understanding. (This is often a challenge, for the stress of OCS easily scrambles the nimble minds of college juniors and sends errant neurons rebounding inside 250 helmets). The Candidate Company Commander processes the Word, as he understands it, and passes it on to the Candidate Platoon Commanders, who in turn pass it on to their 40 or so Candidates, all hungry for the next set of instructions.

While nearly linear in its design, and efficient looking on paper, this system is often simply a higher form of the game “telephone.” Typically (in my experience), by the time the Word reached the last man of the last squad, having been impacted at each level by the neuroses of Candidate leadership, all afraid of getting the Word wrong, the Word was a garbled mess. Invariably one of the six Candidate Platoon Commanders would get some minute detail of the uniform wrong, and that platoon could make a sore thumb blend in at formation.

Then it would come, in waves. All the platoons would be sent scrambling into the barracks to undergo yet another uniform and equipment inspection, after a new, clarifying Word was issued. For those on the upper floors the scramble to get 160 Candidates up the stairs ensured that no platoon would make the impossible three minute deadline set by the company staff.

Invariably, the new, clarifying Word would have confused at least one platoon, and after falling back out on the deck outside, all 240 Candidates would be sent back in the building, up the stairs, with more, new, clarifying Word on what the uniform and equipment would be.

Bayonet on the deuce gear. Bayonet off the deuce gear. One canteen. Two canteens. Poncho, no liner. Liner, no poncho. First aid kit. Soft covers, no helmet. Helmets no soft covers. Helmets and soft covers. Mathematically it could go on for some time. And it often did.

We called it “Put your canteen on you war belt, take it off.” It could be sang to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” and it often was, and with great sophomoric fervor.

This mocking was a by-product of the staff’s inability to translate simple instructions into coherent and uniform action. It reflects the frustration that those on the end of the whip feel when simple things bog down, or fail to be executed properly. The mocking signaled a lack of confidence in the leadership abilities of the staff, and the constant changing of the Word, further eroded that already weak confidence. After ten or twelve times up and down the barracks stairs in one morning, a change of Candidate leadership was often a welcomed event.

Sometimes a change of Candidate leadership made it better, sometimes it got worse.

I remember little of the details of OCS, except the funny parts, many unprintable here, but I clearly remember the negative effects that confused, or countermanding leadership can have on unit morale. I am sure most of the rest of those who graduated didn’t forget either. Such it likely is with every batch of Candidates. Yet I still cringe every time I witness bewildered or muddled leadership. I marvel at the obliviousness of such leadership and their inability to grasp the fallout of their actions. They fail to recognize that confused messaging reverberates amongst the troops like taiko drums in a steel shed.

As it was again this week with the Pentagon leadership. On
Monday the acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren left the door open for longer tours in Iraq,

“"It's too early to look into the next year, but for the Army we have to begin to plan,” Geren told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We have to look into our options."”

Hmmm. “Put your canteen on your war belt,…”

Followed by Secretary of Defense Gates who changes the
Word a day later,

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he does not anticipate extending U.S. troop deployments in Iraq beyond 15 months, calling the idea a "worst-case scenario."”

“…take it off.”

Aside from the disturbing disconnect between the SOD and the SOA, and their inability to firm up the Word, I am disturbed by the lack of coherent staff action within the Pentagon in formulating a manpower plan that supports our actions in Iraq out into the future; a future according to General Patreaus that may be as long as a
decade. It is a disconnect that erodes the confidence of the troops and breeds the worst kind mockery and dark humor. It fosters a downward spiral of morale that ultimately echoes service and DOD wide.

Extending tour lengths or not extending them is no long term plan for ultimate success, or relief for our troops. The Pentagon needs to present to the President and Congress long term force structures that are committed to the idea of “taking care of our troops.” This includes spreading the burden across a larger number of troops, and trying to negate the
long term effects of extended combat tours. Ultimately this means increasing the size of our ground components.

This increase in force structure should be wrapped around the idea that we need to balance the exposure of our troops to the long term effects of combat with our expectation of the ultimate length of the mission. To date the Army is guilty of trying to skim by OIF II with the force structure that they entered the war with. To still be at first base with force structure four years later, reeks of ineptitude and/or indifference.

How about DOD and DOA getting their messaging on the same track? And that message should be that we acknowledge that we will be engaged globally to a great extent out into the future and that we need a force structure to support such action. And that those force structure requests will be adequate and responsive. And that we will take our best data regarding the long term well-being of our troops and apply that data to our force structure development plans. We need to think ahead, for once.

Plainly put, DOD needs to get a workable plan together and firm up the Word, in order to re-establish the confidence of the troops in their leadership.

Anything less a Candidate could accomplish.

© Michael McBride 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Freedom of the Press, Islamofascist Style

Major Mike

This is both an appropriate metahphor for Islam's view of the role of a free press, and a harbinger of the harsh realities that will follow should we continue to underestimate their Sharia intentions.

Wake up MSM, and America, it is time to overhwhelm these terror groups with the disdain and scorn that their brutal and lethal methods deserve. It is time to isolate them for being the mentally disturbed, megalomaniacs that they are, and quit lending sympathy to their bent causes. They are brutal killers and silencers of the truth.

That is nothing to tolerate.

Update: 09:53 am PST

Captured Indonesian terrorist, Sharia law supporter, and death merchant Abu Dujana, clears up any ambiguities concerning the peaceful "teachings" of Islam, and Islamic extremists' peaceful intentions in the following prison interview...

"Abu Dujana said bin Laden was well respected then and helped him and others realize that it was permissible to kill people to defend Islam.

"I didn't read it in the Koran. It's based on the teachings of our teachers, clerics, especially what Osama bin Laden first said," Abu Dujana said of the tactics.

"Because of America's arrogance, many in the Muslim world know, believe, it's permissible to kill American soldiers. It's halal; it's permitted." " (Emphasis added)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mythbusters: A by-product for the logically inept

Major Mike
(re-printed with permission of

Victor Davis Hanson wrote an extremely important piece last week on D-Day. As the preeminent historian of our time, he reflected on D-Day and he legitimately highlighted, in spite of all of the hype about its successes, that on many levels D-Day was not the huge success that it is acclaimed to be. He cites failed topographical analysis, the ultra-human expectations that planners demanded of tactical units, and the everyday confusions and cross-ups that occur in major operations. He reminds the reader of the realities of the day, and that the utter randomness of combat can make a slot machine look like a sure thing.

His message was that the trial and tribulations we are experiencing in Iraq do not sit in solitary isolation in our military history, but that they may indeed be more indicative of our military operations than we either know or care to believe.

In short, he did not sugar coat the ultimate success that was D-Day by leaving out the bad parts. He did not hide the horrible miscalculations of the day in the bright light of our ultimate success. He leaves the reader with the reality of D-Day, not the lore, not the myths. It was published in the Papersaurus edition of the Oregonian last Saturday, a shock in and of itself.

And because it ran here in Portland it was no surprise that on Sunday, many readers responded with letters to the editor. The first line of one caught my eye,

“Our military has not suffered many debacles in its history…” It went on to explain how our effort in Iraq was, by far, the worst political and military debacle in our history.

I was reduced to mouth-breather for several minutes; perhaps I damaged my jaw when it hit the counter. To the non-historian, to the non-military student, to the casual observer, to the blind partisan, to the unstudied, to the myth believer, this may seem true; but it is false on dozens, if not hundreds of counts.

- The first two years of the Civil War failed to produce one strategic victory for the Union forces. Until the victories
Gettysburg and Vicksburg, which occurred just a day a part, the Union armies could claim no important victories. Even on the heels of the Gettysburg victory, General Meade horribly failed to exploit his victory, likely extending the war by a year or more. If not for Joshua Chamberlain’s fortuitous and timely arrival at Little Round Top, and his unit’s determined charge into the face of an equally determined rebel force, Gettysburg may not have been a Union victory at all.
- The unmitigated disaster of Pearl Harbor can hardly be called anything but a debacle. Nearly all of our assumptions about warfighting, except for Naval Avaition and amphibious warfare, were proven archaic and out-moded by the summer of 1942.
- The performance of our combat units early in the Korean War reflect an over-confidence bred from the successes of WWII, poor training and discipline within the services following the close of WWII, and our continued prejudices against the abilities of the Asian warrior. The result was the
Pusan Perimeter, and our nearly losing the Korean peninsula altogether. Unparalleled retreats marked the movement of American forces down the length of the Korean peninsula.

In fact our military history is replete with examples of incompetence and folly, but we have generally overcome our deficiencies by adapting to the situation, applying competent leadership to the effort, and using our vast resources in support of our efforts, which was VDH’s larger point.

His column drew another ponderous missive today. Submitted by yet another brilliant Oregonian reader who viewed the “classicist’s” piece (even though he admitted to not knowing what a classicist is) as a shill for President Bush, and he supported this assessment with his own illustrious background as a “news junkie” and pop culture artist. He completely missed VDH’s point on the errors of D-Day as compared to our tactical and strategic errors in Iraq and he concluded brilliantly, and categorically, that our entry into Iraq was dissimilar to our entry into WWII. Thanks for that valuable clue.

I guess it takes a classicist to understand one.

Today’s letter, combined with his compatriot’s miss a week earlier illuminate our ever increasing belief in lore, pseudo-history, and shallow pop-analysis.

We have become a nation of Cliff Note reading news junkies that absorb the biased and unstudied drivel that passes for news in this country, and give it the same credence as if it were the scientific writings of Albert Einstein. We have come to view Oliver Stone and his fictional construction of history as the modern equivalent to the libraries of Alexandria. We gravitate to the unproven and illogical, at the very same time we reject the studied reason of a “classicist” as if it were the remnants of partially chewed Cheerios spewing from the mouths of babes.

Our gravity towards the false or unproven is seen in the success of US, People, The Enquirer, the Brit tabloids. We lap up gossip and paparazzi driven “news” and other trivial events as if they have some meaningful impact in a world where terrorists continue to threaten to kill us at the next opportunity, and an insane leader of a country seeking nuclear weapons promises to use them if he can complete development. We see gaps in information as full blown conspiracies. We accept a trip to rehab as some kind of reputation rehabilitator instead of the grueling withdraw from addiction that it should be.

We have become a nation of the un-studied and easily duped. We skim the surface of educational opportunity and fail to leverage it into a true education or real knowledge. We accept top level analysis and fail to want to understand the underpinnings of the underlying conditions in our efforts to find true pathways to workable solutions. Our Congressional leaders don’t read the National Intelligence Estimate.

We have become so ignorant and gullible that we need a
TV show to prove that you can’t electrocute yourself by “peeing on the third rail of the subway train,” or that no one probably flew to the moon with a rocket pack fueled by carbonated beverages and Alka-seltzer, and that there are no traces of urine in Corona beer. We have become a world of un-educated dolts with a propensity to absorb trivia, illogic, and pure fiction at a rate that that neither the Mythbusters nor VDH will have much success in slowing down.

The result will be a monumentally weak electorate that will put this nation on a wandering, if not entertaining, path downhill and on its way to its eventual demise. For if nothing else, democracies are dependant on a responsible, educated, and informed electorate, and we appear to be on the verge of supplanting ours with Paris obsessed, culture fueled, intellectually lazy, Twinkie-like spongebots that are incapable of logical thought and reasoned decision making.

Call me crazy, but I’ll take the reasoned thinking of Professor Hanson over an internet fed, self-proclaimed “news junkie.” But that is just me.

© Michael McBride 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Duke...


Well, well, well,
N.C. panel disbars Duke prosecutor,

RALEIGH, N.C. - District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred Saturday for his "selfish" rape prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players — a politically motivated act, his judges said, that he inexplicably allowed to fester for months after it was clear the defendants were innocent.

"This matter has been a fiasco. There's no doubt about it," said F. Lane Williamson, the chairman of the three-member disciplinary committee that stripped the veteran prosecutor of his state law license.

Once again we see that popular 'truth' is in the eye of the besmircher!

Ultimately facts, however, have a funny way of deposing 'truth!'

Friday, June 15, 2007

Memo to Trent Lott

Major Mike

Dear Trent,

I have refused to donate to the GOP during the last fifty or so active solicitations, including the phone call I received two nights ago. The solicitor had to listen to my many frustrations with the GOP and the fact that the GOP politicians that now inhabit the Congress are more interested in keeping their jobs and prestige than they are in passing meaninful legislation; especially a truly comprhensive immigration reform bill that balances some kind of regularization with REAL border security. And, if GOP leaders (?!!!???) keep up this kind of irreality,

"Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”

At some point, Mr. Lott said, Senate Republican leaders may try to rein in “younger guys who are huffing and puffing against the bill.”
The GOP will go into the next election cycle penniless. Remember this, abandon your base and give up your leather chair.

Very sincerely.
The Base

Friday, June 08, 2007

Embracing Anarchy...


Portland's annual Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade is schedule to commence tomorrow at 10am. And per tradition, groups and families have, over the last several days, taped off areas of downtown sidewalk in reserve for viewing this spectacular event. This practice has gone on for as long as I have lived in Portland, and probably as long as anyone here can remember. If one considers it for a moment, it is an extremely civilized way people have adopted to view the parade, and avoid the chaos of last minute congestion, confusion and conflict.

But all of that ends tonight, compliments of Portland's own alternative class of anarchic lunatics.
The Portland Mercury News has declared war on common civility, promising to send out their thugs tonight to pull up the 'unfair' tape. Calling it "some form of ancient Portland code of ethics, " and backed by Portland city councilman, Randy Leonard, the Mercury News whines, " Rose Parade Tape isn’t 'Fair' !"

So, a self-adopted community standard of organized behavior has now been labeled as an 'ancient Code of Ethics' and then denigrated as such. I should think that any form of ethics, ancient or otherwise should be appreciated by everyone, and most certainly by members of the civil establishment, if they respect the idea of self-government at all. Afterall, the traditional method of accepted reservation is far superior to some Saturday morning mob event whereby people charge downtown at 2am to begin battling for the best viewing locations, clogging streets threatening disorder and promising violence. Is this the nature of fairness Leonard and the Mercury News would prefer? Ask yourselves, then what is it they would actually prefer to common civilty. The answer might be both frightening and obvious.

I submit this as further evidence that what Randy Leonard and the Mercury News respect, is something akin to authoritarianism which dictates which person will get what position; or they desire the chaos of morning riots to lend position... for this family event. Both these choices are obviously anathema to ethics, ancient or otherwise. So ask yourselves, just what system of government does Portland's class of alternative lunatics and civil servants support?

Monday, June 04, 2007

An Inconvenient Conundrum...


On the one hand, the
Associated Press seemed determined to bang on Texas over the weekend. 'Hayseed' central afterall, having given the nation President Bush, it must be home to equally worse environmental calamity, right?

The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state emissions of carbon dioxide from
2003, the latest U.S. Energy Department numbers available. The review shows
startling differences in states' contribution to climate change.

The biggest reason? The burning of high-carbon coal to produce cheap electricity.
_Wyoming's coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide in just eight
hours than the power generators of more populous Vermont do in a year.

Is it any wonder, Vermont intends to secede? They go on,

Texas, the leader in emitting this greenhouse gas, cranks out more than the next
two biggest producers combined, California and Pennsylvania, which together have
twice Texas' population.
In fact, California purchases a significant amount of energy from other States, like Oregon. Yet while the State does have one of the lowest per capita energy consumption rates in the country, that can be attributed in no small part to mild weather that reduces energy demand for heating and cooling year round. Nevertheless, California imports more electricity than any other State.

Pennsylvania, is a net energy producer as a leader in nuclear energy production. But don't let's forget Three Mile Island. And while we're at it, note that Pennsylvania profits from the production of virtually all of the Nations’ supply of anthracite coal. While that is the cleanest-burning form of coal, the State is one of the top coal-consuming States in the Nationwith bituminous coal dominating the State’s power generation market. Next to lignite, that's the dirtiest form of coal.

What the story fails to mention is that Texas is also a net energy producing State, consuming what it produces and distributing the rest to other States. Texas leads the nation in oil and natural gas production, as well as overall total electricity production. And while it also leads the nation in overall energy consumption, its economy is far more sustainable, given its balance of production and consumption than California.

On the other hand, the
Associated Press reported previously that Texas now leads the nation in wind energy production, perhaps the cleanest form of renewable energy produced,

DALLAS — Long known as a top oil- and natural gas-producing state, Texas has gained new energy acclaim by becoming the nation's top producer of wind energy.

Texas capacity stands at 2,370 megawatts, enough to power 600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to a midyear report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association.

That puts Texas slightly ahead of California, the nation's leader since 1981. California has 2,323 megawatts of capacity. The total U.S. capacity is 9,971 megawatts. So far this year, Texas has added 375 megawatts, or 46% of the total 822 megawatts brought online nationwide.

Last year, wind energy generation grew 35% nationwide, adding 2,431 megawatts, but that fell short of the projected 2,500.

The wind association believes it can add 3,000 megawatts nationwide this year, even if that means another 2,178 megawatts by year's end.

This, I'd say is a bit of an inconvenient conundrum... Texas being both a leading contributor and a leading corrector of so-called global warming. Not bad for a bunch of redneck Capitalist hayseeds who are allowing the market to drive improvements. You see while California has implimented many of the most stringent energy policies anywhere in the United States, much to the detriment (in money and freedom) of its citizens, it remains one of the leading consumers of energy and creators of filth. Its relative energy production continues to fall, yielding a unbalanced condition of dependency and vulnerablity. So, while Texas may be a leading producer of carbon dioxide, the State nevertheless is well on its way to a cleaner, independent economy of lower environmental impact and genuine sustainablity... and greater per capita joy. Which is more 'Green?'

But that's not really the goal of the purveyors of the Global Warming meme, anyway... is it?

Global Swarming - Net Species Gain...


Reuters reports today that a
purple frog is among 24 new species found in Suriname ,

A purple fluorescent frog is one of 24 new species found in the South American highlands of Suriname, conservationists reported on Monday, warning that these creatures are threatened by illegal gold mining.

The discovery of so many species outside the insect realm is extraordinary and points up the need to survey distant regions, said Leeanne Alonso of Conservation International, which led the expedition that found the new species.

"When you go to these places that are so unexplored and so remote, we do tend to find new species ... but most of them are insects," Alonso said by telephone from Suriname's capital, Paramaribo. "What's really exciting here is we found a lot of new species of frogs and fish as well."

24 new species found in one survey of one place alone. It makes you wonder, in the midst of the man-made global warming catastrophe meme, if the number of species discovered is ever added to number of species lost, to determine a net species gain. That is of course assuming that anyone really knows the historical average overall rate of global species replacement in the first place.

Welcome to Earth, little guy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Haunting Ghosts of Beslan


This original post was published here in September of 2004, just after the massacre of young school children by Muslim fanatics (so-called Chechen Rebels) in Beslan, Russia. Long since forgotten by most Americans, if they ever really acknowledged it all all, the horific events that unfolded on September 1st of that year should serve as a stern and chilling reminder of what might happen any morning in any town in America. A sobering post from wretchard this morning over at The Belmont Club, reminded me like a prescient brick to the head, of the terrible possibilities that lay in wait this or any other day if we don't stay vigilant... and possibly even if we do. Being prepared, does not necessarily provide one with the ability to prevent tragedy. It also imparts the constitution necessary to survive beyond the disaster.

Note that the only thing that has changed since this post, is that the London massacre has since occurred.

The Ghosts of Beslan...

The events and details of the massacre at Beslan have all but unfolded for the world. Unfortunately, the sins of a cursed political season have yielded little coverage of the savagery from the mainstream America media outlets, who have addressed the event superficially and reluctantly, if at all. More images of the carnage and sorrow have circulated on Free Republic, it seems than all newspapers and television news combined. Together with in-depth analyses from Bloggers like wretchard at Belmont Club and The Command Post, the horrors of the event have been mostly realized for those concerned, yet detached observers…. Mostly! Yet, while the profound horror of tortured and murdered children may be conveyed through reporting to the rational mind, short of the actual experience, a tangible empathy is only possible with the aid of literary vision. There are few instances of similar horror so boldly recorded. And there are certainly none so penetrating as James Fenimore Cooper’s singular account in his novel, The Last of the Mohicans, of the beginning of the massacre of British troops and Colonials at Fort William Henry after their surrender to French and Huron forces in 1757.

The savages now fell back, and seemed content to let their enemies advance without further molestation. But, as the female crowd approached them, the gaudy colors of a shawl attracted the eyes of a wild and untutored Huron. He advanced to seize it without the least hesitation. The woman, more in terror than through love of the ornament, wrapped her child in the coveted article, and folded both more closely to her bosom. Cora was in the act of speaking with an intent to advise the woman to abandon the trifle, when the savage relinquished his hold of the shawl, and tore the screaming infant from her arms. Abandoning everything to the greedy grasp of those around her, the mother darted, with distraction in her mien, to reclaim her child. The Indian smiled grimly, and extended one hand, in sign of a willingness to exchange, while, with the other, he flourished the babe over his head, holding it by the feet as if to enhance the value of the ransom.

"Here-here-there-all-any-everything!" exclaimed the breathless woman, tearing the lighter articles of dress from her person with ill-directed and trembling fingers; "take all, but give me my babe!"

The savage spurned the worthless rags, and perceived that the shawl had already become a prize to another, his bantering but sullen smile changing into a gleam of ferocity, he dashed the head of the infant against a rock, and cast its quivering remains to her feet. For an instant the mother stood, like a statue of despair, looking wildly down at the unseemly object, which had so lately nestled in her bosom and smiled in her face; and then she raised her eyes and countenance toward heaven as if calling on God to curse the perpetrator of the foul deed. She was spared the sin of such a prayer for, maddened at his disappointment, and excited at the sight of blood, the Huron mercifully drove his tomahawk into her own brain. The mother sank under the blow, and fell, grasping at her child, in death, with the same engrossing love that had caused her to cherish it when living. (Chapter 17)

The Huron savages under French command, no more represented the totality of the Native American peoples than do the butchers of Beslan or madmen of Manhattan represent the people of Islam. And yet the good people of that once-proud religion may do well to learn how the ghosts of those massacred victims seared a distrust and vengeance into the American spirit so profound as to doom all aboriginal occupants of the continent a century beyond one act of unconscionable barbarism on the shores of Lake George. Many have debated the historical accuracy of Cooper's fictional analysis of the historic event. Yet, accurate or not, his conception of the horror conveys a visceral comprehension of the misery and rage of the ghosts haunting Beslan today. Most mothers and fathers there were not spared the horror of loss with a similar blow to their skull. Their blow comes each morning anew as waking lights the flickering memory of a smile dashed out of existence by Islamic fascist butchers. Like it or not, we are again and in fact, engaged in a struggle for existence on the frontiers of civilization with brutal savages that would just as soon dash the head of our infants against a rock, as they would shoot them in the back, burn them alive, or shred them with shrapnel by the hundreds. And regardless of the inability of some to see beyond their own sophomoric delusions, the consequences of error are real and final. The ghosts of Fort William Henry and of Beslan will join with those of Manhattan, and Madrid, or even Seattle, Dallas, LA, Des Moines, Columbus, Pittsburg, Portland, and perhaps even London and Paris as grim reminders that capitulation to terror is an invitation to slaughter.

It wont take much chaos to cause the hollow spirit to crumble like an empty crysalis. Then we'll see if America has the same reserved grit deep within as it did December 8th, 1941. Unfortunately there has been a tremendous political effort spent over the last 7 years dividing this nation to its core. And we know what Patrick Henry warned about that. We'd hope to never recall those ghosts again. But some horrors do not like to be forgotten or ignored; so much so they are determined to haunt repeatedly until their terror is fully manifest in a way that their spirit never can be.