Tuesday, May 31, 2005

You gotta be kidding me

Why would the New York Times publish intimate details of how al Qaeda prisoners are transported for the CIA? Bill Roggio from Winds of Change would like to know, too

Consequences they didn't have to bear

MAJ Delaplane over at Firepower Forward has a great post about Newsweek's journalistic "faux paus." He was in the same city that was rocked by the riots Newsweek's article caused. He rightly states that editors sitting in New York have no idea what consequences were brought on by their "little mistake."
You should read this

Combat Action Badge

The Army has approved a design for the new Combat Action Badge. The award is retroactive to 18 SEP 01 and will be awarded to anyone who engaged or was engaged by the enemy in the war on terror.
This is apparently in addition to receiving a "combat patch" or SSI on your right shoulder if you have served in a combat zone.
You all already know how I feel about more badges.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Memorial Day's relationship with the current war is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's a good thing that the country is remembering that Memorial Day is a time for honoring our nations soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who gave their lives in service to their country and it is not just about picnics, trips to the beach, and furniture sales. On the other hand, it sucks to be remembering the fresh sacrifices of those in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).
Serving in a peactime force is hard enough, but these people really have given the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live free.
If you see a veteran, thank him or her for their service (I ran into a Korean War vet yesterday). And when you are hoisting a beer at the BBQ today, toast to those who gave everything in defense of liberty.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.
update: SF Alphageek points out that the families of the fallen bear a special and lasting burden. Toast to them, too.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Armor and Smallpox and Briefings, Oh My!

Just been doing the normal things that mobilizing reservists do... Going through medical inprocessing (including Smallpox vaccinations), getting our personal gear issued (including body armor), and attending endless briefings and classes about the job we will do in the middle east.
We've been working 16-hour days all this week except for today, but I think we're just making our lives harder unnecessarily. I think this is a combination of things:
1. Reservists are used to driving hard for 15 days (the length of an annual training period) and then going home. The problem is that we are on active duty for 545 days, not 15. We have to pace ourselves.
2. We are overcompensating while trying to show our active duty evalutators that we are just as hard-working as they are. AKA the "I'm not a lazy Reservist Syndrome"
3. We don't know the usual routine of active duty troops, so we are working "hard," not "smart." Unnecessary meetings, training until 2000 at night when we could do it the next day, etc.
We're starting to find our footing, but things are still rocky. Some of our senior NCO leadership is having trouble making the adjustment to active duty. I think the individual I'm thinking of in particular never thought this unit would never mobilize and he was trying to "hide out" in a "cush job." Well, now the unit has been activated and he responsible for hundreds of soldiers and obviously doesn't want to be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hello from active duty

I feels weird and good at the same time being back on Title Ten active duty. It's been a few years since I got off active duty and joined the reserves, but I haven't forgot what "right looks like."
My reserve unit is desperately trying to come up to speed and is making a decent effort. I'll reserve judgement for a few weeks from now, though. In the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to help bring the unit up to speed.
No earth-shattering news to report. Just wanted to let eveyone know that I made it to the Mobilization Station today (an active duty Army post) and am ready to rock.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Damn Straight

On this date, in 1806, John Stuart Mill was born. He grew up to be an influential political theorist who said:
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

These are not the droids you are looking for

I'm blogging from the airport on free wireless access. Isn't this a beautiful thing?
I'm looking forward to seeing Star Wars Episode III with Household Six and SixPointFive's godparents tonite. Much ado has been made about the political undertones of the Star Wars series, especially in the more liberal press outlets.
George Lucas didn't help quash the speculation when he was quoted at Cannes saying "In terms of evil, one of the original concepts [of the Star Wars Prequels] was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship." This is an obvious stab at President Bush in the post 9/11 world (read: the Patriot Act).
Chrenkoff offers his insight into what it really means to be living under the thumb of an evil empire, and he's not talking about being in the US.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Apprentice

I'm sitting here with my laptop watching the final episode of The Apprentice. Household Six and I have been following the third season, but I don't have a strong feeling either way for which woman Trump should choose. Alex was my pick to win, but he didn't make it to the final three.
It's cool to see Kelly Perdew, the season 2 winner, again. I was rooting for Kelly all last season and was gratified to see him represent the military so well. I like this website that was advertised during tonight's show: Today's Military. The website touts the benefits that serving in the military can bring. Their slogan is "the Military can be a path to a successful future."
I certainly would not be where I am today had it not been for my service.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Latest Score. . . Lion: 42, Midgets: 0

update: ROFASix's BS-meter is more accurate than mine, apparently. The link below is a hoax.I fell for the BBC logo despite the newturfers.com address.
Doh! I feel silly. I usually make fun of people for sending hoaxes to me. sorry about that.
original post: Thanks to Froggy Ruminations, you can see that Simba is still the king

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Press Does Not Have a Liberal Bias

(note: I'm finishing up some pre-mobilization training and will soon be blogging from Title 10, Active Duty.)
So, on to today's business. Dan from Schadenfreude is, like me, flabbergasted with Newsweek's wanton disregard for journalistic ethics. (if that is not an oxymoron, I don't know what is)

Now don't go mistaking incompetence for malice aforethought, folks. Newsweek is not purposely trying to undermine America and the Bush Administration. . . they're just trying to make a buck or two like everyone else in the news business.
Said another way, I don't believe that the Fourth Estate has a liberal bias. I think that they are a shining example of capitalism and are just greedy bastards like every other businessman who has to put food on the table for his family. Don't get me wrong, I love capitalists. As my good friend Gordon Gecko once said, "Greed . . . is good. Greed Works."

The news business is just that: a business first and foremost. Whomever sells the most papers or advertising time wins. As the old editor's saying goes: "If it bleeds, it leads." Where are all the embedded reporters now? They are either safe back in North America or holed up in secure hotels in Baghdad. War in March/April 2003 was "sexy" enough to risk reporters' lives over, but the real tough battles going on these days building schools and sewers is just not worth it. Sewers aren't sexy, so they don't get press coverage. (except for the Army Times, of course. See the May 09, 2005 edition.)

If the story isn't interesting or emotion-provoking, the press doesn't care about it. Right-wingers are just as upset with the press's handling of Bush these days as the left-wingers were during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. The press hasn't changed, just their targets. The press would be just as happy to topple a Republican administration as a Democratic administration.

As my good friend Don Henley once said in his song "Dirty Laundry":
The bubble-headed-bleach-blonde comes on at five.
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam In her eye
It’s interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry
. . .
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

Yes, Newsweek caused irreperable damage with their sloppy reporting. No, they are not part of a vast liberal consipracy.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Will blog for food

What most active duty soldiers don't understand about reservist's pay is this: it takes a manual action to get you paid every single time perform some sort of duty (weekend drills, summer training, schools, etc.). If the unit's pay clerk (usually a mid-level Active Guard NCO) doesn't remember to put you in for pay, you're screwed. Nevermind that the person who is putting you (the reservist) in for pay is an AGR and his paycheck arrives every two weeks like clockwork.
I think that AGR soldiers should have to put themselves in for pay every two weeks just like they have to submit others for pay. That would probably improve their memory and their sympathy towards soldiers who haven't been paid due to the AGR's neglect.
Can you tell that the AGR in my unit "forgot" to pay me this week?

update: I'll finally get my paycheck 19 days after my last day of duty on those orders. Turns out that the AGR "thought someone else was gonna take care of it." Maybe he should float me a loan until payday.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

That's "Colonel Karpinski" to you

Colonel (formerly Brigadier General) Janis Karpinksi has been demoted for dereliction of duty as the commander of 800th MP BDE (the unit in charge of Abu Ghraib during the abuse) and an unrelated shoplifting charge.
PFC Lynndie England admitted this week that the abusers were not acting on orders from their chain of command to abuse the prisoners. That being said, PFC England's chain of command should have supervised her and the other soldiers better.
Dan at Schadenfreude, wrote in a comment to an earlier post about Karpinski that he "must admit to some disappointment that she is the ONLY officer being punished. The chain of responsibility was broken at the top, yes. But what about the first line leader? What was the LT up to? The company commander and 1SG? There is a lot of blame to be assessed here, and although I'm not a BG Karpinski fan, she shouldn't be the {only} scapegoat. Lower-level leaders should have had positive control of the situation."
I couldn't agree more, Dan.
Here is what happened to the other officers between the lower enlisted soldiers and Karpinski. Many of them got hammered for not knowing what their soldiers were up to . . . as it should be. Soldiers I spoke with who were familiar with the 800th MP BDE told me that her command climate was atrocious and that she allowed all sorts of crazy things (e.g. officer/enlisted relationships) to go on.
For Dan, here are some of the other officers who were punished.

Without providing their names, the Army also said that one colonel and two lieutenant colonels linked to detainee abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan were given unspecified administrative punishment. Two other lieutenant colonels were given letters of reprimand.
More than a dozen other lower-ranking officers, whose names were not released, also received various punishments. Three majors were given letters of reprimand and one of the three also was given an unspecified administrative punishment. Three captains were court-martialed, one captain was given an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army, five captains received letters of reprimand, and one was given an unspecified administrative punishment. Two first lieutenants were court-martialed, another received a letter of reprimand and one was given administrative punishment. One second lieutenant was given an other-than-honorable discharge and another was given a letter of reprimand. Two chief warrant officers were court-martialed.

The whole article is here

update: NOTR has his own take on relief of COL Pappas, one of the leaders caught up in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Just to clarify my own position, the punishments for deriliction of duty should increase in severity the closer down the chain of command you go. Like Dan said, where was the company commander and the First Sergeant?
I fault BG Karpinski partially on the poor command climate she fostered and partially on her blame-dodging / fingerpointing after the story broke.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

In the meantime

I'm SUPER busy with pre-mobilization tasks at my unit right now, but instead of just saying "hey, thanks for visiting Watch Your Six, I'll be back soon." I thought it would be better to throw some links to what I think are my better posts:

The California National Guard is stretched pretty thin

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges

It sucks to be a staff officer"

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Suicide bombings are a bummer to morale

Despite the support from peacenik extremists right here in the US, it seems that Iraq's terrorists are suffering from low morale.

aw, too bad.

hat tip: Cox & Forkum