Thursday, December 30, 2004

Now that I'm back, and now that I've had something to say about the incredible tragedy in Indonesia, I have something else to get off my chest.

The administration has taken a great deal of heat over the issue of armoring Humvees. Time to look at some facts.

First: Repeat after me "A Humvee is not a tank. It is not an amored reconnaisance vehicle. It is not an amored troop carrier."

The Humvee is the replacement for the venerable "Truck, 1/4 ton, M151". You know it as the "Jeep".

When the military decided it was time to replace the Jeep, a number of firms responded with proposals and the military decided on the design set forth by AM General, a firm with a long record of successful military vehicles. It was dubbed the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). That was the project name, so it would have retained the name regardless of which design was chosen. The military likes pronounce-able acronyms, so it's referred to as the "Humvee".

It's much larger than the Jeep, so it was deemed that the chassis could replace a number of existing vehicles. It could function not only as a battlefield sedan a la Jeep, but as an ambulance, artillery caisson, etc. As an aside, the damn thing is so big that the Berlin Brigade had to keep their Jeeps since the Humvee was to large to squeeze through the alleys they had to patrol along the now defunct Berlin Wall.

Here's what the Army has to say about what it replaces:
Provide a common light tactical vehicle capability. Replaced the quarter-ton jeep, M718A1 ambulance, half-ton Mule, 1.25-ton Gamma Goat, and M792 ambulance
Whoever wrote this for the Army is apparently unaware that the Gamma Goat replaced the Mule years ago and was itself replaced in the 80s, but we won't quibble. The point is, the Humvee has always been intended to function as a soft skinned vehicle.

The sole exception was a variant intended for Military Police. Durng peacetime the main function of MPs (at least as far as I was concerned when I was in the Army) is to harass law-abiding soldiers and run detention facilities. During wartime, however, their mission expands. Detention facility MPs maintain such facilities as required, but also maintain POW facilities and law enforcement MPs retain those responsibilities, but also pick up the additional mission of convey escort. It was specifically for convoy escort duty that the military ordered a lightly amored version of the Humvee, some with machine guns in remotely controlled turrets.

Let's recap. The Humvee replaces the Jeep and two ambulances, none of which have ever been amored or could be amored. Bear in mind that the Jeep was a rag top. You can't armor a canvas roof.

As it turns out, you can armor a Humvee--to a point (apparently the "level three" armor is so heavy that the soldiers have to be very careful about opening the doors lest they rip the hinges out). Nobody anticipated that the nature of this war would require turning Humvees into miniature tanks, so we went into the war with the things configured just as we had planned to take them into war with a near-technological equal, the Soviet Union.

So now we've recognized the need for a better protected Humvee, and we're on it. But to say we went to war with an unprepared vehicle is sophistry.

Don't get me wrong. As an old soldier myself, I'm up for anything that can keep our troops safe, but nonetheless, I find it unfair to criticize the administration for decisions that the military made years ago and is now reevaluating.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Haven't posted much lately--Lots of reasons, non sinister.

Prior to the election I was on a mission. I just simply could not countenance the thought of Kerry presidency, so I was energized. I'm as pleased as I can be with the election results, but I've lost that pre-election energy.

And too, the "holiday season" becomes a consuming event in itself. Preparing for the holidays and remaining functional through them (including a visit from six nephews and nieces who had been traveling in a van for most of the week...) could turn a steel I-beam into a limp noodle.

I'd comment on the tragedy in Indonesia, but its scope defies my puny ability to place an event into words. I did go on a bit of a verbal tirade this morning re. The UN moron's comment that we're "stingy". As it turns out, we're ponying up $35 million in aid, which doesn't take into account the cost of getting that aid there. The actual cost of the effort far exceeds $35 million and as always includes the possibility that one of the aircraft we send there could go down in the effort. The loss of an aircraft and its crew would certainly be infinitesimal in a tragedy that seems destined to claim in excess of 100,000 lives, but it adds to it nonetheless. And bear in mind that the $35 million figure is only for what we are sending this week. As time goes on we most certainly will continue to provide aid far in excess of the initial $35 million. And, as it turns out, our $35 million initial package far exceeds that offered by two of our biggest critics--The UN and France-- as well as that offered by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. All three have pledged relief efforts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, the combined amount of all three's pledges barely breaks the $1 million dollar mark. One Socialist (among many) in the UN disagrees with our reluctance to tax ourselves to death and uses a tragedy of incredible scope as his bully pulpet. What a jerk.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Got a newsletter from my chapter of the Special Forces Association today. There's an item in there that I want to pass along. I know few people read this blog (and fewer read it a second time...), but if one or two people read this and take action, it'll be worth it.

I don't have the slightest idea how "pings" and "trackbacks" and so forth work, but I'll provide a gratuitous list of links to some of my favorite blogs in hopes of generating some extra traffic.

At any rate, someone got word from the Medical Family Assistance Center (MFAC) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that they are need of calling cards for the wounded troops. I've poked around and gather that they could also use breakaway pants (to fit over casts) and small, poly-filled pillows which the soldiers use to prop up injured limbs; but apparently their number one need at this point is calling cards (phone--not the paper ones dinosaurs like me remember).

The government provides internet hookups, local phone service and DSN (official military) phone service, but soldiers must pay for long-distance calls. Maybe unfair, but it's easy to see that things could get seriously out of hand if they simply allowed soldiers to run up phone bills.

As long as they continue to have them on hand, the MFAC gives the cards to the soldiers as needed. With the holiday season all but upon us, let's make sure that they continue to have those cards on hand. Remember that the soldiers at Walter Reed tend to be the most severely wounded and some of them may be staying there for a long time.

Here's the address:

Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

Gratuitus list of links:

James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
Captain's Quarters
A Little More to the Right
Cut on the Bias
Electric Venom
Cold Fury
Michelle Malkin
The Diplomad
Chief Wiggles
SGT Hook

That'll do for now.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I'm not sure how to describe Democratic Underground. Cesspool comes readily to mind. Hate--Overriding hate. That also comes to mind as a descriptor.

Go there and look at the comments on posts. It really defies comprehension. Hatred reigns supreme under the guise of presumed moral and intellectual superiority.

Lest you have any doubts, check out their "Hate Mailbag". While there may be a real email or two thrown in there, it's pretty obvious that the emails are largely contrived. There is just no way that so many dumbasses could email a moderated page (which removes all postings favorable to the administration and bans the authors) in a short period of time. It's clearly fiction written up to make conservatives (particularly the so-called "religious right") look bad. And given the habituates of that page, I imagine they eat it up.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I have a question that's been weighing heavily on my mind for a while now. Unfortunately, I'll never know the real answer, and I likely won't understand at all any explanations that I'm given.

But here's the question: Why is Bill Clinton still afforded revered status by Democrats?

The Democratic party has suffered one resounding defeat after another since the day Clinton waltzed into the Oval Office. The ONLY people to benefit from Clinton's presidency have been Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Yes, he managed to win reelection (by fewer votes than Bush enjoyed in his reelection), but he spent his second term with a Congress that he handed back to the Republicans.

It seems that he's regarded as a genius, but his only real genius is in self-promotion. In retrospect he accomplished little in his tenure other than to burst the Reagan economic bubble, present us with the largest tax increase in history and get a few bills passed which were long in style and short in substance. Midnight basketball, anyone?

To give him some credit, in between photo ops and podium thumping speeches, he did manage to score an intern and get some unusual cigar action.

I'm told that Bill is incredibly intelligent (but so what, if it's an undisciplined intellect?). If he was, indeed, one of our most intelligent presidents, he shares honors with Richard Nixon. Nixon was one of the top three presidents in IQ, but is reviled because he resigned in disgrace--a step Clinton would have taken in he had any honor whatsoever. Nevermind that Nixon got us out of an unpopular war which his Democrat predecessor had gotten us neck-deep into.

Remember the "crime bill"? The Republicans voted to extend debate on the bill for a few more days. It's Republican trait to want to understand things before we vote on them. Knee-jerk emotional decisions are Democrat territory. At any rate, it was voted to extend debate. The bill wasn't voted down. Clinton appeared on TV, chewed his bottom lip for a while and pounded the podium as though he expected to drive it into the stage. He had a figure, I don't know how it was derived, but he announced that "X" number of children would die every day that the bill languished in Congress. Thoroughly cowed, the Republicans rushed back to DC and immediately passed the bill. Clinton took that opportunity to take a vacation on Martha's Vineyard, staying at the home of yet another wealthy Friend of Bill. The "crime bill" laid on his desk, waiting for his signature, for another week while he yucked it up in Martha's Vineyard. Wonder how many children died that week...

I digress a bit. Some of the above are my own reasons for relegating the Clinton presidency to the executive dustbin. But the original question remains. Clinton has led a period of time which is historic in the defeats that the Democratic Party has suffered. Simply put, he's the worst thing that has happened to the party in decades. Possibly ever. Yet he remains revered.

I'm utterly baffled.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

There are all sorts of personalities in the "blogosphere". You have the studiousness of Powerline, you have the personal reflections of James Lileks, you have the intense investigative bent of Little Green Footballs, you have the incredible hatred reflected in Daily Kos who famously said of civilian security guards who were killed in Iraq "Screw 'em". Then you have Wonkette.

Wonkette generally manages to be humorous, despite being far enough left that she holds in contempt anyone who disagrees with her. But she crossed a line today. And I guarantee that she won't be held accountable for it. Racism is apparently ok as long as it's expressed as a part of "the good fight" between liberal and conservative.

Here, in part, is Wonkette's view of the highly accomplished "minority" people who hold high level positions in the Bush administration.

Well, maybe now they'll stop using that twisted fragment of metal from the second tower as the Cabinet meeting "talking stick." But why does the Cabinet need any more symbolism? They already have a woman and some brown people on there.

"Some brown people". Nice.

I'd be a lot less dismissive if I were the Wonkette.

But I'm not.