I wonder if the officer giving this speech, LTC Randolph C. White Jr., has read Heinlein's Starship Troopers? This is powerful stuff. Makes me feel somewhat "lesser" for never having served in the armed services. But at the same time thankful for everyone who has. Watch the whole thing.
Your Reading Assignment Tonight
Update: Note that The Officer's Club has moved and changed their name to Op-For. Adjust your links accordingly.
Stephen Green. Now.
(And Margaret Friedenauer).
Swords and Guns
A couple of random, but loosely-linked posts:
At Troynovant, William H. Stoddard has updated an old book review of The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe. He observes the ambivalence of the residents of the 16th century toward the sword, and draws an analogy to our current culture's ambivalence toward handguns.
Happy Memorial Day
Well, we've finished our BBQ brisket and pork rib lunch.
I'm sure a lot of people are eating similarly, enjoying some time outdoors in the late Spring weather, and spending time with family.
While we enjoy the freedom to do these things, let's remember the reason for this holiday.
Happy Memorial Day.
I wonder what Eric and Gunner (and any other former armor readers of mine) think of the Merkava. Is the Merkava 4 comparable to the M1A1/A2 tanks we have? Are there any MBTs that would have a fighting chance against ours?
War Crimes in Fallujah
(Via Gene Expression).
Photos From the Front
As I pointed out in that post, lest we think of the autochrome process as "primitive," the method of taking three greyscale pictures with three colored filters and then projecting the images through colored lenses is essentially the same technique used by the Mars Exploration Rovers to create color images today.
David Boxenhorn points out the obvious: imminent war with Iran. War with or without the US. Would Israel really stand by and wait for the vaporization of Tel Aviv?
Yet another reason I'm voting for Bush, even with my many misgivings about the Republican Party platform. I have more confidence that the President will do what is necessary to secure the nuclear facilities in Iran before it is too late. I am just worried that Bush is constrained by election politics from doing the right thing now.
Just a few nights ago, John Kerry said with one breath: "Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous."
But just a few minutes later, he explained what he would have done differently than Bush: "I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together. The president did nothing."
I know that Bush understands we are at war. A war that was declared on us. And I know that he will not surrender to the Islamists. And I am certain that he will not arm the enemy and call it a gesture of good will. I can't say the same about John Kerry.
Russian Tank Museum
Be sure to check out the photogallery of armored trains. Amazing.
Are We Winning?
Meanwhile, doc Russia makes a compelling case that we are in fact winning:
Well, we are now in no danger of Iraqi WMD's being used on american soil for the next twenty years. We are now establishing a foothold for democracy in the middle east. The map of the middle east, once covered in its length and breadth with breeding grounds for terrorists, has now broad expanses of areas where terrorists must focus their energy, and not a half a world away. Now, the terrorists are trying (and failing) to hold on to their territory in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Africa, instead of trying to destabilize and demoralize the US. Is that what the moments before victory will look like?
Would it look like Marines stomping in the guts of the last holdouts of the Taliban?
Would it take the form of fresh-faced soldiers lighting up Al-Qaeda insurgents?
Would we in fact have newspapers ever proclaiming that Al-Qaeda was on the run?
Would there come a penultimate moment when even the hardiest of martyr wannabe's can see that they are going to lose?
Be sure to read the whole thing.
While part of me hears the voice of Han Solo ("Great, kid, don't get cocky"). there is some real evidence that we are making significant progress, and we should be cautiously optimistic.
(Hat tip: Owlish).
Be sure to click through to the XM307's site and catch the video.
Big @$$ Machine Gun
Captain Chontosh, Hero
Why wasn't this story on the front page last year, when it happened? Or at least last week, when Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross for his incredibly heroic actions? Why was it that the media assigned to our military the leering faces of the few bad-apple prison guards? Do they really want us to lose that badly? I wonder why.
Recap of what Capt. Chontosh did to earn the Navy Cross:
On March 25, 2003, during the race to Baghdad, Captain Chontosh's platoon was ambushed, being caught in a pre-sighted kill zone of machine gun fire. Rather than retreat, he ordered his Hummvee directly toward the enemy machine-gun emplacement, allowing the .50 cal gunner to shut down the Iraqi gunner.
Chontosh then directed his vehicle into the enemy trench, where he dismounted and proceeded to work his way down their line, dispatching them with his M16A2 and 9mm side arm. When he ran out of ammo, he twice picked up enemy rifles and continued his attack. He used an enemy RPG launcher to take out a group of Iraqis. When he was done, he had cleared 200 metres of trench, killing at least 20 enemy and wounding many others.
Instituted in 1917, the Navy Cross recognizes acts performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility.
(Hat Tip: Blackfive).
Nick Berg, RIP
This just sickens me.
First thought: "Nuke the effin' bastards."
Second thought: Which ones?
Third thought: All of 'em. Let their miserable bloodthirsty god sort them out.
Final thought: No, no, no. That would be lowering us to their level. We must remain civilized. That's what sets us apart from these savages.
Bill INDC does a great job summing all of this up.
Supplemental thoughts - we didn't cease to be a decent, just, and civilized society because of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Are we there yet? Does the relentless negative reporting by our media lead inexorably towards the "final solution" solution? God help us if that is the case.
You know, when I blogged about Fabrizio Quattrocchi, I felt a little guilty singling out his heroism, when I knew that there were many stories of individual courage and honor left untold. I suppose that I, as a civilian (without military background) was moved by how Quattrocchi, a civilian, had met his death like a man -- the way I hope I would in similar circumstances -- a brave and defiant man.
Like many of us, I suppose I expect our military to be brave and honorable, so I inadvertently take the stories of individual military heroism for granted.
I love Western civilization, and we owe its existence to the kinds of sacrifices that men like PFC Phelps have made on our behalf over the last 230 years. We should not and cannot take that for granted.
Fabrizio Quattrocchi, Hero
I haven't blogged much at all about the war against the barbarians. I have too much trouble moderating my tone. Anyway, others like James Lileks daily say what I would want to say.
Before he was murdered, he was forced to dig his own grave. He then tried to rip off his hood and shouted, "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies."
The world needs more Fabrizios and fewer psychotic death cult adherents.
More Air Force Blue
Ted has another "boring" installment of Air Force Blue up at RocketJones. More fun stuff about security police training.
Money quote: "Big fun. Really. Like playing as kids, except we had real M16's full of blanks."
Anything But Boring
Go back through the earlier installments, too.
(Money quote from entry number 1: "San Antonio in August. Hell with an accent.")
Great Picture Show
The Great Robot Race
They will pay a cash award of $1 million to the team that fields the first vehicle to complete the designated route within the specified time limit. The purpose of the challenge, in DARPA's own words, "is to leverage American ingenuity to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicle technologies that can be applied to military
NASA could learn a thing or two (or many more!) from DARPA.
Update: Jay Manifold noticed this story, too (I found it directly on the DARPA site; he links to Space.com's story), and is seeking input on what kind of contest his readers would set up for a $10 million prize.
Just Say No
Strategy Page has a video demonstrating the effects of LSD on British troops in a test that appears to have been conducted in the early 1960s.
Age of Empire
Readers of Jerry Pournelle's weblog know that he believes the USA is well on its way to becoming an empire.
One of his readers sent him a link to this article, which reviews a six-part series on BBC on the subject of American empire.
Even if there is disagreement about whether America actually is an empire, there is agreement that America doesn't want to be an empire.
Read the whole thing.
I missed this when it came out last month. MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies is working on a material that rapidly converts from fluid to solid state when subjected to a magnetic field. How long until we have powered armor?
Tim Blair demonstrates the true Australian virtue of "mateship" in this response to an idiotarian emailer who gloated about the impact of the recent loss of 17 of America's finest in Iraq on their families.
Thanks, Tim. Next time you swing through North America, be sure to make it down to Texas. I'll be glad to introduce you to some true Texan hospitality (lots of BBQ, real TexMex, grande steaks, and good local beer!)
Belated Birthday Wish
And while we are on the subject of veterans, Happy Birthday to the USMC, which celebrated its 228th birthday yesterday.
Take a moment to remember those who served to preserve our freedoms, and if you know any veterans, thank them for their service.
Coherent Light. Incoherent Policy?
Developments in solid state lasers may lead to practical battlefield applications in the near future according to this article.
What are the implications of being able to shoot mortar and artillery shells out of the air? To knock ballistic missiles out of the sky before they can deliver their payloads? What about soldiers equipped with nano-surgeons
that radically improve a soldier's chances of surviving a battlefield wound? Is it a good thing for our military to become, effectively, invincible? I part ways with many fellow libertarians in my support for the overseas war on terrorism and my wholehearted agreement with Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz's proposed "cure" for terrorism outlined in his September 13, 2001 comments.
But I occasionally grow concerned about the long term health of our republic in the face of a quasi-imperial and essentially invincible military, a theme expanded upon by Jerry Pournelle here.
Of one thing I am sure: we cannot stop developing improved military technologies (and we cannot surrender our nukes voluntarily) unless we are willing to surrender sovereignty to an illiberal hegemon like China.
Only As Old As You Feel
Nice article at DefenseLINK today about WWII veteran Richard D. Beaver, age 84.
Some highlights: He had quite an interesting career in the Navy, and was one of the relatively few enlisted naval aviators to serve our country. "We were kind of a breed of our own, I guess," Beaver said. "They called us 'Silver Eagles,' and three enlisted pilots who were commissioned became admirals. So that's quite a history, which we're proud of."
Beaver exhibits the attitude that I am convinced has as much to do with longevity as diet or exercise: "I came here to the Armed Forces Retirement Home (formerly the Naval Home) in 1991 when I was 72. People are supposed to be old at that age, but I didn't feel old. I felt like I was about 40 or 50, and there are people here at 60 who look like they're 120."
As I begin to advance beyond young adulthood (I'm still only 35), I am starting to see some of my peers' mindsets beginning to harden. Some of them are really beginning to act old before their time. I hope I look and feel as good as Mr. Beavers at his age.
On a side note, the Armed Forces Information Service maintains a free mailing list and will email articles to you containing stories (like this one) that never see the light of day in ordinary mass media. Check out this link to read more about subscription information.