March 28, 2004

The Conquering Horde

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:58 pm

This blog, hat tip to Salam, has a great story to tell. Our proprietress at Wires is building things for a returning expat and making the part of the world she is in better.

By these forceful niceties, abetted by what I do for a living, shall Iraq return from her nightmare. The horde of repairers and visitors and hirers and builders shall conquer over the false idols of death and destruction.

And then we shall have a beer.

March 27, 2004

It’s About Time Already

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:02 am

Kofi Annan has a lot to answer for. And not just because of the Oil-for-Food mess. I speak of the Rwandan genocide, for which Annan bore direct UN oversight.

If you want background, look into this Frontline piece I saw in a GMAP class last year. (I was going to do my master’s thesis on the Rwanda genocide until I found out it had been pretty thoroughly researched and processed for our class, and that a Ugandan classmate was directly affected and would have been better at the research than I could have.)

This is related to the Richard Clarke flap going on right now, in that someone was in a place to act, didn’t, and complained about it later. (Preemption for Clarke supporters: I refer to the Africa embassy bombings, the Cole, the Khobar Towers…all of these under Clarke’s watch and a different administration than today’s.)

There will be a time where I have to do the right thing. The job might suffer. I may be at risk. But what’s right…is right. Many did not make this same calculation, either by not noticing the slope they were on –so gradual they didn’t notice–or by more egregious lapses.

What will you do when it is time to make that stand? What will tell you that the time is now?

March 26, 2004

An Aha Moment–One Reason Jay Garner Left

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:42 pm

I mentioned earlier that I checked out the Garner Group at a USIP conference, and I asked both of my readers here what they thought about the difference between what I heard in February 2003, before the war, and later.

This newspaper link is the first I have heard from General Garner since his leaving the job.

In an interview to be broadcast on BBC Newsnight tonight, he says: “My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections … I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny.”

Describing his dismissal after he called for elections , he said: “The night I got to Baghdad, [the defence secretary Donald] Rumsfeld called me and told me he was appointing Paul Bremer as the presidential envoy … The announcement … was somewhat abrupt.”

It was about the hardest job someone can have. I don’t envy his position.

You know, I should have known something was up when the military guys didn’t know it existed–just heard rumors–and the Group was right there in the Pentagon.

Update: The BBC has put the interview online. It’s six minutes of video, and a transcript.


Filed under: — Chap @ 8:05 pm

This is Violet. She’s napping here just to eat up my bandwidth.

Why is a studly guy like myself posting cat photos, of all things?

I will leave the exercise to the student, but let it be known I am secure in my own masculinity.

Besides, I have a Submarine Cat or two around the house.

They do I&W (indication and warning) and ISR (intel, surveillance, reconnaissance).

They do scheduled maintenance.

They, unlike humans other than bubbleheads, dig the boat smell. I’m happy they’re down with the boat smell.

They perform torpedo evasion drills (at flank, no less!).

They attack from a stealthy position.

If I were a small fuzzy stuffed animal, I’d be afraid. Very afraid.

Cat, small, 1 ea.

Off To The Ship

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:59 pm

I’ve been lazy for a day and now it’s time to get back to work and back to sea. At some point here, I’ll bundle up with the other staff weenies like me and get to the ship–I’ll tell you more about it after the fact (if’n I feel like it, of course).

Aiding me will be some reservists from all over the East Coast. The submarine force didn’t have a good plan for reservists at one point; you can’t keep your nuclear credentials when you leave active duty, and we don’t augment submarines in wartime with any other people than what you normally get (because the wartime and peacetime jobs are pretty much the same). So the reservists became essential by training all of us Sub Ops teams.

It is my uninformed and strongly held opinion that the Submarine Advisory Team guys and the Harbor Defense guys (such as LCDR Smash) are some of the most needed Navy reservists there are out there. Thank goodness for them!

March 25, 2004

Alidade and Good Ideas

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:48 pm

So this Navy officer is a bright fellow and goes to the Strategic Studies Group. And he decides it’s time to be done with the Nav, but he sure liked that fifty pound head stuff.

So he forms this company.

Jeff Cares has particular skills in not just thinking big thoughts but in linking people and ideas. He’s sort of like a specialized Glenn Reynolds but with more face-to-face linking of people rather than Instapundit’s meme linking. The Alidade mailing list is huge by now, and I am impressed with the people I meet in DoD who are part of that list. (Yeah, there is noise in the signal but in general the signal is pretty impressive.)

One of the things he did recently that I could not get to before I started the new job was the Co-Revolutionary Concepts war game. You would have liked it. Here’s an article about the results.

Three caveats if you decide to subscribe to the list:

  1. The bandwidth is high–and by that I mean that there’s a lot of reading you have to do to get through the list info. Also, it’s serious work, not just hobbyist rag chewing.
  2. Some thinkers are artists and have an artist’s temperament, but since they’re thinkers and not painters it can be a jolting experience. Also, some have some fascinating but terribly wrong tangents. Figuring out which those are are left as an exercise to the reader.
  3. Almost all of the items discussed will or will not occur far into the future. As such, it’s going to take a separate thinking and execution effort to get the good idea implemented.

Gotta Love Those Marines

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:30 pm

Neptunus Lex kindly linked to me, and while I was digging around his site (one I check out every once in a while and do enjoy, by the way), I found this link right here with good language from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. I’ll pass it along to the staff–I’m sure the MEU has it by now…

March 24, 2004

Resources for Lessons Learned

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:24 pm

I like a good set of lessons learned. Not that pile of idle comments we see on the ol’ computer program–those of you in the know will know what I’m talking about–but useful stuff, filtered.

There’s a reason you learn more from bull sessions than from books sometimes. If you put something into a good story, it resonates better.

  1. This is the Small Wars Manual, 1940 edition. I haven’t finished it, but it’s a source Max Boot would like.
  2. The 101st had a nice article with lessons.
  3. This Army guy has a good article. I showed it to a senior Marine, who approved and said “It’s just common sense, and we re-learn it every time.”
  4. Jason van Steenwyk has lots of good heads up posts on things like logistics, HMMVV armor, seat belts, patrolling, and so forth. Jason would like to know we’re aggressively fighting for the same protections he’s talked about, and the new kevlar blankies, and all of that happy crap. One of these days I should tell you about shoes and the Bulge, or coats and Chosin…
  5. The excellent Ranting Prof has an email that reminds us about how easy it is to drop the dime on someone, and the press in general.

There’s also a Fort Hood document I can’t find on the Web right now but will post if I find it there.

March 23, 2004

More On Postwar Iraq

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:17 pm

I mentioned earlier about my interest in how the postwar Iraq effort got started up. I got orders to be an aide, and I could not turn down the request, so I didn’t get to go over to Iraq at the time. Now that I’ve volunteered for this job I missed another long term opportunity, but that will be there once we’re back from deployment if I don’t go to a submarine immediately afterward.

This guy George Packer doesn’t much like what he saw in November as far as the CPA goes. Lord knows Salam Pax complains about the Green Zone. Some of what Packer says is on target, some is in my humble opinion overshadowed by bias.

But what bothers me is that I didn’t pick up on what it was that Garner did or didn’t do in the beginning when I saw him at a panel discussion in Washington. Click the “more”, as usual, to see what I reported at the time.

Summary of Feb. 2003 meeting

OSD has a shop started up to coordinate humanitarian assistance between all of the US government and all the NGO’s and other governments.

UN does their humanitarian assistance by going to clearinghouse NGO’s. NGO’s get lots of money from USAID and act as contractors for humanitarian assistance, but don’t like to be thought of that way.

NGO folks seemed to have a lot of discomfort admitting that they need the security provided by the military.

Planning has started, but nothing more.

OSD’s office has made an unprecedented effort to gather information from expat Iraqis, Kurds, and locals to find out information that can be used for humanitarian reasons; both in assisting the HA effort and in targeting considerations.

I know I didn’t get that the UN would bug out so quickly, and there was no massive humanitarian crisis that wasn’t security related (read: bombs and asassinations of moderates). Otherwise, with what you see below, what would you have concluded about the CPA?


Ah, the beauty of the language of war….

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:40 pm

From an assessment of Kashmiri history…

“After about five centuries, the faith suffered at the hands of Mihirigula, the White Hun, a man who was said to seldom smile and whose approach was signaled by ‘vultures, crows and other birds which were flying ahead eager to feed on those who were to be slain’. “

You just gotta love a guy like that.

We’ve Always Done It That Way

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:37 pm

Nancy was kind enough to send this to me a while ago. It’s apocryphal, but rings true. It’s a nice way of summarizing how we get stuck with standards once we have them.


It’s A Cool Object

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:28 pm

Time to eat up a little more bandwidth.

My friend Jason missed out on finishing GMAP on time because of Operation Iraqi Freedom–he had to leave Greece early and zip over there pronto. While he was there he got the chance to hear Rumsfeld talk, and sent us a picture of this neat little memento. I think it’ll make more than its face value on Ebay.

On the other hand, it’s a sure bet he ain’t selling.

Dinar with Rumsfeld autograph

Holy Cow, I Got Comments!

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:35 pm


Oh frabjous day, my inane dribblings have been received by the readers on high…and I got comments!

Thanks very much one and all. The Swanky Conservative even mentioned my blog–now that’s results!

The first comment, of course, is that the comments page which I never freakin’ checked out is fratzed up. Fly, I apologize for whatever happened to your comment, but let’s see if that can be beaten into submission fixed. Okay, time to go fix ’em.

I’ve got a few more long posts in the old pile, so I’ll dust them off and put them up.

I Got Results

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:11 pm

Warning: Jargon Ahead. That’s what you’ll get in the ESG posts. Email me if you need translation. On the other hand, who am I kidding, nobody knows this blog exists!

So this new expeditionary strike group (ESG) got me at short notice. Here’s how it happened. I was at the new job, three weeks in, when my boss’ boss walked by my desk.

“Chap, has your detailer talked to you yet?”

Always a bad sign, this phrase.

Turns out they needed someone fast fast fast, so I hopped into the Movie Of The Week already in progress. Meaning I joined the strike group staff. That’s why my vertical learning curve at work. It’s a great challenge but the next guy should be better prepared.

I took a moment in the middle of the Haiti flap-ex to gab at my detailer and tell him about it. My points:

  • If we’re doing 12 CSG’s and 12 ESG’s like the CNO said, that’s 24 post-department head 1120’s. There are, what, fifty something SSN’s right now? That’s as many guys as you have SSN XOs in SubLant! We need to start figuring this out as an officer force structure issue, and start thinking about promotion flow points, who you have doing this on a long term basis (rather than the next guy you find who is randomly available at short notice). Also, think hard about the value of these guys and the knowledge they bring back to the submarine force and forward to the rest of the Navy and Marine Corps, because this is a lot of good engagement and knowledge transfer. This transfer should work later in the officer’s career, so this billet shouldn’t exclusively be done with XO nonselects and guys whose career in the submarine force is essentially over. And don’t tell me there’s a good chance of making it from this job–anecdotal evidence I see says this job is not an Anointed job and doesn’t help you make it through the evil XO screening. Oh, by the way, if you think cynically, what better to have your Anointed Officer continue his meteoric rise than to have an admiral outside his community pulling for him who has been to sea with him? You don’t get that pull sitting in a sub squadron, although that job is important too.
  • Detail the guys earlier. The big deal there is to give the next guy enough time to figure out what shoes do for a living before you do a shoe-type job, and to give enough prep time that you don’t freak out the reservists helping you get the predeployment training done.
  • Send the new liaison guy to some schools. I recommended two schools, one of which doesn’t exist yet.

I got results on two and three. One might be a bridge too far, especially for the poor guy I dumped it on, but some changes have been made.

Sometimes it’s worth the risk to open your mouth and provide a solution…

March 21, 2004

Back from Sea

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:09 pm

Well, I took a nap.

For about a day and a half.

Okay, well, I spent most of it sitting around doing a whole bunch of nothing, a favorite pastime indeed. I think I spent most of the last week feeling the same way I do when we’ve just moved to a new place and the movers have just dumped eight trillion boxes in the new house. It isn’t hard to open a box and put the contents away. The problem is where to start–and I hate that enough that my mood becomes so foul that my wife throws me out of the house until she can get one room done and put me there. The way I feel about the boxes is the way I feel about this job–too many things to do at the same time; all fairly straightforward, fairly easy, but hundreds of them at once.

Speaking of which–hey! Where did the quicktags go on this freakin’ blog progam thingie? AARGH!

Update: Entirely too much time was spent trying to figure out the problem. I eventually, after many lost paths, figured out how to reload the javascript drivers.

Mind you, I have no idea where the javascript went to, but it took a vacation and I managed to find it again. Curse you all, computer gods!

March 18, 2004

I Guess You Had To Be There

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:03 pm

There are continuous reminders that time on the ship is not time on the boat. I’m getting over most of the culture shock by working my tail off, but this one thing was rather funny at the time.

On a sub, you are in what they affectionately call a “three hundred foot long sewer pipe”. When you’re in an enclosed space like that, fire and smoke are a Big Deal really fast. The captain goes quickly to the control room to supervise casualty actions, and the executive officer puts on his firefighting stuff and zips to the source of the excitement.

So when I reported a minor fire in a space on the ship, and the senior folks didn’t budge or even stop talking, I was worried. Did I not emphasize that it was FIRE?

Turns out that on a big ship, a small electrical fire is something that doesn’t immediately attract the, let’s say, focused attention it gets on a boat. So I looked like an idiot for thirty seconds providing Forceful Backup ™ and getting in the way while I reported it again.

And these guys talk on the 1MC like it’s no tomorrow. Bells? Evening prayers? Phone call pages? What about “nobody talks over the 1MC”?

Oh, that’s a submarine thing.

Culture shock can happen where you least expect it…

March 16, 2004

Glorious Sunsets At Sea

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:39 pm

In some magic way, the best kind of sunsets happen after the nastiest weather. Everything’s been kicked up in the air to make the most fantastic colors.

I went to the flag bridge, where there is a lot of space for an old bubblehead like me, and watched the helos land and the sun go down, for a few minutes out of my workday. No, I didn’t bring the camera this trip–I’ll remedy that later–but trust me on this–the line of (add poetry about skies like pink grapefruit or something here) on the horizon is truly spectacular.

I’ve missed entirely too many sunsets this last few years.

March 15, 2004

Look at that! Connectivity!

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:04 pm

Well, there’s one good thing here. Although it’s glacial (think of the glory days of 300 baud modems), there is occasional connectivity for me to use.

More when I can actually type something.

March 14, 2004

Underway Tomorrow Morning

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:04 pm

Now, this should be an entertaining week.

In a few hours I trundle onto the boat ship–excuse me, these big gray target things have a slightly different name, and I ain’t used to it. I’ll spend a few days running around trying to figure out what is going on, and then to try and surf the wave of chaos. At some point I’ll be the watch guy for the strike group.

All I have to do is figure out the language, the skills needed, the capabilities of all the different groups I’ll be working with, and how to make the submarine work with all of the other fun going on. Nothing like a little challenge.

Funny story. Well, to me, anyway. I seem to not tell it too well. Friday, I’m at the end of two weeks of Special High Intensity Training (acronym intentional), and they throw me in the room to be the battle watch captain. I’m surfing the wave of reports coming in, guiding minimally because everyone knows what they’re doing, and all of a sudden I have a need to turn the force. I know it needs to be done, it isn’t happening, and I know where we need to go.

Problem is, we don’t do this kind of thing on submarines. So I turn to my guys and ask, “Okay, how do I say this?” Oh, that’s what a corpen is.

I guess you had to be there, but it’s funny how you can know what to do but not how to say it in a formal way over the radio.

Anyhow, wish me luck. I’ll be gone for a short while and don’t know if I’ll have any connectivity, so the crickets will continue wihtout a response on my part.

March 10, 2004

Crickets. I Got Crickets.

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:49 pm

So here I spent a while building this blog and have some unique content. I’ve got stuff not usually found on the Web. I’ve got obscure links and bottom-notch writing.

Not a bite. Nada. Zip.

No wonder I stopped building that web site back in 1993. I coulda sworn that by now I’d have as much traffic as Tim Blair

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