January 31, 2008

National Language Service Corps Starting Up

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:10 am

You know some savvy American citizens with skills that might be handy some time? Here’s a potential opportunity:

During the pilot, a team of nationally recognized experts is developing, testing, and evaluating the prototype concept of operations, potentially leading to a plan for a fully operational NLSC in fiscal 2010. The pilot includes recruiting and enrolling 1,000 charter members with competency in ten languages important to national security and welfare of the nation. The following languages have been identified so far: Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Somali, Swahili and Vietnamese. The operational concept for employing these languages is being examined and refined during three activation exercises. The director, National Security Education Program (NSEP) is coordinating the participation of federal agencies as partners for the three activation exercises. The final two languages will be identified when the exercise plans have been completed.

This is entirely too small and should have been done a long time ago, and I’ve been beating the drum about it in, ah, certain places. But it’s a great start and small might be better for more effective implementation.

There’s been historical resistance to the idea based on perceived risk. A classic example is the language skills inherent in World War Two Japanese-Americans, where a few traitors were working for Japanese interests in the short term–but many more were heroic in support of their adopted country. America clearly benefited overall from its citizens who came from a country at which we were at war. The key is to do a realistic assessment of risk and gain (which incidentally allays fears of xenophobic or risk-averse decision makers), and then identify and support immigrant Americans with language and cultural skills so that if we suddenly need, for example, a whole bunch of citizens with clearances who speak Dari and are willing to help, we can quickly capitalize on that banked skill set. There are a lot of languages out there–you know how many are spoken in, say, Chad? You think we could have used some Indonesian speakers airlifted to the task force after the tsunami? How many Haitian Creole speakers do we have who can and will drop everything at short notice to assist DoD or DoS if the expeditionary strike group has to land after an earthquake or unrest, for instance? Who can help out when your three Obscuristani speakers get sick all of a sudden?

These guys are going to be in a pilot program; a thousand folks isn’t a lot when you’re talking surged civilians with other work lives for just-in-case scenarios. But it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing, and a lot less costly than sending someone to school for the language just in case who doesn’t practice it and will sit at a desk in the Pentagon afterward.

Missouri Sails Again

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:54 am

Been a while since we’ve seen these names at sea:

Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced today the names of three Virginia class submarines — the Missouri, California and Mississippi.

January 29, 2008

Not Looking Forward To My New Zimbabwe Army Uniform

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:09 am

I don’t know why the new “man overboard camo” became the Choice. I know that the saying used to be that every CNO and MCPON changed the uniform because it was the only change that would happen during his tenure, but Task Force Uniform keeps even that from happening. Maybe that’s a reason TFU has been killed.

I love the weasel wording in the FAQ document. They did a “wear test” to see if the sailors (oh, excuse me, a CNO shot himself, so for that reason it’s now capitalized ‘Sailors’ because we seem to be morphing into German where every noun is capitalized) liked a particular color. Except that they already picked the colors. And the pattern. And the colors are “for our naval heritage”, whatever that’s supposed to imply. Is for some reason the khaki Nimitz was buried with “washed to softness” not part of our naval heritage because it was, you know, khaki?

And there’s this:

• Sailors recommended to their chain of command that we needed a uniform change, so we started by surveying the fleet. Received more than 40,000 inputs from Sailors in the fleet. Also 5,500 pages of single spaced recommendations from Sailors.

• We went to organizational psychologist to help us understand exactly what our Sailors were telling us. What they said – is you think that we have too many uniforms in your seabag.

Thanks for that. Perhaps the fact that a “task force” had to go to some contractor–after getting forty thousand comments–to know this information is itself an indication of a bigger problem. What were these people smoking for so long and how did we loop ourselves into this huge lurching Process that took years to come up with a decision so ad hoc looking? Seriously: What value was added issuing ninety-‘leven NAVADMINS, task forces, surveys, and wasted time and effort that couldn’t have been done just as well with a dart board? I get it that every uniform change is resisted by the guys who used to wear the old uniform…but it’s not as though the change suggested is any better than the ones we have now. Oh, so you’re “replacing tropical white”. Well, who wears that these days? This is the best alternative? We have to shift to a “tactical uniform” if we work in a place that needs camouflage? So why are we wearing camouflage? Are sailors on ships not tactical? Why do we need a twenty page user guide, complete with “CNO Vision” which I’m sure got argued over in some staff, for clothing? There’s a “no polish” boot but you have to actually wear a safety boot that needs polishing? Is it not a coincidence that every service got all liquored up on digital camo designs, each one unique to their service for some reason, at the same time? Anybody learned from the last two years of wearing the Army’s ACU/DCU, or is that verboten because it’s too recent or because it’s a different service?

If you added up all the time and effort and money spent on this effort, to change a uniform that wasn’t that broken, how much would it be? Who counts this? I bet nobody, and I bet further that this not-counting is a core problem. If labor is free things will take longer. What is the measurable value of the change? Anyone compare the two?

Lex has a solution I don’t find available. I guess I’ll have to go buy some of these when required, and then put them right next to the Zumwalt-era salt and peppers.

This Ain’t Exactly Thinking Outside The Box–Rather Something Different

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:08 am

For what possible reason would CJTF 82 think that they should type up and then publish on their website a critique of a member of the Dutch Government? How did this become part of the task force’s official job? Oh, and why would this be official American policy?

Is the next step having somebody in CTF 76 opine about marginal tax rates in Malta?

Must Be A Conspiracy

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:08 am

I hate it when this happens. Reporter Chris Allbritton responds badly to the release of the IRGC speedboat tape, and the meme is picked up. Summary: Pentagon is doing something squirrelly, this couldn’t have been what they said it was, et cetera.

Don’t worry about knowing the situation, just throw those accusations around. Great.

January 28, 2008

The Cribbage Board

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:31 am

I remember many a game on this board in the wardroom. Looks as though LA’s goat locker horked it. I hope they use it well and use Hooters cards underway like we did…

January 26, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:08 am

Ouch. I’ve been following the “You Suck At Photoshop” video series, and the latest one is wince-inducing if you’ve been following it (hint: start at the first video).

Once you’re up on what’s going on you may want to check out the ebay questions and answers

January 24, 2008

Missing The Point

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:15 am

Okay, so NATO apparently wants to have a web presence. So how do they advertise it?

They contact a blogger for Wired…and send him a scanned snail mail letter signed by the O-6 PAO!


January 23, 2008

Rich Galen On Thompson Campaign’s Demise

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:14 pm

Here’s the scoop from a close advisor to the campaign. Doesn’t sound as though the campaign was of a happy warrior. Worth a read to get a feel for why the campaign imploded.

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:59 am

New on the blogroll per a hat tip from B5, Kaboom. Good writing.

January 22, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:33 am

This is a great story for this holiday. Some tough folks there.

January 21, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:14 pm

The Media Violence Project has a new public awareness campaign.

Second Nagl Post In As Many Days

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:22 am

Abu Muqawama has the scoop. And links. And all that stuff.

Second Bateman Post In A Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:03 am

So there’s this thread, started by a remarkably ignorant post, with unsurprisingly authoritative-sounding, completely wrongheaded, stupid crap in the comments. Colin Kahl shows up and tries to correct some facts, to little or no avail. For crying out loud the canard about wedding parties even shows up–a canard debunked years ago, but as usual still alive in the minds of those to whom such things never get corrected.

And then LTC Bateman jumps in.


I despair of ever seeing the Atlantic readable again.

Why The Freakonomics Guys Drive Me Nuts Sometimes

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:31 am

This is all very nice, but I already know there’s a law of unintended consequences. What I’d like to see is some analysis of the character of those unintended consequences, how to minimize or vector them, and how that can affect policy decisions. Describing that such an effect exists has been done. Move the knowledge along, whydon’tcha.

Clearly, I’ve Wasted My Life

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:16 am

I could have been doing this.

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:14 am

Now this is funny.

/heard it

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:16 am

But it’s still funny.

January 20, 2008

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:42 pm

I had no idea that Chomsky was in the Encyclopedia Dramatica.

Eventually This Woman Will Bitterly Disappoint Me Like Art Spiegelman Did

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:14 pm

but now is not the time. Check out the sketches for Marjane Satrapi’s Perseopolis, a NYT Flash file narrated by her and her codirector. (H/t Drawn!, which also points to how to “storm Normandy” with three guys and a station wagon.)

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