Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Quick Hits

I just read yesterday's post, and it occurred to me that it was quite long. I'll try to keep this one a little bit shorter. I want to start by directing you to some quality takes on the armor flap:

Hook weighs in here.

Here's part of a great post from the Democracy Project:

As we now know, the soldier's question was not spontaneous, but had been concocted in collaboration with an embedded reporter from his (and my) local paper, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, who was trying to work around the DoD's decision to restrict the questioners on this occasion to soldiers. We know this background because the reporter told all in an injudicious email to his colleagues, one of whom passed the email along to Matt Drudge. It is worth reading in whole, because it says a lot about the way reporters habitually wrap their own naked personal ambition and moral corner-cutting in the flag of telling a story that "needed to be told."

Read it.

I was honored to get an email from NY Times Contributer Phillip Carter- who pointed me to his recent Op-Ed on the subject- How the Front Lines Came to the Rear. He has some really good points about the more important "big picture" issues that often get lost in the media-driven political mudslinging:

Simply put, there are no more front lines. In slow recognition, the Army purchased light armored vehicles in the late 1990's for its military police to conduct peacekeeping, and more recently spent billions of dollars to outfit several brigades with Stryker medium-weight armored vehicles, which are impervious to most small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and can be deployed anywhere in the world by airplane.

But the fact that there is no longer a front line also means there aren't any more "rear" areas where support units can operate safely. Support units must now be prepared to face the same enemy as the infantry, but are having to do so in trucks with canvas doors and fiberglass hoods because Pentagon procurement planners never expected they'd have to fight. Remember that Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the Iraq invasion's most celebrated prisoner of war, was a supply clerk with a maintenance company.

Americans who have never served in the military may not realize the scale of the problem.

Read all of it (laexaminer, laexaminer).

And I got an excellent email from a guy who represents the "military industrial complex."

Having to fulfill government surge requirements is not always fun. You'd think that all us greedy capitalists would be rubbing our hands together with glee whenever expedite delivery requirements (note, they're not a request) come in. For (very) small businesses, nothing can be further from the truth. When the government issues a mandate for specific production in lieu of everything else, it can wreck a business. The government's ability to issue these mandates should (and is) used judiciously.

...the full court press was applied on us to get these components out ASAP. We literally worked 16 hours a day, double shifts, 7 days a week for two months. During this time period, marriages went on the rocks, half of my employees (including myself) had minor to moderate car accidents from falling asleep at the wheel on the way home, and we lost a half dozen long time customers who's work we had to turn away. In business, as it is with consumer purchases, once someone's found an alternate source, they never go back unless something worse happens. It took our business several months to recover from the schedule shock.

I mention the above just to illustrate that logistics procurement isn't as easy as turning on the spigot and saying, "Make it so number one!"

There was much more- but you get the point- and a valid point it is. I do agree that it's a matter of physics- but I also believe that the problem can be cured with a proper amount of ingenuity and activism. I think the ingenuity exists, but the activism (like what existed during WWII) won't manifest itself until the entire country (not just 51% of the voters) accepts the fact that we are at war with a real enemy- that's just my $0.02. If you're reading this, I can safely assume that you are the choir- thanks for letting me preach to you...

McMaster Revisited

This is cool- turns out I'm not the only one from my West Point class with a blog! My classmate Pat McGee is now a civilian, but he's still serving his country. He blogs from Camp Cooke, Iraq and his site- Pa12ick- is excellent (of course), and I'm sure our old English professors are beaming with pride. Pat had some additional things to say about COL H.R. McMaster:

The following year, H.R. finished his Masters degree and came to teach. I met him as a senior, when I had to do a Military History class research project on World War II. My professor shared an office with H.R. and he helped me several times with my project, even though he wasn't my professor. In fact, I stood in his office, looking through some materials, when he dashed out the door, looking more harried than I ever saw him, before or since. He was going to defend his Doctoral Thesis.

A little over a year later, I was a young Lieutenant in the 11th ACR when my commander told me that our new Squadron Executive Officer's name. Major H.R. McMaster. "That guy from 73 Easting." Comments regarding his supposed arrogance and shameless self-promotion followed. When he showed up, though, it didn't take him long to turn everyone around. You see, H.R. is not an arrogant officer. He's a damn good leader. In situations when other officers would find excuses for difficulties, he would already have things taken care of. When our unit manuevered, he was the one saying, "We've done this and this and this. You're set. Do this!" He could kick ass like very few leaders I've seen.

Read the whole thing. Another one of my classmates- who recognized my nickname while browsing through the Wizbang Awards (he was there to vote for a tech site)- sent me an email about his experience with McMaster. It seems we're all in agreement- this guy will wear 4 stars someday. You heard about him here first!

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It- I'm a Moron

Guess what? Al Franken (AKA Stuart Smalley) is coming to Kuwait! He'll be here this Friday as part of the Sergeant Major of the Army's "Hope and Freedom" Tour. OK, OK- stop the groaning. It's good of him to come out here and support the troops- let's at least give him that. Of course, I plan to be there- I will politely introduce myself to him, and I'll ask him to kindly sign a picture of Bill O'Reilly (in case you haven't heard- those two don't get along so well). I guess I'll have to find a picture of Bill and print it out.

Maybe that's not the best answer. Any suggestions? What should I say to the guy?

Blogs I Have Found

I had a (rare) day off recently, and seeing as Kuwait is not exactly a "bastion of recreational activity"- I chose to explore the ever-expanding blogosphere (for the low low price of $5 an hour- it's way cheaper in Iraq, but I won't complain!). As I mentioned before, I usually trackback to sites that have linked to mine. It leads me to sites that agree with my views, and I occasionally find sites that think I'm "2Cyberfast and 2Cyberfurious- like a quasi-gay Vin Diesel in a ridiculous fur coat" (that was the funniest critique ever- can't remember which site it was- but those lefties were funny!). Anyway- here's a couple of sites that caught my eye:

Sarah is an Army wife and she blogs like a champ- she even got an email from Ben Stein!

Mark Scott of the Neo-Progressive is a college kid who's blogging against the forces of evil- right in the heart of the Liberal Badlands! I didn't even know the difference between liberal and conservative when I was in college. I realize that's sad and unusual, but I'm telliing you- Mark is well ahead of the power curve...

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