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Chemical and Bio Weapons are different

    You have an interesting page, but I recommend when you write about Chemical and Biological war, you completely separate the two. Make it plain that CW is the dispersal of chemicals--non-living agents, and that BW is the dispersal of living organisms. There is a big difference. You touched on this but did not really make the difference plain. This is the problem with news organizations when they discuss BW and CW--they seem to have difficulty in separating the two.

    Also, remember that BW also includes attacks on food supplies--plants (grains, etc) and animals (cattle, etc). These can be just as damaging and debilitating to a nation as attacks directly on people.  As I said, you have a good page and please don't take this as criticism; it's not. The problem is that I spent 30 years as an Army Chemical Officer and I guess I'm nitpicking over details.

    Good Luck, Godspeed and Give 'em Hell

                                                                                      Jesse C Floeck III

                                                                     COL AUS (RET)     

Ed. You are correct, but our military doesn't help with the NBC label.  I try to keep editorials short and didn't have space to explain all. Several military retirees wrote they were far more concerned about health care than terrorist attacks.


     I am continually running into otherwise intelligent and educated people who assume NBC weapons are some sort of cheap terrorist device, rather than the product of billions of dollars in organized R&D.  As a result of this scare/scam, the US Congress is considering a rather expensive plan to have all mail opened off-site and scanned in for electronic distribution.  Given the interests of the likely contractor, it seems that mail using stamps will go into a bin for opening later, so God only knows when your letter to your senator will ever be read.

                                                                        Name Withheld

Buy 8-inch guns

Thank you for publishing Mr. Clarke's thoughtful article on naval firepower modernization.  My only suggestion or addition would be that instead of using the 155-mm Future Gun System (FGS) we should cancel both the 5-inch ERGM and FGS programs and instead update the Mk 71 8-inch gun. The goals we want to achieve are easier if we go with a larger-caliber weapon (e.g., miniaturization would be easier, etc.).

I also wonder about the viability of reactive armor at sea (corrosion). But I do think this idea should be explored.  I write a lot of letters to Congress and the Pentagon, and you and your associates provide a lot of great information. While there is so much work to be done, we have succeeded in places. For example, the DD-21 was canceled, and plans to buy more DDG-51 destroyers for ballistic missile defense also apparently got the axe.

                                                                 Phillip E. Park

Pegasus patrol craft are deadly        

William Clarke’s article was one of the more interesting reads I’ve consumed in a long time. Especially his simple and elegant solution to improve the usefulness of the Pegasus patrol crafts.

The Longbow system is an utterly amazing hunk of military hardware.  This would allow multiple Pegasus crafts to conduct rapid and lethal raids using coordinated strikes against both land and sea targets.  I’d hate to be the Harbor Master that sees a squadron of them swiftly approaching.  There wouldn’t be a harbor left after just a few minutes work.  Hellfire missiles are devastating and just thinking of 30 or 40 of them ripple fired into enemy coastal strongholds is just frightening.  Should we be forced to throw down with China, such a tool would be ideal for reclaiming the Panama Canal

However, I’d rather not totally lose the long range anti-ship punch that the Harpoon missile gives you.  Instead of refitting both racks, just refit one of them.  The Hellfires are easily and quickly reloadable.  Even on the bouncing deck of a fast attack patrol craft.

                                                                                            George Hill

Mountain units are needed

        Mike Sparks is right, 10th Mountain should have been based at Fort Carson, Colorado from the beginning.  Its basing at Camp Drum, New York was a congressional decision to give a boost to the then sagging northern New York economy (can anybody say "jobs program").  I was an Infantry officer with 10th Mountain from '88 - '92, my Battalion Commander was "Buster" Hagenbeck, the current 10th Mountain Commander.  We had some of the best NCOs to be found anywhere in the army at that time and while I thought we were a pretty decent infantry unit (unlike today, back then all we did was PT, foot march and live fire), we were by no means a mountain division. 

      We all knew that our mountain title was only a historical reference to the true 10th Mountain Division of WWII which was largely comprised of civilian volunteers who possessed a wide variety of mountain related skills.  Mountain troops must be mentally and physically tough in dealing with an adverse environment.  Fort Drum, New York is a miserable place with copious amounts of snow and cold and that does help make soldiers there more mentally and physically tough (at least if their commanders make them train in it).  Beyond the snow and cold, there is nothing at Fort Drum which will prepare soldiers for mountain combat.  It is as you described, mostly flat, rocky, swampy land which while unsuitable for farming was found quite suitable conducting live fires back before WWII.   We did do some training in cross country skiing and snow shoeing, but the closest thing we had for developing technical skills in mountain climbing etc was a small climbing school in Vermont.

One of the huge problems we had to overcome was the lack of housing for our soldiers.  Prior to becoming Fort Drum, Camp Drum was just a place for non-resident units (reserve and national guard) to come do live fires.  Soldiers were spread out in the civilian community, some over an hours drive away.  Additionally we had no strategic deployment airfield, the nearest was Griffis Air Force Base over an hour and a half away with parts of the drive on two lane roads.  Add a blizzard to all that and you have a rapid deployment force that can't even begin to be wheels up in 18 hours.  That could quite possibly be a problem with a Fort Carson based mountain division as well, at least they would be acclimated to the altitude though.  Perhaps the specialization required of being a true mountain division is incompatible with being part of the rapid deployment force. 

I was shocked to read about soldiers from my old battalion (1-87) going out without any sleeping bags.  I don't know what the circumstances were, but any idiot knows you don't send soldiers on overnight patrol with temps in the teens (and well below that with wind chill) without a sleeping bag per two men.  Sounds like they were darn lucky not to have cold weather casualties.

Regarding the effectiveness of weapons, in that our guys had pop guns compared to Al Qaeda, there are a lot holes in that story.  Where were the M240B machine guns? or the battalion snipers? Both of these systems would be an easy match for RPG and PK machine gun armed cave dwellers. 

 Regarding our people being out of shape for the conditions and not acclimated to the altitude, let me just say altitude will kick your ass, I don't care how fit you are.  Ask any elk hunter, you work out for weeks looking forward to a hunt and when you get up in that high country you feel like an old man with emphysema.  This obstacle can be overcome, but it generally takes about a month to adjust to the change in available oxygen. We had plenty of time to get our guys into a 10,000 foot environment and train up for a few weeks, perhaps in our own Rocky Mountains, the question is why we didn't do that?

                                                                         Reid Smith

Fort Huachuca training

     How about a composite Mountain training Brigade at Ft. Huachuca.  Most of the Garrison Area is over 5800FT in elevation. The Huachuca Mountains go up to 9000FT and are almost entirely on the military reservation; barracks, motor pools, helo ports, ranges and support facilities for approx 4500 soldiers are empty. Scrub high desert to alpine meadows to vertical crags above the tree line. Two or three battalions from each of the light Infantry Divisions; Army and Marines at all times. Given our areas of operations in the last two decades, the desert mountains are a smarter choice than the Colorado Rockies.

                                                                       Robert FItts

Mountain Survival

In the USAF fighters in the 60s we had Global Survival kits. In the kit was an arctic bag, vacuum packed in a fiberglass butt-contoured container that was the base for the foam seat cushion. In order to get more stuff in the kit we took the bag out of its hard-pack container and used it for the seat cushion, replacing the foam. It was about 2 x14x16 inches. Later we found a good shop vacuum could reshrink the things, like the stuff bags sold on TV nowadays. I still have 2 of those bags, and they work just fine here in Colorado.

Mules- I believe the US Army mules in WW2 were de-brayed by a simple vocal cord operation. They were used extensively in Italy and in Burma. Bill Mauldin even drew a cartoon about one- it is shown being led down a steep hill, a wounded soldier astride, and the medic leading the mule is saying "I call her Florence Nightingale". 

Mountain Division - I can assure you the real citizens hereabouts would welcome the 10th or any mountain troops back up at Camp Hale (north a bit from Leadville). A columnist for the Denver Post, Ed Quillen, who lives in Salida, not far from Camp Hale, agrees with me. So screw the pampered princes up at Vail, let them ski someplace else.

                                                                   Bjorneby Walter

 US Army Urban Warfare Tactics

     I've just been having a read about the US Army new urban warfare tactics at and two things strike me -the comment that the M2/3 is nearly as wide as a M1, and the mention of "heatshields used for towing" by the M1A1 tanks.  The Bar armour racks I propose (
 would really help troops clamber up onto the roofs of M1s and M60Zs.

                                                                      Phil West  

World Policemen, except on US Borders

I keep hearing news reports of the reported hatred of the U.S. as a meddling world policeman at the Monterey, Mexico talks by seemingly all countries.  Why the hell don't we mind our own business and return all our "peacekeepers" and military personnel back to their families in the United States?  I admitted before I am a beginner at this so do not chastise me yet for being ignorant! 

I see several positive benefits to this overly simplified solution:  1. It brings thousands of military personnel home and gives us the capability to use them on our own soil to defend "The American Way" by: transferring them to police units to decrease crime in our cities, closing the many loopholes along the Mexican border and stopping illegal immigration, giving more personnel to the cause and change the policy on drugs and get the govt. to actually want to stop the illegal drugs in our country and lastly make sure we are completely secure from lunatics who see capitalism as evil and want to blow us up!   2. With all the (now) foreign trained people coming home the U.S. would be able to use them in the civilian population to help the success of our own country by finding our own oil and other fossil fuels necessary to keep up with the newest V10 and V12 motors coming out of Detroit.  3. We would save kajillions of dollars on having these personnel here instead of over there (wherever over there is). Use that money to improve public schooling, social programs for the elderly and maybe just maybe have a retirement plan worth something when I get to that age.  4. After their overseas experience we could incorporate them into our citizens again to rectify/fix/solve many of our own systematic issues regarding INS, immigration, tracking of terrorist activities and generally fix whatever else needs to be fixed.  5. It would also relieve us of the wonderful opportunity to blow Afghanistan and others back to the stone age and then send them billions of dollars to help rebuild the countries.  This is absolutely bizarre to me!  It reminds of the adage "Don't kick a man when he's down", but what we are doing is helping him get back up and dusting him off so he can kick our butts another day!  Why would we do that? 

I have never understood why we need to be involved all over the world and be the Policemen.  In so many cases it truly is none of our business and others do not want us there acting as if it is.  Why not let Israel and the Palestinians kill each other over what they feel is important, they have been doing it for hundreds of years and are finally getting really good at it.  Why take away their fun when we receive very little in return except more national debt when one of them asks us for money?  From the things I have read and heard when we do try and be nice by giving money to foreign countries in exchange for their assistance some future day, those foreign leaders get a really cool new house and a SUPER fat bank account in Switzerland while they deprive and starve their own citizens.  Also these same countries then turn their backs on us when we do need their help as we police two other countries who can't fight nice while we supply both sides with weapons.  In which former President Jimmy Carter replies that the way to solve that issue is to send more money?!  How stupid is that theory!  "Screw me once, shame on you; screw me twice, SHAME ON ME"!

     The bottom line is that we cannot force our democratic positions on the world.  Many do not see the value in our system, even as screwy as ours is sometimes.  Many foreign countries citizens like the way their government is treating them or at least do not recognize how they are being treated.  But why is it our job to step in first every time when in the past it truly has gotten us nowhere except increased national debt and increased hostility towards us that makes people include killing Americans in their religion as a way to get to heaven and say "Howdy do" to their maker? 

Somebody, PLEASE, explain this to me because I must be missing the boat as this seems completely illogical and not in the United States' best interests.  Let's return this country to one that people want to be integrated into and not one where they want to come and then cheer loudly when planes hit the World Trade Centers and kill our citizens! 

A concerned citizen who loves his country and wants it to be the best it can be

P.S. What is behind the newest idea by President Bush on encouraging illegal immigration by giving them citizenship when all it takes is for their brother to sign off on their character?  I generally like the President's decisions but he is wrong on this one!   

Ed. Bush is a corporate front man, and they want as much cheap labor flooding the USA as they can get.  They think American workers are greedy because we want heath care benefits and at least $10 a hour.