Most Americans only know what multi-national corporations allow on television or in major newspapers and magazines.   We often encounter interesting military information ignored by the corporate "mainstream" press, and post it in our member Library to stimulate thought and discussion.  We post last year's G2 Gems here for visitors.

December 2003 - Where did the money for the Iraqi army go?

     Six months ago, an insider company run by former Generals, Vinnell, received a $48 million contract to train Iraqi soldiers.  This should be easy since some 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers were looking for work.  Now we learn they have only managed to train a 900-man infantry unit, and half of those quit because basic pay was just $60 a month.  However, $60 x 6 months x 900 soldiers equals just $324,000 for pay.  So what happened to the other $47.7 million dollars paid to Vinnell?  Even if Vinnell trains some 8000 Iraqis for the nine battalions it has promised, payroll will not exceed $5 million.  So where did the other $43 million go?

December 2003 - Pentagon pays 700 to tour South East Asia all year

     It has been over 30 years since American troops left South Vietnam.  However, the Department of Defense maintains a team of 700 personnel to wander Indochina to search for remains.  They have only recovered 700 since the war ended, and are lucky to find any bones next year.  This is an extravagant waste.  If American remains are discovered by someone, a team should be dispatched to ensure proper burial.  However, it's well past time to transfer these 700 tourists to real military units.

November 2003 - Planning is Bad

     Vice Chairmen of the Joint Staff, General Peter Pace told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the Bush administration had put off much of the planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war -- launched on March 20 -- out of concern such planning would bring on the conflict.  "We did not want to have planning for the post war make the war inevitable. We did not want to do anything that would prejudge or somehow preordain that there was definitely going to be a war," he said.  He did not explain why planning for the war itself would not make it inevitable.

October 2003 - The Myth that American Deaths in Iraq don't matter

     One myth created to excuse the Iraq blunder, which has killed over 300 GIs, is that 300 would have died anyway in normal accidents back in the USA.  So I checked the Army Safety Center and discovered this is totally false.  It shows that 253 soldiers died from on duty accidents in FY2003, up for the three year average of 201.  That's about 20% higher, which reflects the 20% more manpower of Army and National Guard reservists.  Off-duty accidents remain unchanged. However, that still leaves 300 GIs killed from hostile fire in Iraq; albeit only 250 are soldiers.  All those GIs would still be alive today if the USA hadn't invaded Iraq, so don't tell their families they would have died anyway.

U.S. Army Accident Information

Ground Accident Statistics for the Current Fiscal Year

As of 30 September 2003

This report reflects cumulative statistical information for various types of ground mishap categories beginning on 01 October thru 30 September of each fiscal year referenced below. As of 30 September 2003 the Army has experienced a total of reported Class A ground accidents in FY2004. From this total, were on-duty accidents and were off-duty accidents. As a result of these combined on-duty and off-duty ground accidents, the Army has lost soldiers in FY2004. Army accident classifications disclaimer

Ground Class A Accidents (On-duty & Off-Duty)
  Number of Accidents Percent Comparisons
  01-Oct thru 30-Sep  
Acdt Category FY2004 FY2003 FY2002 FY2001 3-Yr Avg FY2004 vs. FY2003 FY2004 vs. 3 Yr Avg
Total Ground (On-Duty) 0 123 49 37 70 N/A N/A
Total Ground (Off-Duty) 0 130 137 126 131 N/A N/A
Total Ground (Class A) 0 253 186 163 201 N/A N/A

September 2003 - A War Crime Or an Act of War?

     The latest spin from the White House is how evil Saddam gassed his own people.  This appeared last January in the New York Times, yet no one seems to have noticed.

January 31, 2003, Friday

By Stephen C. Pelletiere ( Op-Ed ) 1128 words
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: ''The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.''

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's ''gassing its own people,'' specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.

In fact, those who really feel that the disaster at Halabja has bearing on today might want to consider a different question: Why was Iran so keen on taking the town? A closer look may shed light on America's impetus to invade Iraq.

We are constantly reminded that Iraq has perhaps the world's largest reserves of oil. But in a regional and perhaps even geopolitical sense, it may be more important that Iraq has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, there are the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers in the north of the country. Iraq was covered with irrigation works by the sixth century A.D., and was a granary for the region.

Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged for decades -- not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but by controlling its water. Even if America didn't occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities would open up for American companies.

All that is needed to get us into war is one clear reason for acting, one that would be generally persuasive. But efforts to link the Iraqis directly to Osama bin Laden have proved inconclusive. Assertions that Iraq threatens its neighbors have also failed to create much resolve; in its present debilitated condition -- thanks to United Nations sanctions -- Iraq's conventional forces threaten no one.

Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja.

Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?

September 2003 - Smoking Gun on Iraq

     Here is hard proof that the Bush administration planned to attack Iraq long ago.  A US Army website explains the first contract to rebuild and run Iraqi oilfields was awarded in December 2001 to Brown and Root, which is part of a company which gave Dick Cheney $20 million in severance pay for five years of service when Cheney quit to become VP after he set up a disastrous deal to buy Dresser industries.

Here is the key part: 


- The planning effort was done by Brown & Root Services (BRS)* under a task order issued under the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract. The Commander, CENTCOM, identified a requirement for contingency planning for repairing and providing for continuity of operations of the Iraqi oil infrastructure. This included planning for extinguishing oil well fires and assessing damage to oil facilities in the immediate aftermath of hostilities. The competitively awarded LOGCAP contract is used to develop plans to address such requirements of Combatant Commanders. When a specific plan is needed, a task order is issued under the LOGCAP contract.

- The Army Field Support Command also issued a letter contract to the planning contractor, BRS, that was primarily for pre-positioning of fire fighting equipment and the staffing and training of damage assessment teams that could be ready to deploy on short notice. This effort was necessary to enable rapid response to oil well fires. The estimated cost plus fixed fee of this contract is $37.5 million.

*The government contracted with BRS to perform the planning effort because BRS is the Army's contractor for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). The LOGCAP contract is used to develop plans to address such requirements of Combatant Commanders. When a specific plan is needed, a task order is issued under the contract. The current LOGCAP contract was awarded to BRS on December 14, 2001, after a competitive source selection process. This is the third LOGCAP contract in a series of LOGCAP contracts that have provided capability to support global contingencies since 1992. The first LOGCAP contract was held by BRS from 1992-1996. The second LOGCAP contract was awarded after competition to DynCorp from 1997-2002. The latest competition resulted in the December 2001 award of the third LOGCAP to BRS.

August 2003 - Army Support the Arts

    The US Army is so flush with cash that it donated $250,000 to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, according the the Army Times.  This places them at the "Laureates' Circle" level, so Generals and their wives get free parking, box seats, and admission to private cast parties.  

August 2003 - USA #7

   The 2003 UN Human Development Index (pdf): Norway #1, Australia #4, USA #7, and the UK #13, after Ireland.  Looks like the "mother country" is getting old.

August 2003 - Key Marines

      Which element of the US Marine Corps Reserves is so important that it is fully manned with active duty personnel?  The marching band, of course!

July 2003 - War is a Racket

It's nice to see this classic back in print.  From

War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General
by Smedley D. Butler, Adam Parfrey (Introduction)

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June 2003 - Unexploded Ordnance

     The Pentagon has a website which lists the hundreds of areas in the USA which contain unexploded military ordnance (e.g. bombs, missiles, shells).  Ordnance is often misspelled by people everywhere as ordinance, the word which refers to a law.

May 2003 - Marine Corps Lessons Learned

A note from a First Sergeant with a battalion that just pulled out of Iraq and is sailing home after 10 months at sea and Iraq as part of 24 MEU: 


Sir, without making a big formal list at this time.

Start a sleep plan before you go ashore and ensure your Marines sleep.
No vehicle accidents because we made Marines sleep.

SAPIE Plates in the flacks.  Yes they are heavy but worked.

Forced hydration works.

"Stand to" morning and evening no matter what.  Plan around these events if you can.

MOLLIE LBV is crap.  We put all of our gear on the flak jacket.

Know how to read and do everything off a 1:100,000 map or even LAT Long.

GPS does work.  Use check points.  We made maps of towns and routes by hand.
Several NAMs going to LCpl's who drew copies of maps and routes at all hours.  Great work!

Field Hygiene.  Marines got sick.  Some pretty bad.  Look at your Marines daily if you can.
Ask questions.  Marines will not tell you they are sick until they go down hard.  They are a proud bunch.

Know first aid.  Make it a top training event.  Get medical supplies and put them in each vehicle.
We used a ammo can with pressure dressings and IV's.  Teach your Marines how to give IV's.

Logistics drove operations.  Ask the 4 before you do any event.  We made some long moves,
as long as 15 hours on the road at a time.  Plan your supplies.  Fuel was the key more than water.
There is always room for some chow.

NVG's work.  Use them.  All night devices worked great.  Batteries can be an issue.  Plan!

A combat load is heavy on the Marines and the vehicles.  Take only what you need.

Always plan fire support.  We held a major road intersection in the middle of nowhere.
We used Mortars as security and out of the blue we needed Mortar fire.  Plan for it.
Lay guns in all four directions for 360 coverage.  Plan on call targets.  Plan for and use illum.

Training in combat?  You bet.  Talk through it, walk through it.  Use sticks and rocks.
Get the Cpl up there to brief what is going on.  He knows more than most.
Immediate action drills for everything.

MOPP gear is hot.  Plan for it.  Marines wore nothing under the MOPP gear to stay cool.
Do NBC drills.  Do NBC drills while driving.

Study Convoy operations.  If you have CAAT, JAV, or LAR put them in charge and have them run the convoy.  You may be senior but they know how to do this and this lets commanders worry about the bigger picture.  Brief your convoys.  Never "just drive away".  Give each vehicle a number, from 1 to the very end.

Some convoys were big.  We went from 1 to 75.  Know the senior man in each vehicle.
Know what is in you convoy.  An avenger has FLIR.  Use everything to your advantage.
Forget call signs.  Use the vehicle numbers.  It worked!

Plan to have no air on station.  We had none.  Plan for 81's hip shoots.

Plan for a react force for any major event.  Have that reserve ready.  We used it several times.
CAAT, LAR, JAV, even 5 trucks of HQ type guys with SAWS is better than nothing.

Plan for vehicle recovery and brief it.  Get more tow bars.  Use tow straps.
Spread you MT Mechs all over the BLT.  These guys saved us everyday.

Know how to re-trans VHF comm and plan for it.  We talked 65k with it.  Know HF and use it.

PM everything as time permits.
Our vehicles never ran better because the Marines did not want to get stuck on the side of the road.
If a vehicle goes down in a convoy give them 5 minutes and after that tow it.
If several go down plan for multiple tows.  If the situation is bad,
plan to grab mission type gear and radios and blow the vehicle.
You can get another vehicle if it prevents a fire fight.

Use panel markers, IR Chemlites and STROBES to ID you vehicles and positions.  Saves lives.

Know how to enter and exit friendly lines on foot and in vehicle.
With and without comm.  3X2 with NVG's works.

Use the LEATHERNECK to let friendly units know when fire is outgoing.
This really applies to mortars.  Marines get really jumpy when mortars start going off.

EOD is your friend.  Don't blow enemy weapons on your own unless you have to.
Mark it, get the grid and call EOD.

Plan for medivac.  On foot, vehicles and air.  Don't count on the air.  Look for LZ's at all times.

Get you Marines mail to them even if it means shooting your way to them with LAV's.
They get mail and they will do anything for you.

Use the SAT Phone.  Forget the cost.  Grab a few young Marines when you can and let them call home.
That Marine could lead the entire Bn after he talks to his wife after a fire fight.

Never baby your Marines.  Expect the world from them.  Never back off.
They want to show you they can do the job.  When you think you need a SSgt to do the job,
grab a Cpl or Sgt and he will do it better and faster.

NCO's run the fight no matter how much you get on the radio.
Sit back and listen to them.  You might just learn something from them.

LAV's rule the desert.  Use them if you have them.

Big convoy on the hardball?  At night?  Turn the lights on and go fast as the slowest vehicle.
Point a few dozen machineguns outboard and drive like hell.
LAV's and 7 tons can do 65 at night on the hardball.  Tell you Marines to stay off the roads at night.
Convoys will go by on short notice.
It's better to be going fast and being able to see than trying to have 75 vehicles going 20 MPH on NVG's.

Driving or walking ensure you are looking up, down, left and right at all times.

A clean weapon is a happy weapon.  Plan for it.  Inspect them.

Strip everything off your vehicles that you don't need.  Sandbag your vehicles.
Carry as much ammo as you can.  Strip highback vehicles down.
Hang the packs on the sides and get as many rifles pointing left and right as you can.
Take the doors off everything except hardbacks and FAV's.
Never let the a-driver attach the handset to his helmet strap.
You need to be able to get out of the vehicle fast.  Pistols suck.
Bring and use every weapon.  Shotguns are great at close ranges.

Dig holes, dig many of them.  Use demo if you have to.  Dig down at all cost.
Cant dig down?  Use as many sandbags as you can to build up.

Look at your sectors of fire.  This really applies at night.
Even if it is only two guys with pistols you need to ensure full coverage.

Use snipers.  They saved use many times.  Give them a mission and let them go.

If you have to stop and get out of the vehicles, find or make cover.  Vehicles attract bullets.

We had no problem with Marines using lights at night because they did not use them at all.
They will learn to do everything in total darkness.

Even in combat you need to use ground guides around friendly units.
Even if it is an emergency!  We had no close calls because of this.

Everything you put on a map or write down is classified.  Burn it when done.

Burn your trash when you leave a pos.  Put it all in a fighting hole and put fuel on it and leave.

Remember all the call signs.  Remember every net ID.  Know the call signs and net IDs of higher units.
If other units are in the area but not part of your MEU ensure you can talk to them.
Go through great pains to do this.  It prevents accidents.

Kids were everywhere.  Don't throw anything out of the vehicles.
Bring OC spray, yes even to combat.  Works great on dogs, kids and POWS.

Know how to do a real vehicle checkpoint.  Stand off distance.
Wire, obstacles, sandbags, dig holes.  We used everything we could get our hands on.
We used old cars for cover and used a forklift to move them.
Cover your checkpoints with heavy fire.
Know what to do if you suspect a IED on a vehicle or person.
Marines are now experts at checking vehicles. 

Know how to search a vehicle and people day and night.

Get the chaplain to your pos even if you have to fight your way to him.
We did Easter service after stand to at 0300Z.

Ensure you brief any attachments on everything that is going on.
Nothing is too small to forget.  Assign them holes.

No one has too much rank to dig.

Plan for where you put your heads.  It's a big deal with over 200 Marines in a matter of hours.

Talk to any units in the area.  Ask questions.  You will learn so much from them.
Talk to the Army.  They do good things also.

A can of dip, cigar, pack of smokes and a hand shake go along way.  A cup of coffee helps.
Make a cup if you can and give half to a young Marine at stand to and he will remember it.

Watch your Marines eyes.  They tell you everything.
Look at your NCO's eyes and you know what is going on.

Buy a short waive radio and get the news.  Write it down under a poncho at 0200.
Get the baseball scores out to the Marines and you are a hero.

Have all the e-mail addresses of your Marine's wives.
Get to any HHQ and send a blanket e-mail to all of them.

It's OK to allow the Marines to take their blouse off if it is hot.
Their skins gets tough really fast.
If it's really hot the can go around without blousing their boots.
Don't worry SgtMaj, they won't do it in the rear.

Promote your Marines on time if you can.
We promoted a Marine in 81's to Merit SSgt in the field a few hours after a fire fight.
Can't begin to put a price on that.

If nothing is going on make the junior Marines sleep and you watch the radios for a few hours.

Every Marine is a driver and should have a license.  In Weapons Company,
that needs to be every Marine from the CO down.

Know what a "short count" is and demand you use them.

Ensure your Marines write letters on anything they can get their hands on.
MRE boxes work great.  I put a ammo can on my vehicle for outgoing mail.
Get the mail out.  There is always a way.  Pass if off to other units if you have to.
Find a helo and give him your mail.  Give him a can of dip to do it for you.

Know how to do a range card on a piece of MRE box.  Use the GVS-5.
We got a distance to everything.  Get the word out.
If you stop to fix a vehicle close to a town, get the distance to a few points and get the word out.
You will hear Marines making adjustments on their sights.  Only hits count.
Know how to estimate range day and night.

Sir, sorry for going on and on but there is so much more.

Semper Fi, 1stSgt B

April 2003 - Iraq Humor

Saddam Hussein's look-a-likes were summoned to a Baghdad hospital, collected in a private room, and asked to wait.  Shortly, a doctor appeared before them. He bid them, "Good morning," and then announced:
"I have some good news, and I have some bad news."

 "The good news is that Saddam Hussein is alive. He is here in this hospital."

 "The bad news is that he has lost an arm."

March 2003 - V Corps Lessons Learned

This is from the V Corps CSM and the V Corp Master Gunner. To-the-point common sense info. Author requests widest distro, pls. HTW
From SFC XXXX (V Corps MG)

 CSM Preston and I went out to visit with the soldiers of 3-7 CAV today.  This unit has been fighting since day 1 as they moved from Kuwait to AS SAMAWAH to AN NAJAF. CSM Perhane took us to see two of his troops. I have encapsulated the comments made by the leadership and soldiers below.


Morale is high; soldiers have gotten their battle focus straight. Soldiers did not expect the well-trained para-military troops they have been facing. Weapons systems are performing well, especially the 25mm DU and 7.62. Gas plugs on the 7.62mm MG have been the biggest maintenance issue. Units have now taken the spare barrel gas plug; put it in a 7.62 ammo can with enough JP-8 to cover the plug. This self cleans the gas plug as the mission continues. The gunner can now change gas plugs in a manner of seconds and then drops the dirty one in the JP-8. This has worked very well for the units. Everyone I talked to said to bring extra gas plugs! There has been a few ammunition problems, mainly wrong ammunition being delivered to units. The CAV OH-58D's were delivered L model Hellfire's that are not compatible with the OH-58D's. Division was able to cross level ammunition within the division but it still took time.

Additionally, Division was short on its initial draw of UBL. Unit has had several combat losses. Enemy has developed the TTP of putting an AA Gun in the back of a pickup and shooting into the rear of a tank (Engine compartment) The CAV lost one tank initially to this tactic and then a second after the tank went into a ditch. NOTE: This happened during a sand/dust storm that reduced visibility to less the 5 meters at times.

On the good news front, the tank that got hit second also took RPG rounds and a Mortar round to the blowout panels. Good news because the ammunition cooked off with the driver trapped in the engine compartment and the blast doors worked as advertised. Driver was later extricated with no injuries.

21 of 27 tanks are using fleet zero for SABOT and 17 of 27 for HEAT. Deviations for discrete zero have been in the .01 to .02 range (Mainly up and left).

The MCD for the Bradley has not been effective at all. Mainly due to the fact that it requires the gunner to track the incoming missile taking him away from the battle. It also makes the TOW launcher inop while tracking. They are not using it, period.

Call for Fire has become the norm. A reactive FSO has motivated all troops to utilize his systems and Call for Fire is now a norm and soldiers/leader's are getting really good at it. FSO's take note!

Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance...unit has had very minor maintenance issues mainly due to good maintenance. Focus changed across the board from "it's on let's get it down" They wish they had not settled for the "it's on order" before they deployed across the LD. Civilian graphite is the key (Cooper or Liquid Wrench)...according to several PSG's. Weapons gum up bad with CLP. 15W/40 is the current lubricant of use. Fort Knox.... get this going now....

Boresight daily.... units have been boresighting normally in the morning and doing an MRS update at night. Some units actually do two a day but norm has been one.

Clean brass out of catchers and turret rings at every opportunity. Several Brad turrets jammed during engagements due to brass. PAQ4's and PVS-7B's are not help. Would rather have one PAS-13 per vehicle. Much better view than PAQ4 or PVS7B's. Unit had to cross level M4's within the troop due to the close-in combat they have seen. They have taken to using captured AK-47's as crew protection weapons on tanks and Bradleys. Guys were literally shooting enemy with 9mm from turrets in the dust storm.

Bradley's need a bustle rack or storage box. With the amount of ammunition units are carrying they don't have enough room on their tracks. Some units have designed and locally purchased storage boxes. Recommended units take specs to the BATMOBILE Machine shop and have them built if able to.

COMMO for dismounts is a problem. Units do not have a means for Dismounts to communicate without taking a radio from the brad and carrying a manpack. This is a slow time consuming process that should not have to occur. A field phone, SABER Radio or squad radios would be a great asset.

Remain Vigilant!  Be Paranoid!

Learn to wear heavy flak jackets in the turret. Chin defilade is now the norm.

JRTC Tactics most resembles the battlefield that we are currently facing. Dual radios in tracks are needed.
On the enemy:  Smart, Flexible, Utilizing all means at their disposal. They have moved ammo in civilian trucks, held weapons to their own people's heads, and pretended to be doctors' with asthmatic children. Pretend to surrender then open fire. Units recommend that you err on the side of precaution. Put all civilians down before they get close to you. SEARCH EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. Divorce the personnel from their vehicle be prepared for a car bomb.

Please pass this on to all tank/Bradley companies and anyone else who you think could benefit from these lessons learned. These fine troopers have been down the road and want follow on forces to be prepared. Not once was I asked when they would be going home. They had just come out of 7 days of continuous combat ops, gotten a good night's sleep, pulled some maintenance and are rearing to get on with the job. I did not observe any loss of focus or shirking by the troops. As one 1SG put it "Even the meatball's seem to get their act together when the bullets fly!"


V Corps 

March 2003 - M1A1 Proves Tough

     First day operations and a Marine Cobra helicopter got trigger happy.  Shot a Hellfire missile through the skirts and in the hull of this Marine Corps M1A1 tank.  The tank got bounced around but no injuries.

March 2003 - Guarding whose coast?

     As the USA prepares for war with Iraq and a major terror attack, "Aviation Week" reports in its 03-03-03 issue that 15% of US Coast Guard patrol boats have been sent to the Persian Gulf to protect American ships.

March 2003 - Ordering Pork

Many people think "pork" in defense bills is something Congress dreams up and adds over the protests of Department of Defense (DoD) officials. Not so.  The thousands of dubious-sounding local projects that end up in defense legislation most commonly result from a rotating catchall that starts and ends with someone in a suit or a uniform in DoD. Senators and representatives are just the errand-boys.

I should know: During most of the last 30 years, I was involved in the Capitol Hill pork process, one way or another, up to my eyeballs.  As the fiscal 2004 defense authorization and appropriations bills wend their way through Congress, a look inside the process may prove instructive. But parents of small children are advised not to let their kids keep on reading. This is not a subject for the very young or the squeamish.

This year, as always, the phones of congressional defense staffers have been ringing since January. Most of the calls are not about the war, or even complaints about jet noise at the local Air Force base. It's the nice lobbyist from Boeing, or the state university, or the local DoD lab, or some other smiling supplicant, including some in uniform, who wants a piece of the defense budget. If the nice lobbyist isn't from DoD, he has probably been talking to contacts in DoD. He has some suggestions for how the senator can help constituents and, of course, the nice lobbyist.

If he is a regular on Capitol Hill, and especially if he's wearing a uniform, then the nice lobbyist may not need to do much more than say what he's after when he contacts the senator's staff. If the supplicant is a professor after a university research project, the cost might be only a few million or so; if he's a general looking for a VIP transport aircraft (a perennial favorite), the price could be tens of millions.  However, if the importuning one is a newcomer, then he may need to come in and brief the staffer. If the morsel being sought has significance, he may also have to meet the boss.  Not to worry. If he gets into the senator's office, the senator will be very accommodating after just a few questions (unless the lobbyist really blows the presentation).

Of course, there is the odd request that is so outrageous that it could be an embarrassment to any member of Congress sponsoring it. Most Senate offices are quite wary of people they sense will get them into trouble. They will escort a detected loon or sleaze quickly, but politely, out the door, at least most of the time.  Loons and slimeballs notwithstanding, the number of requests that are turned down can absolutely, positively be counted on the fingers of one hand. Far more proposed increases to the budget are embraced than are rejected.

For fiscal 2003, I prepared, as I did each year, a spreadsheet to help me keep track of the requests my boss, Sen. Pete Domenici (R- N.M.) wanted to add to the defense appropriations bill. It went on for 23 pages covering 88 items before I left the job last June.  Each member then sends this "pork list" to the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee with a very-repeat, very- respectful cover letter.

A few weeks pass. Then subcommittee staffers hand out envelopes containing the fate of thousands of requests. As staffers who helped write the pork lists anxiously go over their results, the subcommittee staff explains that two factors influenced how well senators did: 1) the availability of funds, and 2) whether the senator did or did not vote for the committee's last defense bill.

One staff director was often blunt. If you helped us, we helped you, was his frequent message.  Before the envelopes are handed out, though, the defense subcommittee staff has spent weeks communicating with DoD project managers, deputy assistant secretaries, base commanders, and regional and service commanders asking if they want what is being requested.  If the DoD contact says no, the project is pretty much a dead duck. If the answer is yes, then the project only has to pass the test of how well behaved the sponsoring senator has been in the eyes of the "old bulls" on the Appropriations panel. It's very much the same story with the "authorizers" on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Again, most pork is spending that someone in DoD wanted to include in the original defense budget. Having failed to pass muster in the official budget review, the DoD sponsor, or his industry or university or contractor surrogate, uses the back door in Congress to clutch onto the additional money needed. Getting a hold of the lucre depends on the answer the Appropriations or Armed Services staffer hears from the DoD manager the staffer has contacted about the project. And, yes, the staffer may very well be asking the same civilian bureaucrat, or uniformed "milicrat," who got the back-door process started by making, or provoking, the original phone call or visit to the senator's office.

In DoD, there are more catches than just No. 22.  It's a process that makes everybody happy: The DoD manager finally gets the spending he wants, the nice lobbyist has completed his mission, the "old bull" senator gets to dispense goodies, the staffer gets to play power broker, and the recipient senators broadcast how effective they've been at bringing home the bacon, especially around election time.

Of course, the president has seen his budget converted into an ever expanding money-spending machine. And the defense secretary has been circumvented by his own bureaucracy, which has wedged back into the budget all manner of stuff the secretary thought he had killed.  Recent defense secretaries, though, including the current one, seem to have no problem with this. Last year, Donald Rumsfeld sat idly by as his own bureaucracy shredded his defense budget. This year should be no exception.

Authored by Winslow T. Wheeler, a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information, where he is writing a book on Congress and national security. Wheeler previously worked in the Senate and the General Accounting Office.

February 2003 - War Cartoon

Here is a humorous interactive think piece about the: Iraq conflict.

February 2003 - New Proposal to Fund Military Aviation

February 2003 - Israeli War Criminal Dead

     Israeli air force Colonel Ilan Ramon was among the dead when the Space Shuttle broke up over the southwestern United States 16 minutes before its scheduled landing.  The 48-year-old Israeli astronaut was a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force. He was also the youngest pilot in a team that bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Israel said the reactor was intended to develop nuclear weapons.  The unprovoked bombing killed several innocent Iraqis and was condemned by the United Nations and the United States as a crime.

      It may sound harsh to call Ramon a "war criminal", but what do you call someone who murders innocent people?  What I find shocking is the USA accepted him as an astronaut, especially at this time of Middle East tensions.  Now this incident is proof to some Arabs that Allah is on their side, making them more defiant.  I'm sure Israel has hundreds of qualified pilots without a "war criminal" stain on their record who could have do the job, NASA should have rejected Ramon.

January 2003 - Gulf War II

January 2003 - Blacklisting Critics

Blacklist Grounds American Passengers is interesting.  I wonder if I will end up on the no-fly list.

January 2003 - Navy-Marine VIPs party in Paris

While doing a V-22 search, I came across this page. 

The webmaster screwed up and didn't put this file in their password protected section, so a webcrawler found it.  Anyway, look at all these VIPs going to Paris, and all the V-22 people there even though the V-22 wasn't at the 2001 Paris Air Show because it was grounded.


Read Year 2002 G2 Gems