Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1) the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2) in the public domain, with free use granted for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2006 - 2008 by the respective authors. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Site contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com
Cori Dauber at Ranting Profs finally finds a mention of Brian Chontosh in the New York Times. Her take here.
The Coasties do more with less than anybody. Here's a nice pitch for them to get some modern tools to work with. The SBI is the Secure Borders Initiative.
With its increased responsibilities since 9/11, the Coast Guard is wearing out its equipment faster than ever. Deepwater, the Coast Guard modernization program funded by Congress before 9/11, envisioned retiring the service’s aging inventory of ships and planes over 30 years, gradually replacing them with an integrated set of assets including new vessels and sophisticated communications, computers, and sensors.Support the Coast Guard!
As the SBI makes progress on its five-year timeline of securing U.S. land borders, the sea border will certainly become an attractive route for smugglers. Congress’s 30-year timeline for Coast Guard modernization simply will not meet post-9/11 needs or support the SBI’s goals.
Speeding up Deepwater would make America safer by introducing more capable assets sooner. A faster modernization would also save as much as $3 billion. Buying units at a faster rate would reduce costs per unit, and more quickly retiring older equipment that is more expensive to operate and maintain would save money as well.
Jed Babbin asks: When do you think that letter will get printed?
There is so much mis-reporting about the successes of Iraq, even our generals sometimes get fed up sufficiently to write a letter to one of the offending papers. The Washington Post is one of the chief offenders, and has been for years. (If you have any doubts about it, see the ravings of WaPo Pentagon reporter Tom Ricks posted in yesterday's PowerLine.)
The latest offense by the Washington Post is another example of news manufacturing concocting stories in contravention of facts. Here's the letter Gen. Bill McCoy - who's in charge of construction projects in Iraq -- sent to the Washington Post on Sunday. They haven't printed it yet. Will they ever?
When I arrived here a year ago we planned to complete 3,200 reconstruction projects. Today we are focusing on the completion of 3,700 projects. We’ve started 3,500 of those projects and completed almost 2,800…and work is continuing! This is not a failure to meet our commitment to the Iraqi people as the article states. In some cases we are not executing the same projects — we have changed to meet new priorities of three government changes in Iraq since our arrival — but in all cases, rest assured, these projects will be completed. We discussed this at length with the reporter…and he was taking notes and recording our conversations.
We told the reporter that, while 141 health clinic construction projects were taken away from a U.S. contractor who failed to perform, they were re-awarded to Iraqi contractors who are already demonstrating progress, have improved quality and shown their great desire to work with the United States to help Iraq improve … and they are doing so phenomenally!
We did talk to the reporter about on electricity. Three-quarters of Iraq gets twice as much electricity today as they did before the war. Furthermore, we are working with the Minister of Electricity to improve the situation in Baghdad daily and have doubled the hours of power from four to eight in the capitol in the last six months in spite of the fact that demand is markedly increased with Iraqis’ new ability to buy personal electrical products.
What is truly amazing to me is that we took the reporter to the Nasiriyah prison project and, while it is true that we terminated the prime U.S. contractor for failure to perform, the Iraqi sub-contractor continues to work there (now directly for us) and his progress and quality have improved significantly ... and he saw that! We are not turning unfinished work over to the Iraqis as he stated in his article; we are fulfilling the U.S. commitment to the people of Iraq and using Iraqis to do it!
But this sounds different.
I wrote in a posting a year ago that the Korean government at least owes the United States military an honorable face saving redeployment of forces from the peninsula. My argument centers around that if the Korean government wanted USFK to reduce or redeploy forces from the peninsula it should be done in a face saving way in which it doesn't appear that the US is retreating from South Korea due to rabid anti-Americanism running out of control in the country. The US should be able to redeploy forces off the peninsula with honor; however the ruling South Korean government thinks otherwise:
Seoul also insists on the loaded term withdrawal as the official designation for the project. "Since the issue first came up, the U.S. has asked Korea not use the word 'withdrawal'," the government official said. "But Cheong Wa Dae at the urging of the National Security Council has insisted.
The above comment was made in reference to the negotiations currently going on between the US and Korean governments over the handover of war time operational control of the ROK military and the US force reductions on the peninsula. The current Korean government is openly anti-American and seems determined to make the reduction of USFK an embarrassing "withdrawal" for the United States with public comments from the government and the Korean President Roh Moo-hyun about the US using failed policy with North Korea, encouragement of anti-Americanism in Korea, delay of the Camp Humphreys camp consolidation plan with violent anti-US protests, giving government subsidies to these violent anti-US groups, the fraudulent environmental issue, distribution of pro-North Korea propaganda in Seoul, and the denying of a bombing range for the US Air Force for a few quick recent examples off the top of my head.
All of this is maybe reaching a point where the US government may have had enough:
The U.S. is playing tit-for-tat by offering to hand over wartime operational control of troops to Korea at what experts say is the unfeasibly early date of 2009-2010, a high-ranking official speculated Monday. Seoul aims at the withdrawal of wartime control of Korean troops, as it is officially termed, in six years time. "Perhaps this is a counterattack motivated by anger because [U.S. authorities] feel Korea is seeking the 2012 withdrawal for political reasons," the official said.
A Korean source quoted a U.S. official as saying in recent bilateral discussions that Korea will not realistically be ready to exercise independent control of its forces even by 2012, but since that deadline appeared to be politically motivated, there was no reason for Washington to cling to military logic either.
The above statement comes on the heels of the uni-lateral handover of vacated USFK camps plus an announcement today of further USFK troop reductions below the 25,000 number agreed upon with the South Korean government:
The United States will lower troop levels in South Korea beyond a previously agreed reduction to 25,000, but the cut will not be "substantial," a senior defense official said on Monday. "As the adjustments (in capabilities) take place, there will be a reduction in the number of U.S. forces located in the Republic of Korea beyond the level of 25,000 that we've currently agreed to," the official said.
What the current South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is trying to do is score domestic points with his political base in South Korea for standing up to the US on what are basically hypocritical and demagogued issues, while at the same time avoiding the fall out of a USFK pull out during his presidency. The Korean president is limited to one 5 year term and next year President Roh's term ends and with approval ratings in the 20 percentile he will probably leave office as the greatest lame duck president in Korean history. His unpopularity will probably open the door for a South Korean conservative to regain the presidency.
However, if President Roh can keep the operational control handover date at 2012, that would mean the possible conservative president in power at the time will be blamed for when the country's economy bottoms out from the USFK pull out. A pull out does not happen over night. It will probably be a 2 year process which if the operational control happens in 2012 that means 2010 the first US forces will start to leave the country, right in the middle of the presidency of the next Korean president. This would open the door for another Korean liberal to take power in the 2012 election if that president is held responsible for the country's economic woes. However, if the hand over happens in 2009 that means the first forces will start pulling out next year, during President Roh's term in office. Any bottoming out of the Korean economy will fall squarely on his shoulders and will forever be his legacy as he leaves office.
The old guard of Korea's security understands very well the game that President Roh is playing and have now begun mobilizing to stop the hand over of operational control from the US to Korea:
A group of senior military experts including 13 former defense ministers have urged Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung to stop seeking the return of wartime operational control from the U.S. The meeting came at Yoon's invitation on Wednesday.
It is rare for the contents of such a meeting to be made public, especially when it focuses on a call to end a core government project.
The group included Lee Sang-hoon and other former defense ministers as well as retired Gen. Paik Sun-yup and former vice defense minister Lee Jung-rin. They said now is not the time to reclaim wartime operational control of troops but rather the moment to strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance.
These old defense ministers fought and lived through the Korean War plus helped build the country into the economic miracle that is today, knowing full well it would not have been possible without the assistance of the United States. So now they see one Korean presidency undoing the 50 years of work they have done to keep the US-Korea alliance strong and beneficial to the economy and most importantly the security of South Korea. In fact this is the advice that these ministers have given to USFK officials:
I've sought a meeting with Gen. [Bell], the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea. If I meet him, I'll suggest that he ignores what the South Korean government says.
These statements have even led some to speculate that South Korea may be headed for a military coup if the current Roh policies remain in effect. Military coups have happened before in South Korea so it wouldn't be stretch to say it couldn't happen again. For the sake of South Korean democracy let's hope this doesn't occur and that these issues can be worked out before something drastic such as a military coup happens.
Obviously it is interesting times in South Korea and the coming months are really going to shape the future of Korea for decades to come. The South Korean media has now circled the wagons and have become extremely critical of the Korean president with articles such this, this, this, and this. All these competing dynamics in South Korea means that for USFK, leaving the country with honor is easier said than done.
However, shouldn't liberation from the Japanese after World War II, 36,000 lives lost during the Korean War, and over 50 years of stability and economic development on the Korean peninsula provided by the United States be at least worth an honorable redeployment of US forces from the Korean peninsula? Is that asking too much?All done!
A bitter-sweet article in the NYT about some Marines of Arab extraction and the problems they have with their family, friends, and community when they come back. No yellow ribbons, no welcome home parties, no Blue Stars in windows. Makes you proud of these Marines, and thankful that you have a better support system at home (imagine your wife protesting against what you are trying to do, because THEY not YOU are “her people”). BTW, I like Ace. I know a few Aces. All sorts of colors and extractions, but they are the same to me.
OK, Maybe they're just lost...
FBI Warns Law Enforcement to Look Out for 11 Missing Egyptian Exchange Students
The FBI alerted state and local authorities Monday to be on the lookout for 11 Egyptian exchange students who arrived in the U.S. last month but never showed up for class.
The men, who range in age from 18 to 22, were scheduled to attend a month-long program in U.S. history and culture, plus English language instruction, at Montana State University along with six other students. The group flew from Cairo and arrived in the U.S. on July 29. All entered the U.S. legally, but officials said the no-shows violated the terms of their visas and that the government would likely send them home once they turn up.
FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko emphasized that there was no indication that the men were involved in any illicit activity.
From Fox News... HERE
Brian Fountaine has “smoke in his blood,” a condition that was passed on to him by his father and grandfather, two Boston firefighters who spent their lives in service to our city.
Fountaine, 24, has every intention of becoming the third generation in that heroic bloodline, a goal he set as a determined little boy, one of the many kids in Dorchester who played in his daddy’s BFD bunker gear.
But Fountaine may become the first Boston firefighter to work with prosthetic feet. The Army sergeant lost his lower legs in a bomb blast in Iraq on June 8.
Heh - a reminder that the Cuban regime is following a very worn playbook.
[this entire post pre-empted by Chap's post]
(semi-substance over at my place)
Tom Ricks regrets saying what he said.
HH: Great to have you here. I want to spend the vast bulk of our time on Fiasco and Iraq, but first, yesterday, you were on with Howard Kurtz' Reliable Sources, CNN, and in response to a question, you said that some military analyst had told you that Israel had, "purposefully left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon." That was reported on Powerline, Rush Limbaugh read it on the air today, quite a controversy. Anything to add to it, Thomas Ricks?
TR- Yeah, I wish I'd kept my mouth shut. What I said was accurate, that in an off-the-record conversation with some military analysts, a couple had said to me that they thought it was a smart strategy to leave some rocket pockets in place to help the Israelis shape public perceptions, and give their forces more freedom of maneuver in Lebanon. They weren't saying it was a bad strategy. They thought it was pretty intelligent, if it were the case. But I've since heard today from some very smart, well-informed people, that while such a strategy might be logical, and even morally defensible, that they thought the Israeli public just wouldn't stand for it, and they also expressed personal dismay to me that I had passed on the thought, which they thought was irresponsible.
HH: Do you want to name any of the analysts?
TR: No, it was an off-the-record conversation, and I want to honor that confidence.
HH: Okay, last question. Do you think they were leading you on at that point, or just telling you what they honestly meant?
TR: No, I think...I know from the context of the conversation, it was about many different things. That came up as a part of the conversation. These are very good, smart, retired U.S. military officers.