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Sunday, 28 April 2013


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You were away? Sorry, didn't notice. Oh Ok, I merely assumed you were 'stuck' battling a particularly stubborn bunch of hardy perennials during your regular religio-horticultural pennance. I like to imagine you trudging wearily, dressed in a rather fetching cassock and matching wellies, rake in hand, beseeching 'O LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? And did you have to give me such a bad (and itchy) case of the Narcissus, er Narcissi, ... bugger, daffodils?'

Interesting Speccy article (and comments). I suspect the problem there, pointed out a number of times in the comments, is the rural-city divide. The number of States, and even more Counties, that appear effectively as Democratic strongholds purely due to the votes of, perhaps, one city, beggars belief (just like Old Blighty then?)

It was, there if not here, intentional in the formation of a representative republic (with 'the majority' getting all the votes in counties, states and who they send to dc). Perhaps some 'rationalisation', with numbers counting, of course, but representatives er... representing the views of less populous areas (the majority of the country) actually standing a chance at getting elected?

Away from the cities my , admittedly limited, experience is you won't find many Democrats (on a recent trip to Idaho - most appeared slightly to the right of Ayn Rand). I wonder what DC would be like if they had proportional representation over the pond.

Well, I was going to say the same as Able. Been somewhere, have you? Who knew?

I must have read the same post day after day without knowing it. Things start to blur around here.

David. Our Brit Army leaders are PC. No more Mad Mitch that save Brit lives by using personal instinct and go for it!

I think I take a bit of an exception to the criticism of the Army, why?

Camp Bastion is ostensibly British, with our troops in charge, and guarding it, yes? The officer in charge is a brigadier, 2nd in command of 1 MEF. In other words his superior decides who, what, where and how many (and since he has so few troops, he's stuck with whatever they decide). That officer (a US Marine) decided to drastically reduce patrols, and it will have been his decision to replace British personnel in the towers with Tonganese (got to have a PC, multinational presence for the press you know). Notice how the only area attacked was an American one (as someone who has an amount of contact and experience in joint operations I can state categorically that the US military NEVER lets anyone else make decisions regarding their areas of interest, period. And tends to try to push their ideas on everyone elses as well). So, just how is it a poor showing for our lot - already under-staffed, withdrawn at US command, and US troops withdrawn also?

As to Basra (and yes, been there and have a collection of T-shirts and bits of metal in odd places to show it) the area was well secured, peaceful and relatively calm, with - and this is the important bit - 26000+ troops. US operations drove insurgents out of their areas whilst at the same time, in less than two months, the numbers of British troops was dropped to <9000. Imagine a scenario where 'peace-keeping' could be possible with such a paucity - there isn't one. The 'plan', 'strategy', 'manpower', etc. were whose command responsibility? Well, since Britain did not have any 'area of responsibility' in case it portrayed a 'nasty colonial' attempt to break up the country, that'll be the US then. So, knowing full well the reductions in manpower, knowing the movements and hostility being transferred into the area - the US left our troops hanging (again) so they could come in and 'save the day'.(the softly softly approach worked with sufficient troops - that in itself was something the US command hated vehemently and had to show as 'not an option')

Do I think our 'lords and masters' had a vague clue, a plan, or could find their proverbials with a map? No, but the troops were left swinging, and blaming them for political decisions is bad enough without lumping in decisions and policy 'dreamed up' in Washington and USCENTCOM.

Just Sayin' (apologies if appearing irate) - the perils of reading either the blatantly anti-military British press, or the blatantly pro-US (at least as compared to anyone elses military) US one - unbiased, factual information is in severe shortage in either. To me this appears as a (US) command FU and we're getting tarred to make sure they save face - well 'an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis' That!

[climbing carefully off my soap-box and going for a quiet lie down now]

Able (1): I'll have you know, Sir, I have never buggered a daffodil in my life!

Andra, don't kid a kidder, I just know that when I failed to show up for two days you chewed your nails with worry.

Dom, take more water with it - especially if what you were drinking came from JK!

Jimmy, I don't *know* that you are right but I *suspect* you are.

Able (2), I confess my own lack of knowledge of the details of this particular incident, however, I come across constant references in American reports of their irritation at Brit officers patronising them with their supposed superior knowledge of peace-keeping and counter-insurgency skills. Whichever way you look at it, Basra was a Class I fuck-up and so was the Brit operation in Helmand. Perhaps they were too thin on the ground - but how come no-one at top level had the guts to resign and go public? Instead they all hung in there muttering 'yes, prime minister' and 'no, prime minister' and 'may I kiss your arse, prime minister' whilst ticking off the days on their own personal 'demob calendar' when they knew, so long as they didn't rock the boat, that they would be able to slide their fat, useless arses onto those green benches in the Lords! (There, now I'm in a 'Mr. Grumpy' mood first thing Monday morning - thanks a million! I'll go and fetch the Monday Funny to cheer myself up!)

Apologies - I shall wait till you've had your coffee before annoying you in the future.

I agree about speaking out, but every senior officer is a 'political appointee' and your description describes them to a tee (the military merely reflects 'modern' Britain in that though, no?).

Again from my personal experience, the old saw of two nations divided by a common language is quite true. I wonder if supercilious 'superior' Brits were actually that at all or whether it was simply language, expression and cultural differences. (I was part of a panel evaluating a very experienced US officers CQB training advice [an after thought, probably there to serve the coffee] - he appeared shocked that the panel didn't express their 'unrestrained delight' at his presentation and demonstration - it had to be explained to him, an officer with a lot of contact with Brits, that restrained 'mmms' and 'not making any disparaging remarks' was about as effusive as he would ever see. Again, he was upset that some very experienced 'special' NCOs questioned and modified his approach [different weapon system, and previous experience pointing to different actions and behaviours] - it seems almost a constant that US military view their way as the best and only way - sometimes it is, but sometimes it can be tweaked - and that isn't 'disrespectful' as it seems to be taken by some). I remember being told of the 'difficulties' in Korea caused by exactly that - language, emphasis, emotional expression, etc.

I suppose what I was not doing (and not doing it badly as usual) was supporting 'high command' of either nation, but defending (to an extent) the troops who where vilified for 'following orders', trying to do the job with inadequate numbers and logistics and 'having no bloody option'.

Oh, and neither was I criticising the US troops (before JK misunderstands too - watching the skies for incoming as I type).

Oh, and I noticed whilst claiming no close conjugal relations with Dafs you didn't deny the cassock, wellies, rake or the fervent beseeching - so nice to see my imagination isn't too far off the mark.

Able, further to the cassock/wellies/rake, to say nothing of my entirely innocent relationship with my dafs, are you 'droning' me?

As to Anglo-American military frissons, as you know as well as me, it was ever thus! When mixed both sides go around waiting to be insulted. I would be the last one to point a finger at the 'Toms' but the senior ranks of the army seem to me to be useless careerists. For example, this notion that each time a Brigade was changed in Afghanistan, the entire HQ changed as well, thus losing the expertise of the former and allowing the latter to relearn the whole thing by making the same mistakes over again -and all so that sundry Brigadiers and Colonels could earn a medal for bugger all!

Agree, the the thing which worries me is that with a combined military which would struggle to fill an average sized arena (including the TA) we have so many senior officers (one of the few growth industries in modern Britain is the 'Gold Braid and bird-shit manufacturers guild'), and all clamouring to get their 'been there and fcuked up merit badges'. (I definitely won't get into the whole apparent preference [not all I hasten to add, but a majority] for awarding medals to 'officers most likely to get their troops killed' and 'token photogenic and PC acceptable others').

It used to be that these 'political' officers would proliferate in peacetime but come war the real fighting men came to the fore. It's 'concerning' that despite continuous conflicts they appear to still be in charge, isn't it?

As to it 'ever being thus' I wonder why, as contact with other countries militaries (even the French) never descends to school-yard posturing (well away from the bars - and possibly sundry 'entertainment' venues - anyway, and not counting that Czech Para unit who insisted on 'posturing' with us with vodka in the back of a C130, in a hanger I hasten to add, because that doesn't count as I normally only drink vodka if it's in a glass with an umbrella in it, so that's the only reason I 'tripped' whilst sitting down - honest).

The current penchant (throughout every institution in this country) of promoting those with the correct buzz-words rather than those who can do the damn job would, I would have thought, been less 'advisable' in the military - just goes to show how much of a naif I am.


I'll not be lobbing ANY metal your way - actually - I agree with you.

(I hope this works, I'm not supposed to do this sort of thing - but if the link works, it'll go a ways toward explaining for me).

I linked to a site "supplied" to me - I think you can get limited access if you're comfortable entering an email address. You "may" receive some few invitations to membership but it's not demanded.

The site's servers are as secure as any - nowadays anyway - though the servers were NOT secure December of 2011. The company got hacked and my real name (along with my DoD financial stuff) leaked. And things for awhile were "very interesting."

I was very thankful (for once) the FBI has a regional office close by - manned by guys who knew me well. "I" was showing up all over the world. Especially in un-nice places.


Thanks! Got it - and I have a slew of emails that, for some reason, seem to have been opened by persons with names reminiscent of literary characters and addresses, purely coincidentally, of public houses?!? (not for any nefarious purposes you understand, but I really hate Spam [unpatriotic I know] - and unwanted emails)

Set your filters Able to "exclusive" - but sometimes that doesn't work. For instance for some six weeks a fellow whose name appears on "The Emailed Funnies Forward" was showing up in my Spam - then last week one somehow managed to slip to my inbox.

Not a big deal as it turned out - he was nice enough to reply advising he'd changed his password.

Incidentally, unlike Mr. Kaplan (authored what's on that link) I was never a fan of going into Iraq but once in ... well. Still, rather like the quandary of waking up in the bed of a very unwholesome lady - does one chance waking her up or, chew one's arm off at the shoulder to avoid it?

"does one....?" - is that a trick question? Oh, forget you're a 'fly-boy' with all their strange ideas about taste, appearance, style, dress sense and sobriety of their 'dates'.

As a lowly ground-pounder let me tell you - there is no unwholesome there's just esthetically challenged (in which category I have to include myself so my usual question is 'are THEY drunk enough?') - 'ugly people need love too' (I refuse to comment on why I may have incisor marks on my biceps).

As to Iraq - if they'd just stop messing around with shale gas here I'd be happy if they walled off the entire Middle East (minus you know where) and left them to their camels and goats. (periodically throw in a bunch of 7.62x45 and Voilà! I've just ended 'The War On Terror')

I'd remind you Able of my mentioning I'd got whacked by tumbling steel?

True I spent most of my time in the air. But steel doesn't do much "tumbling through the atmosphere." And there're not many "downslopes" after rotation under thrust.

I will give it that most (if not all) Brit regular forces are of the "one-trick-pony" variety - but if there's the one thing even the most stony-faced British (or American for that matter) Regular usually concedes:

Those guys are stark raving bonkers!

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