Thursday, March 26, 2015

Isn't that SPECIAL..!

I dropped into a discussion of a particular aspect of the current film The Gunman the other day over at Lawyers, Guns & Money, and ended up thinking way more about this than I probably should; that for all that the U.S. public seems to think about soldiers that it typically thinks about soldiers in some very odd ways.

One of those ways we've talked about here quite a bit; that the interest in and concern for the soldiers that this public cheerfully (or, worse, unthinkingly) sends to do dirty work in the less-paved parts of the world isn't even an inch deep, that it typically takes the form of "yellow-ribbon patriotism" disconnected with any real interest in the soldiers themselves, what they're doing, and why.

But the discussion at the above post touched on something I started thinking about when we talked about that Chris Kyle American Sniper flick back in January. Which is that when Americans do think about soldiers, U.S. soldiers in the recent wars and rumors of wars in Southwest Asia, Africa, and the Balkans, they tend to think not of "soldiers" but of a particular type of soldier - the "special forces" soldier.

And that, in turn, got me thinking about "special" and "regular" soldiers and the aspect of the armed forces that has changed a lot since my RA time in the Eighties is the vast expansion of what is typically termed the "Special Operations Forces" or SOF, for short.

We certainly had the Army Special Forces in my time (along with the special-est SF outfit, SFOD Delta or "Delta Force") along with the aviation outfit that went with them.

The Navy had their SEAL teams, the Air Force their Pararescue outfits, and the Marines their Recon. Since then, however, we've had the U.S. Army Ranger battalions added to the "SOF Community", and the Marines have upgraded a bunch of their Marine Amphibious Units or MAUs to "special operations-capable". And the number of guys working in the Army SF and Navy SEAL outfits has grown all to hell. There's a LOT of swinging dicks swinging around the "SOF Community"

But...

Here's the thing. If you lump all those outfits into the category "special forces" it seems to me that you end up with a hell of a lot of guys that are fundamentally just high-speed light infantrymen.

Rangers.

Hey, look, the batt guys in the Ranger Regiment are damn good troops, among the best-trained and organized parachute infantry in the world. But that's what they are; parachute infantrymen. They may work out on the hairy-assed end of conventional war...but what they do is what my old parachute battalions did; patrols like recons, raids, and ambushes, hasty and deliberate defenses, hasty and deliberate attacks. They may be a little faster and a little more precise than my old outfits, but the skillsets are fundamentally the 11-series skillsets.

Thinking that actually got me thinking about “What does count as a “special operations mission”?

I can think of just two right off the top of my head; the original Army Special Forces (which was intended to be a sort of WW2-SOE-OSS-style guerrilla-warfare outfit) mission of training up friendly G's...and the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams, who were tasked with amphibious reconnaissance and landing-beach-obstacle removal.

Regular grunts can't and don't do that stuff; those really ARE "special" missions.

But everybody else just seems to me to do light infantry stuff with just some cute extra tricks thrown in and sometimes in an "operations other than war" setting.

AND...since the beginning of the Global War on (Some Kinds of People Who Use Some Kinds of) Terror ISTM that a lot of the Army SF and Navy SEAL teams - the successors of the UDTs - have moved a lot closer to conventional infantry (at least in execution).

SFOD Delta and SEAL Team 6 may perform “special operations missions” in the sense that they don’t always operate on a conventional battlefield...but the principles of a hostage rescue seem very analogous to a “raid"...and many of the sorts of missions that the regular SF and SEAL teams were performing in SW Asia seem very much like conventional infantry patrols.

Marine Recon missions seem very analogous to the Army's Rangers, and the Air Force's PJ missions seem to me like your basic "raid"; move to the objective (the downed pilot), secure the objective whilst killing or driving off enemy forces, withdraw from the objective.

So while there seem to be a lot more US troops thrown into the "special operations" bag of holding the number that actually do anything "special" - that is, who do something other than be a high-speed, low-drag infantryman - are not just rare but fewer than they were back in my day.

Think about the Kyle movie we talked about. The dude was a sniper. A SEAL team sniper, sure...but a sniper. My old battalions had a bunch of 'em. They were, generally, experienced guys with good infantry skills. But that was what they were. They weren't these war-porn super-soldiers...and I suspect that the actual number of people out there who are or could be is really, really tiny, and that the war-porn has got the U.S. public confused in thinking that their "special operators" ARE super-soldiers instead of just better-trained and experienced infantrymen.

After all this discussion of "specialness" I'm not sure what the general misconception of "special forces" as movie super-soldiers might do the the public's enthusiasm for sending those guys out to slay Afridis where they run.

But it's nothing particularly intelligent or good, I suspect.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shouting at the ocean, draining the swamp

Whilst I try and come up with a fun and interesting post about Northwest landslides I wanted to take a moment and consider this:
It's from the political data-nerd site Five Three Eight by way of Gin and Tacos (one of my favorite political snark sites, by the way) and pretty much says in a single image everything I need to say about why I have completely lost interest in blogging or anything else about U.S. politics and foreign/military policy.

I mean, fucking look at it and consider the implications for politics in this country and those of us who don't consider a job as the upstairs maid in the Big House as a preferential career option.

In the GOP circa 2015 Dick Nixon, the old Red-baiter and original ratfucker, would be a liberal too flaming to be considered for a job as handshaking door-greeter at CPAC. Bush 41 is damn near Dukakisesque and even Dubya, DUBYA!...that brain-dead chickenhawk Reagan fellator, is to the Left of the typical GOP Congresscritter today. Ted Cruz down there at the bottom - a hominid lifeform closer to the average Teatard than any of these other mooks - is so far Right that he can practically see Francisco Franco shaking his dead ass at him from Hell.

THIS is today's GOP. THIS is the face of American "conservatism", a form of political life so far from the sort of Eisenhower Republican that I was introduced to by my father the Master Chief as to be unrecognizable. Me trying to understand today's "republicans" would be like going to work one day and opening the front door only to be met by a mob of Ubangi warriors shaking feathered spears and leaping about shouting what to me would be incomprehensible gibberish.

These are people who believe in Gilded Age crony capitalism, in the rapacious greed of John D. Rockefeller. These are people who believe in the primacy of invisible sky-gods, that people who aren't Christian, who aren't heterosexual, who aren't plutocract-starfuckers - who aren't them, in other words - are untermenschen to be driven out and exterminated to the degree possible. These are people who believe that anyone who doesn't believe in their ideal of white, Christian, imperial, Gilded Age America is a "traitor" and "unAmerican".

These are people who look at all the work that "liberals" have done to drain the goddamn malarial swamp that was the United States in 1929 for all of us not born into the two-yacht families. To rein in predatory oligarchs and vulture capitalists, to try and make work safer and more lucrative, old age kinder and less penurious, sickness rarer and less impoverishing...and see this all as a fucking bad thing.

I have nothing whatsoever to say to, or about, these people, except "Fuck you".

What the hell is there to say? They're utterly and vilely, criminally wrong, in my view. They're the dead hand of an older United States, a zombie nation we thought the New Deal and Civil Rights had buried in the graves of John C. Calhoun and Mark Hanna, arisen and shambling to the polling place to cast their ballots for the necromancers that gobbled their brains and replaced them with a toxic stew of triumphalism, grievance, hatred and stupidity.

They show no interest in compromise or accommodation. If they can't have the U.S. they want they appear perfectly ready to burn it down and dance their Ubangi war-dance in the ashes.

They are a third of my fellow citizens and they are utterly uninterested in what I have to say here. "Talking" to them is like shouting at the ocean.

And, in fact, I don't want to "talk" with them. They themselves assure me that they not only have no interest in my America but that they want to wreck it, destroy it, replace it with their own version of 1890 only with more fighter-bombers and fast-food fry cooks instead of breaker boys and match girls.

I don't want to "talk" about that. Why the fuck should I? There's nothing to "talk" about. I want to destroy that, that entire notion, that the very idea that a neo-imperial, neo-Gilded-Age America is not just possible but desirable. I want to cut off its fucking head and sew the mouth shut over a garlic bulb and then bury the headless body at a crossroads and sew the gravedirt with fucking salt.

But this blog isn't the place to do that. Frankly, if you can't see how undesirable the notion is to return this country to the economic, political, and social conditions of 1894 on its face then I can't say a goddamn thing here to change your mind. All I'd be doing is shouting at the waves and with about as much benefit; I'd get hoarse and angry and the waves don't give a shit.


Or, to put it another way; I'm too pissed off about the fucking swamp to bother wasting my time here trying to argue with the fucking alligators.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Drifting

I apologize, gang. This damn blog has been going nowhere for almost a month and - much as I hate to admit it - I've really don't have any notion where I want to go with it.

Every so often I've sat down at the computer and called up the big white Blogger posting screen and...sat and looked at it. I couldn't find anything to say worth hearing. I know. That's fucked up. But that's the truth.

I just can't stomach writing about politics or foreign affairs. It seems like the Stupidic Orogeny is taking place in human-scale time. Here the GOP is everywhere doubling-down on its lethal dose of crude venality and vicious rapacity; apparently the urge to ram the national dick into the Gilded Age meatgrinder is irresistible to the sort of Ayn-Rand-gobbling idiot capable of being elected in a safe Republican district, whilst the Democratic Party seems to be unwilling to defend the grand bargain that the New Deal secured after seventy years of class warfare hammered away on everyone not already members of the New Century Club.

And abroad? What the hell can you say when the only "democracy" in the Middle East does a 2004 and re-elects its little tinpot Duce, whose only answer to every political problem is force, might, and beatings? When I think of the utter fuckery that this brickheaded sonofabitch is going to lead my country into I could weep.

Sure, I could rip off some sort of incandescent rant about that fuckery, or the domestic fuckery of the domestic fuckers who want to return my country to the open kleptocracy of the fucking Cleveland or Harding Administrations. But why? You all know the problems, and you all know that nothing I can say here will solve them, or even get the addled 27% who long for the firm hand of Daddy Cheney on the wheel to agree that this nation would be more secure, more prosperous, and more promising if that vampire sonofabitch was buried at a crossroads with garlic in his lying fucking mouth and a stake through his shriveled secondhand heart.

I don't have a battle to write about until May when I'm planning on doing the 1422 Siege (and Fall) of Constantinople. I'm frankly having a difficult time dredging up anything interesting to tell you about the end of my active duty service and the beginning of my USAR time back in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

And everything else is just home and family, or pastimes, and I don't find those - generally, unless there's something larger to be said within them or about them - any more interesting to write about than you would find to read about them.

So.

I'll try and come up with something here soon. I'm not sure what it will be. But it's either that or turn the lights out in the old place and shut the door for good.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Thirteen

Thirteen years gone
But still in my heart,
New like tomorrow,
Sour like the hurt of a stolen kiss,
Dark, like shadows of loneliness.
I recall...
I remember...
I still feel... I know
Everyday the presence of your absence,
I endure the weight
Of the emptiness you left behind,
Thirteen years but still...
Even now still
I, in the silence of every breath
Pray, even if...
Just for a few minutes with you...
Again.
I never got the chance to say.
I never got the chance to say I love you.

~ Ezediuno Louis Odinakaose

Bryn Rose Gellar

March 1, 2002 - March 2, 2002

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beavers in the mist


Winter in the Northwest is not all Dark Ages; sometimes we get a sunny day or three. Or week. Or two.

But the underlying reality is that winter in the Northwest is cold and damp. So that when those sunny days arrive and the air warms up the ground is still...well, cold and damp. So in the lowlands the fog forms thick and dank in the predawn darkness and lingers until the sunlight dispells it like the dawn the old tales of night-terror.

Nothing of moment to say, other than that this was a pretty morning; the high hills of Forest Park and the Coast Range further on fir-green and crisp whilst the rolling bottomlands of the Tualatin Valley hid under the cotton sheet of Night.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What IS it with the yoga pants..?



Remember the nice Christian lady here in Oregon who promised her hubby (and informed us all in Outer Blogistan) that she was hangin' up the leggings and yoga pants because of the way that watching her bottom twitching around inside them made good Christian dudes all hot, sweaty, and hard to control?

Well...turns out that she's got a brother in Christ - one Dave "Doc" Moore - up in the Montana legislature who has an even better idea.

Make it illegal to show all dat ass (and that pubic mound, and thighs, and those taut, limber calves, and bare feet, too, I'm guessing...). Nudity, revealing clothing, anything that shows off you ladies' butts? Foul! Unclean! Illegal!

But this dope got himself in real trouble when he threw in yoga pants and Speedos; that just seemed a little too much like sharia law even for the Good People of the Treasure State (the bill he introduced has been officially tabled).

Course ol' Doc now says that the whole "yoga pants SHOULD be illegal.." thing was just a jest, a jape, a mere rhetorical flourish...now that he's been shown up for some sort of moronic, bible-banging panty-sniffer all across the Intertoobz. But, really...what the fuck, guys?

Why even make the suggestion in the first place?

I mean...don't you like women? Don't you think they're nice to look at? Don't you appreciate the human body, including the female body, as "God's creation", like a sunset or a mountain or a rainbow? Why all this fuss about other people's bottoms?

And...if not, I guess my other question would be, what the fuck business is it of yours what he or she wears, or doesn't wear? Doesn't your Bible enjoin you to worry about the fucking beam in your OWN eye?

I guess I will just never understand Christians. They're like that wierd jello thing with little marshmallows that people used to serve in the Seventies; you just have to have been there to understand.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

No. No, no, no. FUCK no.

Proving that like the Bourbons the people that constitute the "leadership" of the United States government learn nothing yet forget nothing the Obama Administration has gone to the poo-flinging monkeyhouse technically known as the United States Congress for a new authorization to use military force, this time against the congeries of wanna-be Sunni Muslim theocrats that go by the nickname "Islamic State".
"President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria...The president’s request would replace the 2002 legislation that authorized the Iraq War but leaves in place a very broadly worded resolution passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks."
Proving that you don't have to be a dry-drunk simpleton driving a short-bus-full of rage-drunk idiots and conniving weapons-grade-moron Machiavellis to fail to understand the words "don't", "involved", "land war", and "Asia" as well as the catastrophic decade of clusterfuckery that has followed Dick and Dubya's Most Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure the Obamites seem to believe that they can repeat the procedure without repeating the results.
I have absolutely no idea why they would believe this.

For one thing, the Daesh people (NB: apparently "Daesh" is the Arabic equivalent of the WW2 perjoratives "Huns" and "Nips" - it's the name that these guys' enemies use for it, since "Daesh" sounds similar to the Arabic words Daes ("one who crushes something underfoot") and Dahes ("one who sows discord") would like nothing better than for more U.S. joes to stumble around their 'hood killing people and breaking shit seeing as how that worked so goddamn well in Iraq. Doing what your enemy wants you to do is...well, "fucking stupid" are the words that come to mind but "the opposite of strategy" seems like a more measured way to describe it.

For another, well...fuck. IRAQ. Did we learn nothing? The reality on the ground is that the conditions in Iraq and Syria now are worse than when we invaded Iraq in 2003. There is no "government" in any sense of the word. The place has dissolved into a brawling mess of competing groups and semi-decrepit nation states (Turkey and Kurdistan being something of the exceptions...)

There are only two ways this will go.

The U.S. and it's "allies" will raze Sunnistan - the western portions of Iraq and the eastern portions of Syria - to the ground. They will kill and destroy until, as Bill Sherman would have put it, a crow flying over the Sunni lands will have to carry its own provisions. The U.S. will utterly destroy the Sunni capability and will to fight. And then...

...and then I have no idea. Perhaps the Sunni will consent to live under the rule of the other rump states, Alawite Syria and Shia Iraq, as chattel, as the Britons did under the Romans and the Tamils now do in Sri Lanka under the Hindus. That level of violence can produce submission.

Or, perhaps not.

But short of that level of violence?

I have no fucking clue what will happen. Nothing good, I assure you.

My friend Seydlitz says that the powers that be in the U.S. government have lost the ability to think about geopolitics strategically; to assess the economic, political, and military conditions realistically and then plot a course of action that uses U.S. strengths and the weaknesses of the area under consideration to produce a political, economic, and military endstate that benefits the United States.

I have always considered this optimistic. I don't know if the U.S. government has EVER had this ability outside of brief periods when smart people like George Marshall were running things.

But Marshalls seem to be in short supply, while we seem to have a never-ending amount of Dougie Fucking Feiths and Dick Goddamn Cheneys.

And now this.