More Mouse Turds

November 23, 2012 1 comment

Interesting article in the Washington Post.  Apparently there is concern among the Army’s officers with the service’s unremarkable performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with a dark future of small budgets and strategic irrelevance.

Big Army’s response, led by SMA Chandler, is to tighten restrictions on backpacks and sideburns.


I can’t imagine why anyone is concerned…..



Not “Can We?” but “Should We?”: The Central Question of Strategy

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment



Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Often times the central question of strategy is not whether we are able to do something, i.e. Do we have the means to accomplish the ends, but whether we ought to do something.

Such is the argument made by C. Dale Walton of the University of Reading (UK) in Infinity Journal.  His thesis:  Even if we can succeed in Afghanistan, why should we?  Is is worth it?  Probably not.

One of the most insightful, straightforward articles I’ve come across.

The Futile Decade: The US Failure in Afghanistan and Its Lessons

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Five Monkeys and Fixing the Army

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

A writer going by the name of “Petronius Arbiter” recently posted a series of articles entitled How to fix the Army in 66 easy steps on Tom Ricks’ blog.  Although there’s been much discussion on the blog about many of his recommendations, I feel a few deserve some additional attention.

It’s probably best to being by asking “What is the problem?”  Not that I don’t think the Army has problems that need fixing (as it certainly does), however, the Petronius never defines what problem he is trying to fix.  The closest he comes is when he leads off his series with “A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:”

Really?  Better at what?

He follows with his 66 steps, not all of which makes Ricks’ blog.  Some are ok; most are the kind of pointless drivel that essentially boil down to “Let’s go back to the way we used to do it.”  The “way we used to do it” is sacrosanct in the Army.  If it was done at some point in the past it must be good – nevermind that WHY it was done in the past is rarely known.

Among the more stupid:

  • “Since 75th Ranger Regiment is not an Infantry Regiment do not allow Infantry personnel in that organization to declare 75th Infantry as a regimental affiliation.”  Oooooooh.  Now there’s a HUGE problem.  (WTF, over?!)
  • “Re-instill drill and ceremonies so that units can at least have confidence in unit abilities to conduct a pass in review at ceremonies. Oh, and when supervised properly, it is a tremendous discipline builder and junior NCO developer, but most officers don’t know that.”  Really?  With all the time pressures on Army units, to suggest that they should waste time marching around and doing facing movements is, quite frankly, idiotic.  Soldiers are still going to war every 12-15 months.  They need to be training on mission-oriented tasks, not wandering around a parade field.
  • “Restore unit designations that make sense and are understandable. We know what an artillery unit is and does. We don’t understand what a Fires unit is and does.”  Go a mouse in your pocket?  Speak for yourself, bub.  “We” understand what a Fires unit does just fine, thanks.  Perhaps you meant YOU don’t understand.  Here’s a suggestion – pick up an FM and read a bit.
  • “Bring back the bayonet.”  Wow.  Between that and Drill/Ceremonies we could be just like the British in WWI.

Bottom line:  Let’s just go back to the way we used to do it.

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I’m Cold….or Warm

October 2, 2011 1 comment

image Ah…..It’s that time of the year again…uniform switchover time.

You see, back in the day the Army had only only two combinations of physical training uniform: T-shirt/shorts and sweatshirt/sweatpants.  Soldiers wore summers until a designated date (usually 1 October), then switched to winters.

It sucked because Mother Nature failed to abide by the Army’s command sergeant major-approved switchover date.

One day, some smart Army guy saw how civilians were dressing at various levels for working out based on the temperature outside.  Aha!  We should do that too!  The Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU) was born.  Soldiers could wear any combination they wanted of shorts/pants/short sleeves/long sleeves/jacket – depending on the temperature outside, of course.  Brilliant.

Of course, the idea never caught on.  AR 670-1 clearly states “There are no restrictions on the combination of IPFU items worn, unless the commander has prescribed a particular combination for formation.”  Yeah right.  We still switch from summers to winters on one magic day each autumn, and from winters to summers on another magic day each spring.  And if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with your switch date….too fucking bad.  Freeze.  Or fry.  Either way, at least we are all wearing the same goddamn thing…and THAT’S the most important thing.

There’s a word for this…stupidity.

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Categories: Rationality

The Army Doesn’t Have a Suicide Problem

September 29, 2011 8 comments

The Army set a somber record in July when 32 Soldiers took their own lives, the most since the Army started keeping stats in 2009.  Despite millions of dollars spent to lower suicides, they remain regrettably high.

Army Vice Chief of Staff GEN Peter Chiarelli said recently, “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging, we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact.”


Read more…

Must Read: The Belt of Conformity

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

The Belt of ConformityCarl Prine has a great post at his blog “Line of Departure” on the reflective belt as a metaphor for all that is stupid in today’s Army.  Somehow his image of a Soldier wearing a reflective belt while playing kickball (right) captures the essence of modern Army stupidity and risk aversion.  Highly recommended.

You can get more information on the history of the Army’s ubiquitous reflective belt here:

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Official

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Navy Lt. Gary Ross, right, and Dan Swezy exchange wedding vows on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 in Duxbury, Vt. The two men recited their vows at the first possible moment after the formal repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.Sep 20th came and went without so much as a riot or mass AWOLs.  That’s right; as of Tuesday gay persons may serve openly in the military.  Aside from numerous gay service members “coming out” on the internet, the day was like any other.

Notably, the U.S. Navy led all services into this new era as Lt. Gary Ross exchanged wedding vows with Dan Swezy (pictured) just minutes after DADT expired.

Their early a.m. wedding provides a fitting description to the end of DADT:


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Categories: Current Events

My Initial Thoughts on the CSA and his Initial Thoughts

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I thought the Army was incredibly lucky to get GEN Martin Dempsey as Chief of Staff. Destiny, however, had different plans. Following a leadership fiasco within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, GEN Dempsey was selected to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and GEN Ray Odierno was tapped to replace Dempsey.

My impressions of both men were formed by what they’ve done, written, and said.  I’ve met both in person and listened to both speak frankly.

GEN Dempsey strikes me as very smart, common sense, and most importantly, a true outside-the-box thinker (uncommon for a senior army officer).  GEN Odierno, on the other hand, strikes me as just the opposite; a typical army general, not terribly exciting, creative, or innovative. Read more…

On Hats

August 18, 2011 2 comments

image Thousands of Soldiers finally got their wish.  The Army dumped the beret and went back to the good ole’ patrol cap (Read the Army Times article).

The most frequent complaints about the beret were:

1. It takes two hands to put on.

2. It does not shade the eyes from the sun.

3. It’s hot.

So, now that we have the patrol cap back, these problems should be solved…right?  To test this, I recently took some time after morning physical training to conduct an un-scientific experiment.  I grabbed a coffee and sat down on a bench outside the post gym.  For 30 minutes I surveyed the Soldiers emerging from the gym to determine how well the implementation of the patrol cap was going.  Here is what I found. Read more…

Apologies for the Extended Absence

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Family business has kept me busy these last few weeks, but I’ll be back on the net soon with a new piece on the “The Decision” on Afghanistan, which seemed to be less interesting to the American people than Lebron James’ decision to go to Miami.

Categories: Uncategorized