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Pride goeth before the fall!

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I’d had this post on hold for a couple of weeks but with my co-blogger Major Star’s piece just published about the NZDF’s staffing problems it seems appropriate even though it’s about the US military, and less about retaining people than getting them in the first place:

The military is facing the worst recruiting environment since the end of the Vietnam War. The Army is at only 40% of its recruiting numbers for the fiscal year despite raising its maximum enlistment bonus from $40,000 to $50,000. It now offers new recruits up to $10,000 for showing up to basic training in 30 days. And is no longer even asking them for a high school diploma.

Fifty thousand US dollars? Without even finishing high school? They are desperate, as a 60% recruiting shortfall shows. Those sorts of figures suggest that it’s not money that’s the issue, and this military website, Task and Purpose, focuses on two other things; poor advertising in general – and specifically in terms of all the benefits; but also poor structuring of the recruiting people and processes.

I’m surprised they didn’t discuss the competitive private sector environment where the US, as across the entire West it seems, is screaming for job applicants and lifting wage and salaries significantly to get them. But the first article gives the lie to money as a reason anyway, pointing out that such has always been the case:

The United States military is never going to win a bidding war against corporations. Amazon warehouse team members make more than starting recruits. And they’re generally less likely to die. The only real military recruiting edge is a patriotic commitment to defending your country.

As does this article on the recruiting problem:

To doublecheck that the economy wasn’t the overriding reason why recruiting is failing, I spoke with a friend who leads a large police academy in Texas…. He said the classes are full of new recruits He even noted an influx of police coming into Texas from other states to escape Covid-19 vaccination requirements for public safety employees.

Although it notes that police recruiting is way down in Chicago, Oregon, and Washington State – which is another hint as to the real problems in the military; as you’ll see they are connected.

Former US Infantry officer Strieff was also an Inspector General of US Army Recruiting Command so has some detailed insight into the issues raised by Task & Purpose (although he describes them as “usually a hot mess of leftism”) – including the insane and quickly dropped plan earlier this year to recruit high school dropouts. As he points out, recruiting such dropouts kills both of the following key military objectives.

The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) measures “aptitude,” not “potential academic ability.” The two things the Army is most interested in are a) trainability, which is why the AFQT is emphasized, and b) ability to complete an enlistment.

But he also says this, which goes to the heart of the point made above about “The only real military recruiting edge”:

The Army went into the crapper at the end of the Vietnam war because the Army that came out of Vietnam was not viewed positively by the general population. It took courage, or desperation, to enlist in the Army between 1975 and around 1982 because enlisting was the quickest way to become a social outcast.

Now the Army seems hellbent on destroying 40 years of hard-earned reputation for the sake of being woke and dying its hair magenta. The reason for the Army failing to meet its recruiting goals is simple, it has essentially declared that it has no use for heterosexual males…

And he uses examples to show this from inside the military.

As for that advertising discussed, there’s this: “….the Minnesota National Guard placed a $77,000 ad buy in an LGBTQ magazine.” And this:

The most recent Army advertising campaign had zero ads aimed at working-class or middle-class white males (Two of the five profiles are immigrants. Three of the five profiles are women. Three of the five are officers. None of the examples are combat arms.

The stereotype they are trying to break down is that the military is mostly male, and those males are overwhelmingly heterosexual and white. The other stereotype they are trying to break down is that the Army fights wars.

Exactamundo. All of this stuff; the advertising, the recruiting “standards” are merely symptoms of the real problem, which is that people at the highest levels of the US military have fully imbibed multiple Left-wing theories on race, gender and even warfare itself, and are determined to re-shape the services to fit those theories. And to smash stereotypes you need to smash people:

.. the Army will reportedly force female soldiers to shower with biological males who identify as females, while the Navy will allegedly allow sailors to use whichever locker room suits their gender identity. There’s also a huge emphasis on race:

Units were to adjust to transgender identity and recently The Washington Free Beacon provided source documents of the Army’s transgender service policy which states:

“Gender transition in the Army begins when a Soldier receives a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary.”

This comes after the military’s celebration of Pride Month this past June, and West Point cadets being taught Critical Race Theory – including this slide on “whiteness.”

Same in the Air Force:

In all, 86 percent of our aviators are white males. Less than 3 percent of our fighter pilots are females. This is why we established a detachment within Air Force recruiting two years ago charged with improving diversity for those who wear flight suits. The mission of Detachment 1 is to bring a singular focus to recruiting qualified women and minorities who have not always felt they belonged

Unexpectedly the Total Air Force (Active, Guard, and Reserve) was short 1,650 pilots in 2021, and the shortfall will likely only get worse.

The USAF has responded to the challenge by eliminating prior flight training as a “plus” on pilot selection. They found that such training favored applicants who could afford private flight lessons. It has also announced that it intends to reduce the number of white officers from 80% to 67.5%.

Compounding the outright racism and bigotry involved in these “goals,” the Department of Defense’s new Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity oberführer, Kelisa Wing, is, to be charitable, a pathological and virulent racist.

Military Veteran and former CIA head and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, put it bluntly:

Which match comments from other former military people:

My own decision to enlist the military in 1983 was motivated by President Ronald Reagan and his call to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War. In 2007, I retired as a lieutenant colonel. If I were 20 today, there’d be zero chance I’d enlist to serve under a group of people whom I thought hated me and despised my political views — and who would use my time in military service as a cross between a reeducation camp and an armed international social service agency.

In a must-read article by Jeff Groom in the Spectator, he points out the personal aspect of the military in the face of all this:

Would you volunteer? Identity politics works both ways. Trash my tribe and I won’t associate with you, let alone risk my life. It shouldn’t be a shock, then, that those expressing a “great deal of trust and confidence in the military” dropped from 70 percent in 2018 to 45 percent today.

Rod Dreher picks that up in A Military At War With Americans:

“At some point, you’ve got to realize that it’s a scam, that you are being asked to risk your life to fight for an imperial order that thinks your law-abiding, church-going, pale-faced right-wing self is the problem with America.”

This last article – another by a former Army infantry colonel – imagines what it would take to fix this with the next Republican President (it won’t happen with any Democrat now) and it’s pretty drastic:

“Gentlemen, this is an orders briefing, not a decision briefing, meaning I am not asking for your input. I am telling you my intent, so be sure you understand it before you walk out of this room because Friday at 0900 we meet here for you to tell me – your Commander-in-Chief – how you have fulfilled my intent. If your answer is anything but an honest, ‘Yes, sir, I have fulfilled your orders,’ I will relieve you.

Effective now, we are out of the diversity, inclusion, and equity business. It’s over. Finished. Done. Every DIE program is terminated. Every Norwegian History Month or the like is ended. There are no more DIE classes, training, or any of this woke garbage. There are no drag queens on base and no men wearing women’s uniforms. It all ends. Make sure the curricula at the academies and war colleges are scrubbed of this poison. Make sure no officer reading lists includes racists like Ibram X. Kendi. The nonsense is terminated starting now. Oh, and you will strike any reference to ‘white nationalism’ and ‘climate change’ from any documents that presumes to list the strategic threats the United States military is facing. Do each of you understand my intent? Be here at 0900 Friday to confirm you have executed my orders. Dismissed.” 

I don’t know if this is an issue in the NZDF – Major Star’s post focuses on money – but I do have to wonder after the incident noted here a year ago in NZ Military once more follows the Pentagon’s lead, where an essay written by a serving New Zealand Army soldier first won an internal contest before being booted when its dangerous messages were revealed to the wider community.

The Texan Temeraire

with 3 comments

Something nice to end this sad day upon – and also something that one of our commentators will especially appreciate, given the nick he uses here.

The painting shown below is one of the more famous British paintings, The Fighting Temeraire, painted in 1838 by none other than J. M. W. Turner.

The painting depicts the 98-gun HMS Temeraire, one of the last second-rate ships of the line to have played a role in the Battle of Trafalgar, being towed up the Thames by a paddle-wheel steam tug in 1838, towards its final berth in Rotherhithe to be broken up for scrap.

If you saw the James Bond movie Skyfall you’d have chuckled at the scene where Q meets Bond in the Art gallery, with Bond looking at the painting and Q making a dry quip about old warships being towed away for scrap.

So below is another old warship, though of more recent vintage. The USS Texas, which saw service in both World Wars and became a US National Historic Landmark (the first battleship to be so) in Houston when decommissioned in 1948. But she’s showing a lot of wear and tear so has just been hauled into dry dock for a $35 million refit. During the recent move, somebody took this picture.

And then somebody fed that, and the Fighting Temeraire painting, into an “Art” AI and told it to come up with a combination.

I think it’s beautiful. Hopefully somebody will think to hang this inside the USS Texas once she’s fixed up and returned to her duties.

I thought you all might also enjoy this video footage of her as well. Even at more than a hundred years old she’s still an impressive beastie amidst the machines of the modern world.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 9, 2022 at 8:00 pm

The Continuous Reduction in NZDF Output

with 15 comments

In May 2001, discussing her decision to disband the Air Force Combat Wing, Helen Clark infamously announced that NZ lived in a “benign strategic environment”.

She’s not saying that anymore, and there aren’t many other people saying that either.

And if she had known her history, she wouldn’t have said something so silly either. One of NZ’s most beloved military officers was Major General Sir Howard Kippenberger, certainly knew his history, and he said in 1949:

It may be a good thing to continue doing nothing as at present and trust in the mercy of God to a people too selfish and lazy to help themselves. We can say, truly, that New Zealand cannot alone defend herself…so, perhaps, we had better leave it to others, or deny that there is any danger and get on with our amusements and the rapid erosion of our land. Or we can pull ourselves together and act as a grown up Nation.

‘The Strategic Thinking of Major General Sir Howard Kippenberger’, Discussion Paper No. 06/08 (Victoria University of Wellington)

Specifically, ‘Kip’ was advocating for the reintroduction of Compulsory Military Training as the Cold War was ramping up. He was successful (he made those remarks in April 1949, the referendum on CMT was announced by the PM the next month which went on to pass), and the idea at the time was that NZ would be able to field an entire Division (in addition to a valuable Navy and Air Force) for wherever the Commonwealth (ie Britain) would wish to deploy that light infantry division, supported largely by Britain. CMT lasted in some form or other until 1972.

A key player in the post-war NZ Defence structure was Lieutenant General Sir Leonard Thornton, who by 1948 was deputy chief of staff of the Army at the grand old age of 32 (he was NZ’s youngest Brigadier during the war, an artillery officer). When CMT was first introduced, the concept was to have 8000 recruits per year to be trained for three months full time, then serve in a Territorial unit for about three months. The concept was a highly professional regular corps for the army, bulked out by the Territorial Force (TF), so that we could offer up a hard-hitting infantry division, as we had in the previous two world wars.

The Second Labour Government of 1957-60 was the first to fiddle with CMT and reduce it down, abolishing universal CMT, and opting for a selective system, but also raising a Regular Force Brigade. The output for the army was no longer a light division, and instead a self-sufficient brigade group was what NZ’s Army would offer in a conflict. Thornton advised against this as Chief of General Staff, but went ahead, trying to establish a system of voluntary service in the TF, to augment the Regular Brigade.

In 1963, Thornton had to reorganise the army yet again, due to Britain’s decision to withdraw guaranteed wartime logistic support to NZ – the final nail in the coffin for any aspirations for NZ to deploy a division. So Thornton restructured the army into a Combat Brigade Group, a Reserve Brigade Group and a Logistic Support Force.

This structure, designed to enable an output of a fully self-sufficient brigade group, roughly lasted in various forms and iterations until about the end of the Cold War. From 1990 onwards, however, malaise and neglect took over attitudes towards defence spending. Spending has always been only begrudgingly given by both Labour and National governments, now the strategic environment was much more benign, so why keep throwing money down the bottomless pit of defence spending?

But the Territorial Force, in some shape or form, remained an important part of both NZ society and the NZ Army. There were 6 army battalions grouped around the country, with cadre staff from the Regular Force, mainly infantry but some supporting arms as well. The 4th Battalion, (Otago and Southland) had a sizeable medical element, drawing off Otago Medical School as aspiring doctors trained as medics on their weekends. Numbers were pretty good (not perfect, but decent enough), one of the attractions to join (other than Annual Field Exercises) was the ability to network with all different types of local figures.

The Regular Force has always been maintained at about brigade-sized in total strength, only ever being two infantry battalions, an armoured regiment (either M113 or LAV) and supporting artillery, engineers and logistics.

The Territorial Force took a decent hit when they were required to deploy to East Timor in the early 200s to round out the battalion there after the Regular Force did a few (battalion-sized) rotations. No longer was TF service just a few weekends and an annual camp, now it involved taking leave from one’s normal job, doing pre-deployment training, and then going to East Timor for half a year. Coupled with a decrease in training because the rest of the Army was deployed! So numbers dwindled, and have never really recovered.

Therefore a few years ago, those six battalions were reduced to three, and numbers continue to be a challenge for both Regular and Territorial Forces.

So the output for NZDF is now simply as follows – a battalion from the Army, a frigate from the Navy (as long as one of the two are good to go), and an Air Force given a supporting role for either maritime surveillance / anti-submarine warfare (the P-8s), ‘strategic’ transport (the 757s), or tactical transport (the NH-90s).

Is this enough? The Hon. Dr Wayne Mapp reckons we should fractionally increase each component of the Army, Navy and Air Force – https://defsec.net.nz/2022/06/30/mapp-defence-spending-priorities/

The ACT party wants to bring back fighter jets and replace the frigates – https://www.newsroom.co.nz/acts-guns-and-butter-budget

National and Labour aren’t yet saying what their policies are in detail. More of the same I guess (though Tim van de Molen and Chris Penk have been quite keen on a larger NZDF).

My question is – what measurable outputs should we expect from the NZDF? Specifically, what should we offer our allies and partners, and in face of what actual threat? I’ve written here about the history of the drawing down of the Army’s output since the start of the Cold War, a similar story exists for the Air Force and Navy. Should we aim for something like a fully sustainable multi-role combat Brigade, mirroring the Australian Army brigades? Maybe with a Navy of at least three warships (the rule of three – one on operations, one getting ready for operations, one resting), and an Air Force with a better-defined or enabled role in support of both? Or should we bother with the exorbitant cost of fighter jets again? What percentage of our GDP or Annual Budget should go to defence? It’s not like we’re swimming in cash!

Thoughts?

Written by Major Star

September 8, 2022 at 10:15 am

Mahia Down

with 4 comments

A year ago, in the post, The undergraduate NRO – which was about an undergraduate student using commercial Earth-observation satellites to identify a bunch of Chinese ballistic missile silos – I also made reference to some strange implications of the private satellite market, starting with our own local rocket launch outfit, RocketLabs, and their world of launching US military micro-satellites, comment courtesy of Lefty Paul Buchanan:

If the contract to deliver military payloads is solely and exclusively with the US, then Rocket Lab has painted a target on Launch Complex 1 in the event that the US becomes embroiled in a large-scale conflict with a major power. 

The question is whether there is a legal basis to permit or prohibit foreign military satellites, especially weaponised satellites, being launched from NZ soil with NZ technologies. I am unsure if that is the case one way or another and have heard of no parliamentary or ministerial discussion of the matter.

It’s taken a long time but it seems that Paul’s less well-read members of the Far Left have finally caught up with this…

Meanwhile Aotearoa New Zealand moves insidiously closer to the US military.

Here in Christchurch protests will accompany the Rocket Lab presence at the 2022 Aerospace Summit. In case anyone hasn’t caught up with developments, Rocket Lab is now majority owned by the US military and has launched numerous rockets for direct military purposes.

That article is written by John Minto – of course – because …. of course. I guess he can smell Chinese Uranium on the winds.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 17, 2022 at 7:19 pm

Less killing

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I recently came across a fascinating graph of war deaths across history and societies. The graph is shown below.

It’s from a book called The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) by Stephen Pinker, a celebrated atheist and cognitive psychologist at Harvard University who is a big advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind, focusing on language.

But in this book Pinker branched out to look at larger issues, largely because he feels that modern society is increasingly under attack by pre-modern beliefs that he had thought were being buried. He wanted to make another demonstration of why our modern societies are better than historic ones by looking at the simple statistic of warfare and war deaths (also murder and other violence) and how these have been reduced over time by philosophical and material progress.

Better Angels theorises that violence in human societies has generally steadily declined over time, and identifies six major trends and five historical forces of this decline, the most important being the humanitarian revolution brought by the Enlightenment and its associated cultivation of reason

Some of the data is pretty extraordinary and I’m a little surprised that the Maori “Musket Wars” are not listed there since the estimates of 20,000 – 40,000 deaths over a thirty year period, starting with a Maori population of 100,000 easily puts them onto this graph at between 670 and 1,300 deaths per 100,000 people per year.

It should be noted that many on the Left are not as happy with Pinker as they used to be when he was only bashing Christians in particular and religion in general and that this dissatisfaction started with “Angels”:

such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, Pinker’s liberal humanism, excessive focus on Europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, choice of methodologies, and its image of indigenous people.

Well of course; this is part of the Modern Left’s general move away from Western thinking on a whole variety of issues, including even the basic Western Epistemology of objective truths that can be discovered via rational thought and observation.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 22, 2022 at 11:30 am

Turning and turning in the widening gyre  

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Back in 2001 one of the best TV series to watch was Band of Brothers, put together by Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks, basically as a reaction to, and a companion piece to their earlier work, the movie Saving Private Ryan. Both dealt with the invasion of Normandy, with the TV series focusing less on D-Day than on the rest of the campaign leading on to Nazi Germany’s surrender and on the role of just one unit, “Easy” Company, part of the US 101st Airborne Division, which still exists today.

Auspiciously the first episode of “Brothers” screened on September 9, 2001.

As great a series as it is and as much as I like it and respect it I have grown to prefer its companion work done a decade later, The Pacific, which was based on two books, Helmet for My Pillow and With The Old Breed. I cannot yet explain why.

But I thought of both the other day when news broke that the last member of Easy Company had died at the age of 97.

Just a day before, the following video had surfaced on TikTok of a Rhode Island State Senator displaying how she enjoys the freedoms for which Bradford Freeman fought and for which many of his friends died.

Is it any surprise then that on July 4 I saw this video of a WWII US Marine on the occasion of his 100th birthday. I didn’t bother giving a NSFW for the above video because I think we’re beyond having much reaction to such things now.

By contrast the following is tough to watch.

“People don’t realize what they have … Nowadays I am so upset because the things we did, and the things we fought for, and the boys that died for it, it’s all gone down the drain. Our country is going to hell in a handbasket. We haven’t got the country we had when I was raised, not at all.”

Perhaps it’s simply an example of living too long? I recall as a kid watching three New Zealand WWI veterans (probably all in their 80’s then) being interviewed on ANZAC day and being asked if all their suffering and loss had been worth it. This was probably around 1973/74 and they joked about it a little bit, saying that when they looked around the nation they did wonder. Had they lived another twenty or thirty years they may have stopped wondering and reached the same conclusion as Carl Dekel. I’m not sure if anyone asked Bradford Freeman before he passed.

If there’s something positive to take away from what he says it’s the contradiction inherent in some of it:

“You just remember everything’s beautiful and live every day to the fullest. Just enjoy everything you possibly can. And here I sit at 100. They tell me I’m 100. I don’t believe it sometimes. Because I don’t need to worry about age. I’m not going to, I just keep on keeping on.”

“Most important thing in my life was serving my country. I don’t think I could take away from that…It was an honor for me to serve my country and if I had to do it again and I was the same age. I would do it. I guarantee you.”

He would do that again, the terrible experience of WWII combat in the Pacific. But can his words also be taken in the current frame, if he were a young man in America today? Would he?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 16, 2022 at 7:41 pm

Andrei will approve of this Fact Check

with 17 comments

I make a practice here at No Minister of bagging the MSM for their shallow ignorance, stupidity and overwhelming Lefty bias, and how ordinary citizens on the Internet can and have done their job for them.

It thus seems entirely fair to look at an example of this where “my side” of an issue is the one getting dunked. This was the original story.

Now there’s no question that the Russian Army has lost more than few senior officers, including several generals, because their command and control problems have led these men far too close to the frontline as they try to get their army to achieve objectives. As a result there are serious stories out of Russia – including from pro-Russian military blogs – of Putin and company dredging through the officer corps back home looking for replacements.

So this story was made to measure for the British Tabloid press. I suppose it should be pointed out that the “premium name brand” MSM sources, especially in the USA, did not go for this story, which had clickbait written all over it. Still, as you can see from images above, it made the tabloids dance for a day.

Which makes the following a lot of fun to read as an ordinary citizen does the investigative work the reporters should have done, and could have done using the same Internet resources. In his case things like:

  • A facial recognition app called PimEyes to identify the people in that photo
  • Google Street View visitor photos to identify the park, the memorials and the specific troops (Border Guards as it turns out
  • A Russian search engine called Yandex to find local Russian news stories of the event.
  • A Russian social network called Odnoklassniki that had a Border Guard group.

Which eventually leads to the identification of Pavel The Obese General – who turns out not to be that at all. Read the whole thread to see how Fact Checking can actually be done nowadays using both the tools and the human networking power of the Internet.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 12, 2022 at 11:52 am

Cassandra

with 6 comments

Actually all of the following things that Trump forecast for a Biden Presidency were entirely predictable, including a recession arising from all these forces, the reason being that Biden told people what he was going to do – shutting down the oil and gas industry, for example.

It’s just that Biden, his staff and his Democrat Party were stupid enough to think that these would lead to good results and refused to listen to anybody pointing out to them the perfectly logical consequences.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 15, 2022 at 12:40 pm

The skills of ordinary men

with 4 comments

I recently read two articles that actually cover some of the same ground, even though their topics could not be more different.

The first is from 2003, Electric Heroes, and it’s written by a lawyer looking back at one of his early cases where a woman sued an American power company over the death of her husband, who was a linemen.

They clambered up narrow steel ladders and then inched across four-inch-wide “angle-iron” girders made slippery with rain or morning dew, and when they reached out, they touched either the open sky or heavy steel cables whose purpose was to carry enough electricity to power the nation’s fourth largest city.

Because they were so well trained, they were able to work safely, routinely, under conditions that would terrify you or me.

The writer points out that these men (in those days they were all men) were also very careful, which made the case a little strange since this particular linemen had fallen 120 feet to his death or possibly had jumped. Not even his workmates could figure out what had gone wrong.

As the young workhorse lawyer gathering two years of information for the trial, he got to know these men very well.

They had a strong sense of duty, and they had a natural dignity that was boundless.  They were modest men, but they had quiet pride by the mile.  Amongst each other, they were very, very funny.  They cussed a lot, and after work they’d go out together for a beer, or to hunt or play poker or catch an Astros game.  And they stuck up for one another.  You’d think twice about crossing any one of them.

They took the case seriously from the beginning because one of their own had died in their midst, for reasons they couldn’t quite explain or grasp, and they were being accused of having caused his death by their indifference. 

In the end the case was settled out of court and the jury dismissed. The young lawyer had become so bonded with these men that he was incandescent with rage at what he felt his senior lawyers had done to them: as much as admitting that they had been indifferent to their workmate, their friend. But one of the partners took him to lunch and, as he saw in hindsight, helped him grow up a bit:

“In the greater scheme of life, are you really furious that Mrs X is getting the fairly modest amount of money that will be left to her after her lawyers’ fees and expenses are extracted?  She’s not getting a huge windfall.  Our client can afford it.  It all goes into the rate-base, and ultimately it will be paid in tiny, tiny increments by all the families for whom Mr X helped keep the lights on during his twelve years with the company. Can you not see the justice in that result, even if it wasn’t the harsh and total victory you were gunning for?”

The second article is very recent and is written by a Captain Charlie Anderson of the Minnesota National Guard, describing their recent expedition to Kabul to extract American and Afghan civilians before the Taliban took over: A few good ‘Bastards’.

It’s a fascinating look at those events from a soldier’s view, but it’s also a good look at a component of the US military that’s often overlooked or disparaged, The National Guard. They’re part-time soldiers although equipped with the same stuff as the regular forces including, in this case, Bradley’s and Abrams tanks. Having said that I was surprised a few years ago to find out from a mate in the NZDF that the Hawaiian Air National Guard flies F-22’s!

But what shows here is that the training is also right up with the regular forces:

We’d practiced and trained for the past two years. The task force did a combat training rotation exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in 2019 and executed a successful rotation (the first post-Covid) at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in 2020. While drilling at Camp Ripley, Minnesota we completed numerous tabletop exercises and worked the Military Decision Making Process repeatedly until it became muscle memory.

We had executed multiple iterations of gunnery tables and were continuing ongoing missions in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. We were confident that as the CENTCOM Regional Response Force we’d be poised and prepared to project military power wherever it was needed to accomplish tactical and strategic goals.

When the time came to move out they were ready to go and got to Kabul promptly. Even so such units still endure scepticism from the regulars:

One captain I met from their brigade intelligence section told me he was under the impression that a senator had pulled some strings and got us deployed from Minnesota. When I told him about our task force and that we were already in the Middle East, postured for such a crisis event, he was speechless. Initially, there was an air of distrust, but we proved ourselves worthy partners, dispelling the myth about the perceived capability gap between the active duty and guard/reserve components. 

It was this paragraph that caught my attention in relation to the first article, as the commander of the unit, Lt. Col. Jake Helgestad, described:

He underscored the life skills the National Guard brought to the 82nd Airborne. “We provided capabilities to the fight beyond trigger-pullers that 1/82 never would’ve been able to — engineers, plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics, heavy machinery operators – we enabled advanced operations that directly impacted the military’s ability to get people out.” 

No need to call up the US Army Corp of Engineers to build barricades and reinforce walls when you’ve got a bunch of people who do that in their everyday lives.

The article is lengthy but well written and packed with a lot of coal-face detail about what they dealt with in a horrific and rapidly deteriorating situation. Well worth your reading time.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 14, 2022 at 9:53 am

The Iran-Israel Cold War

with 5 comments

There are a lot of people in the West who feel that since Israel is a nuclear power it’s not really under much of a threat. That’s true only in the sense that none of the other nuclear powers have ever expressed any desire to destroy Israel and that people also believe that Israel would not use nuclear weapons even if she was losing a conventional war. I’m not so sure about that, given NATO’s stance during the Cold War and the recent sabre-rattling by Putin over the Ukraine War.

In military intelligence a threat is assessed not on the basis of what an enemy might do – since motivations and the desire to act on them is very difficult to predict – but what they could do, of which analysis is based on the more solid ground of counting weapon systems and assessing their lethality.

Mind you, it pays not to forget the motivations, right Adeel?

He was a CNN contributor from Pakistan, with some 50 CNN articles to his name over the years, even as he unloaded other Jew-hating stuff on Twitter. In this respect he was not much different to the Hamas Covenant of 1988:

Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. 

It almost goes without saying that Iran backs Hamas.

Raja is hardly alone in the MSM, although most of the anti-Israeli stuff steers carefully away from such obviously self-discrediting statements. The starting point for recent MSM coverage of Israel was undoubtedly the death of Muhammad al Durah at Netzarim Junction on Sept. 30, 2000, which small video/photo propaganda effort turned into something much larger and horrific:

It became an instant global sensation, enraging the Muslim world and provoking angry protests where Western progressives and militant Muslims joined to equate Israel to the Nazis. Ironically, for the first time since the Holocaust, “Death to Jews” was heard in the capitals of Europe. From that point on, for many, Israel was to blame for all violence, a pariah state.

Even had the child died in a crossfire, blaming his death on deliberate Israeli action made it a classic blood libel: A gentile boy dies; the Jews are accused of plotting the murder; violent mobs, invoking the dead martyr, attack the Jews. In Europe, the attacks the al Durah libel incited were mostly on Jewish property. In the Middle East, a new round of suicide bombers, “revenging the blood of Muhammad al Durah” targeted Israeli children to the approval of 80% of the Palestinian public. It was, in fact, the first postmodern blood libel. The first blood libel announced by a Jew ([France 2’s reporter,] Enderlin), spread by the modern mainstream news media (MSNM), and carried in cyberspace to a global audience. It was the first wildly successful piece of “fake news” of the 21st century, and, as an icon of hatred, it did untold damage.

At the link you can read how, over three years, the lie was dismantled – but all too late, and in any case these lies apparently served “a higher truth”, an excuse used not just by Palestinian journalists but increasingly Western ones, which brought forth this article in The Atlantic, What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel:

The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.

So the motivations to hurt, damage or even destroy Israel are present in great breadth and depth (and the MSM is a vital accomplice to that), although the means to do so are limited.

But there is one nation that could change the equation and are bent upon doing so – Iran. They desire to build a nuclear weapon, and have got closer to doing so every single day now for twenty years.

As a result there has increasingly existed a Cold War in miniature between the two Middle Eastern nations, and the actions taken are very similar in their “unattributed” nature, although far more shockingly direct than anything the USA and USSR pulled on each other in the original series. While Israel has had espionage triumphs, like the lifting of tons of documents Irans nuclear weapon programme from a warehouse in the capital city Tehran – which proved Iran had told many lies about the programme – there have been increasing numbers of direct actions.

ASSASSINATIONS

Multiple Iranian officials have been assassinated over the years, including a number of scientists in their nuclear programme, and while the Iranians have not been slow to blame Israel the latter have never directly acknowledged responsibility, responding only with “leaks” to reporters some time after the hit. The standard attack method is with guys on motorbikes, as was the case with the killing of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader, in Iran in August of 2020. More recently the killing of Hassan Sayad Khodayari, a senior member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard outside his home in Tehran.

Iranian Billboard celebrating Fakhrizadeh’s “martyrdom”

Probably the most significant was the death in 2020 of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, long considered to be the top man in Iran’s nuclear program. Israel had tried killing him before but failed, which was why he had a lot of security. But even being surrounded by body guards is no guarantee. Initial reports were the usual fog-of-war stuff, with tales of an IED car explosion to stop his convoy and then 12 gunmen on motorbikes and a car surrounding him, with the kill shot delivered to the head by somebody hauling him out of the car to do it.

The truth was more prosaic and yet more incredible: he was killed by a remote-controlled robot machine gun:

[The weapon] was a Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun attached to an advanced robotic apparatus, according to an intelligence official familiar with the plot. The official said the system was not unlike the off-the-rack Sentinel 20 manufactured by the Spanish defense contractor Escribano.

The Israelis … wanted to control the weapon from, as the Times puts it, an “undisclosed location more than 1,000 miles away.” Read: from Israel.

A weapon like that is going to be able to penetrate normal car windscreens and even armoured glass without the bullets bouncing off. Only 15 machine gun bullets were needed to kill Fakhrizadeh, in a moving vehicle, without harming those around him, including his wife sitting in the passenger seat.

The weapon was mounted on the deck of a ute parked on the side of the road, which in true Mission Impossible fashion promptly blew itself up to destroy all the key evidence.

MILITARY ATTACKS

These are somewhat more serious, like “casus belli” serious. Given the control of such weapons it’s not surprising that Israel has launched drone attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities:

A military strike that utilized quadcopter drones launched from inside Iran hit the top-secret Iranian military base at Parchin. It’s believed the strike targeted Iran’s drone research and development complex and not its missile or nuclear research facilities.

Last June, another quadcopter drone hit the centrifuge manufacturing facility that was making advanced centrifuges to spin up nuclear fuel.

Plus drone-on-drone action:

Israel has been busy trying to disrupt Iranian development of sophisticated drone technology. In February, drones attacked a drone facility in the city of Kermanshah. It was Iran’s main manufacturing and storage plant for military drones, according to U.S. intelligence.

The drone attack on Wednesday was launched from inside Iran, not far from the Parchin military base, according to the Iranian sources with knowledge of the attack. Quadcopter drones have a short flight range, and Parchin is a long way from Iran’s borders.

This would not be the first time that Israel had used operatives inside Iran to carry out attacks.

That last is what must be really screwing with the minds of the Mullahs and all their henchmen in the military and security forces. That Israel, time and time again, launches these operations deep inside Iran, a clear indication of just how far they have penetrated into Iranian systems, riddling them with double agents, spies and so forth. As a result there have been attacks that were launched by humans:

On Easter Sunday [2021], a massive explosion ripped through the top-secret Iranian nuclear weapons research facility at Natanz. There were some interesting aspects to the explosion. In a way, this was deja vu because, in July 2020, the same facility was hit by a cyberattack that damaged the centrifuge production plant inside the Natanz facility.

The Iranian official stressed that such an operation takes years, saying “the design of the enemy was very beautiful.”

Well that’s certainly a very Iranian way of describing it. Israel repeated the dose with another drone attack on June 23, 2021 and satellite images certainly showed a lot of damage:

Today’s incident follows a string of unexplained fires and explosions striking Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program since the Biden administration intensified efforts to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.

No! Really? As this 2021 article points out, all these mysterious explosions show that Mossad Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps:

A large fire was reported at the Kangan Petro Refining Co. (KPRC) in southern Iran along the coast of the Persian Gulf on Monday, just a day after an explosion reportedly impacted a drone factory in the center of the country.

And on May 26, Iranian state media reported on still a third explosion, this one at an oxygen pipeline in a petrochemical plant in Assaluyeh on Iran’s Gulf coast. There was no mention of its cause.

This Twitter thread by one Matthew Brodsky (from some Washington D.C. “think tank) gives an excellent background going back to the days of Obama negotiating the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action) to try and restrict Iran’s nuclear weapons development – and getting pissed off with the Israelis, who clearly did not have any faith in the process and decided to keep taking action.

And now that guy is president, and he’s trying to re-create the JCPOA. But times have changed:

It’s quite likely Israel is already incorporating the idea that Team Biden will leak & acting accordingly. 2021 isn’t 2012-15. Israel may now be broadcasting messages along with its actions that it used to keep secret.

Not only that:

  • The Iranians have been far more intransigent in their demands, to the point where it’s becoming clear even to saps like Secretary of State Blinken.
  • Biden is not Obama, so his policies can be directly challenged without being labeled a racist.
  • President Trump has reordered the Middle East’s strategic landscape, creating an Arab-Israel security partnership to confront Iran, which mean Israel has Arab allies.

The time that Obama, Biden and others thought they were buying in 2015 with the JCPOA was always an illusion. Iran always wanted an atomic bomb; just one of the tells was their ongoing ballistic missile program, which in the age of cruise missiles, JDAM warheads and drones is obsolete for delivering conventional explosives accurately – but still fine for a nuclear warhead. This 2021 article makes a comparison about the strategic implications of always trying to buy time:

The sad truth is that had Chamberlain been willing to fight Hitler right then, World War II could have been avoided since the German High Command was ready to overthrow Hitler. The time supposedly “bought” by Chamberlain’s weakness at Munich came at the cost of 60 million lives, the devastation of Europe and Asia, and the Holocaust.

The two cases are not quite similar, except for this one central lesson. Once the wish to gain time drives a willingness to accept the demands of a ruthless, totalitarian regime hell-bent on subversion and destruction, the tragic consequences are inevitable. It is this insight that should be imparted to friends in American politics and diplomacy.

The Israeli military and spies have also bought them much time. However, just the other day, as Iran demolished dozens of International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) cameras at their nuclear sites, rendering the IAEA “blind”, came this analysis:

“Due to the growth of Iran’s 60% enriched uranium stocks, Iran has crossed a dangerous new threshold: its breakout timeline is now at zero,” the scientists say. 

Time is up on this Cold War.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 12, 2022 at 8:00 am