Economic crisis, mounting national debt, excessive foreign commitments -- this is no way to run an empire. America needs serious strategic counseling. And fast. It has never been Rome, and to adopt its strategies no -- its ruthless expansion of empire, domination of foreign peoples, and bone-crushing brand of total war -- would only hasten America's decline. Better instead to look to the empire's eastern incarnation: Byzantium, which outlasted its Roman predecessor by eight centuries. It is the lessons of Byzantine grand strategy that America must rediscover today.
posted by jason's_planet
on Jan 25, 2010 -
"Early in the Iraq War, it cost taxpayers $100,000 per year to insure a civilian contractor who was paid $100,000 per year. So the insurance was the same amount as the salary."
"Another very peculiar part of this particular story is that because of another law, the U.S. actually reimburses the insurance companies for any civilians who are injured in a combat situation. So at the very end, the insurance company will ultimately submit the bill to the U.S. government, and they will get paid back for any injury involving a combat wound."
"Let me ask a stupid question
: What is the point of the insurance company if taxpayers are paying for the premium and then also paying for the medical bill?
" [more inside]
posted by webhund
on Jan 12, 2010 -
The Physics of Space Battles
"I had a discussion recently with friends about the various depictions of space combat in science fiction movies, TV shows, and books. We have the fighter-plane engagements of Star Wars, the subdued, two-dimensional naval combat in Star Trek, the Newtonian planes of Battlestar Galactica, the staggeringly furious energy exchanges of the combat wasps in Peter Hamilton's books, and the use of antimatter rocket engines themselves as weapons in other sci-fi. But suppose we get out there, go terraform Mars, and the Martian colonists actually revolt. Or suppose we encounter hostile aliens. How would space combat actually go?"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey
on Dec 17, 2009 -
He just can’t remember what course he’s taking.
"At Phoenix, members of the armed forces can earn an associate’s degree by taking one five-week online class
, “Written Communication.” They can make up for the other 19 courses required for an associate’s degree with credits for classes taken elsewhere, military experience including basic training, and passing grades on tests that gauge knowledge of a subject area.
Not surprisingly, says one critic:
"I’m afraid that the ease with which these outfits hand out diplomas is matched only by the disappointment of their graduates when they find out how little their degrees are actually worth.” [more inside]
posted by nj_subgenius
on Dec 15, 2009 -
The Soldier in later Medieval England
is a historical research project that seeks to 'challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453'. They've compiled impressive databases
of tens of thousands of service records. These are perhaps of interest only to specialists; but the general reader may enjoy the profiles
of individual military men: these run the gamut from regional non-entities like John Fort esquire of Llanstephan
("in many ways a humdrum figure" though once accused of harbouring a hostile Spaniard!) to more familiar figures such as rebel Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr
, who began his soldiering, as did many compatriots
, in the service of the English king. Between such extremes of high and low we find, for example, Reginald Cobham
, who made 6,500 florins ransoming a prisoner taken at Poitiers
and rests eternal in a splendid tomb; and various men loyal and rebel
who fought at the bloody Battle of Shrewsbury
posted by Abiezer
on Dec 5, 2009 -
John L. Perry worked in the Johnson and Carter administrations. He posts once a week at a blog called Right Angles
. Perry's latest column
suggested that a "civilized" military coup to "resolve the Obama problem" should not be dismissed as "unrealistic". Another person who thinks a military dictatorship may be in America's future? Gore Vidal
posted by lukemeister
on Sep 30, 2009 -
The Warrior Writers Project
brings together recent veterans and current service members to be in creative community and utilize art-making processes to express themselves. There is a deep necessity for veterans to create when so much has been shattered and stolen. A profound sense of hope comes from the ability to rebuild and transform.
posted by netbros
on Aug 29, 2009 -
The Medill School of Journalism's Washington Program revealed its Pentagon Travel project last week (multimedia
Most privately paid for travel was found to be within the bounds of federal law
, but some still show a clear conflict
From 1998 through 2007, sources outside the federal government paid for more than 22,000 trips worth at least $26 million. The medical industry paid for more travel than any other outside interest — more than $10 million for some 8,700 trips, or about 40 percent of all outside sponsored travel. Among the targets: military pharmacists, doctors, and others who administer the Pentagon’s $6 billion-plus annual budget for prescription drugs.
Medill acquired 10 years worth of trip data and partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to form a searchable database
which includes destination, date, sponsor, sponsor nationality, cost of trip or agency.
posted by Smedleyman
on Jun 16, 2009 -
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency's infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, "The names of those involved in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the records were subsequently destroyed." Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other psychochemical drugs "were administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowledge."
posted by Joe Beese
on May 19, 2009 -
Boeing 747 along with two fighter planes continuously circled jarringly close to the tops of buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City this morning. From the ground it looked as though a plane had been hijacked again, and the Air Force was attempting to force it down. Panic
Another terrorist attack?
No, just a top secret photo op. [more inside]
posted by stagewhisper
on Apr 27, 2009 -
Field Force to Lhasa 1903-04
Captain Cecil Mainprise accompanied General Sir Francis Younghusband's expedition to Tibet in 1903. He wrote 50 letters
home which trace the expedition’s progress into Tibet. Read this insider's account on the day they were written some 105 years later. Final post is 18 November 2009. [Via]
posted by Abiezer
on Apr 4, 2009 -
Fox News, keeping it classy, recently aired a comedy segment ridiculing the Canadian military's efforts in Afghanistan. On the overnight programme
, host Greg Gutfeld
and friends joked about Canada's plan to pull out troops in 2011 to "do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants." He also suggested invading Canada seeing as how they "have no real army", and mocked the last name of one of the Canadian generals as being unmasculine.
posted by spoobnooble
on Mar 24, 2009 -
"As US and the UK forces struggle for a way forward in Afghanistan, John D McHugh's unique film from one of the US military's most dangerous outposts shows just how western forces are losing ground to the Taliban." Where are Afghanistan's missing millions?
"Clancy Chassay hears charges of corruption levelled against the UN and aid agencies after millions earmarked for a Kabul hospital disappear."
posted by homunculus
on Feb 19, 2009 -
"Authored by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008
) outlines a strategic framework and forecasts possible threats and opportunities that will challenge the future joint force." One portion picked out by the media: Mexico and Pakistan are the two countries most likely to undergo "sudden collapse
". [more inside]
posted by 445supermag
on Jan 15, 2009 -
is the name given to a group of female soliders, (and the documentary
about them) who were some of the first women
in modern American warfare to engage in frontline combat — something that is officially forbidden by the military. "The
female support soliders were assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion and they were recruited to accompany Marine units during raids. Originally, the female soldiers were there to search and detain any women they came upon and to guard the unit's Arabic interpreter. Over time, however, as the situation in Ramadi deteriorated, the Marine units transitioned into a more offensive role, baiting insurgents into firefights in order to draw them out. Until officers higher up the chain got spooked over the possibility of a female soldier killed in combat and quietly disbanded the unit, members of Team Lioness were often right in the thick of things, including some of the fiercest urban firefights of the Iraq War."
posted by nooneyouknow
on Nov 14, 2008 -