Colonel Russell Williams is an elite pilot. He has flown the aircraft carrying the Prime Minister and the Governor General of Canada on both domestic and overseas flights. He commands CFB Trenton, Canada's largest air force base and home of much of the nation's aviation might. Colonel Williams has been "a shining bright star" of Canada's military. He has hobnobbed with top brass, both political and military.
He is also accused of being a serial rapist, home invader, and murderer..
He is also accused of being a serial rapist, home invader, and murderer..
The Rhode Island School of Design has a set of beautiful designs for dazzle ship camouflage. Dazzle Camouflage was a way to confuse submarine operators as to the heading and speed of warships, so that they could not effectively fire torpedoes to sink them. Certainly a lot more colorful than today's camo! (previously)
An official military investigation into abandoning Don't Ask Don't Tell will begin today, lead by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. [more inside]
Two separate studies about the children of deployed military personnel with dramatically different conclusions.
A former colonel, and lieutenant colonel team up to show that 56% of kids do well (or even VERY well) when their parents are shipped off to war (again). [more inside]
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.
Selections from a handmade military discharge scrap book and comic made by a USSR army recruit, 1984-1986.
"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]
Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military is a podcast put out by the US Department of Defense. Each week, they interview scientists and other personnel about R & D in the military. Topics include nutrition, portable fuel cells, virtual online worlds, substance abuse, and the effects of sounds on whale behavior. [more inside]
"When the day's activities include the likelihood of getting your brains shot out, maybe a little slap and tickle - while not desirable - is not the end of the world."
The New York Times examines several reports of sexual harassments and assaults on women in the US Military. In the article's comments, current and former troops chime in to suggest that this is an inevitable result of including women in combat zones. [more inside]
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?"
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]
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 in 1403.
The Kalinin K-7 was a giant flying fortress that might have redefined aerial combat in the 1930s. The hugely expensive and trouble-prone prototype was scrapped by Stalin and its designer was later executed. Here are some renderings of the planes that might have been, with spacious lounges, battleship-sized cannons, and the ability to defend us from UFOs.
Soldier Kills 12, wounds 31 at Fort Hood Two descriptions of the alleged killer. One from the New York Times describes the suspect as unwilling to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, and some of his background, the second talks about some different aspects of his past.
Military Censorship of Photographs in World War I: "During the course of World War I, tens of thousands of photographs were withheld from publication by the U.S. military. These included images that might have revealed troop movements or military capabilities, pictures that were liable to be used in enemy propaganda, or those that could adversely affect military or public morale. The development of military controls on publication of photographs during WWI was described in a 1926 U.S. Army report (15.75MB PDF) that is illustrated with dozens of images that had been withheld, with a description of the reasons their publication was not permitted."
Yesterday, US President Obama signed a $680bn military policy bill, which cuts military spending, including $2bn in funding for new F-22 fighter jets. However, the bill also contained the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, and fulfilled an Obama campaign promise: acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have now been added to the list of federal hate crimes.
A handful of female seniors at the Naval Academy or in the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps could very well be the first women to be assigned to a U.S. submarine. And if initial plans fall into place, those women — joined by some seasoned supply and surface nuke lieutenants already in the fleet — will be included in four crews assigned to two Ohio-class submarines by late 2011. [more inside]
January: Newly sworn-in President Obama says, "We need greater investment in... essential systems like the C-17 cargo... aircraft, which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power." April: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, "Our analysis concludes that we have enough C-17s, with the 205 already in the force and currently in production." May: The Office of Management and Budget proposes the termination of the C-17 program with a savings of $17 billion. July: The 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill includes funding for the program. September 29: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposes an amendment to strip that funding - "You can't walk through these hallways without bumping into a lobbyist from Boeing." September 30: By a vote of 64 to 34, the Senate defeats the amendment.
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.
Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers - a collection of musings on life as a soldier in Afghanistan. [more inside]
Sustainable Security is a website launched this month by the Oxford Research Group "to be an important platform for promoting a better understanding of the real threats to global security in the 21st century and the policies that should be implemented to address those threats at their root cause." It highlights "four interconnected drivers of global insecurity: climate change; competition over natural resources; global militarism; and poverty and marginalisation. Prof. Paul Rogers makes the case for a rethink of the security paradigm.
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.
Three female US soldiers talk about their experiences in the military. (sound starts automatically) [more inside]
Pictures of military subjects, many of them annotated, from all over such as Russia, Malaysia, Japan (Special Police), Ireland, Cyprus, Sri Lanka and Canada. [more inside]
'Silent partner' examines what happens when people 'don't tell' "We can really see the destructive effects of 'don't ask, don't tell' . . . when you see the pain that these spouses and partners go through". Lt. Dan Choi introduces a new documentary film about three gay partners of military personnel. [more inside]
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 of interest. Key findings: 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.
Science fiction writers have always been writing about remote control war, the Isreali arms industry has been develping remote control drones (as seen in Pakistan), but only the US military has a remote control mini tank driven via an Xbox controler!
A Gay Soldier's Husband — In the backdrop of the conservative activist Supreme Court's recent decision against hearing a challenge to the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, one gay American relates the difficulties he faces having a partner on active duty in Iraq. In Iraq itself, death squads continue to murder gay and lesbian Iraqis, while American occupying forces look the other way.
The aircraft carrier, a majestic and grand symbol of American naval might... susceptible to swarming small-boat assault and weak against ballistic missiles, nevermind an anti-ship ballistic missile. Is it time to reevaluate the role of the aircraft carrier in a modern naval strategy?
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."
A Presidential 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 ensued. Another terrorist attack? No, just a top secret photo op. [more inside]
Soldiers' Stress: What Doctors Get Wrong About PTSD. A growing number of experts insist that the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder is itself disordered and that soldiers are suffering as a result.
"A young mother is injured and her three month old baby killed by shell fragments as she breastfeeds the child in the government declared no fire zone. Parents hide their children in roughly dug bunkers to escape LTTE press gangs who comb the no-fire zone for conscripts. A woman loses her husband to sniper fire and the toddler he was carrying too drowns when they attempt to wade across a lagoon to escape the no-fire zone. A father is shot in the head by LTTE members as he attempted to flee with his family." - The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) discuss the situation in Vanni, Sri Lanka, in their 47th information bulletin.
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]
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. [more inside]
The Pentagon plans to spend $400 million to develop a giant blimp that will float 65,000 feet above the Earth for 10 years, providing unblinking and intricate radar surveillance of the vehicles, planes and even people below. [more inside]
Combat Outpost. "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."
That was too close. RAF Tornado comes within 30ft of mid-air collision.
Now that the fighting in Gaza is over for the time being, it's time for urban legends to arise out of the morass. One story now making the rounds on the Israeli side involves soldiers claiming the Biblical matriarch Rachel warned them of Hamas ambushes and guided them away from booby-trapped homes. Strangely, Rachel supposedly appeared as an Arabic-speaking older woman. Meanwhile, American soldiers during the second Iraq war spawned their own urban legends. But these stories are just the latest entries in a long tradition. [more inside]
"Authored by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008, pdf) 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]
How to blog, or counter-blog, for the US Air force, in handy flow chart form.
Samuel Phillip Huntington, best known for his work "Clash of Civilizations," died on December 24. Previously on the blue (here, here, here, and here)
America's Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress (2.3 MB PDF). A new report from the Center for Defense Information on the DoD's wastefulness, and suggested solutions. Recommended holiday reading from James Fallows and Andrew Sullivan.