Illusions of Victory: How the United States Did Not Reinvent War… But Thought It Did. Is Perpetual War Our Future? Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Bush Era. Two excerpts from The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, the new book by Andrew Bacevich (previously: 1, 2, 3, 4).
The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the United States Military Academy, West Point, has published another report in their analysis of captured al-Qa'ida documents: Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al‐Qa`ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq [pdf] (note to UK readers). [more inside]
Learning from history's mistakes? In the summer of 2002, the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA), run for 35 years by a man nicknamed Yoda, published an 85-page report titled "Military Advantage in History" (PDF). Drawing on Sun Tzu, Jared Diamond and Roman historian Titus Livius, the book analyzes the rise & fall of the empires of Alexander the Great, Imperial Rome, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon's France and attempts to plot a course for a Pax Americana that can avoid the pitfalls that led to the collapse of those earlier kingdoms. (via)
The Vinkhuijzen Collection of Military Costume Illustration has drawings of uniforms and regimental regalia from all over the world. Assembled by one of these great, eccentric collectors of the late 19th Century, Dr. H. J. Vinkhuijzen, a Dutch medical doctor who started out as an army physician and eventually rose to the position of official court physician to Prince Alexander of Netherlands. He pulled plates out of books, colored in black and white drawings and painted his own watercolor illustrations. His collection includes pictures of the soldiers of many different nations and eras, from military superpowers like the Roman Empire, France and Great Britain, to lesser known, but no less formidable forces, like Byzantium and Persia and even taking in such minnows as Luxembourg, Monaco and Montenegro. Due to Vinkhuijzen's unusual classification system it can be hard to find some of the more interesting images, such as pictures of Etruscan cavalry, Spanish military musicians and 1830's Belgian ambulance.
What's as big as a battleship, looks like a star destroyer, and can't do much of anything? [more inside]
2009: A True Story. "My name is Sara Ford and I am 18 years old. I moved to California at the end of last year. Before the first attacks... before everything changed." [Via] [more inside]
"The blogger Andrew Sullivan linked to the Blade account and encouraged readers to complain to the Post. “I can see why outing someone who is alive and closeted is unethical,” he wrote. “Inning someone who is dead and was out is a function of utterly misplaced sensitivity, rooted in well-intentioned but incontrovertible homophobia.”" A Soldier's Legacy.
Battlemind: Armor for Your Mind is a U.S. Army website designed to help, in part, families deal with deployment, including a series of cartoons and videos intended for children whose parents may be sent to or be returning from warzones. Part of the Army's Behavioral Health program, these give intriguing insight into military culture. [more inside]
The Victorian Web is your one-stop resource for England in the Victorian era (1837-1901). The site is much too extensive to give but a flavor. It is divided into 20 categories, including Technology, Gender Matters, Economic Contexts, Authors, Political History, Theater and Popular Entertainment, Science and Genre and Technique. Here are a few examples of the articles inside: Inventions in Alice in Wonderland, The Role of the Victorian Army, Earth Yenneps: Victorian Back Slang (and a glossary of same), Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Philosophy of Androgyny, Hermaphrodeity, and Victorian Sexual Mores, Evolution, progress and natural laws and, of course, Queen Victoria.
Prvi svetski rat - Gritty and poignant Serbian postcards from the First World War. Just one of the seriously interesting (e.g. check out the collection of 78s) holdings at the Digital National Library of Serbia.
Suspect Soldiers. "A Sacramento Bee investigation finds the military let in applicants with risky backgrounds -- with sometimes tragic results." Part 1: Troubled histories follow some troops to Iraq war. Part 2: Is there a link between postwar stress and crime? Part 3: Iraq doctor's shooter had long record. Part 4: Patriotic Texas city mirrors nation's recruiting troubles.
[G]ays do not belong in the U.S. military because American troops need to be hardened warriors. "We aren't the Brits. We're not the Europeans. We're not the Swedes," says Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. The choicest quote from the 16 Dec 2007 60 Minutes investigation into gays in the military (recently updated). [more inside]
In response to Israel's show of might, Iran tested long range missiles capable of hitting Israel and other U.S. targets in the region. Was the image AFP used photoshopped?
Canadian military to gays: Join us! They're even setting up recruiting booths at Gay Pride events (when they are allowed) Note that CBC moderators deleted some of the comments on that first link, but you get a hunch on what they said from the other comments. You may also have heard about two gay soldiers who wed on a military base.
The Safeguard system consisted of three primary components, a Perimeter Acquisition Radar, Missile Site Radar and Remote Sprint Launchers. Boullée in North Dakota [via]
Child Soldiers Global Report 2008. "Despite progress, efforts to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers are too little and too late for many children, according to the 2008 Child Soldiers Global Report, launched today by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers."
PTSD: The War Within. A Marine writes about his PTSD experience. This article from the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette was written by USMC Staff Sergeant Travis N. Twiggs. Twiggs killed himself and his brother after a long police chase in Arizona earlier this week.
Comrades! Glory once again in the display of
Soviet Russian military might at the revitalized May Day Victory Day Parade!
The F117A Swan Song, the Fall of the Belgrade Embassy...and China Rising China Matters blog offers a fascinating take on "the role that the Belgrade bombing seems to play as the creation myth of the birth of the 21st Chinese strategic military doctrine, founded on the assumption that the U.S. will unscrupulously use its military, diplomatic, and propaganda advantages not only to contain China but even to attack it when need, desire, and circumstances permit."
Paracord is a perennial survival kit favorite, but why carry a boring ol' hank of it when you can get crafty? Parachute cord lanyards, bracelets, watchbands, belts, and other braided items are surprisingly easy and fun to make by following some simple instructions. But they're just the beginning! From water bottle carriers and camera tripods to knife handles, Khukri conversions, flashlight & stick wraps, pace beads, magazine pulls, rifle wraps and rifle slings, there are tons of useful things you can make out of paracord! [more inside]
“People like you are not holding up the Constitution ..." Or so said Major Freddy Welborn, Specialist Jeremy Hall's commanding officer in Tikrit. "Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers." (NY Times)
Television military analysts are wooed, courted, and privileged by the Pentagon. An in-depth investigative report by the New York Times uncovers logrolling, shilling, touting, back-scratching, and just plain bias on the part of the experts that television networks put on the air to talk about the war. Some of them appear to be as good as owned by the Defense Department. "The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves."
The Pentagon's $1 Trillion Problem. Even as the Defense Department prepares to send Congress its $481.4B FY2008 budget request, it also prepares to admit -- for the 18th year in a row -- that its finances are in such poor shape that it is effectively impossible to audit or account for over a trillion dollars in past expenses. [more inside]
Need money? Have a blog? Well, your troubles may be over: "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering." Of course, if you don't want to play along, there are other ways to make your blog useful:
Hacking the site and subtly changing the messages and data—merely a few words or phrases—may be sufficient to begin destroying the blogger’s credibility with the audience.... If the messages are subtly tweaked and the data corrupted in the right way, the enemy may reason that the blogger in question has betrayed them and... take down the site (and the blogger) themselves....Who might you be interested in "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers"? Oh, the US military.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society offers a wealth of information on recipients of the United States' highest military honor. To read some amazing tales, check out this full list, or maybe just this list of recently deceased recipients. [more inside]
The Armed Forces of World War II, a flash presentation of rank insignia. The creator implies that it's a work in progress, but what I've clicked through seems pretty complete to me. Bonus Babylon 5 link on the left.
Discoveries made using satellite imagery, particularly via Google Earth, have made headlines in the blue and green before. Increasingly high-resolution photos, combined with obsessive interest, have lead inevitably to the next step: interpretation and analysis of spots on the Earth's surface for which information is restricted, censored, or classified, such as the preparedness of military defenses in North Korea and Iran, or the viability of Saudi Arabia's next big oil play. Of course, not all mapping is benevolent.
Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan. "Like Vietnam vets did decades ago, a group of soldiers are poised to speak out about atrocities they say the U.S. committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Presented in a way that is familiar to gimmicky kitchen appliances, this frightening weapon can fire 120,000 rounds per minute without a human operator. It makes no noise or flash, and can be mounted anywhere and is operated remotely. [more inside]
Warrior Writers express themselves using Combat Paper made from their old military uniforms. FAQ. Videos. An associated RI art show has its opening reception tonight. Sunday night there’s a program as well at The Beat Museum in San Francisco.
The Man Between War and Peace. "As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William 'Fox' Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?" [Via Think Progress.]
How would the military really kill a giant monster? The excellent Danger Room blog considers the problem in a two part post. Of course, if you want to find out how giant your monster is first, you may want to consult this discussion comparing monster heights.
Did you know that two weeks ago - last Valentine's Day - a pact was signed in Texas allowing cross-border military activity between Canada and the US? I'd supply more links but there's not much out there.
A video has been posted showing the shooting down of satellite USA193 high over the Pacific! [more inside]
The Pritzker Military Library, a "public institution for the study of the citizen-soldier as an essential element for the preservation of democracy." Found while doing some after-film research on Charlie Wilson's War, the site is a trove of largely non-partisan, often refreshingly candid military perspectives. Particular highlights are video and audio interviews with Jim Lovell and Congressional Medal of Honor winners.
I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me is a new book by author and interesting person Trevor Paglen. He collects patches designed by military personnel to commemorate secret "black-ops" projects.
Saddam's Confessions - Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator George Piro pretty fascinating.
Blood Brothers: 15 months of combat hell forever change the members of Charlie 1-26. Part 1: To Adhamiya and back. Part 2: ‘I’ve seen enough. I’ve done enough.’ Part 3: ‘Not us. We’re not going.’ Part 4: Picking up the pieces. [Via Danger Room.]
The USNS Swift (HSV-2) looks like something a Bond villian would own, but it's actually one of the most advanced ships owned by the US Navy. Highly manueverable and having a top speed of 51mph, it's heavily automated, capable of handling helicopters, carrying cargo, and launching both manned and unmanned vehicles -- all with only 42 people. It's assisted with relief efforts in Indonesia, Lebanon, and after Hurricane Katrina. But the best thing about the ship? It can be remote controlled through a web browser.
"We are not that close!" The Taiwan military scraps its loving hug policy for new recruits. Soldiers need hugs, and perhaps insurgents do too?
Left of Boom - The struggle to defeat roadside bombs. [washpo - flash & flash video]
Without participating in peacekeeping missions overseas, it is unlikely that Fiji's army would ever have become strong enough to seize power. So says the Economist: "When the British left Fiji in 1970, there were only around 200 serving military personnel. UN peacekeeping operations in Lebanon and Sinai generated a tenfold increase by 1986. The next year, Fiji witnessed its first military coup." The series of coups since then haven't stopped Fiji from continuing to participate in UN missions.
The V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft is going to combat. The aircraft cannot autorotate to safe landing if it loses power in helicopter mode, and has only a rearward facing gun. previously
Never in History Have Generals Revolted Against a War Like They are About IRAQ. "I (insert name), having been appointed a (insert rank) in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God." Unlike the enlisted folks, officers only swear an allegiance to the Constitution.
An Unfortunate View From the Sky. The U.S. Navy has decided to spend as much as $600,000 for landscaping and architectural modifications to obscure the fact that one its building complexes looks like a swastika from the air.