Monday, January 31, 2005

Jump the shark

Afghanistan has jumped the shark or no new is good news unless you are part of the press because of the last election and the lack of action from Anti Coalition Militia. Those two factors spell one thing: a US success. If you use Google news alerts, insert key words such as geographical locations, name of relevant organizations or personalities, you might one press release a day if you are lucky. What does that mean? Nothing worth reporting is going on or cynically thinking, the press has moved on to bloodier and more spectacular subject matters. Captains Quarters see it as a return on investment for reporting. Why spend money on resources when it will not result in selling newspapers or grab eyeballs? Maybe the Olsen twins would make a better lead.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


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I just drove on the autobahn this past week and you might say big deal, but I did it in a M998 Humvee. It was fun being passed by BMWs and Porsches, but my baby just cruised along fine.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Day trip, classes, acronyms and quote.

I just returned from a day trip to Metz, France. It was fun, enjoyable and cold, but not as bad as New England. The French were nice, a few thought I was a German, but when I explained that I was an American soldier from Kaiserslautern, I was told in English, “you are good!” I will put together another post tomorrow.

We are taking lots of classes reviewing the basics of soldering. For soldiers with background in the combat arms it is a review, but everybody else it is time to clear out the cobwebs. Some of the subjects that was gone over were: react to near and far ambush,react to indirect fire, and learning how to be a Liaison Offfier/NCO. Some of it will be applicable to life in the civilian world.

PEDD Primary Explosive Detection Dog
PIR Parachute Infantry Regiment
PNDD Primary Narcotics Detection Dog
POI Point Of Impact/Interest
POO Point Of Origin
PRnC Purchase Request & Commitment
PRT Provisional Reconstruction Team
PSC Perimeter Security Company
PSD Personal Security Detail
PSO Personal Security Officer
PUC Persons Under Confinement
RAM Random Anti-terrorism Measures
RC-E,S, & W Reginal Command-East, South, & West
RIF Regional Interrogation Facility
RIP Relief In Place
RRF Rapid Response Force
RSOI Reception, Staging, Onward-movement, & Integration
RST Religious Support Team
SALT-R Size, Activity, Location, Time-Remarks (Action Taken)
SIGACT Significant Activity
SOG Sergeant Of the Guard
SPIDERS (HUMMV mounted IR optic system)
SPO Security Plans and Operations
TACP Tactical Air Control Party (Air Force)
TASS Tactical Automated Sensor System
TB Taliban
TCN Tactical Control Network
THT Tactical HUMINT Team
TOA Transfer Of Authority
TPFDL Time Phased Force Deployment List
TR Tower Roving element
TWG Threat Working Group
UNAMA United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan
UTAMS Unattended Transient Acoustic MASINT System
VBIED Vehicle Borne Improved Explosive Device
WNN World News Network (Exercise Network)
WSTI Wide Surveillance Thermal Imager

Quote of the day: Don’t do anything that I would not do, but if you do, use lubricant.

Friday, January 28, 2005

PT, speaking and more acronyms

This past week was fun in the mornings since we now have a Master Fitness Expert. Just think of a milder and nicer version of Lee Emery mixed with the latest physical fitness expert. When he said “You will experience muscle failure this morning and that is my intention” I knew it was going to be an enjoyable hour. We did the stretching, then cardio of wind sprints-regular and running sideways, then lots of different variations of push-ups and crunches. I was sore at breakfast afterwards. Next week we will start hand to hand sparing. I can not wait to take my next APFT; maybe I will be able to get the same score when I finish basic training.

Every morning one of the smarter Specialist of the unit drills us on how to speak Dari and Pashto. We are at beginning learning how to say hello, thank you and other basic words. It sounds like my old Spanish class in high school, “Now everybody say….”

DCG-S Deputy Commanding General-Support
DPW Department of Public Works
DSPO Director of Security Plans and Operations
EAD Earliest Arrival Date
ECP Entry Control Point
EOD Explosive Ordnance Disposal
EST Effects Support Team
EUCOM European Command (USEUCOM)
FATA Federally Administered Tribal Areas
FDO Foreign Disclosure Officer
FDR Foreign Disclosure Representative
FET Facilities Engineer Team
FI Finance
FPOC Force Protection Operations Center
FRF Forward Response Force
GNN Global News Network (Exercise Network)
HIG Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin
ISAF International Security Assistance Force
ITGA Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan
JARB Joint Acquisition Review Board
JDOC Joint Defense Operations Center
JEMB Joint Electoral Management Board
JFCOM Joint Forces Command
JFUB Joint Facilities Utilization Board
JIF Joint Interrogation Facility
JISE Joint Intelligence Support Element
JLC Joint Logistics Command
JLENS Joint Land Elevated Netted System
JMC Joint Maneuver Command
JOC Joint Operations Center
KAF Kandahar Air Field
KBR Kellogg, Brown, and Root (Contractor)
KMO Knowledge Management Officer
LN Local National (May not be utilized)
LAD Latest Arrival Date
LRSD Long Range Surveillance Team
LTF Logistics Task Force
MARCENT US Marine Corps Central Command
MCT Movement Control Team
MDDT Mine Detection Dog Team
MMC Material Management Center
MMSO Maneuver & Mobility Support Operations (outside wire)
MRF Mobile Response Force (MPs)
M-STAR Man-Portable Surveillance Target Acquisition Radar
M-VACIS Military-Vehicle And Cargo Inspection System
MWD Military Working Dog
MWR Morale, Welfare, and Recreation
NTP Notice To Proceed
NTV Non Tactical Vehicle
OCF Other Coalition Forces
ODA Other Defense Agency
OGA Other Government Agency
OMC-A Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan
OPG Operations Planning Group
OSI Office of Special Investigations (Air Force) Like CID

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Exit strategy, hobby, tools and acronyms

A few soldiers at the unit are talking or really joking about an “exit strategy” for Iraq. I hate to say I have not seen or heard of any operation order or policy paper that states an exit strategy. I am currently typing this essay on my computer in an US Army operated Kaserne in Germany. America also operates military facilities in Italy, Japan, and among other places on the globe. We did not have an “exit strategy” for those locations also. If the US did it could be described with one word-victory. Look at Viet-Nam, the US had an ‘exit strategy” for that conflict and look at what it got us.

I hope that the upcoming Iraqi election shows that the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Are you rooting for the common folk in Iraq for their right to vote? Remember who said that the concept of democracy is an "evil principle…….and those who follow this wrong ideology." The one who spoke that is also the one who beheads “evil ones.’

I might be involved with the upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan later this year. Not many on the other side of the aisle of Congress or the media gives the US military or present administration a compliment for a job well in Afghanistan. It is not bloody enough for them or a failure to sell newspapers or advance careers, so it will not fit their agenda, why do so?

Friends ask me how long you think we will be in Iraq or Afghanistan? I ask them how long have we been in Germany, Japan or other places for an answer. We will leave when asked and have done so in the past. Ask the French about 1966 as an example.

Is any human rights group keeping track of how many Iraqis are beheaded or killed by the insurgents? Just wondering.

Some soldiers, airmen and marines are still keeping busy with their hobbies down range and here is a great example. I might join them, since going on patrol can get old after a while. I might have to bring some glue.

JLENS is a tool that I might be using in the near future.

Here is part of a list of acronyms that was complied for the Afghani AOR.

ACCE- Air Componant Coordination Element
ACM- Anti Coalition Militia (Taliban, HIG, Al Queda)
ADACG- Airfield Arrival/Departure Control Group
AELT- Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Team (Air Force)
AMF- Afghan Militia Forces
AMR- Air Movement Request
ANA- Afghan National Army
ANP- Afghan National Police
AOR- Area Of Responsibility
APOD- Area Port Of Debarkation
AQ- Al Queda
ASG- Area Support Group
ASL- Authorized Stockage List or Allowable Supply List
ATFP- Anti Terrorism Force Protection
ATO- Air Tasking Order
AVIM- Aviation Installation Maintenance
BAF- Bagram Air Field
BANA- Battalion Afghan National Army (Also Kandak)
BATS- Ballistic Aerial Target System
BDOC- Base Defense Operations Center
BOAB- Base Operations Assessment Brief
BOC- Base Operations Center
BOG- Boots On Ground or Boots Off Ground
BOM- Base Operations Manager
BUA- Battle Update Assessment
BUB- Battle Update Brief
CAC-A- Combined Assistance Command-Afghanistan
CAT-A- Civil Affairs Team-Alpha
CCIR- Critical Command Information Requirement
CCL- Combat-Configured Load
CDS- Containerized Delivery System
CFC-A- Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan
CFLCC- Combined Forces Land Component Command
CGO- Counter-Guerilla Operations
CHS- Combat Health Support
CI- Counter Intelligence
CID- Criminal Investigation Division (Army)
CITF- Criminal Investigation Task Force
CJCMOTF- Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force
CJOA- Combined Joint Operations Area
CJSOTF-A- Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force
CJTF- Combined Joint Task Force
COP- Current Operational Picture
COR- Commander Of Relief
CUB- Commander's Update Brief

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Silence, push ups, the Navy and quote.

On a recent exercise it was bit different compared to ones in the past, since the army has switched fully to the MS windows environment with the office suite, the military version of IRC, email and voice over internet. So it used to be blaring radios with grease pencils on acetate covered maps, now it is flat panel displays, C2PC (More here) on overhead displays, “chatting” on line while downloading or running a PowerPoint presentation and quietly answering questions into a microphone headset. That why it so quiet in the Tactical Operations Center, instead of the yelling and busting of paper of years gone by. Forwarding email and images are just a silent click away.

One small way the NCOs of the unit are improving the physical fitness of the troops is when you enter the sergeant’s room it is time to drop and knock out 20 push ups. It goes up by 10 push ups each time you enter their room. What is so good about this form of exercise is that the section’s printer is located in their room; by the end of the day I was sore and doing 60 to 80 push up at a clip. Some people started yelling in the room from the hallway to avoid getting in shape.

I think the Navy maybe over burdened during the tsunami relief effort. I hope this is not a preview of what awaits us in Afghanistan.

Quote of the day: I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least I am not a spoon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Congress, quote and poem.

Do you have to testify to Congress soon? I bet that was on your list of things to do for today, so here is an Army manual to help you prepare. Just put on you best dress uniform and smile.

Quote of the day: indecision is the key to flexibility.

Navin, a good friend and regular reader sent me a poem by Rudyard Kipling. I read this one during high school and it enjoyed it. Also read this critical essay by George Orwell on Kipling. It is very insightful and I recommend that you give it a few minutes to read to understand the man and writer of this poem. It might surprise you.

Life has changed for soldiers since Kipling’s time so here is the poem:
When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!
Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .
First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .
When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .
But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .
If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .
Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .
If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .
When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .
When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .
When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Monday, January 24, 2005

MDMP, description, tools and equipment.

Do you want to know the decisions are made and orders drafted? View this PowerPoint presentation for the basics of the Military Decision Making Process or MDMP that is part of the Army culture now. It is a customized decision process that emphasizes facts and tries to quantifes assumptions. The Army boiled down the essentials of the MBA schools for soldiers. The Army spends lots of time educating upper ranking NCO and all officers to standardized decision making in staffs. It works best in a group, but also it can be used by an individual. Rumor had that the invasion of Iraq was formulated by a SAMS student using MDMP on a hood of a humvee in a few hours. Once everybody knows the drill it works smoothly. I have even showed my wife the MDMP and she grasps it pretty well.

Here is another description of life in Afghanistan from a Wisconsin National Guard member.

This PDF presentation shows some of the new equipment and tools hat we will be getting. Look for pocket terps on page 8, maybe the Army could get one so we can talk to New Yorkers, just joking;)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Profile, Ground Truth, and Quote.

This is a profile of a typical day of a sergeant in Afghanistan. Nothing glorious, he is just keeping his head low and doing his duty.

Here is a view of the ground truth. It is a bit down in the weeds, but for us it is a lifesaver.

Yesterday, I took it easy by running a few miles in the morning, knocking out a few push ups and going to the city center of Kaiserslautern. (From an American view point.) It was the first day I had off in 18 days. I went to St. Martin, Catholic Church to look at the architecture. While I was there the church organist was practicing, so I just sat down and enjoyed the impromptu concert.

Thirsty Nelly's in K-town, Image Hosted by
After listening to the music, I stumbled up an outpost of civilization: Thirsty Nelly’s -an Irish pub. I thought I was back in Ireland, the bartender poured a good pint of Guinness and the Liverpool vs. South Hampton ('pool played like shite) game was on the telly. There were only four guys watching the game, but it was fun.

At halftime of the game, I headed in the center of the pedestrian area and saw the door to the Stiftskirche or a Lutheran church was open. It was bit plainer inside than St. Martins, but just as beautiful. A tour guide greeted me and between my bad German and his pantomime he explained the construction of the church. A German lady who has lived in K-town for years, walked in. She spoke English and German, so she translated and told me, that we were the only visitors of the church so far for the day. He also said that the reformation is over, that the Lutherans and Catholics are starting joint ecumenical services. He was a friendly gentlemen, invited me to a free concert at the church and gave me a map of the down town area.

A lot of stores in K-town were either closed on Saturday or closed between one or three in the afternoon. There were a few exceptions such as H and M and the Gondrom bookstore stayed open until 6:00 pm and it had a nice little coffee shop, so I wrote some letters, while drinking a few cappuccinos.

Last was dinner at Sprinnradl next to the bus stop at the Schiller Platz, It was built in 1740 and is one of the only remaining half-timber building in the city. I know that it is old, since I smacked my head on a ceiling beam. The food was good and not too expensive. It also is a pub/wine bar. Afterwards it was a bus ride back to the Kaserne.

I was trying out my new camera a Radio Shack Flatfoto. As you can see that the photos are ok quality, it has a problem that you can not adjust the camera for low light conditions. I might upgrade and get another camera that has higher quality of images. As the saying goes “you get what you pay for.”

Now the Patriots need to beat Steelers and I will be a happy camper at PT tomorrow morning.

Quote of the day: Don’t be PC, be right, efficient and decisive.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Intellectual sparring and quote

Over the pass few nights we have had wide ranging discussion on present operations and ended up on the moral aspects of war. Unfortunately not many soldiers have a deep background in the study of morals and ethics, other than what the military gives. (Here is a resource list from the military) Sadly, I think this is reflective of society in general. I brought up St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica or the Just War Theory.

(This is the Roman Catholic view. This is good back ground on Summa Theologica from the Pew Foundation and here is another theological view)

After we delved into this realm, the audience thinned out unfortunately, since we were going over a few people’s heads. Also it might not be as interesting as watching a DVD or playing a game on a X-box. What was interesting that we had the full spectrum of viewpoints, philosophies and cultures from around the world were represented. You could see peoples backgrounds and areas of academia in which they received their degrees. Engineers, technical and scientific people were itching for a blackboard and chalk to illustrate their theories with diagrams and the humanities were well represented with their rhetorical skills. It will be time to go over some logic material, it will come in handy. I bet we will go back to this area of intellectual sparring again soon.

Here is the BBC’s view. It is a bit light and made not to offend anybody. That is the modern PC way of thinking.

Quote of the day: Hope is not a battlefield operating system.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Views from down range and packing

This news from Afghanistan that you will never see in print or on the tube. Via Blackfive.

Here are two views of the media from troops in Iraq. First is from a soldier, who is a Battalion commander.

Second, whoever said Marines are stupid should read this. It is a good analysis of the forth estate. I thought the press was lazy and did not want to verify its sources, but after reading this well, the press should reconsider what passport they carry.

Today was spent packing equipment in ISU-90s. It was a bit boring, but vital that we did it correctly. Verifying paperwork and packing lists, packing hazardous material, blocking and bracing items so they would not shift in transit was the order of the day. Tomorrow will be inspection time from the transporters; I hope we will not have “frustrated” cargo.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


If you are going to buy something for your beloved trigger puller, here are a few suggestions:

A high power light by Surefire. They are so bright can blind people and be attached to an M-4 for night time action.

If you are going to buy a GPS make sure that it is water proof, use the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) and is backlit, so it can be used at night without shining a flash light on it and having it wash out, because of the bright light.

If your trigger puller uses a pistol or a GPS, get a lanyard that coils up like an old fashion telephone cord or retracts. It sucks trying to find your gear after falling out of a helicopter or HMWVV during an engagement.

I don’t make money or get any free swag from the vendors of the links that are above. Some civilians don’t have a clue about tactical gear and that is ok. If you asked me about surgical equipment or baking supplies I would have been equally clueless; that is the great thing about the internet and blogs, we can spread the knowledge.

Quote of the day: A good plan executed violently is better than an excellent plan done feebly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Status of Forces, Commentary, and a Quote

This going around right now and is generating lots of comments. One hand the United States Army Reserve is “degenerating into a broken force“ by LTG Helmly and on the other hand the National Guard is ok. I think it somehwere in between. I have served in both components and seen excellent units that I would serve in combat with and ok units that would need a new chain of command and a few weeks of intensive training to fix. There is sometimes a disconnect between the active and reserve component of the Army, but when rubber hits the road, the mission will be completed. Remember that the US Army is shaped by Congress and you, the tax payer.

This is great commentary every American should read. I hope this is the last spasms of the reactionary forces that are trying to hold back progress.

Quote for the day: He is not burdened with great intellect.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Mottos, Rations, and Photos Essays

While I was standing outside of the shopette waiting for a few team members to come out, a female First Lieutenant came out and met a few soldiers from her unit going in. They did the usual statute and salutation as we all do in uniform. Usually the salutation is “Good afternoon ma’am”, or a unit motto is barked out. This is done for unit esprit de corps. One of many I had to use was “Vanguards” and the officer would return the greeting with “Leads the way.”

This Lieutenant looked like she would be a spunky collegiate cheerleader, but the façade was broken when her female MPs shouted out “FIRST TO SHOOT!” and the Lieutenant replied with an icy “FIRST TO KILL!” A few heads turned when that reply was heard. Now I know the MP Corps must be out to give the infantry branch a run for their money in the macho department.

One of the solid sources of journalism, Maxim magazine, just rated the US Army’s MREs against other foreign military’s field rations. With no surprise the French came out in top and the British, well they gave it their best shot. So go buy a copy of Maxim for the content, not the photos.

Here is a great photo essay on Afghanistan from Open Democracy on Humanising a beast – the American military. It shows images on patrols around Camp Salerno and the Afghan countryside, where I might be operating. Go take a peak of my future playground.

Saying for the day: Do you understand that this is clear as mud?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

CNNi and MLB

If I eat meals at the DFAC there are two big screen televisions going. Usually ESPN is muted and CNN international is blasting. If you watch CNN international it is different from CNN that is broadcasted to the US. I think a lot of people forget that CNN is a profit making corporation and it generates lots of revenue from its overseas market.

One thing a money making, profit driven entity, such as CNN try not to do, is to piss off its customers (viewers) and profit stream (advertisers). If you look at its advertisers, see when they are based and who their possible customers are, it is easy to understand why CNN has a ”bias.” Red Sea Riviera in Egypt, Qatar Airlines, Sir Lankian Air or try this link, Air Emirates, Madrid Tourism, Thuraya Satellite Cell Phones, Orascum-Turkish cell phone company with its main market in the Middle East and various national and regional travel agencies purchases lots of advertising time on CNN international.

Then some of CNN content is not made by CNN, it is in made other countries by companies that I suspect is part of some country’s foreign ministry department or tourism board. That is why the “World Report” has a softball feel. It does not ask any hard questions. I wonder if CNN made any other deals with foreign governments to get permission to “report” the news, as they did with Saddam in Iraq. Can you email CNN and ask for copies of segments that came out of Iraq during Saddam’s reign? I wonder what they looked like?

I just saw that Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a new “drug testing policy.” A few of us soldiers laughed when we compared it with the US Army’s policy of zero tolerance. I had two urine analysis tests last year and I figure that I will get the first of many this year soon. Also if the MLB policy does not meet the International Olympic Committee’s standard, will US baseball players still be able to play in the Olympics?

Quote of the day: Don’t let logic cloud the situation.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

AWOL: Absent with out leave, quote and's commercials

Sorry for being AWOL lately, I have been working on a staff estimate for the past few days that was finished in MS PowerPoint. After cashing favors, emailing Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), complying databases and doing other analysis, we finished our presentation. To maximize our efforts we split our group into a day and night shifts so we could cover more of the globe and we could catch people during the day for emails and phone calls.

One of our night staffers was appointed as the Slide Master to format, merge slides from other staff members and make the presentation consistent and pretty. Well our slide master whose shift was suppose to be 12 hours in length was actually doing half a day AND night shift or 18 hours. After a few days of that he was feeling woozy with the lack of sleep and drinking massive amounts of coffee. So what did he do? He saved the original slide presentation or the unpopulated slide with no data OVER the finished product at 2:00 am of the day we were suppose to do the presentation for the big people or who those are a few pay grades over our heads.

He said right after he clicked on the save button he realized what he did and the “oh shit” phase of screwing up commenced. Right after that he ran out to get his handy or cell phone and call us to let us know of his misdeed. I was awakened out of a dead sleep, told what just transpired and said “WTF?” that is no joking matter. When I realized it was the truth, I check my watch, set the alarm function to wake me up in an hour for I knew this would be a monumental task to recreate the presentation, because I shreded my notes and deleted email for security reasons.

I though the perpetrator of this mess would be consuming copious amounts of fecal matter at a rapid velocity from all involved, but everybody was pretty good and focused on recreating the presentation. In the end all went well, but the lesson learned was to back up the presentation.

Quote of the day: Is it time to drink the purple cool aid yet?

I am watching MTV Germany while writing a post and I have seen the same commercial for “Scooter” a house music band selling polyphonic ring tones 10 times with in the last 20 minutes. They must be desperate to sell this stuff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Uniforms and exercises

Today I met a First Sergeant who was showing off the new Army Combat Uniform. It looks like it was well thought out and I mentioned to him that the ACU looked how my SF friends would modify their BDUs. They would add extra pockets on the sleeve, vecro patches, ect.. now the high speed look is going on army wide.

When I asked him about the uniform you could see the switch in his head flip on and he went in to auto-talk-explain mode. He was pretty good about answering questions and said around October I will get a few more sets of uniforms.

Right now I am participating in an exercise that has a hundreds even thousand participants that hooked up to computers. More here. There are lots of small situations that deal with the full spectrum of war and OOTW (Other Operations Than War-ooh twah in milspeak). These situations are based on past events that the military and especially the army and the everyday soldier has to deal with. What to do when a VBIED-Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device is found. Do you call higher headquarters or EOD first? How do you run a check point?

What do you do when a patrol reports that they see somebody cutting part of the perimeter fence? Are they going to smuggle an IED into the Forward Operating Base (FOB) or some local who is stealing part of the fence to sell on the black market to make some money and feed the kids? Grease the guy with a M-249, use Less Than Lethal (LTL) force or wrestle the guy down and hog tie him with flexi-cuffs?

What do you do when you see a six year old kid waive an AK-47 at the perimeter tower? Light the kid up and piss off the family and local Warlord or shrug your shoulders.

It is more interesting since we have personnel from down range putting us through drills and giving us copies of their procedures.

If you have a question feel free to email me at goingdownrange at Replace the at with @.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Greetings from Graf and late Christmas

Greetings from Graf. I just found a computer that I can post from. Most computers are part of the SIPR or Securer Internet for the military. SIPR does not have any contact with the regular internet so, no access to

Right now I am part of Unified Endeavor and we are pulling our heads out of our fourth point of contact, trying to get as much information to do our job, and meet new people that we will be working with down range. We just developed four Courses of Actions (COA) for a PowerPoint presentation. I hope I will not become a slide slut or bitch.

It is unseasonably warm for Graf for this time of year. There is no snow on the ground and it is above freezing today.

A few days ago it was Christmas for me. I went through the Army’s Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI), More information here, the other day. I was going to spend a few dollars on nice high speed, low draw, high tech, equipment and clothing items from shops like US Cavalry or Ranger Joes and buy a few hundred dollars of equipment such as silk underware, Wiley XL ballistic sunglasses, MICH helmet, but Uncle Sam just the delivered goods. I walked out with a duffle bag or at least a thousand dollars of equipment. Socks, polar fleece pants and jackets, gloves, winter and summer boots with gortex and vibram soles, goggles, night vision goggle mounts for MICH helmets. It was great and this will save Private Snuffy a few paychecks, but the vendors like Blackhawk, must be cursing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Going to Graf toady.

Look what Santa is giving Special Forces for Christmas. I wish I went for a SF tab when I was younger, so I could play with these toys.

I am heading to Graf later today for a meeting with some big people in a Mercedes Benz mini van! Ho Ho! I wonder how it will stack up against my wife’s Sienna.

It was the normal morning of four miles, push ups and sit ups with breakfast in the DFAC.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Here is a quick post for this afternoon on food in the Army.

On Thursdays it is Soul Food day or Southern cuisine. I find it ironic that I had to join the Army, get mobilized, and go to Germany to eat some of the best Soul food ever. So here is part of the menu:

Southern Fried Catfish
BBQ Spare Ribs
Fried Chicken
Oven Baked Chicken
Pork Hocks
Pig’s Feet
Baked Mac & Cheese
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Corn On the Cob
Collard Greens
Corn Bread
Asst Pastries
Asst Salads

It is pretty good, so good that the line is almost out the door and a lot of civilian employees and German nationals fill the DFAC.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A quiet day

Today was a quiet day of sleeping or trying to get over jet lag, getting a high and tight hair cut, picking up uniforms and hitting the weights. Nothing earth shattering here.

A few of us went to the DFAC for dinner and CNN international was on the TV reporting on the tsunami that hit the coastal region of the Indian Ocean was non-stop. One of the marines was watching said Fajulla after the battle looked pretty good compared devastated coastal areas. Also somebody commented that Osama Bin Laden must be pissed off about the tsunami saying that this bumps his cause off the world media propaganda radar screen and America get a little good press for helping others, while al Queda does nothing to help the victims. Last another person commented that this event showed how insignificant the impact of the human race is on the planet earth. Global warming is nothing compared to Mother Nature when she gets pissed off.

This is too true. Via the Cabarfeidh Pages (Highland Warriors)

Will this make the news in the US:

Top US military commanders in Afghanistan have said that inspite of all the battering received by the hardline Taliban militia at the hands of the US and the coalition forces, the Taliban was far from being a spent force.

I wonder if the military and the present Administration will get credit for the progress that has been made in Afghanistan in the MSM? I doubt it.

I wonder if the carrot and stick method is actually working. I will find out in a little while.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Years to you and ones that you love.

The past week has sped by quickly. On Christmas Eve I was flying home to spend the holidays with family and friends and one week later I am back in K-town, ready to train for a deployment.

If there is one day you should avoid traveling, it must be Christmas Eve. With airlines going to the toilet it was an adventure for masochists. When my flight from Frankfurt arrived in Newark, NJ, I had 30 minutes to get my bags, clear customs, put my bags back in to the domestic system, clear security, and run through one terminal. Optimistically I thought it was doable.

While most airlines were doing their utmost to screw up by the numbers, the TSA performance was outstanding. They put private industry to shame. When I arrived at the customs area of the airport, TSA kept opening more booths to get traveler's passports processed. In front of the of processing booths one TSA lady was telling people to move to a newly open booth and when she saw all the high and tight hair cuts on the military personnel carrying black and tan ruck sacks, she said, “ Is there any military personnel coming through?” The Air Force and Navy types replied with a “yes” and the Army and Marines barked out a “whooha.” After that reply she opened two lines just for the military with two TSA personnel per booth to process us.

Well, one big mouth slob whined “why do they get special treatment?” The lady from the TSA eyes focused on the slob like a targeter from the Ballistic Missile Defense system and told him “They are fighting a war right now and some of them may die for you, is that ok with you, mister?” He shut his hole up quickly and I moved through customs in 30 seconds with a big “Thank you” from the TSA clerk.

After that, I ran to the security check, x-ray and metal detectors at the domestic gates. One Chinese lady way yakking about her flight was leaving and wanted to by-pass the whole security process. One TSA screener told her that she had to go through and at that the Chinese lady let loose a barrage of drill sergeant insults. Out of no-where three TSA security goons showed up. You know the big ones dressed in black with HK MP-5's. They told her to do as she was told or she was going with them. Does the phrase “body cavity search” and the sound of latex gloves come to mind?

After that fun episode, I did my Olympic sprinter on EMO and other chemical enhancements imitation to the gate. Lo and behold my flight was moving away from the terminal as I arrived at the gate. I asked the Gate Attendant if she could book me on the next flight to Boston and she just mumbled “go to customer service.”

I walked to customer service and the line was a block long and was not moving. There was only four customer service representatives working the desk and my prospect of getting home on time were diminishing. I was talking with a guy who asked me if I was a soldier. He told me he was in the Vietnam War and said that we are doing a great job. I asked him if he a cell phone and if I could borrow it. He said no problem and I dialed Continental’s 1-800 phone number. I got through to their reservation desk. At that point I told the lady my situation and she promptly booked me on the next flight to Boston with a seat assignment. I did the same for the Gentlemen who lent me his phone. Other people on line started to whip out the cell phones and did the same when they heard me talk on the cell phone. So I made it to my family only three hours late.

After I made it home, time flew by. I have to give a big kudos to my wife, who in three weeks put the house together and arrange a surprise party for me. She called and emailed friends, former co-workers, neighbors, fellow church-goers, fraternity brothers and about 65 or 70 showed up. It was a great party and good to see so many friends who thanked me for serving and told my wife if she needs help or anything just call. It was heartening.

Also it was nice just to be a husband and father around the house. We went to see the Disney on Ice show and my three year old daughter was delighted to see Ariel the Mermaid.

Leaving my wife and daughters last night at the airport sucked. It was a tearful event. I tried to tell my daughter that I love her, but she did not want me to go to the Army in her words.

I have to give a big thanks to Joe, Terry and Kerry for helping out around the house and Sean and Tamara for helping my wife figure the maze out of Logan Airport. I bet I missed a few others, but I have been up for the past 30 hours, so my brain is not functioning at full speed.

Take care and God Bless.