Thursday, August 26, 2010


When it comes to its military preparedness, the United States seems caught in a repetitive boom and bust loop. We are entering the bust backstretch at a time we can least afford to.

At the close of the Second World War, a nation that had almost miraculously mobilized for (and won) a global total war and built the most incredible fighting force ever assembled on the planet, before or since, just as quickly de-mobilized and dismantled the vast majority of its land, sea, and air forces. In the short three and one half years that marked the United States' active participation in the great mid-20th Century conflagration, that nation took several unproved warfighting theories from the drawing board to practical application, combining theoretical vision, technical know-how, and an unmatched industrial base to build a strategic air force, a carrier battle group-centric navy, a mechanized/armored army, and amphibious forces. The latter, viewed as wasteful in terms of manpower and irrelevant in future warfare, and the Marine Corps whose stock in trade had become amphibious warfare, were placed on the chopping block of defense downsizing and efficiency.

Here we are again.

The Colonel has been blessed to work for many fine leaders and mentors over the years and one of the best of them, John Keenan (in whose regiment the Colonel served as a battalion commander and regimental executive officer), now Editor of the Marine Corps Gazette, writes in the August issue of that fine professional journal, that our Corps faces challenges to its existence today as great as those it faced in the post-WWII years. Colonel Keenan references the earth-shattering news that for the first time in its storied 235 year history, the Marine nominated to be the next Commandant is not a ground combat officer, but (gasp!) an aviator. In the classic Brooklynese for which he was beloved by his Marines, Keenan dismisses the uproar over this "break with tradition" with "fuggedaboudit!"

Now, there's some fratricidal fog-clearing for you!

General Granville (callsign: "Granny") Amos will, if confirmed, inherit the reins of a Marine Corps faced with hard questions about its relevance and place in an "efficient" U.S. military establishment. While Marines like to boast that we provide nearly 15% of U.S. combat power for 5% of the Defense budget, the need for the primary mission (amphibious operations--i.e., opposed landings on hostile shores) for which the Corps equips and trains, is once again up for debate.

MacArthur's master-stroke amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea, 60 years ago this September, helped put down the anti-amphibious movement for a time, but the exigencies of our oft-warned against "land war in Asia" (Vietnam; where, from a macro view, the Marine Corps' battlefield activities were scarcely distinguishable from those of the Army) and the fearsome capabilities of our primary enemy (the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact) during the Cold War, relegated amphibious capabilities to the back burner. After Vietnam, the Navy did build some new, more capable, amphib ships, and Marines did get some new battlefield weapons systems, but fielding of actual ship-to-shore systems has been, for all practical purposes, non-existent. The amphibious vehicle with which the Marine Corps would conduct an opposed landing on a hostile shore today, is (with some up-gunning) the same vehicle Marines have had since the early 1970s. Ditto the vast majority of the Marine Corps' helicopter fleet.

And, that's the problem.

The Marine Corps has greatly-improved ship-to-shore systems in the pipeline. The amazing and revolutionary tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey is slowly replacing the CH-46 helicopter (introduced in 1964!). But, the Osprey is very expensive. And, don't get the Colonel started on the mis-information campaign that has been waged by the conventional helicopter lobby, who would have you believe that the Osprey is too dangerous and not very effective. Suffice it for the Colonel to say--t'ain't so! In the Colonel's not-so-humble opinion, the Osprey is magic.

To replace, the aging, 7 miles-per-hour in the water, amphibious assault vehicle (AAV-7), the Corps has been developing a new high-speed (40 knots in the water and capable of keeping up with the speedy M-1 tank on land) Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV)--the cost of which makes the Osprey look cheap, by comparison. The EFV is still years away from operational service--if ever.

We won't even talk about the enormous cost of the V-STOL Marine version of the still-in-development F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, needed to replace the aging AV-8B Harrier.

So, the real quandary for defense planners and budgeticians is, even if one can make a very good case for the need for the Marine Corps specialty of launching from ships and kicking the bad guy's door down to allow the Army to enter and do what they do best (and, nobody does it better), how does the United States afford to field a state-of- the-art amphibious capability?

The short answer is, surprisingly the Colonel is sure, for the five of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon and know of the Colonel's feelings for his beloved Corps, No.

No, the United States cannot afford to maintain a credible modern amphibious capability, and a Marine Corps dedicated to, and trained and equipped for, that mission.

But, the Colonel will argue, not-so-surprisingly for the five of you who regularly waste rod and cone time perusing posts hereon, that the United States cannot afford not to maintain a Marine Corps equipped and trained for amphibious warfare.

First, while the Colonel can quickly and easily draw up on a napkin the plan, organization, and training required for subsuming the Marine Corps into the United States Army as the 1st Amphibious Corps, the truth is that America wants there to be a separate and distinct Marine Corps. Marines have a place in the American psyche. No efficiency study will ever include that fact, but that doesn't make it any less so.

Second, the Colonel is one of a dwindling few, it seems, who still believes in American Exceptionalism. Attendant to that belief is the sure knowledge that America, with the responsibility for guarding the principles of freedom, as only America can, must never succumb to the miasma of defeatism, also known as "isolationism." We must keep all of the capabilities needed to keep the peace, or restore it by force of arms. We must be ready to answer any call for help. When we find ourselves incapable of answering those calls, we will no longer be exceptional.

So, to those who will in the coming months and years, in the name of cost-cutting, argue for elimination of unpopular and expensive military capability (such as amphibious warfare), the Colonel, with apologies to his mentor, says, Fuggedaboudit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not Smart and You Can't Make Me

A recent accidental reader (obviously not one of the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon) commented on the Colonel's reference to Islamo-fascism thus: "...I find it hard to respect any 'educated' writer who uses the term Islamo-fascist." The Colonel takes great umbrage with that remark.

The Colonel has never, ever claimed to be "educated."

The five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon know full well that the Colonel didn't even go to college...; the Colonel went to Ole Miss instead.

And, immediately following the four years of study-avoidance that marked his matriculation at what has since become widely known as the Harvard of the South (by reciprocal agreement, Harvard is allowed to call itself the Ole Miss of the North), the Marine Corps proceeded to heavily plaster over any vestige of the liberal arts education (a more accurate term would probably be minimal exposure) the Colonel had accidentally accrued whilst whiling away the last of his care-free youth in the kudzu-clad hills of North Mississippi with a liberal slathering of the fine art of leading men in the killing of the enemies of our nation and the destruction of their tools and toys. And, given that the Marine Corps is considered by most to be the single largest repository of the nation's Cretins and Neanderthals, anything that organization taught the Colonel can, therefore, in no way be mistaken for an "education."

Granted, the Colonel did have ample opportunity to further his, ahem, "education" over the years. Sadly, those opportunities were wasted in the most egregious fashion. A year as a student (and two further years as the Marine representative on the instructor staff) at the Air Forces' postgraduate equivalent Air Command and Staff College were mainly spent making fun of aviators and mocking the airpower zealots' mistaken belief in the primacy of strategic attack from the air.

Oh, there was that year spent coincident at the local extension of the ubiquitous Troy State diploma mill, from which the Colonel received a masters degree in Human Resource Management. But, it turns out that what the Marine Corps had already taught the Colonel about leading men in combat was quite easily translated into what was required to make the grade in case study analyses of the corrective actions needed to make boys and girls place nicely together in an office setting.

Yeah, and there was that summer at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. That's where the Colonel bought his first set of golf clubs.

The Colonel did suffer a year of incarceration behind enemy lines in Newport, Rhode Island where he attended the Navy War College and received that highly esteemed and universally applicable Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Actually, it turns out that knowing how to employ joint and combined military hard power in consonance with diplomatic and NGO soft power to influence the strategic will of another nation is not that readily applicable in the private sector as one might think. Not in the Colonel's experience, anyway.

So, it seems that the Colonel's decision to settle on a 100 acres and buy a tractor is perhaps the most educated thing he has ever done.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sharing Sharia

To the blissful many, whose sacrifices on the altar of American freedoms are counted mostly in losses of temper at an inconvenience, and whose understanding of history is restricted to the pacifist pablum provided in a grade school textbook authored by a draft-dodger, the controversy surrounding the plans for an "Islamic Cultural Center" adjacent to the site of the 9/11 Islamo-fascist attack on America amounts to nothing more than a debate over the need for our society to honor our freedoms of speech and religion and "build bridges" to the Islamic world that so misunderstands our desire to live in peace with them.

See the desire to build the "Islamic Cultural Center" at the site of the Islamo-fascist attacks for what it is--the traditional Islamic tradition of erecting monuments (in the form of mosques) to Islamic triumphs. We Americans may kid ourselves into believing otherwise--the Islamic world will see it as a monument to a triumph. We Americans may come to view the mosque at Ground Zero as a symbol of outreach to the Islamic world--much as our President views it (and the mission of NASA, for that matter)--but it will be viewed in a much different light by the rest of the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be shamed into seeing the issue as one of respecting the cherished American ideals of religious tolerance and freedom of speech by a culture that respects neither.

Most in our nation have blindly accepted the lie that America is not at war with Islam. The Colonel asks those who purvey such nonsense simply, "Since when?"

Islam has been at war with Judeo-Christianity and the rest of the religions of the world since the middle of the 7th Century. And, at every site of an Islamic victory, a mosque has been erected in commemoration. The name for the planned Islamic Cultural Center at Ground Zero says all we need to know. Cordoba House.

A Muslim army captured Cordoba, a city in present-day southern Spain, in 711. By the end of the first millennium, Cordoba had become one of the great Muslim cities of the world. Cordoba eventually became one of the greatest Caliphates in the Islamic world, considered even greater by the fact that Cordoba represented the Western-most expansion of Islamic influence. Present day Islamic apologists and sympathizers point to the fact that Cordoba's library at the Great Mosque of Cordoba was the greatest in the world.

Berlin had a great library, too, in 1943.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Chicken Squint

As the Chicks of Eegeebeegee mature this summer, the Colonel's projected hen herd is turning out to be a lot less hen and a lot more heard than expected. The fool-proof hen chick-choosing method with which the mouth-breathing temp help at Tractor Supply assisted the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda with her peeper pickin' has been called into serious question by the obvious fact that the fledgling flock is demonstrating a decidedly roosterly majority.

The Colonel is considering holding an ad hoc session of the Tallahatchie Free State People's Congress in order to investigate how such a calamity could befall our new nation. The CBO (Congressional Biddy Office) egg-surplus projections have been revised downward dramatically. Seems the initial projections were made with a much too optimistic estimate of the rooster to hen ratio. Subpoenas have been issued and heads will roll...quite literally.

Three months ago, the Colonel and his clan were convinced that we would need to consider buying a rooster to augment our hen herd. We were (pardon the pun) "cock-sure" we had all hens. A month or so ago, one of our "girls" started going through what can only be described as "poultry puberty" and began demonstrating some very unlady-like actions; to include, but certainly not limited too, incessant crowing.

Fine. No need to procure a rooster, now.

Over the next couple of weeks the hen house pubescence reached pandemic proportions. The Colonel began to have serious doubts as to whether there was even one hen in the house. At this posting, the score is four roosters, two hens, and one unknown.

The first rooster to crow his credentials has rapidly become the Colonel's favorite...and the Colonel seems to be his favorite, as well. In the margin next to the word "quirky" in Eegeebeegee's on-line animal encyclopedia, Faunapedia (' is a picture of the bird the Colonel has named "Smedley." The crazy bird's right eye is turned 90 degrees and blinks vertically. The Colonel kids you not.

"Why Smedley," you ask?

Well -- and this is a) the point at which two or three of the five of you dear readers who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon become disabused of the notion that continuing to read this electronic drivel will produce any appreciable value; and, b) the point at which members of the Colonel's clan perceive rightly that a combined vocabulary/geography/history lesson is about to emanate volubly from the Colonel's grits grinder, and run screaming from the room -- when that cock-eyed rooster looks the Colonel in the eye, the man curmudgeoned before his time is reminded of the descriptive phrase "gimlet eye." One of the Colonel's historical military heroes--Major General Smedley Butler, USMC--was nicknamed "Ol' Gimlet Eye" for the piercing look in his eye.

So, the Colonel named his favorite rooster for General Butler. Pretty sure the General won't mind--he's been worm-food since 1940.

When the Colonel approaches the pen each morning, and calls "Chick, chick, chick, chick, chick," Smedley is the first to answer with a combination of clucks, growls, and fluffed-feather displays. When the door to the pen is open, the other chickens sprint for favorite bug-huntin' spots. Smedley does a dance at the Colonel's feet and waits to be picked up.

The Colonel is quite sure there are few things more incongruously unsettling and sad than the sight of a warrior gone to seed clucking and baby-talking to a cockeyed rooster tucked under his arm.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Boudreaux and His Special Dog

Canjun banker man sees locally renowned duck hunter and nutria trapper, Boudreaux Broussard, walk into his bank and gets up from behind his big ol' desk to welcome him.

"Mornin' Boudreaux."

"Mornin'," say Boudreaux.

The banker man ask, "You killin' any ducks?"

"Sum," say Boudreaux.

"I hear you got a special dog, Boudreaux. Supposed to be the best dog in Louisiana."

"He okay," say Boudreaux.

"How 'bout you take me huntin' to your secret duck hole in the mornin'."

"Don' thin' so," say Boudreaux.

"Boudreaux," ask the banker man, "who dat owns the bank what holds the mortgage on your house?"

"Das you," say Boudreaux.

"Das right," say the banker man. "I'll be at your house at five in the mornin'."

Next morning, the banker man and Boudreaux climb into Boudreaux's pick-em-up truck and the banker man looks over at Boudreax and he ask, "Where dat dog?"

Beaudreaux say, "What dog?"

"Your special dog," say the banker man.

"We don' need him dis mornin'," say Boudreaux.

"Boudreaux," say that banker man, "who dat owns the bank what holds the note on dis here truck?"

"Das you."

"Das right. Git your dog."

An hour later, the banker man and Boudreaux are sitting in the boat at Boudreaux's secret hunting spot and along comes a flock of ducks. The banker man knocks down a duck with his fancy Italian shotgun with the gold trigger and Boudreaux starts to climb out of the boat.

"Where you goin' Boudreaux?"

"Ta git your duck."

"Send your special dog to get dat duck, Boudreaux."

"No. I get it ma'self."

"Boudreaux," ask the banker man, "who dat owns the bank what holds the note on dis here boat?"

"Das you."

"Das right. Now send your dog to go git dat duck."

Boudreaux hangs his head, snaps his fingers, and the dog, who has been sitting still as a statue, leaps out of the boat, and lands on the water. But, he don't sink and swim. Instead, the dog tippy-toes across the top of the water like he's afraid to get his feet wet. The dog goes straight to the duck, picks it up in his mouth, and tippy-toes on top of the water back to the boat. At the boat, the dog steps over the side and takes his seat, dropping the duck neatly at Boudreaux's feet.

The banker man looks over at Boudreaux with his mouth hanging open.

Boudreaux looks over at the banker man and shrugs his shoulders.

"Dang dog," say Boudreaux. "Never could teach him to swim."