ltmurnau: (CX)
Triumphal arches, parades, panem et circenses.. and now it's starting to affect things that really matter.

Commemorations of historic military events could put current force at risk, internal documents say
By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News January 10, 2014

OTTAWA — The federal Conservative government’s plan to commemorate a large number of military battles and accomplishments in the coming years poses a threat to the Canadian Force’s ability to do its job, according to internal Defence Department documents.

The Conservative government has come under fire in the past for emphasizing Canada’s military past at the expense of other social, technological and cultural achievements.

But this is the first time anyone has indicated that celebrating Canada’s past military contributions could actually undermine the Canadian Forces today, which opens a whole new avenue of questioning for the government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced this week that the government will be holding cross-country consultations in advance of celebrations over the next four years to mark a large number “defining moments” in Canada’s history.

While these moments will include some non-military milestones such as Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, the majority will center on the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the Second World War’s 75th anniversary.
Read more... )

I really have to question commemoration of some of these events. Fenian Raids, Second Ypres, The Somme, the Halifax Explosion, Hong Kong, these were comical non-events (well, just the Fenian Raids) or Canadian disasters. And again, why observe the beginnings of wars?
ltmurnau: (CX)
So, pips and crowns and "Fusilier Bloggins" again.
(see below the cut if you don't know what I'm talking about)

Er-hr-h'rm... colour me unimpressed.

This is class-A pandering.
A symbolic act from a government that understands well, but really doesn't care, about the large power of small symbols that some people hold very dearly and never relinquished.
It's precisely to placate the grouchy 60+ year olds, exactly those who consider the last 46 years of the Canadian military to be an embarrassment and aberration, that this is being done - I thought the same thing when the RCN and RCAF got renamed, rebadged, what have you a year or two ago.
The Army just got to do this last.
Do you have to think very long about the dominant political power base of this constituency, or their voting behaviour?
Like the emigres who returned after Napoleon, they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

So, it's 1966 or less again - why stop there - red serge and tricorner hats, powdered wigs for Change of Command parades, or even further and return to Decuriones, Centuriones and phalerae worn on the cuirass?

I served too; wore pips on my mess kit and patrols, in fact - that part never went away.
And if I were serving today, I'd be putting up a grey square on my shoulder as well ("3rd Canadian Division" is more evocative than "Land Forces Western Area", but it doesn't give the Army any more actual divisions).
I understand military traditions, more deeply than Stephen Harper does (was he ever even in Wolf Cubs?) but I don't need to look like a photograph of my grandfather to be reminded that I am his grandson.
I recognize window-dressing when I see it, having taken part in many "dog-and-pony shows" in my time served, and this is one of those empty gestures.
The past is past, and while you may admire it or study it, frankly it's infantile and magical thinking to suppose that you can return to it (or rather, your coloured imagination of it) by adopting its trappings.

I'd sooner see the veterans of Canada's longest war taken care of properly, no matter what's on their slip-ons or whether they're addressed as "Rifleman" or not.
I understand it's not an either-or proposition, there's enough money to do both, but to see what's acted upon first betrays the priorities really in play.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (CX)
An interesting take on drones, from teh Chronicle of Higher Education:

March 11, 2013

In the Shadow of Drones

Geoffrey Moss for The Chronicle Review
By David O'Hara And John Kaag

According to legend, at the battle of Thermopylae, the Persians' king, Xerxes, threatened to fire so many arrows at the Spartan soldiers blocking his invasion of Greece that the shafts would darken the sky. The Spartan Leonidas' famous response? "Then we shall fight in the shade." Today, as a growing number of our drones overshadow militants half a world away, it might be a good time to revisit this exchange between the two leaders at Thermopylae.

Leonidas' reply wasn't just bravado; it was contempt. Xerxes probably had no idea how weak his boast made him look. The Spartans were probably not armed with bows, just spears and short swords. The Spartans liked it that way; to fight at a distance was a sign of cowardice. Having been brought up in a strenuous militarist state, Spartan soldiers gladly risked their lives in battle in a way that most of us would find incomprehensible.

Plutarch's records of what Spartan mothers said to their sons as they sent them off to battle indicate that one of the worst things a Spartan could do was throw a weapon to save his skin. "Come back with your shield—or on it," some mothers would say. A son who dropped his shield or weapon was too cowardly to face his opponent, or so frightened of battle that he jettisoned his armor to lighten his load as he ran away. The mothers were saying, in effect, "If you don't come back with your weapons, I'll kill you myself, because I won't have a living coward for a son."

That may sound harsh or outdated—to send your son into hand-to-hand combat when technology existed that could kill his enemy at a distance—but perhaps the Spartan mothers were concerned not just with winning battles, but also with what kind of people their sons would become.

The fact that throughout history we have found certain killing technologies to be uncivilized is instructive. Pope Innocent II banned crossbows and slings in 1139. And some critics of the U.S. drone program still regard fighting at an anonymous distance as underhanded or illegitimate.

We are reminded of the French pilot Trou­in in Graham Greene's 1955 novel The Quiet American. Trouin didn't mind strafing his enemies when they could fire back, but he despised being commanded to drop napalm bombs from a safe height, where small-arms fire could not reach him. "We are fighting all of your wars, but you leave us the guilt," he complains. Others, far away, give the orders, and he must live with the consequences of having killed men who had no chance to fight back.

Today we take the effectiveness of drone strikes to be their legitimation. In our national mythology, we celebrate the Spartan virtues of our military, but at the same time we are becoming increasingly Persian. The ease of our lives makes it difficult to comprehend coming home on our shields. In John Brennan's testimony during recent hearings to confirm him as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, we hear the echoing threats of Xerxes, suggesting that technological superiority can allow us to win wars without really fighting them.

Brennan suggested that drone strikes were used as "a last resort to save lives," presumably soldiers' lives and the lives of those who might be threatened someday by terrorists. Those lives are undoubtedly worth saving, but we also discern in his remarks a growing sentiment about the future of armed conflict: that we do not need to be invested in direct warfare, because now we have use of "targeted lethal force." We no longer need to risk personal injury in actions of "last resort." All we need are arrows—that is, drones.

Of course, Spartan-style cultures, in which people are willing to fight in the shadow of certain death, have their own problems. The Spartan mentality arises in cultures that are often decidedly undemocratic and anti-intellectual. They emphasize not just physical bravery but also self-abnegation and blind devotion to a cause. Often they are unflinchingly invested in conflict simply because they have to be, lacking or eschewing the technological devices that would shield them from harm.

In other words, these martial values arise in communities that embrace Islamic extremism.

And so we rush to fill the sky with modern-day arrows to destroy the modern-day Spartans.

But it is not that simple.

The Persians hoped that their weapons would bring enemies to their knees, but the promised attack only emboldened them. Xerxes' superior forces eventually won that battle, but the legend of the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae gave their compatriots both time and spirit, and the Persians were eventually defeated. Ironically, the weapons that Xerxes hoped would win the war with a minimum of casualties only served to strengthen his enemy's resolve.

In the Brennan hearings, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, raised exactly that concern, quoting retired General Stanley McChrystal, who said recently: "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who have never seen one or seen the effects of one."

The use of certain kinds of weapons might just convince our enemies that we lack the courage of our convictions, or that our weapons are both symptom and disease of a culture willing to kill as long as we don't have to see the fighting. Rather than dismiss that allegation, we should work to ensure that our enemies would be wrong to reach that conclusion.

If we are wise, we will be concerned with more than just winning today's battle. Our soldiers' lives are immeasurably precious, and we should not risk them without grave cause. But surely their souls, and the soul of our nation, are precious, too.

What happens to a soldier who is asked to kill more and more anonymously? What happens to a people who condone deadly hellfire from the sky, triggered 10,000 miles away, and then never know it has fallen? To a people unable to imagine that anyone could regard a cloud of incoming arrows as a pleasant shade to fight in? Or to a people for whom the expediency of drones and the avoidance of risk are sufficient to dismiss any ethical concerns they might engender?

David O'Hara is an associate professor of philosophy and classics at Augustana College, in South Dakota, and John Kaag is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
ltmurnau: (CX)
Found this in the Chronicle of Higher Ecducation, 7 Jan 2013.

Guns, Violence, and the 'Red Dawn' Films

By Aaron B. O'Connell

On July 19, 1984, the producers of Red Dawn had a problem. In less than a month, they were due to release the director John Milius's pro-gun, survivalist action film depicting a Communist invasion of the United States, and the theatrical trailer and movie posters—both of which featured Soviet troops in or near a McDonald's restaurant—were already completed. But those materials now had to be changed because the previous day, a well-armed paranoid survivalist named James Oliver Huberty had entered a McDonald's in San Ysidro, Calif., and killed 21 people (including five children) with an Uzi submachine gun. The movie's marketing team recalled some of the posters and removed the McDonald's scene from the trailer. (The opening scene, in which the invaders gun down kids in a school, was left intact.) Red Dawn went on to become a cult classic and helped lead a generation of young men—yours truly included—into the military.

This Thanksgiving, Red Dawn emerged again, but without Milius's explicit Second Amendment politics. And like the original, the new Red Dawn is in the awkward position of celebrating gun-toting teens on the screen as America mourns a mass slaughter of children in real life.

In the days ahead, we may finally start a serious conversation about gun violence in America. That conversation should include these films, for they are part of the problem, too. They, and similar films and video games, break down the barriers between violent fantasies and violent action, strengthen the entrenched opposition to common-sense gun laws, and contribute to the continuing militarization of American society and culture.

The conversation about gun violence should include these films, for they are part of the problem, too.
Read more... )
Aaron B. O'Connell is an assistant professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, and author of Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps (Harvard University Press, 2012).
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You may have heard, or not, that the Canadian Museum of Cvilization, once known as the Museum of Man, will be renamed, repurposed and cleaned out and moved into a new building in time for Canada Day 2017.

It will be renamed the Museum of Canadian History (NTS: check name later, the Net is acting up and I can't have mopre than one fershlugginer window open at a time) and will shift its focus to, well let's say more national topics, including highlighting Canada's military history and our relation with the British monarchy.

LAWRENCE MARTIN (yes, that's how he writes it) weighs in on this in today's Globe and Mail:


Don’t curate the peacemaking out of Canadian history

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Oct. 16 2012, 2:00 AM EDT

In keeping with their wish to refashion the national consciousness, our arch-conservatives have an eye on museums.

As reported in this newspaper, changes will see the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the largest museum in the land, become a history museum with an emphasis on showcasing our great deeds.

Other museums, according to the report, will be asked to do more to reflect past glories. It’s expected there will be an emphasis on the military and conflicts, such as the War of 1812. In keeping with this, the government has announced it is renaming buildings in Ottawa in honour of 1812 veterans. The monarchy will be given a greater place in museums, as will our sporting heritage, particularly hockey. At hockey games, we’re now expected to stand and cheer thunderously when military personnel are introduced, as though it’s the 1940s.

The retooling of museums – the Museum of Civilization, anthropologically dreary, does need a facelift – may well be a commendable exercise. There’s nothing wrong with making our past as storied as possible, especially given the historical vacuum in which large segments of the population reside.

But given the Conservatives’ proclivities, as reflected in their confrontational foreign policy and their affinity for old wars, there’s concern that they won’t get it right, that a lot of our history will go missing.

As fine an idea as it is to celebrate our armed forces and wartime contributions, what about our opposite inclinations? Our postwar history, before the arrival of the Harper government, is predominantly a story about Canada as peacemaker, bridger of differences, conciliator. We were never a bellicose, aggressor nation, not before this period either, and we should never be portrayed as one.

In Ottawa, we already have a big spanking new war museum. To go along with it, far be it from anyone to suggest we have something like a museum of peace. But if we did, we could fill it with some praiseworthy stuff.

For the half-century in question, we could start with the exemplary work of Lester Pearson, who, having urged restraint in Korea, was the key player in bringing about a close to the perilous Suez crisis. We could showcase his government’s opposition to the Vietnam War, particularly the Temple University speech calling on Lyndon Johnson to halt the bombing.

It’s curious that the Tories are naming an icebreaker after John Diefenbaker. Far from being a militarist, Mr. Diefenbaker, who had a peacenik foreign minister in Howard Green, went about opposing (though in a foolhardy manner) the stationing of nuclear warheads on Canadian soil and challenging John Kennedy’s adventurism at every turn.

Then came Pierre Trudeau. He pushed to slow the arms race, made an opening to China, got far too cozy with Fidel Castro and staged a world peace mission in the early 1980s. His efforts to get the superpowers to the bargaining table were ridiculed by some. But Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev eventually got around to the kind of consultation and co-operation Mr. Trudeau had advocated.

Under Brian Mulroney and his effective foreign minister, Joe Clark, came a strong stand against apartheid and American intervention in Nicaragua. Through these decades, Ottawa pressed for multilateralism and disarmament, the prominent role played by the Chrétien government in the international treaty banning land mines being just one example.

Our current Prime Minister, given his initial enthusiasm for a coalition of the willing, won’t wish to see much museum space devoted to Jean Chrétien’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq. But we were on the right side of history there, as was the case with Vietnam.

We did fight in some conflicts, and admirably. Not all our efforts at peace-brokering can be said to have been well-advised. But there’s a lot of proud history in that half-century of restraint. Our museums and other accountings of the Canadian record should reflect it.


The thing that really upsets me about all this is the continual editiing, revising, and altering of our history, really rather blatantly when you think about it, in the service of a very particular mindset.

I suppose more people would be upset about this if they knew what was being changed, de-emphasized or just cut out, but they don't.

And now, like as not, they won't.
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Tories plan War of 1812 monument on Parliament Hill

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Sep. 11 2012, 3:53 PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 12 2012, 11:03 AM EDT

The Liberal prime minister who famously declared the 20th century would belong to Canada will soon be sharing a corner of Parliament Hill with a new Conservative government monument to the 19th century.

As part of a nearly $30-million spending binge to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Tories are erecting a memorial to the long-ago conflict that pitted the United States against what would later become Canada.

In a call for bids to design the monument released Tuesday, Ottawa unveiled plans to situate it just metres from a statue of Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh prime minister.

The 1812 edifice should dwarf the Liberal politician’s likeness, judging from sketches unveiled by the federal government. The selected site measures about 50 square metres.
Read more... )
This is amazing.
Over 3/4 of a million dollars for a monument, as part of a $30 million bill to commemorate a half-hearted clusterf**k of a border skirmish that achieved pretty much nothing?
The historical revisionism and skewed priorities on display here are breathtaking.

I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of the designs the committee will entertain will be in the form of a triumphal arch.
Large, in-your-face and kitschy: Fascist aesthetics.
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DATE: 9 August, 2012

SUBJECT: After Action Report – Exercise CONNECTIONS 2012

FROM: Brian Train

TO: Dear Readers

CC: Dear Linkers


CONNECTIONS is an annual conference on civilian and military wargaming. 2012 marked the 19th consecutive year this conference had been held. This year the conference was hosted by the Centre for Applied Strategic Learning (CASL), a department of the National Defense University located at Fort McNair, Washington DC. The general purpose of the action was for this writer to deploy from home station in Victoria, Canada, participate in the Connections 2012 annual wargaming conference with host nation (HN) personnel in Washington DC, and to redeploy to Victoria.

Key tasks during the exercise were to:

- Attend and participate in presentations and discussions during the conference;
- Meet new people and strengthen connections with prior acquaintances;
- Conduct a major “show and tell” of the relevant design work I have been doing over the last year;
- Facilitate a working group in the Game Lab event, wherein conference participants collectively discussed the opening stages of how to design an educational game on a disaster response situation (for these purposes, the [REDACTED]).


This exercise was conducted in five phases:

(i) Pre-deployment Phase: 1 June – 16 July 2012

In the pre-deployment phase, the focus of training was on logistical preparations for deployment and redeployment, and preparing game designs for the “game demos” part of the conference. Some time was spent doing preliminary reading and planning for the Game Lab event.

(ii) Deployment Phase: 17 July – 22 July 2012

17 July – On arrival at the Victoria Airport at 0dark30, it was discovered that the flight to Los Angeles was cancelled. After considerable time spent waiting in line and with an agent, emplaned for Vancouver BC, where I sat for several hours before emplaning for San Francisco, followed by a flight to Los Angeles. Arrived over six hours late; however, the rail portion of the deployment was the following day so there was no worry about making a connection.

18-20 July – travel to Union Station in Los Angeles to catch the afternoon train to Chicago, called the Southwest Chief. Travelling with Joe Miranda (editor of Strategy and Tactics, World at War and Modern War magazines, the world’s most prolific wargame designer, bon vivant, raconteur and inveterate punster). I’d never taken a long train trip before. Accommodation on the train was a roomette, which consisted of two chairs facing each other that converted into a bed at night, while a second bunk could be swung down from the ceiling. It was awfully hot so it was not easy to get enough sleep. And finally, 28 miles short of Chicago after travelling over 2,600 miles from Los Angeles, the engine packed it in – I think we just ran out of gas but it’s Amtrak, they don’t have to explain what happened. We waited three hours in a stifling hot car that we could not leave with no power and windows that did not open, until they sent out an engine to push us into Chicago very slowly.

Me and Joe Miranda in "Albakoikee", NM

After a pre-planned night and day in Chicago, we took the train the rest of the way to Washington DC. After crossing the Mississippi everything was much greener and bumpier than the West, which looked fairly badly affected by the drought. The hotel in Washington was a block from the Navy Yard Metro stop, which was convenient, and a bit more than a mile from the National Defense University. We usually caught rides though, as it was over 95 degrees and humid all the time we were there it would have been a pretty hot walk.

(iii) Employment Phase: 23 July – 26 July 2012

Conduct of the conference at National Defense University, Washington DC. I’ve outlined the entire agenda, with comments and rambling from my notes (in italics) on the parts I attended.


Day 4, Thursday, 26 July, Marshall Hall 155

This was largely Working Groups outbriefs and the best part, the Connections “Hot Wash” discussion. See 3. Lessons Learned.

(iv) Redeployment Phase: 26 July – 29 July 2012

Spent Thursday and Friday walking around Washington with Joe Miranda. Thursday afternoon we went to the Dupont Circle area to scope out a nightclub that was going to have some kind of Goth night, and spent some time at a nicely stocked, very cheap bookstore that was right next door. Later walked around in Georgetown and had lunch there. That night we went back to the club (Phase 1), but the club remained shut even after 2200, so we walked back towards downtown, passing by the White House at midnight – there was one small light glowing there, as if the President had gotten up in the middle of the night and left the bathroom light on. All the Metros were shut down it was so late, so in the end we got a taxi back and went to bed about 0130.

Friday we walked around looking at many monuments, and I went into the Smithsonian (well, the one that is dedicated to American history, there are about five other Smithsonians) for a short while. Quite unexpectedly at the Lincoln Memorial we ran into Callie Cummins and Chris Cummins Jr., of Decision Games, who had been at the conference to sell a few games.

Saturday I saw Joe to Union Station as he was catching the train all the way back to Los Angeles, and then took the train out to Maryland, where I was met by Volko Ruhnke. We played a few turns of A Distant Plain and had a nice dinner with him and his wife. Got back later and finished packing and moving items around various bags, as I usually do before travelling.

Sunday 29 July, returned by air to Victoria, Canada. Dulles Airport is a LONG way out of the city! Original plan was to go home via Chicago and Calgary, but flight was cancelled due to mechanical breakdown. After several hours delay, I got on a flight to San Francisco, then Victoria, which saw the return home several hours late, and with no luggage (this followed the next day).

(v) Recovery Phase: 30 July 2012 onwards

Post-exercise repairs, cleaning, maintenance and critiques. Begin work on post-conference tasks. See 5.


As always, there were lots of suggestions and lively discussion in the Hot Wash section of the conference. Some of them included:



The conference itself was an unqualified success – the only drawback was that there were so many excellent presentations, it was difficult to choose which to attend and which to pass up.

Approximately [REDACTED] people, mostly from the Beltway region but also from Canada, the European Union, and Singapore, participated. Portions of the conference were livestreamed on the Internet through the [REDACTED], and some speakers took part through videoconferencing.

Less successful were the deployment and redeployment phases – movement plans were drastically revised each way, due to circumstances beyond the unit’s control. However, the effects of the changes were mitigated by having extra “down time” incorporated into travel plans to begin with. And packing lighter would have been a help, as it would have allowed my bag to stay with me! I also found it difficult to sleep on the train due to the heat and motion, so arrived in Washington without adequate rest. It was certainly intersting to take a long train trip like this, but I'm not sure I would do it again.


I have a number of things to do, read and revise as a result of this conference. Also, much of the rest of the year will be taken up with playtesting and refining A Distant Plain. More details [REDACTED].

Thanks for reading.
ltmurnau: (Default)
From, and posted here for future reference:

The Real Reason the Military Is Going Green
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 11:16
By Natalie Pompilio, YES! Magazine | News Analysis

Retired Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson calls himself "an accidental environmentalist."

His epiphany about climate change started with a tactical problem. In 2006 and 2007, when he served as the military's chief logistician in Iraq, he coordinated the transport of millions of gallons of fuel across the country to power everything from vehicles to the large compressors used to cool individual tents—or, as Anderson puts it, for "air conditioning the desert." He was taking one casualty for every 24 fuel convoys, and he was doing 18 convoys a day. That's one casualty every other day. He needed to get the trucks off the road. He needed to find a way to reduce the military's fuel use.

"There's a direct relationship between energy and the military. The more energy consumed, the less effective you are militarily because you're more vulnerable," said Anderson, who reported to General David Petraeus. "They love to take out our field trucks. They make a big boom when they do."

Since then, Anderson, like many military leaders, has realized that guzzling oil makes the United States vulnerable in other ways. "I'm a soldier," Anderson said. "Why should I be concerned about climate change? Climate change brings about global instability. That makes the world more vulnerable and it's more likely that soldiers like myself will have to fight and die somewhere."

Never mind D.C. conservatives who claim to be tough on defense and suspicious of climate science: The Department of Defense isn't denying that climate change is a major national security threat. "The change is happening. It's just a reality," said retired Marine Col. Mark Mykleby, a former strategy assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Science tells us it's coming our way."

The Defense Department first acknowledged climate change as a factor in its operations in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. "[Climate change] may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world," read the report.

Now the military is going green. Taking fuel trucks off the road. Developing solar energy.

Their reasons are strategic, not altruistic. "The Department of Defense is involved in this area for national security reasons," said Dan Nolan, co-author of the blog, which monitors the department's positions on energy use. "It's not economic. It's not environmental. It's a national security mission."

But the message is clear. From the most practical standpoint, the United States cannot afford to ignore climate change or rely heavily on fossil fuels any longer. The question remains, can the weight and pragmatism of military leadership sway political leaders in Washington?

The Long Fight Against Oil Addiction

The military has been concerned about oil dependence for decades. "This isn't some newly green military," said Andrew Holland, senior fellow for energy and climate policy at the non-partisan American Security Project. "When they do have to fight a war, they want to mitigate risks to their personnel and equipment."

And foreign oil use has long put the United States at risk. "Eight presidents have declared addiction to foreign oil a threat to national security," said Bill James, an Army veteran who now runs a company that offers a solar-powered transportation system. "The military cannot consume at the scale it is consuming and still defend the nation. If you're not self-reliant and able to defend the nation within its resources, you're not able to defend the nation."

James goes even further, noting that if the eight presidents, from Nixon to Obama, are correct, then foreign oil is an enemy of the Constitution. That would mean anyone using foreign oil is aiding and abetting an enemy. "Anyone," he said, "who doesn't aggressively cut oil consumption to within domestic production is technically committing treason."

Climate change simply brings the question of alternative fuel development into sharper focus.

"[Climate change is] a threat multiplier, increasing instability in some of the most volatile regions in the world," said Lt. Gen. Norman Seif, a retired U.S. Air Force commander who is now active in promoting clean energy. "That can be a threat to us and our own national security."

Shrinking Carbon Bootprints

The military imperative is to prepare. In many ways, it's leading the way in the development of new energy sources, said Brandon Fureigh, advocacy director for the Truman National Security Project. And with a massive budget and an oversized carbon bootprint, the military is in a good position to drive innovation. "The military has always been a good testing ground for technology in general and one reason is they have a large budget," he said, noting how ideas sparked by military research trickle into the general business arena. Its budget for clean energy has tripled in the last four years to $1.2 billion.

The Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate breaks down the different approaches each military branch is taking to reduce dependence on oil in its report, "From Barracks to the Battlefield. Clean Energy Innovation and America's Armed Forces."

For example, the Army is working toward a "Net Zero" Initiative, starting with 17 bases that, by 2020, will use only as much energy and water as they can produce. It has added 4,000 electric vehicles to its arsenal and installed its first wind turbine.

The Air Force has set the aggressive goal of obtaining 50 percent of aviation fuels from "alternative blends" by 2016. About 99 percent of its aviation fleet is certified to fly on a 50-50 alternative blend of biofuels and jet fuel. The Navy has a goal of creating a "Great Green Fleet," a strike group powered largely by biofuels, by 2016. It is also experimenting with algae-based biofuels. Not all of their new fuels are green: the options include a synthetic liquid fuel that is derived from coal or natural gas. And some crop-based biofuels have a major environmental impact because they divert land from forest and food cultivation. But the Defense Department requires that new fuels have a carbon footprint no greater than what they replace.

The Marines aim to reduce battlefield fuel demand by 25 percent by 2015 and 50 percent by 2025, in part through the introduction of solar-powered equipment. In March, Marine Col. Bob Charette, director of Expeditionary Energy for the Marine Corps, told States News Service that the solar-powered generators were also saving lives. "A lot of our enemies can follow us around by the noise of our generators," he said. "Marines start using this, and they believe it scares the bad guys because they can't hear where we're at because there's no generator running."

Fureigh noted that solar-powered equipment allowed the Marines to clear their packs of batteries, leaving more room for food and other supplies.

To those who say climate change is a myth, Dan Nolan says that, at the very least, the research and work the military is doing will result in cleaner air and better technology.

Politics or Pragmatism?

Of course, not everyone supports the military's green policies. In February, Virginia Republican Representative Randy Forbes pounded his desk after hearing Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus Jr. detail some of the Navy's plans for going greener during a House Armed Services Committee Meeting.

"You're not the Secretary of the Energy—you're Secretary of the Navy," Forbes told Mabus.

Instead of spending money on biofuels, Forbes said the Navy should spend more money on new ships and airplanes.

"I love green energy. I'm not against it," Forbes said. "It's a matter of priorities."

Mabus also caught an earful from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), during a March hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Inhofe, who is a vocal denier of human-made climate change, said the high cost of a "50/50 blend" of diesel fuel and a biofuel supplement—$15 per gallon versus $5 per gallon for regular fuel—made its use prohibitive.

Similarly, Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) said the Navy's biofuels push could become a "Solyndra situation," referring to the now-bankrupt solar energy company that benefited from millions of dollars in Energy Department loan guarantees.

To wean the military off foreign oil, the United States should drill domestically, some opponents say. But Fureigh, of the Truman National Security Project, said that won't work.

"Oil is a global commodity," he said. "Even if we flooded the market with the oil in our reserves, gas would still be high because OPEC would shut down production."

"Being reliant on a single source of fuel is a danger in itself," Fureigh said. "It's a significant cost for the U.S. in life and treasure to be reliant on this particular source of fuel."

Democrats have come out in support of the military's stances on energy efficiency. Senators Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse recently held a hearing with the Environment and Public Works Committee that reviewed the military's commitment to sustainable energy. "Sustainable energy investments by the military also benefit the taxpayer," said Sanders. "The Department of Defense is the largest consumer of energy in America ... So it is no wonder the military sees reducing reliance on costly fossil fuels—imported in some cases from hostile, unstable nations—as a priority."

And the White House is pushing for more. Obama and the Department of Defense recently announced plans to invest in billions of dollars worth of renewable energy projects around the country. The department will develop 3 gigawatts of renewable power in the next several years, equivalent to powering 750,000 homes.

Cleaner Energy, A More Secure World

In the Middle East, realities in the field lend immediacy and urgency to new strategies that can break America's oil habits. By Anderson's count, more than 1,000 Americans have been killed moving fuel in Iraq and Afghanistan, usually in convoys that some soldiers call "Taliban Targets."

After writing an op-ed on the subject that appeared in The New York Times, Anderson received an email from an Army company commander in Afghanistan. The commander explained that every two weeks, he had to shut down his combat operations to get fuel and, while he was gone, the enemy would re-entrench their positions. "I have to start over every two weeks," he wrote.

With 5 million houses in foreclosure, we are rediscovering that living sustainably includes living affordably.

Energy efficiency and military effectiveness go hand in hand. When there are fewer soldiers spending their time protecting fuel convoys, there's more time for them to do hearts-and-minds-type missions.

Anderson stressed it's not just foreign oil that's the enemy; fossil fuels, in general, are the problem. He has publicly come out against domestic developments like the Keystone XL pipeline because, he said, they would only feed our oil addiction.

In an editorial co-written with other former military officers and published in multiple newspapers, Anderson noted that "clean energy is a solution we must pursue."

"Without changing our energy mix," he wrote, "we will continue to undermine our economic stability—and with it, our stature in the world."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Natalie Pompilio wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Natalie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She is the co-author of More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell (Temple University Press, 2006), and her work appeared in Best Newspaper Writing 2006 (Poynter Institute). More at

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From today's Glib & Stale:

Spain grants citizenship to Canadian veteran of the Spanish Civil War
adrian morrow
AURORA, ONT.— From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 8:02PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 8:19PM EST

On a spring day in the hills near Valencia, Jules Paivio stood before a firing squad.

The young Canadian was a long way from home, the woods of Northern Ontario, but he was ready to meet death. He had known when he volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War, in the fall of 1936, that he probably wouldn’t return alive.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, Mr. Paivio and several fellow prisoners raised their fists in a show of defiance. But a sudden stroke of luck saved his life. In fact, Mr. Paivio came out of the war unscathed. Today, he is the last surviving Canadian brigadista – one of the men and women who came from around the world to defend Spain’s fledgling republic from the fascism of General Francisco Franco.

Read more... )

On Remembrance Day last year, after the main ceremony I took Aki to the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion memorial near the Legislature. This was put up in 2000, the second one in the country.

In my reading about the Mac-Paps, I noted how many of them were of Finnish extraction, and how many came from British Columbia.

Anyway, after this last honour for the last Canadian brigadista, bestowed by a foreign government at that, I wouldn't look for much more recognition or remembrance from our own.
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I wonder if they specifically waited for the 70th anniversary of the battle to apologize.

Canada accepts Japan's apology for Hong Kong POWs

CBC News Posted: Dec 8, 2011 6:04 AM ET

Canada has accepted the Japanese government's apology for the treatment of prisoners held during the Second World War for five years after the Battle of Hong Kong.

An official statement of regret was delivered in Tokyo on Thursday by Toshiyuki Kato, the Japanese parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs.

Four veterans of the defence of Hong Kong visit Japan to receive that country's official apology Thursday. They are, from left, Gerry Gerrard, Ken Pifher, Derrill Henderson of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association, and Veteran George Peterson (seated). With them is Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney (second from left). SubmittedVeterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney and a delegation from the Canadian Veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong travelled to Japan for the apology and a ceremony on Thursday.

"This important gesture is a crucial step in ongoing reconciliation and a significant milestone in the lives of all prisoners of war," Blaney said in a release. "It acknowledges their suffering while honouring their sacrifices and courage."

More than 50 per cent of the Canadians sent to defend Hong Kong, then a British colony, against the Japanese invasion during the Second World War died, either during the 17½-day battle or during the years of imprisonment, hard labour and deprivation that followed.

"The terrible pain and heavy burden of the Second World War have given way to a mutually beneficial, respectful relationship between Canada and Japan as mature democracies — a legacy of all who served in the Pacific campaigns," Baird said in a statement.

"Today's apology will help in healing as our two great countries move forward."

The allies' battle to defend Hong Kong ended on Christmas Day in 1941, and the survivors were imprisoned either until their death or the end of the war. They were imprisoned in Hong Kong until early 1943, and then in Japan until liberation in September 1945.

Of the 1,975 Canadians who went to Hong Kong, more than 1,050 were either killed or wounded, says Canadians in Hong Kong, a booklet published by Veterans Affairs Canada.

The delegation to Tokyo this week also visited the graves of Canadian soldiers at the British Commonwealth Cemetery at Yokohama.

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Oh dear, and another month slips by. It has been such a busy year, at least since May, and there are only a few weeks left in 2011.

But not time for end-of-year accounting and 2011 memes yet.

Chronological accounting-for-myself:

October 10 (Thanksgiving) - we gave this a miss because Aki had his wisdom teeth out a few days before and couldn't chew - and I was not about to make a turkey smoothie for him. He had five (!) taken out, they are a lot bigger than I remember. The procedure is different now too - when I had mine out, about his age, it involved day surgery in a hospital with a general anaesthetic. He had it done in the dentist's office, with IV sedation. He bled for a day or so and recovered very quickly. The following weekend we had a proper dinner at my mother's.

October 19-22 - I went to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California. Dear Readuhs will remember the conference I went to in early August, and how well one of my games went down at the demonstration period there ( Well, out of that I got an invitation to go to the NPS and talk to them about using digitized versions of this and other games of mine, in a project related to another, much larger project they have going on. I got to make a lunchtime presentation to their Irregular Warfare students, mostly Special Forces captains and majors - I was kind of nervous about this but they were very friendly and interested. I spoke for less than half an hour and they filled up the rest of the time with questions, so I didn't get a chance to talk with them which I really wanted to do. I did have a quick chat with a Marine Corps major who had trained in Armor, and instead of charging across the desert dealing death to enemy tanks from two miles away found himself and his tank company in a neighbourhood of Baghdad, working out which streets would have priority for garbage collection and which block leaders could or couldn't be trusted.

If anyone wants to look at my script or Powerpoint slides, they are here: . This is another blog I have started that will be confined to my game design and "serious games" development and other stuff. Not much there yet though, as it has not proven possible to port my game-design related entries on LJ over to Wordpress en masse.

Anyway, the ensuing discussions with the project team went well, I came up with some new ideas for games for them that I will be working on and I put them in touch with [ profile] emperorkefka who has made up a version of Guerrilla Checkers for Android mobile phones, and will probably do the technical work for the team on what they need for the project. See a screenshot at Little Viking Games.

A "guided gaming session" went less well, I tend to forget that a game I regard as being comparatively simple (especially if I've designed it) is still quite complex to people who have grown up playing ordinary board games or just computer games. As much as I tend to dislike computer games, a lot of the complexity and fiddliness of a game design can be subsumed into the structure and interface of a game. Players do not need to remember what pieces can move where or how, when the program will simply not let them do it, so they can concentrate on playing the game - and that's enough for most players, but there needs to be some explanation of why this or that thing can't happen, or the penalties for doing so. And it's a lot easier to change a sentence to two in a rulebook than it is to rewrite hundreds of lines of code. Anyway, I left them with a big bag of playable copies of my games.

Monterey is a beautiful little town, and Friday night I went out to look around. The NPS is just a few blocks from downtown, so I walked down to the big pier that is full of shops and restaurants. I looked at I don't know how many cheap t-shirts, and got a pound of salt water taffy for Aki (and a bunch of cheap assorted candy from the Walgreen's downtown later). I had a plate of completely ordinary chow mein at a small Chinese restaurant where this huge Mexican family was having dinner - I think it was someone's birthday or something. "Dad" was at the head of the table, obviously the patriarch and wearing the biggest hat - they were having a great time. Later I walked back by a different route but did not turn when I needed to, and ended up walking by this highway to a gigantic shopping mall with no way out except the way you came in, and the buses had all stopped running - in the end I did get out and back, but had walked five miles more than I had planned!

I went back on Saturday the 22nd - the NPS had actually paid for my flight and hotel, which was great. My flights were well spaced so I didn't have to hurry at all; and I have resolved to hand-carry my luggage from now on if I can possibly help it. You can get a lot into a small bag if you roll it right. (I saved even more room on the flight down by forgetting my good pants at home! Luckily I remembered this in the air on the way to San Francisco, and got a pair of acceptable golfing slacks at the pro shop in the airport - otherwise it would have been pretty embarassing.)

October 24 - was my 47th birthday, which we didn't really bother marking except for a good dinner at San Remo. I'm feeling rather more middle-aged now, and while I'm happy to have outlived George Orwell, I don't have TB and haven't come near to matching his output.

October 29 - was "Grave Situation II", the second annual Gothvic Halloween party. (entry in respect of the first: Lianne came out for this one too, and we had a nice time. I was supposed to DJ for the first hour and a bit, but the person who was supposed to bring the CD players didn't show up until late so for the first while I had to improvise some with what Gray had on his laptop, using Mixxx which was not-bad software. No one was dancing anyway, so it was OK - can't post my setlist right now but will later.

October 31 - we just left the lights off. I didn't see any kids out and about. Very disappointing. Aki went to play computer games and have some pizza with his friends.

November 4-6 - We went to deepest darkest Surrey, for BottosCon 2011 - the fifth annual board wargaming convention put on my Rob Bottos. It's small, maybe 60 people came this time and that was the biggest yet. About half of the attendees were Advanced Squad Leader players, who usually don’t play much else (or at least, they came to the convention to play ASL only), and the other half were people playing practically everything else, from non-wargames like Urban Sprawl to Angola or Storming the Reich.

I don’t go to many conventions, and when I do I usually don’t play games – I spend my time talking to people, catching up with friends or trying to interest people in my new designs in the hope of snagging playtesters. Guerrilla Checkers ( ) proved to be a hit again, and someone expressed an interest in writing an iOS application for it so it can be played on iPad, iPhone, iKettle etc., which would be great. I also played out a few turns of the brigade-level version of my Finnish Civil War game ( ), which prompted someone to say that he thought he’d seen everything now, and did a complete run-through with a playtester of a newly written 2006 scenario for my Third Lebanon War game – it worked well and concluded on time, with a marginal Hezbollah victory. A minor revision to two to the rules and they’re even better – the basic designs are quite sound.

We also went out to one of Surrey's many industrial zones - the whole area looks like it's composed of strip malls, suburbs, and warehouse districts, there's more than that but that's what you see form the highway as you're whizzing through - to get 25 pounds of Cerrotru, the metal I use for casting my miniatures. It's gone up in price a lot, and this will probably be the last time I buy it for quite a while. I kind of like going to these industrial parks, reminds me that things are still made or at least assembled here.

Anyway, I went for the gaming and metal, Lianne went for the shopping. The con hotel was next door to the last Skytrain station, so it was easy for her to get downtown without aggravation. She went to check out the Occupy Vancouver campsite at the Vancouver Art Gallery, what she saw and what I've seen of our own Occupy Victoria site makes me think that perhaps it's time to fold the tents and continue the next phase in the fight. The continued and enlarged presence of conspiracy crazies (Truthers, chemtrail people etc.), deinstitutionalized mental health cases, homeless, criminals and drug addicts at these camps are just the sort of thing the detractors of the Occupy movement want to see (and in fact have even been encouraging, as NYPD cops regularly send these people from other parts of Manhattan to Zucotti Park, and police in other cities are infiltrating different Occupy campsites to instigate trouble themselves). Yes, I am fully aware that these people are just as much products of the version of semi-feudal corporate capitalism as anyone else camping out down there, but continuing to sleep out in tents like this will tend to make it easier to trivialize the whole movement as, well, sleeping out in tents.

I'm not going to say anything more about the Occupy movement itself; anyone who reads this has already read what I would say, in many other places and probably better phrased. I was looking up some George Orwell the other day and found this telling chapter from The Road to Wigan Pier, which he wrote in 1936 - he makes some good points, and this chapter contains some of his more spiteful writing, but it's also interesting to look at this from 75 years in his future.

Read more... )
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I loved to tell this story, about how the Canadian Rangers were issued an old Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle on joining and would get 300 rounds of ammunition for it per year for as long as they served. Not any more...


Canadian Rangers to replace storied Lee-Enfield rifles

By David Pugliese, Postmedia News August 1, 2011

After more than 60 years of carrying the venerable Lee-Enfield rifle, those who form Canada's first line of defence in the Arctic are getting new guns [ahem, rifles - "guns" have tripods or wheels].

If all goes well, the Canadian Rangers will receive their new rifles before the end of 2014, Canadian Forces officers said.

The Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Forces Reserve, patrol remote parts of the North and other isolated areas of Canada.

Since they were formed in 1947, the Rangers have been using the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle.

``While the Lee-Enfield is still an excellent weapon and meets the Rangers' requirements, there is difficulty in obtaining spare parts,'' said Forces spokesman Maj. Martell Thompson.

For the last two decades the military has been maintaining the rifles from spare parts taken from other Lee-Enfields.

Although the Canadian Forces are several years away from a shortage of parts, the number of spare components is becoming limited, Thompson pointed out.

At the time the .303-calibre Lee-Enfield was issued to the Rangers, it was the standard service rifle of the Canadian army.


Thompson said after consulting with the Rangers, it was agreed that the new rifle would be in the 7.62mm/ .308 Winchester calibre, as this was best suited to meet the Rangers' requirements. He noted that ``.308 Winchester refers to a specific cartridge that is very similar to the 7.62 x 51 (NATO) cartridge, and is made by several companies.''

The military is in the process of expanding the Ranger force to around 5,000.

Maj. Bruce Gilchrist, the army's project director for small arms, said the plan to replace the Lee-Enfield would see 10,000 new rifles being bought. That amount should cover the need to supply or replace rifles over the next 30 years. Some other units might also want to use the new rifle once it is introduced, he added.

The replacement of the Ranger rifle is one of the items covered under the military's small arms modernization project which is working its way toward government approval. ``If all continues as presently planned the Rangers should see their first rifles before mid-winter in 2014,'' Gilchrist noted.

The small arms project is aiming for government approval in the summer of 2012.

The number of Rangers has increased to around 4,700, up from 4,100 in 2007. The number of Ranger formations, called patrols, went from 161 to 173.

Many Rangers are Aboriginal. They protect Canada's sovereignty by reporting unusual activities or sightings, collecting local data of significance to the Canadian Forces, and conducting surveillance or sovereignty patrols as required, according to the military.

Their mission is ``to provide lightly equipped, self-sufficient, mobile forces in support of the CF's sovereignty and domestic operation tasks in Canada.''

The Canadian army's headquarters authorized the first two Ranger companies in September 1947.

New patrols have been established at Faro in the Yukon Territory, Hay River in the Northwest Territories, Fort Nelson in British Columbia, Eabametoong, Kasabonica and Kingfisher in Ontario, Chisasibi and Iles-De-La-Madeleine in Quebec, and Hamilton in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the government.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay recently met with the Rangers ahead of a major, annual Arctic sovereignty operation.

He presented members of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group with Canadian Forces Decoration medals in recognition of their 12 years of good and loyal service.

Members of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group will take part in Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces' annual northern training exercise. That starts on Aug. 8 and runs for two weeks.

Ottawa Citizen

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News


The Lee-Enfield was and is a remarkable weapon. Examples dating from the First World War in good condition have been taken from captured Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan or found in weapons caches.
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From The Telegraph:

Nicaragua has used an error on Google's Internet maps system to justify an invasion of Costa Rica.

Last week, Nicaraguan troops crossed the San Juan river, which divides the two countries near the Caribbean coast, and planted a flag on Costa Rica's Calero Island. They were led by Eden Pastora, a former Sandinista guerrilla commander, who said they had been dredging the Nicaraguan side of the river and decided to set up camp.

The island sits in a border region whose sovereignty has long been fiercely contested but has been recognized as part of Costa Rica since 1897. Google Maps, however, placed it in Nicaragua. After an inquiry, the company admitted that it had wrongly handed a 1.7-mile stretch to Nicaragua.

"See the satellite photo on Google and there you see the border," Mr Pastora told a Costa Rican newspaper.

Costa Rica, which does not have an army, sent security forces to the border to back up 150 agents who have been there since tensions rose last month. Laura Chinchilla, the Costa Rican president, asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate the incursion and threatened to take the dispute to the UN Security Council. "Costa Rica is seeing its dignity smeared," she said. Her government also pleaded with Google to change the border on its maps.

A Google spokesman said that while it strived to make its maps accurate, "by no means should they be used as a reference to decide military actions between two countries".

Charlie Hale, a geopolicy analyst for Google, blamed the U.S. State Department for providing bad data and wrote in a blogpost: "We are now working to update our maps. Cartography is a complex undertaking, and borders are always changing."

However, Samuel Santos, the Nicaraguan foreign minister, has also written to Google to say that its original map was "absolutely correct" and has rejected the Costa Rican demands.

Embarrassingly for Google, Bing Maps, a rival service created by Microsoft, had drawn the border in line with the usually accepted boundary.

© Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph


They got it half right - Eden Pastora was a Sandinista guerrilla commander, then he broke with the leaders of the regime after the revolution and formed ARDE, a contra organization operating out of Costa Rica, with the nom de guerre of Comandante Cero. The Sandinista government tried to kill him with a bomb at a press conference in 1984 (it was thought at first the CIA did it, because Pastora would not knuckle under to the direction of the US-backed FDN contra organization, but it has since been established that it was the Sandinistas).

According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, but I only have a couple of minutes to look this up), Pastora has been operating a shark-fishing business on the San Juan river.
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Follow on to previous (

Reserve units to form core of new Arctic force

By David Pugliese, Canwest News Service March 23, 2009

The Canadian army has designated four reserve units to form the backbone of a new Arctic force to be created over the next five years.

Eventually the units, with about 480 personnel in total, could conduct exercises up to four times a year in the North. They would also be available to respond to any incident in the Arctic.

At the same time the Canadian Forces is continuing with its expansion of the Canadian Rangers, made up of First Nations and Inuit reservists. That expansion to around 5,000 personnel is expected to be completed by 2012.

The reserve units are 1 Royal New Brunswick Regiment, Voltigeurs de Quebec, Grey and Simcoe Foresters from Ontario and the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

The army will start off with small numbers of soldiers but eventually work its way up to having company size units, with about each having around 120 personnel, said Lt. Col. Bernie Ciarroni of the directorate of land force development, responsible for reserve issues.

The work up will give troops a chance to develop the skills they need as well as get additional equipment for Arctic operations, Ciarroni said.

Depending on the situation, regular army units may respond first or combine to join forces with the reserve units in reacting to an incident in the Arctic.

But Ciarroni noted the selected reserve units will constitute the leadership of the Arctic companies. "Our focus is getting them up there so they can understand the environment and survive in it," he said.

Initially, the units will go up North once or twice a year, with other initiatives added over time. The first operation could be scheduled for the fall.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has emphasized that Canada will increase its military presence in the North as part of his government's Canada First defence strategy.

The navy and air force are also looking at ways to increase their presence in the north.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Wow, a whole battalion (eventually) to police the frozen North. Expanding the Rangers makes a lot more sense, frankly, but if there's no regular force troops available then a company of the Gay and Simple Foresters (as we used to taunt them Back In The Day) will have to do - because you could put the entire Army on sentry-go up there and there'd still be no way to cover all that space.
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Military readies reservists for threats to 'domestic front'
Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Canadian military has embarked on a wide-ranging plan to turn its reserve soldiers into focused units trained and equipped to respond to a nightmarish array of domestic threats, including terrorist "dirty bomb" attacks, biological agent containment, Arctic catastrophes and natural disasters.
Read more... )
Interesting article, including the frank admission that on certain occasions, it is necessary to keep people inside a secured perimeter.

These units would be commanded by "Canada Command", a headquarters created in 2006. It is headed by a Lieutenant General or equivalent rank (right now it's a Vice-Admiral). The Command is divided into six Regional Joint Task Forces (which would exercise operational command of units), three Search and Rescue Regions, and the Combined Force Air Component Commander. These organizations are "delegated authority to task available Canadian Forces resources within their areas of responsibility in support of domestic or continental operations". This includes reservists, of course.

Here also is a link to an interesting corollary, the Civil Assistance Plan that sets out the conditions under which the armed forces of the United States would "assist" the Canadian Forces (and, at least theoretically, the other way round) in the event of some kind of domestic event.

But this also reminds me (and this is what Bercuson is referring to) of the 1950s, a time when the reserve forces were all tasked with something called "National Survival": in effect, they were all to be converted to Civil Defence troops used to keep things in order in case of an atomic war. Enrolments plummeted; no one wanted to join the storied ranks of the Royal Buckshot Fusiliers just to learn how to work a Geiger counter or roll bandages.

(Heh, I just read a page or two of CF slang, and found I actually have a "Bachelor's Degree in Applied Ballistics and Crisis Management" (i.e. I completed Infantry Phase Training) from "Fire and Movement University" (the Combat Training Centre at CFB Gagetown, near Fredericton NB). Class of 1985.)
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The US Army Times reports on a conference where the US Marine Corps concept of using rockets to land as many as 13 lightly armed troops anywhere in the world within two hours of Something Happening was discussed:

(not exactly as illustrated)
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Most snark has been snipped, quotes from sources are in italics. This way it's a lot less annoying to read.

Night of the Living Meds
The U.S. military's sleep-reduction program.
By William Saletan
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at 8:01 AM ET

You don't have to worry anymore about the possibility of an arms race in pharmaceutical enhancement of combat troops. It's already here.

The evidence is laid out in "Human Performance," a report commissioned by the Pentagon's Office of Defense Research and Engineering. The document, issued by a defense science advisory group known as JASON, was published earlier this year. It was flagged by Secrecy News and came to Slate's attention through Wired's military blog, Danger Room.
Read more... )

Steven Wright once noted about his insomnia: "It's like in World War II, when two guys in a foxhole would take turns sleeping while one guy kept watch. Only it's just me, and there's nobody out there...."
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OK, I guess this is an improvement on The Way Things Useta Be:

Student reservists catch a break: Can remain full-time students and have loans deferred while deployed

By Nick Taylor-Vaisey | July 15th, 2008 | 3:59 pm

Reservists deployed overseas with the Canadian Forces will not have to worry about paying off their student loans. They will now be treated as full-time students, according to new regulations passed through Parliament earlier this spring. [snip] Reservists will retain full-time student status, will not be charged interest on loans, and will not have to make payments on their loans while they are deployed overseas.

The Regina Leader-Post quoted Blackburn’s speech to reservists assembled at the Regina Armoury. “Reservists who are students face challenges in balancing their education with their military responsibilities,” he said. “We believe that student reservists deserve our unconditional support while serving our country. That’s why this change to student loans is so important.”

Lt-Col. Malcolm Young, the commander of the Saskatchewan Infantry Tactical Group, told The Leader Post that the regulations would allow those stationed overseas to “focus on the mission” and not be distracted by student loans.



Well, to be accurate, your student loan will be kept warm and waiting for you until you get home from overseas. Meanwhile, working reservists are still waiting for legislation that will properly protect their civilian jobs when they get called out.

But still, things are very different from the 1980s when I was in the reserves. Overseas callouts were rare to nonexistent; pay was low when you got paid at all; equipment was antiquated; considerations were scarce. But there was no war then, besides the spectre of The Big One that would have seen me sent either to Germany to die as cannon fodder, or to Tofino to guard a lighthouse with an empty rifle - I think the latter was much more likely.

And that makes all the difference.
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The US military came out with FM 3-24, "Counterinsurgency", late last year. It is a different manual in that it is not written in the usual style, it incorporated input from social scientists, and it has an annotated bibliography - this last is a first.

Here is the reading list, starting with the canonical works. My comments are offered in [italics]

The Classics

Calwell, Charles E. Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. (Reprint of Small Wars: A Tactical Textbook for Imperial Soldiers [London: Greenhill Books, 1890]. A British major general who fought in small wars in Afghanistan and the Boer War provides lessons learned that remain applicable today.)

Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964. (Lessons derived from the author's observation of insurgency and counterinsurgency in Greece, China, and Algeria.) [Galula's work is very au courant right now, after sitting on the shelf for almost 40 years.]

Gurr, Ted Robert. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. (Describes the relative deprivation theory, which states that unmet expectations motivate those who join rebel movements.)

Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002. (This book, originally published in 1951, explains why people become members of cults and similar groups.)

Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace. New York: Viking, 1977. (One of the best analyses of the approaches and problems on both sides during the war in Algeria. For more on this conflict, see The Battle of Algiers, a troubling and instructive 1966 movie.) [Excellent history, excellent movie.]

Jeapes, Tony. SAS Secret War. London: Greenhill Books, 2005. (How the British Special Air Ser­vice raised and employed irregular tribal forces to counter a communist insurgency in Oman during the 1960s and 1970s.)

Kitson, Frank. Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. (Explanation of the British school of counterinsurgency from one of its best practitioners.)

Komer, Robert. Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN Performance in Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: RAND, 1972. Rand Corporation Web site < > (Bureaucracies do what they do—even if they lose the war.)

Larteguy, Jean. The Centurions. New York: Dutton, 1962. (A fact-based novel about the French experience in Vietnam and Algeria that depicts the leadership and ethical dilemmas involved in counterinsurgency. The sequel The Praetorians is also a classic depiction of the impact of ethical erosion on a military organization.) [Good novel, they made a not-great moview out of it with Anthony Quinn called Lost Command. I do not think The Praetorians is available in English.]

Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991. (Reprint of 1917 book published in London by George Doran. Autobiographical account of Lawrence of Arabia's attempts to organize Arab nationalism during World War I.)

———. "The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence." The Arab Bulletin (20 Aug 1917). Defense and the National Interest Web site < > (Much of the best of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in easily digestible bullet points.)

Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899–1902. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2002. (The definitive treatment of successful U.S. counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines.)

Mao Zedong. On Guerrilla Warfare. London: Cassell, 1965. (Mao describes the principles which he used so well in seizing power in China and which have inspired many imitators.)

McCuen, John J. The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Originally published by Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1966. Discusses theory, practice, and historical keys to victory.) [This is an interesting interpretation of CRW experiences to the date of its writing.]

Race, Jeffrey. War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1972. (Counterinsurgency is scalable. Depicts the evolution of insurgency in one province in Vietnam.)

Thompson, Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Written in 1966. Provides lessons from the author's counterinsurgency experience in Malaya and Vietnam.)

Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. New York: Praeger, 1964. (The French school of counterinsurgency with a focus on "whatever means necessary.")

United States Marine Corps. Small Wars Manual. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1987. Air War College Gateway to the Internet Web site < > (This book, originally published in 1940, covers lessons learned from the Corps' experience in the interwar years.)

West, Bing. The Village. New York: Pocket Books, 1972. (A first-person account of military advisors embedded with Vietnamese units.)

Overviews and Special Subjects in Counterinsurgency

Asprey, Robert. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. 2 vols. New York: William Morrow, 1994. (First published in 1975. Presents the history of guerrilla war from ancient Persia to modern Afghanistan.) [Very thick and very detailed.]

Baker, Ralph O. "The Decisive Weapon: A Brigade Combat Team Commander's Perspective on Information Operations." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 13–32. (A brigade combat team commander in Iraq in 2003–2004 gives his perspective on information operations.)

Corum, James and Wray Johnson. Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003. (Depicts uses and limits of airpower and technology in counterinsurgency.)

Davidson, Phillip. Secrets of the Vietnam War. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1990. (MACV commander General Westmoreland's intelligence officer provides an insightful analysis of the intricacies of the North Vietnamese strategy of dau tranh ["the struggle"].)

Ellis, John. From the Barrel of a Gun: A History of Guerrilla, Revolutionary, and Counter-insurgency Warfare from the Romans to the Present. London: Greenhill, 1995. (A comprehensive short overview of counterinsurgency.)

Hammes, T.X. The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. Osceola, WI: Zenith Press, 2004. (The future of warfare for the West is insurgency and terror according to a Marine with Operation Iraqi Freedom experience.) [Recommended.]

Krepinevich, Andrew Jr. The Army and Vietnam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. (Argues that the Army never adapted to the insurgency in Vietnam, preferring to fight the war as a conventional conflict with an emphasis on firepower.)

Merom, Gil. How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. (Examines the cases of Algeria, Lebanon, and Vietnam. Determines that great powers lose small wars when they lose public support at home.)

Nagl, John A. Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. (How to learn to defeat an insurgency. Foreword by Peter J. Schoomaker.) [Another recommended work, by one of the authors of FM 3-24.]

O'Neill, Bard E. Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005. (A framework for analyzing insurgency operations and a good first book in insurgency studies.) [Recommended.]

Sepp, Kalev I. "Best Practices in Counterinsurgency." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 8–12. (Historical best practices for success in counterinsurgency.)

Shy, John and Thomas W. Collier. "Revolutionary War" in Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986. (One of the best overview of the various counterinsurgency schools, discussing both the writings and the contexts in which they were developed.)

Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harvest/HBJ, 2000. (Describes the impact of General Creighton Abrams on the conduct of the war in South Vietnam. While he improved unity of effort in counterinsurgency, the North Vietnamese were successfully focusing on facilitating American withdrawal by targeting will in the United States.)

Taber, Robert. War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2002. (Explains the advantages of the insurgent and how to overcome them.)

Contemporary Experiences and the War on Terrorism

Alwin-Foster, Nigel R.F. "Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations." Military Review 85, 6 (Nov-Dec 2005), 2–15. (A provocative look at U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq in 2003-2004 from a British practitioner.)

Barno, David W. "Challenges in Fighting a Global Insurgency." Parameters 36, 2 (Summer 2006), 15–29. (Observations from a three-star commander in Afghanistan.)

Chiarelli, Peter W. and Patrick R. Michaelis. "Winning the Peace: The Requirement for Full-Spectrum Operations," Military Review 85, 4 (Jul-Aug 2005), 4–17. (The commander of Task Force Baghdad in 2004 describes his lessons learned.)

Collins, Joseph J. "Afghanistan: Winning a Three Block War." The Journal of Conflict Studies 24, 2 (Winter 2004), 61–77. (The former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations provides his views on achieving success in Afghanistan.)

Crane, Conrad and W. Andrew Terrill. Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-conflict Scenario. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2003. < > (Prescient look at the demands of rebuilding a state after changing a regime.) [Conrad Cran presented on FM 3-24 at the December MORS meeting I went to, and he was pretty impressive.]

Filkins, Dexter. "What the War Did to Colonel Sassaman." The New York Times Magazine (23 Oct 2005), 92. (Case study of a talented 4th Infantry Division battalion commander in Iraq in 2003-2004 who made some questionable ethical decisions that ended his career.)

Gunaratna, Rohan. Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. Berkeley, CA: University of Berkeley Press, 2003. (The story behind the rise of the transnational insurgency.)

Hoffman, Bruce. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2004. Rand Corporation Web site < > (Analysis of America's efforts in Iraq in 2003 informed by good history and theory.)

Kepel, Gilles. The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2004. (A French explanation for the rise of Islamic extremism with suggestions for defeating it.)

Kilcullen, David. "Countering Global Insurgency: A Strategy for the War on Terrorism." Journal of Strategic Studies 28, 4 (Aug 2005), 597–617. (Describes the war on terrorism as a counterinsurgency campaign.) [Kilcullen was a LCOL in the Australian Army and now advises the American military. I've read all these articles and they are excellent.]

———. "'Twenty-Eight Articles': Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 103–108. (Australian counterinsurgent prescribes actions for captains in counterinsurgency campaigns.)

———. "Counterinsurgency Redux," Survival 48, 4 (Winter 2006-2007), 111–130. (Discusses insurgency's evolution from the classic Maoist form to the modern transnational, shifting coalitions that challenge the United States today.)

Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. New York: Modern Library, 2003. (A controversial but important analysis of the philosophical origins of transnational insurgency.)

McFate, Montgomery. "Iraq: The Social Context of IEDs." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 37–40. (The insurgents' best weapon doesn't grow next to roads—it's constructed and planted there. Understanding who does that, and why, helps defeat improvised explosive devices.)

Metz, Steven and Raymond Millen, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 21st Century: Reconceptualizing Threat and Response. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2004. (Longtime scholars of counterinsurgency put the war on terrorism in historical context.)

Multi-national Force–Iraq. "Counterinsurgency Handbook," 1st ed. Camp Taji, Iraq: Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, May, 2006. (Designed to help leaders at all levels conduct counterinsurgency operations but focused at the company, platoon, and squad levels. Contains a variety of principles, considerations, and checklists.)

Packer, George. The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. (A journalist for The New Yorker talks to Iraqis and Americans about Operation Iraqi Freedom.)

———. "The Lesson of Tal Afar: Is It Too Late for the Administration to Correct Its Course in Iraq?" The New Yorker (10 Apr 2006), 48–65. (The 2005 success of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment with the clear-hold-build tactic in Tal Afar.)

Petraeus, David. "Learning Counterinsurgency: Observations from Soldiering in Iraq." Military Review 86, 1 (Jan-Feb 2006), 2–12. (Commander of the 101st and Multinational Security Transition Command–Iraq passes on his personal lessons learned from two years in Iraq.)

Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. (A former foreign service with Afghanistan experience explains the motivation of terrorists—not deprivation, but the need to belong.)
ltmurnau: (Default)
From I have read Nagl's work and it is good; the trends identified in this article are not good.

An Officer and a Family Man
Why is the Army losing so many talented mid-level officers?

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, at 5:56 PM ET

The early retirement of a lieutenant colonel ordinarily wouldn't merit the slightest mention. But today's news that Lt. Col. John Nagl is leaving the Army is a big deal.

It's another sign, more alarming than most, that the U.S. military is losing its allure for a growing number of its most creative young officers. More than that, it's a sign that one of the Army's most farsighted reforms—a program that some senior officials regard as essential—may be on the verge of getting whacked.
Read more... )

The Small Wars Journal is a very good site, if you are interested in this sort of thing: the Journal is all-online and free.


ltmurnau: (Default)

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