Monthly Archives: November 2010

Afghan Roundup

Last week was not a good week in Afghanistan…

First, the ‘high ranking’ Taliban member that had been negotiating with Karzai?  Yeah, not so much.

They now believe he was nothing more than a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.
Let the ass covering begin!
American officials say they were skeptical from the start about the identity of the man who claimed to be Mullah Mansour — who by some accounts is the second-ranking official in the Taliban, behind only the founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar.
Interesting to note how Fox news titled the story:  ‘Team Obama Duped by Taliban Impostor‘  Reading that blurb, I’m not sure you’d even know there were any U.S. military personnel involved.  Certainly not Gen. Petraeus.
Senior American officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, said the talks indicated that Taliban leaders, whose rank-and-file fighters are under extraordinary pressure from the American-led offensive, were at least willing to discuss an end to the war.
One wonders how they’d title a victory in Afghanistan (or anywhere else) without giving Obama credit.  Look guys, if you’re going to claim Pertaeus ‘saved’ Iraq then he’s got to take the hits too (No, they don’t.  eds.).  Really, how do these guys merit press credentials?
There was a bit of a dust up about the decision to send some tanks to Afghanistan.  There’s some back and forth about how we’ll finally be able to kick some ass or that it’s counterproductive to COIN but I think they aren’t that big a deal since there’s only going to be 16 of them.
It also assumes that Afghans see a significant difference between a tank and our other armored vehicles, which I doubt (and I mean from a messaging point of view here, not a firepower one).
I agree with Waltz:
To be clear, fault does not lie with the MRAP, MATV, or any other armored vehicle.  It lies with how commanders are using the vehicles due to their aversion to risk and their attempts to minimize coalition injuries at the expense of the broader counterinsurgency mission.
We’re buttoning up again.  Force protection is king and everything else is secondary.  So, instead of getting out into the villages, immersing with the population and sharing risks and rewards with our partners, we buzz through villages “we are trying to win over as we peer at them through 6 inches of plate glass and armor.”
Waltz again:
Ultimately, the IEDs prevent us from going where the insurgents do not want us to go. Many people fail to realize that causing casualties is only a side benefit of the IED. The true prize for the insurgent commander is separating the coalition and Afghan security forces from the populace. Every time we add another layer of armor in response to casualties, we are playing right into their hands.
It’s just another manifestation of the ‘tyranny of fires‘.
I find the timing interesting, therefore, that the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team has just released a report on the importance of partnering with local populations and security forces (even more interesting since the report was written in September and just released -or re-released this week).
I wonder if this reflects some sort of ideological battle within the DoD about how to proceed or just another example of the left and right hands not speaking to each other again.

Music Monday

You may be wishing you could do this if you stuffed yourself this past Thanksgiving.

God Lives Underwater – From Your Mouth

Hey, where’s my tax funded grope?

I had occasion to go through the security line at Philadelphia International Airport today and I have to say that this may have been the fastest I ever zipped through security.

I didn’t even see one of the full body scanners although I’ve read that they’re installed here (perhaps for international flights?).  The screeners did, however, do some sort of a half-assed pat down in conjunction with the metal detector.

So, I wasn’t able to strike a blow for freedom (and downright contrariness) but I’m not beat yet!  Stay tuned for the return trip…

One other observation for the general public:  People, please.  Pajamas are NOT suitable for wandering around in public areas.  Consider this your (final) warning.  Violate this rule again and you risk me unleashing my robot army…

Given that I can get free internet access just about anywhere else, what’s the deal with restricting access in airports?

Unusual Swedish story of the day…

It drives Mrs. TwShiloh nuts when I point out stories like this but I just can’t resist.  I mean really, who could resist reading a story like this:

An internet video featuring naked Swedish high school students frolicking with farm animals and riding tractors on school property is nothing out of the ordinary for Sweden, according to the school’s principal.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is pure journalistic gold!

Now, in what alternate universe could you imagine this sort of story breaking in the U.S. and the principal making a statement like this:

“This kind of thing happens all the time,” the school’s principal, Peter Gustavsson told The Local.

“There’s nothing wrong with being naked. That’s still allowed.”

The film is here and is totally non-sexual (I don’t think I could make it past the 2 minute mark before I got bored) so I include it only for historical purposes.  While the principal bemoaned the fact that this film was in the public domain and could haunt the actors in the future (all were 18-19 when the film was made) to be honest I find that hard to believe.  I think attempts to generate some sort of scandal based on this wouldn’t elicit more than a hefty yawn.

So…while I wouldn’t be thrilled with a child of mine cavorting around in the buff on film I could probably think of a dozen alternatives that would be less thrilling and more dangerous.

Ave! Caesar!

Ave! Caesar! Now take those hobnails off and put them on the conveyor belt.

In recent weeks these security measures have been stepped up as barbarian threats have become more pronounced. Accordingly, at many checkpoints along the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Jordan, Nile, Niger, Tigris, Euphrates, and Potomac [check that last one -JC] we are requiring travelers to lift their togas or in some cases to allow one of my shorter legionaries to look up their togas – a procedure I have named the Veni Vidi. [I can’t think of a third “V” word just now -JC]

(h/t Phronesisaical)

Enough with the drama

The animal kingdom is going crazy…Certainly you remember the dramatic chipmunk

This apparently goes beyond the mammalian kingdom and birds are getting into the act as well

And…whatever the hell this thing is…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Light posting for this weekend…Americans will be too busy digesting massive quantities of turkey to care about the internet and foreigners will…will…what do you do when we stop paying attention?

Even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I’d like to send my best wishes to my foreign readers and say that you are included in the list of things I’m thankful for.

Now, for those of you wondering what we’ll be having at the TwShiloh Mountain Redoubt ™ this year, the menu will be:

  • Virginia peanut soup
  • Wild rice with chestnuts
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Turkey (yes, Thanksgiving is the one day a year I break my vegetarian fast which, I’m sure, one turkey is NOT thankful for.  On the positive side, it was a free range, vegetarian-fed turkey.)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Cranberry wine
  • And…of course…Brains

All dishes will be lactose AND gluten free for Mrs. TwShiloh.