Monthly Archives: March 2013

Kvick Tänkare

Foreign Policy takes a look at the stuff a rebel commander from the DRC carries.  Really interesting stuff, particularly for the amount of technology it includes.

It appears some Swedes are looking to even up the score in terms Scandinavian horror movies(the Norwegians seem to be on a role lately in producing good quality horror).  Playing to their Nordic strengths, this movie will rely on a monster from local folklore called the ‘vittra‘.

Slate has an interesting piece about inter-species cooperation between human and dolphins.  In one small Brazilian city, the two work together to catch fish.

If you thought the F-35 was a boondoggle that is unique to 21st century American defense procurement, Sven at Defense and Freedom has a nice piece of satire about German aircraft development from WWII.  As they say, the more things change…

Spiegel has this picture from the Syrian rebels.  Who knew you could mash up indirect fire capability along with sensible gas mileage?

A mortar that belongs to the Free Syrian Army fighters, is pictured attached to a car to be pulled to the front line in Binnish in Idlib province

I’m sure this is a metaphor for something…I just can’t put my finger on what:

According to the Dallas Morning News, on Monday afternoon a Fort Worth police officer used his Taser to subdue a 19-year-old man dressed as “Lady Liberty” when he refused to comply with an order.



Wrapping up Iraq and Afghanistan

It seems like the collective psyche is determined to suppress memories of Iraq and Afghanistan as our involvement of those two countries continues to diminish.   Everyone culpable for the horrendous mistakes are safely ensconced as professorsdistinguished fellowships, think tank hacks, etc. apparently none the worse the wear for managing the biggest American foreign policy disaster in generations (maybe ever).

The Obama administration decided long ago that ‘looking backwards’ wouldn’t be helpful so there will be no consequences for those who failed us.  But we are, at least, starting to see a fuller accounting of what exactly was done in our name.

Money was thrown away in vast quantities.  I guess we knew this but the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction released a new report recently.  Waste, fraud, abuse.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

Over in Afghanistan, ISAF has decided not to report data about Taliban attacks any more.  It used to but a recent report included a data entry error which significantly changed the findings of the report.

That’s unfortunate for a couple of reasons.  First, assuming the data was worthwhile, an accident in reporting (even with the embarrassment of having to admit it) shouldn’t lead to the conclusion that the way to avoid future such incidents is simply to not make future reports public.

If the data isn’t worthwhile (and that’s ISAF’s official reasoning for not publishing future reports) then you shouldn’t continue collecting that data (which ISAF is doing – but why if they say it’s not accurate?) AND you should find metrics which do work.

And then there’s the word which must never be spoken:  torture.

Jane Mayer writes about the need for the Administration to share the findings of the still classified report about U.S. government torture.  There’s a 300 page summary report of the program that was apparently damning enough to convince the next head of the CIA to conclude that he was misled about the effectiveness of the program.  Others have gone further:

Colorado’s Senator Mark Udall stressed, “Inaccurate information on the management operation and effectiveness of the C.I.A.’s detention-interrogation program was provided by the C.I.A. to the White House, the D.O.J., Congress, and the public. Some of this information is regularly and publicly repeated today by former C.I.A. officials, either knowingly or unknowingly. And although we now know this information is incorrect, the accurate information remains classified, while inaccurate information has been declassified and regularly repeated.”

Since prosecutions are out of the question, the least the administration can do is release the report so we can all know what’s been done in our name.  It’s also another datapoint for why the CIA needs to have its operational arm stripped out of it.  No president needs (or should have) a private, unaccountable army.

The future of aircraft carriers (the scrap heap?)

Aircraft carriers are hideously expensive and, in the world of anti-ship missiles, increasingly vulnerable when facing a semi-sophisticated opponent.  Sir Humphrey takes a very good and detailed look at how the cost issue is pushing more and more nations out of the carrier club.

So, what will nations that worry about their bottom line do if they want to project power but can’t afford a carrier and/or might not want to put all their eggs in one basket?

Drones make sense.  They’re cheaper than outfitting a manned aircrew and have a great deal of future potential.  DARPA seems to be looking to address this issue with plans to create a drone that can carry a decent payload over an extended distance but can also take off and land on relatively small ships.

While we’re probably far ahead of most of our competitors, this technology will certainly be achievable and spread.  Once even a small ship is capable of launching a capable drone that can conduct offensive operations becomes a reality, aircraft carriers are going to look more and more like dinosaurs.  Why spend the huge costs involved in building a carrier (and airwings…and support ships…and escorts) when you can build a number of smaller ships which can operate individually for routine missions or ‘swarm’ when the punch of an aircraft carrier is needed?