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June 2004 Archives

June 1, 2004

Why not attack the Saudis?

I've noticed a particular idea pop up pretty regularly when discussing the Islamofascist War: we should be going after the Saudis!

Thing is, there's a few problems with that strategy. For starters, note that the Saudis are actually fighting Al Qaeda these days. It's just not getting the air time other stories have.

Suppose the US declared war on, or just attacked Saudi Arabia tomorrow. Forget where the troops would come from, or how we could supply them; even three more divisions results in at least 45,000 more men, and considering tooth-to-tail ratios, we're looking at another 45,000 just to supply them. But let's not worry about combat troops we don't have, support troops we don't have, and ships to carry the supplies that we don't have (in excess of what's already in use). Let's look at the military/political aspects. I'm not even exploring the topic of causus belli here.

Suppose we have those three divisions (say, 1 armored and 2 mech) and we drive south from Iraq.
After all, it's only 400 miles to Riyadh, right? And we all know that Arabs can't fight, right? Well, maybe. Most folks tend to fight a bit harder when defending their homeland, Iraq notwithstanding. And don't forget the Saudi air force. They have some damn good pilots, and they're flying F-15s and F-16s. They won't be pushovers the same way the Iraqis were.

But hey, let's say we defeat the Saudi air force. I'll even give you Medina and Mecca, just 'cuz I'm a nice guy. Don't thank me, I'm a giver. {g} Congratulations, the US armed forces have once again kicked righteous ass and emerged victorious!

Only there's one little problem. To the north of Iraq we have the Moslem country of Turkey. To the east we have the Moslem country of Iran. To the west there's Syria and Jordan, and to the south of Saudi Arabia there's Yemen, Oman, and the UAE. All Moslem. Oops, forgot Egypt. And don't forget that Iran borders on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Basically, at this point, you are literally surrounded, and just how are you going to supply the troops, much less defend the territory you've just captured? Check out a map. The Med is blocked by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. You might try the Red Sea ports, but again we have to deal with Egypt, and now we have (Mostly Moslem) Sudan and (Moslem) Yemen to block off the straits. Ditto for the Persian Gulf: the UAE and Iran could shut that down quite nicely. And where are your supplies coming from then? Especially fuel and water? A little-known fact is that while Saudi Arabia is one of the largest oil exporters in the world, they don't have much refining capability on hand, so unless we can find a make our tanks, trucks, and planes run off of crude, we're up the creek.

What? Gonna fly stuff in? Go look up the costs of flying freight vs. shipping it. You'll double or triple your logistic costs, at least. And you thought the $89 billion Bush wanted last summer was a lot? Dig deeper, bud...

So now you're in the middle of Saudi Arabia, you find some insanely expensive way to keep your troops barely supplied, and you've just pissed off every Moslem on the planet. While you're surrounded by Moslem countries. Now, I generally don't give much credence to appeals to the "Arab Street," but most putative Christians (and certainly the athiests) don't really understand the hold that Mecca has for devout Moslems. The Christians aren't really fervent that way anymore; they burnt their agressions out about 400 years ago in Europe; but the Moslems are still at the place where the local imam says it's a good thing to kill blasphemers and infidel, and hey! someone just stole Mecca.

And before you get too cocky, the Egyptians aren't horrible soldiers, the Saudis have some damn good pilots, the Qataris have good tankers, and Iran has been kicking local ass for 3,000 years. I'm not even mentioning the Afghans (you think the Russian invasion pissed them off!?) and the Pakistanis. The Paks have some damn good infantry.

And, silly me, I forgot all about the Turks. You know, the people who terrified Europe for several centuries? They're just to the north of Iraq.

But, you object, we have the Kurds! And the Israelis, don't forget them. They're damn good soldiers too. True, but whenever Isreal fully mobilizes it basically shuts down the civilian economy, and the Kurds are at best light infantry which we would have trouble supplying. I'm sure you can see the problem...

To recap: you're holding the places sacred to something like one-quarter of the people on the globe, are totally surrounded by them with little opportunity to supply your own three divisions of troops, and are outnumbered at least five to one (and I'm being conservative here). The opposition has a lot of good to very good troops, most of whom would be willing to die recapturing Mecca, especially if it meant wiping out the enemy in the process.

My question is: Now what do you do? Aside from nuking half of the Middle East, that is?

June 4, 2004

Eagle-eyed Canucks

Everyone likes to make fun of the Canadian Army, but oftimes our friends up north do good.

Three months ago a Canadian team of snipers (Master Corporal Graham Ragsdale, Master Corporal Arron Perry and Corporal Dennis Eason of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry) broke the all-time record for "one shot, one kill."

Older sniper rifles (.30 caliber) are generally accurate out to about 800 meters. Call it 800 yards if you don't like metric. :) Most of the .30 caliber-record shots are around 1,000 meters, but the United States introduced .50 caliber (12.7mm) sniper rifles around 20 years ago. These rifles have much greater range, and now that extra range is starting to break records.

On the night of March 21, the above Canadian team managed a 2,400 meter kill, with several others in the 2 kilometer range. The rifle used was a .50 caliber MacMillan Tac-50.

Wow. With ranges like that, even an Ohioan like me feels the impulse to be a tad bit more polite to our friends up north. :)

Good on ya, guys! Aoorah.

Thanks to the folks at StrategyPage.com for the story.

June 12, 2004

Chickens, Crossing Roads, and Iraq

This entry cheerfully stolen from StrategyPage.com.

Why Did the Chicken cross the Road?

Coalition Provisional Authority: The fact that the Iraqi chicken crossed the road affirmatively demonstrates that decision-making authority has been transferred to the chicken well in advance of the scheduled June 30th transition of power. From now on the chicken is responsible for its own decisions.

Halliburton: We were asked to help the chicken cross the road. Given the inherent risk of road crossing and the rarity of chickens, this operation will only cost the US government $326,004.

Muqtada al-Sadr: The chicken was a tool of the evil Coalition and will be killed.

US Army Military Police: We were directed to prepare the chicken to cross the road. As part of these preparations, individual soldiers ran over the chicken repeatedly and then plucked the chicken. We deeply regret the occurrence of any chicken rights violations.

Peshmerga: The chicken crossed the road, and will continue to cross the road, to show its independence and to transport the weapons it needs to defend itself. However, in future, to avoid problems, the chicken will be called a duck, and will wear a plastic bill.

1st Cav: The chicken was not authorized to cross the road without displaying two forms of picture identification. Thus, the chicken was appropriately detained and searched in accordance with current SOP?s. We apologize for any embarrassment to the chicken. As a result of this unfortunate incident, the command has instituted a gender sensitivity training program and all future chicken searches will be conducted by female soldiers.

Al Jazeera: The chicken was forced to cross the road multiple times at gunpoint by a large group of occupation soldiers, according to eye-witnesses. The chicken was then fired upon intentionally, in yet another example of the abuse of innocent Iraqi chickens.

Blackwater: We cannot confirm any involvement in the chicken-road-crossing incident.

Translators: Chicken he cross street because bad she tangle regulation. Future chicken table against my request.

U.S. Marine Corps: The chicken is dead.

Navy: The chicken upon crossing the road was painted and lashed to the curb.

Kerry: "The chicken crossed the road before it did not"

Baghdad Bob: The chicken never crossed the road! He is safe in Baghdad, miles from the marauding vehicles of the infidel! THERE IS NO ROAD!

USAF: "As you can see here in the target video, the bomb was locked onto the chicken...and there it goes...the chicken is still moving...still moving...and unfortunately passed out of the parameters of the guidance system so that the bomb completely missed it and hit the weasel instead. Gotta admit thought, it's impressive footage..."

June 15, 2004

Phoebe sure is purty...

NASA has some fantastic images from the Cassini probe here.

Wow. What I wouldn't pay to take a vacation where that was my window view...

June 16, 2004

What isn't forbidden, is compulsory

Looks like Misha and Day by Day author/artist Chris Muir are on top of things. Both have already posted their reaction to the CBS requirement that all affiliates must carry an hour-long infomercial on Clinton's upcoming book, My Struggle Life.

Actually, if it were really about Clinton's life, it should have been published with a pencil and an eraser. :)

But There's No Media Bias Here!tm

June 19, 2004

Mohave Interplanetary

Back when I was a kid, I devoured eveny Robert H. Heinlein book I could. One of the major reasons was how he portrayed the future in such a realistic fashion. One of his recurring themes included quick thumbnail descriptions of the local spaceport. Heinlein's stories frequently included throwaway references to "Goddard Field," or similar.

Reality has finally begun to catch up. Mohave Airport is now Mohave Spaceport.

And it's a private enterprise.

Maybe not too far off in the future we'll hear something like "Mohave Interplanetary Spaceport Flight 209, now leaving for Luna, Mars, and Ceres."

This article was cross-posted to Dean's World.

Just in case you weren't sure yet...

Don Sensing over at One Hand Clapping asks the $64 question:

Does anyone still doubt that we really are at war?

"Kidnaped American civilian Paul Johnson, Jr., held as hostage by al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia, was murdered (not executed, murdered!) by having his head hacked off either today or yesterday.

The terrorists gave photos to Arab media of Johnson's head resting atop his corpse. Caution, these photos are sickening (link may be perishable). But don't avert your eyes. This is what these adherents of the so-called religion of peace are doing."

That, my friends, gets right to the root of things. When will people stop parroting the same mindless pacifist cant over and over again, and understand that there are people (and organizations) out there who are dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization?

Not because the West "exploited" the Arabs; they've been the beneficiaries of literally hundreds of billions of dollars the past two generations.

Not because the West (ok, just America) "sponsored" Israel; over fifty years ago the Jews of the world decided never again, and that the next time anybody tried a pogrom, the anti-semitic rat bastards were going to get their cojones stuffed down their collective throats.

And not because classic Western (AKA "Dead White Male") civilization represses Islam; Islam has done a wonderful job of repressing itself for a millenium. I repeat: we are facing the results of over one thousand years of medieval fascist kleptocracy

We are at war. If you have a problem with that: lead, follow, or get out of the way.

In other words: oppose the war honestly, with every tool at your disposal ; do not drool some mealy-mouthed fence-straddling "We support the troops, but we don't like what they're doing." crap. If the war is wrong, say so. Tatoo it across your chest. Fight it with every breath you take, from the bottom of your heart. Don't snipe, nitpick and connive on how to best situate yourself for the next election.

Or you can follow; join the war effort, but try to inject some sanity info the mix. But if you honestly can't see the difference between the abuses of a handful of incompetant screw-ups and the Hussein Family perversions, there's something wrong with you. And, yes, I think that every one of those idjits should face maximum jail time if convicted.

Of course, there's always "get out of the way," but for some odd reason -can't put my finger on it- I have this silly feeling that the moonbat pacifist fringe won't do that. One of their deepest collective needs is the validation and adulation of the great, unwashed masses.

June 29, 2004

It's the little things

Sometimes it's the little things that get to you. Take, for example, this report that terrorists have executed murdered an American soldier.

There is, to be honest, no sanity in this latest murder. Putting a bullet through the back of the head of Spc. Keith Maupin won't change the course of events in Iraq one iota, but it till change the world of the people who knew and loved him.

I don't know if Spc. Maupin had a girlfriend, a wife, or any kids, or if he was Protestant or Roman Catholic, or what kind of music he liked. There's a million things I don't know about him.

What I do know is that he was from Batavia, Ohio, less than a half-hour drive from where I live (just south of Hamilton). If you're curious, Batavia is roughly sixteen miles east of Cincinnati; just another small Ohio town.

And that leads me to the one thing that I know about Spc Maupin: I grew up in a small Ohio, town, and I'm living in another right now. We probably would have had a lot in common; the Reds, Schoenling beer, making fun of Kentucky...

This is why, I think, Maupin's murder hit me harder than the others we've read about. While I didn't know the man, I know where he comes from. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried a little when I thought about it; a nice young man from a small Ohio town murdered gangster-style, while he was trying to help those less fortunate than he was.

One of the saddest things about this is that -for most of us- in the not too distant future, Keith will have become another statistic; another data point in the "War on Terror."

We have to remember something, for the sake of Keith, and all the other men and women who have given their lives in Iraq. Bill Mauldin, who wrote Up Front during the Second World War when he was only 21, once said:

When you lose a friend you have an overpowering desire to go back home and yell in everybody's ear, "This guy was killed fighting for you. Don't forget him --ever. Keep him in your mind when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Don't think of him as the statistic which changes 38,788 casualties to 38,789. Think of him as a guy who wanted to live every bit as much as you do. Don't let him be just one of "Our Brave Boys" from the old home town, to whom a marble monument is erected in the city park, and a civic-minded lady calls the newspaper ten year later and wants to know why that "unsightly stone" isn't removed.

It's all too easy for most of us to forget all of this, except once a year on Memorial Day. Every one of us has to stop, and remember that the men and women who have given their lives really are our friends and neighbors; that you played football in high school with someone exactly like 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy(Cleveland, Oh) , or you knew a guy like Sgt. Michael D. Acklin II (Louisville, Ky) in your geometry class in high school, or college.

Thanks to Dean for the link.

About June 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Gantry Launchpad in June 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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