Archive for December, 2007
I didn’t even see any headlines about passing the milestone of 3,900 US troops killed since the invasion of Iraq. According to iCasualties, it happened on the 26th.
Why haven’t we been hearing much about US troop deaths in Iraq lately? Maybe because it would draw attention to the numbers?
For the record, they report 21 Americans killed in Iraq so far this month, 13 of them from hostile causes. Only February 2004 was lower (20 dead, 11 from hostile causes), and the 0.677 per day rate is the lowest ever.
If reporting casualties and milestones when numbers were higher was merely good journalism, and not politics as many charged, it’s good journalism today, too. Isn’t it?
We should be hearing exactly the same talk we heard every day, week, and month until about September or so. All about how even one death is too many and how many have died since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations. When asked if playing up such numbers wasn’t playing political games with casualties, the typical response was that Americans had a right to know and that it was an important part of the discussion.
Or, alternatively, we should at least be hearing how casualties are down so much from previous numbers. Don’t Americans have a right to know? Isn’t it an important part of the discussion?
Am I missing something?
UPDATE: Whoops. MSNBC.com is still playing:
And on the story page:
How you tell the story changes the story. If they had wanted to, they could have done something more like this:
Sharp drop in violence in Iraq in second part of 2007
Officials note year was deadliest for U.S. troops
But they didn’t. Still, I give them credit for sticking to their story.
I also want to point out that I don’t often make a big deal about casualty numbers. Events have a way of changing rapidly, and something like a helicopter crash tonight at 10PM could double the month’s total in a flash. Things are looking good, and October, November, and December 2007 are lower than the same months in any previous year since the invasion, so things look to be on track. But I thought the same thing in late 2005 and look how the following year went.
–Think F/A-18 speed and maneuverability, AV-8B forward deployment, F-22 stealth, and astonishing avionics,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.
–Flexibility — that is the beauty of this aircraft,” said Commandant Gen. James Conway. –The flexibility that the STOVL variant of the F-35 will add to the contemporary Marine Air Ground Task Force is amazing,” Conway said.
–Our service must have two-fisted capability,” said Conway. The F-35B’s ability to operate from amphibious ships, runways or unimproved surfaces combined with its speed and stealth will deliver that capability in Iraq, Conway said.
Sgt. Nathan Stahl, section chief, Battery T, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, receives a fire mission from the fire direction center during a field exercise here Dec. 19. The M777A2 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer cannon, aka –triple seven,” brings a new set of capabilities that the formerly used M198 Medium Howitzer cannon did not have, such as a digitally controlled fire system and a VHF radio link that sends command messages to the gun’s section chief. Photo by: Cpl. Christopher Lyttle
‘Triple Seven’ howitzer mentioned on MO most recently here.
GARLAND, Texas — The opening line to an essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to an upcoming Hannah Montana concert was a powerful one: “My daddy died this year in Iraq.”
The girl’s mother admitted to contest organizers that the essay and the military information she provided about her daughter’s father were untrue. Now the sponsor of the contest is considering taking away the girl’s tickets, said the CEO of Club Libby Lu, a Chicago-based store that sells clothes, accessories and games intended for young girls.
“Considering taking away the girl’s tickets”? Considering?
It’s not like Murdoc cares about Hannah Montana or anything like that. But if they allow this girl to keep her tickets it is the wrong message.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention the title of the Army Times story: Girl wins tickets by fibbing dad died in Iraq
That sort of deception is not a fib. It’s a lie.
UPDATE 2: They took the tickets. It sure looks the mom is to blame for all this.
Earlier I pointed out that the M4 performed far better in identical dust chamber tests earlier this year than it did against piston-driven challengers more recently:
The M4 fared far worse in this test than in a similar test conducted on the M4s alone earlier this year. 60,000 rounds this summer yielded only 307 stoppages (still more than any of the challengers this time around) in what is described in the article as an identical dust chamber test.
Don’t think that won’t have some conspiracy theorists, um, theorizing.
The M4 suffered 882 failures this time around, and now we begin to learn why the number is so much worse than earlier:
Army testers threw out hundreds of M4 carbine failures from a reliability test this summer, causing the number of Class 1 and Class 2 stoppages, those that soldiers can clear themselves, to drop from 678 to 296, according to an Army briefing document.
You know, this sort of thing could get some of the more excitable sorts a bit, um, excited.
Army officials explained that the 382 M4 stoppages not included in the results could have been discarded when ATEC officials finalized the results of dust test two in October through a process known as the Reliability, Availability and Maintainability, or RAM, Scoring Conference that is part of every such test, said Col. Carl Lipsit, project manager for Soldier Weapons.
The 863 stoppages reported in the results of dust test three represented the final number after the RAM process, Lipsit said.
ATEC officials did not provide test three’s initial number of failures and said the command –stands behind” the 296 stoppages in dust test two that are in the final report, said ATEC spokesman Tom Rheinlander.
I’m not sure why the current discrepancy between 882 and 863 exists, unless only 19 stoppages were RAMed out.
RAM is a standard process which is designed to help remove “duplicate” issues due to the same particular failure mode. This is the example given in the story:
If testers link 10 stoppages to a broken part, they could throw out nine of those stoppages and count only one failure in the final report.
It’s getting murkier and murkier.
This is obviously breaking news.
A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she got into her vehicle, then the gunman blew himself up.
Security had been tight, with hundreds of riot police manning security checkpoints with metal detectors around what was Bhutto’s first campaign rally since returning from exile two months ago.
Bhutto had planned an earlier rally in the city, but Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears. In October, suicide bombers struck a parade celebrating Bhutto’s return, killing more than 140 people in the southern city of Karachi.
The unrest in Pakistan is clearly troubling, and this event will mar whatever result the elections bring next month. Pakistan has always been teetering on the edge of ruin.
Western allies hope the election will restore stability in a nuclear-armed country vital to their battle against Islamist militancy.
I’d say that that “hope” has faded.
Not a lot of time right now, but here are a few thoughts.
Success in Afghanistan depends upon stability and cooperation in Pakistan. There’s been precious little of either, for the most part. Though getting the Pakistani government to side with us after 9/11 was a major success story, the actual results of the alliance have been largely mixed.
Long-term, an unstable or unfriendly Pakistan will make the war against our enemies far more difficult. Right now, the wilds of eastern Pakistan are a haven to the Taliban fighters and leadership that we battle in Afghanistan. But an unfriendly government, or even increased instability, could turn the whole country into a haven for all our enemies. Sort of a Taliban Afghanistan with 161 million people and a relatively modern military. Oh, and those pesky nuclear weapons.
Short-term, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some sort of a major offensive launched by Taliban hold-outs following this successful attack. Whether they were directly involved or not, their leaders are sure to be heartened by the chaos and uncertainty that will follow, and that environment is one that they thrive in.
Fortunately, Taliban offensives are usually an environment that US and NATO troops seem to thrive in, as well. Large-scale ops by the militants usually result in large-scale militant casualties.
Whatever happens, this is sure to stir things up.
UPDATE: Jules Crittenden:
I have a very bad feeling about all of this. The potential for critically destablizing a flank that was difficult enough as it was is huge. I’d feel slightly better if Rumsfeld had doubled the size of the Army, and wish Bush and Congress would crank that up. This war is far from over. This war is no artificial Bush creation or figment of anyone’s imagination, and should still be very much part of our own election, wishful thinking notwithstanding.
UPDATE 2: It turns out to appear that Expediamail.com is actually legit. That’s crazy. Apparently a number of coincidences occurred at the same time which made it appear that clicking on the link hosed my computer.
The phukking phishing phags at Expediamail.com got me. At least in the sense that they tricked me into trying to check out my itinerary for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas for next February’s SHOT Show.
They already had my name, my email, my destination, and the dates of my trip. They sent two emails as I had booked two separate “trips” with hotel separate from flight. The links invited me to check my updated travel itineraries. And I totally fell for it.
Fortunately, I don’t think they got anything new from me as I had not actually created an Expedia account when I booked my trip. So I think I’m okay.
It was the best looking scam I’ve seen, and the sites it linked to were top-notch. Jerks.
So beware of Expediamail.com. I can see how folks with Expedia accounts would easily be tricked into logging in, potentially exposing all sorts of useful info to these losers.
And if you’re going to be at the SHOT Show, drop me a line.
UPDATE: I started having issues even reaching the real Expedia site shortly after this. I had problems with two computers where I had played the dumb Expediamail game, but no problems with other computers. Deleting all the Expedia cookies seems to have cleared it up.
In what’s described as “the most isolated UK outpost in Helmand”:
Royal Marines won a dawn firefight with Taliban on a Christmas Day sortie yesterday – then marched back to base in Santa hats.
The men of 40 Commando left their Afghan base at 4.30am – midnight in Britain – to probe rebel lines a few hundred yards from their camp.
It was only a matter of time before the insurgents attacked. As shots rang out, one commando joked: “Merry Christmas!”
Comment at Kim’s:
So they came back despite being armed with the SA80? Or is it a measure of manliness that they use a –poodle shooter” round in a Goldberg Device weapon?
The first of the newest class of amphibious assault ships may deploy by the end of next year. The San Antonio was delivered to the Navy in mid-2005, and a short 3.5 years later she’ll be in action. The headline for this announcement?
‘On Track.’ The third ship in the class has already been commissioned and the first ship won’t be deployed for another year. Yet things are ‘on track.’