Thursday, December 31, 2009
After 2-plus decades, Navy destroyer breaks record
By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press Writer
BATH, Maine – Cruising through the darkness in rough seas, the USS Ross encountered a rogue wave that smashed into the destroyer's bow, sending a shudder along the entire ship that knocked sleeping crew out of their bunks and damaged the sonar housing.
As alarms sounded, sleepy sailors scrambled to shore up the leak.
"We cracked the hull and kept on going like it was nothing," retired sailor Jonathan Staeblein, of Hagerstown, Md., recalled. In fact, the 510-foot destroyer was never out of service for repairs during any deployment in the three years he served aboard as an electronic warfare technician.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers such as the USS Ross and USS Cole, which survived a terrorist suicide bombing in Yemen, have proven to be durable workhorses in the U.S. Navy.
Over the 22 years since construction of the first one began at Bath Iron Works, the ship has steamed into the record book: The destroyer's production run has outlasted every other battleship, cruiser, destroyer and frigate in U.S. Navy history. The only warship in production for longer was the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, said Norman Polmar, a naval historian, author and analyst.
Thanks to a decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Arleigh Burke destroyer production will continue for at least a few more years. The defense budget signed by President Barack Obama in December includes money for the first of at least three more ships. There's talk of many more being built.
At Bath Iron Works, along the banks of the Kennebec River, there are three of the ships in various stages of production.
Hey - I know this guy!!!
"They're fast and they move. And they're a lot of fun to drive," said Lt. Cmdr. Robert J. Brooks, executive officer of USS Wayne E. Meyer, a Bath-built destroyer commissioned in October.
Retired Rear Adm. Michael K. Mahon, the Navy's former deputy director of surface warfare, said the ships run no risk of being outdated any time soon.
"It's the envy of the world," said Mahon. "Every surface warship officer in every navy in the world would love to command an Arleigh Burke."
The original warship was conceived during the Cold War, when Bath Iron Works was abuzz with shipbuilders pounding, grinding, welding, plumbing and wiring ships at a furious pace to meet President Ronald Reagan's audacious goal of a 600-ship Navy. Shipbuilders toiled long hours working elbow-to-elbow in a haze created by welders inside steel hull segments that were sweltering in the summer and cold in the winter.
The number of Bath shipbuilders peaked at 12,000 by the time the USS Arleigh Burke was commissioned on July 4, 1991.
Some Bath shipbuilders have spent virtually their entire careers doing nothing by making Arleigh Burke destroyers.
Gil Rines, a welder, joined Bath Iron Works as construction was beginning on the first ship. Since then, he has raised two children and become a grandfather. The shipyard changed hands and is now owned by General Dynamics. The number of shipbuilders has dropped to 5,500.
But one thing remained a constant: The shipyard kept churning out Arleigh Burke destroyers, more than 30 of them. The same ships are also built at Northrop Grumman's shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., which has churned out more than 20.
"It's a great ship. That's why the Navy stuck with it," said Rines, a third-generation shipbuilder.
The 9,500-ton ships can easily top 30 knots while simultaneously waging war with enemy ships, submarines, missiles and aircraft. Their combat system, called Aegis, uses powerful computers and a phased-array radar to track more than 100 targets — the exact number is classified.
They're also the only surface warships in the Navy's arsenal that can be sealed off to withstand a biological, chemical and nuclear attack.
The latest improvements are software upgrades and SM-3 missiles that allow the Aegis system to be used for ballistic missile defense. An Aegis-equipped cruiser built by Bath Iron Works shot down a failed satellite in 2008. Several Aegis destroyers and cruisers are now equipped with the upgraded system.
The Navy originally envisioned building 29 of the ships, but has since extended the line to 62 ships through 2011. With the continued production, there will be at least three more, keeping shipbuilders in Maine and Mississippi busy while the Navy decides whether to build more Burkes, or to build something else.
The Navy's decision is partly budget-driven. Burkes are less costly to build than the next-generation stealth destroyer, which the Navy and defense contractors spent 10 years designing.
Burkes currently cost about $1.2 billion apiece; the stealthy, and much larger, DDG-1000
Zumwalt will cost more than double that. In the end, the Navy decided to truncate production to just three Zumwalts.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, gives credit to the Navy for scaling back the costly Zumwalts and focusing on the tried-and-true Burkes.
The DDG-51 Arleigh Burke, he said, is now in a rare class of military systems that's so durable and versatile that it continues for generations, like the C-130 Hercules cargo transport, an airplane that first went into production in 1957.
"The fact that the Navy can't come up with something better than the DDG-51 isn't necessarily bad news," he said. "It may be commentary on how good the DDG-51 is."
Note - since this was an important Navy post.....I wore my tiara. I saw the article and liked it. Then I saw LCDR Brooks quoted in it and loved it.
But the best was this quote from Rear Adm. Michael K. Mahon - "Every surface warship officer in every navy in the world would love to command an Arleigh Burke."
This article also caught the eye of URR at the USNI blog and @NavyHistoryLive has it on T
But they are for more than just placating me in my delusional state. They are actually "rare pieces of kit" as stated in the letter that accompanied my tiara. The Armorer dug up some pics of some female Navy officers who got them by earning them.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Not just for Christmas! LOL Although the timing was almost perfect.You can not even imagine how unbearable it is to be in my vicinity. I am wearing it as I type this post. Someone in work wanted to "discuss" a certain matter with me and I said "Hang on a sec" and got out my tiara.
You know the Milblog Conference is April 9th and 10th....I'll be the one in the tiara!
It came with a very nice letter from fellow blogger B. Walthrop.
"As the self-proclaimed "Princess Crabby", and unquestionable female royalty of the Navy Blogosphere, I thought it right and just for you to have the crown you deserve.
It took a little longer than I anticipated to track someone down who was willing to part with their tiara, but I was finally successful.
While it is not the most beautiful headwear, the CDR/CAPT tiara is a pretty rare piece of kit, and I have no doubt that one day soon the uniform board will remove it from the Navy inventory. Up until 1972, this was the required headwear for female officers and chiefs when they got all gussied up in their "mess dress" uniform. In 1972, the tiara became an optional uniform item, and I have only seen one worn during my 14 year career.
I hope this finds you well and that you have the happiest of holiday seasons. Your work on behalf of the Navy is greatly appreciated, and you deserve to be "crowned" for your efforts.
Monday, December 28, 2009
But Jesus Mary & the beads.....it was sewn into his BVDs!
How often does that happen that you have something uncomfortable sewn into your crotch and you realize....."Oh no, how did this 80 grams of PETN get here?"
I suppose I should be grateful that they even deigned to call it an act of terrorism. I'll be grateful and sit here and recite the mantra that none of these things are related...Detroit....Fort Hood.....radical Imams....
Oh and in case you want to see what a binary explosive does, my pals at the AO Shack linked a vid. 'Cause ya know...they know stuff that goes "Boom!". IYAOYAS
Live video is hung, so here is the same vid at Youtube
How to make a binary explosive or IED
Mind you, he wasn't all that dedicated...this guy was dedicated. H/T Anathema
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
All the milbloggers of my Navy Coterie got an email....all but me.
I point this out. Someone else says that it's interesting that they sent it to us. I stamp my feet and type - "OK, what "us"? I didn't get it. I am going off into a corner and sulk."
The reply comes -
"PS: Maggie, you need to talk about big guns to get questioned about your opinions on them…"
Fine! This is a big gun and I am way tight with the people who yell "FIRE"
CJ and Emily thought that the J.E. Williams Elementary School PTA at their children's school was a particapatory organization. They thought the "P" stood for "Parent". As such they went to the meeting to voice - you know - what do they call it? - oh yeah, an opinion. But no, there was no where to do that. They thought that was odd, you know since the PTA bylaws stated that they followed Robert's Rules of Order. When there was no debate on a motion, CJ read aloud from Robert's Rules of Order citing the passage about how you make a motion, second a motion, debate, then vote.
Well of course, that was pretty unusual for you people huh? I mean, where did he get the nerve thinking that he could just, you know, exercise his 1st amendment right to SPEAK!
You can go after CJ Grisham and his wife because they dare think they should have a voice in how their child's school is run.
You can go to CJ's chain of command because he doesn't just roll over for you.
You can go to CJ's chain of command a second time because the first person you talk to is not prepared to just lay down for the sake of shutting you up.
You can write such utter bullshit on Facebook that I nearly GAG.
You have abused the process. You have abrogated CJ's civil rights. You have found the achilles heel of his command - someone who wants quiet, not justice.
But guess what you can't do......you can't intimidate or silence me. But please, please try.
In the words of my fav FDNY firefighter, Mike Moran........"You can kiss my Royal Irish Ass!"
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I asked for some help understanding a thorny Navy shipbuilding issue.
My Marine was very helpful and I am having a much easier time. However, when he finished, he gave me homework!
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
But this is really unfair!!!
First off because I should be exempt from homework - I am the Goddess of the Naval Blogging Strike Force, Princess Crabby "the Empress of La Moata, she who has no equal, Princesa Malhumorada, Maggie”.
But also because everyone knows that Kipling should be recited to you by someone with a pint in their hand.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Eric Brown, MC1(SW)
Public Affairs Officer
CHARLESTOWN NAVY YARD, Mass. – USS Constitution will ring in the New Year with a shot fired from her port-side saluting battery at midnight January 1.
“It’s a great way to recognize USS Constitution’s continuing commitment to defending the nation,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cooper, Old Ironsides’ 71st and current commanding officer. “This is how we are going to bring in the New Year properly, with the same time of revelry you’ll find in the rest of the city.”
USS Constitution had a number of significant accomplishments in 2009; most notably, President Barrack Obama designated the 212-year-old frigate as America’s Ship of State as part of the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010.
The upcoming year will be just as bright for Old Ironsides, Cooper predicted.
“Next year, the ship’s three-year maintenance project – which will furtherrestore her to an 1812 configuration – will be completed,” he said. “At different points throughout the year, the ship will start to be up-rigged. The masts will be extended and the yards will be added to the masts, so when visitors come here, they will be seeing the ship the beautiful, tall ship she is supposed to be.
“Additionally, we are looking at new opportunities and ways to share USS Constitution with people locally and throughout the country. As we get closer to our busiest time of the year, the summer, we will be providing more notifications through social media and our Web site of upcoming events.”
Cooper has a few New Year’s resolutions for the ship that are very similar to his ideas regarding the ship’s legacy and future that he had prior to assuming command July 24.
“My goal here is to share this ship, and her part in American history, with as many people as possible,” he said. “Internally, we are continuing to look at all of the policies, procedures and practices that we have in place for our Sailors, and continuing to improve them to make this the best duty station in the U.S. Navy.”
To commemorate the holidays, the ship will be closed on December 25 and January 1. To learn more about USS Constitution and the free, guided tours offered year –round, visit the Web site at www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution.
Monday, December 21, 2009
This will be a home away from home with 20 Suites, and common areas to include a Kitchen, Dining Room and Family Room.
This 11 month project is now underway with the Ground Breaking that occured on October 30, 2008. The Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening are projected for Spring 2010.
You can bid on some cool items here
You can donate online or by calling 888-294-8560
Listen to WTKK
Go to Michael Graham's blog "The Natural Truth"
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I felt really awful about missing it. Jim was my godfather and our two families are very close. I wanted to be there tonight for my father's sister Teresa, my cousin Kathy, Jim's grandchildren Gregg, Mary Kate and Jessica. Instead I spent the day looking out the window like the sun was going to come out and the roads were going to magically clear.
James J. Collins
James J. Collins, age 80, of Wilmington, formerly of Charlestown, died December 18, 2009.
Retiree of Hoods Milk Company in Charlestown after 25 years and Market Basket in Wilmington. Also a veteran of the U. S. Army, having served in WWII.
Beloved husband of Mary T. (McInnis) Collins, devoted father of Kathleen A. Griffin & her husband Mike of Wilmington and Jim Collins & his family of Billerica, loving grandfather of Jessica & Mark Korves of Las Vegas, NV, Gregg & Kim Griffin of North Andover, Mary-Kate Griffin & Joshua Vaughan, and Dave Accardi all of Wilmington, dear son of the late James & Helen Collins, brother of Jack Collins & his family of Sharon and Bill Collins & his family of Billerica, brother-in-law and friend of Frank McInnis & his family of Charlestown.
Family & friends will gather at the Nichols Funeral Home, Inc., 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Monday, December 21st at 9:00 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, 126 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington, at 10:00 a.m. Interment Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington. Visiting hours Sunday, December 20th from 4-8 p.m.
Memorial donations in James’s name may be made to Woodbriar of Wilmington Resident Council, 90 West St., Wilmington, MA 01887.
But things should be clear enough to make the funeral tomorrow. Of course that means taking a bunch of motrin and going to bed now. If this headache isn't better by tomorrow, I'm going to have to find the paper with that other woman's info on it and call my insurance agent.
Do you think I can use a false name so my oncologist doesn't get wind of my being in the Jordan?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
This morning we were discussing our plans for the day. It's cold in New England today. I mentioned that I was refraining for making ribald remarks about the cold and getting warm. You know, when I behave myself I want credit!
He said "I could ask what day it was and you could come up with an off color remark!"
Well of course I could! OFF is my favorite color!
First orange alert of this young French Toast season
Run! Hurry! Panic!
I need to keep laughing - last night on the way to Frankie's somebeody rear ended me on 93 north - insert ribald joke here - and I have a wicked headache.
Today is the day we break from #MilblogsGoSilent. Of course I will be writing more about CJ and the overall social media campaign. But I thought this would be a funny thing to break my silence with.....
Silent Monks Singing Halleluia
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Today, December 17th at 7 pm
Who: CJ Grisham
What: You Seved Radio Interview
When: 1900 EST 17 December
On Wednesday 16 December 2009, many milblogs -- including This Ain't Hell, From My Position, Blackfive, Miss Ladybug, BostonMaggie, Grim's Hall, and those participating in the Wednesday Hero program -- are going silent for the day. Some are choosing to go silent for a longer period of time.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military. While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept. From general apathy in not wanting to deal with the issue to outright hostility to it, many commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others. The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters.
The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective. C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues -- particularly PTSD. In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this. Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.
An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times: "Off Duty, the Rise and Fall of a Military Blogger " While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career.
One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place.
Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public. They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.
On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington.
Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day. All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.
The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion. We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter. Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within.
A Partial List of Participating Blogs:
Bouhammer - http://www.bouhammer.com/
This Ain't Hell http://thisainthell.us/blog/
Boston Maggie http://bostonmaggie.blogspot.com/
Miss Ladybug http://miss-ladybug.blogspot.com/
Drunken Wisdom http://beerbrains.com/
Grim's Hall http://grimbeorn.blogspot.com/
CDR Salamander - http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/
You Served - http://www.vamortgagecenter.com/blog/
HomeFront Six - http://homefrontsix.blogspot.com/
Laughing Wolf - http://laughingwolf.net/
United Conservatives of Virginia - http://unitedconservatives.blogspot.com/
Great Reader JihadGene - http://jihadgene-greatreader.blogspot.com/
Chuck Simmins America's North Shore Journal - http://northshorejournal.org/
The Sniper - http://northshorejournal.org/
LL – http://www.chromedcurses.com/
Mothax – http://burnpit.legion.org/
NavyCS - http://www.navycs.com/
Delta Sierra Hotel - http://deltasierrahotel.net/
Knotties Niche - http://knottiesniche.com/
Ace of Spades - http://ace.mu.nu/
The GunLine - http://www.thegunline.com/blog/
Yankee Mom http://www.yankeemom.com/
Knee Deep in the Hooah! http://www.kneedeepinthehooah.com/
Assoluta Tranquillita http://assolutatranquillita.blogspot.com/
Wake up America http://wwwwakeupamericans-spree.blogspot.com/
Miss Beth's Victory Dance http://missbethsvictorydance.blogspot.com/
Soldier's Angels NY http://soldiersangelsny.blogspot.com/
Hugh Hewitt http://www.hughhewitt.com/
My Own Political Party http://political-party.losito.net/
The Pink Flamingo http://www.thepinkflamingoblog.com/
Winds of Change http://www.windsofchange.net/
Registered Evil http://www.registeredevil.com/
Right Wing Right Minded http://rightwingrightminded.blogspot.com/
Storm'n Norm'n http://normanhooben.blogspot.com/
Confederate Yankee http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/
Free Republic http://freerepublic.com/
Another Voice http://anothervoice.1776redux.com/
Support Your Local Gunfighter http://supportyourlocalgunfighter.com/
The SandGram http://www.thesandgram.com/
Muncie Free Press - http://www.munciefreepress.com/node/21612
Pepple Drops http://pebbledrops.blogspot.com/
Uniform Dissent - http://www.commondreams.org/further/2009/12/16-0
Susan Katz Keating - http://www.susankatzkeating.com/
Army Household6 - http://armyhousehold6.com/
Michelle Malkin - http://michellemalkin.com/2009/12/16/milbloggers-rally-around-cj-grisham/
The Navy Experience - http://navyexperience.com/navy-blogs/
Steeljaw Scribe - http://steeljawscribe.com/
Haze Gray & Underway - http://www.hazegrayunderway.blogspot.com/
Two cartoonists join in!
Getting noticed some places -
Army Times -
You can donate to CJ's Legal Fund by logging into PayPal, go to the send money page, and put in his email: dj_chcknhawk AT yahoo DOT com; or, you can send donations directly to:
Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893
Please write "Grisham Legal Fund" in the memo line if you use this option. Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you. Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without. Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.
The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways. Without your help, the battle may well be lost.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
But this had a name in the subject line "Judy Lanciano Hammond". When I first joined the listserv, Judy was someone I exchanged a lot of emails with. She was diagnosed six months earlier than me. She was less than 2 years older than me. She lived a short distance away. We both saw Dr. Schlossman at DFCI. Judy liked him, I only saw him once.
Judy wanted to make it, by hook or by crook, to her daughter's wedding in August and she did.
I felt the hysteria bubbling up. So I left and ran Grace's errand. Then I stopped at East Bay for dinner. Colin, the bartender announced that I had just missed my boss and her husband. I thought privately that might have been a good thing since I wasn't sure what my face looked like. So I ordered the steak tips and opened up a book. Figured I'd read some foreign policy stuff and lose myself in solving the world's problems.
I ate, I read, I flirted with my favorite bartender, Dick. Dick had sent along a present with my boss last week. It was a Navy travel mug. Dick's brother is a Captain in the US Navy recently back from a billet in Iraq. I told I loved my present. He said "You know this means we are going steady?" I laughed. After dinner as I was leaving I noticed a special New Year's Eve menu on the bar. "Happy New Year?" I raised an eyebrow. He chastised me "Don't rush through Christmas, there's only two left."
I was speechless. Thinking about Judy's passing had me thinking of my own timetable. I am 18 months in the 3 or 4 years they have given me. So by that formula, I have two Christmas's left. Dick knows all about this since he presided over my "I've got cancer!" party.
I'm sure the look on my face was dreadful. He leaned over and said "You know, the 2012 thing. It all ends." I burst out laughing. "I thought you meant me." "No, not you!" and he slapped the bar with the towel from his shoulder "All of us!"
That's right Maggie, it's not all about you!!!!!!
It's about Judy's family and their loss. I'm so sorry.
This morning's DOD Bloggers Roundtable -
Topic: Gen Sharp will discuss his priorities for U.S. Forces Korea to include readiness to meet current and future military challenges posed by North Korea, how the transition of wartime Operational Control from the U.S. to the ROK JCS on April 17, 2012 is strengthening the ROK - U.S. Alliance, and USFK's progress in making assignments to Korea become normal two and three-year accompanied tours for all servicemembers.
So last night I printed out some stuff on the wartime OPCON transition and read it while I ate dinner. It wasn't easy to get through since there was no computer nearby to allow for Googling of terms....but I got through it.
I was 9th on the call. I listened to Gen Sharp's opening statement and the questions of my fellow bloggers. The questions ran the gamut - staffing DOD schools, evacuation plans for military families, h1N1; the difference in deployment times; the threat North Korea presents.
You should listen to the audio of the call.
The questions led interesting places. But the one the thing that had popped out at me during my reading apparently didn't occur to anyone else.
When it was my turn, I told the General that my question was going to be 360 degrees away from anyone else's -
"What did your Dad do in the war?"
He laughed and I think relaxed a little.
"He was a platoon leader in the 40th National Guard Division out of California. A platoon leader and a system S3. I'm very proud of that fact that I'm an Army brat. I was born actually when my father was fighting in the Korean War when he came back he was active duty military and he stayed in the service or 28 years. We moved around to many, many different locations. I loved growing up as a military kid adn moving around to different posts. I am very, very proud of his service. Humbled to be in command in the country and to be in command in the country in which he served."
When the transcript is out, I'll print the text of the reply more completely. But I got just the response I was hoping for. A thoughtful man who grasps the enormity of his responsibility and how it fits into history in general and his own history in specific. A man as proud of his father's service as, I'm sure that platoon leader would be of his son's service.
Imagine his father fighting in the Korean Conflict, thinking of his newborn son....it probably never occurred to him that all this time later we would still be in Korea, and that his son would be in charge of US Forces, Korea.
DoDLive Blogger’s Roundtable: U.S. Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea
There were eight or nine blogger's ahead of me on the call and there questions were all good - insightful and pertinent.
Then there's me.
So I point out that my question will be 360 degrees from the other questions.
The second it's out of my mouth, I think, "What? I'm glad Sr. Cathy Mozzicatto didn't hear that!"
Ahem, I meant 180 degrees.
I'll be back later with more on this call.
Monday, December 14, 2009
The US Naval Institute has so many invaluable resources. Many of them are online.
The website. One of my favorite parts is the slideshow tab under "Preservation"
The blog. Which has thought provoking posts by a range of guest bloggers.
The Facebook page! Are you a fan?
Friday, December 11, 2009
I have the 70s channel on the cable.
Brownies with chopped pecans.
I will have to keep them on our table instead of the dessert table. One of my cousins has a nut allergy. So you will need to be cleared to get one.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
There was some humility, -
"Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight."
.....that was good.
However, I got heartburn when he compared himself to Pope John Paul II
"Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach — and condemnation without discussion — can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.
In light of the Cultural Revolutions horrors, Nixons meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable — and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Pauls engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagans efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time."
Seriously? The Pope? You talking to Iran is like the Pope going to Poland? And people talk about my giant ego.
Obama sprinkled in some re-writing of history where he insinuates that we went into Iraq alone and unjustly. Whatever.
And then of course, there was this continued nonsense -
"That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed."
Yeah, you prohibited torture, except you didn't. You retained the right to authorize "harsh interrogation techniques" and CIA detentions.
But they will just say - "You turned it on, Maggie. No one made you listen."
Where's my glass?
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
If you are on Twitter, I want to see lots of great #GONAVY #BEATARMY tweets.
And I want to see some of these spirit spots. Amber put this one on my FaceBook - silly Army people!
Although nothing beats this one I got from ISC Griffin.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
"Blog: It’s not just another %$#@-letter word. Happy Anniversary!"
Go over and read - especially the Solomon's Blog Project.
Ok, I have to leave and work the polls for the Massachusetts Special Primary. I am an appointed election official. Yeah, I'm so special I get to get up at 0500. Yay me.
If you are in Massachusetts, go vote. If you see me, wake me up. That's how low I think voter turn out will be.
Monday, December 07, 2009
I average 250 to 300 visits on a good day.
today as of 1830 I've had 495.
Now some of this is because Universal Hub linked to this cool pic of Santa & CDR Cooper.
And some is because CDR Salamander gave me the h/t on the Charge Sheets in the Navy SEALs case.
But a whole bunch are coming through Facebook. And for the most part, those are coming in on Navy, DISA, and other computers with FPO addresses. I think it has something to do with one of the two posts regarding the Navy SEALs.
But I would appreciate a hint.
These were remarks made by CDR Cooper, USN, USS Constitution, 71st in Command.
Commander Barbour, President Tower, Commander Sancranti, President Studebaker, Commander Tabbut, Commisioner Vaillancourt, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here today as we remember the events of December 7th, 1941. I’d also like to say thank you to each and every veteran who is standing here with us. To each of you I’d like to say thank you for coming and thank you for your service to our country.
I have the honor and privilege to command 75 of the U.S. Navy’s finest Sailors. These amazing young men and women are a visible reminder of the Navy’s continuing commitment to defend our country and our way of life. One of the things I frequently tell them is to ask “why?”. I tell them to challenge the status quo...to look and learn “the why” behind everything they do. I don’t think it’s enough to go through life, in whatever capacity, and just go with the flow. I believe that everyone has a right, and in fact a responsibility, to understand why they are performing the different aspects of their job, or the countless other things in which we dedicate our time. Asking that simple question can lead to a world of understanding. So it’s with that in mind that I’d like to take the next few minutes and explore with you the reasons that we are all here today.
I’d like you to to take a moment and ask yourself that same question...“why?”. Why am I here today? December 7th, 1941 was nearly 70 years ago. There is absolutely no doubt that it was one of those singular events that define a nation and her people. But even still, there have been many of those types of events in our past. So what is it about this one in particular that led us to be in this room today?
It may be that you are here just to honor those men and women who fought that day. They are all certainly worthy of that. 2388 made the ultimate sacrifice. An additional 1178 were wounded. Countless others contributed in the defense of the island. In the wake of the attack, 16 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses, 53 Silver Crosses, four Navy and Marine Corps Medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross, four Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, and three Bronze Stars were awarded to the American servicemen who distinguished themselves in combat at Pearl Harbor.
It could be that you have a personal connection to someone who served at Pearl Harbor or at some other point during that war. Maybe you are here to help keep the past alive. As my Sailors and I can certainly attest, connecting with our heritage is important. Ceremonies such as this are just one way that we can do this. While I have been there twice during my time in the Navy, it wasn’t until recently that I had what I could consider a personal connection with the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few weeks ago, I was honored to meet our nations oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, retired Navy LT John Finn. In addition to having that distinction, LT Finn is also the last surviving Pearl Harbor recipient. I'd like to tell you a bit about him. He's one hundred years old, and his mind is as sharp as a cutless. On that day almost 70 years ago, LT Finn arrived at the base as the attack was in progress. He found a movable platform used for gunnery training, attached a 50 caliber machine gun to it and pushed the platform into an open area, to give him a clear view of the attacking aircraft. He fired on the Japanese planes for the next two hours, even after being seriously wounded, until the attack had ended. In total, he received 21 distinct wounds, including a bullet through the foot and an injury which rendered his left arm numb. It was only when specifically ordered, that he left his post to receive medical attention.
I was fortunate to be able to spend about an hour with that incredible man. I wish it was longer. While I wouldn’t presume to call him a friend, although I would love to, I will call him one of my heroes.
Maybe you have another reason.
Let me tell you mine.
“Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy”. These words said by President Franklin Roosevelt the day after the attack, comprise what may be the most famous, or well known phrase describing the events of that terrible day. If you take the time to read or listen to the rest of what the President said, I think there’s one statement that resonates a little more...at least it does with me. “With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.”
It is within that statement, that I find my own answer to "the why?". The unbounding determination of our people...the American people...begins within each of us. It is the underpinning of who and what we are as a people. One would be hard pressed to find a better example of American resolve and that “unbounding determination” more on display than it was that day.
I am truly thankful for all of those who have given so much for our country. Words can never sufficiently describe the events of that day to those who were there. But spending an hour or so to honor them is such an easy thing to do.
In the end, the answer to our “why” is unique to each of us. I can tell you that I would be here, even if I wasn't speaking. The sacrifices of those that have gone before are important and should be recognized at every opportunity. By honoring one person or one group for a particular thing such as those that fought at Pearl Harbor, we also honor all of the others who sacrificed for our country. And ultimately, we honor all of America.
In closing, I would ask that you share your answer to the "why" with your friends, your families, and others that you care about.
The "why" is important.
CDR Gillen, USN (ret), 59th in Command, USS Constitution looked snappy in his dress blues. Although CDR Cooper received kudos from a fan on his appearance. A woman came up afterwards to introduce herself as a World War II veteran. After she paid her compliment to CDR Cooper, she qualified it by saying he was young enough to be her grandson.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I had a marvelous time today and I promise to blog allllll about it. But it's six minutes before bed.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
In the matter of the Navy SEALs case....it should be ...accusation....investigation.....Courts Martial....verdict.
Then presuming that they are found guilty (and that's a mighty big "if" in my book), prior to sentencing....you make the case for leniency.
That's the point where you roll out your character witnesses....your records of achievement....your extenuating circumstances.
This is an open question for all those who are falling over themselves to excuse why the SEALs in question might have *abused* Ahmed Hashim Abed - What if they didn't?
What if Abed was following the "Terrorism for Dummies" manual and injured himself for show? What if these SEALs never touched him? What if their conflicting answers during the investigation were nothing more than a difference of opinion - abuse can be defined in shades of gray. Imagine they are completely innocent and no one hears that above the roar of paternalistic excuses people are throwing about?
Imagine for a moment you are arrested for drunk driving. You are offered a plea deal but you turn that down to get your day in court. There you sit at the defense table, ready for your day in court. There are all your friends and neighbors to support you. The judge asks how you plead and half your "support group" leaps to their feet and begins shouting "He hardly ever drinks!" "He's been under a lot of stress at work." "He was really just completely over-tired and a few drinks overpowered him" "That cop is racist/sexist/agist!" "This was just a one time thing!" "Alcoholism is a disease!"
For pity's sake! How is the judge supposed to hear you say "Not guilty!"? How is the judge supposed to hear the actual evidence?
What happened to Jerry Zovko, Scott Helvenston, Michael Teague and Wesley Batalona was horrific beyond words. But before you use the trauma of that incident as an excuse for anyone abusing a detainee, shouldn't we see if said detainee was abused in the first place?
The Charge Sheets in the case against Navy SEALs SO2 McCabe SO2 Keefe & SO1 Huertas have been released to the public.
Charge Sheets Released for Three Accused Sailors
Embedded in the story linked above are the actual documents. If the link in the story fails, please go to NavyCS by clicking on this link.
Before you spout off about these SEALs being charged with giving a scumbag a "fat lip", try reading these charges. Before proffering an opinion, educate yourself to the point where you can form one.
If you want to show support say that you believe the SEALs are innocent until proven guilty; that you are happy they will have their day in court; and make a donation to their legal defense fund.
Navy SEALs Legal Defense Fund
c/o Bank of America
Ft Eustis VA 23604
The first question I would like answered in these proceedings -
How does "unlawfully striking XXXX in the midsection with his fist" make XXXX's lip bleed & swell? I certainly hope Major General C. T. Cleveland, US Army, has a very good answer.
Friday, December 04, 2009
HISTORIC FANEUIL HALL
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 2009 2:00 PM
LEST WE FORGET
The City of Boston
THOMAS M. MENINO,
THE AMERICAN LEGION
Bill Barbour, Department Commander
Rosemary Tower, Department President
Charles Sancranti, Department Commander
Beverly Studebaker, Department President
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS AND FRIENDS
PRESENTATION OF COLORS
The American Legion Color Guard
Chaplain (COL) Duane Westfield
Military Chaplains Association USA
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Francis Murphy, ED. D. AMVETS
Eugene J. Vaillancourt, Commissioner
City of Boston, Veterans’ Services
MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Arthur Smith, Past Dept. Commander
The American Legion
Commander Timothy M. Cooper,
Commanding Officer USS Constitution
INTRODUCTION OF DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
Eugene J. Vaillancourt, Commissioner
City of Boston, Veterans’ Services
Bill Barbour, Department Commander
The American Legion
Rosemary Tower, Department President
Ladies Auxiliary, The American Legion
Beverly Studebaker, Department President
Ladies Auxiliary, AMVETS
LAYING OF WREATHS
Donald Tabbut, Commander.
Pearl Harbor Survivors and Friends
John P. McKeon Post #146, AMVETS
Linda Stanley, Bugler
Buglers Across America
Chaplain (COL) Duane Westfield
Military Chaplains Association USA
GOD BLESS AMERICA
RETIRING OF COLORS
And then he went all off track.
The point isn't whether or not it is right or wrong to have struck the terrorist.
The point isn't whether or not said terrorist is scum.
The point definitely has nothing to do with Attorney General Holder bringing GITMO detainees to New York for trial. And damn sure has nothing to do with Abu Ghraib.
Read the charges, they have to do with conflicting stories and possible interference with an investigation. The Navy is not saying it is right or wrong to hit a terrorist. The Navy is not saying that these men hit the terrorist. The Navy is not saying this POS, Ahmed Hashim Abed is a poor victim. The Navy is saying that an allegation was made and when they tried to get to the bottom of it, there was a problem.
This has nothing to do with Abed. This has everything to do with how the SEALs handle themselves and their fellow servicemen.
The system is in place to settle this matter. Let it go forward. Let the story see the light of day. These SEALs will have their day in court and that's how it is supposed to be.
Congressman Dan Burton spouting off at ADM Mullen about how he thinks Mullen should "do something about this" is ludicrous. For pity's sake Congressman, do a little research and look up "unlawful command influence". How would anyone be helped by having ADM Mullen, the CJCS squash this matter? If anything it would bring a bigger problem. It would look like these SEALs were guilty and needed help out of a jam. It would look like they couldn't stand up in the justice system and be vindicated.
The SEALs requested the courts martial. Let them have it.
If you want to help, the SEALs have a legal defense fund - write a check.
Navy SEALs Legal Defense Fund
c/o Bank of America
Ft Eustis VA 23604
Thursday, December 03, 2009
The best part is that you will get to meet some of the great folks at CarePacks. They will be on hand to accept donations for care packages to be sent over seas to our military.
But then go home and rest up - I will expect to see you at the City Of Boston Pearl Harbor Commemoration in Faneuil Hall. It's Sunday the 6th at 2 pm
Then you can pop over to the Navy Yard for the "USS Constitution's Annual Tree Lighting" at 4 pm.
You can see this and other pics at The Castle Argghhh!!! thanks to frequent contributor BOQ.
Oh, do I need to explain that this pic was taken at West Point the night of The Speech?
“Winning Wars: Did the QDR Get it Right?”
Then maybe you are the kind of brainiac/mil-nerd that should attend "2010 West Conference & Exposition"
Seriously, I've read the panels descriptions and this should be interesting!
Plus it's San Diego in February.....even someone who loves Boston with all her heart can admit, that might be the place to be in February.
Not everyone reads the comments on posts and you really shouldn't miss the one Jihad Gene left -
Panel: "What Can Be Done with North Korea?"
Be berry careful Bloston Maggie! Remember, I'm got wockets!!!
Great Reader KIM Jong IL
Love the Great Reader! I top his "Axis of Evil" you know.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Then I got an email from DOD that there would be a roundtable afterwards and I accepted. Even though it meant I had to stay at my desk.
Was it just that I didn't want to go to the gym?
So anyway, I watch the speech on the Pentagon Channel. I have the transcript in another window. I ends just in time for me to run to the ladies room and then the kitchen for a cup of tea - I was still at the office.
Then the Blogger's Roundtable. 21 bloggers. 2 guests. 30 minutes. You know the math didn't work.
Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable with David S. Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia; and Brigadier General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Director, Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff
You can click here for a link to the story which in turn contains links to the transcript and audio of the call.
I got in early which means I got a question in, many didn't. But there was no chance at follow-up.
I was third and I warned Andrew Lubin from Leatherneck Magazine not to cut me! LOL
My question -
LT. CRAGG: Thanks, Leo. Let’s go to Maggie. Maggie, you’re next.
Q Hi, General. Do you see the NATO contribution making up in any part for the at least 10,000 troops that we didn’t get tonight?
GEN. NICHOLSON: We’re estimating between five (thousand) to 7,000, in terms of contributions from NATO and other ISAF troop-contributing nations. So most definitely, that will help with the effort.
Then Mr. Sedney chimed in -
MR. SEDNEY: And I want to stress that this is not a situation where we didn’t get any number of troops. What we’re sending to Afghanistan by next summer, by the end of next summer, will be more troops, more quickly, than any proposal that has been before the president. And this came out of that process that General Nicholson mentioned that was deliberative, that looked at what was needed.
And to sort of refer back to the earlier question about the speed with which we’re doing it, yes, that’s going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be a real challenge for our people who do logistics. The point here is to reverse the momentum.
So what we’re doing here is we’re going to be putting into the hands of General McChrystal more troops, sooner, in order to have the impact on the momentum of the Taliban -- to not just blunt that momentum, but to reverse that and, at the same time, do that partnering with the Afghan forces that starts to allow us to transition more to them.
The troops that the allies will be putting in and the fact that NATO has looked at the requests from -- (inaudible) -- is asking for and is getting very positive response on additional troops is very heartening.
So what we will have is we’ll have the troops that are necessary in order to achieve the goals that we’ve set, but are somewhat refined. They’re more focused than the goals that we’ve -- (inaudible) -- this with, starting back in March, as a result of this examination, as a result of a look at the change in circumstances.
So we have a situation here where, as a result of the process the president’s led, we have more -- a refined focus on what we’re doing and we also have a greater focus on speed and getting people in there.
As I said, I didn't get a follow up, but it would have started with "With all due respect sir...."
Come on! Everyone knows that General McChrystal asked for at least 40K - my own private sources say that was the lower end of the range given in the request.
What I didn't get in the speech. What I didn't get in the roundtable. What I haven't gotten in the follow up coverage everywhere is....how was 30K arrived at.
General McChrystal knows a thing or two, that's why he was put in charge. He was asked to give his opinion. Obama overruled that. Based on what? I want to know. A process was mentioned. Who was involved? What was their formula?
And to add insult to injury, I was put in the uncomfortable position of defending certain aspects of the speech to Michael Graham in multiple emails during his radio show today. As usual, his responses were very funny.
From CDR Lippold, USN (ret), former CO of USS Cole -
USS Cole CDR Lippold Statement on Afghanistan Troop Decision
He also appeared on the radio to discuss The Speech and the Gitmo detainees. Audio here.
Students at the Nazarene Christian Academy in New Bedford had an extra special visitor during the recent “Salute to Reading is Fundamental” program.
Timothy Cooper, commander of the USS Constitution, was in full uniform as he met with the kids, read to them and answered their questions.
Joanne Byron, who organizes the RIF program, said Cooper also read to about 300 fifth graders at the Burkland School in Middleboro.
You can read the rest here.
BZ CDR Cooper!
I counselled calm.
I worked hard communicating with the different entities. I was charming where that helped and tough when necessary.
If our number had been revoked on December 10th as threatened, I would have rebuked for having faith in myself and the system. I said repeatedly that it would all work out. I said not to panic.
If the worst had happened and the number had been revoked, I would have taken heat. Even though nothing would have been gained by panicking, people would have been angry with me. That's just the way this works.
But I was right. So it is a huge relief on all counts.
In discussing this matter with my boss I explained that part of the reason I didn't panic is that soon enough I will have to leave anyway. If we were laid off next week, it would have simply moved my timetable up a little. I am 18 months into the 36 to 48 month window the doctors have laid out for me. They told me I could be symptom free for as long as 3 or 4 years. So I know it's all borrowed time. All around me people with multiple myeloma deteriorate, it's just a matter of time. And even I know that I have to go into this next round of treatment sooner rather than later. I know I have created quite the fantasy world for myself here....but even I know reality is just outside my bubble.
But in the meantime, I am still the Dirty Harry of this office and I did navigate these turbulent waters while keeping everyone in the lifeboat from swamping it. I rock!
Well here's some stuff you shouldn't miss.
Saturday - The next opening of the WWII Veteran Exhibits will be Saturday December 5th from 12:00 to 3:00PM at 20 City Square Charlestown. It's a very convenient location adjacent to the Freedom Trail. The Exhibits were profiled in the Boston Globe last month in coverage that can be viewed here. If you have any interest in history, particularly WWII history; or any connection to Charlestown, this Exhibit is a must see.
Sunday - This is a two-fer -
1st - The City of Boston will hold a Pearl Harbor Day commemoration in Quincy Market at 2 pm. I will try to get more information on this event. I do know that CDR Cooper, CO of USS Constitution will be speaking at the ceremony.
2nd - Old Ironsides will hold it's annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony December 6 at 4 p.m. aboard the ship. The event is free and open to the public. The ceremony will commence following evening colors at sunset and a shot fired from USS Constitution's port saluting battery, and culminate in the lighting of the 18-foot tree near the ship's stern.
"We'll have cookies and hot chocolate, and most importantly, lots of children will be here to enjoy the Christmas tree aboard America's Ship of State," said USS Constitution's 71st and current commanding officer, Cmdr. Timothy Cooper. "We'll be holding a drawing to allow one lucky winner the opportunity to turn on the switch that lights the tree; I think that's a special way to create ties between us and community."
Additionally, USS Constitution has been assured that it is "very, very likely" that a special guest will be in attendance, who will be overjoyed to see all the little boys and girls present.
During this holiday season, Charlestown Navy Yard partners Boston's National Park Service the USS Constitution Museum and Old Ironsides are giving visitors the opportunity to design their own Christmas tree ornaments, and then hang them on the tree aboard the ship.
Monday - There will be a Pearl Harbor commemoration aboard USS Cassin Young in the Charlestown Navy Yard. I'll get more details on that as well.