Sunday, July 3, 2011

Radio Listening Silence

Just checking in.

Things seem pretty quiet around here. Nothing new for a couple of weeks? I know that it's the height of summer and we're all lazing about waiting for the fireworks to start...but there have got to be a couple of potential posts out there waiting to be written.

Any of the bar staff got a chip on their shoulder they need to talk about? Summertime blues? Odds and sods? Crazy ideas? Out-there military notions for 21st Century war? (I was thinking about this just the other day when I heard something out of D.C. about DoD budget cuts...why do we still have an entire airborne division? What is the likelihood of ever seeing a Normandy-style division-size combat jump, given the proliferation of handheld SAMs and the dearth of Wehrmacht-style conventional militaries that would force a division-size vertical envelopment? Wouldn't it make more sense to have an airborne brigade in an airlanding division? At the very least, it would allow the cost savings of removing the airborne status of divisional assets like the 82nd DISCOM and XVIII Corps elements that currently need to be airborne-qualified, not to mention the airdrop capability of the USAF MAC needed to drop an entire division. I'm not saying "Let's turn the entire 82nd into a leg infantry division"...but I'm saying "Have we put any thought into whether or not we still NEED a fully-airborne-qualified division and the additional costs"? Small beans, Defense-budget-speaking, but still, every grain of rice...)Just so it's not anything about the damn debt ceiling nonsense. That entire business is so emblematic of the third-grade-recess level that our national politics has become as to make any sane citizen physically ill.

But otherwise? How about some new ideas, folks?


  1. Well Chief I am not one of the bar staff. But I have been a regular at the bar since opening day and have tasted both the top shelf and the occasional rotgut served here.

    I am still dying to hear the opining of you and your staff on Panetta as SecDef. I know, I know, he has only been there two days so much too early to judge.

    But I will bet the man already is studying deep in the puzzle palace budget process and history, in order to get ready for some draconian cuts. Although I hope he is doing it back home surrounded by his walnut orchard and playing with his grandkids. During his 18 years in Congress his major area of interest and influence was budget issues and he spent years as the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. He was Clinton’s OMB Director and the main reason that Clinton was able to get a budget surplus. He was later WH CofS and a key budget negotiator. I believe this is the main reason Obama placed him in DoD.

    Most of his budget cuts will be necessary. Many I will personally hate, necessary or not. Even so I admire the man. I do not think the major announcement will happen until after the election though. Outside of the politics involved he will need that long to get everything in line.

    Some here will never warm up to him for his support of drone strikes. And maybe they are right? Or not? Are there any stats available as to collateral casualties by drone strikes before and after Panetta took over as DCI?

    He has a lot going for him besides budgeteering that will enhance his tour at DoD. More on that later if anyone bites.

  2. The most interesting thing I've read this week comes from the department of "the more things change, the more they stay the same":

    Personally, I'd like to hear something from Al about Greece and get an update on Seydlitz and his employer.

    Pretty much, though, I've tuned out. I don't have much motivation to event comment on blogs anymore, much less write something for my own. It just makes me angry and it's largely pointless.

  3. On Airborne:

    Chief, if you read Rick Atkinson's latest tome on the Sicily/Italian campaign, you wold come to the realization that airborne drops (and Glider borne), were not the perfect option there. A lot of the aircraft got lost and turned around for North Africa (Sicily), or tried to make it only to splash.

    The ones on course were slaughtered by Ship borne and land based "Allied" anti aircraft (at least through Salerno. I believe they didn't get the word. Service Branch coordination was rather cheesy early on. I could prattle on, but it is very uninspiring. Korea airborne ops ????, Vietnam, one drop which accomplished ???? Grenada Mon??? Didn't they problems at the aerodrome DZ?????. I think that it will be the last unit to be de-activated in the conventional forces.......Oooohaaaahh and all that rubbish. I am not a historian, so there are probably many successful ops besides Sainte Mere Eglise in France.

    Oh, I remember you mentioning that the Brits were slightly better than the Free Frenchie Fries in the Big WW. They sucked in Italy. Left flank on the Rapido, they said fuck it after one go. They don't do mountains.... no equipment or training chaps! The French North Africans (under Gen Juin) covered the high ground East north east of casino, and captured much high ground, were ground down numerically by Jerry's counter attacks. I could go on and on and on about their slowness, over caution, etc.; and they still took high casualties. As was their historic habit, they relegated their commonwealth Sepoys (NZ, Indian, etc.) to do most of the mountainous, slaughterific work.

    Oh.I forgot, US Airborne drop in Nijmegen was successful in and of itself, but was mitigated by Brit under-planning, and fecklessness.

    I don't know, perhaps you can start an insult-a-thon on Brit-Jerry-US airborne performance and what it portends for today's 82nd Airborne's value. Perhaps they could be assigned two jobs. Achieve Airborne and Rubber Boat river crossing Ops. "Riverine flair all the way Sir."

    PS jes' joshing! I mean they did do that at Nijmegen, did they not?

    Oh, Tom Ricks' site had a thread a few weeks back on a 6 to 10 mile brigade run which had hundreds of drops..... insults galore ... great fun.

  4. mike: As you say, early days. Lots of people come to the SecDef chair thinking that they're going to reinvent that wheel only to find that they're just another passing float in the big MICC parade. Panetta is an "inside" guy, but so was Rummy, and he ended up so coopted and compromised by these silly foreign adventures that his original plans for remaking the way the Pentagon does business got DX'ed in a hurry.

    As far as cuts go, well, we all hate to get cut off the teat. Military jobs and budgets are no different than any other jobs and budgets - we all want as many and as much as we can grab. The difference is that a private business has a bottom line to tell them whether they're doing things intelligently. Military force, not so much, until the enemy kicks the gate in, and in these little wars that's not going to happen. So Panetta has got his work ahead of him.

    Insofar as anyone in the U.S. give's a rat's ass about dead wogs I don't see any real fallout from the man's support of the Drone Wars. But honestly, the question of whether the Drone Wars are doing anything other than bankrolling Rayethon or FLIR or whothehellever makes and supports the platforms is nearly impossible to tell. IMO it's kinda subsumed in the question "What the hell are we achieving in southwest Asia with the force levels/tactics/strategies/fiscal leverage we're employing?" It's all part of the big "How do we produce a self-licking ice cream cone in Kabul" issue. Right now there's little evidence to my view that the Karzai regime is any more likely to last longer than the Najibullah government did after the Soviets left. Compared to the Drone Wars that's the Big Casino, and if Panetta has any better ideas how to accomplish that than Gates did I've yet to read about them. Mind you, nobody else does, either, other than "Let's keep fighting a land war in Asia for the next two generations", which ranks right up there with "Let's ride down to the Little Bighorn and see what those injuns are up to..." in the annals of Fucked Up Military Ideas.

  5. eddiez: Not to mention Crete, which was a fiasco of the highest order.

    But on the whole I'd argue that the WW2 airborne had some value. Airborne troops helped hold the Hermann Goering division off the Sicily invasion beaches, and the chaos they helped create in Normandy was of some value. The 101st put up a hell of a fight as conventional infantry at Bastogne, and I've read accounts that credit their airborne experience and esprit for a lot of that. I'd say that, honestly, they probably cost more in terms of trained soldiers lost than they returned in tactical advantage. But there's at least an argument to be made there.

    But since then, though...yeah, you're right. First, there hasn't been a genuine need for a division-size combat jump since then. Most of the combat drops have been brigade size or below, and they were used, as in Grenada or Panama, to seize a working airfield that was then used to airland followon forces, a much less risky and more sensible way to fly troops into battle, IMO.

    And second, the way I see it, the real cost of an airborne DIVISION is the divisional and above elements that have to be airdroppable. If you reduce the size of the unit to a brigade, say, than you can make the echelons above brigade straight-leg and save the money for troop training, special equipment, and airdrop platforms needed to deliver them.

    Like I said; pennies on the Defense dollar. But taking on the Airborne Mafia would be a hell of a big statement that nothing would be sacred, that the new SecDef was evaluating the usefulness of every single aspect of the service budgets...

    Ain't gonna happen. But I wonder if a genuine military reformer would throw it in the mixer with all the other expensive Cold War and WW2-legacy organizations and equipment..?

  6. Andy: sorry to hear about that, but I understand how you feel. That was behind my only-sort-of-joking comment about the debt ceiling. The process inside the Beltway seems to have taken on an increasingly-unrelated-to-reality tone, even more lately than before, that is both deadening and infuriating at the same time, like being tied to a chair watching your neighbor's retarded child hammer on the fuse of a thousand-pound bomb. You know that it's going to end badly, you know there's nothing you can do about it, and yet you can't stop watching even as it makes you physically ill.

    We seem to be living in some unpleasant times. Probably no less pleasant that any others in history, but no less irking for that.

  7. And as far as Greece goes, I think the only real question is how badly are the ordinary Greeks going to get reamed versus does the Greek government have the balls to give the EU the finger and default.

    There's just no good options, there. And, as always, the poor bastards who are shy half a slug are the ones who are going to take it in the shorts.

    Al, any objections to that as a summation?

  8. And let me just add...when a guy like Andy, who is probably in the top tenth percentile for "intelligent, committed, knowledgable, responsible citizens" feels like he's just a spectator, and a disinterested one at that, to his own nation during a time of depression and wars...well, if I was a conspiracy theorist I'd say that you couldn't have done a better job of hamstringing a republic than that if you were a nefarious cabal of oligarchs and autocrats bent on garnering absolute power.

    But seeing as I am who I am, I'm just disgusted with our ruling classes and at ourselves for letting this happen.

    It is by our own feathers, and not by others' shafts, are we now smitten.

  9. To all,
    We were discussing Panetta's speech when ass-uming the dod mantle.
    Big shoes to fill for little feat.
    And what's the 1st thing he says-words to the effect" THAT WE'RE A NATION AT WAR."
    What more is there to say??!!?

  10. "eddiez: Not to mention Crete, which was a fiasco of the highest order."

    Nonsense. A numerically inferior force invaded an island against the determined defender and ended up with a strongly favourable loss ratio if POWs are included (factor 4!).

    Much bad happened, but that was warfare! Not bashing under-armed, under-trained Third World farce armies; actual warfare against peer forces!

    So much crap has been written about that invasion, badly misled by high casualties in %. The bashing in literature is neglecting that the defenders casualties in % were much, much worse.

    It was no fiasco; it was rather an extremely high intensity battle.

  11. "There's just no good options, there."

    Greece's state industries and infrastructure object such as ports alone are estimated to exceed their public debt in value.

    They built up the debt and it's reasonable that they gotta sell some of their meanwhile accumulated treasure. They wouldn't have lived the lives they had AND accumulated their possessions without accumulating the debt.

    The whole Greece affair wouldn't be nearly as bad if
    * Greece hadn't blatantly lied about its debt to EU countries and EU itself repeatedly and for more than a decade
    * there wasn't an explicit provision in the Maastricht treaty that no transfers between Euro zone countries are allowed (Germany had insisted on this and got all others to ratify this clause; we knew the economic theories that basically predicted what happened. This clause was necessary to gain acceptance for the Euro currency in Germany).

    They can default and it's certainly the easiest option for them, but the publicised and demonstrated accusation that others are the culprits than the Greek state itself is outrageous.

  12. For people who may have more info on these two topics.

    The 14th amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”. Will Obama Stiff the Rethugs and have the SC rule?

    On the Greek crisis from a Web article:

    The Greek Concern
    The Vatopaidi scandal is still being investigated, but how did this broader debt-induced, Greek fiscal catastrophe occur?
    Lax tax collection, absence of legal enforcement, and simple corruption are a few of the contributing reasons. Lewis describes the situation as follows:
    “Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing.”

    A tax collector and real estate agent from the article had this to say: “If the law was enforced, every doctor in Greece would be in jail.” AND “Every single member of the Greek Parliament is lying to evade taxes.”

    The Greek government also did an incredible job of distorting the reported economic data and swept reality under the rug: “How in the hell is it possible for a member of the euro area to say the deficit was 3 percent of G.D.P. when it was really 15 percent?” a senior I.M.F. (International Monetary Fund) representative asked.

  13. Oh, I dunno If the site ate my homework, so Shot Number Two.

    For people who may have more info on these two topics.

    The 14th amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”. Will Obama Stiff the Rethugs and have the SC rule?

    On the Greek crisis from a Web article:

    The Greek Concern
    The Vatopaidi scandal is still being investigated, but how did this broader debt-induced, Greek fiscal catastrophe occur?
    Lax tax collection, absence of legal enforcement, and simple corruption are a few of the contributing reasons. Lewis describes the situation as follows:
    “Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing.”

    A tax collector and real estate agent from the article had this to say: “If the law was enforced, every doctor in Greece would be in jail.” AND “Every single member of the Greek Parliament is lying to evade taxes.”

    The Greek government also did an incredible job of distorting the reported economic data and swept reality under the rug: “How in the hell is it possible for a member of the euro area to say the deficit was 3 percent of G.D.P. when it was really 15 percent?” a senior I.M.F. (International Monetary Fund) representative asked.

  14. svenn -

    The Battle of Crete certainly was intense and I am sure the high % of casualties on both sides would make it a fiasco for the Brits too. My reading of that action was that the parachute and glider troops were close to failure and Goering considered writing the operation off. But was persuaded not to by Jeschonnek who sent in troop carrying JU-52s to Maleme while it was under intense NZ artillery barrage. They landed and the rest is history. But my only reference to the Crete airborne ops you would probably consider bogus. And it may be as it was writ by a Brit, who after all were the losers there. Any good english language refs you steer me too?

    Chief -

    I don't expect any revolution by Panetta. He will pull the troops back by Obama's schedule. His real value will come in the Pentagon budget cutting wars with Congress. He has the creds on both sides of the aisle.

  15. "if I was a conspiracy theorist I'd say that you couldn't have done a better job of hamstringing a republic"

    This flu seems to be going around. Have noticed a large drop in postings and comments at a variety of blogs this year. Fabius Maximus, GG, and quite a few others.

    Even my FB content is mostly staffed by younger folks now. I sense there's a big story behind this, but don't know what it is.

    And as we recently found out with Hemingway, even if you're clinically depressed and paranoid - that does not mean they really aren't after you.

  16. Don't have a good anglophone account on Crete; all sources agree one the basic points that prove it was no fiasco. it could have been one, but it wasn't (for Germany).

    @srv; blogs appear and disappear. There was a wave of death for German milblogs one or two years ago (one author actually died), but now there are more than ever before.

    Some blog authors run into conflict with a new employer (see Armchair Generalist), others lose interest (especially if they didn't focus on mil news) and finally some others become too old, sick or simply die.

    I'm more concerned about the quality. Few MilBlogs have a good quality and original content. We have too much fanboi, mil porn and mainstream kool-aid mil blogs out there. Oh, and some are fearmongers or rumour distribution nodes, too.

    I am lacking good topics, too. Only 38 posts in the last three months - and some of them were very thin.
    I began to try to move into 'too good for wasting on a free blog' territory two years ago (-> dreams of a book). Some content does thus not appear online.

  17. Chief: "eddiez: Not to mention Crete, which was a fiasco of the highest order."

    I'm with Sven on this one. The only area in which the Germans had a fiasco is that the Brits knew about the invasion ahead of time through their Ultra intercepts and Freyburg planned his deployments based on that information.

    From the British side it is all fiasco. You know your opponents plans and deploy your troops accordingly. You've got more troops with better equipment and more ammo. And you STILL loose with a loss factor of 4:1.

    The German troops that made it to the ground were amazing. One of the very few times when tactical excellence has completely overcome major strategic ineptitude.

    But holding the island for the rest of the war proved to be a total waste of troops as Turkey refused to enter the war so the ultimate objective was not achieved.

  18. Sorry, Sven, I'm probably going to upset you here.

    1. "Greece's state industries and infrastructure object such as ports alone are estimated to exceed their public debt in value."

    Technically I agree. But the industries and infrastructure are only valuable if they work efficiently. The Greeks had troubles making them work efficiently before this all began and it will get harder and harder to make the Greeks efficient when they feel their country is being ransacked.

    You could bring in foreign workers (Turks, for example) but history suggests that would only make the situation much worse.

    Or you could pay the Greeks who work in the newly privatized industries better but profits will suffer and you lose a lot of the benefit of buying the asset.

    The Japanese had a lot of bad experiences in the 1980's in the US with this phenomenon. They'd buy a struggling firm that was well-positioned to make money in the long run but would run into major labor problems (nationalism, labor unions, US government interference, etc.) After sufficient losses and failed plans, the Japanese would point out to the staff that they (the Japanese) would either have to close the company or sell it if profits didn't improve. Unfortunately the workers would interpret this statement as an admission that they were beating the Japanese and redouble their efforts.

    Eventually the Japanese would have to sell for pennies on the dollar or declare bankruptcy. The workers always suffered when this happened and they uniformly blamed the Japanese, which was stupid. This is why the Japanese prefer to start their own companies in the US rather than buy existing companies.

    2. "The whole Greece affair wouldn't be nearly as bad if
    * Greece hadn't blatantly lied about its debt to EU countries and EU itself repeatedly and for more than a decade
    * there wasn't an explicit provision in the Maastricht treaty that no transfers between Euro zone countries are allowed (Germany had insisted on this and got all others to ratify this clause; we knew the economic theories that basically predicted what happened. This clause was necessary to gain acceptance for the Euro currency in Germany)."

    Agreed on all counts. I would also add two more things.

    - One of the burdens on the creditor when the debtor appears to be getting overstressed is to check the debtor's books. I've been up against the wall a few times myself and it is the most tempting thing in the world to lie (especially to yourself), cheat, and steal even though you know it's going to end badly in the long run. I do not see the Greeks as having the backbone to stop lying to themselves any time soon.

    - This is all water over the dam. Knowing this right now can help prevent future problems (Eastern Europe has been looking a bit dodgy to me for some time, their repayment plans only work if their economies continue to expand at a rate that isn't historically reasonable). But it doesn't help in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, or Italy which are the problems today.

  19. (part 2)

    3. "They can default and it's certainly the easiest option for them, but the publicised and demonstrated accusation that others are the culprits than the Greek state itself is outrageous."

    Given the current Greek political situation, the question isn't whether they are going to default, it is how can the EU can manage the situation so default does the least damage.

    The Greeks have never stopped lying to themselves about the debt and how they accumulated it. And it is now impossible for their leaders to stop lying about the situation because that would be political suicide. This makes repayment impossible.

    You guys have worked miracles in keeping Papandreou in power and focused on repaying you but at some point you're going to run out of miracles and some Greek politician is going to realize that all he has to do to rule Greece is default on the debt. It's not like you guys can repossess Greece. You can make Greece suffer for their very considerable sins but you can't do anything more. The situation would probably resemble Cuba where the increasingly incompetent Castros are being kept in power only by the US unwillingness to fix an outdated policy.

    Rather than concentrating on somehow squeezing blood from the turnip, it makes more sense to figure out the least painful way to unwind this situation and still preserve the EU.

    4. If it makes you feel any better, the situation is perilously similar for China and Japan on sovereign US debt. Our government has developed this insane idea that we can default on our debt payments for an unknown length of time while we hash out our budget issues and we will not experience any negative consequences. We can only do this because we are, after all, the US, which makes us amazingly superior in all ways to any other country in history.

    There WILL be consequences, they WILL be significant, and they WILL hit us HARD in ways we can't imagine. Unfortunately I expect the US leaders to be considerably less courageous and foresighted than Papandreou and his lot when it hits the fan. The lies will be creative and stupendous and will buy us another couple of years before it all comes crashing down on our heads.

    Good luck in the meantime!

  20. Chief,
    Per our agreement i went into GSR/GS MODE and am not DS.
    i try to do 1 art every 8 days. i will do more if you so direct.
    As for bar tenders i motion that mike be placed on the bartender list. If he's the man that i think he is then he'll shoulder the task.
    i think he'd be a welcome contributor.
    you can DFR bar tenders that are .....well awol.
    now my personal bullshit.
    I generally am anti-social and care little about greece/portugal , and even germany. sorry sven. i am really non caring about anything but my back streets of Chevyland. I liked doing lbh but i justified it by TRYING to equate it all to the pwot. i'm still working on that.
    I guess lisa's right in saying that i'm asbergers.that's better than being ass burgers like our leaders.
    what about actual costs of these phony fucking wars as a topic. DVA budgets,SSA sleight of hand tricks.
    we should ignore the chaff and focus on the wheat, which is exactly the opposite of msm.
    chief-you must articulate a mission statement for our sorry little blogger asses.
    btw does anyone know if PHIL CARTER is still kickin'??!Why don't we invite him to join us.
    if one wants to be a bartender then one should be willing to belly up to the bar. we need new blood even if it's a FORMER MARINE.
    mike-take 2 steps forward.march.

  21. Just got back from 3 weeks in the Third World - visited the offspring in the States.

    On Greece- It is a mess due to three factors:

    1) The two major political parties pandering for votes (power) by offering profligate spending.

    2) The two major parties pandering for votes by offering ways to avoid taxes (loopholes and exemptions) and/or evade taxes (low enforcement)

    3) Goldman Sachs selling one government (Political Party) on a scheme to hide massive public debt - at least hide it for a while.

    Greece was an "Equal Opportunity" tax avoidance/evasion country. Both parties afforded all segments of society a chance to not pay the bills. Of course, the rich and super rich benefited more, but just about everyone was afforded a way to aviod or evade some of their tax obligations.

    The Center Left Party started the ball rolling in the 70's by starting to add more and more employs to the public payroll. The Center Right Party, of course, needed those millions of public employee votes to get into power, so they fattened salaries. And on and on and on, until the current mess.

    Since Greece is a member of the Euro Zone, we cannot "Print Money" or devalue the currency as a road out. We have to cut expenditures and raise revenues, and, due to the massive existing public debt, the cuts and revenue increases (tax) both need to be significant. And there you have it.

    Is our situation the worst in the EU? NO. However, it was the first to reach "critical mass", and if we were to default, it would bring several bigger and more debt laden economies down in the aftermath. Thus, simply by the nature of Greece's debt coming due first, we have become the most important situation to cure.

  22. Greece (cont)

    Now, the demonstrations you are seeing on TV is confined to the square and environs in front of Parliament, not across the country. Definitely the austerity measures are going to have a proportionately higher impact on the working class. They had little extra "maneuver room" to begin with. Unfortunately, the current round of strikes are counter productive, as the austerity plan is a must do, and all the strikes and demonstrations accomplish is deter tourism, a major contributor to the economy.

    While the bulk of the population know they were getting away with governmental budget murder for decades, that doesn't make the austerity pill easier to swallow. Fortunately, personal debt in Greece is like a wart on the backside of what it is in the US. Thus, we are not anticipating large number of mortgage foreclosures, for example. People here tend not to have a mortgage on their home. Additionally, unlike the US, where a 69 year old can get a 35 year mortgage, Greek banks will not write a mortgage with a term beyond the 70th birthday, except in rare cases, where 75 is the absolute limit. Private credit has been granted much more judiciously. Of course, the austerity program is having an impact on the private sector, since cuts in gov't salaries and jobs impact consumer spending, which is, and has been, based on cash on hand, not credit. And, with a general tightening of credit for small businesses, these businesses are struggling a bit. Retail inventories in smaller shops are lower than usual.

    As to the prognosis? I haven't a clue. The demonstrations will definitely drop once there are no more austerity measures to be adopted. That's a good thing. How the overall economy will fare, of course, is subject to all kinds of forecasting.

    Our island is peaceful. We know some folks who are now unemployed, or earning less on their jobs. The government has tried to protect funding for education and health care, as these are investment in the future and/or the general well being, and they know it.

  23. Greece (Part 3)

    Keep in mind that we have National Health Care, so the population is not going to suffer from no health service due to personal economic hardship. A visit to our island health center now costs 5 Euro, but where there is not the ability to pay, there is no requirement to pay. That's even for a cold or minor ailment, as well as a general physical.

    Speaking of laws allowing tax avoidance, when we built our house, we paid the property transfer tax on only about 35% of the actual cost due to a now closed loophole or ambiguity in the tax code. Was fully legal, and fully known by Parliament, and it had been created to pander for votes some 1o years earlier. As I said, "Equal Opportunity" avoidance/evasion.

  24. Back when the mess started I concluded openly that they should buy some time to prepare a default and then live with getting no credit any more. It's not the worst possible route.

    It would have been better to prepare for default over years by having two budgets; the official one and one where you can see whether you could already balance it without all the credits (new and old).

    Once that balance is possible - pay all domestic bills, then default, go on.

    I'm not sorry for those who lose money because they're too dumb to consider the risks or lose money after accepting high risk for high chances (high interest rates).

    I remember that a Greek visitor told me about how terrible Greek politics and politicians about 1990.

    @FDChief: Contact me, please:

  25. Chief,

    I will run with the airborne division question. For the record, I have not nor will likely ever serve in the 82d. I do jump still, but not a jumpin junkie like those guys, and I don't do Bde sized ops. With that said, I think there is still a need for an airborne division.

    Here is my logic (all under the required assumption that large airfield seizures will remain a valid requirement in the future):

    Airfield seizure, which used to be the preview of just the 75th Rangers, is too big a job for a single Bn of Rangers. Depending on the size (or number) of airfields that must be seized in order to establish an "airhead", one Bn of Rangers won't be enough to do the job, especially in terms of a security ring. (note: Kandahar and Haditha dam were small enough for just Rangers, but those were both in the middle of the desert with very small populations)

    Keep in mind, we work on a 3 makes 1 system (in theory). This means that we have 3 brigades, or 3 battalions, to do the job of one. 1 unit is operational, ready as a minute's notice to deploy, one unit is conducting training, and one unit is down for maintenance and R&R.

    Do why do we need a division worth? Because, as things "normalize" in the next couple of years, I am sure we will return to the above system. 3 Brigades, which one ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

    With all that said, I think it is fair to ask do we need more than 3 Bdes of jumpers? Right now, 82d has 4 Brigades, plus you have an airborne Bde in Italy. In truth, the Army has gotten away from the "Division" system, where divisions today represent little more than a patch and higher HQ. But we don't fight divisions anymore.

    Been saying this for years, but maybe now is the time to go to the Regimental system. Some serious drawbacks for "professional" soldiers, but something I think worth looking into (save money PCS moves, etc)

  26. I had a fierce discussion about the airfield grab topic a few years ago.

    It's simply impractical against a powerful enemy. All enemies who dare to attack you are powerful if you are powerful.
    Conclusion: Airfield grab is only for aggressors or for unexpected meddling in a foreign conflict.

    About the "impractical" part:
    You would need to secure the area in a great radius in order to protect the airfield against artillery, no air force would willingly repeat the Luftwaffe's sacrifice at Stalingrad voluntarily by agreeing to a plan that calls for aircraft to land on an artillery-battered airfield.

    Modern guns have 40 km range, modern multiple rocket launchers have 70+ km range. Even an airborne corps couldn't secure an airfield against such a threat, and C-RAM is easily saturated.

  27. SO,

    Don't disagree with you at all. In a conventional fight, this is not a practical operation. Assuming artillery, tanks, etc. I guess I am trying to wargame some possible scenarios where you would want to do this type of Op, and I am drawing a blank right now. (except for the weak concept of a "show of force" in Northern Iraq, but don't get me started)

    But I will stick by the argument, if you need one Airborne Bde, you need 3. Question is, do we even need one?

  28. "In a conventional fight, this is not a practical operation."

    Guess what? I had that discussion with active service and retired U.S. Army officers, and they insisted that they trained for this type of operation for decades, thus it's practical and I had no clue!

  29. bg - Yes, you need at least one. I am not smart enough to disagree with the need for three.

    But to FDChief's bigger question, why do we still have a need for a jump qualified XVIII Airborne Corps? Cadre that entire beast. But I would guess that may already be happening in a small way on an unofficial basis due to manpower constraints. If not it should be. The same for III Corps. The same for any remaining EACs other than the Unified and Specified Commands. The Marines if they haven't already should cadre the three MEFs, although I assume they are already doing that as it was the practice back in the early 80s when I left. To my knowledge the Navy has always cadred their higher echelon HQs until just before they were needed. I have no idea what the AF does in this regard.

  30. Wonderful to have you back, Al! Hope you enjoyed your stay in the States.

    I'm sorry, but I can't agree with your assessment that this will have a relatively small impact on Greece.

    Per CNBC (not completely sure I trust their numbers), Greek per capita (man, woman, child, regardless of employment status) debt is $51,916. By contrast, US debt is $45,000 per person.

    The CIA says that the Greek government accounts for 40% of all economic activity and has a per capita income of $29,600 per year. By contrast, the US economy is about 25% government and has a per capita income of $47,200.

    Your points about low private debt loads is very valid. But, based on Britain's current experience, austerity is going to hit Greece very hard. Which probably will shrink the country's economy, which leads to further austerity, etc.

    At a bare minimum, I expect national unemployment to reach at least 17% and it may well hit 22% over the next couple of years. That takes the wind out of sails for any economy.

  31. Pluto-

    Sorry if I wasn't clear enough. The next five years or more are going to be painful here. Quite painful. You don't repair the budget imbalances the population enjoyed via low taxes and massive spending for 40 years in a heartbeat. The only "saving grace", so to speak, is the very low personal/private debt.

    When one factors in the low level of personal debt service that the average Greek is bearing, the per capita income figure is much less disparate. The wife and I are still doing a bit better here than we did in the US with an income that has lost 24% in value over the last five years due to the weak dollar. Had our incomes dropped 24% while we lived in WA state, we'd be hurting.

    But yes, for the Greek people, lean times are ahead, and that is going to be for several years. However, had the country not been on the Euro and had defaulted and devalued the currency, things would have been far worse. Consider if the US devalued the dollar and every imported product bled or tripled in price as a result.

    Realize that Greece is similar to the 50 US states from a public revenue standpoint, since being in the Euro common currency, we cannot "create" money as can the US or UK. We are constrained, and that's what ultimately brought the crisis to the fore.

  32. About the Airborne Force Structure-

    Understand that my views of "expeditionary units" are shaped by the following experiences:

    Marine Corps service, to include Amphibious Warfare School (company level), Landing Party/Beach Master Course and Amphibious Warfare Staff NCO Planning Course.

    Standing up new Army Aviation units at the company, Bn and Bde level.

    Service as Chief, Collective Training Division, 4th US Army

    Theater level CS/CSS assignments.

    Just to mention a few.

    When we try to address force structure at the Bde level and higher, we need to realize that few, if any Bdes can operate in total isolation. They need to be supported and sustained, and that means from external sources. The Corps, at least on my watch, custom tailored task forces at the Bn, Reg (Bde), Div and Corps level for increasingly longer self supporting operations once ashore. A Bn was tailored for 30 days, IIRC, Regt for 45 and Div for 60. Without the Div and it's Force Service Regt, none of those less than Div units could go ashore and survive. To put a Bn ashore (1/9th of a Div) for 60 days, takes more than 1/9th of the Div's support capability for 60 days, for example.

    When we start paring back certain echelons of the "specialized" force structure, we lose the expertise necessary to support the smaller elements of that force structure. Thus, we learned that the sum of the organic "tail" required for each of three separate Infantry brigades was greater than that in a three brigade infantry division. Rather, the Army began to look at letting Divisions task organize like the Corps to deploy less than division size formations.

    Similarly, Divisions need echelons above division for protracted support. CS/CSS becomes more complex with each echelon, and reducing these Command, Control and Support elements to cadre can be perilous. Thus, there is a need to retain some higher than Bde/Div elements at full strength. The question is how many, and does "special mission" capability require at least one echelon of it's own. XVIII Abn Corps, IIRC commands non-airborne units as well, so if they are indeed a dual capability Corps HQ, more power to them.

    Having worked on planning amphib opns up to Div level, and inter theater deployments at the Theater Army level, the whole business of force structure takes on a different light. I'm not about to claim to know the answer to the 82nd and XVIII Corps, but if we need more than one Abn Bde, then a Div structure is best suited to support them. Especially if we use the three Bdes in the rotation bg mentions.

    So, I didn't answer the question posed, but perhaps I shed some light on why it's a difficult question to begin with.

  33. Airborne units can expect near-chaos, being totally split up if not scattered upon landing. You know, planes turn around or get in trouble, for example. Friction everywhere.

    "Airborne" should therefore be synonymous for "masters of lightning-quick improvisation and reorganisation".

    This could actually be more useful than the jump qualification itself.

    Thinking in "how much CS and CSS do we need to attach?" categories are imo totally misleading.

    My take on the issue from a continental European position is that medium and large armies should have three kinds of infantry:

    * reserve infantry (for quantity, but not as cannon fodder)
    * armoured infantry (infantry component in heavy brigades; many of them in cheap APCs)
    * expert infantry

    The 'expert infantry' would be meant for the jobs that require training of rather narrow applicability, such as jump training or high mountain combat or amphibious ops (including deliberate river crossings).

    Germany has mountain infantry, airborne infantry, Panzergrenadiere (mech inf) and a single regiment of light infantry (in the Franco-German brigade). We had many brigades of infantry in the 80's, but the post-Cold War budget crunch didn't favour manpower-intensive formations.
    We found the infantry numbers to be lacking, and there were calls and plans for additional light infantry battalions, but I doubt that these battalions will be set up.

  34. Al,
    What are the time frames of your observations?
    Do you still think they are relevant, if they were a while ago?
    How does contracting fit into your cmts?
    If the Marines are used in their naval infy mode and have naval gunfire/support , do your cmts still apply?
    I'd like to believe that electronics/gps etc..would make assy on the DZ or on the objective a lot more sophisticated. Same cmt on pilots releasing the troops, since the pilot would be more accurate in hitting the release point.
    With our suppressive firepower why not air asslt to an objective, isn't that what the helo is all about? Isn't this what air superiority is about?
    Either AIRMOBILE OR AIRBORNE would be equally risky with a frisky enemy.
    Also, i'm just a little confused- don't we have 3 Ranger Bn's?

  35. Jim, radio-based navigation aids had up to 100 yds accuracy in WW2 (Oboe, GEE-H, Egon; the early Knickebein wasn't much worse) even in total darkness. Judging by the state of the art, there was no justification for anyone being dropped more than half a mile away from his designated LZ during WW2.

    Clausewitzian friction and the enemy > technical specifications.

  36. RE: Crete, Sven, the fiasco wasn't in the operational planning or the actual conduct of operations while on the ground, but in the Fallschirmjager TO&E. The notion of dropping troopers armed with nothing but a sidearm was not well thought out, and whilst the small operations in the Low Countries worked well enough Crete exposed the problem inherent in requiring your troops to recover their rifles and heavy weapons under fire. The center-of-the-back attachment point for the shroud lines didn't help, either, in preventing scattering on the DZ. Once on the ground the Brits managed to wrest defeat from the jaws of victory in their usual fashion. No knock on the airborne troops; they did better than they should have, given their technical issues.

    I think the subsequent panic on the part of OKW was due more to their failure to really analyze the cause of the losses and correct the equipment and delivery systems.

    As far as the entire tactical reason for airborne troops being airhead seizure, 1) yes, that was possibly the most common mission we trained on in my time in the 82nd, and 2) I tend to agree with Sven that against a peer foe a division wouldn't be enough while against the usual Third World congeries we have decided to spend our tax dollars chasing a division is WAY too much.

    The problem with an airborne division (at least a U.S. division) is that once on the ground it becomes a light division and not a very large or well-armed one, at that. I would make more sense to me to keep a brigade or so in a full airborne status and make the rest a light mech airlanding unit. That sort of unit could drop in and hold the airfield and immediate vicinity long enough to get the light armor on the ground to move out and secure the outlying areas and suppress any enemy FA or ADA.

    As it is, a lot of the XVIII Corps units tasked with supporting the 82nd have to maintain capacities they wouldn't need if they know they could walk down the ramp rather than jump. Same=same with 82nd DISCOM. Why do you need an entire jump-qualified medical battalion if you don't need a fill airborne-qualified division?

    Like I said - not going to happen. But it's just telling that no one has even thrown this out, or something like it, since the end of the Cold War. Unlike Sven, I get the feeling that few of our decision-makers are trying to think about the NEXT war, rather than fashion an army for fighting the current one or, worse, the LAST one...

  37. Chief:

    but there have got to be a couple of potential posts out there waiting to be written.
    Odds and sods?

    I don't know if you can do it, but maybe having a monthly "sticky" post, one that will always be at the top of the page, for general ideas & comments, ad-libs, BS, "odds & sods" would help infuse some energy into our joint.


  38. jim-

    I am willing to bet that basic force structure principles have hardly changed since 1995, when I was last involved, as they did not really change during the 35 years I served. I'm talking about "principles", not niggling details.

    "Contractors" can fill some voids, but I would be hard pressed to consider them suitable for expeditionary operations. They are much more suitable for follow on sustainment operations. Would you want to jump in or make an amphib assault with the "low bidder" providing your immediate CS/CSS? "The Private Sector" is not the answer to all the world's problems.

    Back in the early 60's, we counted on Naval gunfire and Marine/Navy Air just as today. There is much more to sustainment than firepower.

    In the long run, an expeditionary division provides a hell of a lot more flexibility and capability than three separate brigades and uses significantly fewer people. Having only one or two expeditionary brigades is a true "all the eggs in one basket" risk. And, nothing precludes the brigades of the 82nd from "leg" operations, but the 10th Mountain cannot offer so much as one airborne platoon.

    There are, in a way, quantum units in force structure and planning. One of McNamara and Rummy's biggest blindnesses was thanking force structure solely in terms of "bodies". We don't just put 12,000 people ashore, we put a division, which just happens to require 12,000 people.

    As much as I hate to use the term, there is a "Big Picture" of sorts on force structure and force planning. Not saying we always get it right, but there are broad principles to follow to get it right.

  39. The next best news on Greece after Aviator! :D

    Also, saw a bit on Google that reports The Daily Show has passed Jay Leno's Tonight Show in number of viewers.

    There is hope for America.


  40. Al,
    I'm not niggling and am searching .
    I try to look at to&es which we both can translate as to div slice etc.. etc.. but these are real hard to find. Also i find little on Corps and EAC assets in the pwot, which borders on OPSEC, i reckon. At least i haven't found any of use, and honestly i don't know what now constitutes a BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM.I'm firm in understanding a SIB.
    Also to&es don't always indicate if the unit is deployed as sshown on paper.
    Naval gunfire is a wunnerful asset, but so too are hospitals afloat and associated assets.

  41. Al: At the time the light divisions were proposed, my understanding is that the idea was that one (10th) would be a specialized "rough terrain" (i.e. true mountain) division, while the other (9th) would be a high-speed motorized (i.e. "desert") outfit, so the Army would have had a total of 4, with the airborne and air-assault divisions.

    In practice it never worked out that way.

    But IMO there just isn't a real need for the CS/CSS elements in the airborne division to be jump-qualified and configured for airdrop. IF we're still in a position to have to heavy drop the Third Shop, the heavy signal, and the S&S battalions we're in a world of hurt, anyway. Same-same with the Corps and EAC elements.

    My personal take - and it's JUST my personal take - is that the real issue is that nobody wants to go back to being a leg. It's not really an operational or tactical decision, it's just an emotional one. And I wonder if the Army doesn't even want to discuss it because there's no real good military reason for keeping all those guys on jump status?

    It's kind of like the whole "how many carriers do we really need" question. I'm not sure the Navy really wants to have this one thrashed out, because I'll bet we don't need all those big expensive decks if we weren't bent on poking our bows into every hole-and-corner littoral all over the world...

    Sven made the point up-thread: "Airfield grab is only for aggressors or for unexpected meddling in a foreign conflict" If we were to take a hard look at our military/foreign policy we'd probably see all sorts of opportunities for revamping the force structure. But under the current Washington

  42. Jim-

    Sorry, I didn't mean you were niggling, what I meant was that rock solid TO&Es for task organized BN and Bde (REGT) formations don't necessarily exist.

    You have the basic core fighting unit, the Combat Arms BN/Bde (Regt), and add supporting elements from Div custom tailored for the mission and situation. Thus, while there might have been a "Type" organization for a BLT or RLT back in my days in the Corps, the actual composition was more typically different based upon the actual mission and situation. If, let's say, there are significant fuel facilities in the objective area, then initial fuel CS/CSS support may be light until it it certain whether or not indigenous fuel will suffice. Similarly, Combat Engineer support would be tailored based on METT, not a fixed TO&E.

    That kind of flexibility is lacking in the stereotypical Sep Bde. Thus, the Div becomes the task organizer not just a C&C or maneuver HQ, and expeditionary elements are fine tuned by Div for the actual task at hand. That includes not just CS/CSS task organizing, but combat arms organizing (+ or - a company/bn, etc).

    Just as a Corps or Theater Army has no fixed structure, a Div can field one or more separate sub-divisional fighting formations in an infinite variety of structures.

    Make sense?

  43. Basil: Not a bad idea, the notion of a "corkboard" at the top of the page every month. But I'd like to see a wider range of views here, too, rather than jim, seydlitz and myself always being the ones to be jabbering. But if we had some way for commentors and posters who might want to discuss something but haven't the time or the energy or (as might be in your case, say, Andy) can't go public with opinions that might compromise the terms of their employment/service...that seems like a good idea.

  44. mike: Drop down to the company push - - and give me a shout. I want to discuss bringing you on here as a regular, if you're interested.

  45. jim - wtf are you getting me into. Is that how the Rangers get recruits, by publicly offering to let them volunteer, and then capping it by shouting: "If he's the man that i think he is then he'll shoulder the task."

    Chief - If you are interested in a part-timer, I wouldn't mind occasionally posting controversial subjects guaranteed to rankle your regulars. But with my bride's ill health, I probably would not be good for more than a post every two to three months or so.

  46. mike,
    Negative- i learned that technique from lisa.
    My admiration is/was heart felt, and your knowledge and comments would serve to make this site better.
    I would not ask if i didn't respect your abilities, but i do admit that i couldn't do this if i were a working man.
    I will with draw the motion if you desire. No harm no fowl.

  47. jim,

    yes, there are still only 3 Rgr Bns (not including RTB). But not sure if you knew, all Groups added a 4th Bn.


  48. jim,

    Currently, a light infantry BCT consists of 2 Inf Bns, one RSTA Sqdn (cav recon, survaill, targeting, acquisition), a Special Troops Bn (MI company, Coms, MPs, Medics, Company of ENG), Support Bn (Loggies, SPO, trucks, etc). Within each Inf/Cav Bn, there is a company of forward support which is the old support platoon on steroids. Tact UAVs is included in the BCT. If it is mech or stryker, add the vehicles. You have 2 x O6's and a robust Bde staff with all BOSS's included (although they aren't called BOSS's anymore, don't know the new term, been out of the real army for a while).

    What is different today, is that BCT's are task org'd as seen above on their TDA (or MTOE). They aren't sliced together before an Op to make a Task Force, they are already organized this way organically. There is no longer a DISCOM or any significant Division level assets, Divisions are mostly just HQ staff with no assets that they can use to way a main effort. In fact, Division HQ rarely deploy with their own organic BCTs, we deploy by BCTs.

    probably more than you were asking for.


  49. bg-

    I remember discussing moving the DISCOM assets to the BCT's in 1990 at the annual AVN BDE Cdr's conference. It received a luke warm reception, as it was just another MTOE hard wiring, rather than adopting a "task organizing" approach using the division assets to tailor to the mission. The rationale back then was "flexibility increased warfighting ability at the BDE level". Many of us who had served in Viet Nam pointed out that organic support assets tended to see a greater level of mis-utilization than non-organic support assets. For example, Chinook availability in the Air Assault Divisions, with 48 organic Chinooks, tended to be generally lower than in three (16 per) non-organic Chinook companies supporting other divisions. The Cav, for example, launched everything they had at 7:00 AM for routine resupply, while other divisions had to spread their routine resupply throughout the morning. Putting the entire fleet in the air when not combat essential can cause havoc with maintenance scheduling. Two typical non-divisional Chinook companies carried as many tons per month as the 1st Cav's three. And so on.

    Thus, one would have to build a very strong case to me for creating three fixed, "One Size Fits All" BCTs in a division. One size doesn't fit all, and under utilized assets in 1st BCT are a loss to 2nd and 3rd BCTs. It may work in the current opns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but will it leave us, in the future, "Fight today's war using the last war's ideas"?

  50. Aviator,
    What we need is soccer mom's planning the aviation assets. End of problem.

  51. Al,

    You are right, and I think that is why you didn't see aviation assets made organic to the new BCTs (I was in the 101st at the time it happened, I helped stand up the brand new 4th BCT). As you identify, a challenge of trying to create the "one size fits all" BCT is getting it right. with some low density skills (like MI or MP), everyone gets a little bit, but not enough. What can one platoon of MPs do in a BCT battlespace that can be as big as Eastern Baghdad or an Afghan province?

    As an intel guy, what I found really annoying about the structure was that since there was no Division level MI battalion, Division had zero collection capability (maybe a platoon of UAVs, maybe). So the Division Cdr, if he wanted his PIRs answered, he would task the BCTs because he had no assets of his own. And since there was no AORs not covered by a BCT (no forward screen beyond the FLOT or something like that), it really made the Division seem irrelevant and just a little meddling.

  52. bg-
    One of my best Public Policy profs in grad school hit the resource allocation dilema right on the head - no one likes to see any agency have what might appear to have more resources than is immediately necessary. He would describe the above as - Better each Bde has too little than the Division have what appears as too much, even if the net sum is the same. That's one reason why I tend toward letting the Div task organize subordinate units as best meets the individual unit mission that try to "pre-task organize" through hard wired MTOEs. Yes, if the Div has 4 organic Combat Arms brigades, and can only field three independently in sub-division opns, it leaves the fourth un-employed, but the three that are employed could have a better shot at mission accomplishment. When fighting as a Division, support can be doled out based on actual demand in each Bde's fighting sector, should all four Bdes be concurrently in the fight. Just my preference as a potential Div Cdr.

  53. To all,
    I withdraw my motion that mike be a bar keep.
    sorry mike if i put you in line of fire.

  54. Just a thought . . . why not let mike come up with his own thread should he think he has a nice topic . . . we did the same thing with bg (publius sponsored him I think) and it was a success, remember?

    No pressure. I for one would like to read whatever mike would like to post.

    Now back to the union fray . . .

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