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September 05, 2007

Bad Nuke Handling in the USAF « Militaria »

I'm very NOT proud of this.

But it was a screw-up. For screw-ups to happen, an incredible string of coincidences have to occur. But materials are handled thousands of times. Processes are run thousands of times a day. Every once in a long while, enough people make a minor mistake, and enough people assume it was a deliberate choice beyond their clearance/knowledge (the Someone Else's Problem effect described in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series) that a blunder occurs.

It's human nature.

Boredom and routine war with responsibility.

Sometimes, the process designed to prevent accidents ends up creating them through its reassuring and attention-numbing drudgery.

I'm just glad no one was hurt or killed.

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posted by Nathan on 02:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 27, 2007

"LASER" « Militaria »


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posted by Nathan on 08:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2007

Future Military Tech Development « Militaria » « Stuff Important to Me » « Writing »

Pretty cool use of technology.

It always seems like there are some developments that are always on the horizon, like flying cars. It never gets here.

But other things show up before we know it, like the internet, and MP3s, and cell phones.

From a Science Fiction writer point of view, it amazes me how much the professional writers just plain miss. Think of all the stories written in the 60s and 70s (or earlier). Not just SF stories, but normal love stories, comedies, thrillers, etc. How many movies/novels had the main portion of tension arising from lack of convenient long-distance communication? Friday the 13th couldn't really be made intelligently without addressing the prevalence of cell phones (I understand "Scream" did address that...but maybe not completely).

So in all the future looks about technology, when FTL travel and cloning have been solved, very few posit the exponential growth of computational ability. My laptop can do more than the ship's computer in Star Trek.

I'm trying to incorporate much of that in the story I'm working on now. If I finish it (and I think this one will be completed, for various reasons I don't want to discuss now), I'll look into trying to work a method of blog-publishing it for your reading pleasure in conjunction with my PayPal TipJar...

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posted by Nathan on 10:38 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2007

Those Who Ignore History are Doomed to Repeat It « Militaria »

And the Brits are busily repeating the mistakes of the early Viet Nam era.

The RAF had envisioned Cold War-style missile duels between high-tech fighter jets when it drew up plans for the new Typhoon, which entered service this month. To save money, the RAF originally planned to have only missile capability on the planes, and not guns. Then, after a year of Iraq operations in 2004, the RAF changed course and decided to include the guns, evidently after concluding that closing off gun bays would be costly and impractical.

Right now, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles may have an advantage over pilot/aircraft defensive capabilities. But that advantage is likely only temporary. Once all missiles are launched, an aircraft is defenseless if it doesn't have guns. And there are times that even with missiles, if the enemy is within a certain range, guns are effective when missiles cannot be fired (due to angle, friendly forces, etc).

We lost too many pilots in Viet Nam due to enemy pilot tactics to exhaust our missiles, then close to use guns. We learned from our mistake by including guns on later versions of fighter aircraft. The Brits may have avoided catastrophe by not removing the gun, but they are still flirting with disaster by not loading them, or training the pilots in air-to-air gun combat.

The discussion of strafing is more clear in the internally linked (and now linked here) Wired article, but strafing is really tangential to the issue. Guns on fighter aircraft are for dog-fighting.

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posted by Nathan on 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2007

Just When You Thought Blowing Stuff Up Couldn't Get Any Cooler... « Militaria »

...they announce stuff like this:

Reactive Materials (RMs) generally consist of powdered metals, such as aluminum or titanium, combined with an oxidizing agent.

..."A big challenge is making [RMs] strong enough to survive launch, but fragile enough to react on impact," says Judah Goldwasser, program manager at the Office of Naval Research, which is developing RMs for potential use in antimissile systems. Instead of punching small holes in a target, Goldwasser says, RM shrapnel could cause an entire enemy missile to break up in midair.

...Part of the Army's Active Protection System program, the warhead will detonate threats at a safe distance, while possibly limiting the risk of friendly fire. (Unlike steel shrapnel, RM shards can be made to burn out quickly.)

...The Air Force is working on a warhead called BattleAxe that will shower a large area with reactive fragments, devastating "soft" targets such as trucks. Cluster bombs often leave behind dangerous unexploded munitions, but stray RM fragments are safe to handle, which would help lower civilian casualties following military operations. Accidental drops won't set RM fragments off, and they can be tossed in a fire to burn up.

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posted by Nathan on 01:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 22, 2007

Do Military Service and Advanced Academic Education Mix? Should They? « Militaria »

Generals Petreaus and Peters dispute on the issue.

Point to note: "Advanced Academic Education" means civilian PhDs in non-military topics of study.

I have to admit Gen. (ret.) Peters has a point with this:

Col. Peters, who has a masters in international relations from St. Marys University in San Antonio, Texas, says that rather than pursue theoretical studies at Princeton or Yale, officers would benefit from coursework in the languages and cultures of regions relevant to the U.S. military.

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posted by Nathan on 08:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 13, 2007

Public Service Announcement « Militaria »

I'm out of the country for the next 10 days, so I may be posting less.

That is all.

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posted by Nathan on 09:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 28, 2005

Finally! « Blogging » « Militaria »

I finally got the new blogroll category up:

The Association of Former Military Linguist Bloggers

But since I took so long to overcome my apathy, I've forgotten who originally responded. If you should be in that blogroll, let me know. And if someone wants to come up with a logo for it, let me know. Let me know if you want your MOS/AFSC and language listed, too.

More on this subject soon.

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posted by Nathan on 01:55 PM | Comments (4)

June 20, 2005

I'm Now a Captain « Militaria »

I know, I told you this last week. But I stood up and gave a speech on the spot, so now I'd like to share it with you:

Every culture has a "coming of age" ritual. The military is no different. It may seem strange for me, at age 37, to be talking about finally completing my "coming of age" ritual, but it's true. This promotion comes at the time that most officers* have completed their obligation to the USAF and the government. I could resign my commission and go be a civilian today.

But by accepting this promotion, I am demonstrating that I am aware of the duties and obligations of military service, and I am announcing that I'm in it for the long haul. Rather than pursue the best job, or the best place to live, I have chosen to dedicate myself in selfless service to my country. My intention is to provide guidance, leadership, and training to those below me, and excellent loyalty and service to those above me.

So help me God.

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posted by Nathan on 09:37 AM | Comments (7)

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day « Militaria »

I'm in a very strange situation.

I'm not into ceremony. And yet, I've chosen to make my career in a field in which tradition and ceremony are of the utmost importance.

I don't really like weddings and graduations and retirements and other such ways of marking occasions. They are so much hassle, and too many people get so hung up on the ceremony that if anything goes wrong, they feel it actually diminishes the fact the ceremony is attempting to memorialize. I hate hassle. I hate standing around waiting for something to happen. I hate someone trying to be wise and pithy and relevant in a 10-minute speech. And I really hate when someone talks longer than 10 minutes! [grin]

But I do understand why ceremony is necessary. I understand that it is the tradition and ceremony that supports and reinforces the concept of selfless service for most servicemembers. For the younger/newer servicemembers, remembering the fallen is a promise that they, too, will be remembered and honored among the greatest of the warriors if they make the ultimate sacrifice.

That means that even though I won't want a ceremony when I retire, I'll have one.

And so even though I really don't like Memorial Day celebrations, I participate. Not necessarily with gusto, but without complaint or reluctance. Not this year, though...our unit wasn't tasked for anything, and I have been too busy to search out a ceremony to join on my own.

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posted by Nathan on 11:33 AM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2005

To: Military Readers Currently Deployed « Militaria »
LOOKING FOR EXTRAORDINARY HOMECOMING STORIES A TLC show is looking for stories of military personnel who will be going home between now early May. We are looking to film compelling and unique reunions back in the USA with families, friends, or fellow platoon friends sent home early for medical reasons. The show is not about politics or the atrocities of war. It's a positive documentary show that hopes to evoke smiles, tears and empathy from the American audience. We are really looking for AMAZING stories. We have already shot a few including: a father who has never met his newborn child; a family that left up the Christmas tree until the whole family could celebrate together. We are now looking for more AMAZING UNIQUE stories. Please get in touch if you are about to head home and would like to be part of the project or let me know if you know of someone else's story. Contact: (Meri)

See Mudville Gazette for more

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posted by Nathan on 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

I Have No Confidence In McCain « Militaria »

This guy is getting too big for his britches. He apparently thinks he is the only person with any military judgment.

I'm getting more and more happy he didn't win the nomination over President Bush back in 2000. The saving grace of President Bush has been his humility. McCain is demonstrating a clear superiority complex and tendency toward self-aggrandizement.

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posted by Nathan on 01:55 PM | Comments (2)
» Accidental Verbosity links with: Have I mentioned lately that I loathe John McCain?

December 09, 2004

Advances in Warfighting « Militaria »

Precision-guided munitions, satellite assistance, advanced radars, stealth technology, Light Armored Vehicles...all have had an impact on how we fight, and have made the US military the most effective in the world, if not in all of history.

But here's an interesting article on another advance: the ratio of wounded who survive compared to those who die is far higher than ever before, right around 90% of those who are injured survive.

By mid-November, 10,369 American troops had been wounded in battle in Afghanistan or Iraq, and 1,004 had died — a survival rate of roughly 90 percent. In the Vietnam War, one in four wounded died, virtually all of them before they could reach MASH units some distance from the fighting.


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posted by Nathan on 05:40 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

Cleaning Up Loose Ends, Pt I « Militaria »

I really didn't say anything about the cameraman in this orignal post about the shooting controversy in Fallujah. My ire was reserved more for people who were already convicting the Marine on the basis of a video.

And I'm not going to add to that. But I am going to encourage you to read this post by the cameraman, Kevin Sites. The tone seems heartfelt and the feelings/motivations described seem genuine and valid. I admit I was thinking that he might have some anti-US Forces agenda, even if subconscious, but I'm convinced now that there was no such bias. I still think the camera can misrepresent reality even if not intentional, but I'm no longer suspicious of the camerman himself.

Hat tip to Q and O Blog.

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posted by Nathan on 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

Expensive, Sure... « Militaria »

...but if they pull it off, it will be worth every penny.

Look, intelligence is the single most important aspect of war. A sewing needle, applied at the proper time in the proper location, is more effective than a 20 Megaton nuclear device in guaranteeing that our nation's best interests are met. How do you know the proper time and proper location? Intelligence.

Intelligence has gotten a bad name at times for various reasons. Sometimes for being wrong, when the errors mean lost lives. They forget or aren't even aware of all the times correct intelligence saved far more lives. Sometimes intelligence gets a bad name because, in trying to protect our sources to ensure we continue to get necessary information, the intelligence organizations hold the information too closely. And sometimes the bad reputation comes because we have the right information and are ready to share it...but it takes too long to disseminate it to the proper people.

This should help solve the second and third problems nicely. If we have a completely secure system that runs totally separate from any other net, we don't have to be quite as cautious about dissemination. And if it is a robust network that allows anyone with the need to know to access the information they need to know, anyplace, any time, and when they need it, then the intelligence itself is far more useful.

This could be a very good thing, indeed. Here's hoping!

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posted by Nathan on 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2004

Speechless « Militaria »

I don't have any idea where to even begin forming an opinion of this.

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posted by Nathan on 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2004

Embarassing « Militaria »


Okay, he's a reservist, but honestly!

...anyone want to "caption contest" this?

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posted by Nathan on 07:39 AM | Comments (4)

June 15, 2004

I Kinda Like the New Army Battle Dress Uniform « Militaria »

Take a look.\

But then, I liked the proposed new Air Force BDU, as well.

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posted by Nathan on 01:18 AM | Comments (4)

May 14, 2004

Anecdote From the Trip Over « Militaria »

Okay, so there I was, in the, wait, that wasn't me...

Anyway, when we deploy, the Air Force has something they call the "Troop Commander": the poor sap who gets stuck with making sure the whole trip goes smoothly and everyone arrives at the appointed locations at the appointed times. It is usually the highest ranking person who can't get out of it. So Flight Docs and even aircrew in non-aircrew positions don't have to do it, and that means I've been Troop Commander on every deployment flight except one.

I've never had a problem before...

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posted by Nathan on 03:02 PM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2004

Military Christians « Militaria »

So why do you think there are so many Christians in the military?

I have my ideas, but I want to hear what you people think before I share my musings.

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posted by Nathan on 08:20 PM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004

Technology is Cool « Militaria »

Liquid Armor.

Simultaneously, the US Army can't afford enough armor vests w/ trauma plates for the soldiers currently in Iraq.

Another bit o' evidence that the term "US Military" can be used to mean both "State of the Art" and "Way Behind the Power Curve", and usually simultaneously.

Via e-Claire

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posted by Nathan on 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2004

First Deployed Blog Meet-Up « Militaria »

I'll be deployed to al-Udeid this summer. If you know anyone else who will be there this summer, have 'em contact me here so we can try to have a blog-meet-up there. I'd like to create a Blogging Moment of Historical Significance, if I can...

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posted by Nathan on 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

What's Wrong in Iraq « Militaria »

I can describe it one paragraph:

In Afghanistan, at this same point after the initial US forces put their boots on the ground, the Afghani military had already begun taking over much of the combat/engagement responsibility. After we had been there one year, the casualty report consisted mainly of Afganis. Sure, they had a decade of experience fighting the Soviets, but so did the Taliban we were fighting there. But in Iraq, at the first sign of trouble, the military deserts en masse and the police go home, if they don't actually join the fighting on the side of the insurgents.

Until we solve that problem, it doesn't really matter what we do.

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posted by Nathan on 11:45 PM | Comments (0)
My Answer to Andy « Militaria »

The questions:

1. Do you think your country did the right thing sending you into Iraq?

2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?

3. Do the orders you get handed down from one headquarters to another, all far removed from the fighting, seem sensible, or do you think our highest command is out of touch with the reality of your situation?

4. If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?

5. Are you encouraged by all the talk back home about how brave you are and how everyone supports you?

I'm in the USAF rather than the Army, and my post is in Qatar rather than Iraq, but I'll take a swing, too.

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posted by Nathan on 03:29 PM | Comments (3)
» resurrectionsong links with: About Those Questions...
» Accidental Verbosity links with: Hi there!