chicom bird farm.

Some of you may vaguely recall this post from 2007, in which I mention that the hull of the former Soviet Kusnetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag had been purchased by a Chinese company “to turn into a floating casino.”

Well, guess what just left the Chinese Navy’s port at Dalian for sea trials?

Oh, and the PLAN named their new Tool of Imperialism “Shi-Lang” which is the name of the Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan in the 17th century. That’s totally not ominous at all, right?

China is spending a lot of money and effort building a credible blue-water navy. They’re still a long way from being able to stand toe to toe with a modern Western-equipped Navy, but it’s more than a little telling that the Chinese Navy has put so many eggs into the bird farm basket. Aircraft carriers are not for territorial or coastal defense, they’re strictly for offensive operations beyond the reach of one’s own air power. They’re tools of power projection.

(With the Chinese lack of respect for copyright laws and their astonishing abilities in the field of economic mimicry, I sort of expected the first Chinese carrier to be a bitwise copy of the U.S.S. Nimitz, right down to the hull number, but with slightly misspelled detail markings–BEWARE OF JET BLATS on the side of the carrier island, and so on.)

short dudes, big knives, huge balls.

Once again a Gurkha demonstrates why Gurkhas are total badasses.

During the 15-minute battle, Pun fired more than 400 rounds of ammunition, detonated 17 grenades and a mine and even threw his gun tripod at a Taliban fighter climbing toward his position, according to British Forces News.

“He was just about to climb up there and I hit (him) with my tripod and he fell down again,” Pun told British Forces News.

two a.m. candygram, courtesy of SEAL team six.

Adding a post about Osama bin Laden’s demise to the Intertubes is sort of like carrying owls to Athens, so I won’t go on at length about it. Here, then, are just a few bullet points on the event:

  • I’m not going to join the wringing-of-hands about being glad to see someone dead. He was a mass murderer and a really bad excuse for a human being, the kind of religious zealot that would make God shake His head in disgust, if He existed. I’m glad he’s dead, much in the same way I’d be glad if someone put down a rabid dog who had mauled people in my neighborhood.
  • On the same note, I’ll say that it’s supremely satisfying to know that bin Laden’s last thing to see in this world was an American aiming his rifle at him.
  • The fact that the bastard hid behind a woman to avoid martyrdom adds the perfect cherry on the top of that particular cake. He did manage to get the woman killed by fighting from behind her and forcing the hands of the SEALs, so his last act in this life was one of supreme cowardice and dishonor.
  • Turns out that the great OpSec they practiced at that compound ultimately contributed to giving bin Laden away. The place had a big-ass wall around it and security that was out of place for the neighborhood, they burned their trash rather than leave it at the curb, and there was no phone or Internet connection. All of that is good practice when you’re living out in the sticks by yourself and trying to avoid detection, but it sticks out a bit when you’re in a residential area. The lesson I’d take away would be that blending in is better camouflage than airtight and inflexible security rules.

Is bin Laden’s death going to change things for us? Not really. We’re still going to get felt up at the airports, and all those civil liberties that got flushed down the shitter in the last ten years won’t be returned to us. But I’m pretty sure that a world without Osama bin Laden in it is a better place than one with him still drawing air. Takes a little bit of the stink out of the place, you know?

Also, his continued survival was like a raspberry blown our way for a decade. Now all his underlings are on notice again: If your boss can get a visit from a SEAL team in the dead of night, so can any of you.

Lastly, “Getting Shot in the Head by U.S. Navy SEALs” is becoming a pretty common cause of death in certain parts of the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few coroners don’t already have rubber stamps for the paperwork, to avoid having to write it out so many times…

end of an era.

Twenty-two years ago today, I reported for basic training at the German Army’s International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School in Weingarten, by Lake Constance.

Today, the last batch of German draftees is reporting for basic training at their respective boot camp installations.  The German parliament has effectively abolished the draft, and Germany’s Bundeswehr will become a volunteer military once this last batch of draftees leaves the service again in six months.

Back when I joined, the draft was eighteen months, but it got shortened progressively over the years as the Bundeswehr was restructured and reduced in size after the end of the Cold War.  This last run of draftees will only have to serve six months, which is such a short period as to be pointless.  In six months, you can barely produce a basically trained soldier–three months of basic training, and then another three of specialty training don’t even leave any time for anyone to serve in a field unit after finishing training.  For the last half decade or so, the draft was more or less symbolic in nature.  (I joined as a volunteer and served a 4-year term of enlistment on the NCO track, so the length of the draft had no effect on me, but both my brothers served as draftees.)

Germany consciously adopted a draft system to avoid the new German military after World War II once again becoming a state within a state.  The thinking was that an army of 50% draftees from all segments of society and from all over the country would keep the military more tightly integrated with the civilian society.  Now that the armed forces of Germany have been reduced to less than a third of their Cold War strength, there’s simply not enough space in the military to accommodate all the eighteen-year-olds required to serve, and the shift to a volunteer army was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

German society has always had a somewhat contentious relationship with its military, draft or no.  In the new pacifistic post-WWII Germany, the Bundeswehr was always regarded as sort of a blue-collar career, with less respectability than “proper” professions.   When I served, there were no combat deployments outside of Germany due to Constitutional restrictions (one reason why Germany didn’t contribute to the coalition ground combat forces during Desert Shield/Storm.)  Since the end of the Cold War, the Constitution has been interpreted a bit more loosely, and now Germany has troops in Afghanistan and half a dozen other hot spots around the world.  These deployments are deeply unpopular in Germany.

It will be interesting to see if and how the image of the Bundeswehr will change, now that they’re transforming into a professional volunteer army in a society that doesn’t want its military deployed outside of the country (or that doesn’t see much use for a military, period.)

that sky-blue ribbon.

For the first time in forty-some years, the Medal of Honor will be awarded to a living recipient who is still in active service.  Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will receive it for his actions in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley on October 25, 2007.  He will be only the second active member of the Armed Forces with that ribbon on top of his fruit salad, the other one being Colonel Gordon Roberts.

walter mitty goes to the gunshow.

“Special Forces” poser goes to gunshow in decked-out ACUs…is busted by real, actual, active-duty infantry NCO just back from a tour in A-stan.  Hilarity ensues.

Looking at the pictures of the poser (taken by the real Infantry soldier with his iPhone camera), this is the most brazen and astounding piece of wannabe-ism I’ve seen in a while.  The spare tire on the “Special Forces officer” is truly epic, and should give him away as a poser to anyone with half a brain, even without the inconsistencies in the uniform the guy managed to put together on eBay.

Why is it that these assclowns never pretend to be an E-3 filing clerk or truck driver?  It’s always Special Forces, Rangers, or Marine Force Recon, and when they show up in dress uniform, it’s always with a completely unbelievable ribbon salad.

Special Forces, Ranger, Military Police (with tin badge on the ACU chest, no less!), strapped-on radio with slung mike…about the only things he isn’t claiming are the Medal of Honor, and the rank of Commodore in the Royal Manticoran Space Navy.

remember.

The Death of a Soldier

Life contracts and death is expected,
As in a season of autumn.
The soldier falls.

He does not become a three-days personage,
Imposing his separation,
Calling for pomp.

Death is absolute and without memorial,
As in a season of autumn,
When the wind stops,

When the wind stops and, over the heavens,
The clouds go, nevertheless,
In their direction.

–Wallace Stevens

overestimating your capabilities, part 38821.

In the category “Unwise Target Selection”, a bunch of Somali pirates found out the hard way that shooting small arms at a Perry-class guided missile frigate is generally not a good idea.  Those boys must have been chewing some awesomely strong khat that day.

Jiminy.  Is this Global Stupid Week, or something?  That’s just about as dumb as going out to mug people with a potmetal .22…and then trying to hold up the rifle-armed SWAT cop in body armor stationed at the subway entrance.  That much Stupid should be fatal.

your outrage for the day.

A Homeowners Association in Virginia just ordered a ninety-year-old Medal of Honor winner to remove his flagpole from his yard, because they don’t think the look fits into the neighborhood.

I’m curious: Are all HOAs full of little vest pocket dictators? It seems that every time one makes the news, it’s because some aspiring Blockwart is riding high on a power trip.  The HOA in question doesn’t even prohibit free-standing flagpoles; they just made an arbitrary decision based on subjective aesthetics. (“I don’t like the way that looks, so take it down.”)

Colonel Barfoot is a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and one of only a hundred-odd living Medal of Honor recipients. He’s a national hero, and the schmucks running his HOA should be grateful to have such a man classing up their neighborhood by his mere presence. Sending him a lawyer-letter ordering him to take down his flag should result in public spankings at the very least. The man has earned the right to fly that flag any damn way he pleases.

Also, you have to question the smarts of a group of people who decided to boss around a man who took on three German Tiger tanks head-on armed with only a bazooka and a Thompson, and came out on top.  I want to bet that even at his age, Colonel Barfoot has more mojo in his pinky than that whole sad assembly of lawn & paint Mussolinis can scrounge up in their entire family trees counting two generations up and down.

For shame.

(Via John Scalzi.)