Archive for the 'Air Force' Category



Mocking the Troops at The Onion

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 5 months ago

The sentiment where one opposes the war but supports the troops has evolved into mocking the troops regardless of any war.  The Onion (famous for satirical or fake news) released a report entitled Love Letters from U.S. Troops Increasingly Gruesome.  The Captain’s Journal hates to bring any more attention to this sophomoric tripe (it really is very poorly done and inept), but its real value might very well be the instruction it gives us about the author in contrast with its subject.

According to a Pentagon report leaked to the press Monday, love letters written by U.S. troops have nearly tripled in their use of disturbing language, graphic imagery, and horrific themes since the start of the war.

The report, which studied 600 romantic notes sent over a period of two years, found a significant increase in terrifying descriptions of violence and gore, while references to beautiful flowers, singing bluebirds, and the infinite, undulating sea were seen to decrease by 93 percent.

“Not only are U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq less likely to compare their lover’s cheeks to a blushing red rose,” the report read in part, “but most are now three times more likely to equate that same burning desire to the ‘smoldering flesh of a dead Iraqi insurgent,’ and almost 10 times more likely to compare sudden bursts of passion to a ‘crowded marketplace explosion.’”

According to detailed analysis of the letters, the longer a U.S. soldier had been stationed in Iraq the more macabre the overall tone of his correspondence became. Troops who had been fighting for less than a year lapsed into frightening allegory only 15 percent of the time, while those who had been serving between two and three years described their affection for loved ones back home as more vibrant and alive than any of the children in the village of Basra.

Troops stationed in Iraq for four years or longer composed their letters entirely in blood.

“The more often U.S. soldiers are confronted with images of carnage, the more these elements become present in their subconscious and, ultimately, in their writing,” said Dr. Kendra Allen, a behavioral psychologist who reviewed the Pentagon’s findings. “This is precisely why we see so many passages like, ‘Darling, I miss the way your bright green eyes always stayed inside your skull’ and ‘Honey, how I dream of your soft, supple arms—both of them, still attached as ever, to the rest of your body.’”

Allen went on to say that many of the harrowing details found in the love letters were linked to specific events in Iraq. A bloody clash with Islamic extremists in late March resulted in more than 40 handwritten notes from a single battalion, all of which contained some version of the message “My love for you spills out of me like my lower intestine, my gallbladder, and my spleen.”

“Getting love letters from my husband used to be my favorite part of the week. But these days, they’re almost impossible to get through,” said Sheila Miller, whose husband, Michael, has been in Iraq since 2004. “Yes, it’s still flattering to be told that you’re as beautiful as a syringe full of morphine, or that you’re as much a part of his being as the shrapnel near his spine. But I’m really starting to worry about him.”

“My husband has never really been the romantic type, but even this is strange for him,” said Margaret Baker, the wife of Sgt. Daniel Baker. “How am I supposed to react to hearing that my name is the sweetest sound in a world otherwise filled with desperate cries of anguish? I made the mistake of showing [daughter] Gracie the birthday card her father sent her from Tikrit and she hasn’t spoken for a month.”

That’s enough for the reader to get the basic picture.  It’s a sad testimony to a narcissistic generation which has no value system except self worship.  But self worship inevitably leads to the mocking and denigration of others.  This mockery of the troops could very well have been written about World War II veterans and the horror they witnessed, or any other warrior in any other war.  It has nothing to do with the campaign for Iraq or Afghanistan.  It doesn’t even have to do with whether there can be good wars.

The authors are engaged in heartless, remorseless cruelty in the mocking of the pain and sacrifice of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines on their behalf.  To be able to benefit from the pain of others, and then to mock their benefactors, is a sadistic skill that only the darkest of souls is able to master.  The warriors who fight for America, however, stand in marked contrast to this.  The physical pain, the deprivation, the loneliness and time away from family all testify to the commitment and indomitable spirit of the American warrior.

On the one hand, you have the American warrior who is committed to give his very life if necessary for our protection and freedom, while still others will live out the balance of their lives with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or lost limbs.  On the other hand you have those who would mock this commitment and dedication. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.  America has a future only to the extent that the former rather than the later constitutes her soul.

Developments in Refueling Tanker Controversy

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 6 months ago

We have previously briefly discussed the controversy surrounding the awarding of a $40 Billion contract for a new refueling tanker to a partnership between Northrop Grumman and the European parent of Airbus, putting a critical military contract partly into the hands of a foreign company.

After this article a flood of e-mail and commentary came out about the waste that had been avoided due to selection of the low cost bidder.  Some of this commentary was sent our direction, along with some more personal e-mail arguing in the same manner.  Contact your Congressman was the hue and cry!  Don’t let Boeing undo this pristine process through their various evil political machinations.

The Captain’s Journal will not step in between any defense contractor and accountability.  But we have been involved enough with RFQs (request for quotes), bid review, contractor oversight and followup and postmortem to know how this process goes.  A good (but ethically bankrupt) contractor knows how to work over the system to his own benefit in the low bid process.  The process itself can be the worst, most deceiptful ruse in business.

Businesses are always loath not to accept the low cost bid.  Contractors know this.  Later, holes in the process begin to develop.  The specifications aren’t restrictive enough for some clever engineer – or technology transfer isn’t as complete as the customer thought it would be – or there are cost overruns – or there are schedule delays – or the people are the worst sort of rogues, behaving with the worst possible manners – or the Army of lawyers inevitably deployed for corporate force protection makes it almost impossible to hold a contractor accountable – or you have to keep going back to the contractor for re-work or followup engineering or fabrication, at your own cost.

Better companies know how to avoid these contractors, but because of the awful, grotesque and hideous Sarbanes-Oxley, have to spend the time to craft a sole source justification.  The process is quite often burdensome, and for anyone has been through it several times, childlike faith in the process evaporates in favor of bleak realism.  Belief in the bidding system as the protector of free market capitalism shows a gullibility that is exceeded only by the density of our minds.

Now comes an even better reason to question the awarding of this contract to Airbus.

The lack of ease that accompanies the decision is hardly surprising; the catalogue of horrors at EADS reads like a “how not to” primer in a business-school ethics class. The company has a long and sordid history of bribing governments to purchase their airplanes, especially when competing with U.S. aerospace firms. Former CIA Director James Woolsey has called the practice rampant, and concluded that it was an integral part of EADS’ corporate culture. A European Parliament report in 2003 confirmed these corrupt practices, and that EADS has been embroiled in bribery scandals in Canada, Belgium, and Syria.

According to a New York Times report just last October, a French financial regulator turned over evidence of insider trading by senior EADS executives to prosecutors. The executives failed to inform the public about production delays in the A-380 jumbo jet while they quietly dumped their own stock. When the delays became public, unwitting shareholders watched their holdings plummet in value. The co-CEO and co-chairman of EADS resigned under pressure, and now some EADS executives may face indictments.

Even more worrisome is the power grab by Vladimir Putin, who is buying up the depressed shares of EADS like a corporate raider. The prospect of the authoritarian Russian leader, whose political opponents are harassed and jailed while prying journalists turn up missing or murdered, having a heavy hand in EADS affairs is deeply troubling. Russia opposed the invasion of Iraq and has sought to undermine U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The most troubling aspect of the tanker contract is the danger it poses to U.S. national security. According to a report by the Center for Security Policy, EADS has been a leading proliferator of weapons and technology to some of the most hostile regimes in the world, including Iran and Venezuela. When the U.S. formally objected to EADS selling cargo and patrol planes to Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez, EADS tried to circumvent U.S. law by stripping American-built components from the aircraft. Chavez is now building an oil refinery in Cuba to keep Castro’s failed Communist state afloat, funding terrorists seeking the violent overthrow of Colombia’s government, and recently meddled in the presidential election in Argentina with secretly smuggled cash contributions. If EADS had its way, Chavez would now be advancing his anti-American designs in the Western hemisphere with U.S. technology and components.

EADS entanglements with Venezuela make the Pentagon’s decision to waive the Berry Amendment, which prohibits the export of technology that might be developed during the building of the tanker to third parties, indefensible. Given the sophisticated radar and anti-missile capabilities of military tankers, this is no small matter. Such technology falling into the hands of state sponsor of terrorism would devastate our war fighters.

EADS entanglements with Venezuela make the Pentagon’s decision to waive the Berry Amendment, which prohibits the export of technology that might be developed during the building of the tanker to third parties, indefensible. Given the sophisticated radar and anti-missile capabilities of military tankers, this is no small matter. Such technology falling into the hands of state sponsor of terrorism would devastate our war fighters.

And such a scenario is hardly unreasonable. EADS executives recently attended an air show in Iran and were caught red-handed trying to sell helicopters with military applications. When confronted, an EADS executive said the company was not bound by the U.S. arms embargo against Iran. EADS also sold nuclear components vital to exploding a nuclear device to an Asian company that in turn sold them to an Iranian front operation.

That settles it for the Captain’s Journal.  Vladimir Putin is a liar, criminal and ex-KGB thug, and a duplicitous killer with a Napoleon complex.  Any currency flowing his direction as a result of this deal would be a catastrophe, notwithstanding the potentially horrible security concerns.  To be sure, the DoD may have to have a face-to-face with Boeing or some other contractor to reduce costs, or make the process more accountable.  But that doesn’t change our fundamental position.  Vladimir Putin can’t be held accountable in a U.S. court.  Boeing can.

We are open to serious argumentation in favor of awarding this contract to Airbus, but we haven’t seen any yet.  Informing us that they were the low cost bidder gives the Captain’s Journal a good belly laugh.  Someone has got to come up with a better argument than that.  After all – we didn’t come into town and fall off the turnip truck yesterday.  We’ve been around for a while.

Fighter Montage

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

A-10 Supports Campaign in Yugoslavia

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

An A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off on a mission against targets in Yugoslavia. The A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces.  High resolution photo from DVIDS.

a_10_in_yugoslavia.jpg

Our readers know what a fan we are of the A-10 and upgraded A-10C.  Her gun is marvelous and causes me to dream about a ride in one of these beautiful aircraft.  To bad she is a one-seater.  Our readers also know what an opponent we are of commitments around the globe when we are waging a war on terror.  This A-10 is doubtless doing great work, but it could also be put to better use in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Can the Tanker Refuel the V-22?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

Today a defense and security policy analyst and consultant firm in the Washington, D.C. area searched on the following words: “new tanker cannot refuel V-22.”  He found our article taking some issue with Abu Muqawama on the award of the refueling tanker contract to Northrop Grumman rather than Boeing.  He learned nothing from our article, but we learned from his search.  Hmmm … said we, and we cracked our knuckles and did a little work to see just what treasures we could dig up.

As it turns out, the Boeing press release protesting the award of the contract contains some pregnant statements, one of which is:

“It is clear that the original mission for these tankers — that is, a medium-sized tanker where cargo and passenger transport was a secondary consideration — became lost in the process, and the Air Force ended up with an oversized tanker,” McGraw said. “As the requirements were changed to accommodate the bigger, less capable Airbus plane, evaluators arbitrarily discounted the significant strengths of the KC-767, compromising on operational capabilities, including the ability to refuel a more versatile array of aircraft such as the V-22 and even the survivability of the tanker during the most dangerous missions it will encounter.”

Defense Industry Daily has asked Boeing a number of questions on this press release, including:

… which aircraft were left out, and what factors would allow the KC-767 to refuel them where the A330 MRTT could not. We have also requested elaboration on what would make the KC-767 more survivable, given that both aircraft would be equipped with the same defensive systems.

The V-22 Osprey has proven its worth in Iraq.

The Osprey seems to have become a favorite of commanders who need to get to places quickly, including Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq. Petraeus used one to fly around the country on Christmas Day to visit troops.

“Gen. Petraeus flew in the jump seat and was very impressed by the aircraft’s capabilities,” according to Col. Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the general.

“The rate of climb is exceptional, and it can fly about twice as fast as a Black Hawk [helicopter], without needing to refuel as frequently,” Boylan said. “Beyond that, its automatic-hover capability for use in landing in very dusty conditions, even at night, is tremendous.”

Petraeus chose the Osprey for that mission because it was the only aircraft in the inventory that could fly around the country without refueling and not rely on runways, Boylan said.

We don’t know anything else about the new tanker, since no one has contracted The Captain’s Journal to oversee the procurement process for the new Air Force refueling tanker.  But we have always been fans of the Osprey.  As a Marine blog, if the new tanker cannot refuel the V-22, then we say “screw it.”

v22_at_night.jpg

Me v. Abu

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

In a post entitled Well, well, well …, Abu Muqawama says:

The Air Force, in a stunning upset against the Boeing Company, awarded a $40 billion contract for aerial refueling tankers on Friday to a partnership between Northrop Grumman and the European parent of Airbus, putting a critical military contract partly into the hands of a foreign company.

Abu Muqawama knows next to nothing about the way the U.S. Air Force buys airplanes, but he knows enough from reading the Economist that this is huge. The KC-30, virtually everyone agreed, was the better aircraft. But did anyone honestly see Boeing not getting this contract? This gives us at Abu Muqawama hope in the ongoing war against ridiculous F-22 appropriations. If a large domestic lobby can be rejected in favor of common sense in one case…

The Captain’s Journal responds, “well, whatever.”  We aren’t impressed with Abu’s glee and giddiness over the demise of U.S. defense contractors, weapons systems, and new aircraft.  Sure, there is waste and we have spoken against it when we find it.  Sure, the USAF needs to support the COIN campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan to the extent capable, and then press for more support when they think they have maxed out.  Sure, we have praised the USAF on things such as COIN aircraft and the refurbishment of old aircraft to support the campaigns.  Regular readers know of our love for and even infatuation with the A-10, and the upgraded A-10C with its faster kill chain.  Just do a Google search, and you will find that no one can match our coverage on the A-10 or the V-22 Osprey (of which we are also big fans).

You will also find we are have been “good to go” on pushing for the growth of both the size of the military – all branches – and the spending for weapons systems.  But knowing that these things are contingent on things out of our control (but rather, subject to the evil Congress which is controlled by the devil), we knew that future weapons systems would likely suffer as a result of the COIN campaigns.  Want to know the first weapons system we would vote for here at TCJ?  We would like to see a replacement for the M-16A2 / M4 / SAW to a more reliable system less likely to jam.  Ain’t likely to happen, though, and it is more likely that the brass will decide that what we have is good enough.  They always do.

Additionally, SECDEF Gates knows that the F-22 program will suffer due to the COIN campaigns, and is ready to do what needs to be done.

The effect is often jarring, in Washington, when someone inside the Beltway utters an uncomfortable truth. That’s what Defense Secretary Robert Gates did at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, putting a damper on pressure from his own Air Force for Congress to buy more F-22 fighters. Gates believes the 183 F-22s currently planned are sufficient. “I know that the Air Force is up here and around talking about 350 or something on that order,” the Secretary said. But buying more of the costly F-22 will come at the expense of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is about half the price.

“The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater,” Gates said. That’s the kind of statement that sends generals up the wall – not only because it’s true, but because it’s the Secretary of Defense who’s saying it. And the generals know that the next time some eager-beaver congressional budget-cutters want to trim Pentagon spending, they’re going to roll out that quote.

Gates made clear he believes there is a need for the F-22. “It is principally for use against a near-peer in a conflict, and I think we all know who that is,” he said coyly. He’s referring to China, which today represents the only hope for both the U.S. Air Force and the Navy to justify spending billions of dollars on weapons initially designed to battle the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, the phrase “near-peer” has increasingly crept into Pentagon documents meaning a potential foe that could almost match the U.S. on the battlefield.

Well, do we need more F-22 to battle Beijing? Once again, Gates depressed the generals with his unassuming tone and logic. “Looking at what I regard as the level of risk of conflict with one of those near-peers over the next four or five years until the Joint Strike Fighter comes along,” he said, “I think that something along the lines of 183 is a reasonable buy.”

Deep in the Pentagon, Air Force generals know that the Bush Administration’s decision to close down the F-22 assembly line won’t come into effect until 2010. That gives them time to convince a new Administration that additional F-22s are vital to U.S. security. That’s because what Gates finds reasonable, some Air Force generals will treat as treasonable.

So Gates has lowered the bar as it is.  But those who live for the demise of conventional war and the weapons with which it will be fought shouldn’t crow too much and should be careful what they ask for.  All it will take to regret the decision to emaciate the USAF will be for China to cross the Taiwan strait and enslave millions under communism while the Navy and Air Force sit without recourse.  Or, if that doesn’t jar you into reality, then consider that Russia is aiming past the F-22, and is trying to better the U.S. submarine fleet.  Remember, fancy aircraft and ships are in place not only to wage war, but to be a preventative for war.

The Captain’s Journal wants to win the COIN campaigns as much as anyone does.  In fact, we are willing to sacrifice Navy and Air Force money to do it.  But it causes us no joy, and in the end, there will be a price to pay for this course of action.  Finally, Abu should read the Economist more carefully.  We don’t get something for nothing.  We can delay or even outright cancel the F-22 program, but stress corrosion cracking and metal fatigue have caused rising expenses in repair of the existing fleet.  Taking a dollar from the USAF might mean getting 50 cents.

Everyone has a domain he wants to protect.  The real question is why we have forces deployed in Germany and Korea, costing money in a tip of the hat to 50 year old cold war thinking, when they could be stateside or contributing to the global war on terror?  We must be efficient in finding ways to save money and fund the systems we need, both short term and long term.

Prior: Can the Navy Afford the New Destroyers?

12/25/07 Air Power Summary

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 11 months ago

From the U.S. Air Force:

12/26/2007 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) — Coalition airpower integrated with coalition ground forces in Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during operations Dec. 25, according to Combined Air and Space Operations Center officials here.

In Afghanistan, an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle performed a show of force with flares to deter enemy activities in Gereshk. The mission was reported as successful by an on-scene joint terminal attack controller.

F-15Es performed multiple shows of force in Kandahar and a show of force in Kajaki Dam. The shows of force, including the use of flares, were performed to deter enemy actions. All of the missions were reported as a success by a JTAC.

Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs conducted shows of force with flares to deter enemy activities in Orgune. The shows of force were reported as successful by a JTAC.

In Khowst and Kajaki Dam, multiple shows of force were performed by F-15Es to deter enemy activities in the area. JTACs reported the missions achieved the desired effects.

In total, 39 close-air-support missions were flown in support of the ISAF and Afghan security forces, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

These shows of force have become routine in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the best of all possible worlds, they can prevent the need for force by intimidating the enemy.  If this fails, they are available to effect force.  The two taken together are “force projection.”

Air Superiority

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 11 months ago

F-22: Air Superiority

Upgraded A-10s Prove Worth in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
7 years ago

A-10 at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq

Senior Airman Daniel Young marshals in an A-10 Thunderbolt II for munitions disarming after an Oct. 28 mission at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.

The only problem with the title for the Air Force article is that of assuming that the A-10 is in need of proof of its worth.  For those of use who know about the A-10, it has proven its worth since its creation and continues to do so.  From Al Asad Air Base, Iraq:

A new version of the A-10 Thunderbolt II has been flying over Iraq providing close-air support for the ground troops from Al Asad Air Base for nearly two months.

As part of the Precision Engagement Upgrade Program, the Maryland Air National Guard’s 175th Wing has been converting it’s A-10s from A to C models.

“We are the first A-10C model squadron to deploy to combat,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. “We just transitioned to the aircraft six months prior to coming here, and the C-model was officially declared combat ready just two weeks before we deployed. I am very proud of our unit. We’ve put in a monumental effort, as individuals and as a group to get to this point.”

The A-10C might look the same on the outside, but the recent upgrades have turned the aircraft, which was originally designed to battle Russian tanks during the Cold War, into an even more lethal and precise close-air-support weapons system.

A few of the key upgrades are a “first ever” for the aircraft, said Capt. Rich Hunt, a 104th EFS A-10C pilot. One of them is the situational awareness data link.

“Previously, for me to keep track of all the other airplanes that are around me or to help us perform the mission, I would literally have to write those down with a grease pencil inside my canopy or write them down on a white piece of paper on my knee board in order to keep track of all that,” Captain Hunt said.

“Now I have a color display that has all of the other airplanes that are up supporting the same mission across all of Iraq right now,” he said. And they are all digitally displayed through that data link on my map. So now, especially at night when awareness is a little bit lower, I can look at that beautiful map display and know exactly what other airplanes are around me.”

The new system also provides the pilot with other critical information, such as what the other airplanes might be targeting, what munitions they have on board and fuel levels.

“That awareness provides us with a ton of valuable information in a very user-friendly manner,” the captain said. “(It allows us) to do our mission with a lot clearer understanding of exactly what is going on around us in the battle space and what our wingmen may be targeting” …

Something else the new C-model provides to the pilots is the integration of advanced targeting pods, which have also been upgraded. The new pods include long-range TV and infrared cameras with zoom capabilities and a laser target designator.

“Primarily, we still use the pods for weapons strikes,” Captain Hunt said. “However, in Iraq we find ourselves supporting the troops on the ground by doing a lot of counter improvised explosive devices missions.”

The pods infrared capability can be used to detect buried IEDs by picking up on their heat signature.

The new targeting pods have also been outfitted with the ROVER downlink capability, allowing the aircraft to transmit the live video feed to a joint terminal attack controller on the ground. This allows for more precise strikes with less chance of a chance for collateral damage.

“In Iraq that is especially important because it’s a very difficult situation when we provide close-air support in such a densely urban environment,” the captain said. “By the controller being able to look through my targeting pod real time, we can compare exactly what we are looking at and make sure we have an absolutely 100 percent positive identification of the target.”

Another upgrade that increases the A-10′s precision is that it can now employ the Global Positioning System-guided joint direct attack munitions.

“Sometimes we find ourselves where we have to destroy a terrorist stronghold location. But in the house across the street are friendly Iraqi civilians,” Captain Hunt said. “We know we have to destroy the stronghold, but we don’t want to cause any collateral damage whatsoever. So the JDAM has been outstanding for us. We’ve had unbelievable success where we’ve been able to strike the stronghold without causing any damage to the houses around it.

“Between the situational awareness data link, the targeting pod with the ROVER down link to the controller on the ground and the JDAM, the A-10C on this deployment has been an amazing success for us,” the captain said.

The A-10 has been around the Air Force since the 1970s and with these new upgrades will remain well into the future.

“As technology moved further ahead, we stayed pretty far behind,” Colonel Smith said. “And now, all over sudden, we have leapfrogged all the way pretty much to the front edge of all the technology for everybody.”

But the colonel also said while they are the first unit to fly the C-model in combat, their main focus is not on the upgrades.

“In our minds we are just flying like we normally do,” Colonel Smith said. “We don’t see ourselves as the first A-10C model in combat, we see ourselves as A-10 pilots out helping the guy on the ground. I have great respect for the men and women on the ground. They are the ones who are really putting their lives on the line when they are out there. Our job is to ride shotgun for them — to sit there in position, and ready for them when they need us. And now we have more tools available to do it faster and more precisely.”

Prior at The Captain’s Journal:

Faster Kill Chain
A-10 Update and Pictures
A-10s Aid in Counterinsurgency
Air Power in Small Wars

Just for fun, A-10 Flyover.

Planning for war with Iran

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 2 months ago

In testimony before congress, General Petraeus was clear in his warning over Iranian intent to have a Hezbollah-like force deployed within Iraq.  He also made the point very clearly that the war in Iraq could not be won solely in Iraq.  Since then it has been reported that Iranian arms have made their way into Afghanistan, with senior NATO leadership both confirming and then demurring on this shipment interdiction.

General Dan McNeill, head of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), confirmed a report in Sunday’s Washington Post which said the shipment had been discovered last week.

“The geographic origin of that convoy was clearly Iran but take note that I did not say it’s the Iranian government,” the US general told AFP in an interview.

“In that convoy there were explosive materials that could be made into more advanced improvised explosive devices,” he said, refusing to make any further comment on the shipment, as it was still being analysed.

“It is not the first convoy that we have intercepted that had geographical origins from Iran, but it is one that has my attention.”

Turning back to Iraq, it didn’t take Secretary of Defense Gates long to downplay the Iranian threat.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that the United States can contain the Iranian threat to Iraq without going to war with the Islamic republic.

Iranian attempts to influence events in Iraq can be dealt with “inside the borders of Iraq” and there is no need for U.S. forces to take action inside Iran, Gates said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The administration believes that continuing to try to deal with the Iranian threat through diplomatic and economic means is by far the preferable approach,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has a major news story concerning hawks in the military and administration who are carefully crafting an escalatory campaign with Iran to justify full blown military action, drawing up a list of 2000 strategic and military bombing targets inside Iran.  Concerning those hardened bunkers containing the centrifuges being used to create high enriched Uranium, plans were made and enacted long ago to develop weapons that could penetrate and destroy those installations.

The U.S. has a 14-ton super bomb more destructive than the vacuum bomb just tested by Russia, a U.S. general said Wednesday.

The statement was made by retired Lt. General McInerney, chairman of the Iran Policy Committee, and former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

McInerney said the U.S. has “a new massive ordnance penetrator that’s 30,000 pounds, that really penetrates … Ahmadinejad has nothing in Iran that we can’t penetrate.”

He also said the new Russian bomb was not a “penetrator.”

On Tuesday, the Fox News television channel said: “A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime.”.

Commenting on the report, McInerney said: “Since Germany has backed out of helping economically, we do not have any other choice. … They’ve forced us into the military option.”

McInerney described some possible military campaign scenarios and said: “The one I favor the most, of course, is an air campaign,” he continued.

He said that bombing would be launched by 65-70 stealth bombers and 400 bombers of other types.

“Forty-eight hours duration, hitting 2500 aimed points to take out their [Iranian] nuclear facilities, their air defense facilities, their air force, their navy, their Shahab-3 retaliatory missiles, and finally their command and control. And then let the Iranian people take their country back,” the general said describing the campaign, adding it would be “easy.”

Exactly how bombing Iran will help the “Iranian people take their country back” is not made clear by McInerney.  At TCJ we are in favor of letting the fly-boys do what needs to be done if it comes to that.  However, regarding this claim of being “easy,” perhaps it would be good to rehearse the consequences of such an air war before we start it.

  1. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces would carry out attacks against U.S. interests, including embassies, throughout the world.
  2. The same forces would carry out attacks against U.S. troops within Iraq.
  3. Oil prices would skyrocket.
  4. Due to oil prices, the American and possibly world economy would likely go into a phase of hyperinflation, followed by recession.
  5. Some U.S. pilots will be shot out of the sky, captured, tortured and run in front of TV cameras to “recant their attrocities.”

Again, if this is all necessary, then air power is the solution.  But no one yet is talking about Michael Ledeen’s solution, which is to avoid both the negotiations (in which we have engaged for two decades to no avail) and war (which would certainly be costly), by fomenting revolution and regime change from within.  Such a moderate and sensible approach, yet not courted or advocated by either side at the moment.

But make no mistake about it.  The Iranian problem will not go away, and it must be faced sooner rather than later.  A recent speech before the U.S. congress has received far too little attention.

In a video message to a meeting at the U.S. Congress on September 11, 2007, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance said, “The undeniable reality is that the policy of appeasing the Iranian regime with the aim of bringing about gradual or behavior change or containing it has failed. For the mullahs the only way to deal with the tide of democracy in Iran and global developments is repression, nuclear weapons, domination of Iraq and spread of Islamic fundamentalism.? The full text of here message follows:

Allow me at the beginning to hail the Iranian people for rising up against an oppressive dictatorship. By resorting to hanging young people in public, the mullahs are trying to intimidate the Iranian nation. But the mass executions have failed to break the resistance of the people. The mullahs have reached the end of the line in Iran.

Today, Iraq has become the central front in the fight against Islamo-fascism and the terrorism resulting from it. This is the biggest problem before the United States and the international community. Whatever the results, it would chart the direction of the twenty-first century.

The Iranian regime is the main problem in Iraq; other factors are marginal. The mullahs will not allow a successful political process in Iraq to take shape, because a democratic Iraq would be a nightmare for them. 

For this reason, they have done everything to prevent the creation of a democratic Iraq. Since 27 years ago, Iraq, owing to its unique geopolitical status – having a majority Shiite population, being home to the shrines of six Shiite Imams, and having a 1,200km border with Iran as well as many different religions and ethnic groupings – has been the main target of the mullahs’ so-called “export of Islamic revolution.?

Unfortunately, the West’s disregard for this reality allowed the mullahs to spread influence in Iraq after the fall of the previous government in that country. If the Iranian regime did not intervene in Iraq, there would be no need for stationing a large force and the casualties would not be so heavy.

The Iranian problem must and will be addressed; it is only a matter of how and how soon.  The clock is ticking down, since this administration will be leaving office within sixteen months, and the subsequent one may not be willing to meet the challenge before Iran builds a nuclear weapon.


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