November 8, 2013

Space Marines, Johnny Cash, Pancakes and Death by Black hole.

Space Marines, Johnny Cash, Pancakes and Death by Black hole; how much better can it get for cheesy sci-fi?  This YouTube gem is a must see if you are a fan of any of the above.
Space: Above and Beyond if anyone remembers was a very short lived Sci-fi series that lasted only one season on the Fox network.  It featured poor acting, semi bad special effects, and semi cheesy plots..... but it had something.....  It had a certain familiarity that could be recognized, probably because of the equipment and well... just the idea of  space marines is cool.  The Marine pilots fly the SA-43 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Jet, "Hammerhead" from Space Carrier USS Saratoga and battle the really nasty  alien race of "Chigs". .... And all this five years before Halo appeared on the market, not to mention the film adaptation of Starship Troopers* two years later.  I dare say S: AAB might have just influenced a few writers, directors and programmers.  Happy geeking out!
* BruHa's Note:  Read the book!  Read the Book!

November 6, 2013

Fixing the military----


Yesterday I posted The down side of Totalitarian Rule of the military , and I may have just found some supporting evidence over at Danger Room:  How to Fix the Army: Sack All the Generals.
Tasty snippets: 
"Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis doesn’t have faith in Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
Or the rest of the U.S. Army’s generals, for that matter.
Writing in the August issues of The Armed Forces Journal (“Purge the generals“), Davis argues that it’s high time to sack the Army’s senior leaders for what he sees as an institutionalized epidemic of astonishing failures that not only go unreported, but are typically rewarded. All of it, he says, is creating a self-perpetuating culture of abysmal performance that won’t go away until the generals do." 
"And Thomas Ricks wrote in The Atlantic in November 2012 (“General Failure”) that, “To a shocking degree, the Army’s leadership ranks have become populated by mediocre officers, placed in positions where they are likely to fail. Success goes unrewarded, and everything but the most extreme failure goes unpunished, creating a perverse incentive system that drives leaders toward a risk-averse middle where they are more likely to find a stalemate than a victory.”" 
"He added: “Ironically, our generals have grown worse as they have been lionized more and more by a society now reflexively deferential to the military… No one is pushing those leaders to step back and examine the shortcomings of their institution. These are dangerous developments. Unaddressed, they could lead to further failures in future wars.”" 
But how to fix such an ingrained, systemic problem?
Whereas Yingling wanted Congress to intervene, Davis is looking for top ranking Pentagon officials of the civilian class to make a number of changes, including shrinking the group of 900 generals and admirals to a more reasonable number and change the promotion system to be more aligned with performance and success that would encourage “prudent risk-taking and nonconformist thinking.”
But more than anything, Davis argues that it’s time to replace “a substantial chunk” of today’s generals, starting with the three- and four-star ranks. Without this move, today’s leaders, who are products and benefactors of the existing system, don’t have the motivation to invoke substantive change.
These are the symptoms of a leadership that  values conformity over innovation, motivation and
thinking.  Simply stated these general's that "need to be sacked" are not in the positions they are in because they are failures, lazy , or unmotivated, but because these actions are expected, or more correctly the inverse is punished by the totalitarian rule.  Why stick your neck out if it is only going to result in your head getting whacked?  Just go with the flow.  Self preservation is paramount, right? 
That is unless one is a moral and free thinker...... A free and moral man. 
Butter Bar LT. and his men are pined down by heavy enemy fire.  His men are dying.  His orders are to call in air support if heavy resistance is encountered.  What does he do?  He has called for help, he has been told to wait....  His men are dying. 
The obedient servant waits and hopes.
The moral free thinker does something....  Anything!  He leads!  The command may be "Retreat!" or could be just as well  "Fix Bayonets and CHARGE!, but he will not sit and let him and his men die.
Just as the business man, inventor, engineer, playwright or poet must be free to create, so must the military commander be free to lead.  Free to be innovative.  Free to call bullshit when he or she sees it.  Free to carry out the moral mission assigned, without reprisal or political pressures......And this is why we have had the greatest military on the face of the earth.....and why today it is something, well a bit different. 

November 5, 2013

The down side of Totalitarian Rule in the military.

The down side of Totalitarian Rule of the military ----and what has made US Solders, Sailors and Airmen so effective in the past.
Originally.......This thought was originally sparked  at cblaake6's place linking to this article on Free Patriot. The article lists military officers relived of their commands and simply asks the question is this a purge or not.  I will let others decide if the ever growing list of Command firings is insidious, but my gut tells me the numbers are high...... for whatever reason. I have no idea myself, and can't speak to the if the numbers are high, low or average.  

One take on things is well stated at  In From the Cold who right now has a fine write-up on  The Air Force's nuclear troubles.  This article cites recent problems within The Air Forces "Bucket of Sunshine" Missile community and, I think rightfully so, blame poor leadership. 

What the real causes are, and if someone is in a place that knows, he probably not be able to reveal it.  (Need to find some real reporting on this)
  But back to Totalitarian Leaderships effect in a military.
Hypothetically,  what if we are seeing a purge of the leadership ranks for the purpose of totalitarian/ dictatorial rule?  What would we end up with? We have seen it in the past and Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot come to the top of my mind.  This leadership, first and foremost requires absolute loyalty to the dictator at all costs.  All other attributes are sacrificed at the expense of following orders, doctrine, and the chain of command.  Additionally one can not be "Too Smart", "See the big picture" or be innovative.  These traits do not play well with the totalitarian leadership.  Thinking for yourself is definitely a no-no. (Just Ask Erwin Rommel how being smart etc. worked out.)
The results, from a military leadership stand point, is ineffectiveness. A good illustration is the 12th and 21st SS Panzer Divisions  action  inaction, during the Normandy invasion. Though highly motivated,  loyal troops, with the best equipment, and closest to the invasion, they failed their basic mission because they waited for orders from Hitler to act.  Fear of the Command was greater than anything else.  The Totalitarian rule destroyed initiative. It destroyed innovation.  It destroyed thinking.
Contrast this with the opposite, Admiral Spruance ordering immediate launching of aircraft to attack the Japanese fleet at the start of the Battle of Midway.  He made a judgment call, based on his own intellect and initiative, with out fear of reprisal.  Days prior Nimitz broke regulation and procedure also to get the crippled Yorktown out of dry-dock and into the fight ASAP. Other innovations during this fight such as night launch and recovery of US aircraft from the Enterprise,  and the  launching Fighter and Attack aircraft near or beyond their range limits took place. (All risky never done before)  Result, the tide of the war was turned.   Our military leaders were trusted to and able (allowed) to think!

Fast forward to today.....  Is our military trusted to do its job?  Why are their lawyers on the battlefield?  Are our military leaders allowed to think and be innovative without fear?  Is anyone allowed to act quickly without orders?  I wonder who has the balls anymore to say "Nutz!" be to the enemy or ......, whatever.  Long story short, free men of free will, be it in the military, business, or otherwise are innovative, creative, and dare I say can be heroic, and the subjugated can never be any of these. 
(BTW: I doubt Lemay gave a shit about political correctness back in the day!)