Friday, September 30, 2005

Going to the Range Today

To renew my concealed carry permit. I'll check in with y'all tomorrow.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


This dude is just plain funny. I highly recommend that you check him out every day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New DIA Chief?

Apparently, the President has nominated a non-intel type to replace ADM Jacoby at DIA. I haven't decided what kind of decision this is... I'll let the President (and y'all) know after I've mulled it over. Hmmmm.

UPDATE: I figure that the DIA is so f'ed up that it doesn't entirely matter who is running it... maybe an outsider will light a fire... please!

Retention and Responsibility

So, I have been thinking a lot about retention problems. The Army is having some serious problems with quality retention. I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of great guys choosing to enlist, but some of the very best are getting out.

Keep in mind, if you will, the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle states that: employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent. What this really means is that a person who does an absolutely spectacular job as a Battalion Commander (Lieutenant Colonel) is likely to be promoted to Colonel. However, he may be completely mediocre at that new level. He has been promoted just above his best ability. Almost by definition, this must always happen. That is why it is so rare to have truly excellent leaders. Anyone who has been in the Army long enough knows that this Principle is self-evident.

The Army is now facing a curious phenomenon, low and mid-grade leaders are vested with massive responsibilities in the war-zone. Staff Sergeants and Captains are working as mayors, tribal and familial liaisons, and representatives of the United States government. A First Sergeant may be in charge of an entire neighborhood or act as a kind of Solomon figure in local disputes. An E-4 may adjudicate a compensation case as a deciding authority. Wow. Not since the end of World War Two have such leaders held so much responsibility. Also importantly, we have a smaller military now with fewer junior leaders carrying a larger burden.

At what point will this young captain ever again have the same level of trust and responsibility? Probably never. Not even if he were a one-percenter and was promoted to general officer. Who would have thought that a twenty or thirty-something year-old dude could rule as a kind of warrior-king? This may sound dramatic, but trust me that it is/was true and that the responsibility is not taken lightly. Now they return back to garrison and the mendacity of military life. Difficult choices must be made. Some will choose to stay and incorporate lessons learned into doctrine; others will realize that they are capable of much more than they ever imagined; still others will stay in as long as they can deploy and experience this level of responsibility again. Most likely, those who were most successful will be frustrated by the Peter Principle. The very best will likely feel the burn of ambition turn toward the private sector.

Fortunately, I am a big believer in the American way and am confident that these efforts in the private sector will bear fruit. Our private sector is abundant with professionally progressive former military members and is one of the reasons why our economy is so strong. Someone please show me a hippy that can grasp that quality personifies our military personnel. But I digress, what worries me is that the military will find itself filled with the mediocre and inefficient leaders. The Army will survive, but I hope that it doesn’t become the intellectual desert that it was in the 1970s and early 80s.

Okay, okay, maybe I’m an idealist when it comes to military folk, but dammit, I have just seen so many amazing things! Ah well, Semper Gumby (Always Flexible).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

American Military University Plug

While I haven’t had the good fortune of attending, I have many, many friends who have recently graduated from the American Military University (AMU). Enough, in fact, that I feel compelled to give them a good plug up here in the Squirrel’s Nest. Online undergraduate and graduate schools are popping up everywhere. The Army Times even talked about things that Joe needs to be aware of when looking for an online school. It is my understanding that AMU fills the bill. Here is how I found out about it… I have an Air Force buddy who recently separated from the service. He held a Top Secret/SCI clearance and walked into a six-figure job. His alma mater? AMU! Other friends have had similar successes with gaining a degree and so here is what I have gleaned from them.

First, the professors are great. Apparently, most are former service members who are extremely understanding about the time a military career/stint entails. Working 16 hour days? Brother, they understand! Second, because of this understanding, the schedule is extremely flexible... new classes start every month. Third, being subject matter experts and a for-profit organization, they have (smartly) made their prices in line with the 100% Tuition covered through the Army. Fourth, AMU is fully accredited. Quite frankly, this element is likely the most important. Fifth, even if you plan to get to college “later,” every credit you don't have to take “later” will be a massive relief (ask anyone)! So Joe, just get started with the pre-requisite class and see how it goes. Believe me, you are smart enough (and handsome to boot)!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday Kick-Ass Photo

The Golden Rule

Man, I am shocked at how some people can treat each other. While on my travels recently, I was stopped in a bar and started talking to the young and cute bartender. Nothing serious, just some jovial banter. Anyway, it was early in the week and the bar wasn’t very busy at first. As the night moved on, a somewhat older lady must have thought that I was interested in the bartender and came over to tell me all of the bartender’s dirty secrets… failed marriage, scandals, money problems, etc. I was stunned. After being stupefied for a while, I stopped her and asked her why she was telling me all of this. She replied that she was just warning me. I told her that I was rather sure that she was just being mean and spiteful. Afterall, she didn’t know me, my history, or my suitability for the bartender. She didn’t know that I was happily married and that I was simply being sociable. She was clearly more interested in making herself feel better (superior) by hurting the bartender. The woman then stomped off in a huff.

What has happened? Clearly, it is easier for people to tear each other down than lift each other up. Why is that? I have personally found that treating people poorly results in making me feel infinitely worse. We are all self-absorbed. Our behavior is motivated by what an action does for us. We pull over and help out a stranded motorist and we can feel pretty good about ourselves for the afternoon. Cool. We hurt someone to make ourselves feel big and in control. Uncool. It comes down to the Golden Rule. Do Unto Others, my friends. You can make a difference in someone’s life each day. We have the power to make the world better. As a conservative, I feel that it is my mandate. I don’t need government to make the world around me better, it is my responsibility. Part of that responsibility is setting an example for others to follow and to express disappointment when they fail. I take my responsibility seriously… and feel pretty good about it.

I'm Baaack!

Whew! I’m back from the woods. I’m tired and happy to be home again. It is funny, because I’ve spent so much of my life out in the wild. I was the roving farm kid who, along with his trusty dog, spent every available second outside exploring the countryside. Now I live in the city and actually feel half-dead a lot of the time. Suburbia is a pale resonance of reality. One of the reasons that I love the Reserves is that it gives me an opportunity to go out and get with nature again. Unfortunately, it is back to the daily grind. More later…

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Still Kickin'

Yep, I'm still alive. I'm not really 'out of the woods' yet, but I'll be back in fine form on Saturday, 25 September 2005.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rangers in the Night...

exchanging azimuths,
wondering which ones right
what were the chances
we'd run into an RI
before the night was through...

LOL. Anyway, I'm off to the wilderness for a couple of weeks. I apologize in advance for the lack of posting. Hopefully I will have some significant and insightful posts once I return... pr'olly not though. Keep your feet and knees together while I'm away, Airborne.

Just for the Record...

I've been busy, but not this busy (you may need to subscribe, but it isn't a burden). According to the Washington Times:
Births to unmarried women in the United States hit a record 1.4 million in 2003, while births to teens fell for the 12th consecutive year.
Births to unmarried women increased to 34.6 percent of all U.S. births -- also a new record, said researchers with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which released its final report on 2003 birth data yesterday.
Heh. Glad I'm married now.

Take That Moonbats!

Callimachus over at Done With Mirrors gives the left some of their own reflection. Give him a read.

Another Example of a Poor Education

I had the fortune last night to see a talking head on a major news network try to give the economic "sunny side" of Hurricane Katrina. As a trained economist, I just shook my head and wondered exactly where this clueless individual got his education. Clearly, it wasn't in the place that I got mine, or in any real place. So I started sniffing around and found this wonderful article by Dr. Walter Williams. I recommend that you read it so that you don't have to swallow any of the looney bilge that is likely to surface. In part, Williams explains that:
Let's ask a few smell-test questions about these claims of beneficial aspects of hurricane destruction. Would there have been even greater economic growth and job creation for our nation had Hurricane Katrina not only destroyed New Orleans, Mobile and Gulfport, but other major metropolitan areas along its path, like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, as well? Would we consider it a godsend, in terms of jobs and economic growth, if a few more category 4 hurricanes hit our shores? Only a lunatic would answer these questions in the affirmative.
No doubt about it, the Wax Museums of Communism that we call Colleges and Universities need to be scrapped and rebuilt.

Stealing Our Honor

I have been allowing this thought to simmer for some time. It has to do with those who, knowingly or unknowingly, steal the honor of veterans. Most of the ways that I can think of are fairly obvious. Let's see... where to begin.

Strange things. Inexplicable things like the story of Kodee Kennings and the story of the former Marine private who has been posing as a retired Major General in his hometown (can't seem to link to the story at the moment). What the hell? The first is an example of giving more ammo to the America haters and the second is just pure selfish stupidity. At the end of the day these folks erode our honor.

The FX television show "Over There." I watched the first episode and was disgusted because... well... it stole my/our honor. I can forgive shows that don't get all the terminology right or get the uniforms wrong, but this is a blatantly untrue, unfair, and gives your average American a wildly skewed version of the way that things truly are. For example, my wife (Sexy Squirrel) doesn't seem to mind it because she claims that it 1) allows regular Americans that we are at war and 2) she gets some small insight into what it is like over there. I now just get P.O.'d when she watches it and answer her that 1) if Americans need reminding, there are infinitely better avenues (I resent the notion that folks have to be entertained to be informed) and 2) the reality she is seeing is in some Hollywood director's mind... it is sickeningly unreal. In the end this show does much more harm than good as provides stereotypes and situations that are only fodder for the the peaceniks and anti-America types. Sorry, but as a soldier, I am a professional and my brothers are as well. If the Hollywood types really want to do a service to anyone other than themselves, just evoke real life in the show. Unfortunately, it is about entertainment and profit at the expense of our honor.

Lazy journalists. Don't get me wrong, there are some good ones like Michael Yon. But the vast majority spend time on anything negative. Damn people, there is a freakin' war on and literally millions of fantastic stories out there. Just ask Chrenkoff (while you can). Instead, I live the life of a missing teen in Aruba and listen to ridiculous boobs like Kayne West tell me that my President is a racist. Sorry, but that strongly implies that I am a racist... which I'm not you racist cock! Get out there and freakin' DO SOMETHING! You too Fox News!

*takes deep breath and mutters* Okay, shake it out. Shake it out.

Psycho Cindy. This is truly a dead horse and I believe that she has been adequately exposed for the looney-toon that she is. But she has worked dilligently to rob her son of his honor. Fortunately, a guy like Matt at Blackfive honors him the way that military always has... by doing it ourselves. We will carry your honor for you brother.

Man, I may have to make this a multi-parter as I have to get back to work.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I have a ton of buddies who are trying to decide whether to retire or not. I get a lot of calls because I have successfully (mostly anyway) made the transition to the civilian world. A year ago it was an easier answer than it is today. Now there is a massive $150K bonus for those who are eligible for a six-year re-enlistment. Wow! The Tampa Tribune, however, reported yesterday that “the effort has delivered only modest results due largely to bureaucratic delays in implementing the program…” The re-enlistment bonus makes the decision more difficult, especially as it virtually guarantees continued deployment. The truth is that OEF and OIF are less “fun” (if you will) now than at the earlier stages. There are a plethora of rules and regulations now that “Big Army” is in charge. These deployments have lost their novelty to many. I’m sure that not everyone feels this way, but many of my friends do.

But we really need dudes badly. One of the issues is that the pipeline for a qualified Green Beanie can range from seven to twenty months. Therefore, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) came up with these brilliant SOF Truths.
• Humans are more important than Hardware.
• Quality is better than Quantity.
• Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced.
• Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.

All of these are true, but they are a bit hollow as we are working hard to nullify all of these in practice. This pisses of a lot of great operators. Why bring it up? It directly affects the stay-in/get-out decision-making process.

We all believe that we can get out and walk into a middle-management job. I certainly believed it. The number one option that I heard bandied about is contractor work. But, SF guys are pretty bright (with notable exceptions) and can see the contractor writing on the wall. Companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and Custer-Battle are losing their appeal. Not only is the work more dangerous than many realize, but the paychecks have decreased significantly. At the end of 2003 the going rate for a quality contractor was as high as $600 a day. That is over $100K for a six month stint (largely tax-free BTW). This is really no longer the case for the qualified SF guy. If I’m wrong, please let me know.

Know what I tell my buddies? Have a plan. That’s it. Have a plan. Know what you are going to do. Know what your long-term goals are… work on your education… figure out what you want, then work your plan.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday Night Kick-Ass Photo


This is a close-up of the doorgunner (and his wicked-ass weapon) from the last photo. Anyone care to guess the cyclic rate of this particular weapon? Anyone? Anyone?

Some Great OIF News!

Jawa has the skinny here. Damn Skippy!


I found this post called “Tribes” via JB’s Santuary. Bill Whittle has produced an eloquently written perspective on why different groups behave the way that they do. While there are holes in the theory, I think that it is a ‘slap-your-forehead’ kind of epiphany piece. I have always wondered why a certain portion of the population is more apt to make meaningful sacrifices, while others are content to be spectators.

I have a rabidly liberal aunt who is sincerely content to complain and never lends a hand in any endeavor outside of leftist politics. Her reasoning is that she pays taxes to take care of all the ‘other’ things in life. She was mad at the latest round of tax cuts, but has an accountant that works hard to limit the amount of tax that she has to pay. She hates the military, is contemptuous of law enforcement, and deeply distrusts “sheepdogs.” Despite this hate and marginalization, I would still come to her aid in a time of need. Maybe this is why the extreme left is so successful… they can treat us like sh!t and we still protect them. What do y’all think?

Thank You!

A sincere thank you goes out to the 5 readers of this blog who have donated $1,500 to my recommended charity, Samaratin's Purse. I didn't log my own because it seemed somewhat gratuitous. You can find the contribution totals are here. I may have some specific requests for aid in the future that pertain to affected buddies of mine.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Volunteer Time

So I spent a great bit of the weekend doing volunteer work with the Red Cross. The Red Cross has collection stations all across the nation looking for tents, blankets and water among other things. I've already come out in support of Samaritan's Purse. But if that isn't your cup of tea, there are alternatives with the American Red Cross. If you can't give money, blood is always needed for just such a thing as this.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat"...T. Roosevelt

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Financial Planning for Joe - Part III

Alright Joe, in Parts One and Two we found out that we really can’t wait to start saving for the future. Now we’re convinced, we know that we have to invest and we know that sooner is better. So there are a couple other things that we need to look at before throwing our money at something (which we will discuss later).

Let me begin by telling a couple dumb Pvt. Squirrel stories. Okay, so Pvt. Squirrel left his tree nest when he was seventeen and had a girlfriend. I was an E-2 by the time I made it to my first duty station and made the princely sum of $752.70 a month. After taxes and deducting money for the Army College Fund ($100), I really wasn’t making all that much. Looking back at my finances now, the lion’s share of my income went to… you guessed it, long-distance phone bills.

Man, was I lonesome! I called friends, I called family, I called my girl. I had a Visa card with a $300 limit and I used that to fly home for block leave. I opened a credit account with AAFES and used it to buy all sorts of stuff. Basically, I spent absolutely everything that I made, and then some, for the first three years of my career. I was more concerned with making myself feel better (gratification) in the short-term, than thinking ahead at all. Think ahead? That never really occurred to me. I even bought an old clunker car for $100 and prayed each outing that it wouldn’t break down. Truly, that is no way to live.

Something changed and I decided that I was going to change my ways. I decided that I would save $50 a month and also buy a new car. I bought a new Ford Ranger (a plain-jane edition I paid off in three years) for around $9K and still drive it today! I didn’t put much thought into how much $50 was going to build, but it wasn’t painful.

You know my story Joe. You’re probably living it. The significant difference now is that a deployment and/or re-enlistment can get you a nice chunk of money. Did you blow it all? So the first real thing that you have to consider Joe, is to identify where your money is being spent. Do you know how much you spend on a Saturday? Could you stay in one Saturday every month and watch movies or play poker instead of going out?

Joe, your assignment for the week is to figure out where all your money goes. What are your bills? How many times do you draw money from an ATM? Do you have credit cards? What are the interest rates? Do you use your credit cards cause you’re always out of cash? Did you hear somewhere that having a credit card balance builds credit (untrue, btw)? Think about it Joe, make a crude Excel spreadsheet or write it out on paper. Figure out what your debt load is and what you spend in a month. Alright, go call your girl… or maybe you could IM???

Saturday, September 03, 2005

DoD/Katrina Public Service Items

The Greyhawks at the Mudville Gazette pass along a couple of excellent links (summarized on their site here).

Contact info for military families displaced by Katrina (also a great collection of news releases on the military efforts in hurricane relief) is here.

Information for Guard families impacted by the storm is here.

Information for getting deployed Guard members in touch with their families who might be displaced by the storm - and vice versa - is here.

Thank you to the Greyhawks for all their hard work! Please feel to pass this on to anyone who may be affected/interested.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday Kick-Ass Photo

Dudes coming back from a mission (OIF). I just wish I could be the doorgunner for a day. Get some!


I have decided that I just can't sniff around on too many blogs today. All this talk on the left is winding me up like a top. I guess that I'm particularly sensative to all the fingerpointing at the National Guard. These same kooks who hate the NG are now demanding to know why things are going so slowly. What!!?! Oh, so you hate the NG and deride them as a lesser form of folks who are not as worthy (clearly cause G.W. was a NG guy) and now G.W. is at fault for not moving quick enough. A person a work today wondered aloud what would be different if the images on TV were of white folks. The MSM and Hollywood are setting standards that we've never been held to before. We must just not care cause it takes time to mobilize things. Give me a break. I'm just going to stay tuned, turn off the boob tube when the loons start getting critical, and try to post something positive this weekend. Hope that you all have a happy (you don't have to feel too guilty), and SAFE labor day weekend. God Bless.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


This may sound strange, but in the five-sided-puzzle-palace (the Pentagon) many folks refer to Fox News as the American Al-Jazeera. Why? Cause everything is like a trumpet blaring (and often 'too' helpful)... look at this headline about Katrina aftermath "The Equivalent of Armageddon." How is that helpful? I still love FNC, but what will we use to describe something that's worse (God forbid)? Maybe I'm just being peckish, but someone needs to end the madness. The aftermath is terrible, tragic, and widespread... now go and donate!

Blogging Support For Katrina Victims

Shortly after Hurricane Andrew destroyed Homestead, FL on August 24, 1992, I was among a slew of military that was sent down there to help with the massive cleanup. Sniper teams were placed on water towers to 'keep an eye' on looters. Of course, we were federal troops and limited by posse-comitatus, but we did report to U.S. Marshals all the stuff that we could observe through our scopes. I remember being awed by the devastation. I can't imagine how much worse (and widespread) that this is.

Hugh Hewitt has sounded the bugle and is rallying bloggers to make meaningful, positive impact on the disaster. I am pushing Samaritan's Purse. Why Samaritan's Purse you may ask? Well, I have seen what they do with my own two peepers.

Special Forces conduct "engagements" all across the world that allows us to train and work dilligently toward winning hearts and minds. Unsurprisingly, in the course of these engagements we often encounter Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Some are more friendly to the military than others. For example, I have had ZERO success trying to work with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). I am also a fairly devout Lutheran, but when meeting Lutheran World Relief in the Horn of Africa, was treated like a leper... even though we were delivering aid! Um, no money from this squirrel.

Samaritan's Purse, however, is filled with a crew of absolutely fearless folks. Most that I met were former military or were clearly pro-military. The charity started off pretty rocky, but has really developed into a seriously heavy-hitter. These folks go where literally no one else can or will go. I personally worked with them in Afghanistan. I was so very impressed with thier expertise, professionalism, enthusiasm, and respect for the military that I will be giving till it hurts. Check them out at Charity Navigator.

Also, my feeling is that New Orleans will be getting the lion's share of attention and money, leaving the less sexy locales twisting in the wind. Samaritan's Purse, according to their website, says that "units initially will be based in Mobile and work westward into Mississippi and Louisiana as conditions permit."

I send along a check and a prayer.

UPDATE: A heartfelt Thank You to those who are moved to contribute. You can log your contribution here.