The Bow Ramp

Friday, September 23, 2005

You can KISA my...

Several bloggers this morning (Power Line, Michelle Malkin, etc.) have commented on the Presidents recent appointment of Richard Jones as Ambassador to Isreal. The referenced article from the Washington Times mentions that:

Richard Jones, most recently Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's right-hand man on Iraq, has "roots in the Arab world so deep," reports the Washington Post, "that his beloved greyhound is named Kisa — for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, his first posting in the Arab world."

Well, I'm not a Middle-East expert, but even I know that Moslems hold dogs in utter contempt and that calling someone a dog is a grave insult. If his background has such deep Arab roots, it seems to me that naming his greyhound Kisa was either pretty insensitive (bad for a diplomat,) or a peek into his real feelings about the Saudi's.

I think we might look a little deeper into Mr. Jones record before we jump to any conclusions.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the original Washington Post article. A different quote from the article:

"The people calling for my head were Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, so I'm not shy on taking on terror organizations and calling a spade a spade," Jones said, referring to his time in Lebanon.

Anyone Hezbollah wants to kill can't be all bad. Since this guy is career Foreign Service, I wonder what Dr. Demarche's take on him is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Where was the Media when...

Admittedly Hurricane Katrina was a big thing due to the sheer numbers of people affected. I can understand 24/7 Katrina coverage for days on end. What I want to know is where are all of those "concerned" reporters every time Guam gets pasted by a typhoon?
As most of my (few) readers are current or former military folks, most of you either know about Guam or have actually been there. For any others out there in Internet land who don't know, Guam is an island in the Western Pacific Ocean. Guam has been a Territory of the United States since the Spanish-American War. Guam also is smack in the middle of "Typhoon Alley." The island seems to attract typhoons like a magnet. They get hit about once a year on average. Since 1962, Guam has been struck by four "super typhoons" (equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.) In 2002, Guam experienced three major disasters; a 7.2 earthquake in April, a typhoon in July and super typhoon Pongsona on December 8th. This place has all the fixin's for a Media disaster blitz. 140,000 American citizens, mostly minority people, 25 percent below the poverty level. Each time one of those things hit, it wipes out or damages nearly every building on the island and thousands are left homeless and without power, etc.
What did we hear from the Media about Pongsona? Just about nada. Now why could that be? Is it because Guam is too far away? Is it because they have only one, non-voting member of Congress? Is it because Chamorros and Philippinos don't have as much minority "creds" as blacks and latinos? Maybe there are too many of those fascist, Nazi military people stationed there?
All I can tell you is that I would be much more sympathetic towards those talking heads if they had been in the streets of Agana wailing about how the poor Guamanians were suffering back then as well as in New Orleans this month.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Blogging from Astoria

By the time Friday rolled around, I was in desparate need for some mental down time. What to do? Take Monday off and go on a road trip. Fortunately, I have a wonderful, understanding wife; so she put what she wanted me to do on hold and gave me a kiss goodbye. God, I love that woman!
So, this morning I drop by the Navy Reserve Center in Portland, OR and visit with the Coastal Warfare folks. It was a pleasure to talk with these fine sailors and get a tour of their new patrol boats. These boats are about the same size as the old PBRs we used in Vietnam, but a lots nicer. Aluminum hull with built in inflatable sponsons and an air-conditioned pilot house with bucket seats for the whole crew. Weapons are about the same as a PBR, but these babys are a lot faster. A number of months ago, I posted that the Navy should quickly ramp up their riverine warfare capacity by just buying some boats off-the-shelf and arming them. These new patrol boats I saw today are pretty much that. OMG, I can't believe the Navy and I are on the same wavelength for once. Now, if they would just adopt a few more of my suggestions :-). Sorry guys, no pictures. I didn't think it was polite to snap photos on base without clearance. One other thing I saw there was quite a treat. Apparantly there is a local group that is restoring a WWII PT boat. No one was around, but it seems in good shape on the outside and has the 40mm mount on the stern. I believe it was the 651 boat. I'll see if I can find out anything more about it.
This afternoon finds me in Astoria. Here is a picture of the Astoria bridge which spans the mouth of the Columbia River.

If it looks familiar, it was feaured prominately in two movies--The Goonies and Short Circuit. Right now, I am in the Pig 'N Pancake restaurant for an early supper and to avoid what it loves to do around here--rain. Ther is quite a thunderstorm passing through town right now, so I don't think I want to cross the bridge right now. I had to drive through this storm on the way out here from Portland, and the visibility was just about zero. Here is a photo of the Astoria Column.

The column was built by Jacob Astor's grandson to commerate the coming of the railroads. There is a spiral mural winding around it showing the history since the Lewis and Clark expedition.

There are about 175 steps in a spiral staircase up to the observation deck. Yes, I counted as I came down.

thre is quite a view from up here.

Next weekend, there will be 2000 bicyclists come up here to finish the annual Cycle Oregon ride. That is one steep ride up there. Charles Johnson eat your heart out.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Opening Day

As disaster occurs in one place, normality continues in another. Today is the first day of the football season for Oregon State. The picture below was taken on Thursday. It shows the newly completed East grandstand (on the right.) This increases the total capacity of the stadium by 22% and beats the heck out of the open bleachers that used to be on that side of the field. Of course this will increase the gridlock by 22% when the game is over. Oh well, it's still not as bad as rush hour in a big city. The Beavers play Portland State today in a non-conference warmup. Go Beavers.

Update: Final Score 41 to 14 Beavers

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

An Open Letter to Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera

Guys, get a grip. I was witness to your respective meltdowns on Fox News yesterday. I understand that you are witnessing heart-rending scenes and your reactions are compounded by your own fatigue. That said, you guys went completely off the deep end.
Wait! Don't get defensive just yet. Although I am far away from this particular disaster, I have my own personal experience as a witness to massive flooding and death/destruction in an urban environment. I know where you are coming from. Of course, back then, we didn't have 24/7 news channels and satellite feeds so it wasn’t plastered all over millions of TVs for days on end. In the sixties, a massive disaster in Hong Kong got maybe 30 seconds on the network evening news back home in the U.S.
You guys are quick to demand that “someone” do something, but have either of you ever had to plan a response to something like this? Unless you can say yes to that question, you are at the same level as some sports fan with his Monday morning quarterbacking. It is one thing for Fox News to send a few broadcasters to the disaster area on short notice. It is an entirely different thing to send in sufficient support to immediately aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims when the infrastructure is destroyed. Why didn’t you two help all those people? Because you didn’t have the wherewithal to help them all, of course. Why didn’t you help just one or two people? Maybe you did and didn’t report it. If so, I applaud you.
The point I want to make is that when disaster strikes on such a massive scale, you cannot save everyone. You save the ones you can and you frequently have to make decisions based on incomplete or incorrect information.
Shep. You wanted to know why the people with you weren’t allowed to cross the bridge. Try putting yourself in the shoes of the on scene commander. What are the conditions just across the bridge? Are the people on the West side of the bridge in any significant way better able to support the victims on the East side? Are you in a position to screen everyone who wants to cross the bridge so that criminals don’t start running amuck over there too? Can you control the people crossing the bridge so that they do not impede the flow of aid coming into the city? It is, after all, the only available route into the city. Will these people merely be jumping from the frying pan into the fire? If you Shep, by being on the scene, had a better appreciation of all of these factors (and more); why didn’t you use the communications channels that you and Fox News have to get in touch with the appropriate authorities and appraise them of the situation?
Apparently, one of the real bottlenecks to more rapid and effective response was the poor communications into and out of the disaster areas. What did Fox and the other networks do to improve those communications? You had satellite trucks, satellite phones, radios, and personnel on scene. Did you use any of those assets for anything other than your own purposes? If so, congratulations. If not, STFU. Heroes are the ones who do what they can; not the ones who whine about what others aren’t doing!

The above rant is based upon lots of conjecture and few real facts. If you guys are upset because I have mischaracterized your efforts based on insufficient information; well now you know how the authorities feel about you.

Update: Thanks for the link from Where I Stand.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

As they say, "Professionals study logistics"

Jason over at Countercolumn has some good scoop about why you can't just get on the telephone and order up troops like you would a Big Mac with fries.

How do you get the personnel and supplies to where you need them in an emergency? This is especially difficult when there has been major disruption to the local infrastructure. Obviously, you can overcome a lot of problems by throwing lots of money into the solution. In Jason's example, an infantry battalion can only self-transport a company at a time (at best.) You could assign them more transportation, but it doesn't stop there. You would have to expand the support that the additional vehicles would require, which in turn requires more transportation, and so on. All of this would add up to a tremendous amount of money very quickly.

In the specific case of hurricane relief, most of the damage is usually located near the shore. This presents a possible solution. For many years now, the Military has maintained pre-positioned logistics overseas on specially configured ships. A similar system configured for disaster relief could be set up. These ships could be placed on alert when a hurricane is forecast to strike and could follow in the storm's path and be on station in just hours. Coupled with the Navy's amphibious ships, we could get a lot of people and supplies on station rapidly. Mind you, this would cost a bundle, and would also adversely effect the readiness of the Navy and Marines if they were called out too frequently. That is where the President, et al earn their pay. Considering how the various agencies were making dire forecasts about the damage that Katrina would cause, it might have been pruedent for the Navy and Marines to have deployed from the East Coast before the storm struck rather than after. It is ironic that the USS Bataan was close enough to respond quickly, but did not have the Marines and their equipment aboard. This has greatly reduced the Bataan's effectiveness.

Of course, this possible partial solution to disaster relief wouldn't be much good for responding to say an earthquake on the New Madrid fault, but it's worth thinking about.

Where were you when the ship hit the sand?

No blogging the last couple of weeks. I have been pretty busy at work and as the chief flunkey for my wife's business as well. On top of that, a routine software update on my principal home PC ended in a complete re-install over the last weekend. Thank God for backups!
Finally, there was Katrina. Being old, retired from the service, and 2000 miles away means there isn't much I can do to help except contribute money. It's a pity that the USS Bataan didn't have the Marines aboard. A thousand Marines with a helocopter squadron and AAVs would have really helped. I hope the ships that left Norfolk stopped in Moorehead City long enough to pick up some Leathernecks.
My guess is that many of the problems encountered so far are due to the reluctance of the Federal Gov'mint to take charge. Historically, the states and local authorities are in charge of these things and the Feds assist as needed. This time, however, the damage to such a widespread area has knocked out much of the local's ability to keep order. I may be wrong, but I would suggest declaring the affected areas under Federal martial law and start shooting looters immediately. Additionally, the Feds should take charge of and coordinate all relief efforts.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]