Sunday, April 3, 2011

Anti-Semitic semantics

Socialist Alliance candidate, Pip Hinman, has sparked a debate in the comments section of her piece in the Drum which is all too familiar to those who follow these sorts of online debates. The article defends the stance of Marrickville Mayor and state Greens candidate Fiona Byrne on a boycott of Israeli goods and firms. The comments thread has been derailed by the ubiquitous debate on the definition of anti-Semitism. Without having to go through subscription sites like Macquarie, the first definition available from the online dictionary is this:

–noun a person who discriminates against or is prejudiced or hostile toward Jews.

Common usage of the term would support its general meaning as being applicable only to Jews. The confusion comes in when the word is broken into its constituent parts, which gives actual racists a semantic escape clause. The same online dictionary provides this definition of Semite:

–noun 1. a member of any of various ancient and modern peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs. 2. a Jew. 3. a member of any of the peoples descended from Shem, the eldest son of Noah.

Therefore, by being pro-Palestinian precludes them from being anti-Semitic on the basis that the Arabs are Semites too. In the aforementioned comments thread, commenter GRAYAM made the following point:

Anti-Semitism is a word constructed in Germany in the late 19th century as a more acceptable substitute for Judenhass (Jew hatred).

Intrigued by that assertion, I looked up the etymology for anti-Semitism, and found this. It states:

anti-Semitism also antisemitism, 1881, from Ger. Antisemitismus, first used by Wilhelm Marr (1819–1904) German radical, nationalist and race-agitator, who founded the Antisemiten-Liga in 1879; see anti- + Semite. Not etymologically restricted to anti-Jewish theories, actions, or policies, but almost always used in this sense. Those who object to the inaccuracy of the term might try H. Adler's Judaeophobia (1882). Anti-Semitic (also antisemitic) and anti-Semite (also antisemite) also are from 1881, like anti-Semitism they appear first in English in an article in the "Athenaeum" of Sept. 31, in reference to German literature.

It made no mention of Judenhass, so I looked further. I found this at another site which provides some more enlightenment:

The political writer Wilhelm Marr is credited with coining the German word Antisemitismus in 1873, at a time when racial science was fashionable in Germany but religious prejudice was not. This term was offered as an alternative to the older German word Judenhass, meaning Jew-hatred. The aim of the effort to rename "Jew-hatred" into Anti-Semitism, was to give "Jew-hatred" a more scientific basis, however, it was never intended to eliminate the concept of hatred towards Jews based on the Christian conspiracies and legends so popular with the general population. In his book, "The Victory of Germanicism over Judaism" (1879), Marr took up secular racist ideas of Arthur de Gobineau's "An Essay on the Inequality of Human Races" (1853, though direct influence is debatable). Marr's book became very popular, and in the same year he founded the "League of Anti-Semites" ("Antisemiten-Liga"), the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany posed by the Jews, and advocating their forced removal from the country.

German has provided the English language with many useful words which succinctly distil concepts. In the true fashion of the English language to import words from other languages and make them our own, I propose that Judenhass join Blitzkreig, Schwerpunkt, and Schadenfreude in the greater English lexicon. It is appropriate to disarm a deceptive word coined by a German racist with the use of the German word it replaced.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Targeting Gaddafi

Like most things in the military, planning is structured. The planning process is known the MAP – the Military Appreciation Process. It is a systematic and structured process that aims to ensure that all elements have been considered and that a plan meets the test of being feasible, acceptable, suitable and distinguishable enough from other plans to warrant consideration on its own. One of the first steps is to create a Centre of Gravity Construct. This allows the planner to shape a plan to target an opponent's weaknesses. General H. Norman "Stormin'" Norman wrote extensively about it in his autobiography. The Centre of Gravity has a long-winded doctrinal definition, but essentially it is the "thing" that, if you kick it out, will cause your opponent to topple. I have had a quick bash at creating a CoG construct for the first phase of any operation to topple Gaddafi. If the war in Iraq taught us anything, it is that subsequent planning must be focussed on winning the peace as comprehensively as winning the war. This idea, which I bashed out on a slow Saturday night over a couple of beers, is not aimed at a "Phase 2" plan, but at removing a dictator to facilitate a transition into something else. I am not a General, or a politician, or even a planner on a staff HQ. It is just the ousting of Gaddafi according to Sharpe.

Centre of Gravity

Gaddafi's ability to crush dissent and control the population.

Critical Capabilities

Combat Power

Traditional Loyalties



Critical Requirements

  • Air Power
  • Land Forces
  • Weapons/ Consumable munitions
  • Moral authority to employ force
  • Tribal supporters
  • Chain of Command
  • Reputation
  • Ability to portray the opposition as a threat to traditional values
  • Oil revenue Offshore funds
  • International funding
  • Control of domestic media
  • Information operations/ dissemination of information
  • Religious leaders

Critical Vulnerabilities

  • NATO/UN forces have considerable capability overmatch to his Air Force, which is vulnerable both to destruction on the ground and interdiction in the air.
  • Land Forces can be functionally dislocated from the rebel elements by forcing engagement with a coalition land force – not necessarily of sufficient mass to conquer Libya, but sufficient to draw Gaddafi's land forces away from the popular revolt.
  • Weapons/Consumable munitions can be targeted through embargoes as well as direct strikes against munitions storage facilities.
  • Moral authority to employ force can be targeted through Information Operations – see column 4.
  • Military and political embarrassment of Gaddafi will erode the loyalty of his tribal supporters.
  • Gaddafi's Chain of Command can be targeted by isolating his command structure through targeted destruction of his communications.
  • His reputation as the tribal "strong man" is vulnerable to attack both physically through decisive military defeats, and politically by international refusal to acknowledge his legitimacy.
  • His ability to portray the opposition as a threat to traditional values can be undermined by tying him to international terrorism – see column 4.
  • Isolation of Gaddafi's finances has already begun, through the quarantining of offshore funds etc.
  • This will need to be expanded and targeted to deny him funds to prosecute his continued defiance.
  • Control of domestic media can be targeted both physically and through the EM spectrum. Destruction of broadcast facilities would constitute a short-term solution, but would deny friendly elements the ability to use those in the future. Denial through the disruption of bandwidth is a better long-term solution.
  • His ability to influence the Information Operations battle can be targeted through a comprehensive counter-IO plan, using traditional media as well as social media to tie Gaddafi to the Lockerbie bombing and support for various terrorist agencies etc to undermine his recurrent theme of branding the protesters as terrorists. In addition, a positive campaign to tie the protesters to a democratic future for Libya will undermine his supporters and deny him legitimacy.
  • Religious leaders can be targeted by isolating the political struggle from religious orthodoxy. IO campaigns need to differentiate between political and religious identity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Murphy’s Law of Combat Operations

I pilfered this list from Military Quotes.

In light of Tony Abbott's comments aired today on Channel 7, I think it is safe now to add "Shit Happens" to the list. For the record, nothing sums up "sometimes, no matter what resources you have at your disposal on the day, the Gods of War are just not smiling on you" than "Shit Happens".

Some of these are dated, some are American-centric, and some repeat themselves. It is also a much longer list than I remember taped to the wall of the B Coy Q Store at 8/9 RAR in the early 90s. Enjoy.

1. Friendly fire - isn't.

2. Recoilless rifles - aren't.

3. Suppressive fires - won't.

4. You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.

5. A sucking chest wound is Nature's way of telling you to slow down.

6. If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.

7. Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.

8. If at first you don't succeed, call in an air strike.

9. If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.

10. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.

11. Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.

12. Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.

13. If your attack is going really well, it's an ambush.

14. The enemy diversion you're ignoring is their main attack.

15. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:

a. When they're ready.

b. When you're not.

16. No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.

17. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.

18. Five second fuses always burn three seconds.

19. There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.

20. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.

21. The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard.

22. The easy way is always mined.

23. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.

24. Don't look conspicuous; it draws fire. For this reason, it is not at all uncommon for aircraft carriers to be known as bomb magnets.

25. Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.

26. If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in the combat zone.

27. When you have secured the area, make sure the enemy knows it too.

28. Incoming fire has the right of way.

29. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.

30. No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.

31. If the enemy is within range, so are you.

32. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.

33. Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren't.

34. Things that must work together, can't be carried to the field that way.

35. Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support.

36. Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both).

37. Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.

38. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won't be able to get out.

39. Tracers work both ways.

40. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.

41. When both sides are convinced they're about to lose, they're both right.

42. Professional soldiers are predictable; the world is full of dangerous amateurs.

43. Military Intelligence is a contradiction.

44. Fortify your front; you'll get your rear shot up.

45. Weather ain't neutral.

46. If you can't remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.

47. Air defense motto: shoot 'em down; sort 'em out on the ground.

48. 'Flies high, it dies; low and slow, it'll go'.

49. The Cavalry doesn't always come to the rescue.

50. Napalm is an area support weapon.

51. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.

52. B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.

53. Sniper's motto: reach out and touch someone.

54. Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity.

55. The one item you need is always in short supply.

56. Interchangeable parts aren't.

57. It's not the one with your name on it; it's the one addressed "to whom it may concern" you've got to think about.

58. When in doubt, empty your magazine.

59. The side with the simplest uniforms wins.

60. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.

61. If the Platoon Sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.

62. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep.

63. The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.

64. Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.

65. Everything always works in your HQ, everything always fails in the Colonel's HQ.

66. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.

67. One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.

68. A clean (and dry) set of BDU's is a magnet for mud and rain.

69. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.

70. Whenever you have plenty of ammo, you never miss. Whenever you are low on ammo, you can't hit the broad side of a barn.

71. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.

72. The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the weapon's operator.

73. Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

74. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.

75. If enough data is collected, a board of inquiry can prove anything.

76. For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. (in boot camp)

77. Air strikes always overshoot the target, artillery always falls short.

78. When reviewing the radio frequencies that you just wrote down, the most important ones are always illegible.

79. Those who hesitate under fire usually do not end up KIA or WIA.

80. The tough part about being an officer is that the troops don't know what they want, but they know for certain what they don't want.

81. To steal information from a person is called plagiarism. To steal information from the enemy is called gathering intelligence.

82. The weapon that usually jams when you need it the most is the M60.

83. The perfect officer for the job will transfer in the day after that billet is filled by someone else.

84. When you have sufficient supplies & ammo, the enemy takes 2 weeks to attack. When you are low on supplies & ammo the enemy decides to attack that night.

85. The newest and least experienced soldier will usually win the Medal of Honor.

86. A Purple Heart just proves that were you smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.

87. Murphy was a grunt.

88. Beer Math --> 2 beers times 37 men equals 49 cases.

89. Body count Math --> 3 guerrillas plus 1 probable plus 2 pigs equals 37 enemies killed in action.

90. The bursting radius of a hand grenade is always one foot greater than your jumping range.

91. All-weather close air support doesn't work in bad weather.

92. The combat worth of a unit is inversely proportional to the smartness of its outfit and appearance.

93. The crucial round is a dud.

94. Every command which can be misunderstood, will be.

95. There is no such place as a convenient foxhole.

96. Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last and don't ever volunteer to do anything.

97. If your positions are firmly set and you are prepared to take the enemy assault on, he will bypass you.

98. If your ambush is properly set, the enemy won't walk into it.

99. If your flank march is going well, the enemy expects you to outflank him.

100. Density of fire increases proportionally to the curiousness of the target.

101. Odd objects attract fire - never lurk behind one.

102. The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out.

103. The self-importance of a superior is inversely proportional to his position in the hierarchy (as is his deviousness and mischievousness).

104. There is always a way, and it usually doesn't work.

105. Success occurs when no one is looking, failure occurs when the General is watching.

106. The enemy never monitors your radio frequency until you broadcast on an unsecured channel.

107. Whenever you drop your equipment in a fire-fight, your ammo and grenades always fall the farthest away, and your canteen always lands at your feet.

108. As soon as you are served hot chow in the field, it rains.

109. Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.

110. The seriousness of a wound (in a fire-fight) is inversely proportional to the distance to any form of cover.

111. Walking point = sniper bait.

112. Your bivouac for the night is the spot where you got tired of marching that day.

113. If only one solution can be found for a field problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.

114. Radios function perfectly until you need fire support.

115. What gets you promoted from one rank gets you killed in the next rank.

116. Odd objects attract fire. You are odd.

117. Your mortar barrage will put exactly one round on the intended target. That round will be a dud.

118. Mine fields are not neutral.

119. The weight of your equipment is proportional to the time you have been carrying it.

120. Things that must be together to work can never be shipped together.

121. If you need an officer in a hurry take a nap.

122. The effective killing radius is greater than the average soldier can throw it.

123. Professionals are predictable, its the amateurs that are dangerous.

124. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.

125. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.

126. The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small. (or "on order")

127. The only time suppressive fire works is when it is used on abandoned positions.

128. When a front line soldier overhears two General Staff officers conferring,

he has fallen back too far.

129. Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last, and don't ever volunteer to do anything.

130. If at first you don't succeed, then bomb disposal probably isn't for you.

131. Any ship can be a minesweeper . . . . once.

132. Whenever you lose contact with the enemy, look behind you.

133. If you find yourself in front of your platoon they know something you don't.

134. The seriousness of a wound (in a firefight) is inversely proportional to the distance to any form of cover.

135. The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out.

136. When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not your friend.

137 When the enemy is closing, the artillery will always be to long

138 Smart bombs have bad days too.

139 Uncrating and assembly instructions are always inside the crate.

140 If you have a personality conflict with your superior: he has the personality, you have the conflict.

141 If you enter the CO's Presence with an idea, you will leave his Presence with the CO's idea.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why picking fights in the street is a bad idea

Bwahahahaha! That is all.

TWO drunken yobs tried to start a fight with three strangers - who turned out to be the military's most decorated hard men.

The thugs, who had a Staffordshire bull terrier with them, got a surprise comeuppance after hurling abuse at the smartly-suited trio in a street.

They had no idea their intended "victims" were a hero Royal Marine, an Army captain and a VC-winning SAS hero.

The louts pushed and shoved the three men, attempting to provoke them into a punch-up.

After ignoring polite advice to "walk away" they suddenly found themselves on their backs while their vicious-looking dog fled yelping.

L/Cpl Matt Croucher, 26, and Captain Peter Norton, 47, both George Cross winners, were walking through central London with Aussie Cpl Mark Donaldson, 31, after a reception at Buckingham Palace. Though they were in civilian clothes they were wearing their medals on their chests.

A witness to the incident said: "It was a case of yobs picking on the wrong people.

"After they ended up on the ground the guys just calmly adjusted their suits and walked off."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Award winning Pallywood images

This photo was posted on The Australian's website with the caption:

1st prize General News Singles
Picture: Kent Klich, Sweden
Light enters through a hole in the roof of a house hit by a tank shell, in Tuffah, northern Gaza. The family that lived in the house had fled during Operation Cast
Lead, the Israeli attack on Gaza that began at the end of December 2008.
Mohammed Shuhada Ali Ahmed, 39, had gone back to fetch clothes for his children,
and was killed when the shell struck.

Now, it seems quite obvious that something has gone through the roof, but that something did not explode. There are no shrapnel holes in the walls and the TV and the furniture are still intact. The other glaringly obvious detail is that whatever came through the roof came straight down. Tanks are not howitzers. At a pinch, tanks can be used in an indirect role; that is, that the main armament is used in a similar manner to an artillery piece. Unfortunately for the claim made by this photographer, they are not capable of firing their main armament at a high enough trajectory to drop a round straight through the roof of a building leaving an impact crater directly under the entry hole. Now, it may well be that the place has been cleaned up since the incident happened, in which case they have done a bang up job of cleaning the place up and filling the holes in the wall with spak-filla. Of course, why they put a new TV in a room with no roof remains a mystery, unless whatever it was that came through the roof didn't contain any High Explosive and didn't kill anybody at all.

Update: Below is a picture from the same photographer's website, the same album that contains the photo above. It shows what a wall looks like when it has been hit by shrapnel. Notice a difference?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three genuine peace activists murdered

No, I'm not referring to the recent tragic news of the three Australian SF soldiers recently killed in a helicopter accident. Accidents will happen when machines and men are pushed to their limits in an environment of threat, and while their deaths are a tragedy, it is hardly worthy of the fury of speculation as to the future of Australia's commitment to the war in Afghanistan. If anything, it is slightly unbecoming for the deaths of three men whose commitment to the objectives of this war can hardly be questioned to be used as a catalyst for discussion of the abandonment of those same objectives. Their sacrifice ought to be honoured and serve as a reminder of the deadly seriousness of the endeavour and to steel the resolve of our leaders to see that their sacrifice was not in vain.

The three genuine peace activists I refer to in the title are the three UN Peacekeepers killed in a random action in the western region of Darfur on Monday. The peacekeepers were providing protection to civilian engineers when they were attacked. This latest attack takes the toll of UN Peacekeepers killed in Darfur to 27 since the UN took over the operation from the African Union in 2007.

In contrast to the agent provocateurs who committed suicide by IDF Commando on the Mediterranean several weeks ago, these genuine peace activists will go unmourned by the world media because they were killed by Islamic bandits and not teh evil Juice.