Saturday, August 31, 2013

31 August 2013 War Fatigue

Cassi Creek:  Like much of the populace, I am tired of seeing American troops injured or killed in wars that should never have begun.    We’ve drawn our military forces down so far that many units no longer have time or money to properly maintain, refit, re-train, and recuperate from one deployment before they are flung outward into combat again. 
          Syria may well be a tipping point in our foreign policy.  We are unlikely to obtain any support from the UN for intervention in the Syrian Civil War.  NATO is essentially demonstrating that it has outlived its purpose. 
          We’ve painted our forces into a corner and they’re waiting for the order to march back into the meat grinder. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

30 August 2013 New cup! New war! Move down!

Cassi Creek:
          Today we still have no idea what the Obama administration will decide to do about the Syrian Civil War.  We’ve heard evidence that seems to confirm the use of chemical weapons against a civilian populace.  
          We’ve moved naval assets into position to launch a cruise missile strike.  But we have no decision to engage in another facet of the ongoing tribal-religious conflict that is the Middle East.  Since we have no announced goal in Syria other than some sort of punitive strike that will not serve to end conflict, it makes no sense to expend U.S. troops and ordnance in a conflict with no clear purpose and no defined exit point or strategy.
          This conflict, like the rest of the Middle East wars and the southwest Asian wars, are about which branch of Islam controls the most people.  This is essentially a fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia using every proxy they can enlist and disguising their religious was as a battle against US and Israeli presence in the Middle East.

          Syria is not worth the expense in ordnance or in the lives of our troops.  Let the Arabs and the former Persians sort it out.  It’s their tea party and they are the mad hatters in this unreality.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

29 August 2013 $1.5 million per copy

Cassi Creek:  That’s correct, $1.45 million per copy.  That’s not such a bad deal if the copy replaces a pilot and plane or an infantry unit being sent to dictate policy to another nation or another terrorist organization. 
          But if all we intend to do is throw munitions into a country involved in an increasingly bloody civil war, then perhaps the cost per unit is far too great. 
          Tomahawks, for all their vaunted and deserved accuracy and efficacy, are a form of long-range air power with multiple types of warheads and multiple launch platform capabilities.  They can destroy single building targets, destroy aircraft parked in the open, target weapons depots and obliterate enemy ordnance.  But like any other air power, they cannot seize and hold territory.  They can’t displace an existing dictatorship if they are not programmed to target specific people at specific locations. 
          We appear to ramping up our forces for a punitive strike against Syria, based upon the belief that Syrian forces deployed Sarin against civilians.  We, however, have announced our intent to avoid striking Sarin storage sites. 
          Given our unwillingness to target Assad and our unwillingness to target the nerve agents Syria still has, we have no chance of changing any Syrian or Syrian rebel policies.  We will only provide a reason for all Syrians and all members of the Arab league to ally with Iran in condemning the U.S. and Israel as aggressors against innocent Arabs. 
          Here’s a better idea.  Let the GOP counsel Obama on how to start an unwanted war in a nation that will self-destruct on its own.  Then, let the Democrats threaten to defund the GOP’s next oil war.  By that time, perhaps Syria’s nerve agents will be depleted and one of the religious factions that will obviously replace Assad in the future will have consolidated its power and began dragging Syria back to the 9th century. 
          We can take the money saved by not firing tomahawks and build a few new bridges.

Just to provide a bit of information about the complexity and function of the Tomahawk, see below
The Tomahawk missile family consists of a number of subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles for attacking a variety of surface targets. Although a number of launch platforms have been deployed or envisaged, only sea (both surface ship and submarine) launched variants are currently in service. Tomahawk has a modular design, allowing a wide variety of warhead, guidance, and range capabilities.
There have been several variants of the BGM-109 Tomahawk employing various types of warheads.
·         AGM-109H/L Medium Range Air to Surface Missile (MRASM) - a shorter range, turbojet powered ASM with bomblet munitions; never entered service.
·         BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Nuclear (TLAM-A) with a W80 nuclear warhead. Retired from service sometime between 2010 and 2013.[5]
·         BGM-109C Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Conventional (TLAM-C) with a unitary warhead.
·         BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Dispenser (TLAM-D) with submunitions.
·         BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM)- with a W84 nuclear warhead; withdrawn from service in 1987.
·         RGM/UGM-109B Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile (TASM) - radar guided anti-shipping variant; withdrawn from service in the 1990s.
·         RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM Block IV) - improved version of the TLAM-C.
Ground Launch Cruise Missiles (GLCM) and their truck-like launch vehicles were employed at bases in Europe; it was withdrawn from service to comply with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Many of the anti-ship versions were converted into TLAMs at the end of the Cold War. The Block III TLAMs that entered service in 1993 can fly farther and use Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to strike more precisely. Block IV TLAMs are completely redesigned with an improved turbofan engine. The F107-402 engine provided the new BLK III with a throttle control, allowing in-flight speed changes. This engine also provided better fuel economy. The Block IV TLAMs have enhanced deep-strike capabilities and are equipped with a real-time targeting system for striking fleeting targets.
Tactical Tomahawk[
A major improvement to the Tomahawk is network-centric warfare-capabilities, using data from multiple sensors (aircraft, UAVs, satellites, foot soldiers, tanks, ships) to find its target. It will also be able to send data from its sensors to these platforms. It will be a part of the networked force being implemented by the Pentagon.
"Tactical Tomahawk" takes advantage of a loitering feature in the missile's flight path and allows commanders to redirect the missile to an alternative target, if required. It can be reprogrammed in-flight to attack predesignated targets with GPS coordinates stored in its memory or to any other GPS coordinates. Also, the missile can send data about its status back to the commander. It entered service with the US Navy in late 2004.
In May 2009, Raytheon Missile Systems proposed an upgrade to the Tomahawk Block IV land-attack cruise missile that would allow it to destroy or disable large, hardened warships at 900 nautical miles (1,700 km) range.
Launch systems

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

28 August 2013 The horror of gas warfare

Cassi Creek:
Why is it worse to be gassed than to be shot?
American Public Health Association
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CORRECTED. See Am J Public Health. 2008 July; 98(7): 1158.
“Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War I
Gerard J. Fitzgerald, PhD
The first large-scale use of a traditional weapon of mass destruction (chemical, biological, or nuclear) involved the successful deployment of chemical weapons during World War I (1914–1918). Historians now refer to the Great War as the chemist’s war because of the scientific and engineering mobilization efforts by the major belligerents. The development, production, and deployment of war gases such as chlorine, phosgene, and mustard created a new and complex public health threat that endangered not only soldiers and civilians on the battlefield but also chemical workers on the home front involved in the large-scale manufacturing processes. The story of chemical weapons research and development during that war provides useful insights for current public health practitioners faced with a possible chemical weapons attack against civilian or military populations.
IN THE LATE AFTERNOON OF April 22, 1915, members of a special unit of the German Army opened the valves on more than 6000 steel cylinders arrayed in trenches along their defensive perimeter at Ypres, Belgium. Within 10 minutes, 160 tons of chlorine gas drifted over the opposing French trenches, engulfing all those downwind. Filled with pressurized liquid chlorine, the cylinders had been clandestinely installed by the Germans more than 3 weeks earlier. The order to release the gas was entrusted to German military meteorologists, who had carefully studied the area’s prevailing wind patterns. Disregarding intelligence reports about the strange cylinders prior to the attack, the French troops were totally unprepared for this new and horrifying weapon.1

“Nerve agents are substances that disrupt the chemical communications through the nervous system. The disruption is caused by blocking the acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that normally destroys and stops the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Poisoning by a nerve agent leads to an accumulation of acetylcholine at the nerve axon, producing a perpetual excited state (e.g., muscle contraction). The eventual exhaustion of muscles leads to respiratory failure and death.

G series

These are low volatility nerve agents that are typically used for a nonpersistent to semipersistent effect.
·         Tabun (GA)
·         Sarin (GB)
·         Soman (GD)
·         Cyclosarin (GF)

GV series[edit source | editbeta]

These agents have a volatility between the V and G agents and are typically used for a semi-persistent to persistent effect.
·         Novichok agents
·         GV (nerve agent)

V series[edit source | editbeta]

These agents have low volatility and are typically used for a persistent effect or liquid contact hazard.
·         VE
·         VG
·         VM
·         VX
WWI took early-industrialized warfare and changed it into slaughter on an assembly line basis.  It also applied a target status upon civilian populations, pointing the way to WWII.  From the onset of WWI, the rules and customs of warfare changed.  Troops came to be pitted against ever-larger artillery shells.  Horse cavalry and animal-towed guns were replaced by tanks and truck towed guns.  Much of a European generation, as well as one of Great Britain, simply ceased to exist. 
          There is a long history of individual combats in the lead up to what we declare modern warfare.  A sees B and they attack each other.  When organized armies and navies were developed, individual battles still took place as the combatants were directed by officers and/or rulers against their opponents.  The patterns of warfare were largely unchanged until the American Civil War put an end to massed fire and maneuver using single-shot rifles. 
          Still, in the mud, shells, and wire that helped define the trench warfare of WWI it was still possible to see the continuation of A and B trying to spot and kill each other.  Soldiers were still doing what soldiers have always done. 
          Gas changed pattern.  Gas was silent.  Gas could be deployed in the dark, with the right wind pattern, to spread over the trenches occupied by the other side.  In daylight, it required the at-risk army to spend time putting on protective equipment that might or might not work. Gas arrived silently but killed noisily.  Gas was, and is, poison. 
          Thousands of gas casualties survived WWI but had permanently scarred lungs, were badly blistered, and were blinded. 
          In the post war period, the Geneva Conventions declared gas warfare to be illegal and unethical to use in warfare. 
          Nerve agents, like earlier gas weaponry, originated in Germany.  It saw little use in the battles of WWII but heavy use in the death camps that carried out the Holocaust.
          During the Cold War, there was heavy investigation of nerve agents and stockpiling of such agents by both the US and USSR.  Every modern nation is supposed to have destroyed their nerve agents.  Obviously, the Middle Eastern states have not done so. 
          The horror of nerve agents includes the mechanism they use to kill.
“How sarin works
·         The extent of poisoning caused by sarin depends on the amount of sarin to which a person was exposed, how the person was exposed, and the length of time of the exposure.
·         Symptoms likely will appear within a few seconds after exposure to the vapor form of sarin and within a few minutes to hours after exposure to the liquid form.
·         All nerve agents cause their toxic effects by preventing the proper operation of an enzyme that acts as the body’s “off switch” for glands and muscles. Without an “off switch,” the glands and muscles are constantly being stimulated. Exposed people may become tired and no longer be able to keep breathing.
·         Sarin is the most volatile of the nerve agents. This means it can easily and quickly evaporate from a liquid into a vapor and spread into the environment. People can be exposed to the vapor even if they do not come in contact with the liquid form of sarin.
·         Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate but short-lived threat.
Immediate signs and symptoms of sarin exposure
·         People may not know that they were exposed because sarin has no odor.
·         People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air, eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or touching contaminated surfaces may experience some or all of the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure:
o    Runny nose
o    Watery eyes
o    Small, pinpoint pupils
o    Eye pain
o    Blurred vision
o    Drooling and excessive sweating
o    Cough
o    Chest tightness
o    Rapid breathing
o    Diarrhea
o     Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
o    Increased urination
o    Confusion
o    Drowsiness
o    Weakness
o    Headache
o    Slow or fast heart rate
o    Low or high blood pressure
·         Even a small drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where sarin touched the skin.
·         Exposure to large doses of sarin by any route may result in the following harmful health effects:
o    Loss of consciousness
o    Convulsions
o    Paralysis
o    Respiratory failure possibly leading to death
·         Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to sarin.”

The decision to deploy nerve agents is considered to be beyond the Pale.  While protective equipment is available to soldiers, very few civilians have protective gear and almost none have atropine to use as an antidote. 
          In the end, it matters little to the dead, once they are dead, whether a single bullet or a Sarin bomblet brought them down.  But the experience of watching nerve gases work, knowing that in most cases the end result is a most undignified death should prevent any rational being from deploying any of the nerve agents.  The Assad regime has chosen wholesale slaughter to be visited upon non-combatants. There is no place in the modern world for such people.  They are not soldiers, they are not human. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

27 August 2013 The guns of august echo still

Cassi Creek:  It is horribly frustrating to sit here and watch the military, already too thinly stretched, ramping up for a coordinated airstrike against one or all Syrian factions. 
          After delaying our response to the use of nerve agents for a year, while we did nothing to stabilize the situation, the Administration is going to hurl Tomahawk and other enhanced and advanced weaponry into Syrian air space at a cost of billions. 
          The possibility of a small coalition - Us and the British – striking simultaneously may decrease the risk from Syrian anti-aircraft batteries.  Flying missile and flak suppression will not be easy for our pilots and will likely cost some lives. 
          It has been stated that Assad is not an allowable target.  Nor are the weapons storage sites where nerve agents are located now.  Not only have we blown the chance for a surprise attack, we’ve declared the most important and effective targets off limits. 
          There is concern that the Arab League approve of the strike.  Who really cares about what the Arab league thinks today.  They’ve ignored the problem too, exacerbating the refugee problem and, once again, throwing away the opportunity to move the Arab states into the 21st century. 
            “The Guns of August (1962), also published as August 1914, is a volume of history by Barbara Tuchman. It is centered around the first month of World. After introductory chapters, Tuchman describes in great detail the opening events of the conflict. Its focus then becomes a military history of the contestants, chiefly the great powers.
The Guns of August thus provides a narrative of the earliest stages of World War I, from the decisions to go to war, up until the start of the Franco-British offensive that stopped the German advance into France. The result was four years of trench warfare. In the course of her narrative Tuchman includes discussion of the plans, strategies, world events, and international sentiments before and during the war.” 
            As we leave August 2013 behind, we are still fighting because of actions and reasons dating back to 1914.   Harry Patch, the last British soldier who fought in WWI described war as “organized murder and nothing more.”  Now we have wars that defy organization.  The term “clusterfuck” becomes more and more an apt description of the mess we’re about to step in yet again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

26 August 2013 SSDD

Cassi Creek:  That’s the sitrep for the day Sun Shine Day Dream
          Partly cloudy, humidity ramping up.  Grocery shopping and a few other errands. 
          Nothing else to add.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

25 August 2013 Little to convey

Cassi Creek:  This promises to be another sunny day with the inevitable  mountain thunderstorms. 
          I have been incredibly tired over the last week or two.  I can sit down on the couch and doze off nearly instantly.  I don’t know if this is related to Parkinson’s or not. 
          I can state that my tremor is more pronounced and more prevalent between 0600 and 1000 as my dopamine level gets kicked back into daytime levels.  I’m not eager to change dosages.  I’m tolerating what I take now.  Until I’m told I have to change, I’ll live with what palliative benefits I have now. 
          Linda Ronstadt just announced that her ability to sing has been destroyed by Parkinson’s.  Horrible thing to have happen.  I encounter information like that and it points to greater concern about my future. 
          I can track symptoms back as far as 1980 but there was no way to pursue Agent Orange claims through VA in those days and no one willing to hang causation of anything other than chloracne on Agent Orange.
          Another week ahead trying to get local trades people to finish the work they began and have been paid for.  I hate not being able to trust people.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

24 August 2013 Fires on the mountains

Cassi Creek:  Today is reasonably mild in temperature.  The expected high is to be in the low 80s.  The air is as clear as it gets in the Great Smokies and Southern Appalachians.
          We’ve had a wet spring and summer.  There have been some forest fires but not nearly as many as in the past several years. 
          Look westward and it may seem that the nation is aflame.  Last year the Colorado fires were disastrous.  This year Arizona fires have been lethal. 
          Now the western tier of states is dotted with its annual crop of fires made worse by Santa Anna winds.  California is a desert, made habitable only by bring water from out of state.  Every state west of middle Kansas qualifies as a desert. 
          Many of the prairie grasses have evolved to be dependent upon fire to release seeds for the next generation.  Many of the pines reproduce in the same manner.  When the current fires burn out, it will be time for a new growth cycle.  Unfortunately, human intrusion into these desert regions requires that they must be fought, turned, and extinguished, often at cost of firefighters’ lives. 
          Yosemite National Park is burning now.  It isn’t the first time, and if we don’t allow growth to destroy the park, it won’t be the last.  The scars from the Yellowstone fire are now overgrown for the most part.  Fire on the mountain is not a bad thing unless you own property on the mountain.

Friday, August 23, 2013

23 August 2013 The worst generation?

Cassi Creek:  There are more generation gaps than we ever imagined.
“(CNN) -- A juvenile has been arrested by Spokane police in connection with the beating death of an 88-year-old World War II veteran this week, police said Friday.
“It's the second time in a week that a seemingly random attack by teenagers has claimed a life.
On August 16, a 23-year-old Australian baseball player attending college in Oklahoma was gunned down in the town of Duncan.
One of three teens police arrested in that shooting said they carried it out because "we were bored and didn't have anything to do."

I find it impossible to understand why anyone would randomly select and kill another human.  The increase in such crimes since the WWII and Boomer generations is sufficient to make me wonder what are the primary factors that have spawned a generation so contemptuous of the rights of others. 
          There is often blame affixed to video games – increasingly violent, movies that are simply acts of violence daisy-chained together, and the two-job family/single parent family, resulting in unsupervised children.    I grew up in a 2-job family.  While I did my share of stupid teen-ager things, I never felt any need to cause harm to another person. 
          The ease of access to firearms, legal or illegal, is in part a major contributing factor to the widespread violence that has spread beyond the urban cores to the small towns.  The political party propaganda designed to polarize the populace is a source, as it dehumanizes our view of others. 
          We’ve watched our populace change from “The Greatest” to the currently apparent worst.  We’ve reached the point where gang leaders will beat entire families to death over a video game player left behind during eviction of squatters.  We now see murders committed to relieve boredom.  We now see WWII veterans and anyone else who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time beaten to death.  Some of this violence is driven by racial hatred, bi-directionally.  Some is stoked by religious fanaticism.  Some is generated by people who are just plain mentally ill.
          I know each generation has a component, which will complain about the following generations.  I’m in that cohort for my generation. 
          The percentage of people involved in such violent crimes is small compared to our overall numbers.  Our 24-hour news cycle and improved means of gathering local news events of note make it seem as if the frequency of such crimes is climbing rapidly.  But when we compare our nation’s frequency of such crimes to that of other industrialized nations, we see the U.S. as the leader in such crimes. 
          We need to find some way to identify causation and to eliminate these acts of senseless violence.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

22 August 2013   Bright Star Orchestra
Cassi  Creek: 
In Billion Part harmony 

Enjoy the music of the spheres.  Come back to it later if you need it.

Now, to other matters.  Bradley Manning’s request to become a female was not the most intelligent step he could have taken.  His time as a prisoner at Leavenworth.  Military prisoners will not be sympathetic to his crime or his lifestyle preferences. 
          The news media should stop describing the use of nerve agents as “alleged.”  We’ve seen the highly sanitized video offered by the mainstream media serving the U.S. markets.  Much of the rest of the world has seen the really ugly effects of nerve agents such as Sarin.  Syria has committed war crimes using weapons of mass destruction. 
          Are the U.S. news agencies so afraid of political incorrectness that they can no longer provide a true picture of the war in Syria?  Who cares if the Assad government is offended?  They are led by and are currently loyal to a deranged mass murderer
          The Obama administration continues to make promises that the U.S. will take appropriate action.  The appropriate time was when we first located the Syrian weapons dump that contained their nerve agents.  The appropriate action would have been to authorize the removal of those warheads and delivery systems from the face of the earth.  We’ve proven ourselves to be more of a paper tiger in the Middle East than the Chinese ever accused us of being. 
          All you will ever wish to know about Sarin

Use as a weapon[
In mid-1939, the formula for the agent was passed to the chemical warfare section of the German Army Weapons Office, which ordered that it be brought into mass production for wartime use. A number of pilot plants were built, and a high-production facility was under construction (but was not finished) by the end of World War II. Estimates for total Sarin production by Nazi Germany range from 500 kg to 10 tons.[20] Though sarin, tabun and soman were incorporated into artillery shells, Germany did not use nerve agents against Allied targets.

nerve gas cluster shell.jpg
U.S. Honest John missile warhead cutaway, showing M134 Sarin bomblets (c. 1960)

Demilitarization operations at Rocky Mountain Arsenal left exactly 888 Weteye bombs intact and in storage in Colorado.  These were stored very close to the Stapleton Denver airport.  A major aviation accident might well have had extreme consequences.  It would have all depended upon the winds.

nerve gas cluster shell.jpg

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

21 August 2013 More bits no pieces

Cassi Creek:  Dental appointments drove the morning.  Got up a half-hour earlier to make the hike with Mike before going into town. 
          We rewarded ourselves with lunch out followed by light grocery shopping.   
          Gasoline was $3.49/gallon today.    I can recall gas wars that featured prices of $.15 - $.17 per gallon.  I doubt we will ever see those prices for any sort of petroleum-based fuel again.  If we should, it will follow an economic disruption eclipsing the Great Depression.
          Gloria took Loki outside yesterday afternoon and noticed an unusual behavior pattern.  Loki had located a copperhead but was not charging at it.  Gloria got my attention and I dispatched it and removed it.  It will leave with the trash truck tomorrow morning. 
          Neither of us has any real desire to kill snakes but those with venom are not well mannered and they represent too much potential harm to Loki and us.
          Loki is not a gun dog.  I took the 12 gauge with me yesterday.  Loki saw it and headed for the back yard.  Gloria brought her back and sent her up on the deck.  She was really eager to get back in the house but waited with Gloria until the noise was over.  She came to me when I called her, after clearing the weapons.  But it was a very transitory show of faith before she returned to the deck, asking to be let inside. 
          In deference to my shoulders, I used a 9 mm.  Spent the next half hour cleaning it.  Maintenance is essential. 
          When I’m asked why I possess firearms, events like yesterday seem justification.  Protecting our family is not just an excuse.  We have non-human hazards here as well.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20 August 2013 Look, up In the sky

Cassi Creek:  The late morning has been filled with helicopters overhead and behind the ridges.   From the sounds they generate, they sound as if they are running close to or at red line. 
          That sort of sound pattern generally makes me think of Dust-Off flights.  There are other possibilities.  There could be some sort of concerted police action.  As the sound sources sound as if they may be circling, SAR missions may be taking place up along the Appalachian Trail. 
          From the sounds, there were at least two, perhaps three aircraft involved.  They never flew across open sky where I could see them.  They flew as if they were avoiding visual contact.  The forest on the valley walls is quite thick and tall.  It provides good cover for pilots who know how to use it.
          With no more helicopters overhead, I can assume that they have either accomplished their flight mission or moved to a more distant area. 
          The sound of helicopters will always drag me back to VietNam.