Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Happy Birthday Trevi !!!!!!!!!!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Attention Project Valour IT - Team Air Force
The snail mail address for those who'd rather donate that way (be sure to put AIR FORCE in big letters on the check):
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Being in Iraq, it's easy to forget about what's going on in the News back home. My old home State of California took a beating this last week. Terrible to see the images of places I've lived at or had friends live at burnt to the ground. Terrible, and sad.
For those who have lived there, we all know the winds and fires happen every year, but every now and then they turn into a fire storm, causing this scale of destruction. I can't begin to imagine what those people are going to have to go through now. Insurance companies will most likely be a'holes to many people. Cities will try and keep others from rebuilding because of the newly freed up locations. Real-Estate vultures will try to move in and make a fast buck on the backs of those who are at their weakest right now. Environmental groups, while busy blaming everyone but themselves, will make it impossible to rebuild in many places. The list goes on....
Yet my old home State shined last week. Emergency services worked like clock-work. Cities pulled together to help their residents in need. Everything and everyone pulled together to overcome this tragedy. It's rare to have pride for California, especially in this political and social climate. But every now and then she shines, showing her true self as the greatest State in the Union.
While FEMA stumbled as usual, and was busy holding fake press conferences to make it look like they were actively engaged, the State took care of its own. While the press circled families who had lost everything, like vultures, and repeatedly tried to get leaders to place blame on Bush or Iraq or Cheney or Global Warming... etc etc, California and her people stood tall.
My heart goes out to all who have suffered from the latest Santa Ana fire storm in Southern California.
Used to live, work, and go to school right where the flames are.
Blue Skies will rule the day soon.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Create Your Own South Park Character
I've had way too much fun with this website making South Park characters of everyone I work with out here.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Indispensable Lindsay Fincher
There are some good blogs out on the web, and there are some great blogs. Then there is Lindsay Fincher's site.
Every time I go to her site I'm treated to great photos and memorable thoughts on places I've always wanted to travel to. Lindsay's unique insight, knowledge of many cultures, and taste in food is more enjoyable to read than a majority of professional travel sites out on the web.
Plus, any SoCal expat who admires the taste and architecture of an In-n-Out Burger as I do is OK in my book.
I can't recommend her site enough. Some recommended recent posts:
I could easily list about 20 more. Go there and check it out.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
On rare occasions this place can be so peaceful, it's easy to forget where you are.
The New Iraqi Air Force
Putting the 'Kinetic Hurt' in Counter-Insurgency Operations (COIN)
Caravan - ISR, Light Transport, and very good at calling in the steele when they spot the bad guys on the ground.
C-130 - The backbone of IqAF Air Mobility, their fleet is growing and their crews and maintainers know how to handle these babies.
CH2000 - ISR Aircraft providing overhead protection above many of Iraq's vast resources.
IqAF F-15 - Kidding of course. No such thing. At least not for the next 5 years. Most likely won't be an F-15, but it'll be something new, fast, and sweet.
And introducing.... the new Cessna 172. No, this one's not a Photoshop. Newly arrived this week in Iraq, it's the first of many training aircraft at the new Flight Training School out here. They boxed it up for the ride on a C-17, but it's back together and ready to start training the newest IqAF pilots. It has all the latest toys Cessna has to offer, and is by far the best trainer out there for the job. I watched this baby roll off the assembly line out in Kansas.
Never In a Million Years...
We had the pleasure of sitting in on the going away party for the Fijian Soldiers who manned the UN post here in the IZ. Also leaving is the the Fijian contingent of the private security company that guarded our compound.
There's so much to say about the Fijians that we worked with. They were the nicest, hardest working, most thorough, friendly, and pleasant people around here. They kept us safe, but they also kept us sane.
Last night we listened to them sing and dance, and we shared freshly made Kava out of coconut bowls. The Fijians exemplified that warm South Pacific Islander attitude of working hard and enjoying life. For one night all of us felt like we were out of Baghdad and in the Islands. I couldn't get the smile off my face if I tried. Last night was the best I've had since being here.
'Bola Bola'! They greeted us every day with a warm smile and a loud 'Bola', which stands for hello, goodbye, love, peace, etc.... You name it, it means it.
Turns out the Fijians are professional UN peacekeepers and observers. They all around Africa and the Middle East, providing troops for various UN missions. These men and women have served in some of the most volatile places on earth, and have a vast amount of experience because of it.
Making Fiji Kava, which is as close to alcohol as we will ever get out here. It also explains why the Fijians were always smiling. This stuff was great. Had a bitter taste, and left your tongue and throat numb, but it did wonders for us.
We were treated to several traditional dances and songs, as well as Fijian techno music.
Couldn't pass up the Pacific Islander torches.
We're all set on traveling to Fiji some day in the future. I can't wait for my family to experience the Islander hospitality we came to know out here. Don't get me wrong, the Fijians were kick ass troops and security guards. I wouldn't dare get on their bad side. They're tough, but still the nicest people I've ever worked with.
There was a military song they sang to us about following the British and US into battle whenever called upon. It ended with something about the Red White and Blue, which are their flag colors as well. Wish I had the lyrics. You'd see how proud the Fijians are about their military service and history, fighting along side us.
Reading over their recent history, the Fijians are having a lot of political turmoil back at home. You couldn't tell by working with them that their Government was unstable, and honestly, it doesn't change our perception them. I know I'd serve along side of them without hesitation.
After the party we headed back home through the IZ. Of course we all had the munchies afterwards because of the Kava, but all of us agreed we were lucky to have worked with these guys and gals.
They will be missed.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
'Save 2nd Base' T-Shirts
I read an article yesterday about two High School girls who were trying to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by selling T-Shirts that said 'Save 2nd Base'. Both of the girls had family members who were dealing with, or had survived, breast cancer, which is why they wanted to take an active role in the cause.
Of course, the school banned the shirts.
Fist off, I've seen the shirts kids are allowed to wear to school these days. This shirt, though provocative, is spreading a good message and it's funny. I think it's a good idea.
If you want one of these, you can order them here. It's for a great cause.
Second, I'm all for raising money and awareness to help stop testicular cancer, so here's my way of helping out.
2 women to skipper space shuttle, ISS
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - "A giant leap is about to be made for womankind. When space shuttle Discovery blasts off Tuesday, a woman will be sitting in the commander's seat. And up at the international space station, a female skipper will be waiting to greet her."
OK, here it goes....
So, what's going to happen if the Shuttle tries to dock with the Space Station while the Commander is "fixing herself up?"
Especially when all of her 'Essential Astronaut Gear' starts floating around in zero-G.
Someday, somebody's going to ask me why I always lose the Women's vote.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Even In a War Zone....
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
CAFTT Getting the Iraqi Air Force in the Air - Fox News Edition
Fox News did a little story on CAFTT training the Iraqi Air Force. It's actually not that great of a story, but it's sufficient in showing some video of the people working to 'Get 'em in the Air.'
When you hear Fox's bleak picture about students with no shoes and desks, ignore it. Those guys were all new recruits in basic training. They all come in like that.
What they didn't show you were the polished and well-trained graduates, or the new Lieutenants just commissioned, or the new flight students at Kirkuk.
Also note that the IqAF has plenty of fixed-wing aircraft, which they don't mention here. Fox made it sound like they only have a few helicopters flown by shoeless Iraqis.
They failed to mention that they have seasoned pilots, maintainers, Officers and Enlisted personnel, as well as ISR aircraft, trainers, 3 types of helicopters with dozens more inbound.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Please Don't Hate Islam
Chris posted a comment below that I wanted to address. He stated that he hated Islam. Although I can't control how he feels about Islam, I want to make sure that what I wrote in my last post doesn't contribute to similar feelings about Islam.
I am a Christian. I was raised by my mother to avoid the Church and anyone preaching about God. The 'Progressives' in my home town of Santa Cruz, CA, would show me examples of the 'evils' of Christianity, and how religion was only for the weak and inept. Yet, I was still drawn to it when I left home and started college in 1993. I became a Christian the summer of 1993. It was a personal choice, and one of the choices I've never regretted making in my life.
Today we are shown countless examples of the 'evils' of Islam, but just as I was shown a skewed version of Christianity, we are shown a version of Islam that is not representative of what Islam truly is. Every Muslim I have ever met is exactly like every Christian I've met. Some are young and don't practice their religion. Some are in their 20s and are more interested in watching Dance Party UAE or listening to their IPod than praying every day. Some are very devout and do their best to adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam, while others are 'holiday' Muslims and only practice during specific holidays. Some people are great family men and women. Some are 'players.' Some use their religion as an excuse to harm others. Some use it to heal others. Some use it to oppress women and non-believers, while others believe that women are sacred and put them up on a pedestal.
I could keep going all day. My point is that Muslims are exactly like Christians who are exactly like Jews who are exactly like Hindus….. we’re all the same people. We just believe in obtaining salvation differently.
We don’t confuse Christians who twist their faith to kill, enslave, oppress, or denigrate with Christians who adhere to the bible and respect humanity and themselves.
Please don’t confuse the bastards who kill women and children or bomb U.S. Soldiers with the 95% of Muslims who adhere to the Koran and respect humanity and respect themselves.
Hate is a strong word my friend. I hate the people who tried to kill us last night by firing rockets and mortars. They kept me lying on the floor of my trailer, praying to my God, hoping for another opportunity to see my family and friends again. I hate the people who fly planes into buildings, or purposely bomb as many innocent men, women, and children just to affect the primetime headlines at CNN or the New York Times. I hate those who are evil in this world.
I hate those people because of their actions, and my Muslim friends I work with daily hate those people because of their evil actions just as much as I do.
Please don’t hate a religion. Fight the people who hate a religion enough to use it for evil.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Ramadan Is Officially Over....
According to the locals we still have two more days before Eid, but apparently the pieces of crap we call terrorists (the media calls them insurgents) are back to work.
Attack at US base in Iraq kills 2
BAGHDAD - A series of rockets or mortar rounds struck Camp Victory, killing two members of the U.S.-led coalition and wounding 40 other people on the sprawling headquarters for U.S. forces in Iraq, the military said Thursday.
Looks like the last few weeks of half-way decent sleep are officially over thanks to these bastards.
Awarded for Inconvenient 'Factual Errors'
If I had made this many factual errors in my written work for my Master's Degree, I would have been 'removed' from the graduate school. (h/t Blackfive)
* The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
* The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
* The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
* The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
* The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
* The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
* The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
* The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
* The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
* The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
* The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
If you're a left-leaning, former Vice President of the United States and you make such blatant factual errors, you're handed an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize.
First, all this did was diminish the great Nobel winners who spent their lives contributing to science, literature, and peace.
Second, I can see why Western Civilization is in decline.
We are doomed.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
How Defense Appropriations Really Work
Just received a 'Washington Weekly' update on the latest and greatest in Air Force and military funding. If you really want to know how the Air Force gets funded, just read the highlights below.
-SA 3124. Lott. $4M for the Associate Intermodal Platform Pallet System. Adopted.
-SA 3125. Roberts. $1M for Materials Integrity Management Research. Adopted.
-SA 3136. Landrieu. $4M for 8th AF Cyberspace Innovation Center, Barksdale AFB. Adopted.
-SA 3163. Harkin. $5M for MSOGS into F-15C/D aircraft. Adopted.
In other words, each of these Senators have been 'advised' that these programs will take place in their own districts, which is why they are individually requesting funding for each program. If the Air Force hasn't schlepped for the funding, then the defense contractors in each state have 'advised' the Senators.
I remember when the C-130J came out years ago. The Air Force was against buying any, and even pleaded with Congress not to fund the program. Well, the Senators and Congressmen from Georgia (where the aircraft was built) did what the folks above are doing, going out of their way to acquire funding to pay for systems, even if the AF didn't want the C-130J.
This is still happening today. In this week's update:
"Unrequested Funding: The Administration strongly opposes the additional $480 million for the Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine Program. The Administration did not request funding to support this program."
They didn't ask for the funding, yet it's getting shoved down their throats.
I'm sure the programs I listed above are important, and the AF asked for that funding, but it's still unsettling that the only way to get things payed for around here is to beg and barter with Congressmen who's districts will benefit from the programs. Defense programs should be funded because they're important to our national security, not because they pad the wallets of special interests.
I know I know... what's that saying about "If a tree falls in a forest..."
The silence is deafening.
Back to my day job, schlepping for funds from the US and Iraq to rebuild the Iraqi Air Force.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Viva El Dia Del Cristobal Colombo (Columbus Day)
Sure, the Vikings had 'land hopped' from Greenland down through Nova Scocia and had temporary settlements as south as New York, but they had no idea where they were, and they certainly didn't sail across the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to get there. Most important, they never advertised the fertile lands they found.
Columbus changed the world.
"Thursday, 11 October. Steered west-southwest; and encountered a heavier sea than they had met with before in the whole voyage. Saw pardelas and a green rush near the vessel. The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful. Sailed this day till sunset, twenty-seven leagues.
After sunset steered their original course west and sailed twelve miles an hour till two hours after midnight, going ninety miles, which are twenty-two leagues and a half; and as the Pinta was the swiftest sailer, and kept ahead of the Admiral, she discovered land and made the signals which had been ordered. The land was first seen by a sailor called Rodrigo de Triana...."
One of my favorite works of fiction is called "Past Watch, The Redemption of Christopher Columbus," and it revolves around Columbus' actual diary entries and how pivitol he was in changing the course of history. Yes, the book is a work of fiction, but it does provide some great insight into the real and very personal trials and tribulations of Explorer Colombo. I can't recommend it enough.
Never Doubt Motives
Airpower.... Real Airpower
Yesterday afternoon I witnessed something I never imagined I'd see first-hand. Standing out in the middle of a parking lot in Baghdad, I watched an F-18 scream past me at about 1000ft over the city. At the same time, circling overhead a little higher were to F-16s. For 10 minutes the F-16s circled sharp and close, watching over something I couldn't see.
It hit me as soon as I watched the F-18 fly by that something was up. I've been around combat aircraft for as long as I can remember, but this was the first time I have ever seen them in action, first hand. These guys were in combat.
I'm sure it was nothing out of the ordinary, but to see these guys, my guys (+ Navy) actively engaging a target, providing close air support to the troops on the ground... it was the application of real air power I've worked daily over the last 8+ years to support, in action right above me.
I had a buddy of mine who flies the F-15C tell me years ago that there's nothing better than flying over a combat zone, knowing your best friends were hanging off each wing, and everyone had each other's back. I've heard similar stories from Soldiers who have gone into combat, confident that their friends were all there with them, watching their backs. Yesterday I watched one Navy and two Air Force pilots working together, each covering each other's back, helping one another to provide Close Air Support to the Army on the ground.
Air Force, Navy, and Army working together. It's taken dozens of years, billions of dollars, and countless lives to finally perfect this working relationship, yet here it was on display.
It doesn't get much better than that.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Good News from Iraq You're Not Supposed to Know
- U.S. military deaths in Iraq fell.
- Civilian deaths also have plunged.
- Ramadan in Iraq was accompanied by a 40% drop in violence.
- Speaking of al-Qaida, the terrorist group appears to be on the run.
- U.S. troops have killed Abu Usama al-Tunisi.
- Last month, 1,200 Iraqis waited to sign up to fight al-Qaida.
- Five million Iraqi children returned to school last week.
Go here to read the details.
- On my front, the Iraqi Air Force Flight Training School started it's first class on 1 October, and they're all eager to get in the air and join the fight.