Monday, October 31, 2005

Press passes to Muhammed Ali Center grand opening?

Louisville will be opening the doors to the new Muhammed Ali Center in a "gala event" scheduled over Nov. 18-19. I've applied for press credentials, and if I get them, I'll be able to rub elbows with celebrity guests including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Angelina Jolie, and B.B. King.

I've also got passes to the Nov. 26 Syracuse at University of Louisville NCAA football game. That's always a hoot, even if the visiting teams have generally been vastly out-matched by U of L's squad. Last year, the Cardinals walloped the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats 70-7. By the third quarter, the stands of Papa John's Cardinals Stadium had pretty much been vacated, and Louisville had their third- and fourth-string offense out on the field.

I was comfortably esconsed high above the rotten weather in the plush press-box, sitting behind a window over the 50-yard line, sipping coffee and licking mashed potatoes and gravy off of plastic flatware while girls in red Cardinals polo shirts handed out up-to-the-minute game stats. There was pretty much nothing for me to do or write down.

Ahh. The life of a sports writer is tough, huh?


Friday, October 28, 2005

Attention, passengers.... weekend ahead.

Notes from last night's football game

Last night I drove to Greensburg, Kentucky, to watch the final game of the season for the Fort Knox Eagles high school football team. To give you an idea of how I keep notes, here's what I wrote over the course of the game.

Knox @ Green County

Last football game of the season... some teams will advance to the ditrict & regional playoffs, but not the hapless Fort Knox Eagles. Winless up through tonight, Fort Knox has suffered from a distinct lack of experience.

Scoring - Dezmond Larkins 1st Q
Extra point blocked 6-0

1 INT caught by F.K., 1st Quarter

Eagles made it to 1st & Goal on the 3 yd line by the end of the Quarter.

Larkins runs in for 12-0
2-point conversion Good, 14-0

Green County scores at 5:34, 14-6
Illegal procedure on PAT, -5 yds
PAT Good, ------------> 14-7

Knox is having trouble stopping QB Keeper

Both teams are keeping the ball on the ground; stats should reflect that. D. Larkins

FK scores, 3:23, 2nd Q
PAT good, 21-7

Sack! Fort Knox sacks GC QB, 0:18.2 left in Q

At the half: F.K. 21, G.C. 7

2nd Half

X. Bacon 1-yd Run for TD -- PAT good, 28-7

3rd Q.

3:33 G.C. Scores, PAT Missed, 28-13

Kick returned to the 50, 1st & 10

Meno - Lots of passing! Larkins -- 200 yds? <-- Close, anyway. GET STAT

1:58 - Meno pass complete to X. Bacon,
PAT Good, 35-13

Troy Meno - Sacks

End of 3rd: 35-13

Who's Hot Tonight:

Dezmond Larkins
Troy Meno
Xavier Bacon

-- Good Stuff: 2 Point Conversion. Loads of sacks. INT

Meno pass to Frye complete for a 78-yard touch down! <--- 1st play of the
4th Quarter
Ryan Ogden PAT good, 42-13

Strange to watch a team that had faltered on the turn of a dime against much larger (physically & numerically) suddenly pull everything together and execute...

Dragons are resorting to Raiders tactics -- 2
personal fouls on the kick return, 15 yd. penalty.

My editor told me today that Green Co. has always played dirty... and if I were from here, I probably would, too... This place is like Plato's Ideal Form of Redneckville.

Another 10-yard penalty against the Dragons. I've got to ask the coach what specifically these fouls were called for.

X. Bacon sacks GC QB Edwards. <--- Double Check

Another stop in the backfield, and a penalty against the Dragons.

Illegal Block, 10 yd penalty, declined by the Eagles, 3rd with 20 to go.

Pass is complete, but the reciever's stopped before he can make it to the original line of scrimmage.

4th & long, they go for it, pass incomplete.

FK takes over on downs.

Another 1st down for Larkins. <-- Idol could be Jerome Bettis?

4th & 2 for the Eagles...
play conservatively? NO!

Pitch to Larkins, who picks up another 1st Down with a 6-7 yd gain!

Illegal procedure vs. Eagles. 1/15

Smart coaching runs down the clock now, keeping the ball on the ground...

Which means, of course, that Meno passes just as I finished writing that.

---> Two in a row intended for Gavin Moore. No good, 4th & 16.

Holy shit. Gavin Moore runs the ball for at least 20 yards.

--> Unsportsmanlike conduct vs. the Dragons.
1/2 distance to the goal. 1st & Goal, 4 yds to go.

Touchdown, Eagles. Moore with the 1 yd. carry.

PAT Blocked! Still -- it's 48-13. Who cares? For the first time this year, Knox logs a win.

4:05 left to go.


Green County would go on to score one more touchdown and fail on an attempt for two extra points. I made it home around 11:30.


Guess who sucks? Senators!

Check this out:

The Federal facility located at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, Mississippi, and known as the "Southern Horticultural Laboratory", shall be known and designated as the "Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory": Provided, That any reference in law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to such Federal facility shall be deemed to be a reference to the "Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory".

Thad Cochran, if you aren't aware, is a Republican senator from Mississippi. More importantly, he is a member of the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee and the chairman of the overall Appropriations Committee. Ergo, he had to have named the building after himself. Or some other senator could have done it instead in an shameless effort to suck up to him. [Link]

God, our leaders can really suck, huh?

Hat tip -- as if he needs one from me -- goes to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.


Sports Commentary - Who's using performance enhancers?

Yes, I am a lazy-ass topical blogger. So what?

Actually, I feel pretty guilty for having neglected this thing as of late. If my blog was a plant, all its leaves would be brown and shrivelled. Come to think of it, that's pretty much exactly what's happened to every plant I've ever been "responsible" for.

Anyway, in the spirit of that laziness, here's the column I did for the Turret this week. It's a little stale, but there were some fun parts.

Who's using

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

Ever since I started seeing television commercials for things like milk, eggs, water, and pork, they've struck me as slightly weird. I mean, where's the competition for selling eggs?

The reason we see these advertisements, I suppose, is to "raise public awareness" of the nutritional benefits of eating or drinking these things. Recently, however, the famous "Got Milk?" advertising campaign crossed into a gray area.

California's Milk Processor Board, which is in charge of the advertisements for milk in the state, produced an ad in the series that depicted a baseball player being pulled out of a game for "testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance." In the locker room, his coach pulls a carton of milk out of the player's locker.

Since the World Series is on, it seems that Major League Baseball's business director Tim Brosnan has nothing better to do than get huffy about someone poking a bit of fun at MLB's unshakable bout of steroid abuse.

"There's nothing humorous about steroid abuse," Brosnan told the Associated Press.

Nothing humorous at all? I seriously doubt that. How many jokes have been told in the past year featuring Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, or Rafael Palmeiro as punch-lines? I'm sure I can think of at least 27 of them without too much effort.

Besides, at its core, the milk ad has a positive message -- that milk has the kind of nutritional benefits athletes strive for.

Whether it was consciously done or not, the real joke the milk advertisement made was about language and our collective refusal to use concrete terms when we talk about something that makes us uncomfortable.

Throughout MLB's steroid-abuse controversy, the phrase "performance-enhancing substances" has been tossed around as if it has some kind of specific meaning. It's used primarily to refer to anabolic steroids, the illegal kind players are using to boost muscle growth and, yes, enhance performance.

Consider, however, all the things that could fit into the Venn diagram of "performance enhancing substances." The list includes coffee, eggs, protein, caffeine tablets, sugar, carbohydrates, Wheaties, PowerAde, water, candy bars, corn dogs, legumes, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, ointments, light-weight running shoes, and soft drinks. Each of those things legitimately "enhances" athletic performance in its own way, right? [Ed: Maybe not corn dogs.]

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me to finish all my fish whenever we had that for dinner.

"It's brain-food," she'd say.

I'm sure glad I didn't get busted for that whenever I had a good score on a spelling test in grade school.

"Carrots will help you see in the dark," she'd say.

I don't know if that's true, but it's the only reason I ate carrots when I was little.

The trouble with steroids is they're not carrots or fish -- they're illegal drugs.

MLB should really take care of its own problem of self-parody before it criticizes any commentators on the outside for making light of its steroid issues. Sending Palmeiro (who had endorsed the pharmaceutical Viagra -- was that a red flag, or what?) before a congressional committee to testify that he'd never, ever, ever used a "performance enhancing substance," and then busting him for illegal steroid use, is going to have repercussions. It's a fact of life.

Got milk, Raffy?


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hey, look who's in the news again!

It's Fred Phelps, the "pastor" of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. According to the Sky Report, he's been praising the work of the London terrorists:

"Oh, I am so thankful that happened. My only regret is that they didn't kill about [a] million of them. England deserves that kind of punishment, as does this country (America)."

Phelps, as many of you undoubtedly know, has been organizing picketing at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, based on his presumption that the military is filled with "fags."

I used to think this guy was serious, but as it turns out, the whole Day-Glo placard deal is an act to cover an effort to bait people into starting fights with picketers. Phelps' wife, apparently, is an attorney of the "HAVE YOU BEEN INJURED? CALL NOW" variety, and they aim to sue those they piss off for assault.

You can read more of Phelps' firey neofascist invective here at his insane website. He's very excited, it seems, by natural disasters like the Sumatran tsunami and the recent hurricanes.

If the earth is ever hit by a comet or asteroid, I'm willing to bet that it lands somewhere in Topeka.


Column scratch-pad

Tuesdays can be frustrating. Sure, there's lots to do on a deadline day for a weekly, but the most difficult part, I've found, is coming up with something topical to write a column about.

Here are the options, as I see them:

- The NFL, which I've already written a lot about. I'd like to avoid this if possible.
- The World Series, which I haven't really written about at all (except as a lead-in to the soccer column).
- College football, which I really haven't been following.

Either football option requires me to make a further decision - which game or team or conference to write about. I'm not writing another Steelers column yet, since that would really be me projecting my fandom into the newspaper, and that's not appropriate. Maybe something on Brett Favre and how he should be looking into the AARP? I could maybe tie something together between him and the 93-year-old who drove three miles with a body sticking through the windshield of his car.

Another option, I suppose, would be talking about the criticism I got this past Friday at the Fort Knox Eagles football game in Campbellsville. A parent told me that he'd like to see, "just once, a positive headline in the Turret on the football team."

I was pretty indignant, but I shut up until he'd made his point. He figured that the kids on the football team aren't pros, and that they need all the encouragement they can get. Seeing "negative headlines" doesn't help, he said.

For the record, last week's "negative headline" read "Knox drops in 5 OTs," and I told the parent that I thought that was pretty damn positive for a team who'd gone winless all season. I also pointed out that I'd defended the Eagles against editorial cheerleaders for the Elizabethtown Panthers and the Fort Campbell Falcons in a remarkably positive column earlier in the season headlined "Knox rivals overstating their wins:"

Elizabethtown's win [against Knox] could well have been a loss if a passing play called by Knox in the final minutes of the game had been a kick instead. With a fresh set of downs at the four-yard line, Knox quarterback Troy Meno threw into the end zone and wound up with a pick instead of a touchdown.

An easier call for Knox that night might have been to kick a short field goal instead of relying on a questionable pass.

But hey, I'm not the coach. All I'm saying is that the Panthers' win didn't exactly come in a rout, and certainly isn't much of a springboard to use going into the rest of their district schedule -- not with heavy-hitters LaRue County and Louisville Western still on their schedule, and an earlier savage beating by Central Hardin still shadowing them.

The Eagles, while young, have shown themselves to be a tenacious team. They drew first blood at Fort Campbell with a field goal by kicker Ryan Ogden, and nearly reversed the tide of the Elizabethtown game after a strong second quarter and a near-win in the fourth. They barely lost their season opener to Class 4-A Oldham County.
So one part of me really wants to write a column defending my editorial practices in the sports section. The problem is, there are already people in the community who are perpetually whining that more coverage isn't given to the niche teams at the high school -- wrestling and volleyball, for instance. Others whine about how the middle school girls' basketball team hasn't made the paper. And the parents on the baseball team insist that the Turret doesn't cover baseball regardless of the number of stories that appear on the front page of the Sports section. Stirring the pot can be fun sometimes, but right now I'm just tired of the griping.

But who knows. It might be a good idea to write something specifying how it isn't the Turret's job to act as cheerleader for the football team or any athletics program on post, only to report on what's happened. The idea's worth mulling over.

Meanwhile, the editorial pages of all the newspapers around are full of commentary on the Judith Miller fiasco. I'll try to post something on that later after I've read up on the subject.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bengals neutered

Welcome to Steelers Nation, ladies and gentlemen, where the order of the day is ritualistic stompings of teams whose heads have grown too large to fit into their striped helmets. It was a cold, rainy day in Cincinnati, perfect weather for the chain-smoking and binge drinking that must have assuredly followed Pittsburgh's 27-13 win over the much-hyped Bengals.

Now, posturing aside, I was sorry to see quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally have his streak of no interceptions broken. I was a little taken aback by Hines Ward's posturing. He's known as the guy who's always smiling, and there were points in this afternoon's game -- after a rather ridiculous penalty call, for instance -- where he looked positively grouchy.

But who cares? Two Sundays ago, I was nearly at the point of myocardial infarction when Big Ben went down after a gruesome hit that looked like it had popped his ACL/MCL. Then last week, the team dusted off Tommy Maddox to fill in for Ben, which, as we all know, was disastrous. But Roethlisberger's back in the starting slot, and thank God... it just goes to show that a team that plays great fundamental, smash-mouth football does indeed need a competent quarterback, and Ben's the man for that role. I'm petitioning EA Games to have Tommy Maddox modeled in a wheelchair for next year's Madden NFL title.

I watched the game at the Applebee's off-post, and at several points during the game made a pretty sizeable fool out of myself. It's easy to forget that you're in a "family-oriented restaurant" when you're slightly hungover and watching a crucial division rivalry game over a couple Bloody Marys.

But it all worked out beautifully, and now I'm happily sipping merlot and looking through the AP photo wire from the game. The Bengals have been put back into their place, and Pittsburgh is set to take the division title. Life, as they say, is good.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

George Carlin New Orleans rant = Bullshit

George Carlin (and, apparently, New Orleans musician Bill Boudreaux) has been attributed with this rant on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

Subject: George Carlin on New Orleans

Been sitting here with my ass in a wad, wanting to speak out about the bullshit going on in New Orleans. For the people of New Orleans... First we would like to say, Sorry for your loss. With that said, Lets go through a few hurricane rules: (Unlike an earthquake, we know it's coming)

#1. A mandatory evacuation means just that..Get the hell out. Don't blame the Government after they tell you to go. If they hadn't said anything, I can see the argument. They said get out... if you didn't, it's your fault, not theirs. (We don't want to hear it, even if you don't have a car, you can get out.)

#2. If there is an emergency, stock up on water and non perishables. If you didn't do this, it's not the Government's fault you're starving.

#2a. If you run out of food and water, find a store that has some. (Remember, shoes, TV's, DVD's and CD's are not edible. Leave them alone.)

#2b. If the local store has been looted of food or water, leave your neighbor's TV and stereo alone. (See # 2a) They worked hard to get their stuff. Just because they were smart enough to leave during a mandatory evacuation, doesn't give you the right to take their's theirs, not yours.

#3. If someone comes in to help you, don't shoot at them and then complain no one is helping you. I'm not getting shot to help save some dumb ass who didn't leave when told to do so.

#4. If you are in your house that is completely under water, your belongings are probably too far gone for anyone to want them. If someone does want them, let them have them and hopefully they'll die in the filth. Just leave!

(It's New Orleans, find a voodoo warrior and put a curse on them)

#5. My tax money should not pay to rebuild a 2 million dollar house, a sports stadium or a floating casino. Also, my tax money shouldn't go to rebuild a city that is under sea level. You wouldn't build your house on quicksand would you? You want to live below sea-level, do your country some good and join the Navy.

#6. Regardless of what the Poverty Pimps Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton want you to believe, The US Government didn't create the Hurricane as a way to eradicate the black people of New Orleans; (Neither did Russia as a way to destroy America). The US Government didn't cause global warming that caused the hurricane (We've been coming out of an ice age for over a million years).

#7. The government isn't responsible for giving you anything. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but you gotta work for what you want. McDonalds and Wal-Mart are always hiring, get a damn job and stop spooning off the people who are actually working for a living. President Kennedy said it best..."Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Thank you for allowing me to rant.

Anyone familiar with Carlin's material ("Hey, isn't it time we went and bombed some brown people?") will probably realize that the stridently anti-government comedian most likely had nothing to do with this screed, but if you're wondering, check out this and this. Seems as if this is a big hoax, regardless of how you feel about the material.

In response to other anonymous rants falsely attributed to him, Carlin once wrote: "Nothing you see on the Internet is mine unless it came from one of my albums, books, HBO shows, or appeared on my Web site... I want people to know that I take care with my writing, and try to keep my standards high. But most of this 'humor' on the Internet is just plain stupid."

Usually, that's pretty true -- except when he gets petulant and shrill about his political complaints, I'd say Carlin is probably one of the best. See his "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television" bit if you aren't convinced.


Friday, October 21, 2005

93-year-old driver goes three miles with body through windshield

Holy. Crap.

93-year-old drove 3 miles with body through windshield. (USA Today)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Time for new boots

I determined today that I need to buy a new pair of combat boots. The ones I'm wearing now, a pair of Corcoran IIs, have been with me for more than two years now. I bought them on sale at my home town Army-Navy surplus store before I left for Korea, and the right upper is coming away from the sole in one spot. There are two deep scuffs on the toe of the left that I can't seem to get out no matter how much polish I melt into them, and there's a concertina-wire gouge on the top of the right one. There's also a hole developing near one of the seams on one, and the treads have been worn down thin.

It's a little sad, since I've really liked these boots. I tramped around rice paddies and training areas in 2ID-land for a year in them, and they're easy -- well, they were easy -- to shine.

The thing is, I'm not sure which ones I should get now. I've never really been all that crazy about the "Jungle Boots" (or "hot-weather" versions). I like the look of the jump boot style, but the basic jumps have a flat tread on them, and that's no good. I can just picture myself busting my ass the first time it rains and I have to go and take pictures of tanks in the mud.

Tanker boots are out, of course.

The Corcorans they have at U.S. Cavalry are something like $129.99, though. That's a bit on the steep side... but I suppose if they last another two years, it's a worthwhile investment.

Anybody out there in MilBlog land have a recommendation? Please don't say the basic issue boots. Those are like leather socks and I hate them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

CENTCOM condemns desecration of bodies, says investigation is forthcoming

Just got this in an email from CENTCOM:

October 19, 2005
Release Number: 05-10-71



MacDill AFB, FL -- Recent media reports out of Afghanistan have alleged that U.S. forces were involved in an incident involving the desecration of the bodies of deceased enemy combatants.

Under no circumstances does U.S. Central Command condone the desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants. Such actions are contrary to U.S. policy as well as the Geneva Convention.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division has initiated an investigation into the alleged misconduct. Should that investigation uncover actions by U.S. personnel that were contrary to the Geneva Convention and U.S. policy, legal and disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the U.S. Code of Military Justice.




Oct. 20, 2005
Release # 051020-02

U.S. Investigates Allegation of Law of War Violation

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The Army Criminal Investigation Division has initiated an investigation into alleged misconduct by U.S. service members,including the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances.

"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation," said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Commander. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken."

Service members are expected to abide by the highest standards of behavior and the law, he said.

"This command does not condone the mistreatment of enemy combatants or the desecration of their religious and cultural beliefs," Kamiya said.

"This alleged action is repugnant to our common values, is contrary to our commands approved tactical operating procedures, and is not sanctioned by this command. Our efforts to thoroughly investigate this allegation are a reflection of our commitment to the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people."


Milbloggers and friends-of: CENTCOM is requesting widest possible dissemination of this information. You can find it here: Recent CENTCOM News Releases.


UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.

UPDATE: Here's a version of the story from Film rolls as troops burn dead.

In the story, writer Tom Allard says PSYOPS soldiers were taunting the Taliban in a village over a loudspeaker, saying things like "you are cowardly dogs" and "lady-boys."

His conclusion is noteworthy:

The incident is reminiscent of the psychological techniques used in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.


Sports Commentary - Astros lose, Vikings will be vikings

Here's the sports commentary for this week. As you can tell, I couldn't really think of anything specific to talk about. That's why we have bullets, ladies and gentlemen.

Astros lose,
Vikings will
be vikings

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU / Turret Sports Editor

It's hard to focus. Too much is going on, and when that happens, honing in on one subject in particular is tough.

First and foremost, of course, is St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Albert Pujols making Major League Baseball history with his ninth-inning home run hit with two outs, beating the Houston Astros 5-4 in the fifth game of the National League Championship Series Monday. And he hit it off Astros' ace closing pitcher Brad Lidge, often referred to as "the best closer in the game."

Headline writers at are having a field day with this one -- "The Power of Pujols," "Phat Albert," "Fear and loathing in Houston."

For Cardinals fans, this was a moment that is sure to live forever in their collective memory -- it's almost the archetype of "classic moments in baseball."

For the Houston fans gathered in Minute Maid Park, the game was also archetypical, but for them and for Astros fans across the globe (including former Turret staffer Sgt. Christopher Fincham, currently stationed in Yongsan Garrison, Korea), the game was the textbook definition of "heartbreaker."

The Cardinals' victory brought the series back to St. Louis for last night's (Ed: Wednesday) game, which, at the time of this writing, hasn't happened.

- I'm tempted to mention the fact that veteran Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox would do well not to show his face in public in Pittsburgh again until such a time as the Steelers have beaten Cincinnati and his game-busting interception in overtime against Carolina last Sunday is forgotten -- but I won't.

- Instead, we'll look west to the land of 10,000 lakes -- the great state of Minnesota, whose Vikings are doing everything they can to scuttle their own ship.

Nautical metaphors are especially apt, since that's exactly what's gotten the Vikings into the hot water they're currently treading. During the team's bye week, it seems, players and guests chartered a pair of cruise ships to head out onto one of Minnesota's many lakes.

So far, so good, right?

However, they returned to port hours ahead of schedule, and the crew of the boat complained of drunkenness and indecent acts on the part of the 90 guests, Vikings players included.

No word yet as to whether the rowdy Vikings aboard the cruise participated in any pillaging, looting, or arson in the local countryside. Who knows, though -- the team might just be trying to live up to the legacy of its namesake.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said the team is adopting a new code of conduct that demands "high standards, high morals, and success," according to ESPN.

These are three things that, despite preseason predictions forecasting the greatness of quarterback Daunte Culpepper (who was allegedly aboard the sinful ship) and the Vikings' all-but-guaranteed trip to the playoffs, have eluded Minnesota so far this season, which now finds the team at 1-4 and at the bottom of the NFC North. That easily puts it into the running for the worst team in the entire League.

- In another heartbreaker this week past, the Fort Knox Eagles lost 51-50 in quintuple overtime to Kentucky Country Day Friday night. Unfortunately, the loss boots the teams from a chance at the playoffs. The Eagles have two more regular season games -- tomorrow night at Campbellsville (kickoff at 7:30 p.m.) and Oct. 28 at Green County (kickoff at 6:30 p.m.).

- Finally, I'd like to thank Staff Sgt. Mike Johnson for stopping by the Turret office for a photograph to complete our Picks-4-Kicks feature. We'll all miss the question mark, of course, but it's nice to put a face with the name -- literally, in this case.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Big Trouble in Little Arizona (Or, insert the name of your own southern border state)

Uh oh... this is bound to cause a real shit-storm: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff doesn't care about Mexican people.

Wait, that's not exactly what he said. But that's what you'll be reading in the next 24 hours, I swear.

Basically, Chertoff's position (from a quick headline/blogwire parsing) is that we should deport all the illegal immigrants in the United States.

It's funny to watch how terminology changes, I might add. It looks like folks are really working hard to avoid the term "illegal immigrant." The preferred term, I'm gathering, is "undocumented worker."


UPDATE: It seems, after reading through Michelle Malkin's links, that Chertoff isn't actually after all illegal immigrants. Just the new "OTMs" caught at the border. Story is here.

UPDATE: Here's the Drudge story link, which apparently started much of the ruckus.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I need help

... figuring out what the deal with Harriet Meirs is.

Here's what I know:

1) She's a lawyer who's spent no prior time on the judicial bench.
2) She's nominated to sit on the highest bench there is in this country (i.e., the Supreme Court, a.k.a. the power-mad robber barons of Massachusetts)
3) She's been nominated by Bush for three main reasons: 3a., she's a woman; 3b., she's an "Evangelical Christian;" and 3c., he admires her "character."

That's it, I haven't figured anything else out yet, other than the fact that pretty much everyone thinks nominating her was a rotten idea.

Without getting into the issue itself, at least here, I find the fact that so many people are nervous about her stance on abortion to be confusing. There are whispers -- loud ones -- in the air that if confirmed, she'll help overturn Roe vs. Wade, and the hint of that possibility inspires both groundless hopes from the pro-life movement and bitter shrieks of dismay from the pro-abortion side. I don't get it, because I can't see that happening -- abortion is too entrenched in American society at the moment for it to become banned, and every politician knows that. It's the same reason we won't have a draft any time soon, despite flagging recruiting numbers... no congressman wants his name to be the one on the bill first suggesting a change to either policy -- abortion or voluntary military service.

One thing that is clear to me is the ever-deepening divide between our two political parties. This is playing out like a very protracted and boring season of Ultimate Fighter, just without the clear winner at the end of each bloody cage-match.

And let's be honest. Right now, it would be great to see Tom DeLay get his teeth punched in by, oh, let's say Arnold Schwarzenegger, just because he's big and was in The Predator.

On another note entirely, has anyone caught anybody suggesting that the Bush administration caused the earthquake in Pakistan? I was just about to head over to the Democratic Underground to see if I could find a reference to that before the site moderators thought better of having it up there.

Just in case the earth really is falling apart, I picked up some special bottles of booze at our post Class 6 over the weekend. The only other thing I need is a seat with a good view when it happens.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Three New CDs

I bought three CDs on my trip up to Louisville for a football game tonight:

"The Moon and Antarctica," Modest Mouse.

These guys rock. A friend of mine turned me on to Modest Mouse a while back, and so far I've dug just about everything I've heard.

"Greatest Hits," Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Out of nowhere one day years ago, Dad picked this record up, and I dug it. It's some great classic brass-section rock, and the first three tracks kick it.

"Famous Monsters," the Misfits.

I don't know how to describe this one. It's a Michale Graves-era Misfits record, and seriously I think I prefer his vocals to Glen Danzig's. That's probably something like saying you prefer Sammy Hagar to David Lee Roth, but hey, there's no accounting for preference.

This record opens with "Kong at the Gates / The Forbidden Zone," and you can guess where it goes from there. We are the Fiend Club, baby.

That's all from me for now. Enjoy the weekend, humans.


Turret: Incoming Chief of Armor brings experience, motivation

Hooray! Another magazine-format interview with a two-star. This is with the incoming Knox commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Williams.

Williams brings experience,
motivation to role as CG

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret staff writer

Maj. Gen. Robert Williams succeeded Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker yesterday as commander of the U.S. Army Armor School and Fort Knox.

Prior to arriving at Knox, Williams served as commander of the 7th Army Training Command, and most recently as the deputy chief of staff, G-3, for the U. S. Army Europe and Seventh Army in Germany.

Williams sat for his first interview with the Turret Tuesday afternoon.

What experience do you bring to the job of commander of Fort Knox and the Army's chief of armor?

Thirty-one years of experience as a Soldier. During that time, I've had a lot of operational assignments.

I've served in the continental U.S. in multiple locations. I've served in Europe in multiple locations, and in the Middle East.

I've commanded two combat training centers -- the (Battle Command Training Program) for TRADOC in 2000 and the (Combat Maneuver Training Center) for almost two years, starting in 2002.

I've commanded armor units at every level, from platoon all the way up to brigade, and I served as an assistant division commander for the 1st Infantry Division. Additionally, I was the commander of 7th (Army Training Command in Germany).

So, with that background, I've been around for a few years. I think I'm ready to take on Fort Knox, the Armor Center, the Armor School, and the chief of armor's role.

I'm pretty excited about it, too.

As an armor officer, you've spent time at Knox before. When was your last assignment here?

My last assignment here was as a second lieutenant at the Armor Officer Basic Course, but I did not attend the Armor Officer Advanced Course. The writing was really on the wall already that we would operate as combined arms teams in the future.

As I left here as a young lieutenant, Gen. (Donn) Starry (former Fort Knox commander) was in command, and he was already sending a major message to the Army that we had to work as a combined arms team.

So I went off to the Artillery Advanced Course, which was probably a good decision in retrospect, because it prepared me for the levels of command that I had afterward. Everywhere I went, and everywhere I've been as a commander, we've worked as a combined arms team.

I have been back (to Knox) for conferences, and I've attended the pre-command course every time I've taken on a battalion or brigade, so over the years I have been back to Fort Knox, and I've seen Fort Knox evolve over the years quite a bit.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

My wife and I are second-generation military family members. We both grew up as "brats." My wife is the daughter of a retired sergeant major, and I'm the son of a retired colonel.

We've lived all over and we've enjoyed this wonderful life -- it's really the only life we've ever known.

I married Debbie in 1974 after I completed the Basic Course. We have two wonderful children. Our 16-year-old son, Travis, is attending high school at Fort Knox, and I have a 20-year-old daughter, Megan, in college in Florida.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

In my last job as the desk officer at U. S. Army Europe, I had a hard time finding balance. But I love all forms of motorsports. I used to play golf -- and I intend to take the hobby back up again.

This last week, as the Patton (Museum) Foundation came in, I discovered that I'd really lost my shooting skills at the trap and skeet range, and I hope to improve those while I'm here.

As you assume command, what do you see as priority number one?

Very easy answer: Our priority here is to train Soldiers and leaders for our Army.

As we all know, we're at war, and that has to be our number one priority. We must not fail the nation in providing great tankers and great troopers for our recon units to take on the global war on terrorism.

Very close to that, my second priority, because of the war, is taking care of Soldiers' families and the civilians that are part of this great community. That means their quality of life, that means their safety.

We talked about training, which is probably number one: we must make sure our Soldiers are trained and ready to prosecute this war.

You're taking command of Fort Knox at a time of major changes. Base Realignment and Closure and the Army's Transformation are affecting Fort Knox as well. What do you think of Fort Knox's changing mission?

First off, the BRAC decision is not final, so for any comments I make regarding BRAC, we should keep that in mind.

I think it's prudent for us to plan, and we have already begun our planning effort for the numerous changes that will take place. The Army leadership has been clear: Fort Knox will take on a new role, an important role in the future.

My number one job while I'm here -- next to taking care of Soldiers, families, and civilians -- is to begin a plan to implement BRAC if it's approved.

For many years we have talked about bringing the training of our armor force and our infantry force together.

As a young second lieutenant, I remember talking in the Officers Club with my fellow lieutenants, and we questioned why we didn't train our armor and infantry together, given the new call for combined arms.

It's been a standard banner for the United States Army to train as you fight, and so, intellectually, we've wanted to do this for as long as I've been in the Army. My task is to do that in such a way that five to 10 years from now we're going to look back, and we're going to say we not only did it right, but that it was the right thing to do.

Fort Knox also has a role in the local community. What do you identify that role as being? Also, how can Fort Knox help Radcliff and the other local communities thrive as these changes take place?

Anywhere you go in the Army, our posts are part of the community, and vice-versa. The community certainly takes aboard Soldiers, family members, and civilians who work on the post.

For my part, I'm a citizen and a part of the community as well, and I intend to engage our community leaders on a regular basis. I would encourage our Soldiers, whether they live on post or off post, to be a part of the community as well.

As Fort Knox changes, as it grows, we will have to stay close to one another, because we'll both benefit. Fort Knox will certainly benefit from our surrounding communities, particularly in the case of Radcliff and Elizabethtown. But also, they will benefit as well.

So an open dialogue on a regular basis and our very presence as community members and citizens is probably the best way that we can ensure that we grow together in a positive way.

As a leader for the Soldiers and civilians at Fort Knox, what type of manager do you consider yourself to be? What can Fort Knox personnel expect from you as their leader?

I'm neither a micro-manager, nor am I a completely hands-off type of guy. I think it's important that a leader has balance in his life, because he will bring balance to his organization if he does.

I'm capable of very detailed management, but I would like to empower my subordinates. I think that really great organizations -- what I call 'magic units' -- are characterized by leaders at all levels doing their part to get things done.

I think it's also important that you empower people in such a way that they fully understand that they're part of something much bigger than themselves. Really great units, when you look inside them, that's what's going on. Everybody wants to be on that team; everybody wants to participate. Whether it's change or whether it's some new initiatives, they all want to be a part of it.

And that's not hard to do in the United States Army. If you wear this uniform, you know that you're a part of something much bigger than yourself. You can't help but be excited about that.

Who has been the greatest inspiration for you? What do you consider to be your guiding principle?

I've been blessed with a whole host of great mentors over my lifetime.

My father, who was a Soldier for 33 years, was inspirational to me. He fought in three wars, and he lived what you and I understand are the Army Values. He was part of the "Greatest Generation," and growing up the son of a fighter pilot has an impact on you. I would say he's had the most impact on me, along with my mother.

I've already mentioned (as a guiding principle) that you empower your subordinates. Allow them to do their job so you can do yours. That's important to me in this job.

I have many constituents that I'll have to deal with and I will have many challenges in the future. The Army is dealing with a time of enormous change, and so my time has to be spent in the appropriate places. I can't squander it, and I'll need people to do their jobs so I can do mine.

From everything I've seen, I've got a great team to do that with at Fort Knox right now. General Tucker has set me up for terrific success in that regard.

What is your vision for the future of the mounted force, and how will the role and importance of armor change in the future?

As I said earler, there's enormous change taking place in the Army right now, and we are seeing that change, to a large degree, driven by wartime conditions. The M1 Abrams and the Bradley will be with us for many years.

Quite frankly, the Abrams has shown itself to be the premiere weapons system, even in an urban environment. If you want to quiet a neighborhood in Iraq, park a couple Abrams in it. It has an enormous psychological effect, and of course we know its lethality is unmatched on the battlefield today.

Having said that, I hope to make progress in the future on the (Future Combat System). I hope the Army makes progress on that. We would like to have a platform that's lighter, more agile, and more easily maintainable as a family of vehicles. And of course, we also want it to be just as safe and just as lethal as the Abrams.

That's a real technological challenge which the Army's been working on for some time, and continues to work on.

From a structure standpoint, we're going to see the armor force move from a tank-centric to a reconnaissance-centric force. A larger percentage of the force will be dedicated to what we know as the 19D (Career Management Field) in the future.

So that will bring challenges for us in terms of training n bringing those 19Ks (armor crewmen) over to the 19D (cavalry scout) side of the house, and making sure that they have the transition training necessary to ensure that they're competent and confident there.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I'd like to thank General Tucker and his wife Patti for their great leadership and all that they've done for the armor force, Fort Knox, and the Armor Center.

His contribution has been enormous over the last three years, and we'll miss him a great deal. His legacy is well-entrenched here.


Sort of softball questions, I know. But hey, I'm a specialist, he's a freaking general. And it's his paper I work for. So the playing field wasn't exactly even. Besides, we weren't out to burn the guy anyway.


UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.
UPDATE: Open Post at Soldier's Angel - Holly Aho.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

ACUs aren't holding up

This in today's Early Bird, via Army Times:

Battle Worn
Field report shows ACU isn't
holding up; fixes are on the way

By Matthew Cox and Gordon Trowbridge, Army Times Staff Writer

CAMP STRYKER, Iraq -- The Army Combat Uniform isn't holding up in combat, say soldiers from the first brigade to deploy to Iraq outfitted in the new garb.

The uniform gets high marks from soldiers for its many pockets and cooler, lightweight, wrinkle-free construction. But soldiers from the Georgia National Guard's 48th Brigade, which deployed here in May, said torn seams, ripped fabric and worn-out Velcro fasteners are common with the battle attire.

"The crotches rip apart all the time," said Spc. Tom Parsons, 27, of St. Louis, assigned to the 220th Engineer Company, attached to the 48th Brigade Combat Team.

"Most of the parts that are sewn together are likely to come apart," said the 220th's Pfc. David Bradbury, 25, also of St. Louis. "If this [color pattern] came in the same style as the [Desert Combat Uniform], I think I'd rather have that."

Sgt. 1st Class Gladys Portwine, the supply sergeant overseeing the brigade's uniform, said the ACUs were expected to last six months in a combat environment. But after about five months of wear by the 48th, including a deployment to the National Training Center in California, the Army began shipping replacements.

Army uniform experts first heard about the problems in July and immediately sent an ACU expert to Iraq for a closer inspection of the wear issues, said Lt. Col. John Lemondes, Product Manager Clothing and Individual Equipment.

Since then, the Army has worked with the firms contracted to make the ACU to ensure soldier-identified weak points are fixed for future fielding.

"We have identified the shortcomings, and we have addressed them," Lemondes said in an Oct. 7 interview.

Dave Geringer, assistant product manager for CIE, said the ACUs were issued to the 48th in February and durability has proven to be in line with uniform experts' projections.

The Army's first new combat uniform since the 1980s, the ACU is to replace the woodland-patterned Battle Dress Uniform and the Desert Combat Uniform by 2008.

The fabric in the ACU is the same 50/50 nylon and cotton blend used in the DCU, except for the wrinkle-resistant treatment. The ACU includes 18 major changes from those uniforms, including Velcro attachments for name tapes and patches; more and repositioned pockets; a camouflage pattern made up of tiny pixels designed for all environments; and a light, wrinkle-resistant fabric.

The Army issued about 500,000 sets of ACUs to deploying soldiers, but it's unclear how many of those uniforms will develop similar problems, Geringer said.

Soldiers must rely on sew-shop fixes and replace their uniforms through their unit supply system for now, he said.

Soldiers from the 48th raised several issues -- good and bad -- concerning the new uniform.

They like the wrinkle-resistant material, which holds up even after long days in hot, unpleasant conditions. The redesigned pockets, especially the angled chest pockets and a new pants pocket on the calf, also are popular.

"Short term, it's a great uniform," said Spc. Michael Harrison of the 220th.

Still, durability issues dominate conversations about the uniform. Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, the 48th's commander, calls the ACU "the best uniform I've ever worn," but he concedes durability problems.

"When we got here, we got ahead of the supply chain a little bit," said Rodeheaver, who added that officers have noticed wear on thigh cargo pockets where sidearm holsters rub against the fabric.

"They're just not as durable," said Capt. David Casey, a member of the 48th's training team for Iraqi forces. "A lot of guys have had the crotches ripped."

The crotches rip open along the seam that runs between the bottom of the fly and the seam that runs down the leg, Geringer said.

To mend the problem, manufacturers will use a heavier thread for the seam, increase the amount of folded-under fabric before sewing and adjust stitching placement, Geringer said.

"The result is that we more than doubled the strength of that seam just by making those changes."

Soldiers also have complained about Velcro material wearing out and coming loose, and about patches and other items being knocked off the Velcro when putting on or removing body armor.

Geringer said changes have been made to the Velcro's hook and loop fastener material to upgrade the way the edges are finished to improve durability. Improvements also were made to ensure fasteners don't fade as quickly and will stay attached better under hard use.

"We are listening to soldiers," Geringer said.

Lt. Col. Jeff Edge, commander of the 148th Forward Support Battalion, said he switched from a thigh holster to a shoulder holster to avoid wear on his ACU pockets.

"We've had some durability issues," said Edge, who noted that he nevertheless still prefers the ACU's lighter fabric and easy care.

Casey said some soldiers also have had extra wear and tear in and around built-in pockets for knee and elbow pads.

Despite the problems, Casey said, "There are tons of places to store stuff. And the best thing is, no laundry bill. You can basically roll them up in a ball and they come out fine."

Portwine, the 48th's supply sergeant, said acquiring replacement ACUs initially was a challenge, but the supply system kicked in to replace worn uniforms earlier than planned.
Rodeheaver and 48th Command Sgt. Maj. James Nelson said the Army has paid attention to problems the brigade has discovered, and improvements already have been made to make pockets more durable.

Nelson, who has a monthly conversation with program officials on the uniform and other equipment topics, said he's confident Army officials will fix the uniform.

"The second and third generations will be better," he said. "That's the way uniforms work -- that's the way any of our systems works."


I've been seeing soldiers wearing the new "Advanced Combat Uniform" more and more here at Fort Knox. The other day, one assigned to my unit complained about the cost of unit patches with the Velcro backing.

One of the big sales pitches for the ACU's Velcro patch system was to save soldiers money at the sewing shop. The Velcro would allow for "cheap and easy" placement of unit insignia and eliminate "costly" trips to AAFES and civilian tailor stores.

Well, check this out. U.S. Cavalry, whose headquarters are just outside the gates here, is one of the leading civilian suppliers of military gear, often for lower prices than AAFES.

Here are their prices for one uniform item, the namestrip:

Cotton Name Tapes (sew-on): $13.99 for a set of six.
ACU Cotton Name Tapes (Velcro): $9.99 for a set of three.

For the old sew-on variety, that's about $2.33 per namestrip (not counting, in either case, the cost of embroidering one's name). For the ACU version that's supposed to be saving us so much money, it's $3.33. And when the Velcro doesn't last, the 50 cents you save by not having to sew on the namestrip doesn't add up to much in the long-run.

So what gives? My theory, as far as the Velcro goes, is that it was just a dumb idea that got pushed through because someone important thought it up.

On the other hand, I suppose we won't have to be spending any more money on all that expensive Kiwi and those precious hours shining boots anymore.


UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Smurf village bombed!


From staff and
wire reports

(SMURFLAND, Oct. 11, 2005) -- Smurf Village was bombed into near oblivion today by as-yet-unknown forces, leaving hundreds of residents dead and thousands wounded and homeless.

"This utterly un-Smurf-like attack was completely unexpected," said Smurf Village admistrator Papa Smurf, speaking from a ruined dais in the center of the ravaged town. "We do not yet know who is responsible, but we have reliable intelligence that Gargamel may be behind the attack in some way."

From headquarters in Cybertron, Transformers president Optimus Prime said that this act of agression "will not go unchecked."

"Our intelligence shows a clear connection between the Gargamel/Azrael axis and this unspeakable act of genocide," Prime said in a press conference almost immediately after word of the atrocity hit the airwaves. "No one will be safe unless those responsible are brought to justice."

However, international response to the incident was mixed, particularly over the appropriate response.

"We will assist in any humanitarian relief effort launched to aid our friends in Smurf Land," said Go-Bots prime minister Leader-1. "However, we will use our veto power to vote down any move to initiate military action against Gargamel or Skeletor."

Several factions pledged support to Pres. Prime's promise of swift military action, including the residents of Castle Greyskull.

"By the power of Greyskull, we will follow along with pretty much anything the Transformers do," screamed Adam, hefting his useless sword into a darkening sky.

Greyskull Secretary of Defense Man-at-Arms echoed the administration's stated position, adding, "Battle Cat is fully ready to deploy in support of what is sure to be the Global War on Bad Guys."

An emergency session of the Justice League America has been called, and representatives are currently en route. Secretary General Aquaman held a press conference hours after the bombing.

"We hope to come to a united decision as to how best to deal with the humanitarian disaster in Smurf Land," he said.

Meanwhile, as fires raged in Smurf Village, residents bemoaned the slow international response.

"No one has come to help us feed our people or treat our wounded," village resident Vanity Smurf said. "There was clearly no established plan to deal with an un-Smurf-like disaster such as this. (Federal Disaster Relief Director) Voltron should be sacked immediately!"

A vote on immediate action by the general assembly of the Justice League is expected by Thursday.


UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.

UPDATE: I believe some readers may have been confused if they read the above account without first having seen this story from Belgium. Seriously, they dropped bombs on the Smurfs. I don't make this shit up.

233rd deployment ceremony - photo

Shot during the 233rd Transportation (Heavy Truck) Company's deployment ceremony Sunday night. They're anticipating being in Iraq for "six months or better." It will be the unit's fourth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in two years.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Teeth and Football

Well, it's Sunday once again, and that means it's Pro Football time.

This particular Sunday is a little odd, because it's in the middle of a long federal holiday, and I'm still shaking off the effects of the Percocet I've taken due to recently having all four wisdom teeth removed. I started a post about that harrowing experience (I was fortunate enough to be conscious for the entire procedure), but I haven't gotten around to finishing it off.

Anyway, I suppose that would serve as an excuse for light blogging. There will be more later.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Tucker reflects on accomplishments at Knox, during 33-year career

Here's the story I did on our departing commanding general, Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker.

Tucker reflects on
at Knox, during
33-year career

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Staff Writer

Fort Knox Commander Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker, who will relinquish command of the Armor School and post to Maj. Gen. Robert Williams Wednesday, sat for a final interview Sept. 29 with the Turret.

Turret: How long have you been the commanding general of Fort Knox?

Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker: I got here in the middle of January, 2003, so by the time I leave it'll be almost three years.

What do you think has been the most exciting aspect of your job as the commander of Fort Knox?

There are a lot of things.

The first thing is how we've changed the way we train Soldiers. We don't train Soldiers today in almost any way, shape, or form the way we did it three years ago. We now train Soldiers, sergeants, lieutenants and captains to be prepared to go fight as opposed to join a unit. So that has really been exciting, the way we've made these wholesale, radical changes to the way we train young Soldiers.

The second thing is, and it's been exciting to me, to watch sergeants and young officers, civilians and colonels grow during my tenure here. When given the responsibility and authority to do business to make Fort Knox better and make our communities better, they accomplish the mission easier, quicker, and to a higher standard. So it's been exciting for me to watch Fort Knox leaders do incredible work for the Army.

What was the most unexpected element of your tenure here?

Probably just the realization of the magnitude of the responsibility and the scope of the position. Most people don't really have an understanding of what it is like to run an installation, to be responsible for training on that installation, and to be responsible for developing training for the entire mounted force on and off the installation. There's the doctrine and all the training literature that goes with all that, building the future force, personnel actions for the mounted force, and ... it just goes on.

The second unexpected aspect would probably be the decision to move the Armor Center to Fort Benning. That was certainly unexpected.

If there's a third one, it would be how well the local communities have rallied around the Soldiers and their families at Fort Knox. We've always had a good relationship with our local communities, but what I didn't understand was how important that is and how serious the communities really are about being part of Fort Knox, and letting us be part of their community, and doing things for Soldiers when there's a need.

As the commander of Fort Knox, you've had to deal much more with the local community. How have you adapted to the role of community leader, and what have you learned from that experience?

It's been easy for me to be involved with the local community. That's probably because all of our local communities have worked so hard to be good neighbors to us, and to be supportive of me and Patti.

There are seven communities around Fort Knox that we routinely associate with. When I got here, we did not really have much of a relationship with Louisville. It wasn't a bad relationship; we just didn't have much of a relationship. One of my objectives here has been to build a relationship with the City of Louisville, and to extend that as far as Lexington. And we've had some success with that. Look at what the Louisville Bats do for Soldiers and their families, along with the University of Louisville football and basketball athletics departments, the Parrish House, and a dozen other organizations in Louisville that actively look for ways to support Fort Knox Soldiers and families.

Just recently, because of the work we've done with the University of Kentucky in Lexington, we took nearly 5,000 Soldiers, family members, and retirees from the Fort Knox community to a football game in Lexington, as their guests.
So we're trying to be better neighbors and partners in the communities of Louisville and Lexington.

Radcliff cares about Fort Knox, our Soldiers and families. I am very happy with Fort Knox being part of the Radcliff community, and with the relationship we have together. Down the road, when the Armor Center departs, and the Human Resources Command, Accessions Command, a combat brigade, and other organizations come in here, there's a great opportunity for the relationship between Fort Knox and Radcliff to even grow stronger.

I suggest that Radcliff figure out what they want Radcliff to be 10 years from now, and then develop the strategy to bring Fort Knox along to fit into their strategy.
Radcliff is a great place to raise kids, build a small business, and a place to come to and stay if you want to be a part of Middle America.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments during your command of Fort Knox?

We've accomplished a lot in the past three years. I'm not sure that they're my accomplishments, but Fort Knox certainly has done a lot.

I mentioned earlier how we changed the way we train Soldiers. The fact is, we changed not only the way we train Soldiers at Fort Knox, but we changed the way Soldiers are trained all across the Army. All of TRADOC now trains Soldiers the way we train Soldiers at Fort Knox.
When the Chief of Staff of the Army and TRADOC commander decided two years ago to change the way we train, they asked us to do the pilot here at the 1st Armor Training Brigade. So we have radically altered the way we train Soldiers and leaders for the entire Army. And, I'll tell you, that's a major accomplishment.

But we have to be careful, because this isn't the first time we've done this. Every time we have a war, we realize that we have to change the way we train to prepare Soldiers to go fight that war. When the war is over, we then seem to regress to training an Army for peacetime. We did it after World War II, after Korea, after Vietnam, and we did it after Desert Storm. Our challenge for the future will be to not learn that lesson again after this war is won.

The other big accomplishment I'd suggest to you is that the Garrison command and staff that we have at Fort Knox is better than most installations around.
When I came back to Fort Knox as the deputy commanding general in the summer of 2000, having been away from Fort Knox for a few years, I looked around and saw that Fort Knox did not look the way I remembered it. I can remember when Fort Knox was a showplace in the Army. When I visited in 2002 , Fort Knox, like most Army installations, had been neglected for a while. It wasn't maintained as well as it had been in the past.

When I had an opportunity to come back in January of 2003, one of my goals was to make Fort Knox look like what I thought an Army post ought to look like. Now, when I walk around or I drive around Fort Knox, I'm pretty happy with the way it looks. There's still a lot of work to do, but in the last two years our Garrison and IMA have made Fort Knox look the way it does today. It's in better condition than it was two years ago.

Another major accomplishment has been the work we've done on the Abrams tank and the Bradley IFV in the last couple years. A few years ago, the Army decided it didn't need tanks anymore. And then we had a war, and the Army realized that you can't fight a war without an armored force. And so, since the Iraqi Freedom fight, we have recognized the value of the mounted force. That's allowed us to commit to determining how we can better maintain the Abrams and Bradley while also improving their lethality and survivability for the future.

A year and a half ago, I made a decision about our Abrams tanks. Currently, we have nine different versions of Abrams in the field, and some of them can't even operate together. I told Army leadership that we couldn't afford to have nine versions of Abrams tanks in the Army forever. We needed to have two versions.
A lot of hard work was done between the Abrams TRADOC Systems Manager and our Training Doctrine, Combat Development Directorate on post, TRADOC and the Department of the Army people.

We now have an Army decision to go to two tank variants. It's going to take us a bit longer than I'd like. It's going to take us five or six years to get there, but we will get there. We have begun to do the same thing with the Bradley fleet.
The Abrams and Bradley will carry us into the future to operate alongside the Future Combat Systems. They must be compatable.

What would you have liked to accomplish, but for one or another reason -- time, money, etcetera -- you weren't able to?

We don't have time for me to tell you all the things that we didn't get accomplished! There were a lot of things that we got started and just didn't get finished, and there were lots of things that I'd like to have done but never got started.

Let me give you a few examples. We need to change the organization, structure and the way we do reconnaissance for our Army. We've gotten that started, but we haven't come to a resolution. We don't have a dedicated reconnaissance vehicle in the Army today. We need one, and we're going to need one more in the future.
I would like to have figured out what the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning will look like before I left. I would like to have figured out what Fort Knox will look like five years from now -- there are a lot of people right now working to try to figure that out. I would like to have brought that some resolution before I got out of here, but there's work left undone.

The Army is in the process of a major transition, and Fort Knox has been touched and affected by many of the changes that are a part of this. Where do you see Fort Knox and the Armor branch going in the future?

The Army is now beginning to realize again that the mounted force offers more than just armor and cavalry. There is a growing realization that the mounted force is the most versatile force we can put into any operational environment, whether it's combat, humanitarian relief, or nation building. The mounted force gives us the opportunity to cover the entire spectrum of operations, from full-scale combat to passing out water and MREs.
The mounted force has the ability to operate mounted and dismounted. And today, in Iraq, we're doing both. As tankers, we have mounted warriors today in Iraq who are fighting on tanks in the morning and walking patrols in the city in the afternoon. There's no other force in the Army that has the agility and the versatility to do the kinds of things that the mounted force does routinely, and does very well. I think the Army is beginning to recognize that fact. That's been something we've worked real hard at.

Where is Fort Knox headed? You know, the President has signed and sent the BRAC recommendations to Congress, and my assumption is that Congress will agree with the President's recommendation. Then we'll go ahead with the execution part.

So over the next six or eight years, we will radically change Fort Knox. We will change what it looks like, how it operates, and what its priorities and missions are. The Home of Armor is not just Fort Knox. Downtown Radcliff and Elizabethtown, and the communities around us, that's the Home of Armor, because that's where thousands of retired Fort Knox Soldiers and civilians have elected to live.

Over time, that's going to change. As we transition Fort Knox from being the Home of Armor to the home of the Human Resources Command or Accessions Command, we're going to see not just Fort Knox, but the local communities change as a result.

At the same time, Fort Knox is going to be an operational Army installation. We're going to have a light infantry brigade, and combat service support units here, and more National Guard and Army Reserve. So we're going to keep that combat arms mentality. But both the makeup of Fort Knox and our local communities will change.

It's a positive change. I've said several times, once you get beyond the emotionalism of the Armor Center leaving, the BRAC decisions will be an incredible economic boon for this community.

As a brand-new lieutenant, where did you see yourself going then? What would you have thought then if someone had told you that you'd one day take command of Fort Knox?

I was raised on a West Virginia dirt farm. There is such a thing, by the way. I'm the only member of my family to graduate from college. My parents could have probably scraped to come up with enough money to get me through college. But I ended up going to college because the Army offered me a scholarship. And I accepted that Army scholarship as a way to get an education.

I came in the Army with the aspirations of serving the Army for four years to pay back the education they'd helped me get, and then I was going to get out of the Army and go do something else.
I joined the Army at Fort Knox, and I can remember standing in the middle of Sadowski Field House when I signed into the Army on a Monday morning, about three paces to the left of where I took command of Fort Knox nearly 31 years later. If somebody had suggested to me in May of 1972, when I signed into the Army at Fort Knox, that I'd come back to that same building and take command of this outfit, I and everybody around me would have had a good chuckle.

After I went to the (Armor) Basic Course my first assignment was as a typical platoon leader in Germany. I realized I liked it. It was exciting, it was interesting, it was educational. Patti and I got to travel and see a lot of Europe. We didn't make a whole lot of money, but neither did anybody else around us, so that was okay.

I figured out in those four years that I enjoyed what I was doing, so at the end of the four years, I had a decision to make: get out of the Army as I had planned, or stay in for a little longer. We decided to stay a while longer. And it's been that way for the last 30 years. Every assignment I've had, my wife and I have decided, "This isn't so bad." We enjoy it. We like what we do. I've had lots of great experiences, met incredible people, had friends I otherwise never would have had, been to places I would have never, ever gone, and I've had opportunities to serve. That's the way our career has been.

But if somebody had suggested in May of '72 -- or May of '82, or May of '92, for that matter -- that I'd come back and be the Chief of Armor for the American Army? I would not have believed that was an option.

Your replacement, Maj. Gen. Williams, has probably thought the same thing. He's stepping into a big role as the Chief of Armor and the commander of Fort Knox. What would you give him as a guiding philosophy or "watchword" to help him make that transition into taking the reins of Fort Knox?

I don't need to give General Williams a whole lot of guidance as he comes in. I don't think he's going to need it. But I'd share with him some things that have generally worked for me, and things that I've learned here.

I would say: understand the magnitude of the responsibility and stay focused on what's important. You can get mired down here every day in day-to-day, minor business. I've learned that if you do that, you tend to lose the vision for the installation and for the branch.
I would suggest to him to clearly articulate his vision for what he wants to have accomplished, give clear guidance and resources needed to do the work, and then rely on the subordinate commanders and directors at Fort Knox to execute that vision. If he'll do that, he will be pleasantly surprised every day with what he gets accomplished at Fort Knox.

Do you have any perceptions or reflections on your command as you prepare to leave?

I can give you a couple things.

I joined the Army when I was 22 or so, and spent four years before that going to school on Army scholarships. So from the time I was about 18, this is what I've been doing. Patti and I were married when we were in college, so we came into the Army together. It's really about all that she and I have known. We raised our kids in the Army, we traveled all over the world together with the Army, and now we're getting ready to leave it together. It's bittersweet.

Some days, I look forward to new challenges -- there are a lot of opportunities out there. But there are other days when I just don't want to leave Fort Knox at all. There are a lot of emotions for Patti and me.
I will miss just being around Fort Knox on a daily basis. Most of us don't give a lot of thought to listening to the cannon go off every day or hearing the bugle calls day and night. I will miss both.

Patti and I will miss the camaraderie of the folks who live on this post... (former Garrison commander) Col. Armstrong used to refer to this as the Golden-Gated Community. And you know, this really is a gated community in the truest sense of the term. Those of us who live inside the gate have a little different view of security, safety, and being part of a neighborhood and community on Fort Knox.
Patti and I will miss the neighborhood atmosphere that we may not have when we leave here and move into a community somewhere else.

We will miss the Army, Fort Knox, and Soldiers. May God continue to bless all three!


UPDATE: Open Trackbacks at Everyman Chronicles.
UPDATE: Open Trackbacks at Political Teen.
UPDATE: Open Trackbacks at Cao's Blog.
UPDATE: Open Trackbacks at Jo's Cafe.
UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.