31 January 2010

US Army Officer Developmental Model to Move into the 21st Century?

We always talk about re-vamping the developmental model for promoting, training, educating, and retaining US Army officers, and we've seen some small indicators of change. One of the most notable examples occurred when General David Petraeus sat in on a board which convened to select the next crop of one-star generals.

With that said, maybe there is a chance that we might finally see some change in the personnel policies which govern officers. The Army Times reports that a new task force in charge of reviewing the Officer Personnel Management System is considering some changes. I'm a little skeptical, but I've been wrong plenty of times before:

  • The new model might do away with promotions based solely on time in service--in the new model, officers must meet certain requirements--such as company command or completion of their career course--in order to get promoted. Promotion to the next rank might work in a manner similar to college students obtaining a degree, with some taking three years to get their degree, others taking five years. I kind of wonder what this means for units, as company commands are often given and taken away based on the career timelines of individual officers. In any battalion or brigade, there's always a "cue" of captains serving on staffs, waiting for their turn to get their 12 months of command. I wonder exactly how this will affect the internal movement of company commanders, as I can see battalion commanders hanging on to company commanders for quite a while if there's no real hurry to switch out commanders.
  • The Army Times reports that the OPMS task force is considering revamping the current officer evaluation system. Not certain what evaluations mean anymore when a.) the evaluation really is based on the writing skills of the rater and b.) the Army is so short on captains and majors that bad evaluations are no longer a discriminator for promotion.
  • Encouraging "elective" assignments outside of one's branch. I could see this as valuable if we're truly attempting to build "pentathlete" leaders. Plus, it might break up the monotony of one's career and make it a bit more interesting.

Certainly, I'm interested to see what this new task force comes up with, although I can't help but retain a bit of skepticism. Stay tuned for more...

The New Counterinsurgency Era: Day One

I decided to read Dr. David Ucko's "The New Counterinsurgency Era" a little bit backwards. Why? Well, looking through the book, I noticed that a certain Army Aviator's article in Small Wars Journal is used as a reference in Dr. Ucko's book.

Wait, does this mean I'm credible? :)

In all seriousness, I found out that I'm quoted in a portion of Dr. Ucko's book which dealt with the US military's professional educational programs and their reluctance to embrace counterinsurgency. This is certainly one of my greatest concerns. Indeed, Major Neil "Cavguy" Smith weighed in on the issue recently at SWJ, noting that, particularly for junior officers, the level of COIN training can be hit-or-miss, depending on the institution.

Dr. Ucko refers to some research by a number of military experts which document the total number of hours spent on topics related to conventional war-related topics versus those related to counterinsurgency. Although, as he remarks in the endnotes, such studies can be somewhat problematic.

Although I have some issues with the metrics involved, I certainly agree that my professional military education thus far has largely concentrated on conventional war. While I agree that we can't assume that the conventional battlefield will go away--such thinking was a fatal flaw and contributed to the IDF's failure in Lebanon in 2006--we need to focus primarily on counterinsurgency for the time being. The reasoning is simple--we're in the middle of two insurgencies. When these wars wind down, we can then discuss how we re-balance our military. But for now, let's focus on the wars we're actually involved in...

Overall, I have to admit that there's excellent research and plenty of salient points in this book thus far. If you like reading about the US military's other "Transformation"--that from a conventional war fighting force to a counterinsurgency force--you'll really like this book.

The Kopp-Etchells Effect?

Helicopter pilots are familiar with a phenomenon which occurs during dusty landings, when the tips of the rotor blades strike tiny dust particles, igniting a charge of static electricity that lights up the tips of the rotor disc, almost like a halo, as described by former Green Beret and war reporter extrordinaire Michael Yon.

The effect is particularly prevalent under night-vision goggles, but even to the naked eye, it's still visible on some nights. It's quite an eerie glow, and as of yet, has no name to describe it. Indeed, it's not even present in the Army's Field Manual 1-230, the manual which describes aerodynamics. Fortunately, Michael Yon has proposed the name "Kopp-Etchells Effect", named for a US Army Ranger and a British Fusileer who both perished in Afghanistan. I think it's a fitting name for the halo effect.

Drop by Michael Yon's website for a spectacular series of photographs of Chinooks in action in Afghanistan.

(Photo by Michael Yon)

Links of the Day

Three excellent links for the day, courtesy of the milblogosphere:

1.) The new official blog of the USNS Comfort, the American hospital ship currently operating off the coast of Haiti. Really, there's not much to say about it other than the fact that you need to visit. There's only a few posts so far, but I expect the blog to get busy in the next few days.

2.) Michael Cummings of On Violence guest-blogged at Milblogging.com, with 12 tips for milbloggers. There's three particular rules I'd like to highlight:

8. Avoid Army Bureaucratic Language. The Army hates language. It chews it up and spits it out into some unrecognizable thing filled with too many adjectives (full spectrum operations) and acronyms (METT-TC). So do what you can to solve the problem. Avoid the stuffy language demanded during your day job when you go home at night to blog. If you have to use an acronym, remember to explain it to your readership.

This is probably one of the best pieces of advice for milbloggers. Good writers have difficulty adapting to mil-speak because it's, well, just plain bad. I recommend dropping most of the mil-speak and buying an AP Stylebook. Spell out the majority of your acronyms and write as if you're writing for the general public because, let's face it, it's the general public that we're trying to influence with blogs.

Milspeak is confusing, awkward, and in some cases, the vagueness of the language makes people suspicious. I could go on, but just check out "On Superfluous Adjectives", "Out of the Woodwork" and "Shout-Outs for Military Cliches" (The Best Defense) for more on this issue.

10. Learn Opsec. Avoid Opsec. This is kind of obvious, but it needs to be said.
- A great rule of thumb: if it involves numbers avoid it. So the number of men on a patrol, the time an attack occurred, or how long units take to respond should never go on a blog.
- Always avoid current or future operations. If it just happened, don't blog on it. If it might happen, definitely don't blog on it.
- It is not OPSEC but be cautious about breaking the news of wounded or killed soldiers. For courtesy to the family, please wait until the Department of Defense releases the information.

To this, I also want to add that, for the sake of the family, please don't give details of a service member's death. I've often wanted to talk about the impact that suicide might have on a unit, but I think it's best to wait a few years before I delve into that issue, for the sake of all involved. This ties into my third favorite rule:

12. Wait until you leave a unit to discuss that unit. The Kaboom blog is the best example of a blog shutting down because of outside pressure. Due to a variety of circumstances, Matt Gallacher's blog was ordered to close. I too worry about getting pressure to close down my blog. My solution is to wait until after I leave a unit before I write about it. This helped me on numerous occasions:
- Many times during deployment I felt frustrated, angry or just pissed. Posting in in these mindsets could have had a negative impact on my career and myblogging.
- I took over a job on a battalion staff a few months after we returned from Afghanistan. When things didn't go my way, I wrote blog posts about my frustration. When I read those posts now, I can choose the posts that actually offer my readers valuable information and throw out posts that are just rants.

Agreed. Critiquing professional military education (after you've left the course), counterinsurgency theory or military culture in general (e.g., PowerPoint) is one thing. In fact, I've even found flag officers weigh in on these sorts of articles--specifically, Admiral JC Harvey in the aforementioned PowerPoint article.

However, complain about your chain of command or your unit on a posting board or in a blog and you're risking UCMJ action. More than one Soldier is wearing a little less rank because a quick Google search for the name of a unit revealed derogatory comments. In many ways, this really is no different than the rules which govern blogging in the workplace--know when to separate work and play.

3.) You need to check out Captain Josh McLaughlin's (whom you know from the al-Sahwa blog) first article at Small Wars Journal. This article examines the various al-Qaeda (AQ) "spinoffs" such as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP in Yemen), and their nature as either a franchise of the main al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region or as a worldwide conglomerate. It's an excellent topic for those interested in the global struggle against al-Qaeda and affiliate groups.

The Recruiting Commercials We Need...

(H/T TCCFeed on Twitter)

Let's cut to the chase: this is how you get young men to join the military, as this recruiting commercial for the Austrian Army astutely notes. You don't need to know German to get the gist of this video...

This is almost as good as the one on Family Guy:

30 January 2010

In defense of Effects-Based Operations

Despite what many critics say, Effects-Based Operations (EBO) appear to actually work quite well...

(H/T Robert Haddick at Small Wars Journal and Foreign Policy Online)

On a Monday morning earlier this month, top Pentagon leaders gathered to simulate how they would respond to a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at paralyzing the nation’s power grids, its communications systems or its financial networks.

The results were dispiriting. The enemy had all the advantages: stealth, anonymity and unpredictability. No one could pinpoint the country from which the attack came, so there was no effective way to deter further damage by threatening retaliation. What’s more, the military commanders noted that they even lacked the legal authority to respond — especially because it was never clear if the attack was an act of vandalism, an attempt at commercial theft or a state-sponsored effort to cripple the United States, perhaps as a prelude to a conventional war.

What some participants in the simulation knew — and others did not — was that a version of their nightmare had just played out in real life, not at the Pentagon where they were meeting, but in the far less formal war rooms atGoogle Inc. Computers at Google and more than 30 other companies had been penetrated, and Google’s software engineers quickly tracked the source of the attack to seven servers in Taiwan, with footprints back to the Chinese mainland.

Others (e.g., Reach 364) have covered this topic more fully, so I'll just point you in that direction. Interestingly enough, I recall a decent amount of "cyber-vandalism" in the wake of the the infamous "Hainan Island Incident" in 2001, with some Chinese hackers taking down the Red Hat website and replacing it with anti-American propaganda.

Mr. Haddick also draws attention to one of the latest papers to come out of CNAS, entitled "Protecting the Global Commons", which addresses the issue of cybersecurity.

It's not just Upstate NY that's frozen over...

...so has Hell, apparently.

The official US Army Facebook page is now posting and sharing popular Internet memes.

(If that's not Fort Drum, I'll be surprised)

It's only a matter of time before we see LOLcats in tanks...

Still no word on whether or not the Army Safety Center will ever showcase the infamous "Ghost Rider" video...

Got my stuff from Iraq back...

I just started going through my stuff from Iraq, and I dug out my copy of Dr. David Ucko's The New Counterinsurgency Era. I ordered it from Amazon in August and received it just as we were packing up to head home. When faced with the decision between one book and my lightweight Kindle with hundreds of books, I stuck with the Kindle.

Fortunately, now I can start reading it. The book features impeccable research into the US military's initial aversion to, and later reluctant adoption of, counterinsurgency principles. From my initial glance, Dr. Ucko--who now blogs at the new and improved Kings of War--seems to make a distinction between units in the field, which were relatively quick to adopt counterinsurgency, and what we in the military generally refer to as "Big Army" or the ever-present "they", who continued with educational programs and procurement policies largely dedicated towards major combat operations against a large nation-state.

As I thumbed through the book--and this may be a bit of an unfair assessment as I haven't delved into the book that deeply yet--I noted Dr. Ucko spoke about the dilemma faced by the US Marine Corps in the realm of counterinsurgency versus their traditional maritime role. On one hand, some Marines seem to be averse to being a counterinsurgency/occupation force. This is, of course, kind of amusing, since the original counterinsurgency manual is the US Marine Corps' "Small Wars Manual"--a book written during the "Banana Wars" of the early 20th Century. The book almost certainly lends its name to the counterinsurgency blog "Small Wars Journal", run by former US Marine Corps officers.

On the other hand, there is also value in the Marine Corps' ability to rapidly project power from the sea, as recent experience in Haiti has shown. Procurement programs for each mission set are often mutually exclusive, and I have to admit that I can see the merit to both camps.

I now also realize the challenges that many defense writers have to deal with when writing about a topic which is currently ongoing. Certainly, right as the book was coming out, some tidbits of information became obsolete. For example, Dr. Ucko criticizes the decision to continue with development of the Army's Future Combat System. However, right as the book was being released, the Army's FCS was, indeed, cancelled by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, largely due to the fact--as Dr. Ucko notes--it was seen as ill-suited for counterinsurgency.

Truly, this will be a good read, although I have to sequence it in among my writing about the Lebanon War for CENSA's latest essay roundup (which will feature Adam Elkus)

I am a bad influence...

The following picture was taken by Karaka Pend immediately following the State of the Union Address, where she decided to play the official "Big Obama Speech Drinking Game":

Clearly, as Sarah from Syracuse points out, this is quite the trend now:

Aviators and COIN: Thread of the day at the Small Wars Council

A lieutenant in the military intelligence field in Afghanistan beseeched the Small Wars Council for help recently:

I've been tasked with putting together a "COIN Academy" for our soldiers and aircrews [in an Army Aviation Task Force presumably in Afghanistan]. I already know the biggest obstacle will be overcoming the "WTF?" reaction from crews who have been trained in kinetic action since the dawn of their profession.

What I am struggling with right now -- after consulting FM 3-24, among other sources -- is finding (or developing, if I must) a template for the exponential use of aviation assets in a COIN environment. FM 3-24 focuses on the application of combat power via air assets, but that really isn't a relevant role for us in our current battlespace.

We know we can be more than air taxis and sling-loaders. We're already having some success by shifting the role of the AHs, to the profound consternation of the crews who don't yet understand that by "failing" in an operational sense, specific to that airframe, they are in fact "winning" the strategic fight.

Do you all have any thoughts on how aviation can evolve to be a relevant actor in a COIN environment?

A few thoughts, and a few misconceptions.

1.) First of all, a COIN academy with Army Aviators will have to be relegated to the basics, and just that. Start talking about economic development, David Galula, or anything along those lines, and I guarantee that someone will raise their hand and ask, "All I want to know is whether or not these guys have MANPADS [MAN Portable Air Defense Systems]." Out lieutenant here will need to show how Army Aviation affects the counterinsurgency fight--which it does, despite the naysayers (see the thread).

2.) Air logistics--since when did providing logistical and combat service support from the air become a bad thing? Last I checked, the General Support Aviation Battalions (GSABs) were designed to accomplish many of those functions. Well, maybe not by design--GSABs appear to be a bizarre combination of all the leftover corps-level aviation assets that the Army had prior to transformation--but they serve that purpose nonetheless. Medical evacuation, command and control, heavy lift and tactical VIP transport will always be an important part of any low-intensity fight.

3.) Attack and reconaissance assets are also important. While I believe that counterinsurgency is largely won by building an effective government, and improving civil services, I also take a pragmatic outlook on things and acknowledge that, yes, American troops will find themselves under fire. Many of the respondents in the thread actually believe that attack helicopters (such as the AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra) and armed reconaissance helicopters (such as the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior) have little place in the counterinsurgency fight. I would suspect that the beseiged Soldiers at Wanat and at Combat Outpost Keating would disagree.

4.) Just ask any infantryman who served in Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam if he felt that Army Aviation was irrelevant in the counterinsurgency fight. Clearly, this is not the case.

29 January 2010

QDR Leaked?

Possible pre-decisional draft of the Quadrennial Defense Review, courtesy of Captain Hyphen, SWJ Blog and Abu Muqawama.

26 January 2010

You can do it...

Ah, the joys of being a single junior officer.

Before our Iraq deployment, we used to gather at our favorite watering hole, imbibe mass quantities of beer, dally with women of questionable moral virtues, and find ourselves in outrageous and bizarre situations galore.

After deployment, we found ourselves transferred to different units. Some of us wound up in command, some of us left command and moved on to other assignments, but we would still gather at the same bar. Only this time, things were slightly less cheery. Most importantly, there were fewer aforementioned women of questionable moral virtues, but there was something else as well. The captains who were in command, having recently returned from combat, were often being called away from the bar on Saturday nights to deal with issues involving Soldiers; reckless behavior such as alcohol-related incidents and domestic violence always seems to follow deployment. Those captains on battalion and brigade staffs tried to forget the plethora of PowerPoint slides they had made throughout the week.

As we sat around the bar, drinking our beer and comparing how miserable work seemed sometimes, we found that our little cloud had a silver lining.

"Well, no matter how much we get yelled at, just remember that, in all likelihood, we'll all still get promoted to major" said one captain.

"Dude, even Nidal Hasan made major. That's not exactly a feat of excellence."

There was silence at the bar.

"I think we need to upgrade to Jaegermeister."

Marine Admits Army Helo Pilots are Amazing...

This will be a day long remembered, courtesy of Chief Warrant Officer Keith Marine, USMC, who has a running series of guest blog posts at Tom Ricks' The Best Defense:

Not that we can do anything about it but realize it and make adjustments but our pilots and aircraft suck in comparison to the Army and Air Force. I noticed it before when these units have flown for me but not like this time. We used Army guys for some training, along with Marines, prior to D-Day and the differences were very noticeable and undeniable even amongst our own FACs. The Army guys will come in and land at the grid you give them, with very limited dispersion between birds -- allowing you to link up with your other elements, and will set the thing right down on the deck in the inbound flight appearing not to lose much speed. In comparison, Marine pilots will bring in their aircraft and attempt several flaring techniques and then wave off. Sooner or later they will land in the midst of a brown out and probably a few hundred meters off target with dispersion of about ½ click between aircraft is the norm. Luckily the Army and Air Force guys will drop right where you want them to pick up casualties, we are lucky to have them.

I have heard a lot of excuses on why this is and here are the two most plausible ones. 1) They have superior aircraft with better handling capabilities; 2) Their pilots are pilots, whereas our pilots fill a dozen different billets and get about a tenth of the actual stick time these guys do. Like most of you, I love the Corps and it hurts me to say it but I think we have been chasing the wrong aircraft. We don't need to create a capability; the other branches already have it in the aircraft they use. We need that capability for when they aren't there. You just can't fit a 46 or 53 and definitely not an Osprey where these things will land.

A few observations:

1.) I will second CWO Marine's assessment on the importance of warrant officer pilots vs. Marine Corps commissioned officer pilots. Whereas the Marines' commissioned officer pilots start as lieutenants with little responsibility and work their way through all sorts of smaller jobs--such as Forward Air Controller, and what have you--Army warrant officers stay in the cockpit and might have an additional duty or two (running flight schedule and whatnot) until they become "tracked", where they specialize in maintenance, safety, tactical operations, or being a flight instructor. They build thousands upon thousands of hours.

Army commissioned officers, on the other hand, start off as platoon leaders of sections of five aircraft or so, and do company commands in companies of ten ships (including the maintenance personnel and pilots). They worry a lot about staff work, administrative nonsense and maintenance, sure, but that also gives them the "big picture" outlook on running the organization. The mix of having specialized warrant officer pilots--almost like your NCO corps--and commissioned officers, who also have credible flight and leadership experience, is dynamite.

2.) The optempo of Army Aviation has many drawbacks--personal life being the most obvious of them--but it quickly builds valuable flight time on aviators early on in their careers. Bonus if they've flown in the mountains of Afghanistan.

3.) Marine aviators seem to have more experience in helo ops on ships than Army aviators do. While landing on a pitching ship is not without its challenges, it's not exactly the best training for landing multiship into a dusty LZ, where the air might be thin and you might be full of troops.

4.) Overall, I'd say Marine helicopters are pretty good. To start with, they have winners in the AH-1 and UH-1 series. The CH-53 is a great heavy lifter. However, I have mixed opinions on the Osprey. If you want to run ring routes--flying a bunch of troops to a lot of bases in one day--then the Osprey has its merits. In retrospect, a combination of several light fixed-wing airplanes, UH-60 Black Hawks and Chinooks would have been a better investment. The Marines already operate the Black Hawk in HMX-1, so it wouldn't be a huge paradigm shift for them to order a few more. Additionally, in keeping with the Marines' habit of making Army and Navy equipment work better, they might consider that the CH-47 Chinook is a proven design, it's highly capable, and get this--it floats in water. Perfect for littoral operations!

5.) Finally, and most importantly, the Army rules helicopter ops because, quite frankly, that's all the Army's allowed to fly. We ought to do it well.

Overally, I'd definitely echo many of the respondants at Tom Ricks' website--the warrant officers make the difference. This will probably irk many commissioned officers who lament warrant officer traditions such as the WOMAN--the Warrant Officer Mandatory Afternoon Nap. It may also irk some senior NCOs who are endlessly frustrated at the sideburns warrant officers tend to sport. But when the bullets start flying and people need to be evacuated, the warrant officer corps is worth its weight in gold.

And, in some cases, it might be a lot of weight. Love you guys just the same. ;)

25 January 2010

Hugo, Hugo, Hugo...

Leave it to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to say things like this:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that American relief efforts in Haiti had fallen short and told U.S. President Barack Obama to "send vaccinations, kid," instead of armed soldiers.

The left-wing foe of Washington has accused the United States of using the earthquake in Haiti as a pretext for an "imperial occupation" of the devastated Caribbean nation.

"Obama, send vaccinations, kid, send vaccinations," Chavez said during his weekly broadcast. "Each soldier that you send there should carry a medical kit instead of hand grenades and machine guns.

Hugo, how many times must we tell you: American public diplomacy wears combat boots.

Without a doubt, the American military is one of the best assets to any disaster relief effort. Let's face it, the US military moves men and material farther and faster than any organization known to man.

During the first few days after the earthquake struck, many hard decisions were made, particularly those that involved allowing US military aircraft to land, forcing relief aircraft to be diverted away from the sole functioning airport in Port-au-Prince. Such decisions are not made lightly, but it would be wise to bear in mind that, had American military aircraft not landed with important equipment--such as forklifts for unloading cargo, equipment for repairing airfields, air traffic service equipment, and heavy vehicles--that rescue workers would continue to only trickle in. While contributions from around the world are pouring in to Haiti, it's safe to say that the aid could not have gotten there had the US not operated the airports and started to improve the ports.

The logistical difficulties and distances involved are mind-boggling. While some have criticized the fact that the US Navy's hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, took nearly a week to arrive in Haiti, keep in mind that the Comfort travels at a mere 17 knots--that's roughly 20 miles per hour (30 kph)! Interestingly enough, despite their age, the Comfort and her sister ship, the Mercy, have certainly done their share of work in the past few years, responding to the Tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina, and now the earthquake in Haiti. To think that there were those who suggested decommissioning the ships a mere six years ago!

Link of the morning is here...

An excerpt from Zenpundit:

There has been, for years, an ongoing debate in the defense and national security community over the proper place of COIN doctrine in the repertoire of the United States military and in our national strategy. While a sizable number of serious scholars, strategists, journalists and officers have been deeply involved, the bitter discussion characterized as “COINdinista vs. Big War crowd” debate is epitomized by theexchanges between two antagonists, both lieutenant colonels with PhD’s, John Nagl, a leading figure behind the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual and now president of the powerhouse think tank CNAS , and Gian Gentile, professor of history at West Point and COIN’s most infamous arch-critic.

In terms of policy and influence, the COINdinistas ultimately carried the day. COIN advocates moved from a marginalized mafia of military intellectuals who in 2004 were just trying to get a hearing from an indifferent Rumsfeld Pentagon, to policy conquerors as the public’s perceptions of the ”Surge” in Iraq (masterminded by General David Petraeus, Dr. Frederick Kagan, General Jack Keane and a small number of collaborators) allowed the evolution of a COIN-centric, operationally oriented, ”Kilcullen Doctrine” to emerge across two very different administrations. Critics like Colonel Gentile and Andrew Bacevich began to warn, along with dovish liberal pundits - and with some exaggeration - that COIN theory was acheiving a “cult” status that was usurping the time, money, talent and attention that the military should be devoting to traditional near peer rival threats. And furthermore, ominously, COIN fixation was threatening to cause the U.S. political class (especially Democrats) to be inclined to embark upon a host of half-baked, interventionist “crusades“in Third world quagmires.

Informed readers who follow defense community issues knew that many COIN expert-advocates such as Nagl, Col. David Kilcullen, Andrew Exum and others had painstakingly framed the future application of COIN by the United States in both minimalist and “population-centric” terms, averse to all but the most restrictive uses of “hard” counterterrorism tactics like the use of predator drones for the ”targeted assassinations” of al Qaida figures hiding in Pakistan.

Unfortunately for the COINdinistas, as George Kennan discovered to his dismay, to father a doctrine does not mean that you can control how others interpret and make use of it. As the new Obama administration and its new commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal conducted its internally contentious review of “AfPak” policy in 2009 on what seemed a geological time scale, the administration’s most restless foreign policy bigwig,the Talleyrand of Dayton, proposed using COIN as nation-building on steroids to re-create Hamid Karzai’s Afghanistan as the secure, centralized, state that it has never been. Public reaction to this trial balloon was poor and the administration ultimately pared down General McChrystal’s troop request to 30,000 men, hedging a COIN based strategy toward policy suggestions made by Vice-President Biden....

...COIN is an excellent operational tool, brought back by John Nagl & co. from the dark oblivion that Big Army partisans consigned it to cover up their own strategic failures in Vietnam. As good as COIN is though, it is not something akin to magic with which to work policy miracles or to substitute for America not having a cohesive and realistic grand strategy. Remaking Afghanistan into France or Japan on the Hindu Kush is beyond the scope of what COIN can accomplish. Or any policy. Or any president. Never mind Obama, Superman, Winston Churchilland Abe Lincoln rolled into one could not make that happen.

Association with grandiosely maximalist goals would only serve to politically discredit COIN when the benchmarks to paradise ultimately proved unreachable. Austerity will scale them back to the bounds of reality and perhaps a more modest, decentralized, emphasis. COIN will then become a normal component of military capabilities and training instead of alternating between pariah and rock star status inside the DoD.

Great article, but minus one point for not using the following Nagl/Gentile mashup:

(Just kidding, there can be a bit of both in US military policy)

24 January 2010

Love and War

I've been doing some research on the now-defunct theory of Effects-Based Operations (EBO) recently. I wanted to provide a critique and analysis of EBO, but truth be told, I had no idea what it was. To my credit, however, the Israeli military was also largely confused by EBO (so was the US military, judging by Slide #6 )

With that said, I fired up the web browser and checked out some definitions of EBO. I think I'm more confused than ever. From US Air Force Doctrine Document 1:

Effects-based actions or operations are those designed to produce distinct, desired effects while avoiding unintended or undesired effects.

You mean like hooking up and not getting herpes? Too bad we nixed EBO in military doctrine, because I'd be a master at this. (This would have been a great evaluation comment, let me tell you). It should surprise no one that aviators--with their love of fun without unnecessary clingy-ness--would come up with the foundations for EBO.

Not satisfied with that definition, I found another definition of EBO in a PowerPoint Presentation from the Air Force Research Laboratory (it also cites Air Force Doctrine Document 1...perhaps another edition or in another location in the book?)

"Effects based operations is a methodology for planning, executing and assessing operations to attain the effects required to achieve desired national security objectives.“

So it's basically every form of competition and conflict that human beings have ever engaged in?

I'd say EBO, despite containing some practical mission planning advice, primarily served as an amusing buzz-word for senior officers. My worry is that "hybrid war", with its myriad of definitions, might be in the same category. Check out this definition:

Hybrid threat: An adversary that simultaneously and adaptively employs some combination of (1) political, military, economic, social, and information means, and (2) conventional, irregular, catastrophic, terrorism, and disruptive/criminal warfare methods. It may include a combination of state and non-state actors.

So basically, hybrid war is everything.

23 January 2010

On Evaluations

(It's drinking time, excuse the incoherency!)

Well, it's that time of the year--time to start writing evaluations on everyone. By amazing coincidence, Josh McLaughlin of al-Sahwa seems to be in a similar predicament, and we had an interesting little chat on the subject.

There's an interesting passage in a book about Air Force Colonel John Boyd (Mr. OODA Loop), where the author, Robert Corham, explores some of the ins-and-outs of personnel evaluation reports (hereafter referred to as "evaluations", though they're called "Officer Evaluation Reports" in the Army, "Fitness Reports" in the Navy, you get the drift).

Corham noted, astutely, that many officers or senior non-commissioned officers one finds involved in scandals will often present excerpts from their official evaluation report, and nearly all the time, those excerpts will be glowing. However, there's a secret code and numerous unwritten rules involved in evaluations. Few of these will actually appear in the official regulations, but service-wide, we're all compelled to follow suit, lest we waste all that ink in evaluation reports for nothing.

Across the board, evaluations are grossly inflated, sometimes to laughable extremes. Take the example of the evaluation report for a non-commissioned officer in the US Army. They are rated from 1-5 (best-worst) in various attributes, such as leadership ability, physical fitness, technical skills, etc. Rating a non-commissioned officer as a "3"--average--in any area is nearly a kiss of death for their career. A "2" (on a 1-5 scale), is generally considered average performance. In many ways, this is an echo of the grading system in many schools, where a "B" is average and a "C" indicates poor performance.

Nevertheless, officers are victims of inflation as well. Once upon a time, I had a brand new pilot--straight out of flight school--arrive at the unit. As per the norm, he received ten days to look for a new house and move in. Once he had moved in, he began in-processing. After turning in his flight records to the standardization pilot, he was informed that it would be a few weeks before he could start his initial mission qualification--some pilots had annual evaluations to complete, while others were already finishing up their mission qualification. Not to mention, there were all sorts of training missions being conducted by the unit; he'd have to wait his turn before hopping in the cockpit.

Meanwhile, it was winter, and Christmas was just around the corner. At many bases, business winds down during the holidays, and this particular pilot took a few weeks of leave. As he was returning, he was informed that he'd be switching units, as the battalion needed to cross-level some people. That meant that he needed an evaluation.

The new pilot was a great officer, don't get me wrong, but over the span of three months, he really didn't have the opportunity to prove himself. When filling out the evaluation, I saw three blocks, labeled "Best Qualified", "Fully Qualified", and "Do Not Promote". Since the new pilot hadn't even flown yet, I couldn't say he was the "best qualified" officer, so I selected the less superlative, "fully qualified".

A week later, I had to explain to my battalion commander why I had selected the middle block. I had almost ruined this young pilot's career because I had said that he was merely "fully qualified"! No one taught me the unwritten rules!

As Josh from al-Sahwa pointed out (I think Reach 364 said this also once), the language in evaluations is often full of grossly over-the-top rhetoric, often sounding hilariously like propaganda--a typical evaluation can often make an officer sound as if he or she is single-handedly disrupting, dismantling and destroying al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. (Damn, I gotta use that one).

Nevertheless, there are numerous subtle indicators of an officer's true performance and potential in evaluations which stick out during promotion boards. While you won't find anything regarding these in the official regulations regarding evaluations, they are passed on from officer to officer. This, of course, makes me wonder if it is indeed true, but such is the nature of evaluations, I guess.

Most commanders know that there is a huge difference between an officer who does "a magnificent job" and one who is "in the top ten percent". In the case of the former example, there are plenty of superfluous adjectives that the promotion boards will simply gloss over. In the latter quote, there is a specific, quantifiable metric--"top ten percent"--which the boards will recognize as an indicator of a solid performer. Again, no official source ever says this, it's just another "unwritten rule" one finds out as a lieutenant.

However, the most baffling unwritten rules are found in the Army's non-commissioned evaluation reports. Whereas the officer reports are basically written in the forms of paragraphs and narratives, the evaluations for the Army's sergeants are written as "bullet statements". Only, there are a few odd quirks to these bullet statements. Here's an example of one or two:

o served as the range NCOIC for a small arms range, qualifying 230 Soldiers over the span of three days; recognized by the battalion commander as the best small-arms range this year
Okay, that's a relatively generic one. Note some odd quirks. It's a "bullet" statement, so it begins with a...uh...lowercase "o". The verbiage after the "bullet" begins with a lowercase letter and ends with no punctuation. If I were back in second grade, a nun would have beaten me senseless had I written anything resembling this. (On a related note, I wondered why the writing in this blog had declined over the last few weeks. I guess it's all these damn NCO evaluations!)

Focus: Evaluations are full of bizarre unwritten rules and subtle nuances. I'm certain I forgot some of the better ones. Please fill me in.

Bonus: I bet the private sector is just as bad with evaluations.

In other news, back to drinking. Thank God my Snuggie allows me to stay warm and drink beer at the same time...

Upcoming Writing Contest

You may see operations slow down over the next few weeks here at Wings Over Iraq. I'll be putting together an article to submit to the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs regarding the Lebanon War of 2006.

Bonus: The gentleman in charge of this project is a friend of the one and only Boss Mongo.

21 January 2010

SWJ vs. Stand-to

Dave Dilegge and Bill Nagle are the creators and operators of Small Wars Journal. For the uninitiated, "SWJ", as its followers call it, is the the premiere website for counterinsurgency theory, and is hands-down the best defense-related journal/blog around. They even got a small blurb in Rolling Stone Magazine's "2009 Hot List", right alongside Lady Gaga.

Dave and Bill are retired Marines who spend their day hosting dozens of professional articles written by military officers, defense analysts, and experts in numerous areas of government and civil development. They also manage to put together a hefty morning update, chock-full of links from around the mainstream media, released at about 4 in the morning, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Now, the SWJ crew isn't the only group putting out daily news roundups. For years, the military has gotten a daily news roundup from the Early Bird, which rivals the amount of news the SWJ guys seem to find. Moreover, since 2005, the US Army has hosted a similar news roundup entitled "Stand-to", showcasing military-related news from around the world.

I have to give the Army credit by noting that they have proven themselves to be the most accepting of the blogging community; within the past year, Stand-to has even begun compiling a daily roundup of chatter throughout the milblogosphere.

However, even though Stand-to is hosted by the US Army and, most likely, updated by someone who's being paid money, SWJ is still able to host a larger news roundup, publish it seven days a week (including over four-day weekends and holidays), and push it out early in the morning.

Although I actually do like reading the US Army's Stand-to, I think they can improve the site by publishing a few links on the weekends. At a minimum, Stand-to can at least publish a roundup on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Day. I know that may be a holiday on many military bases, but for those whose opinions we are trying to influence, it isn't.

It shouldn't be too difficult to make happen. SWJ is staffed by two volunteers who note, astutely, that Burger King pays more than serving as a webmaster on a military blog. Yet they still manage to publish an inordinate amount of information each day. Why can't the US Army hire a few bloggers and get similar results?

If you don't read Stand-to, maybe you should drop by daily, or add it to your RSS Reader

Update: V-22s Deploying to Haiti Aboard USS Nassau

In a previous post, I echoed the sentiments of Jamie McIntyre from The Line of Departure, who found it quite puzzling that the US Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft was--at the time--absent during the relief efforts in Haiti.

Well, thanks to Dr. David Ucko (you know, the guy with a great book), I know that the Marines are quickly rectifying this issue--sending about a dozen V-22 Ospreys to Haiti aboard the USS Nassau, an amphibious assault ship. While I've expressed my concerns about the V-22 on a few occasions, it's not the widow-maker its detractors claim it is. In fact, Haiti might be one additional theater where the Osprey can showcase its talents...flying a limited amount of cargo and supplies to numerous different locations in the span of a few hours. The speed of the Osprey allows it to make more stops during a crew's duty day than conventional helicopters, and the Osprey's vertical-landing capabilities allow it to land in more locations than fixed-wing aircraft. It may not have the lift capacity of the CH-47 or the CH-53, but it certainly has a bit more speed on its side. If you need to move sheer tonnage, the CH-47 or -53 is probably the best bet; if you need to get to more places in the span of a crew's duty day, the V-22 is the better option.

You can read more in today's Early Bird if you have a *.mil account.

20 January 2010

Links, corrections at 5 AM

  • Belated H/T to Reach 364 for the link I used in this post
  • The USNI Blog hammers home the fact that nothing happens without logistics, and provides some sobering facts on the difficulties in feeding an entire nation.

19 January 2010

More on Haiti

I apologize that I haven't had time to post anything but roundups of links in the past few days. My post quality will improve in a few days. For now, though, I'm just going to have to settle for a quick roundup of some of the more interesting articles surrounding the Haitian Earthquake and the world's response.

Jamie McIntyre at the Line of Departure asks a simple question about the US military's effort in Haiti: Where are the V-22 Ospreys? The fine writers at the US Naval Institute mused over the possibility of seeing the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in action in Haiti last week. This sort of mission seems to be tailor-made for the V-22; the ability to fly farther and faster than a fixed-wing aircraft, and land anywhere other than the crowded runway at Port-au-Prince Airport would be incredibly valuable in a situation such as this. Yet, as far as I've seen, the V-22 has not come into play. Any Osprey pilots know differently? Have some pictures, video, or stories to share? Please don't hesitate to reply.

As an aviator, I used to pay scant attention to the "loggies", a less-than-affectionate term used for logisticians. However, after seeing the challenges in moving men and material thousands of miles, I suddenly realize that the old loggie cliches really are true. Indeed, the old catch-phrases "Nothing happens without logistics" and "Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics" ring all too true in the case of Haiti.

The difficulties of moving medical supplies, clean water, food, fuel, rescue workers and security is immense. Lt. Gen. Ken Keene, the commander of the US relief effort in Haiti, touched on many of the challenges the international community is facing in moving vital supplies and services into Haiti during a conference call with Spencer Ackerman. Some of the key excerpts mentioned by the Attackerman:

Take the airport. Yes, airport, singular. Haiti has a single airport, with just one runway and one taxiway. Before the quake it managed 13 flights daily. But maintaining that pace is a death sentence for Haitians in need of water, food, shelter, medical care and other necessities. So Haitian President Preval authorized the U.S. Air Force to control the so-called “slot times” for letting planes land and then depart, which the airmen set at two hours per plane. That means planes have to be back in the air after two hours’ wheels-down to unload their cargo and refuel if necessary. The pace has meant over 100 planes went through Haiti on Sunday with no delays, Keen said, the first time in six days the airport hasn’t reported a delay. But the rapid turnaround also meant a mobile hospital had to get back in the air — a major problem, and one Keen sounded frustrated about.

The quake seriously damaged Haiti’s major seaport. Keen sent divers into the port, which he called South Port, and found “we do have some separations [between] the pylons and the pier.” He estimated it would be at least the end of the week before the port could be opened, something he called “absolutely critical” to move cargo in and take pressure off the airport.

It’s a tense moment. Keen was proud of delivering 233,000 bottles of water to civilians on Sunday, but said it was “nearly not enough,” considering there are an estimated 3.5 million Haitians — nearly a quarter of the population — suffering from the quake. A more sustainable solution for hydration is on its way: 16 water purification units are being shipped to get people off of bottled water. The USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier with 19 helicopters, is just offshore, and the hospital ship Comfort will arrive later this week. In the next several weeks, Keen said his military contingent will grow to about 10,000, with half kept offshore to minimize the logistical needs — food, water, shelter — that go along with large-scale deployments.

Not to nitpick, but Haiti actually has more than just one airport. However, the airport at Port-au-Prince is the largest, and, as near as I can tell, likely the only one capable of handling C-17s, Boeing 747s, and other large cargo jets. The runway and approach lights have apparently been knocked out, and I doubt the instrument approaches (save for the GPS approaches) are operational. Nevertheless, it's likely the only airport that's in any shape to handle air traffic, so it's likely the only operational airport.

Indeed, searching through the NOTAMs--Notices to Airmen--as well as checking some of the news sources, it appears that Jacmel Airfield (Google Maps) will open in the next few days. It's not much, only 4,000 feet long, but it should be able to accomodate C-130s and smaller cargo planes. Another airfield that might be a possibility is Cap Haitien Airport (Google Map), with a 4,800-foot runway. Judging by the NOTAMs, this airport appears to not be closed (although the ground truth might be incredibly different). Also worth noting is that the notices to airmen states that any aircraft arriving in either of the two largest airports in Haiti (Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien) should have enough fuel to enter a 90-minute holding pattern over Port-au-Prince, likely due to the backlog of aircraft on the small airfield.

The backlog is exacerbated by yet another logistical hurdle at Port-au-Prince. Fuel tankers and ground handling equipment, such as forklifts to offload cargo from planes, are in short supply in Haiti (USNI, Washington Post reports). US Air Force loadmasters might be tough, but they can't carry around tons of cargo by themselves. They need forklifts to move that cargo around. Fortunately, future flights are likely to bring additional forklifts. It is also expected to be a week before the sea port is fully operational. The service men participating in this have their work cut out for them.

Finally, I'll conclude with some pragmatic advice for rescuers. All this help--the food drops, the Air Force air traffic controllers--needs to be broadcasted to the world. While Matt Armstrong--MountainRunner as you may know him--found it distressing that the Chinese could send one plane filled with rescue workers overnight, fear not, all that coverage is not in vain.

I think the whole world is impressed when they see Americans send more than one simple passenger jet into the fray. In just the past week, the world has seen the US drop food from military planes and helicopters, launch an entire fleet from thousands of miles away, repair the ports and airport, provide air traffic services for planes the world over, and send literally thousands of peacekeeping troops in a matter of days. Sure, the armchair generals of the world will always bicker about how it could have been done better, but make no mistake that no country in the world could match the US' response. As one of my European fans pointed out, once again, it's the US to the rescue while Europe deliberates.

*--by the way, Air Force (C-17s especially)...no spending the night in Orlando (KSFB) unless your crew duty day is exceeded. No kidding, I pulled that right from the NOTAMs. Seriously, they actually had to say that in the NOTAMS?

I should tread lightly, though, as I owe a belated hat tip to a certain C-17 pilot for the link I used in my last post :)

The Few, The Proud, The Armchair Generals

Alternatively titled, "Teh Stupidz, it hurts!"

I was reading through an article on CNN Online, and amazed, once again, at the stupidity of the online armchair generals. As much as we say that experience doesn't matter in all cases (and I won't say that it's entirely untrue), some of the amateurs out there need to be quiet. Or embarrassed on the Internet, one of the two.

The stupid Internet poster of the day is someone who goes by the online handle of atteckus, who writes:

Only a fool would have failed to anticipate blocked roads, broken ports, and the human requirements for food/water within 3 days. I know that I would have had food and water IN MASSIVE QUANTITIES on the ground within 72 hours. It doesn't take time. That's B.S. All it takes its ingenuity and a failure to accept obstacles. People like you (Rajiv Shah & Ban-Ki Moon) fiddle while thousands die. I demand C-5 Starlifters to fly immediately and drop supplies to the needy. To hell with the roads, and to hell with the port. It is completely unreasonable to accept these obstacles as true barriers, where so many lives are in danger on account of delay. I'm disgusted that you think its ok to wait on "logistics" while they die of starvation and dehydration. [emphasis added]

Okay, while there's no such thing as a C-5 Starlifter (C-5 Galaxy and C-141 Starlifter), there are C-17s doing exactly what you are talking about, dropping supplies into a secure drop zone, so as not to cause mass looting and violence in a scramble for supplies. Add this to the SH-60 helicopters and pretty much anything with rotor blades that's currently flying around the country.

Yes, this earthquake happened without any warning, and America's efforts in pushing tons of supplies thousands of miles with little notice is quite impressive. Thank you, Mr. Armchair General, for your thoughtless analysis.

18 January 2010

I did a double-take

I saw a thread in the Small Wars Council regarding the recent disappearance of the President of Nigeria from the public eye. At a precursory glance, however, I thought it might have been a spam post:

Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has been missing altogether from the political scene in the country for well over two months, due to an illness which he has been seeking attention for in Saudi Arabia. His absence has created much speculation about Yar'Adua's medical state, including rumors in the Nigerian media that he is brain dead, among others. However all of this it appears if I am stating correctly have created much political and even some religious tension and even the possibility of a potential power vacuum in Nigeria due to the President of Nigeria's absence from the country.

I'm waiting for the part where he needs us to send him money...

Latest Project

When I'm not blogging or dealing with the day job, I've started helping out my fellow Wing Commander fans in helping to make an entirely fan-made game, entitled Wing Commander Saga, a reality.

(Okay, this has kind of been in production for the better part of a decade, but we're all volunteers who do this in our spare time. At least we've created more Wing Commander games for the PC in the past decade than Origin Software has...)

I like tying in military operations with science fiction, as many of you know. The Wing Commander universe steals much from sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (the old one), but it has considerable influence from the US Navy's experience in the Pacific Theater in the Second World War, with giant spaceships essentially operating as aircraft carriers in space.

Together with some fellow military aviators (one in the Navy and one in the Air Force), we're helping to not only work on developing the game, but also giving it a bit of an authentic military aviation feel.

Snide comments about the 27th-Century equivalent of reflector belts and humanity's seemingly perennial outrage over sideburn length will abound.

You can find out more about Wing Commander Saga at its website, its Twitter feed, or its Facebook page.

17 January 2010

Army Recruiting Commercials--A Look Back, A Look Around...

Once I start looking at videos on Youtube, I find it difficult to stop. Such was the case today, when I ran across the Army's latest recruiting video aimed at attracting and training more officers. It's been out for a while, so this is old news, but I still think it's one of the best recruiting videos I've seen. Take a look:

This got me looking at a lot of recruiting ads on Youtube, some for the US Army, some for the other branches, and some for foreign militaries. Since it's grey day in Upstate NY, I decided to take a look at at all of them--the good, the bad, and the unintentionally funny.

I'll start off with a classic from 1981. To this day, many people still remember this particular ad from nearly 30 years ago--I suspect it's largely due to the fact that it appears to be the first time the Army used the slogan "Be All [That] You Can Be", as well as the catch phrase "We do more before 9 AM than most people do all day". Until I saw this video, I had no idea where that phrase came from.

Notably dated military equipment in this video include a jeep, the paratrooper's steel helmet (introduced in WW2 and phased out in the mid-80s), and the sleeves on the uniform rolled inside-out.

When I was a cadet, I used to hear all sorts of urban legends surrounding this commercial. Most Soldiers from Fort Bragg used to swear that the lead character in this film was kicked out for drug use. Others claimed--more credibly--that the lead character was actually an actor. This wouldn't be entirely unprecedented; the Army has used actors in recruiting commercials in the past, including a very young John Travolta:

I guess it's a different world these days. Boasting about a private's salary in a recruiting ad would be downright laughable today, and our politically correct world would never showcase the smart-looking women in uniform and hula girls one is bound to meet while in the service.

Anyway, this blog wouldn't be called "Wings Over Iraq" if I didn't provide video of Army helicopters in action, so here we go. First is a commercial featuring an air traffic controller from the early 80s. I think this one is notable for the fact that it attempts to break many of the negative stereotypes and stigmas about women in the military that existed during that time, with the announcer saying "it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman...all that matters is that you're good". Also note that the air traffic controller is wearing the old green fatigues, and the pilots have the old SPH-4 flight helmets.

"Apache...there's nothing hotter". I think the Army should have at least provided a video of an Apache barrel-rolling, but that's just me.

And, of course, after Desert Storm, anything in desert camouflage was cool. Check out the old school "chocolate chip" pattern, as well as the AH-1 Cobra helicopters in this 1992 commercial. The Cobra helicopter would be phased out of the Army five years later, after 25 years of service, and the "chocolate chip" pattern would be phased out in the mid-90s.

Added note: Is the Soldier in this commercial seriously sniffing the ground for tank scent?

Moving along, there was a discussion at BlackFive a while back regarding the worst recruiting ads of all time. Now, while there have been many great recruiting commercials for the US Marine Corps in the past, there have been a few baffling ones.

A few years ago, I engaged in some inter-service rivalry with a Marine friend of mine regarding recruiting commercials. I conceded that, while "An Army of One" was a bad recruiting slogan, it was at least better than the infamous "Marine vs. Lava Monster" commercial. I made the point that at least Army commercials were grounded in reality. Seriously, is a Marine in dress blues fighting a poorly-rendered CGI Balroq supposed to pull any emotional strings?

Moving across the pond, I have to say that the British have some interesting commercials about some of the stresses of modern warfare and counterinsurgency. They don't sugar-coat anything with these videos:

(Good counterinsurgency lesson)

Of particular interest is the British Army's new "Start thinking, Soldier" campaign, which puts you in the middle of some nail-biting situations. What I particularly admire is that these ads aren't portraying computer technicians or flight operations specialists, but rather, actual infantrymen in real situations. Take a look:

And again, while the US Army likes to showcase technical, non-combat jobs in its recruiting ads, the British Army fully celebrates its infantrymen in its recruiting films. This next video is part of a series of ads for all sorts of infantry jobs (airborne, air assault, mechanized, etc), but I think this one, for their air assault infantry, is the best. Of particular note is that the British military seems to encourage its troops to go out and have a good time on Friday nights.

I think I'm in the wrong military: first we have Britain's slutty Santa with an SA-80 slung over her shoulder, and now we have open a celebration of Friday night debauchery. We'd have a lot of groups--from liberal womens' rights advocates to conservative fundamentalists--protesting an ad campaign like that. But Great Britain gets my respect for not only taking a realistic outlook on sex and alcohol, but also not sugar coating the fact that Soldiers sometimes have to do a rough, tough job for their country. Hats off to them for a great commercial.

Next we go go Sweden. Take a look at the tank commander in this commercial:

Yup, female tank commanders. (Ahem, US Army, you might want to take note)

So that pretty much completes my Internet roundup of recruiting commercials from around the world. I'll leave you with one final commercial, courtesy of CollegeHumor.com. (Unfortunately, no embed. Sorry.)