Friday, December 29, 2006
Anyways, a short week is drawing to a close today. I've got an interview lined up for today, but honestly, I spent most of the week setting myself up for next week. And I think I might have a couple decent people to work. Which is a good thing.
Not going to write much this morning, but I'll see about doing some more over the long New Year weekend.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Back in July, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, there was an incident where the AP claimed that the Israelis attacked two clearly marked ambulances, injuring the occupants, some seriously. The attack was supposed to have happened on 23JUL06, and was originally reported on 24JUL06. On 1AUG06 a couple bloggers started to question the reports. Culminating in an analysis by Zombietime (which is responsible for most of the analysis I'm going to use here).
While it would make things easier if this was straighforward fraud or manipulation like the Reuters incident, it's not. Something happened on the 23rd of July which seriously injured two civilians, and injured rescue personnel. However it's not clear that this "something" was an intentional attack by the Israeli military.
After the original reporting by blogs like Zombietime and Powerline, Human Rights Watch reinvestigated the incident. They recently released the results of their investigation. They conclude that there was indeed an Israeli attack, and that to claim otherwise is to ignore the truth of the matter. Here's my problem with this conclusion: At no point do they actually prove what they claim.
That two people were admitted to various hospitals in Lebanon and transported by ambulance between them isn't, to my knowledge, in doubt. Even if it was it's not like the hospital admittance reports are available online (or in English if they were). The only evidence presented by HRW to support their claim of an Israeli attack are the ambulances themselves, and the victims.
Now, the incident happened at night, and HRW alledges that it was an attack by an Israeli armed UAV. It was pointed out the bloggers than the typical missiles fired from a UAV (Hellfires, TOWs, etc) would have done signifigantly more damage to the ambulances than we've seen, and would have left tell-tale evidence of their use in the form of shrapnel. HRW acknowledges this and, instead, claims that the missile in question was either a SPIKE anti-armor missile, the still-experimental DIME missile, or possibly some other, hitherto unknown missile. This is because, supposedly, these systems are designed to not cause a lot of shrapnel.
I'm not enough of an expert to judge the damage done to the ambulances. However I do have some questions that just don't seem to be answered anywhere.
This is a picture of one of the ambulances (#782) the day after the attack took place. This is a picture from the rear of the ambulance. The presence of so much rust so soon after the attacks was something that made various bloggers question the age of the damage. HRW dismissed those questions by saying that the Lebanese coast is actually quite humid and has a high salt content which causes rapid rusting. I'm going to assume that's true. Even though I'd thought Lebanon was more of a desert, it makes sense that on the coast it would be more humid, and exposed metal will for rust quickly. The presence of rust on these vehicles isn't indicative of the vehicles not being damaged on July 23rd 2006.
Now, this photo is what made me question the presence of the rust. It's tough to do a straight comparison between the two images. However HRW claims that the ambulance in the background is #782, the same ambulance shown above. If you look at the rear of the ambulance in this picture there doesn't appear to be any difference in the amount of rust present on the ambulance. If coastal Lebanon's air is so salty and corrosive as to cause the extensive rust shown in the first picture in less than a day, how is it that the rust didn't spread any further in over two months (the HRW pictures were taken in mid September). Maybe it's an issue which can't be addressed based on the images provided, but it doesn't seem to me that there has been any additional corrosion to the vehicles, despite more time to the harsh Lebanese sea air.
Another issue originally brought up by the critical bloggers was the fact that the windshield on #782 was blown in. The original story reported that #782 was the ambulance first hit so the windshield should have been blown outwards. HRW goes to great lengths to explain how the vehicles were arranged and that the other ambulance, #777, was actually the first hit. To HRW this explained why the windshield on #782 was blown inside of the ambulance. However while HRW was going into detail on the arrangement of the ambulances, it ignored a second issue that is clearly shown in their own pictures.
Above is a picture from HRW taken in SEP which shows the entry point for ambulance #777, the first ambulance hit. They claim the large hole in the roof is the entry point while the smaller hole in the floor was the exit point. They make no attempt to answer the question of what the other dozen or so holes around the entry point are. Originally I figured that they were from shrapnel from the missile. However, if you look, all of the holes are going into the vehicle, not exploding out like shrapnel would. For the missile in question to have caused the gashes seen in this picture it would have had to detonate above the vehicle, and then sprayed shrapnel as it entered the vehicle. There are weapons which are capable of such damage, the systems that HRW claimed were used are not. So, what could have caused this damage? HRW doesn't address it. Personally it looks like someone took an axe to the roof and gouged out some holes. And to return to a point I'd made before, in this picture of #777, taken two months after the attack, shows that the highly corrosive Lebanese air caused all of its damage in the span of a single day, and then ceased rusting the exposed metal.
Now, maybe I'm just stupid, but it seems to me that if you were looking for evidence of the type of weapons used in an attack, checking the hole in the ground made by the weapon would be a good place to start. Regardless of the special non-fragmentation technology used in a missile, if the projectile has enough energy and mass to make a hole in asphalt there'd be material left in the hole. Again, I'm not an expert here, but that is the first place I'd look. Maybe HRW did, maybe they didn't, but it's a topic they fail to address other than to say they found no evidence of the missile in question, and that Israelis are developing weapons capable of leaving no shrapnel or fragments. You know what, I just realized that they did address it when they said they found no evidence.
HRW deserves some credit for reinvestigating a controversial claim they made. However their case still boils down to the assumption that the attack was caused by the Israelis. The evidence they present is a blank slate. The witnesses descriptions boil down to being present at an attack of some sort. The physical evidence can easily be viewed to represent a missile attack by Israel, or as after-the-fact tampering by parties unknown. I know that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but that still doesn't excuse HRW of charging the attack as an Israeli attack when there remains no supporting evidence. The theory that the attack wasn't the result of Hezbollah is dismissed by HRW for lack of evidence, yet this same lack of evidence is proof of Israeli involvement. It's a double standard.
Either the evidence supports claims of Israeli involvement, or it does not. Personally, I think there is enough discrepancy between the description of the attack and the resulting damage to question HRW's conclusion that was obviously an Israeli attack. And while I applaud HRW for taking the initiative to reinvestigate the incident, I don't know if the same person who wrote
The unacceptably high death toll is the natural result of Israel's failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and Israel is responsible for the deaths.is the same person to lead an impartial investigation into a supposed Israeli attack.
Anyways, my muse has exhausted herself and it's time to go kill orcs.
With the holidays so many trainees have returned home for the exodus. Those not familiar with the Army and training, exodus is when the training bases release trainees for about two weeks over the Christmas and New Years holidays. It's not done for the express purpose of giving the trainees a break, but the trainers. For all the hours and work we put in on recruiting people, those who train them put in similar hours under similar stresses. This is two weeks for those Soldiers to get time with their families and away from the grind of training the future of the Army.
The recent graduates I'd mentioned before got me to thinking about my own grads. The most rewarding part of this recruiting thing has been to see the enlistees return. They're no longer civilians but Soldiers, and that's pretty awesome. Seeing them come home, fit, standing tall, looking good makes for a proud feeling. Seeing someone who you had to chase around town, get up at all hours of the day, occasionally babysit through the process, make it through and come back does make for a good moment. Since I recruit for the Reserve these are Soldiers who I, personally, escort to their units and introduce them. In these units I'm associated with these Soldiers. When I visit the Reserve centers I hear about the people I enlist. Luckily the praise outweighs the critism by leaps and bounds.
Recruiting is not all suck. It really isn't. It can seem that way, but things could be worse. I don't give a fair and balanced view of this assignment because, well, I don't always write about the good or the fun. I've tried but that isn't what makes me want to write. I did study journalism for a semester in college so I do have a bit of the "it bleeds it leads" mentality. A recruiter having a decent run isn't really interesting. A recruiter going through a bad stretch is. I've seen actual proof of this. My readership increases when I write about bad things happening. It goes from seven (Hi mom!) to nine. However after a week of not writing anything it's probably down to two (Bye mom!). Oh well.
Anyways, Christmas has come and gone. I did manage to get a bit of snow when I went to Flagstaff on Friday. If my camera's batteries hadn't died I'd have provided a couple pictures of real Arizona snow. It died though so you'll just have to take it on faith. My uniforms just finished drying so it's time to suit up and find someone else to put into the Army.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Without metaphor: I fucked up.
This isn't a change being ordered from above. I'm honoring the request of someone who I have the deepest respect and admiration for, and did not want to involve in this particular bit of insanity. What I'd said earlier this morning, and I've erased since, was an unprofessional whine. And because I didn't read it from another perspective it cast an unfavorable light on people who are nothing but professionals and supportive.
Anyways, I don't know where I go from here, but I do know that I need to change the subject.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Featuring the best practices in industry and plug-and-play components, Defense Travel System streamlines the entire process involved in global Department of Defense (DoD) travel.If that is the case then American industry is screwed. Screwed and screwed hard. And it deserves its screweditude. I'm curious what industry they used as the benchmark. The only industry where this website should be considered "best practices" is the "pain management" industry. Because after trying to adjust my credit card information I'd prefer intense physical pain to logging into DTS again.
Trying to use DTS makes me want to run for a national elected office so I can get put onto a committee where I can launch an investigation into the motivation for implementing DTS. Somehow I doubt that my "Investigate DTS" campaign platform will resonate with a lot of voters though. Maybe by the time I'm elected to the House of Representives or the Senate enough people will dislike DTS as well. Anyone know when the deadline for form an election committee is? I might want to start planning.
I'm sure I'm in the insignifigant minority of people who do not like DTS, but I'm there. The always brilliant Elusive Concept nailed my feelings on this topic last week.
When I originally entered the service travel pay was a slow process. You had to mail vouchers and receipts to DFAS and it would take a couple weeks at best before you'd get a check mailed back to you. The first change for the better was to allow for direct deposit of travel pay, and eventually direct deposit was mandatory. Shortly after I was promoted to Staff Sergeant DFAS started to accept faxed vouchers and receipts. This was wonderful. At this point travel payments were received in about 10 business days and submission involved completing two sheets of paper then pressing the "DFAS" button on the fax machine.
Then someone, somewhere had the bright idea to go "If it ain't broke, break it." And they did. So now I find myself in a bizarro world where I'm required to have a credit card I no longer have, and never used when I did have it. And because I don't have that credit card I cannot submit travel documents, or make the adjustments necessary to allow submission of travel documents. I can only hope that the system used to collect my pay from when my laptop becomes a wall fixture is similar to DTS.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Mission Monday was last night. The prior service I'd mentioned last week enlisted which made me happy because it got me off a nut. Because of the testing requirements the 09L wasn't able to enlist, but is still good to go for sometime. He's got a couple days off this week and he'll enlist then. So I'll be off a nut in the first week. While I despise having someone on the floor who can't enlist, it's nice when they enlist later. As I often tell people "It's not like you won't need a contract next week/month/quarter."
I've been debating going back to school to finish my lurnin'. My first time in college got derailed by the Three A's: Apathy, Alcohol, and Academic Probation. It's been a while now and I'm not terribly far from finishing my degree. I don't know what the degree would be, but I'm not far from finishing it. My issue though becomes what to do with the badge on my chest.
When I first in-processed the 1SG at the time mentioned how he'd liked to have someone at my station enrolled in the local community college. Because I was a stupid new recruiter I took him at his word. The plan was quickly scuttled when I told my station commander at the time that I was going to go over there and enroll for the next semester. That was the day I learned that nothing comes before production (this is an important lesson Army Sean). Ever since then any time I get it in my little brain to do something to make myself better I have a night where I work until 10, or I'm on the road to some far flung corner of the state. I know I could do some online thing, but the internet isn't for school, it's for games and naughty pictures. Besides, I lack the attention span to take a class online. Particulary after seeing my much-smarter-than-I wife get frustrated by some online classes she was taking.
Oh well, this is a new month and we've got like four days worth of holidays coming up. Awesome. I don't really have a very deep funnel though so I'll undoubtedly wind up cursing the lack of processing days when I can't get someone enlisted because MEPS is shut down for the week.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Normally I'd be very unhappy with my suckitude, but SGT Cheeks finally came through and managed to write three so far this month. Because of his efforts the station is good to go. I just need to write something to keep myself off the suck list and to maybe get some points. So it's a different type of failure. I'm only failing myself rather than the station. I'm just anxious because having a pending med waiver or a special missions contract on the floor guarantees I'll be at the battalion until COB in USAREC on that day. This would mark the third month in a row I got to see the battalion OPS section in inaction on the final day of the month. I should see about getting a building ID for when I'm down there at 2200.
Oh, and in dork news, I changed my background on my laptop. It's now an Autobots symbol. You can get your very own here!