Let's start a space crusade

Today's look at why we need to stop doing things with a Bible

Hope your Tuesday’s remarkable so far.

Who am I kidding?

I do not give a shit about your Tuesday.

I’m sorry, it’s been a bit of a morning.

I hope you like what I did today: trying out a series of riffs off an article versus getting too wordy.

I am indifferent, leaning toward disappointed.

This may get better eventually.


Because it’s 2020 and we still believe in God, now there’s a space Bible or at least a Bible dedicated to the swearing-in of Space Force personnel.

“May this Bible guard and guide all those who purpose that the final frontier be a place where God will triumph over evil, where love will triumph over hate, and where life will triumph over death.”

I know our money says "one nation under God," but maybe it's okay to update that since when that first came about at a time when our founding fathers were also doing things like selling other people as property.

Still not sure why we have to consecrate every damn thing we do like it's a fucking Crusade, which is probably close to the answer because in space no one can hear you colonize.

Although that's probably the answer, that in space, no one can hear you colonize.

And of course Mikey’s pissed about this, and by that I mean Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who said the ceremony displayed overtones of "Christian privilege" within the Defense Department.

"The MRFF condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday's 'blessing' at the Washington National Cathedral. Such blatantly scurrilous activity violates a slew of critical DoD directives, instructions and regulations.”

Not sure what Christian privilege is, but guess I'll add it to the rest of the privilege pile I've got coming to me as a cis white male in his 40s.


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US commanders surprised to Iranians used real missiles instead of the Nerf variety they were briefed Tehran planned to use in last week’s attack on US bases in Iraq. "These were designed and organized to inflict as many casualties as possible," according to Lt. Col. Tim Garland, commander of Task Force Jazeera.

Tim, they’re missiles. Of course, they were, and they sucked at it. And also gave everyone a heads up they were coming. So let’s de-wad our collective panties, stop wringing our hands about Iran, and figure out when we can pack the fuck up and get out of Iraq like Baghdad asked us to do.

And also, less of this:

Feel like if that tweet’s going to do any actual good, we’re in worse trouble than we thought. Because there isn’t a single Iranian general alive who’s asking himself, “But what would Donald do?

The president of South Korea’s tired of waiting for the US and Pyongyang to unfuck their nuclear deal, so he’s hoping that if he gets some UN sanctions lifted against the DPRK, that might help things along.

"If exceptions from U.N. sanctions are necessary for South-North cooperation, I think we can make efforts for that," Moon said. "I think there is a heightened need for South and North Korea to dial up their cooperation a little bit and promote North Korean-U.S. talks, rather than just looking at North Korea-U.S. talks."

Sounds like somebody’s been bingeing Suits.

In Afghanistan, the only thing more reliable than death is Taliban ingenuity, and I was today years old when I learned that the Boys from Balochistan have been setting up their own customs houses. Because the increased targeting of their drug labs starting in 2018 was making it harder for them to fund the insurgency, now they’re charging customs tariffs. Good thing we used those F-22s to bomb the opium processing out of existence though, right?

The Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) deployment went so well that now they’re going to send another one to the Pacific region. Because a Pacific pivot in the face of a near peer threat is what the world needs right now. Although this quote from Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Wren of the 1st SFAB about how well it went in the graveyard of reasonable intervention seems problematic.

"Just us being there gave them confidence.”

Enough confidence for Afghan forces to kill two SFAB personnel in insider attacks, so yeah, confident. The SFAB seems like a reasonable idea, and now that we’re all worried about China again? Could be a good thing.

Because the 9/11 Memorial is just a big ol’ vision board if you’re a Saudi national wanting to kill Americans, the Pensacola shooter visited there before getting his mass shooting on. And the best news of all? Handgun and ammunition and extended magazine used in said shooting?

Totes legal in Florida, according to the deputy director of the FBI.

"It was purchased under a hunting license exception. This exception allows non-immigrant visa holders who otherwise are not permitted to buy firearms or ammunition to purchase them if they have a valid state-issued hunting license permit or other required documentation."

Next time you’re involved in a mass shooting? Ask to see his paperwork, I guess. Won’t stop him, but might make you feel better knowing you were murdered legally.

Today's "most Australian thing ever" brought to you by the Royal Australian Navy, which just delivered 800 gallons of beer to a town in the middle of the worst wildfires in Australia’s history.

“We were running low of supplies and a pub can’t run without beer, can it? Every Australian needs a beer.” — pub owner Lou Battel

The US Army’s taking us one step closer to Skynet after awarding contracts for robotic combat vehicles. Which is also how the military's going to solve that pesky recruiting problem: just have robots do all the work. Until the robots decide they've had just about enough, thank you very much.

Not only is rust a multi-billion dollar problem for the Navy, it has its own conference, called “MegaRust”, where “hundreds of professionals who want to see the latest corrosion-fighting techniques and tech. Live demonstrations of sandblasters are a highlight. People still talk about the year an exhibitor showed off a laser.”

I guess “RustCon” felt too on the nose.

In related news, my new all-tuba Megadeth cover band starts touring this spring.

Starting in Cleveland.

See, because rust belt…never mind.

The Air Force is worried that its basic trainees aren’t learning good so they’re turning to tablets and online instruction to help with that. Which has run into some problems.

Lamelin said the new platform has encountered a few glitches, including Wi-Fi connectivity issues and ensuring trainees keep the tablets charged and don’t break them. Two of the program’s computers had to be replaced after being dropped, he said. Only one flight was issued impact-resistant cases, while the other has bare tablets.

Only two?

Infantry units would have destroyed half, lost the other half, and “found” another platoon’s tablets by now.

Dear Air Force: you wouldn’t give an unprotected tablet to your toddler.

Continuing in the Air Force innovation vein we learn that the USAF is now trialing “no-fail practice PT tests.” Thought that’s just what they called their PT tests?

In all seriousness, though, this isn’t a terrible idea. In the Army we called them “diagnostic PT tests,” and they’re a good idea for the majority of your soldiers and airmen who aren’t going to be PT studs on their own.

Like all tests, anything you can do as leaders to take the anxiety down a notch? That’s a good thing. And if they do pass the “practice” test it counts. So that’s cool.

Remember when the dumbest thing a CSM would do was put speed bumps on the FOB or make sure the lawns got mowed more often? Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell wants all the other CSMs to hold his beer.

As the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Troxell treated his subordinates as his personal shoppers, among other things.

"These unofficial duties included the subordinates going to CVS for him, driving after hours during TDY [temporary duty] to unofficial events, dining with them, and provided unnecessary support to him and his wife.”

Which sounds like CSM being a dick.

Then you read the rest of the investigation as reported by Task and Purpose. And what it sounds like was the man had staff that supported him because they understood that running the errands on his behalf freed up his time to fulfill his duties.

This is a tricky one, because there’s always the issue of abuse of power at those levels.

And there’s also a time when a team pulls together for other members of the team.

The fact that Gen. Dunford reinstated him? Says something about how absurd this was.

We're back, just in time for World War Meh

It's the Wednesday edition of war from the cheap seats.

If you got here from the web, that’s cool. I like the web, too. Also cool? Email newsletters. Of which this is one. Get your look at war from the cheap seats in your inbox every week.


Now that the holidays are over and 2020 is already making us look back on 2019 fondly, the newsletter’s back. Today’s a little abbreviated, so enjoy.


From the ‘gram

Yup, there’s an instagram. It has things like this in it.

You're at a point where the guns are out, so maybe the safest thing you can do is not get shot. Also? Nice GoPro. #natsectacular
September 7, 2019

Quote of the Day

"If that's what the law is, I like to obey the law.” — Donald Trump, really.

That’s after the president learned that targeting Iranian cultural sites could be a war crime, and decided that would be a bad idea.


Video of the Day

Remember that time an American president had generals standing behind him like some tinpot dictator? That was today years ago.


I guess the war’s been called off?

Like I said, this thing’s pretty abbreviated.

It’s a new year, so I’m committing to shipping this thing regularly.

That means even on those days when I’m not really feeling it, it’s gonna go.

Not a great idea, really, in terms of building a fan base.

But stick around, it will get better.

If you’re reading this, it means we didn’t go to war with Tehran.

At least not yet.

Because now the Iranians launched missiles at US bases in Iraq, but no US casualties. Probably some Iraqis, though. As a colonial, I’m not sure where we land on whether those we normally drop bombs on counting as “people.”

But it’s always possible that’s a thing.

And it appears that Trump’s taking whatever counts as the moral high ground in his White House by announcing that there will be no further action by US military forces.

Right now we’re all at a point where it seems like the Americans whacked an Iranian general, the Iranians shot some missiles at American bases, and everyone gets to save face and not start World War III.

Of course that’s still possible.

What’s been comical to read are the Wag the Dog references, implying that what Trump’s trying to do is distract the narrative from the impeachment process.

Y’all know that the impeachment’s just firing up his base, right?

And that this isn’t to distract, this is to solidify Trump’s position as a strong president?

Of course that’s not stopping people from worrying about whether they’ll be drafted or called back out of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).

As a former IRR callup, I too have questions.

And no, Gina, people wondering about this isn’t “panic,” it’s the very real possibility that someone in the Big Green Machine decides that we’re “essential,” and it’s off to war we go.

Again.

Anyway, this is lame. It will get less lame.

Hope your new is looking like it will be awesome.


NATSECTACULAR, elsewhere

When life hands you cabbage, make coleslaw

Because there are no new ideas, just soup.

If you got here from the web, that’s cool. I like the web, too. Also cool? Email newsletters. Of which this is one. Get your look at war from the cheap seats in your inbox every week.


Welcome to Friday, hope you’ve got a great weekend ahead of you.

Thinking today about how there are no new ideas when it comes to anything.

Whether that’s movies, books, or national security.

In today’s newsletter:

👮 Police shooting Kevlar rope
💊 Afghanistan’s still got a drug problem
🍲 USMC’s looking for Beijing’s cabbage recipe
👶 Baby on board not a ban on flight time
🧭️ How to get to Russia, from…Russia?


From the ‘gram

Yup, there’s an Instagram.

It has things like this in it.

"Sir, I've found a way to fix that pilot shortage."⠀
"This isn't your "use the Make-A-Wish kids because they're gonna die anyway" pitch, is it?"⠀
"..."⠀
#natsectacular
September 8, 2019

Quote of the Day

“I am pleased with the results of Operation Buck Rogers. We are paving the way to do things like counting deer, finding lost Marines, in a way that is faster, cheaper and safer.” — Maj. Julio Gonzalez, the regional ASCO and the ATC training and readiness officer with Marine Corps Installations West, MCB Camp Pendleton, on an initiative to hunt Marines and deer using UAVs at Camp Pendleton. The smarter of those two groups? Doesn’t eat crayons.


Video of the Day

This is the promo video for “BolaWrap” which sounds like a band-aid for a hemorrhagic disease in Africa or a new Chipotle item but is in fact just a terrible non-lethal option for cops.


New ideas are dead, long live new ideas

The latest NATO summit in London was instructive in a couple of ways:

  1. We learned that Donald Trump isn't alone in thinking the organization's obsolete

  2. We learned that world leaders are just like us: assholes stuck in a real-life Mean Girls, picking on the fat kid because he's the easiest target

It's the latter that should have been the more enlightening of those revelations, because the days of the American President being the de facto leader of NATO in all things has passed us by while we were busy worrying what color that dress was, if Greta really is a time traveler, or if Trump was seriously going to make an offer on Greenland.

And that's if we weren't too distracted by the impeachment proceedings that might mean we'll have to drop the "Vice" from Pence's title and he'll have us all referring to his wife as "The First Mother" as we genuflect in the Cathedral of Marlon Bundo.

Here's a fun aside: Pence isn’t the first president to refer to his wife in maternal terms, according to a historian of first ladies.

Abraham Lincoln called Mary "Mother" (or Molly), and Calvin Coolidge referred to wife Grace as "Mamma." More recently, Gerald Ford referred to Betty as "Mother" (after they had children) and Ronald Reagan called Nancy "Mommy."

Because the world's getting weirder, and international relations are spiraling at a rate we haven't seen since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The problem?

No new ideas. For anyone.

We reboot foreign policy like it's the Charlie's Angels franchise and unless you've cloned a young Farrah Fawcett it's not going to be the same thing. And that's a bad thing.

The United States and its allies keep trying to reboot the Cold War.

To turn insurgencies into the monolith that was the Russian Evil Empire.

Meanwhile, in the confusion, that empire and its once-close cousin in Beijing is rising again, Phoenix-like.

And I mean the Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man, not the birdlike creature of myth.

Because I don't like birds and I think Wesley Snipes is awesome.

So the West keeps trying the same things, but in new places, like the war on drugs.

The other forever war

Which the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, described in November as a "total failure."

And that's even with "wonderful seizures" by the DEA and their Afghan counterparts.

"The Afghans with the cooperation of the DEA have actually seized more drugs in Afghanistan than I believe we in the United States have seized on the Mexican border."

The rest of Sopko's speech is pretty much the same copy/paste boilerplate SIGAR's office publishes on a regular basis:

  • Nothing's gone right

  • Everything is terrible

  • How hard it is to do their job

Because the SIGAR has no new ideas, either. So instead of leveraging Afghan skillsets and emerging technologies for data collection, Sopko's office still relies on grossly expensive military support to protect their inspections.

And rather than citing any successes, the SIGAR continues to bang the same drum, that all the things are awful.

Mo' money, mo' problems

The World Bank is playing a different tune in the graveyard of reasonable interventions, one where they're worried that the aid dollars will go away once a peace deal is done in Afghanistan.

This is a very real possibility, as the West sees a peace deal with the Taliban as an excuse to shut off the aid faucet.

Except the Bank estimates that Afghanistan would still need around $7 billion/year for the foreseeable future.

The World Bank's country director, Henry Kerali, sees that as a real problem.

“A sudden and substantial reduction in civilian grants would risk a reversal of the gains that have been achieved, driving increased hardship and poverty. While Afghanistan is not expected to be reliant on grants forever, the pace of decline in grant support needs to reflect current realities.”

That's because the country is nowhere near self-sustaining, with about 50% of the country's budget going to maintaining the country's security forces.

Withdrawal of foreign forces in the wake of a peace deal wouldn't mean those 300,000 members would be reduced. In fact, that number is likely to increase, as former Taliban fighters could be integrated into Afghan forces.

Even with all the foreign money keeping the country afloat, more than half of Afghans live below the poverty line. And an underemployed population that sees a sudden influx of former insurgents that suddenly don't have jobs at all?

Guess how that turns out.

It's not that Kerali's wrong: foreign funds quite literally keep the lights on in the country.

The problem is the international community keeps pumping money into places like Afghanistan to achieve short-term goals.

While the Bank's approach differs from that of agencies like USAID, the problem is much the same: rather than working toward long-term multi-year achievements, the political realities of various donor nations mean that real change will likely never come to places that rely on foreign powers to exist.

Which, granted, is kind of the point: keep them dependent, and therefore compliant.

Less-lethal just means less-dumb

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is fielding the "BolaWrap", a less-lethal option in their arsenal that launches a weighted Kevlar cord at its target.

In theory, the device wraps up someone's legs and/or arms, and makes it possible for officers to restrain someone who may be holding a knife, for example.

But looking at the video provided by the company (see above), it only seems to be effective when the intended target is standing nearly still.

Add to that when it's discharged, it sounds like a gunshot.

So someone with mental health issues just heard a gun go off and find their legs entangled in a Kevlar rope.

I think I see the flaw.

Because the paradigm hasn't changed.

You're not changing how you deal with a knife-wielding suspect.

You're still relying on some version of "Stop or I'll shoot," rather than training responding officers in approaches that might de-escalate the situation.

Like this cop in Thailand in 2017.

That's a new approach, not just a reboot of law enforcement tactics that only serve to make things worse.

And it would serve to stop the perpetuation of police-related violence that continues to plague American cities.

Not some Christopher Nolan wet dream where the bad guide falls down wrapped in some Bat cable.

Beijing, can we get that soup recipe off ya?

And when the West has a new idea?

It's because the East got there first.

I mean, unless we're talking fortune cookies, which came from Japan in the first place, seems like most of the better ideas America has for its military, someone else thought of first.

Which is probably OK, unless you're talking about making cabbage soup.

“Since [the standoff], we have begun to take measures to seal and control the areas around the Huangyan Island,” Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong, of China’s People’s Liberation Army, said in a television interview in May, using the Chinese term for Scarborough. (That there are three different names for the same set of uninhabitable rocks tells you much of what you need to know about the region.) He described a “cabbage strategy,” which entails surrounding a contested area with so many boats — fishermen, fishing administration ships, marine surveillance ships, navy warships — that “the island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage.”

What does no less of a personage than Gen. David H. Berger, commandant of the United States Marine Corps, think of all this?

"How can the United States integrate and leverage the authorities of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and interagency to develop its own “cabbage strategy,” complicating Beijing’s decision cycle?"

Which could translate into the Corps going to war in a mix of ships that could include commercial vessels and small carriers for UAVs, versus manned fighter aircraft.

So the next war's going to be...coleslaw.

Who's the lead dog, anyway?

If ever there was a time then the United States and its allies dictated the pace of world events, that time has passed.

What's left in the wake of the halcyon days of nuclear threats and proxy wars is new nuclear threats and other proxy wars.

Except now instead of it being about two great powers, it's about three.

Or four, if you count New Delhi.

Which is wise, given India's resurgence in recent years as a global player.

But from how the West fights its war, funds its allies, and arrests its populations, there are no new ideas.

And when there is a change, it's a reaction to someone else's pivot.

Two pivots do not make leadership.

They make soup.


Collateral Linkage

  • Tehran raised fuel prices by 300% in November, sparking protests and resulting in the worst unrest Iran has seen since the revolution 40 years ago. More than 200 people have died protesting the increase, which the Iranian government said was a measure to counter fuel smuggling. Can't wait for the Argot sequel that's just a long convoy of fuel trucks crossing into Iraq.

  • It's not often that we think of eggnog as a national security issue, but in keeping with the holiday season that's soon to be upon us, in 1826 your racist uncle's favorite Christmas beverage was to blame for a riot at West Point that resulted in a few furniture-related concussions and a pistol being fired at an officer. Proving once again that if you confine the army to quarters, they will find a way to break things and shoot shit.

  • When Lt. Col. Jammie Jamieson, the first female pilot to fly the Air Force's F-22 Raptor and a member of the Air Force Women's Initiative Team was pregnant, the USAF wouldn't let her fly a Cirrus SR-20 that she could rent for as many hours as she wanted to at the local civilian airport. Not Lt. Col. Jamieson is spearheading a policy review that doesn't treat pregnancy as a bar to flight time. Which is good news since storks fly and that's how babies get here. I refuse to believe otherwise because Mom is a saint and Dad is a gentleman.

  • Since large German penal institutions went out of vogue sometime in 1945, Berlin's trying to ship Syrian and Afghan criminals back to their home countries. But while Germans support the idea of extradition, complicating matters is the lack of a German point of contact in Syria. It sounds like an opportunity for Amazon, so long as you remember to punch holes in the carton.

  • Got a migrant problem? Then you can a) build a wall, or b) turn it into a side hustle like the Russian dude who "smuggled" migrants from Russia to Finland. Except for both points of the crossing were in Russia, and according to the Russian this guy "really got into the character for his role, going as far as making and installing fake border posts in a forest." That's commitment right there, and more real than any wall Trump's built yet.


NATSECTACULAR, elsewhere

Someone check on the Minot PAO

It's a slow day, so let's photoshop a B-52.

If you got here from the web, that’s cool. I like the web, too. Also cool? Email newsletters. Of which this is one. Get your look at war from the cheap seats in your inbox every week.


Bit of a slow day in national security and just a slow day here trying to find interesting things to write about. And I ran out of ideas so this is just a bunch of links for today. Hope your Thursday’s awesome.


From the ‘gram

Yup, there’s an Instagram. It has things like this in it.

I call this one, "Man Runs To Catch Falling Boat," part of the "Guard's Gonna Guard" series. #natsectacular
September 8, 2019

Quote of the Day

"I think if he was in the battlefield, he probably would've been shot in the back.”

Testimony in the investigation into Air Force Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II and his time as head of the Air Force Sustainment Center based in Tinker Air Force Base.


Tweet of the Day

That’s a B-52 with Shia LaBeouf’s face photoshopped on it.

Because the B-52 Stratofortress is also know as a BUFF, or Big Ugly Fact Fucker. Or “fellow” if you’re from 1955, pleat your pants, and have mixed feelings about who’s using “your” water fountain.

Well played, Team Minot.


Video of the day

Well?

Is it?

And yeah, the snappy GIF doesn’t make anything better.

I get that.

I also get that programs like this suffer from:

  1. Lack of funding

  2. Lack of support

  3. Lack of evidence they work

It’s not the amnesty bit that’s hard, it’s the reintegration. And while being Taliban is a shitty job, it’s still a job. And leaving that job for not a job is going to be a hard sell. Because Afghanistan suffers from staggering unemployment, and what the next insurgency needs to be successful is a bunch of unemployed military age males.


Collateral Linkage

  • If you’re worried that your Hellfire’s not sufficiently scary, why not put knives on it? Enter the R9X, aka the “flying Ginsu,” because dropping an anvil on a target’s head wasn’t enough. In theory, it’s meant to reduce civilian casualties because it doesn’t blow up but it still sounds like an over-engineered Acme product.

  • Because who doesn’t love Mongolian barbeque, the Air Force wants to unleash its own “Golden Horde”, a semi-autonomous AI-driven collaboration between missiles so they can hit their targets. Except that Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde referred to a portion of his empire, not a thundering herd of Mongol warriors. But the name’s cool anyway.

  • Beijing’s finally enough of an influencer to worry NATO, as its member states now recognize that China presents “security implications.”

  • Looks like former Russian mafia hitmen are finding a nice side hustle murdering Chechen refugees in Berlin on behalf of Moscow’s security services. It probably pays better than Uber, and you get to give yourself a five-star rating every time.

  • Turns out the US military’s not all that cool with its official emblems being used on dog tags with Bible verses and has asked the company making them to knock it off. Because they’re in violation of a Pentagon directive that bans this sort of thing. And before you get all “war on Christians” about this, maybe get some Quran dog tags for that true believer in your life.

  • And what better way to show your support for the 2nd Amendment than with the accidental gift of an assault rifle wrapped up in the baby bouncer box you picked up at the Goodwill?

  • Finally, turns out that housing survey that made it sound like most people who were happy with their military provided housing? Asked the questions all wrong. So instead of, “Would you recommend privatized housing?”, people were asked on a scale of zero to five if they agreed with: “I would recommend this community to others.”


NATSECTACULAR, elsewhere

How to get arrested in Haiti

And maybe be the president someday.

If you got here from the web, that’s cool. I like the web, too. Also cool? Email newsletters. Of which this is one. Get your look at war from the cheap seats in your inbox every week.


Current mood:

So it’s been a…day…in my world.

And looking through the day’s natsec bits, it’s been a day elsewhere.

And we call that day?

2019.


From the ‘gram

Yup, there’s an Instagram.

It has things like this in it.

"What do I do? Lean on stuff, mostly. I reckon in 27 years I've leaned against most things in the Army." #natsectacular
September 16, 2019

Quote of the Day

Probably people will like it, too, when he visits Russia. In May.

That’s Trump talking to reporters in London at the NATO summit.

OK, OK, one more:

Orange? Really?

He’s trolling us.

Right?

Has to be.


Video of the Day

TIL that Mikhail Gorbachev made a million bucks in 1997.

For a Pizza Hut commercial.


Marines: stick with the thumb

I don’t really have a lot on this story that the Marines have issued new guidance on how to handle your political views on Facebook. Because it’s 2019 and everything is the worst, here’s the USMC’s official position.

"Because an active duty member may not engage in partisan political activity, the active duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group, or cause," the message states. "Such activity is akin to distributing literature on behalf of those entities, which is prohibited."

Shares are out, but likes are OK, according to the guidance. An active-duty service member can "friend" or "like" the social media page of a candidate or cause, but cannot invite others to "like," "friend" or "follow" the page, or otherwise invite them to participate.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Jordan Hasberger with VMM-262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and a soldier with 8th Infantry Regiment, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, pose for a photo during Forest Light Middle Army in Aibano Training Area, Shiga, Japan, Dec. 3, 2019. Forest Light Middle Army is an annual training exercise that is designed to enhance the collective defense capabilities of the United States and Japan Alliance by allowing infantry units to maintain their lethality and proficiency in infantry and combined arms tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. D’Angelo Yanez)

That’s for active duty Marines, so things are a little more relaxed for reservists.

And Marine retirees.

Reserve members, and military retirees, can use photographs of themselves in uniform in campaign materials, according to the message, but these images must include "a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that the military photograph does not imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or their particular Military Department."

Of course, in keeping with this being a story about Facebook, someone didn’t think things all the way through.

But while the service has broad authority to regulate the behavior of active-duty troops and vigilantly guards use of its copyrighted emblems, it's not completely clear how it plans to enforce guidance governing retirees running for political office. Military.com has reached out to the Marine Corps for more information on this policy.

No, there’s not many larger conclusions to be drawn here, beyond the obvious that the political landscape has changed, and the new one’s being drawn with crayons.

The real problem with social media is that we all take it so damn seriously.

And the flippant sharing of a politically-affiliated on Facebook feels like a waste of time. Time better spent figuring how the hell we’re going to fight the next war with a near peer adversary when the world’s angriest orange is currently undermining whatever credibility we have with our European partners.

Worry less about Facebook, worry more about how we’re going to face China.


Collateral Linkage

  • Artis International interviewed terrorists and learned that they can’t be reasoned with because apparently someone at Artis is hoping their Alien fanfic gets picked up for the reboot.

    Our research also helps to explain why attempts to change or replace violent ideologies have generally had little effect. Efforts that “emphasize facts over propaganda”—as the Belfer Center at Harvard University suggests—or prioritize “evidence-based and data-driven” arguments, as the U.S. State Department recommends, are unlikely to sway people’s thinking on values that tend to be immune to a rational or logical calculus.

  • Today in “why politicians can’t have nice things,” Maryland state senator Will Smith went to Kabul as a deployed reservist for six months and didn’t get to eat in an Afghanistan restaurant. Not even once. War is hell.

  • Donald Trump is in London for the NATO summit, and when he’s not worrying about his cheeseburger supply he’s taking time to talk to reporters about how French president Emmanuel Macron is being disrepectful of NATO, as Macron said the organization has “brain death.” Maybe that’s different than “obsolete”, Mr. President?

  • Gwinnett County’s opened a new jail unit just for veterans and because no one has any new ideas anymore they’re calling it “The Barracks,” and treating inmates a lot like basic trainees. Because when you think about building bridges over the civil-military divide, you think preferential treatment for incarcerated veterans.

  • If you own a pawn shop, the chances you’re going to get robbed at some point are pretty good. And if you own a pawn shop in Fayetteville, your best bet for surviving the inevitable gunshot wound during said robbery is a power tool cord a brave soldier is going to use as a tourniquet.

  • Kim Jong Un’s getting set for Secret Santa this year, he just wants Trump to pick out the gift, according to Ri Thae Song, a vice foreign minister handling US affairs, who’s less than enthused with how the Americans have handled nuclear talks so far.

    “The dialogue touted by the U.S. is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the D.P.R.K bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the U.S. What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.”

  • Marines, if you clean up a big enough mess, now you can get a medal for it. That’s according to the Corps, now awarding medals to those jarheads who helped with disaster relief in the wake of Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu in 2018. It’s like a participation trophy, but sillier.

  • Then there’s the Marine hero who got himself arrested in Haiti on purpose to draw attention to his cause. Which according to the Marine was the liberation of Haiti, and according to one witness was said Marine ending up as Haiti’s new president. Is there a medal for that, though?


NATSECTACULAR, elsewhere

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