Sunday, August 31, 2008

Something To Be Proud Of

Montgomery Gentry

There's a story that my daddy tells religiously
Like clockwork every time he sees an opening
In a conversation about the way things used to be
Well I'd just roll my eyes and make a bee-line for the door
But I'd always END up starry-eyed, cross-legged on the floor
Hanging on to every word
Man, the things I heard

It was harder times and longer days
Five miles to school, uphill both ways
We were cane switch raised, and dirt floor poor
'Course that was back before the war
Yeah, your uncle and I made quite a pair
Flying F-15's through hostile air
He went down but they missed me by a hair
He'd always stop right there and say...

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of

So I'm graduatin' college, that was mama's dream
But I was on my way to anywhere else when I turned 18
Cuz when you gotta fast car you think you've got everything
I learned quick those GTO's don't run on faith
I ended up broken down in some town north of L.A.
Working maximum hours for minimum wage
Well, I fell in love, next thing I know
The babies came, the car got slow
I sure do miss that old hot rod
But you sure save gas in them foreign jobs
Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down
If you're ashamed how I turned out
Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow
Said, lemme tell ya right now

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
You don't need to make a million
Just be thankful to be workin'
You can do with what your able
And putting food there on the table
And providing for the family that you love
That's something to be proud of

And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Yeah, that's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Now that's something to be proud of

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Navy Wants New Laser Weapons

August 18, 2008

DoD Buzz|by Greg Grant

The Office of Naval Research held its annual partnership with industry conference this week here in Washington, DC. The envelope-pushing Navy lab is particularly keen on developing "game changing" laser beam and hypervelocity rail gun weapons. Much of the available funding is for early phase modeling and simulation. Some of ONR’s high-priority research areas include:

Solid-State Fiber Laser. Defined by ONR as: "A laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium and thulium." Okay. ONR says a fiber laser is the way to go for a 100 kW laser weapon that could fit into aircraft pods.

Free Electron Laser. A shipboard point defense weapon, the laser will fight off swarms of both high end anti-ship cruise missiles and low-tech, explosive laden small boats. The trick will be developing controllable laser beam strength for "graduated lethality and speed of light engagement. An Innovative Naval Prototype program is scheduled to begin in 2010.

High-Power Microwave Directed Energy Weapons. A focused microwave beam transmits high levels of energy via concentrated radio waves that will knock out computers, sensors, most anything electronic. So far, ranges have been limited by weak projectors and a cluttered environment, but newer, compact high-power microwaves under development may eventually produce a "destructive capability.

The Revolutionary Approach to Time-Critical Long Range Strike (RATTLRS) Program. An ONR, DARPA, Air Force and NASA collaboration, started in 2004, to build a faster than Mach 3 air-breathing cruise missile. ONR says building the high Mach turbine engine remains a challenge.

Next Generation Integrated Power Systems. With a multitude of power hungry electrical and automated systems, including propulsion, launchers, sensors, countermeasures and ultimately high-powered weapons, running simultaneously, shipboard power management and supply will require smaller, lighter, quieter, cooler running and stealthy batteries and generators. As with the rest of the world, the Navy seeks solutions to the battery limitation challenge.

Electromagnetic Railgun. A rail gun uses magnetic rails instead of an explosive charge to accelerate a solid projectile to super high velocities, around Mach 7, promising accurate strikes on targets out to 230 miles with damage inflicted by the projectile's kinetic impact. ONR set a world record this year with its laboratory gun for the highest electromagnetic muzzle energy launch of a projectile -- 10 megajoules (I'm told a hand grenade is equivalent to somewhere around 1 megajoule). Drawing enough power -- around 3 million amps per shot -- to fire the guns remains a distinct challenge, particularly onboard smaller destroyer sized vessels. Finding strong enough material to build barrels that can stand up to repeated firings at such high muzzle energies pose another challenge.

ONR is funding research into enabling technologies for next generation air-launched missiles, including: new rocket motors using solid propulsion technologies, low erosion nozzles, pulse motors and advanced radomes designed for ultra-high speeds.

Laser-based Landing Aids. A new start (for 2009) Enabling Capability, the program will develop laser terrain video imaging that can spot obstacles or uneven terrain for helicopter pilots trying to land in brown-out conditions. The hoped for system will be compact, lightweight and rugged.

© Copyright 2008 DoD Buzz. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

There's No Business Like Show Business

The costumes, the scenery, the makeup, the props
The audience that lifts you when you're down

The headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops
The sheriff who escorts you out of town

The opening when your heart beats like a drum

The closing when the customers won't come

There's no business like show business
Like no business I know

Everything about it is appealing

Everything the traffic will allow

No where could you have that happy feeling

When you aren't stealing that extra bow
There's no people like show people
They smile when they are low

Yesterday they told you you would not go far

That night you opened and there you are

Next day on your dressing room they've hung a star

Let's go on with the show

The cowboys, the wrestlers, the tumblers, the clowns
The roustabouts that move the show at dawn

The music, the spotlights, the people, the towns
Your baggage with the labels pasted on

The sawdust and the horses and the smell

The towel you've taken from the last hotel

There's no business like show business
If you tell me it's so
Traveling through the country is so thrilling
Standing out in front on opening nights
Smiling as you watch the benches filling
And see your billing up there in lights

There's no people like show people
They smile when they are low
Even with a turkey that you know will fold
You may be stranded out in the cold
Still you wouldn't trade it for a sack o' gold
Let's go on with the show
Let's go on with the show!
The show!
The show!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

LNS - Late Night Song

No Place Like Home
Randy Travis.

Written by Paul Overstreet

Well there's my easy chair, just sittin' there,
I've spent a lot of time,
Thinkin' of this perfect love,
I know is yours and mine.
And oh, I know how I love that old picture on the wall,
Of you and me and the kids.
My most favourite times in life,
I've spent right here where we live.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
It just hit me as I was leavin',
There's no place like home.

From the bedroom, I smell perfume;
My favourite kind you wore.
And it brings back mem'ries of all those nights,
Behind our bedroom door.
And the saddest thing, I think, I've ever seen,
Was my closet all cleaned out.
It's sad to think that one must leave,
'Cos we can't work things out.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.
It just hit me as I was leavin',
There's no place like home.

So, baby, say that I can stay,
For just a day or so.
Then maybe I can change your mind,
And I won't have to go.

Just look into these baby blues,
And tell me it's ok.
I love that smile, it drives me wild,
No, love won't die today.

There's no place like home.
There's no place like home.

Gates Voices Doubts About Swift Withdrawal of Russian Forces from Georgia

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today expressed skepticism that Moscow would quickly remove its forces from Georgia, despite a reported pledge by the Russian president to begin a drawdown tomorrow.

Gates said the rate of withdrawal is partly tied to how fast the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe could get monitors to Georgia, where Russian tanks and troops entered last week and reportedly remain entrenched in some areas.

"My own view is that the Russians will probably stall and perhaps take more time than anybody would like," Gates said in an interview with CNN. "I think we just need to keep the pressure and ensure that they abide by the agreement that they've signed and do so in a timely way."

Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev yesterday signed a French-brokered peace deal, a move that came a day after Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili endorsed the agreement. The plan includes a drawdown of military forces to levels that existed before Russia's Aug. 8 invasion of the former Soviet republic.

Medvedev reportedly announced today that it would start pulling out its troops tomorrow, a reduction of force that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Moscow to uphold.

"I hope he intends to honor the pledge this time," Rice said of Medvedev on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces or people are going to begin to wonder if Russia can be trusted," said Rice, citing recent examples of broken Russian promises to drawdown troops.

Asked what kind of measures would be available to censure Russia if it fails to deliver on its vow, Gates said there is "a broad menu of possibilities."

"I think there needs to be a strong, unified response to Russia to send the message that this kind of behavior, characteristic of the Soviet period, has no place in the 21st century," Gates said.

"I think we just have to work with our allies and, above all, we need to look at what Russia does from here on in terms of the severity of whatever measures would be considered," he added.

Fighting that began in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia last week broadened to include Russian attacks on other parts of the country, including Abkhazia, another heavily separatist region. As clashes escalated, the conflict fueled fears that Moscow would attempt to depose the democratically elected government in Georgia and that Russian aggression could spread to other parts of the region.

But Gates tempered such speculative concerns, expressing hope that Russia's invasion of Georgia will be viewed in hindsight as anomalous.

"My hope is that their actions in the weeks and months ahead will provide some reassurance that these actions in Georgia are an aberration and not symptomatic of a new approach by Russia to the rest of the world and to their neighbors that looks a lot like the old Soviet Union," he said.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some sad questions for late night...

By Hogan

It’s sad to open the e-mail at night and see that another young brave soldier died. They are not just numbers; they are young fellows who died doing their duty.

I can’t understand how the president can’t be touch by their names, John, Kenneth, Jose, Danny, Errol, Jaime, Brian and so many others, others 4131 names, others 4131 young soldiers. They didn’t run from their responsibilities and why their leaders can???

The Military do their job even with paying with their blood, why the politicians who put them in harm’s way can’t be responsible for their actions and lies. An old lie still is a lie, but a soldier does not run from their responsibility, so how can the politicians not be accountable by their lies?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Diplomat's Handbook

The Rationale for the Diplomat’s Handbook

In recent years, diplomacy as practiced by many democratic nations has taken on more of a human face. Whereas once the conduct of diplomatic relations was strictly on a state-to-state basis, today, Ambassadors and diplomats are much more likely to engage the publics of the host countries and not exclusively government officials. The Diplomat's Handbook

Panel Recommends Changes to Military Retirement 2

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2008 - A panel looking at military compensation has recommended dramatic changes in the military retirement system.

The recommendations are part of the second volume put out by the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation.

The first volume -- released in March -- looked at cash compensation. Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jan D. "Denny" Eakle was director of the panel, and she briefed the press during a Pentagon news conference today.

Eakle said critics of the current military retirement system say it is not equitable, it is not flexible, and it is not efficient.

"There is a perception that the system we have today is inequitable because only 15 percent of all enlisted personnel and less than half of officers will ever receive anything in the system," she said. Reserve-component personnel also believe the current system discriminates against them, especially at a time when reserve forces are being called on more, she said.

The retirement proposal would offer a defined benefit, defined contributions, "gate" pays and separation pays.

The defined benefit would be 2.5 percent of the average basic pay for the highest 36 months of the individual's career multiplied by the number of years of service, with servicemembers vested at 10 years of service. Payments to retirees would begin at age 60 for those with less than 20 years of service and at age 57 for those with 20 years of service or more.

Servicemembers could opt for an immediate annuity, but the payout would follow the Federal Employee Retirement System methodology -- a 5 percent penalty per year for early withdrawal.

The defined contribution portion would be an automatic government-funded Thrift Savings Plan. Servicemembers would not have to match any government payment. The government would not put any money in for the first year, but would put in 2 percent of base pay for two years of service, 3 percent for three and four years of service, and 5 percent for five and more years of service. Again, this would be vested after 10 years of service.

The military also would make "gate pays" to servicemembers who reach specific years of service. These would vary by years of service and skills, Eakle said.

"This is a payment made for achieving a particular year of service," she explained. "And within the services, they would have the flexibility to vary this by year of service as well as by skill. That way, they could begin to shape the skills by dragging people further into their career by offering them an incentive."

Finally, the system would include separation pays to servicemembers that would also vary by years of service and skills.

"The separation payments would be made available by the service to members that they wished to entice to leave," Eakle said. This would be a permanent tool services would have available, she added.

The panel used a Rand Corporation computer model to test the recommendations, but Eakle said the panel members would like a large-scale test in the Defense Department.

"Therefore, the recommendation of this QRMC is that the Department of Defense conduct a multi-year test of this system," Eakle said. "The way the test would work is this: All four services would be asked to identify some skills that have different types of retention patterns -- some that stay not very long, some that stay longer periods of time -- and ones they wish to influence."

The test would offer people in those skills in the first eight years of service an opportunity to volunteer.

"If someone was selected for the test, they would be paid all of the TSP that they should have earned up until that point, and it will be put in their TSP account for them," she said. "The program's vesting rules would in fact apply to all those individuals. So should they achieve 10 years of service while they are in the test, they would fully own it."

At the end of the test period, people who are in the new system who wish to revert to the original retirement system would be allowed to do so, she said.

Any change in the retirement system would require action by Congress. DoD officials said they will carefully examine the panel's recommendations and then decide if they should move forward. The study will take at least six to 12 months, so any decision would be made by the next administration, DoD officials added.

Review Panel Recommends Military Pay Changes - March 13, 2008

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2008 – The 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation has suggested a new way of measuring military pay, proposed that more money be spent on special and incentive pays, and recommended restructuring the basic allowance for housing.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jan D. “Denny” Eakle -- former deputy director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service -- chaired the commission and briefed the media on the recommendations yesterday.

This was just the first release of the review, Eakle explained. A second volume, covering retirement and quality-of-life aspects of compensation, will be released in the summer.

Eakle said that whenever a QRMC convenes, the first question it examines always is whether military pay is comparable to pay in the private sector. The second is whether military pay is adequate to maintain the force, she said.

The 9th QRMC, released in 2002, concluded that for pay to be comparable, it had to be at or above the 70th percentile of the age- and education-matched civilian population, Eakle said. Military pay followed this guidance through 2006, and targeted pay raises in 2007 and 2008 ensure DoD exceeds the 70th percentile for enlisted personnel. Officer pay exceeded this goal in 2006 and has kept pace since then, she said.

Eakle said the current review studied whether the comparability formula is adequate. “Basically, what we wanted to do is create something which would give military members a better means of assessing how their pay stacked up in comparison to civilians,” she said.

Regular military compensation was the measure used in previous QRMCs. This included basic pay, subsistence, housing and a measure of savings on federal income tax. “But there's a lot more to military compensation,” she said.

The new system begins with regular military compensation and adds state and FICA tax advantages. Military personnel also do not pay out-of-pocket health care costs, such as co-pays, she explained, and all these folded into the panel’s calculations. The new measurement is called military annual compensation, and it sets the 80th percentile as the standard for military compensation comparability with the private sector. Pay for enlisted personnel and officers meets this standard, Eakle said.

Congress revamped the special incentive pay categories from more than 60 to eight, Eakle said. “That, in fact, was a recommendation of this QRMC, and it was enacted before the publication of this document, Eakle said. “And so now it's up to the department to begin the process of drafting out the instructions to adopt this.”

The review recommended increasing the size of the special and incentive pay budget. “Today we have an S&I budget that, quite frankly, is rather small in comparison to the size of the other pay accounts,” she said. “And because of that, it doesn't give the service as much flexibility for arranging pay.”

The review examined the basic allowance for housing and a previous recommendation to do away with the without-dependent housing rate. The review also proposed changes to the partial-BAH program.

Because some single servicemembers are making as little as 52 percent of the pay their peers who have families receive, the QRMC recommends raising that floor to no less than 75 percent at first, and to 95 percent over time. But the gap between married and single BAH should not disappear, Eakle said.

“What we have determined is that if it were completely closed, we would in fact then be over-compensating the singles, because of the difference in things like utilities and insurances,” she explained.

The review did recommend changes for singles living on post or aboard ships. “Today, a young man or woman who is living in the barracks (or) living on a ship forfeits their entire housing allowance for doing that, and we don't think that that's necessarily the most equitable way to operate,” Eakle said.

The proposal is a new variable, partial BAH based on the value of the quarters the servicemembers occupy. The DoD standard is a one-plus-one dormitory -- meaning each individual having a bedroom and a shared cooking facility and bathroom. “That's very much like sharing a two-bedroom apartment,” Eakle said. “And so for those people, we think that the BAH that they are giving up is actually pretty close to what they should be paying for it.”

For those living with three roommates, the review believes they are overpaying for their accommodations by forfeiting their entire housing allowance, and “we would recommend that they get a rebate on their BAH.”

“The range we are talking about is going from zero for people in the one-plus-one dormitories, up to a 25 percent rebate for those who are living in ships with hot-bunk arrangements,” she said. “So you'd be able to give people something in recognition of the fact that housing is not at the DoD standard.”

The review also recommended staying with time-in-service pay tables. A previous commission, the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation, recommended replacing the time-in-service pay table with a time-in-grade pay table. This would reward pay for performance, the commission members believed.

“We looked very seriously at this recommendation, but we've chosen not to accept it and are not going to endorse the change,” Eakle said.

She said it would exacerbate pay differentials, adding: “We don't think that's in keeping with our spirit of being fair and equitable to all members.”

Song of Exile (Cancao do Exilio)

Song of Exile was written by Antônio Gonçalves Dias in 1843 and was a main part of the nationalist poetry movement taking place in Brazil at the time. It is still seen today as one of if not the national poem of Brazil. It was written by Dias while he was in Portugal and is about how much he misses Brazil.

Song of Exile (Cancao do Exilio)
by Antonio Goncalves Dias
translated from Portuguese by David T. Haberly

There are palm trees in my country.
And the singing Sabia;
The birds warbling here
Don't sing as they do there.

Our heavens have more stars,
Our meadows far more blooms,
Our forests have more life,
Our life has much more love.

When I dream, alone, at night,
I find more pleasure there;
There are palm trees in my country
And the singing Sabia.

My country has a loveliness
That I don't find here;
When I dream -- alone, at night --
I find more pleasure there;
There are palm trees in my country,
And the singing Sabia.

May God not let me perish
Without going back there;
Without knowing the loveliness
I cannot find here;
Without a glimpse of palm trees
And the singing Sabia.

Antônio Gonçalves Dias

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Freedom of Expression I

US Department of State - Press Statement
Gonzalo Gallegos, Acting Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 4, 2008

Conviction of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim

We are disappointed by the recent conviction in Egypt of democracy activist Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim. On August 2, Dr. Ibrahim was convicted of harming Egypt’s reputation through his writings in the foreign press and was sentenced to two years in prison. Lawsuits should not be used to undermine the principles of freedom of expression. We strongly advocate – in all countries – the protection of civil and political rights, including freedom of speech and due process.