Friday, December 28, 2012

Goodbye to The Bear, R.I.P. Norman Schwarzkopf 1934 - 2012

I was a captain commanding a Force Recon platoon with the the 13th MEU in August 1990. We were beginning a routine deployment when orders came in diverting us to Southwest Asia. We knew something big was going down. The orders came from CENTCOM commanded by a giant bear of an Army officer, one General H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Yesterday in Tampa Florida where he had retired, Schwarzkopf died at aged 78 of complications from pneumonia bringing an end to the life of one of the United States most celebrated generals and commander of one of the most successful military campaigns in history.

A New Jersey born Army brat, Schwarzkopf studied in Europe before attending West Point in his father's footsteps, graduating with a degree in engineering in '56. He served two tours in 'Nam, once as a battalion commander and among many other awards he earned three Silver Stars, including one for crawling through a minefield to rescue his wounded troops.

Schwarzkopf stayed in service after Vietnam. During the 70's he attended U.S. Army War College and served on the Army General Staff at the Pentagon. Later he was Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces Alaska and then commanded, 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry. After getting his first star, Brigadier General Schwarzkopf served at PACOM, later Assistant Division Commander (Support) of the 8th Mechanized Division in Germany. 

Major General Schwarzkopf was commander of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia and became Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force which invaded Grenada in 1983. Lt. General Schwarzkopf commanded I Corps before gaining his fourth star and taking command of CENTCOM in 1988.

General Schwarzkopf capstoned his impressive career as combatant commander of Operation: Desert Storm, a U.S.-led international coalition of 30 nations organized by President George H.W. Bush, that succeeded in driving Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991.

Schwarzkopf declined an appointment as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army to instead retire. In his best-selling autobiography, “It Doesn’t Take A Hero”, of his Gulf War role, he said: “I like to say I’m not a hero. I was lucky enough to lead a very successful war.”

Throughout his career Schwarzkopf earned Distinguished Service Medals from The Department of Defense and all branches of the armed forces including 4 from the army, three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars [and Combat 'V'], two Purple Hearts, seven Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals [and Combat 'V'], The U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, Knight Commander of Most Honourable Order of the Bath from the UK and Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour from france.

He is survived by his wife Brenda and children Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas to all readers, followers and friends. 
Have a good one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Corps of Stars

On Saturday the former head of Marine Corps Forces Command, Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic Lieutenant General John "Jay" M. Paxton Jr. of Chester PA. pinned on his fourth star to become the 33rd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

At a ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C., Paxton was promoted by Marine Corps Commandant General James F. Amos and replaces 32nd ACMC General Joseph F. "Fighting Joe" Dunford Jr. who has been confirmed as the next Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

In his remarks Gen. Amos addressed a crowd which included former CMCs James Jones and Alfred Grey and said that the ACMC's job was difficult having had first hand experience of it himself before becoming CMC.

Gen. James F. Amos, CMC and Debbie Paxton, pin on Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., ACMC his current rank of general during a ceremony, Dec. 15. - Photo: Sgt. Dengrier Baez / Marine Corps
Gen. Paxton became the Corps sixth currently serving 4-star general, nearly unprecedented for the service which only got it's first 4-star in 1945 after 170 years of existence. U.S. Code of law normally limits the Corps to two 4-star generals - the CMC and the ACMC. Currently, however there are four other USMC generals currently serving in Joint Assignments which do not count towards this limit: 
- Gen. Dunford, as aforementioned who is awaiting assignment and preparing for his new position as COMISAF/COMUSFOR-A. 
- General John R. Allen, the current COMISAF/COMUSFOR-A and who has been nominated to replace Admiral James G. Stavridis as Supreme Allied Commander Europe [although the nomination is on hold pending the outcome of an Inspector General's investigation of Allen's involvement in the Petraeus affair].
- Lt. General John F. Kelly was promoted to general and took command of U.S. Southern Command in November.
- General James N. "Mad Dog" Mattis is currently Commander, U.S. Central Command but his replacement, Army General Lloyd Austin has been announced and Mattis will have to be appointed elsewhere or retire early next year. Two possibilities under wild speculation are that he could be SACEUR should Gen. Allen's nomination be withdrawn or that he could once again replace David Patraeus [as he did as Commander CENTCOM] as CIA Director.

The bad news is Brasso is now out of stock at Wamart!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No post title

I am personally deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut on Friday. My condolences to the families of the victims during what should be the joyous of seasons.

Once again, I am abhorred by the media frenzy which surrounds an event like this. This is exactly what the sick, twisted and mentally disturbed individual who perpetrated this crime wanted so he didn't die a nobody. Sadly the media seems to be all to eager give him the attention he desired.

His name will not be uttered here, nor will his image be published as I wish nothing but for him to experience pain in the fires of hell for all eternity.



During the Iran Hostage crisis of 1979/80, six staff at the U.S. embassy escaped and hid at the Canadian Ambassador’s residence. The White House and the CIA had a number of different ideas to retrieve them from Iran but the extraction mission was given to Tony Mendez who would go into Iran posing as a Hollywood Movie producer doing a location scout for Argo, a middle-eastern themed science-fiction adventure film. The plan was that he would then leave with his “crew”, the Americans holed up at the Canadian embassy.

Unlike Matt Damon or Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck doesn’t have people running into the movie theatre to watch him act anymore but after his success behind the camera with The Town, I’d be one of the people running into said theatre to watch a movie he directed.  As the subject matter was very close to home [intelligence agent creates an elaborate and precarious plot to get the job done] and based on a practically unbelievable true story that only came to light many years after the fact [much as my own will I hope] this was something I was really looking forward to.

I doubt anyone was disappointed. Affleck’s attention to detail in recreating the period was staggering, even down to the old red-background Warner Brothers logo. Knowing what the story was may have prompted an idea that the film would drag a little. However, through Affleck’s superb direction and focusing on the significant events [with a few elements of creative licence near the end] in this dramatic tale meant that the tension was nail-biting from opening to climax. Affleck’s portrayal of Mendez was clinical yet empathic. Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel and John Goodman as John Chambers as were superb and gave the project the air of controlled levity preventing it from descending into farce.  Special mention for the usual stony-faced Victor Garber as Ambassador Taylor who even smiled during one scene.

I normally dislike true stories as often a directors ego or opinion [or in worse cases a studio’s political agenda] will get in the way of the truth, but I can’t find any evidence of deliberate mischaracterisation or misinterpretation here save for changes required for dramatic licence and to fit the movie into a reasonable run time [sorry Brits, New Zealanders you got the asshole stick due to pacing]. Thanks for being honest and true to the important facts Ben and for giving us this gem.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Skyfall reviewed

Daniel Craig’s stewardship of the mantle of Bond beginning with 2006’s Casino Royale brought with it a sense of realism that was not a staple of the franchise. However despite dropping the laser watch and exploding pen, Bond is probably the best he’s ever been. Audiences have evolved and there is now so many other “spy-gadget” movies like the Mission: Impossible series that people no longer feel there is anything missing from a Bond movie when our hero’s car doesn’t turn into a submarine. Much to our benefit, Skyfall’s creators have chosen to fill the void vacated by the improbable and infused the series with a… dare I say the over-used word ‘gritty’ realism that modern audiences seem to demand now from their action thrillers.

Craig has already made Bond his own and I think despite another long gap in the series due to legal woes, he’s got a couple more 007 outings left before he should be replaced [with Michael Fassbender if I or an equally competent producer is calling the shots]. In Skyfall Dame Judy Dench returns as M, matriarch of MI6 and Ralph Fiennes made an appearance as Mallory. I cannot fault the performances of Naomie Pirates of the Caribbean Harris as Eve, Ben The International Whishaw as an new Q or Javiar Bardem as Silva, the villain of the piece -  although the latter performance in places left me a little uncomfortable. Even the score from Thomas Newman, one of the most unremarkable composers in Hollywood today, was top notch and despite not being up to the standard of David Arnold it sounds good on screen and off.

Skyfall is still unmistakably a James Bond movie but with an alternative focus on the Bond character not seen since George Lazenby’s sublime performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In that movie, Bond was prepared to end his womanising ways and commit himself to marriage, here in Skyfall we are treated to a significant slice of the character’s history before he became the world’s greatest secret agent. Sam Mendez has done an incredible job with the material and has crafted a movie to rival Casino Royale in perfection as well as correcting the flaws of Quantum of Solace. It does seem like he’s not quite finished with what he wants to do so I hope he gets to continue the tale he started.

Final verdict: Bond as good as he has ever been - and more.

Colonel Creedon Rating:  *****

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Did Medvedev drop the ball on UNETIDA protocols?

UNETIDA, the UN sponsored international military organisation tasked with protecting the planet from would-be extraterrestrial aggressors has had it's top counter-intelligence and disinformation specialists working overtime this weekend as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev revealed seeing top-secret files on extraterrestrials on Earth.

Reports in the associated press reveal that in footage recorded Friday after a TV interview, the former president said that Russian leaders "are given a report of the absolutely secret special service that exercises control over aliens on the territory of our country". Unseen on camera footage, he was heard telling a Ren TV journalist he could not tell “how many of them are among us, because it may cause panic.”

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon, UNETIDA/UNPASID Director of Intelligence said that "a UNETIDA representative meets with high ranking world leaders, explains the situation to them and informs them of their emergency powers granted under UN laws as well as the rare situations where their military command can be superseded by UNETIDA for the good of the planet".

Creedon said UNETIDA will not be giving an official response, but instead has altered press reports to include terms that made the Prime Minister seem "like a goofball" by referencing Barry Sonenfeld's Men In Black movies and making it clear from the wording of the news reports that he was joking.

"It's not too far fetched that the man was joking" said the Colonel "During his presidency he showed that he had a sense of humour. Now if this was stony-face Putin doing the talking we'd be fucked. Royally fucked!"

Source: AP / MSNBC / The Telegraph

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Vampire awakens in Serbia!

Garlic has become the most sought after product in the area of the hamlet of Zarozje in Bajina Basta, Serbia. Apparently the local council advised all villagers to place garlic on their doors and windows and to put a Holy Cross in every room, to ward off the legendary vampire, Sava Savanovic.

Savanovic is understood to have been 'reawakened' after an old watermill in which he was believed to have lived collapsed recently according to news reports. The mill had become a tourist attraction, but was left in disrepair by the family who owned it because they feared disturbing it's undead inhabitant.

Villagers are now terrified that the vampire, one of the country's most feared and most famous, is roaming the countryside looking for fresh blood.

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon, Director of Intelligence for UNETIDA/UNPASID said he was aware of the reports but was confident that it was simply a bid by locals to attract visitors to the impoverished region. He had no comment when asked if an UNPASID Paranormal Eradication Unit had been dispatched to deal with the potential threat.

Villagers who cashed in catering to tourists fascinated by the legend of Savanovic say they now wish they had left the place well alone.

Source: The Telegraph / Daily Mail / AP