Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Some more haiku

Going with some 3-5-3s this time.

Wind and the fury
No value

Height and weight
Going regardless
Killing time

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some North American Haiku

First of all, as you may be able to tell from some of my other postings, I'm having a hard time coping and coming to grips with the mobilization. One of my outlets is exploring things like poetry that I haven't ever really cared to deal with since grade school (see "Ode on a Red Dot"). So I figured I'd take a shot at some haiku- I don't think it violates any operational security provisions, because even I have no idea what my poems mean.

First I'll try a couple of 5-7-5s and then I'll put in a couple of 3-5-3s. And remember- the syllables don't have to be right on.

Prepare for war and fighting
Pray for lasting peace

Mind-numbing lectures
I am not in control here
One more month to go

That didn't hurt so bad. Fun even. OK, now for some 3-5-3s.

So far away now
Vidcam helps

Almost got it done
Back next year

There, I'm feeling much better.

OK- if you've read this, take a few minutes and post some Haiku of your own- show me some love! And as you can tell, I've probably broken the majority of rules for haiku. My bad!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Information Assurance

Saturday last week, I watched a movie about the spy Robert Hanssen, "Breach". One of the traps laid for him was they (the FBI, where he worked) created a fake department for him to lead and work in. It was called something like "Information Assurance."

So tonight, our mobilizing group had this incredibly informative briefing on using government computers...something like, yes, "information assurance." The glory of it was that we only had to be one fiftieth as smart as Robert Hanssen in order to do well on the validation exam at the end. I somehow passed a quiz which asked the tough questions like "should you give out your password to terrorists? (yes/no), and "you are authorized to load viruses and other malicious software onto your government computer" (yes/no). Thankfully, the standard to pass was 70% correct- so Congratulations! I can go to Iraq and use government computers!

Keepin' it real, yo!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Latest E-mailed Warning on Scam Artists

Got this one earlier today and had to admit, I giggled.

"I hate it when people forward bogus warnings, but this one is real, and it's important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list:

If someone comes to your front door saying they are conducting a survey on deer ticks and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT! IT IS A SCAM; they only want to see you naked.

I wish I'd gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid now."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ode on a red dot

The red dot to which I refer is a point of light inside the close combat optic- a form of sight to help you aim your rifle. I modeled this work after Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn. My apologies to Keats.

Ode on a Red Dot

Mounting and PMI
Thou still unmounted close combat optic,
Thou tool of warfare and well-placed fire,
Darken’d frame to be left with CIF optimistic,
Whenst thou was returned, our spirits higher:
PMI begins- mechanical and close combat optic alignment,
What deities or mortals, too much they boast,
Believeth they can escape its wrath?
What men or gods are these? They are all toast.
What nonsense to think to avoid having their targets rent
As the optic fixes everything in its path.

Following mechanical zero, our CCOs we illuminate
To move our precious red dot to the ideal spot below
Before the qualification the silhouette with the dot must mate
And with five of six in place thou commence to know
How small can the dot be and still allow us to view
The outline of our target not obscured by the red sphere.
And with each breath we see the rise and fall.
As the target is acquired, we can cut in pieces two
The Ivan to the front, the enemy of us all.
We are ready to qualify now, we can leave from here.

We walk the road oft traveled by, to the qualification course
And immediately on lane six I am placed.
Without time for reflection, I illuminate, lock and load, with force
In prone, I hit all but two of twenty, first portion I have aced.
Not wanting to become haughty, quickly I shift to unsupported prone
And once more leave two Ivans to fight yet again tomorrow
The kneeling comes next, a position for me quite unfamiliar
Only one target left this time, my skills I improve and hone
I cannot claim the success as my own, I admit with sorrow
Tis the red dot bringing death with vision so spectacular.

Night Fire
We wait, for darkness, with early qualification, hours on end.
The standard is to do it, no worries about a score.
As the night descends, the red dot is my dearest friend
The eagle cries “Two targets, not one!” Such a bore.
We’re on the range, with the Ivan close, easy to acquire
Thirty rise and thirty fall, the red dot spies them all
Only the fogging of my glasses to make a little trouble.
With the tracers I was hoping to see perhaps a little fire,
Close combat optics make firing as easy as playing ball
The red dot helps my scores, my confidence is double.

The cleaning
To honor the red dot the cleaning shall be undertaken
Be tender, do not scratch the lens, a fearsome yet sensitive tool
PMCS and ensure that your batteries have not been taken.
If you remove the CCO, mark the spot to replace- don’t be a fool.
Thou has served us well, red dot, I give thee many thanks
You allow the less learned to succeed in warrior tasks
To defend ourselves against all enemies, outlined in the red glow
My skill much overrated, I can do whatever my leader asks
The red dot is the truth, and truth a thing of beauty- take it to the bank
Tis all ye need to know on the range, and for some, all they know.

Fobbit's Creed

Fobbit- termed popularized by SGT Bob Merrifield with his BOB on the FOB caricatures.

Our team has taken great delight in expanding on his magnificent work. I decided to contribute the Fobbit's Creed. This is modeled loosely on "The Soldier's Creed".

The Fobbit’s Creed

I am an American Fobbit.
I am a Staffer and a member of a team. I serve the leadership of the United States Army and live the Fobbit values.

I will always place the Powerpoint presentation first.
I will never accept risk.
I will never patrol.
I will never leave an e-mail unread.

I am well fed, geared like a Ranger, and haven’t damaged any of my equipment. I am skilled in MS Office, and always maintain my hardware, my software, and my CD and DVD collection.
I stand ready to brief generals, the press, and the coalition of the willing in very small rooms.
I am a guardian of safety and comfort in the Forward Operating Base.
I am an American Fobbit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Jack Bauer Facts

Some more silliness from BYU MBA e-mails:

1. Jack Bauer irons his own clothes... while he's wearing them.
2. Jack Bauers calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd. No one fools Jack Bauer.
3. Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.
4. Upon hearing that he was played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer killed Sutherland. Jack Bauer gets played by no man.
5. Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chuck Norris Humor from the BYU MBAA

I'm only partly a student at the MBA program anymore- technically I'm enrolled, but I'm on active duty, so I'm not getting much done in person...... but I still get the e-mails- got a chuckle from the latest student association e-mail:

Chuck Norris Facts:
1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.
2. Chuck Norris sheds his skin twice a year.
3. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
4. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
5. There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What do you get the Fobbit who has everything?

So yesterday was my birthday (go Dana, its your birthday!). We've been entertained here at Ft. Riley by SGT Merrifield's Bob on the Fob cartoons, partly because most of us exemplify in some ways what he is often mocking- we are staffers, not the type that will be kicking in doors and doing cordon and searches of suspected insurgent bases.
So my fellow Fobbits decided to make my birthday gift as meaningful as possible. I am now the proud owner of a "Special Ops PDA Holster" in the new ACU camouflage pattern! This is a critical piece of equipment for the Fobbit Geardo.
Thanks, guys!

Comments on the news

Process versus results
In some of my MBA readings over the past few months, business gurus have alternately touted, on one side, the value of looking at the process and making sure it is properly designed to get the results you'd like to achieve. On the other side, some have advocated singularly focusing on the results and having that focus guide all decisions. From this perspective, you look at the output- the product, or the sales revenue or the net income. Those outputs are your scorecard. Personally, I think the smart manager does a lot of both- it matters what you get, but it also matters how you got there. For example, did you cut costs through a short-term fix to boost net income, such as a set of firings that were not clearly targeted at less effective or poorly utilized employees? If so, the short term results will look good, but there is a risk of increased costs as the remaining employees have to "pick up the slack" and you may even see reduced productivity or other consequences.

And what is happening in Afghanistan?
A BBC reporter comments (
Afghanistan: A job half done
By Lyse Doucet BBC Afghanistan analyst
......Afghans have, in some ways, made an impressive journey since a hastily assembled group of Afghans and foreign envoys forged what became known as the Bonn process.
With some difficulty and delay all the ambitious targets were met: a traditional assembly, or loya jirga, approved a new government in 2002; a second loya jirga came up with a constitution; and presidential and parliamentary elections were held for the first time in decades.
But for many Afghans it is a job half done. "We reached the quantity of targets, but the quality is still missing," says Nader Nadery, an observer at the Bonn conference who is now a Commissioner at Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission. Afghanistan is still a place awash with guns, where commanders and local officials can impose their will with impunity, where many Afghans say their lives have changed little.
Most startling of all, the Taleban have made a comeback in the south, fighting with unexpected ferocity and firepower. There is no doubting some progress, but why did billions of dollars in aid and thousands of foreign troops not make more of a difference?

Seems to me like this could have been a discussion where the process versus results discussion might have helped in some way. A military blogger has presented some very amusing cartoons about various characters you meet on the FOB (forward operating base; -most of the tabs don't seem live right now, but go to "comic archives"). At the risk of sounding like the "good idea fairy", I'm thinking that had leaders and planners in the now 6 year process there in Afghanistan worked through their plans a bit more with process and results in full splendor, there might have been a bit more progress. The "ambitious targets" were met regarding assemblies, constitutions, presidential and parliamentary elections, but I highlighted what I see as the crux of the matter- they reached the quantity but not quality of targets. To me it seems there was a focus on having certain benchmarks or results obtained, but they were not the right results- you want a constitution in order to (in military parlance, ITO)....; you want elections in order to ..... ; you want a parliament in order to......

The key has really been all along the most important results- having nominal government positions and organizations put together is meaningless unless they are able to get certain things done- basic life support such as utilities- electricity, plumbing, etc., reduce poverty, increase education, enforce a rule of law (here I'd point to not just terrorist and insurgent activity, but also criminal activity such as the often chronicled drug trade problems), and so on. That is what the people want the government to do for them- otherwise, what is the point? The government needs to serve the population, and the BBC report I cited suggested they are making progress, but that much remains to be done.

Why do I bring that up? Iraq.
I recently watched a video of two Army generals briefing the press about some initiatives relative to Iraqi police in training and in operations. They quickly reviewed various factual outcomes from those activities and initiatives. X number of police stations opened, x number of soldiers trained, x number of raids, x number of detainees, and so on. Then they opened the floor to questions, the most cogent of them were along the lines of "if everything is as great as you're making it sound, why is there (more improvised explosive devices attacks, a lack of adequate security, more murders, etc)?" It was an interesting dance between the generals and the press. The generals continued to "stay on message" about the good things that were happening, acknowledging that some of the outcomes the press was interested in would take time. The press would feign disbelief and a lack of understanding- the classic "help me understand how what you say jives with what we see happening out on the streets." Having had some of the same training in the military about handling the press, I couldn't tell if the responses were simply indicating the generals didn't get where the press was going, or if they did see it but were going to stay on message and positive. They used the "block and bridge" technique a few times, which is transparent to most observers, and must be maddening to the press- the respondent kindly (or not so kindly) doesn't answer the question asked, and guides their comments and discussion onto areas that you want to discuss. As a listener, when I see this happen, I always want to scream out, "ANSWER THE QUESTION!"

So I highlight this press conference to return to the results vs process discussion. The generals were talking about police activities. The Iraqi citizen really doesn't care how many police stations they have, how many police they have trained, how many criminals they have caught. The citizen cares about if they are safe in their homes, on their streets, if they will be dealt with in a society that understands and respects the rule of law and is not under the tyranny of the rule of terror or criminal activity or so on. That was also where the press were trying to take the discussion. I'm hoping that away from the press, that is also the focus of the generals and other leaders working with the police. It doesn't matter how many raids you are conducting if the violence continues to escalate unabated. Granted, the insurgent and criminal activity may be expected to temporarily increase in response to increased policing, but then it should decrease in the long run. The press is not convinced they are seeing that decrease at this time.

Here's to HOPE!
So I came across an article last night which helped me be a bit more optimistic about outcomes in Iraq that really make a difference:
Maliki warns insurgents of wider crackdown
Sun Mar 4, 2007 9:20AM EST
By Dean Yates and Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday told insurgents fighting his U.S.-backed government to accept an olive branch or face a security crackdown that will cover "every inch" of Iraq.

The article goes on to suggest he will also be rooting out corruption and ineffective leadership within the government as well. If (yes, big if here) he goes through with what is presented in this article, I would expect we'll see continued meaningful improvements in conditions there. We would be able to see the end results that we are all truly interested in.

I'll finish with my favorite MacArthur quote: The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Colbert Rocks the White House

Kind of long, but whoa- this is what roasting is all about.

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Association dinner. If you were in his line of fire, you got hit.

Another day at the office....

So what did you do yesterday?

I mostly sat around. But I also spent some time learning about electronics designed to defeat triggering mechanisms for improvised explosive devices. And I rolled completely over 4 times in a Humvee simulator- slow motion and with plenty of padding, thankfully. I finished the evening off by driving a closed driving course wearing night vision goggles, watching an electrical storm off in the distance that was not visible to the naked eye.

Here's me waiting for my next class.

Note from a friend

This is a note from a friend to his spouse and parents. It articulates nicely some of the fraternity I experience in my Army service. I've deleted their names in respect for their privacy (of course, if you can read their name tags, that blows that up...)

Nicole, Mom and Dad,

I thought you should meet the guys. From the left is Sergeant First Class xxxxx. He is a prison guard and one the best NCO’s I have served with. He doesn’t’ seem to do well with stupid people. Next is another of the finest NCO’s I have met, Sergeant First Class xxxxxx. He is a US Marshal in Seattle. I would jump into a convoy with either of the guys and know they have my back. Next is Master Sergeant xxxxxxx. He is one of the funniest SOB’s I have met. He had a tooth pulled just before this picture and was not too happy. Another first rate NCO. In front is MAJ xxxxxx. He was our company commander until recently. He is being sent home due to some back problems. He served in the first gulf war and has done his bit for God and Country but none the less feels like he is letting us down. There is me and next to me is MAJ Dana Tucker, BA, MS, PHD, MBA (there might be a few more degrees in there somewhere). We mostly call him doctor. He is a Mormon and we tell him that we feel sorry that we only have one wife to miss. Last is MAJ xxxxxxx. He will be taking over for MAJ xxxxxxx as the CO. I am no longer in that company but we wanted to get a picture together. We were a tight knit group during the training at Fort Hunter-Liggett. Not Pictured - MAJ xxxx, my battle buddy, had surgery in January and should be joining us shortly.
If nothing else, know this, I am serving with the best this country has to offer and it is an honor to go to war with these guys.

Take care,