Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The World Today - John Blackshoe Sends ...

A coalition force member watches as the Launch Module on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) raises during precision fire support training drills at Bagram Air Field, Parwan province, Afghanistan, March 13, 2014. This training helps troops maintain a state of readiness that enables them to quickly execute their fire support missions. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ricardo Hernandez-Arocho/ Source)
Editor's Note: I'm not sure if everyone reads all of the comments on the posts we provide for your elucidation, entertainment, education, and enlightenment here at the Chant. I do, because it's my blog and I want to make sure the comments stay polite and within the realm of sanity. Every now and then we get a comment which stands head and shoulders above the rest. Yesterday's update from Paweł brought forth a gem of a comment from our own John Blackshoe. I liked it so much I decided to reproduce it as a post on its own merits. OAFS

JB knocks it out of the park -

Random related tidbits.

History is still important. The Russkies remember, even if we have forgotten, that American (and Brit, French, and assorted other) troops were fighting against the Bolsheviks on Russian soil in the Murmansk/Archangel "Northern Russia" expedition in 1918-1919, and in the "Siberian Expedition" 1918-1922 which extended from Vladivostok hundreds of miles westward along the Trans Siberian Railroad [not Orchestra].

The Germans (and Central Power allies) forced the Russians into humiliating terms with an independent armistice and the Treaty of Brest Litovsk in February 1918. Basically, it forced Russia into recognizing the independence of Ukraine, Georgia and Finland; gave up Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to Germany and Austria-Hungary; and ceded Kars, Ardahan and Batum to Turkey. So, yeah, the Russkies think of those places as rightfully belonging to the Russian Empire. Throw in post 11/11/1918 fighting in Ukraine against the Bolsheviks, and the WW2 three way brawl with assorted Ukrainians fighting (simultaneously or separately) with or against Germany and/or Russia and there are a lot of old unsettled scores and animosity lurking about.

Now, we cannot ignore that fact that while we are emptying our bunkers of (most? nearly all?) of our war reserve stocks of conventional munitions, and many of our weapons systems (HIMARS/ M777 howitzers, Stingers, etc., etc.) we are doing little to replenish that inventory. Someone reported that the conventional artillery shell consumption is at WW1 levels, and UKR is using more shells in a day than we fired in a month in AFG. And, the Russians are making the rubble bounce with multiple times that. Over 50,000 rounds PER DAY, IIRC, and they too are running low. They also reported that we are buying 155mm shells at something like 1,500 a month to refill our bunkers. Do the math.

Meanwhile, the Mullahs are wary of their intimidated subjects, Kim (and sister/daughter) control their impoverished neighbors while building nukes and missiles, and Chinese masses are restless, while Xi covets Taiwan, and may not let a good crisis go to waste where he could shift internal unrest into nationalistic pride by recovering that pesky breakaway province. All these folks are keeping an eye on the Great Satan, our leadership, and our military assets.

All the while, the insane clown posse running our country bumbles about making everything they touch worse, with their ineptitude, dotage, and fixation on environmental nonsense hidden by a news media which is less reliable than Pravda.

Hey, I like the UKR folks, and they are kinda sorta our friends, but they are NOT a vital U.S. national interest. We need to remember we are $31 Trillion in debt, and cannot afford to just shovel cash into their hands (where endemic corruption will magically make a lot of it vanish). We need to get our own spending in order, and pay off our debt before we can be so generous.

Interesting times.
Merry Christmas, all y'all.
John Blackshoe

Sound wisdom that.

Thanks JB.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Ukraine - The View from Poland, November Update, Addendum

Editor's Note: This snippet was sent to me by our Polish correspondent, Paweł Kasperek. His thoughts and opinions on the matter do not necessarily match my own. I'll have some thoughts (read rant) after the following clips.

Ewok Report episode ? and a half.

A small update to latest Ewok report, just enhancing on some topics I mentioned too briefly for my own taste.

Poland shopping spree in depth and detail: what, where, why, and how ...

Some analogies to WW1 are in place, but it definitely lacks the crucial component, an organized and able opposition inside Russia itself ...

EDITOR: To say that the situation in Ukraine is complex might be an understatement. But nearly every event in history where one group has used military force against another has been complex. Anything to do with Russia and the pieces of its former empire is even more complex. At least by my reckoning.

An interesting (and seems to me very pro-Ukrainian) Wikipedia article which summarizes what led us to this point in time is here. If you want a Russian point of view, head to, if you can stomach outright propaganda that is.

Ukrainian propaganda is more palatable, at least the instances I follow (see Operator Starsky on YouTube and this report.) Russian propaganda has never really been for external consumption, it's meant solely for the Russian people. A captive audience in many ways.

The latest I'm hearing vis-à-vis Ukraine is that the Russians wish to de-Nazify Ukraine. While there have been incidents of Ukrainians wearing WWII Nazi symbols (if you know where to look you can buy them yourself online) it's not unusual. (Look up our own Marines posing with an "SS Flag" in Afghanistan.) This article addresses that Nazi aspect. (Hey, it's a thing right, claim the other side are Nazis!)

Let's face it, Russians are suspicious of the outside world (get invaded numerous times over the centuries and you might sympathize). Pushing NATO closer and closer to the Russian border may have triggered this reaction on Putin's part. Then again, the plebiscites and the pro-Russian sentiment in Donbas and Luhansk remind me of the Hitlerian agitation over the Sudetenland in 1938.

Sometimes people just start reacting and things gain a life and momentum of their own. I'm sure Putin's generals told him what he wanted to hear, they probably believed themselves what they were telling him. "Invade Ukraine? No problem, we'll be in Kiev in a couple of days, a week at the outside."

Do you think our current crop of generals don't tell our current crop of politicians the same thing? What the politicos want to hear is almost never synonymous with the truth. And those politicians are usually too ignorant to know better.

Miscommunications, lies, half-truths, and outright bullshit, none of these things are a sound basis for international relations.

Too bad that it's all most politicians know.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Post-Thanksgiving After Action Report

 Well...Campers, a pretty darn good week this past.  The trip to College Station was mostly successful.  Avoided Austin (also known as Moscow on the Colorado) traffic, although my great plan to take State Highways and County Roads to avoid holiday traffic elsewhere in the State came to a screeching halt (quite literally) in Georgetown.  Seriously TXDOT, three cycles of a traffic light to get through a 100 yard long block?  Does the acronym YGBSM mean anything to you?

Stay on Target, juvat!

On Target, Aye, Sarge!

Arrival at MBD, SIL and MG's* house was otherwise quite pleasant.  Mrs. J reported the sotto voce comments to my fellow wayfarers was significantly less voluminous than usual.  The turkey (and the ham) did not give their lives in vain.  My Butternut Squash with Gorgonzola and my Baked Brussel Sprouts w/Bacon were well received and quickly devoured.  Although, adding Bacon to any recipe pretty much guarantees that result.  Even SIL's 87 yo Grandmother liked the Brussel Sprouts.

This is only one side of the serving line.


That evening I got a special "Welcome to College Station, juvat"  Brought tears to my eyes, yes it did!  Seems that A&M was playing LSU for one of the Thanksgiving Weekend "fight off the tryptophan" football games at home++.  The Flyby was conducted by a 4 ship of Aggie piloted Eagles!  Wednesday was their practice flight to get all the timing points figured out.  

Believe it or not, while it looks easy, arriving at the 50 yard line at the exact specified time is fairly difficult. Yet it is viewed by several million people, critiqued by most (who've never done it), explained (while standing at attention) to the CO and deeply appreciated by one Ancient fighter pilot. Unfortunately, the game was Friday, Mrs. J and I had other duties and RTB'd that morning, so all we got to see was the practice.


Taken from the back yard of MBD/SIL's home.

 Yes, the Jet Noise was quite cathartic!

On a separate note, LJD**  is continuing to improve.  Thanksgiving in the NICU on a holiday apparently has similar characteristics to sitting Air Defense Alert.  You make the best of it, praying for the best, prepared for the worst.  Providing your own entertainment is the task of the day, and your heart stops just as fast there when the alarms go off as it does when the scramble klaxon sounds.

Fortunately, this year's Thanksgiving was uneventful.  Which was conducive to an impromptu fashion show organized by the staff.

You want me to do...WHAT?

MG has Trade Marked those facial expressions and apparently has several comedians paying large licensing fees to use them.  Who knew?

All good things must end and this day ended with the usual event.  A long walk.

I'm not ready yet, Mom, help me put your shoes on me, please!

And, of course, a juvat family Thanksgiving tradition.

The Thanksgiving Nap! Yep, MG is a fully trained juvat family member.

Finally, we got a bit of a gully washer Friday night.  Can't remember if I emptied the rain gauge after last week's contribution, but waking up Saturday, this was its level.

A little over 4"?  That would be wonderful, but going to have to wait on my Good Friend Cletus for confirmation.  If I didn't empty it, we would have received only an additional 2" (Only?, YGBSM juvat! You're right about that, Sarge, at this point we'll take all we can get.) There was a bit more supportive data for 4" however.

We don't usually get that much puddling unless it's rained quite a bit.  

 So, based on this, I went and looked at our "up stream" stock pond.  Lo and behold...

Haven't had water in either stock pond in well over a year! The point where I'm standing is the downstream side and is about 12' above the bottom. That puddling is probably 3 to 4' deep.

So, who knows?


As mentioned last week, the "Gathering of the Clan" will start this Thursday, the same gang as Thanksgiving will gather here at Rancho Juvat.  Highlight will be the Annual Parade of Lights Christmas Parade.  Chili, Corn Bread and Tortillas (and, almost certainly, Adult Recreational Beverages) will be served from my Pickup's bed.  Wx forecast is currently showing a low of 60 for the parade, so fingers are definitely crossed.

We'll see.

Peace out, y'all!

Per request from Suz.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Serves 4 as written. 

1 bag whole raw Brussel Sprouts

4-6 strips of nicely smoked Bacon

Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash Brussel Sprouts in bag and let dry.

Trim the stalk end as close to the leaves as you can.  (The stalk gets kinda growdy where it was cut from the plant, however, you want the leaves to remain attached.

Slice the bulb vertically 2-4 times (you'd like the slice to be about 1/4" -1/2" thick)

Spread in a pyrex baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Preheat oven to 425o

While oven is heating, cook bacon in separate pan until starting to brown but most of the fat is rendered. (You don't want it crispy at this point) 

Cut into square pieces and add to Brussel Sprouts.  Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of Bacon Drippings (doesn't that sound better than the "G" word?) over the Sprouts and stir in a bit.  Try not to separate leaves in the slices.

Cook until Bacon is cooked and Sprouts are browned (15-20) minutes. Season with Salt and Pepper.  It doesn't usually take much, the Bacon handles most of the saltiness.  But tastes differ...

Dish is easily up-scaled to fit larger groups.  Plan on 1 bag per 4 people and a similar multiplicative increase on the Bacon...Minimum.  More Bacon is better.  But you knew that.

*My Beautiful Daughter, Son-in-Law and My Granddaughter respectively.  (Need a better Nom d'Plume for SIL though. Suggestions encouraged.).

**Little Juvat's Daughter.

++For those that don't know. Aggies won 38-23!  Whoop!

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sports Ball News, Sort of ...

I don't ordinarily pay too much attention to college football, with a couple of exceptions: the University of Michigan and the Naval Academy. Both sons-in-law have connections to those schools. Big Time is from Michigan, both his parents went to school at Michigan. Tuttle is an alumnus of the Naval Academy.

So I like to see those two teams win. This weekend was kind of special as 3rd-ranked Michigan posted an impressive win over 2nd-ranked Ohio State. Better yet, there was a flyover before the game. The jets involved were from VFA-122, Big Time's squadron.

Yup, he flew one of those jets on Saturday. Not sure which position, he was the senior guy on scene, so he could pick whichever slot he wanted, I don't have word yet which position he picked. But he was there.

Apparently the pilots were on the ESPN pregame show, I saw a photo, couldn't find the rerun though.

The special thing about all this, to me at any rate, is that as this was an extended trip, all the way from Lemoore in California to Columbus in Ohio, the crews had to leave before Thanksgiving. So yeah, they'd be away from home on turkey day.

For that long a trip you bring your own maintenance guys, stands to reason. (Let me say this right here, before anyone bitches about the cost to do this, these flyovers are great recruiting tools.)

Anyhoo, my son-in-law wanted to know if the enlisted ground crews could attend the game. He was told "no." It's my understanding that he was on the cusp of cancelling the flyover if the enlisted guys couldn't attend.

The ticket-deniers caved, the enlisted guys got tickets and a bus to and from the game (the jets being at the airport).

Taking care of the troops, a key element in any leader's make-up.

Well done, Big Time, well done.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

There and Back Again ...

Long drive up to New Hampshire on Thanksgiving Day, the weather (and the traffic) cooperated nicely. We arrived in time to relax and chat for a couple of hours before heading out to eat Thanksgiving dinner here:

Fullerton Inn, Chester, VT
It was cold outside, but we were in front of large glass doors facing the west and the setting sun. It was warm, the food was good, and the company congenial.

Afterwards, we returned to my Mom's house where we chatted, watched football (there may have been some eggnog avec dark rum in there somewhere), and generally enjoyed each other's company.

Friday dawned chilly and wet. It drizzled nearly all the way back to Little Rhody but we arrived, alive and a tad tired, but in fine spirits. 

Anya wanted to know ...

Just where were you two all night?
She worries about us. Can't say I blame her.

Anyhoo, Christmas is upon us, the holiday season has begun.

I was reminded of that with this picture from The Nuke ...

Buzz is looking forward to the old holiday.

As am I.

Friday, November 25, 2022

I Had No Ideer ...¹

Whilst casting about for something to write about (still not in a fiction-writing mood, pretty long dry spell) I stumbled upon this website. (Go ahead chase the link, it has pictures of one of juvat's favorite things, wrecked tanks.)

As the title suggests, I was unaware of this place until recently. If I had known of it, I might have ventured out to visit it during my sojourn in Deutschland, but I didn't. So I didn't.

Anyhoo, how I stumbled upon the place is something of an interesting story, at least it provides some insight into how I get ideas for blog posts, those which aren't of a fictional bent at any rate.

I was looking at the old homestead in the Bundesrepublik² via Google Maps and my eyes strayed over the Hürtgenwald region. On my eye's way from Waldfeucht (where I spent seven plus years) to the Hürtgenwald I noted something odd, the annotation "Panzerwracks (M41 Walker Bulldog Panzer, M47 Patton Panzer)."

What? Tank wrecks? Why are American tank wrecks of a non-WWII nature there, near Aachen? Well, turns out it's a Bundeswehr³ training area, which, if you had chased that link above, is not a place to wander about when the Germans are shooting at things. Apparently it's only used during the week (Monday - Friday) as the German Army is very much a nine-to-five gig these days.

CORRECTION: At any rate, I wandered through the photos and realized that the two types of tanks there (I only saw two types) were both used in the movie Battle of the Bulge, which though very entertaining, was rather ahistorical. The M41 was NOT in the film. The Shermans were portrayed by M24 Chaffees.

The M41 Walker Bulldog (shown below) was used as a stand in for the M4 Sherman (also depicted below, in the same photo, which to me is kinda cool. The Sherman is in the background for those who don't know.)

M-41 Walker Bulldog
Now the M-47 Patton (shown below) was used in the film as a stand in for the mighty Tiger II (which is shown after the Patton).

M-47 Patton
While it's obvious to me that the Patton and the Tiger look nothing alike, movie goers in the '60s weren't quite as discerning as to one versus the other. No doubt some of the ETO vets in the audience knew the difference. No doubt quite a number didn't. Huh? What?

While it was common in the ETO for every enemy tank to be called a "Tiger" and every cannon an "88," in truth those two things weren't all that common. So many vets could have gone through the whole war without ever having seen a Tiger. But hey, when you film a movie in Spain, and they offer to let you repaint and use their tanks in that film, you do it. Besides which, 1965 was well before the days of CGI⁴.

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B "Tiger II"
Now in that film, every German tank was a "Tiger," as I mentioned above, the Tiger was a rare beast, most of the German tanks used during the Ardennes offensive in December of '44 were Panzer IVs or Panzer Vs (the Panther). Tigers were rare and didn't get very far. They were slow and used a crap ton of fuel, which the Germans didn't have a lot of. They were relying on capturing American fuel dumps to fuel their advance. One of which they drove right by, not knowing it was there.

Here's a clip from that movie, I have to say it had some big names in it. Having been in the area where the signpost is (Malmedy 17 km and Ambleve 16 km) the terrain in that area looks nothing like what's in the film. Just a caveat, after all, it was filmed in Spain. I haven't been to Spain, but I have been in the Ardennes, many times.

Still, as I mentioned above, it was a very entertaining film. Knowing what I know now it's not quite as entertaining as it was when I was 12. (Yes, Virginia, I was 12 in 1965 when I first saw the movie. I know, I know, I'm old ...)

While I'm showing clips, here's another, of the main topic of the post -

Interesting stuff, perhaps only to me.

Anyhoo, hope y'all had a pleasant and relaxing holiday.

Be seeing you.

¹ An old saying of Buck's, translates to "I had no idea ..."
² Federal Republic ... of Germany. Natürlich.
³ The armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany.
⁴ Computer Generated Imagery.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Jennie A. Brownscombe
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. (Source)

— George Washington

May you spend time with loved ones and may you have things to be thankful for ...

I know I do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Who Are You? Where Are You From?

Currier & Ives. American Homestead Winter. , ca. 1868.
[New York: Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St]
Good questions. Neither of which, for me, have simple answers.

Who I am has a lot to do with where I'm from. As you grow and experience different things, these things become a part of you and make you who you are as a person. You might not even notice.

I've lived all over the place, Vermont, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Japan, Korea, and Germany. Different places, different cultures, different experiences. All of those places and what I did there, experienced there, had their effect on me.

Where I'm from, originally, is Vermont. But the Vermont of my youth seems long gone, as alien to the current place as Japan is to Germany. The Vermont I remember best of all is when I was a kid, in the early '60s.

Both sets of grandparents were still alive, all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles were as well. We all lived within a twenty-mile radius (centered on my house, of course, that's the way kids think) and we gathered on the two major holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Picnics in the summer, family dinners throughout the year, we knew each other.

So part of me hails from Vermont of the early '60s, I have strong memories of those days.

But I'm also "from" the Air Force, spent twenty-four years there. Who I am these days was shaped heavily by my time in the service. Truth be told though, I was a terrible airman. Hated authority, drank too much, and generally played the fool. A couple of good sergeants helped straighten my ass out. At least enough to recognize the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life with when I met her. She completed my transition to being a responsible adult. (And she has the gray hairs to prove it!)

I spent a lot of time in Asia, specifically Okinawa and Korea. Never "went native," whatever that means, but I was comfortable there. Spoke enough Korean to get by (once caught a train from Taegu to Taejon then a cab to Kunsan all by myself) never picked up much Japanese, living on the base you don't interact much with the locals, something I regret.

My best assignment? Germany just edges out Korea, primarily because I speak a lot of German. Got pretty good at it when I was there, spoke (much of it has atrophied) decent conversational German. According to one of my acquaintances I had no accent, which The Missus Herself laughed at until my friend explained that when I spoke German, I sounded German. Which I thought a good thing, until I went to Belgium.

We were at a military remembrance ceremony in the Ardennes and I was in an establishment where I ordered a red wine, in French. The guy sitting next to me started laughing. Wanting to improve my abysmal French I asked the chap if I had said something incorrectly.

"Non monsieur, but you speak French with a German accent."

Kinda cool, but not in a place where the folks have long memories.

Returning to the civilian world back in 1999 was strange to say the least. It took some getting used to but fortunately I had (and still have) an interesting job working with really good people. Yes, we have our share of knuckleheads, so did the military, but once you identify them you can work around them or avoid them.

So who am I? Well, I'm a dad, a granddad, a son, and a brother. All those things shaped me.

Which me is the most fun? The granddad, that's for sure.

Am I from Rhode Island? Nope, I live there. No doubt I have picked up a few Rhode Islander traits as this is the longest I've lived anywhere. Lived twenty-two years in Vermont, twenty-three (and counting) in Little Rhody, but where you spend your formative years, those are the most telling. So at heart I'm a Vermonter, always will be, but a Vermonter of the 1960s. So I'm out of place and out of time in many ways.

My kids? Well, one born in Korea, one in Colorado, one in Wyoming, ask them where they're from and you'll get different answers. My son considers himself a New Englander as he went to college there. He's a big Red Sox fan. The daughters? Hard to say, The Nuke is very fond of Colorado and considers it her "home state," but she spent a number of formative years in Germany, though her friends were mostly American and Canadian. LUSH, well she spent the same amount of time in Germany as the rest of us did, she has kind of adopted Michigan as her home state because her husband Big Time is from there. But I think deep down inside, she's a New Englander like her brother and Yours Truly.

So yeah, who I am varies with who I'm with. Where I'm from? Let's just say that I have a peculiar fondness for maple syrup and snowy landscapes. And speaking French with a German accent.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Ukraine - The View from Poland, November Update

Editor's Note: This post was submitted by our Polish correspondent Paweł Kasperek. His thoughts and opinions on the matter do not necessarily match my own. Map is included above to help get your bearings while reading.

Ewok Report, part whatever ...

1. Fall of Kherson.

As we presumably all know, Russia seems to have made first rational strategic decision of the war, and retreated troops from Kherson area on the West side of Dnepr river, while they still could.

It is assumed that was due to new, lately appointed CINC for the entire war. General Surovikin. He gained reputation for ruthlessness, but also for efficiency in the Russian expeditionary war in Syria.

He apparently convinced Putin that bleeding the men and material in an untenable position is not worth political goal of annexation. The men and arms instead would be better used shoring up the defenses, until, hopefully, mobilization effort shows results.

2. Bakhmut brawl.

Meanwhile, only area where Russians still were attacking was the area near of city of Bakhmut, south of areas liberated by Ukrainians earlier near Kharkiv. Note that main effort here was not by main army, but Wagner group mercenaries, drawing heavily on prisoners released in exchange for volunteering. There has been a speculation that this offensive, bloody and at a crawling pace of maybe kilometer per week, is vanity project of the Wagner founder and long time Kremlin insider Prighozin, former prisoner himself in 1980s, who managed to become first restaurateur, then catering provider for the Kremlin, earning nickname of "Putin's Cook". The speculation seems to be valid, because originally it was designed as a part of two-pincer move to encircle Ukrainian forces between Bakhmut and northern occupied areas near Izyum, but the latter are long gone due to Ukrainian counteroffensives, leaving one pincer with nothing to connect with ...

3. V-1 offensive, redux.

On another front, one that is far behind conventional lines, Russia seems to be betting on massive waves of drones and cruise missiles aimed at energetic and heating infrastructure, in Kyiv but as well in other major Ukraine cities. Last and most massive wave of attacks happened on the 15th of November. The aim is, like with V-1 strikes of WW2 to break civilian morale, with missiles because Russia failed to secure skies enough for conventional bombing. Increased precision of the weapons means increased physical results, but as history shows bombing the enemy into surrender rarely works - about the only exception was nuclear bombing of Japan, and not because of direct effect itself, because previous bombings were as devastating if not more, but because it gave Emperor the excuse he needed to intervene into political tug of war between war and capitulate factions in the government.

Ukrainians will heat themselves with wood-fueled stoves made from barrels and pipes if needed, but they wont give up.

4. Polish border incident.

This ties up nicely into next event, as stray missile landed 6 km into Poland, killing 2 people at relatively empty countryside. Lots of wild speculations were cast initially, but joint investigation by US and Polish services indicates it was Ukrainian SA-10 (S-300) SAM which apparently failed to self-destruct after missing intercepted Russian missile.

Thankfully government played it cool and I think this is good news. Bad news is, next time it could be Russian missile, with half ton warhead, in some more urban area. If there were 50 victims, I can't even imagine extent of possible pressure on government to exact some sort of revenge then.

5. What next?

It seems that both sides are not even nearing the point that they could consider even meeting , let alone making peace.

For the Ukrainian side, CDR Salamander has excellent piece on possible offensive COA:

Despite being primarily navalist, I hold him in high esteem, and he has been in enough joint staff operations to know what he is talking about.

For the Russian side, it is much harder to predict. The very decision to invade was a massive gamble, the way in which it was executed, even more gamble and both those gambles were evidently made on wrong assumptions about everything from own forces, to Ukrainian resistance, to West support for Ukraine.

But, from what I see, except for Bakhmut, the idea for now is to hold defence, train up massive million or 2 millions strong army and attack again in spring or summer.

The problem is, with losses of tanks and artillery pieces going in thousands, and overall bad state of recruits. The most intelligent ones, and the most enterprising made their way to places like Georgia, Khazakhstan, and even Mongolia in numbers exceeding those mobilised by wide margin, leaving military with sad bunch of 40- to -50 year olds with bad condition and often alcohol problems. (This also cripples the economy, but at this moment only part of economy Putin gives rats ass about is weapons and ammo production).

Speaking of weapons producers, it seems years of hollowed out budgets resulted in factories ready to deliver half-tested Su-57 and Armata tanks - in single digit numbers, or at best dozens a year. Russia had to resort to plundering Belarus semi-ally for weapons and ammo, and reportedly buying ammo in North Korea. What is proven, that in regards for drones, Russia has to rely on Iran. So the mighty have fallen... Stalin is rolling in his grave, probably.

As for the territorial ways of Russian advance, there is three possible places.

1.Suicide drive thru lower Dnieper, to retake Kherson and go further to Nikolaev and Odessa.

Least likely. Forcing major river is hard, it took Soviet almost million casualties in 1943. And if they planned to attack there again they would not give up Kherson.

2.Second drive on Kyiv.

Not likely either. Some have speculated about Putin strong-arming Lukashenko, into sending his meagre army to shore up Russian numbers. Reality is that Byelorussians have even less incentives to fight than Russians, and best case they would melt away, worst case, turn guns on Russians... and the last thing Putin is need another country to pacify, and bad example for own troops. Note that in 2020 when Lukashenko had to pacify massive protests after he falsified elections, he didn't trust his army and used loyalty-picked security detachments.

3.Take control of Donbas, entrench and ask for peace.

My most likely Red COA¹. Bakhmut drive might be way to complete territorial takeover of Donetsk province, allowing for a settlement along the lines of control. Of course there is a big question of what Ukrainian side manages to recapture in the meantime ... And if they will be willing to agree to such peace.

If they complete the actions envisioned in Salamanders article, the fall of Crimea can not be excluded. I decline to envisage possible results for the political stability in Russia ... or its military reactions then.

Ewok out!

links to interesting things:

Kherson campaign analysis in detail

Bakhmut offensive analysis 



¹ COA = Course of Action

Monday, November 21, 2022

Weekly Sitrep (Holiday Version)

 Well Campers, another week in the history book.  Nothing earth shattering to add to the record.  But...still some milestones passed.

Oh, yeah, like what, juvat?

Thanks for askin', Beans!

On the episode that currently occupies a large portion of our lives, LJD * is doing well and making good progress.  Little Juvat got a call from the Nurses night before last (Friday).  That's always an adrenaline raising event when one reads the incoming caller ID.  Fortunately, it was  some good news.  LJD now weighs in at 7lbs.  Given that her birth weight was 1Lb 2 Oz, that's pretty darn good news.

Thank you, Lord!

Little J and LJW's visit yesterday also provided a bit more good news.  Now, as I've said before, I'm not a Doctor, nor have I played one on TV, but the actual Doctor and the Nursing Staff have recommended a change in some of LJD's treatment.  Evidently, one of the last, but key, problems with Preemie development is lung capacity.  LJD has been on a fairly high level of supplemental O2 since birth.  And here's where my understanding of what's going on and what might really be going on may start diverging.

Basically, there are two key data points with respect to breathing.  One is the amount of supplemental (pure) Oxygen that's added to her breathing tubes.   The other is her breathing rate.  Obviously, there's a inverse relation between the two.  If there's more O2 in the air, she doesn't have to breathe as often and vice versa.

But...What the staff is recommending, and Little J and LJW have agreed to, is to reduce the supplemental oxygen level slowly and incrementally and keep a close eye on her breathing rate.  The intent here is to get her lungs to develop to the point that the breathing rate with the oxygen level in normal air (~21% O2) will be sufficient.  She's steadily moved down in % supplemental O2 from 4+ liters/minute to 3 with excursions below.  Much like any exercise, the more you do and the more you challenge yourself, the more muscle (or in this case, Lung) capability you have.  

So...We'll see.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that LJD was starting to develop some personality and ability to express herself somewhat.  Below, is a prime example of what I mean.

Apparently, she had just discovered that diapers smell.  Bad!  But, I'm pretty sure this photo will reappear later in life (say at her engagement dinner). 

Sorry, Lord, I had to chuckle!

I have learned that sitting in a easy chair, in hospital garb, while holding an infant on your chest in a darkened room, well...


It's EXTREMELY relaxing and nap inducing. Fortunately, my snoring did not awaken any of the sleeping babes in the room.

So, to change the subject, juvat, how are the Christmas projects coming?

Thanks for asking, Sarge.  Not too bad.  A little behind schedule on the final project, but have passed a couple of key milestones on it.  Photos below will document the key points in each project's progress, but since a couple of Ladies in my life are known must maintain required security levels.

MBD's present

MBD's present is ready for deployment.

Mrs J's is a little further behind, but progress is continuing.

Mrs J's present

I'm fairly happy with the final product on the first and the progress on the other.  But...Still a ways to go on the latter.  Please keep any suggestions/ideas/ID's to yourselves. While writing this post, I had to snatch my phone out of Mrs J's hands while she was helping me try to download photos for inclusion in it.  The "In Progress" pics, might would definitely have let the cat out of the bag.

Hope all y'all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We're celebrating it this year in College Station.  MBD and SIL have (very bravely) offered to host it.  Both sides of their family will be present.  16 Adults plus kids.  Lots of "Prep Work" going on between now and then.  Then, we'll be reciprocating with "The Gathering of the Clans" at our place in Early December.  Both events should be "Highly Entertaining". 

I hope to develop this ability at some point in my life.


 See you next week.


*Little Juvat's Daughter, Mrs J and my second grandaughter, born 15 weeks prematurely and still in the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit in San Antonio.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Winter Quarters

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge
John Ward Dunsmore (PD)
The older I get it seems the more I feel the cold. Oddly enough, I also seem less bothered by the cold. To try and make sense of that, consider this - what I think of as "cold" in my late-60s, I would have considered mild not too many years ago. But I also find myself less annoyed by the cold, I put on another layer of clothing and shrug it off.

I like the cold far more than I like the heat, perhaps it's a trait common to those born and raised in colder climes. I'm not saying it applies to all of us up here, there are many who head to warmer climes as soon as they can. Based on experience, Florida is not my cup of tea, too damned hot in the summer.

All things considered though, Little Rhody is far less inhospitable, weather-wise, than let's say, Buffalo. Did you see the amount of snow they had just a day or so ago? Been there, done that, don't really care for that sort of thing.

It's all about the extremes really.

I've weathered 110° and -40°, while it does get much more extreme in places where human beings dwell, those two boundary temperatures are about all I can tolerate. (For those who wonder, -40° will kill you, just as soon as look at you. DAMHIK)

But winter is on its way to to the north, it's already arrived in some spots.

When Buzz and his parents visited just a couple of weeks ago, the weather was incredible, 70s during the day, high 50s at night. Now we're down in the mid-30s at night and soaring to the mid-40s during the day. Tolerable enough if it wasn't for the wind. That stuff cuts right through you.

The yard work is just about done for the year (we still need to "winterize" the koi pond) and most (90%) of the leaves are down and dealt with. So it's time to go into "winter quarters." Which means that we'll hunker down (more or less) until the spring comes.

Haven't seen any snow yet, last year we had some in October, but I can wait. A couple of inches on the ground to make it look fresh and clean is nice, we've had our "Ice Station Zebra" moments around here, but fortunately that's rare enough. (Mind you I'm speaking of Arctic-like weather, no Cold War, heh, references intended.)

I'm in what you might call, stand-down mode, relaxing as much as I can while the world seemingly goes effing, bloody insane.

Don't care for extremes in politics as well, I'll stick to the middle of the road thanks. Don't bug me, I won't bug you.

Carry on, enjoy your Sunday.