Welcome to The WatchCat
Thursday, November 15 2018 @ 11:03 am PST

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PJ Pics

PJ StuffMembers of the 103rd Rescue Squadron, 101st Rescue Squadron and the 106th Security Forces Squadron worked together during a search and rescue training exercise on November 3, 2009 at F.S. Gabreski (ANG) in Westhampton Beach, New York. The exercise simulated a downed HH-60 with a four-person crew, and was designed to ensure proficiency in patient treatment while working with supporting aircraft in a tactical environment (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris S. Muncy)

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Few Good Men...

PJ Stuff"On the last day of the search, it was clear that all of the elements had turned against us. The avalanche danger was so severe that even stable slopes had started to slide, making it impossible for climbers to head up the mountain. Also, a storm system had covered the mountain with clouds, posing a serious challenge to the Army National Guard helicopters that were helping us search from the air...

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Riding with Reagan

General NewsI just finished reading retired Secret Service agent John Barletta's book, Riding With Reagan, courtesy of blog reader RJ.

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Securing the Cookies

General NewsSome elements of my life are entirely too predictable.

Just about any time I do significant travel (i.e. more than a short jaunt for a friend's wedding) it is accompanied by tragedy or significant event. Yeah, I can already hear the comments... don't go there. Princess Diana... Columbine... JFK Jr... the assassination of an American in Beirut... the last transatlantic trip seemed easy in comparison since the only thing that happened was that I switched on my cell phone to discover that my new job had just disappeared because the big contract had been pulled. It does keep things in perspective...

As I mentioned earlier, security was fierce on the westward trip. The European security people have lost face due to the attempted attack on the Delta flight, and now they're trying to recover. As I was standing in line to be frisked in London, I had visions of a 9/11 type atmosphere at US airports. The way European security was acting, another attack was surely imminent.

Imagine my surprise when I went through security at Seattle and discovered that visible procedures were exactly the same as when I left. It was surreal... the Europeans being more aggressive on security than us? Although it did remind me of the old days when the Paris train stations were guarded by guys with AK-47s or the equivalent.

The European strategy is largely defensive. There are pros and cons to this, but it can work in the short term. Our American response appears to be lighter on defense, and more dependent upon offense. Problem is that the Obama administration has only been doing short-term offense, rolling up sources and trying for a good "plays well with others" grade. Guess what? Playing well with others is a lousy priority for running a country.

As Americans we have an odd perspective on government, although most citizens haven't taken the time to really think it through. We have more power over our government than pretty much any other country on earth, although we quickly try to disassociate ourselves the instant policies go awry. Since in some form we are the government, we tend to assume that the rules of private life and government conduct are the same. If we treat people of all nationalities well in our daily lives, we assume that should be the foundation for our foreign policy or national security policy. Sounds nice and cozy, doesn't it? If there's milk and cookies to be had, they should be shared amongst all the children, right?

But that's not the purpose of government. On the most basic level, government is in place to protect the interests of its nation. It only protects its neighbor's interests when the home nation receives benefit in some way.
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New Year

General NewsSo I'm safely back in the USA after three weeks overseas. I had to mail half my stuff home via the base, I have what is probably the worst jet lag of my life, and to top it off, I've been sick for two weeks straight now. Yes, those items are at least somewhat interrelated!

Despite all that, it was a good trip. We squeezed in some excellent sightseeing, lots of family time (although it's never enough) and even saved the flight's Christmas party. And I think the flight commander finally figured out what I'm made of. We've known each other forever but have always struggled to connect, but when he figured out how sick I was the day after the party, I think he realized just how hard I pushed myself to make it all happen. It was a good thing, especially since he needs to know I have his back on an upcoming deployment.

A lot of topics I want to cover in the next few days... European airline security was quite interesting, as you might imagine. The Italians even wiped my clothes for explosive residue. It had me a bit nervous, actually, wondering if somehow something had cross-contaminated onto me. They just kept coming at me for further searches. London was interesting as well, although I wasn't targeted at all there. But everyone boarding our flight was frisked and their bags hand searched in addition to the normal metal detectors etc. But I forgot all about it when I got to my seat. We received an upgrade to Business Class on British Airways... Oh the bliss.... Seats that recline to a fully flat position, gourmet meals and unlimited adult beverages... semi-private compartments (and no one in the seat that shared my space), designer toiletries to erase some of the effects of trans-Atlantic travel... Truly an amazing way to travel. And to top it off, business class seemed to be well-populated with military types. I had a suspicion that they were handing out a lot of upgrades, and it made sense from a security perspective. Business class is of course near the *censored*pit, and if there's space available it makes sense to populate it with people who could actually be useful in a crisis.
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Wednesday Hero

Wednesday Hero BlogrollChief Warrant Officer 2 Olga Elliott

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Olga Elliott, a Multi-National Corps-Iraq human resources technician, poses with MNC-I Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe after finishing the Bobby Crim 10-Miler Aug. 22, at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Elliott, a San Diego native, finished the race in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 57 seconds, earning her top female honors.

Photo Courtesy United States Army

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero. We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Wishing You a Merry Christmas

General NewsI have just a minute or two as I wait for my chance to shower...

I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Today is bittersweet as I am away from my own faith community, my friends and most of my family. As I write, my host is away, taking an NCO to the airport who is trying to get home in time to say a last goodbye.


A bunch of us are still sick. (I'm much better than I was though; thanks for the good wishes and inquiries.) We're away from home and trying to make a good Christmas for others here. It's not an easy Christmas, but this year, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Have a wonderful day. I'll write more when the dust settles.
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If You're Wondering

General News...I'm traveling at the moment. Not a whole lot of reliable internet available.

All is well except for me having what I hope is just a very nasty cold. Unfortunately this means that when I get back to my hotel, I just check email and fall into bed. I'll try to post some deeper things as soon as possible.

And if I don't have a chance to say this before the day, have a very Merry Christmas!
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PJ Pic

PJ StuffPararescue students work as fast as they can during a mass casualty exercise that
simulated an explosion on a base at 4 in the morning. (U.S Air Force photos by Tech
Sgt. Matthew Hannen)

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PJ Pic

PJ StuffDeputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III greets Air Force pararescue jumpers
while touring a Role 3 hospital in Bastion , Afghanistan , on Sept.10, 2009. DoD
photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison, U.S. Air Force. (Released)