Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A New Army College Program?

When the U.S. Army airs recruiting commercials they usually say something about earning money for college or getting quality training you can get no where else. This usually requires some level of commitment of service to get that education benefit, fair enough. But Captain Mary Hanna of the Army Reserve seems to be trying a creative way of getting that education benefit without the service obligation.

From the Boston Globe Doctor's call-up by Army is Halted

The US Army paid $184,000 for Mary Hanna to go to Tufts University School of Medicine for four years, and in exchange she agreed to serve four years of active duty and another four in the reserve after becoming a doctor.

But just before Christmas, as she was nearing the end of her anesthesiology residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Hanna, 30, of Somerville notified the Army that her religious beliefs were now ``incompatible with military service."

Mary says she rediscovered her religion as a devout Coptic Orthodox Christian and "cannot participate in war in any form.". She is asking to be discharged as a conscientious objector. But the Army is not sending her to Iraq or Afghanistan no she is to be stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Of course the Army Reserve Captain and her lawyer say she's willing to pay back the $184,000 government investment in her education. Not that a qualified anesthesiologist in the Boston healthcare market would have much trouble with paying that back in a couple of years.

What I don't understand is how a doctor who took a Hippocratic oath and knew that joining the Army would mean treating injured soldiers in wartime could all of a sudden find both in opposision to her faith at the very moment she get orders to report for duty. Timing seems odd to me.

I think that Ms Hanna needs to take a lesson from the life of another conscientious objector, Desmond Doss, WWII U.S Army Medic and Congressional Metal of Honor recipcient.

Citation: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. He was a company aid man when the lst Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Desmond Doss was a devout member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and refused to kill or carry a gun. Mr. Doss died earlier this year

Read War Hero Without a Gun to understand the true meaning of a conscientious objector and how religious beliefs can be compatible with military service.

Ms Hanna put whatever political beliefs you have aside and look to your faith and medical oath to fill your obligations. In refusing to serve you are waging war against those who protect your freedom to be a conscientious objector.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Soviet AGIs and DASOs Remembered

A little news film entertainment for us old Boomer weenies.

Yes, the Soviet AGIs were a pain in the butt back then. Station the AGI tracking party, and remember no ship's ball caps topside.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

NIE Intel and motivated Terrorists

Tom Barnett blogs on the recent debate generated by the Washington Post and NYT reporting of now Iraq is making us less safe.

"This analysis is typical intell stuff: obvious, useless, and playing into a do-nothing mind-set that here says, "Do nothing to piss off the terrorists!"

Duh! When we engage the security situation--any security situation--in the Middle East, we piss off (and create more) terrorists. We do it when we're pro-active, like in Iraq. We do it when we're passive, like our military support to Israel. And we do it when we're behind the scenes, like our intell co-op with regimes throughout the region.

So it's never been a question of whether or not we piss off terrorists (who live to be pissed off, and when there's not enough going on, they'll get jacked over a film (e.g., Van Gogh), a book (Rushdie), a speech (Benedict)--whatever)."

Capitan Ed at Captain Quarters also argues that the conclusion reached "makes the classic logical fallacy of confusing correlation with causation" citing how "Islamist radicalism didn't just start expanding in 2003" and concludes by saying "fighting terrorists and upsetting their plans for regional domination will make them mad".

Then the Counterterroism blog notes that "The 1997 NIE, the last one before the 9/11 attacks on global terrorism, mentioned bin Laden in only three sentences as a "terrorist financier" and didn't reference al-Qaeda at all". So much for historical credibility.

This debate won't get political will it?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


“Deployed” in a word that is what I’ve felt like over the last few months and why I’ve been absent from this blog since early July. Deployed also describes the software I’ve been the Project Manager (PM) for during that time as well. Let me explain my analogy to a submarine deployment and work environment.

My experience running a software project and outsourcing the development work to off-shore (India) has been a bit like being at sea, long hours under difficult conditions. Typically I worked a 12 to 18 hour day with, on average, four hours of sleep. On a good day I could go down for six, on a bad day it was about two hours in the rack. Muster for the India developer team was 11:00 pm EST (8:30 IST Bangalore) with a 1 hour conference call. Action items from that call resulted in another one to two hours of work for me and setting the day’s priorities for the developers. Roll out of the rack at 06:30 to be on watch at the client site at 07:30 am.

Each day at my client’s site involved a standard set of work expectations interrupted by a set of disaster drills. The delivered software would either blowup, meltdown or some sort of anomaly would occur to make me wish the previous deployment of the software was my last. The reality was I had a job to do and the client and my boss were dependent on me to drive through the issues and finish.

The primary responsibility I had as the PM was to ensure that the deliverables; specifications, U/I design prototypes and finally the production software were completed on time and on budget. It didn’t happen and went over on time and budget. Although I was impressed by the work ethic of my team in India, they were constantly delinquent “dink” on my project milestones. Walkthroughs of the specifications from the off-shore team required two to five passes before the client would signoff. The business knowledge and quality control of my off-shore team became a major concern. I eventually was standing in as a Business Analyst, QA Engineer and Technical Writer in addition to the PM role I signed on for. Not where I wanted to be on a fixed bid contract that had lost its entire on-site technical staff to another larger project.

Then a real causality happened. Leaving station and heading back to home port one evening I had a head on collision when another driver who decided that with limited visibility he would chance crossing two lanes of city traffic during rush hour. His gamble with a left hand turn in front of a stopped truck resulted in me finding my air bags deployed and not knowing what had just happened.

That coincided with the low point in the project. User Acceptance Testing UAT was ongoing and the level of software bugs was excessive.

Things tuned around when I as able to get my on-site technical team back from the other project. These guys put the extra effort forward to get the project back on track doing midnight calls with me and the developers in India and working extra hours at the client’s site. We identified inefficiencies and errors in the developed code and communicated them back to the off-shore developers.

Working with a team of qualified people started to become fun again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on Indian programmers, two of my best on-site resources were from India. But my first deployment involving off-shore developed software created some hard lessons learned about capabilities and managing a project of this type.

Word to the wise; be prepared for some rough water when you’re deployed to a different ocean.

It’s good to be back. - LL