26 February 2009

Death Threat Tarnishes US Army Human Terrain System

[See my 30 May 2008 article on Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores, written as she started training for the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System program. I had imagined that my article would be the beginning of a series of stories about her experiences during a 13-month tour "downrange," the modern military euphemism for the war zones. For thousands of years young men have marched off to war full of patriotism and a sense of adventure. Marilyn, a middle-age woman, similarly stirred by the call to duty, found that the most immediate enemy was in her own foxhole... and in the Five-Sided Foxhole on the Potomac.  --TG]

Death Threat Tarnishes US Army Human Terrain System
Mata La Vaca: Kill the Cow

by John Stanton

26 February 2009

Sources indicate that Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of (D-California) awaits the results of an investigative report by the US Army 101st Airborne Command, stationed at Bagram AB in Afghanistan, into allegations of a death threat made against Dr. Dudley-Flores -- a former senior female Human Terrain Team (HTT) member deployed to Bagram -- by an active duty lieutenant in colusion with the HTT leader. The death threat was written on a white board and was included in a "to do" list. It read, according to sources, "Mata La Vaca" which translates into "Kill The Cow." Immediately after that incident, other female members of the HTT began to arm themselves apparently because they feared that male members of the HTT, along with a few in the 101st Airborne, were out to get them.

The death threat was the culmination of an effort, say sources, to malign Dudley-Flores credibility with fellow HTT members and the 101st Airborne, and put the women in their place. Sources allege that through the months of November and December 2008, Flores-Dudley and other HTT female members were deliberately put in harm's way by Milan Sturgis -- a former HTT leader -- who sent Flores-Dudley and female HTT members in known hot areas, like Qarabagh) where the Taliban was active, and, in one instance, knowingly had them wait for seven hours on a remote airstrip for a airlift back to Bagram, AB. Sturgis was nearly terminated for, copying wholesale, and changing the facts in a report authored by another HTS member. And, according to sources, Sturgis had mental health issues.

Further, the active duty lieutenant charged with protecting Dudley-Flores and female teammates acted with discredit by fleeing and not covering Dudley-Flores when she was fired upon (fire incident) and; in another incident, leaving his sidearm and other arms in a Humvee while a female HTT member was inside a structure interviewing Afghans who, it was later found out, were Taliban seeking intelligence.

Rat Fucking Campaign

Sturgis and the first lieutenant sought to falsify the after action report (AAR) on the fire incident and, it is alleged -- according to sources -- that Sturgis and the first lieutenant instructed Dudley-Flores to meet them alone in an isolated part of a building, apparently, to convince her to change her mind about what the AAR should look like. According to sources, fearing for her safety, Dudley-Flores went up the chain of command at Bagram in an attempt to avoid the meeting. It was at this point in late December 2008 that the females -- some on the advice of spouses and partners -- started to arm themselves.

Dudley-Flores and fellow HTT female members were also subjected to sexual harassment and abuse by Milan Sturgis and his cohorts. Sources say that Sturgis, in collusion with other HTT members (male) and individuals in the 101st Airborne led a "rat fucking campaign" against Dudley Flores. That campaign played on the fact that, according to sources, Dudley-Flores was overweight. The "rat fuckers" according to sources claimed that Dudley-Flores was unable to buckle her body armor or even get in and out of a Humvee. Further, because of her weight, Dudley-Flores was nicknamed by male HTT members and some in the 101st Airborne as "The Cow." In one instance, a picture of a 500-pound stripper on hands and knees with a midget on top was placed on her desk.

Dudley-Flores was called the Chief Cow by male HTT teammates and, according to sources, phrases like, "The HTT needs more cow bells," appeared on homemade posters around the HTT office. Dudley-Flores was also accused, falsely according to sources, of telling 101st Airborne officers (up to 20) that she was "the first infantry woman in the US Army." In late December2008/early January 2009, Dudley-Flores was terminated for non-performance.

Former US Army National Guard Lieutenant Dudley-Flores was the first certified woman combat mountaineer in the Alaska's US Army National Guard and has hundreds of hours of small arms training. She also worked in Pakistan during the USSR's occupation of Afghanistan helping refugees.

While she was at the University of South Carolina, she and her colleagues developed a rudimentary social networking/human terrain mapping-type program to assist victims of the war in Kuwait. That program, the Victim Assessment Database, was to be used in Kuwait after the first Gulf War but the US government showed no interest.

Sources claim that HTS management knew of many of these activities targeted at Dudley-Flores and did not act. In July 2007, in a briefing designed for LTG John Kimmons (http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/), HTS management knew it had personnel and organizational problems. Those apparently were ignored in favor of marketing the "concept". Once again, oversight of HTS program has been negligent resulting in the many problems already documented in past articles.[For a copy of the briefing to LTG Kimmons, contact cioran123[at]yahoo.com.]

In the end, Congresswomen Woolsey's staff had her pulled out of Afghanistan because they feared for her life.

How Professors Fight
Fear and Loathing in Afghanistan
Exposing the Information Operatives, Part One

18 February 2009

Soviet Shuttle Pondered for Plugging US Space Gap

By Thomas Gangale

With NASA set to retire its Space Shuttle fleet in 2010, and facing a five-year hiatus before its new Constellation system can be developed to replace it, a November 2008 Russian news article considered the possibility of solving the US space gap by reviving a Soviet space shuttle project that was shelved 20 years ago.

Soviet space shuttle could bail out NASA

The idea reads like "Plan 8 From Outer Space," not quite up to Ed Wood's high standards.

That one of the pilots who test-flew the Soviet space shuttle Buran would say the things attributed to him is only believable if he has spent the years since the project was canceled drowning his disappointment in cheap vodka. The news article quotes Magomet Talboyev as stating, "The Energiya-Buran programme was started to get the capability to attack the United States, just like the shuttle was able to attack the USSR. We also wanted to take the Skylab space station from orbit. Buran was supposed to put it in its cargo bay and deliver it back to Earth for studies."

First, a legal point: if the Soviet Union were to have taken Skylab without the permission of the United States government, under international law, it would have committed history's first act of piracy on the high frontier. But, the Soviets were always proud of their space "firsts." I can see the insignia on the Soviet shuttle now: a gold skull on a red field, with the crossed swords replaced by the crossed hammer and sickle. Argh! Johnny Depp is looking over the script, Pirates of the Korabl Buran.

Next, an historical point: if the Buran were intended "to take the Skylab space station from orbit," it faced severe schedule constraints. The first (and only) Buran unmanned orbital mission flew in November 1988, and its first manned flight was not expected before 1994. By then, the major components of Skylab had been sitting at the bottom of the Indian Ocean for 15 years; it fell out of orbit in July 1979.

Of course, noting the Soviet penchant for copying American technology, it's entirely possible that they were planning to fit the end of the Buran's remote manipulator arm with a claw-like device similar to the one that the Glomar Explorer used to pick up a section of a sunken Soviet submarine in July 1974. But, probably more technically feasible, and certainly just as legal, would have been to land the Buran on the Capitol Mall, steal the Skylab backup vehicle out of the National Air and Space Museum, and take off again (an atmospheric test vehicle version of the Buran was equipped with jet engines). Or, just buy an admission ticket... you can see whatever you want.

There are a number of other technical considerations.

The Buran's physical dimensions were nearly identical to the US Space Shuttle, whose payload bay has a 15-foot diameter; Skylab was 22 feet in diameter. If the payload don't fit... well, I don't know of any chop shops in space.

The only way I know of for a US Space Shuttle to "attack" a ground target is by raining all over it, a capability it demonstrated in February 2003 when Columbia "attacked" Texas.

But the main point of the article was reviving the Buran project and offering it to NASA. The US is retiring its own shuttle fleet, which is based on 1970s technology, but has nevertheless flown more than 120 successful missions. Why would it make sense to resurrect a program based on shoddy Soviet reverse engineering of 1970s US technology, and which was abandoned before it achieved a single manned flight?

Now, here we get back to schedule considerations: given that the first manned flight of the Soviet space shuttle was five years in the future at the time the program was suspended in 1979, it is difficult to see how a reconstituted program would be able to launch a manned mission less than five years from the turn-on date. The US plans to have the Constellation system flying by then, so what would be the point?

The Russian Federation... bringing you yesterday's technology tomorrow!

It would take a least a year to locate the old Buran engineers, pull them out of the bars, and run them through detox programs. And, you would really need to find these guys. Documentation was never as central to aerospace culture in the Soviet Union as it has always been in the United States; if you wanted to know how something worked, you had to go down the hall and ask Yuri. This is how Yuri protected his job security.

It didn't protect Buran, however. The Russian article mentions that the only Soviet shuttle that ever flew in space was destroyed in 2002 when a roof collapsed at Baikonur. Would you like to fly with guys who couldn't even built a decent hangar roof for one of their country's historical treasures? Dumayu, chto nyet!

I'm relieved that the article stated that "some American and Russian scientists are beginning to think of ways to revive the Buran programme." I'm glad he said "scientists;" if they were engineers, I'd be embarrassed. But it's appropriate to the name of Buran, which means "snowstorm," to propose such a scheme; if it were actually put over on NASA, it would be the snow job of the century.