Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day Weekend 2010: We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

On May 27th 2010 the US Military experienced the loss of its 1000th KIA in Afghanistan. The young man killed was Corporal Jacob C Leicht of Kerrville Texas.  Corporal Leicht was assigned to 1st Light Armor Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division Camp Pendleton California. Corporal Leicht had previously served in Iraq where he had been badly wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that hit the HUMMV that he was traveling in.  Pulled to safety by his Iraqi interpreter Leicht spent the two years recovering from those injuries engaged in a letter and phone call campaign to get back into the fight with his fellow Marines.  He was killed when he stepped on a land mine during that desperately sought after second tour. His younger brother Jesse Leicht who just 10 days ago enlisted in the Marines said “He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered, he didn’t want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something.”  Please keep his family and his fellow Marines in your prayers this Memorial Day.

Last year I was very melancholy during Memorial Day and stories of young Marines, Soldiers and Sailors killed in the line of duty usually cause me to reflect on the sacrifice that the young men and women who volunteer to serve our country make on a daily basis while most of the country goes about its business often oblivious to the wars being waged by our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers in Afghanistan, Iraq and other lesser known fronts in this war.  Last year I was still very much in the midst of my PTSD crash and struggling with depression and faith.  At the same time I was still remembering all of the veterans who made a difference in my life.  That was covered in the posts Memorial Day 2009- Thoughts and Musings and Remembering the Veterans in My Life…Memorial Day 2009.

As we approach Memorial Day 2010 we must remember that while the war in Iraq is drawing down that the war in Afghanistan is heating up even as U.S. and NATO forces prepare to engage the Taliban in their spiritual home of Khandehar.  Likewise there is are rising tensions on the Korean peninsula where the Heavy Combat Brigade and Air Combat Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division are based in support of Republic of Korea and UN forces in Korea backed up by Marines of the 3rd Marine Division and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa and Hawaii that are not currently in Afghanistan. At sea U.S. Navy forces patrol strategic choke points including the Straits of Hormuz where an ascendant Iran continues to build up for forces that could threaten the Freedom of the seas.

How am I different this year? To answer the question I can only say that I have regained some measure of faith and community that had been absent in my life after I returned from Iraq.  This has made a lot of difference however it in no way takes the place of remembering those men and women that I have served with in harm’s way as well as the veterans who made an impact in my life and still do today.

Memorial Day, initially known as Decoration Day is a somber holiday in its truest sense however it is as Paul Reikoff of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Association notes is “One Country, Two Holidays.” For those that have served in war going back to our WWII veterans but also those of the not so popular wars, Korea, Vietnam and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who have lost friends and sacrificed spending months and even years in combat zones and the work-ups and exercises that part and parcel to deployment.  There are the wounded in body, mind and spirit and those whose physical injuries who have killed them in previous wars but now live in tortured bodies somewhere in between life and death.  Likewise there are those whose injuries are invisible, the injuries of PTSD, TBI and other psychiatric or psychological disorders related to their time in combat.  I spent almost two years in PTSD hell and though I am making a good recovery now still am reminded of the fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, loneliness and an existential crisis of faith that came with my return.  I know too many Marines, Soldiers and Sailors that suffer much more than I have whose struggles pass unnoticed by most of society.  I am now working with our Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program and it is hard to see the young men and women that are in the program whose problems either came in part from their combat experience or their experience upon returning home.  Likewise we are now receiving more of our combat wounded at the medical center and thus I am reminded of the sacrifices made by veterans every day.  For those who work to help these young men and women and in many cases have served alongside them in the combat zones it is a continual reminder of the cost of war.

For those of us that have served, not just in the current conflict but our brothers and sisters that served in previous wars, especially Vietnam and Korea there is one Memorial Day.  While we do attempt to do some things with families and friends the holiday is one of sober reflection as we count the cost of war in human terms, both in our lives as well as our families, the soldiers of our Allies that serve alongside of us and the populations of lands devastated by war.

But then there is another country.  A country consumed with materialism and for whom “heroes” are reality television “stars,” actors and actresses and sports figures.  There are those who while they profess to “support the troops” are the first to want to replace military personnel with contractors such as Halliburton and the company formerly known as “Blackwater” with often disastrous results. Political operatives and lobbyists support paying astronomical sums to corporations that often embarrass the country and make the  job in the military harder in Iraq and Afghanistan having done things that alienate those populations.  Then there is the cost for services delivered and the often terrible way that these corporations treat their employees, especially the third country nationals with working hours and living conditions that would be punishable he in the United States, but also Americans who gain employment but serve driving trucks or other hazardous duties that they have little combat training to do and receive little if the are wounded in action nor for their families if they are killed or disabled. That is part of the “other country.” About 1.8 million Americans have served in Iraq or Afghanistan less than 6/10ths of 1 percent. Unlike World War II where the war was truly a national effort this war is waged by a small minority of the population.

I do not have any problems with people enjoying a holiday but hope and pray that Americans will take at least a few minutes to pay their respects to the Veterans of wars past and present the honored dead as well as the living.  Say a prayer, visit a military or veteran cemetery, and pay a visit on a living vet or the family of one of those killed. Donate to reputable veteran organizations or charities and maybe take a vet out for a bite to eat or buy them a cup of coffee, Coke or a beer.  Don’t let the day pass by simply looking at the faded yellow ribbon “I support the troops” on your car but take a few minutes to thank and remember those that have served our country regardless of race, creed or color and pray that the fallen will rest in peace and the living will recover from all wounds.

Unfortunately for the country the President will not be at the wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery this year. Unlike some who are vehemently criticizing him I can only say that I am disappointed that the Commander-in-Chief will not be present because of what I feel is the tremendous symbolic importance of his presence at the event when we are at war. At the same time the President’s absence in emblematic of how much of the country “celebrates” Memorial Day.  Unfortunately as the number of men and women who have served our nation in time of war goes down in proportion to the population at large the day will become less significant to many, a curiosity that is quaint and nice but does not impact their lives.  I do not mean this in a bad way or with any malice; it is simply a statement of fact as for most the military and the war is not an everyday part of their lives. I think that the Previous President while understanding the significance of this day did not help the nation when after the September 11th attacks did not marshal the energy of the nation for a war which his administration readily acknowledged would be a “long war” but instead told people to “go shopping” to pump up the economy.  I think that was an act that has limited the personal effect of the human cost of these wars to a very limited segment of the population.

At the same time I as well as most veterans do appreciate the fact that we in the military are treated well by our countrymen even if they do not truly understand what we go through.  I for one am thankful to people who go out of their way to thank us in public places, those that take on hateful groups like the crowd at West Baptist Church that protests outside of military funerals and bases invoking God’s wrath on us.  Likewise there are the volunteers who meet returning servicemen and women at airports as the come home from war, the sports that honor the military before games or as in the case of most of Major and Minor League Baseball in the 7th inning stretch.  At the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish in Norfolk they display the photos of servicemen and women currently serving overseas.  The Raley’s grocery store near my parents’ home in Stockton California has a display of hundreds of 8 x 10 photos of military personnel in the front of their store and a wide range of people and groups try to find ways to help.  This in is stark contrast to the treatment of our brothers and sisters who served in Vietnam and the attitudes and treatment of military personnel on college campuses that lingered far into the 1980s.  Thankfully the vast majority of Americans are appreciative of what we do.  At the same time most are not personally effected and as such will simply see Memorial Day as a three day weekend that kicks off the summer vacation season hardly pausing to think of the cost that has been born to ensure that Americans and people around the world have the opportunity to live in freedom.

Band of Brothers, Above Me and RP2 Nelson Lebron, below Foot Patrol Al Waleed Iraq

This weekend I pause to remember the veterans in my life, my father who remains in a nursing facility with dementia brought about by Alzheimer’s disease, men like my NJROTC instructors Senior Chief John Yarro and Buff Rambo who taught me in our FIST or Fire Support Team, SFC Harry Zilkan and CSM John Butler from my UCLA Army ROTC program and SFC Harry Ball my Drill Instructor in ROTC Advanced Camp. All were Vietnam Vets.  Then there were 1SG Jim Koenig of 557th Medical Company who was my 1st Sergeant when I was a new Lieutenant in Germany and Colonel Donald A Johnson the Commander of the 68th Medical Group and his successor Colonel Jim Truscott a high decorated Medevac or “Dustoff” helicopter pilot.  I cannot forget Chaplain (LTC) Rich Whaley a company commander in Vietnam who saved my ass as an aspiring Chaplain at the Chaplain School in 1990 and 1992.

Then there were the WWII and Vietnam Vets in my Chapel at Fort Indiantown Gap PA. USAF Major General Frank Smoker a B-17 pilot, Colonel Walt Swank who served at Normandy and SSG Henry Boyd one of the 101st Airborne Troopers epitomized by “Band of Brothers.” There were the Vietnam Vets in the congregation, Colonel Ray Hawthorne an artillery officer who served several tours in country including an advisor tour.  Charlie Kosko a helicopter pilot and Major Scotty Jenkes who served as a USAF pilot flying close air support in Vietnam.  Then there was Colonel Tom Allmon the Garrison Commander who served in the Gulf War as well as Iraq.

My life more recently has been impacted by others.  My friends of the veterans of the Battle of Hue City including General Peter Pace, Barney Barnes, Tony “Limey Cartilage” Sergeant Major Thomas and so many others have become close over the years, especially after I did my time in Iraq. They and all the Vietnam vets, including the guys from the Vietnam Veterans of America like Ray and Charlie who used man the beer stand behind the plate at Harbor Park until health issues kept them from continuing all mean a lot to me.  Likewise my friends at Marine Security Forces Colonel Mike Paulovich and Sergeant Major Kim Davis both Iraq Vets mean more than almost any people in the world.  We traveled the globe together visiting our Marines.  Both of these men are heroes to me as well as friends.

There are those that I served with at Navy EOD Group II that performed amazing feats in Iraq and Afghanistan and retired Command Master Chief Bill “Two Feathers” Tyrell an EOD tech that I came to know well working family issues and PTSD issues for our EOD sailors.  Bill was a tremendous help as I struggled with PTSD.  Likewise there are my shipmates and friends from the USS HUE CITY that I served with deployed to the Northern Arabian Gulf and Horn of Africa in 2002 including the men of the boarding team that I served as an advisor to on 75 boarding missions aboard impounded Iraqi Oil Smugglers.  Then there are the men that I served with in Iraq especially my assistant and body guard RP2 Nelson Lebron who is getting ready for his 10th deployment this time another trip to Afghanistan.  There are my friends that served in various locations with the Iraqi security forces that I was able to travel to, serve alongside and serve as a chaplain in remote areas of Iraq with the Iraqis. In my current assignment I have had many friends and colleagues deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan in some very “hot” zones caring for our wounded as well as local nationals and allied soldiers.  This is not stopping anytime soon.

These are my brothers and sisters and I remember all of them with fondness.  My thoughts are much the same as Henry V at Agincourt as depicted in Shakespeare’s Henry V:

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

See the Kenneth Branagh’s rendition here:

With crucial battles ahead in Afghanistan against the Taliban, the storm clouds of war gathering over Korea and the threat of terrorism and attacks around the world and at home it is indeed a dangerous world that our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coastguardsmen serve in.  Never before in our country have so many owed so much to so few.   Unfortunately there are those of us, men and women that have served our country from before Pearl Harbor to the present who who struggle and will spend this day alone and uncared for in isolation, anonymous to nearly everyone. Please, if you see such a man or woman do not let the opportunity pass to thank them and if need be do something to encourage or thank them for their service. Please remember and thank a Veteran this weekend and if somehow the spirit moves you to do more and you are capable of serving and join this new “Band of Brothers” please see a recruiter.  It is a noble profession that we, we happy few are proud to serve despite the cost.


Padre Steve+


Filed under iraq,afghanistan, Military, PTSD, shipmates and veterans

Tillman Gets No Decision in First Game with Orioles

Chris Tillman pitched five and two thirds innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits.  Chris left the game with the score tied and the Orioles went on to lose by a score of 5-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Tillman to Start Against Jays Today

A lot rides on the success of Chris Tillman for the Baltimore Orioles and the young pitcher will start today against the Blue Jays. The Orioles have a beat up bullpen and their starting rotation has struggled with injury, ineffectiveness and not had decent run support even when they have had good outings. A successful start by Tillman can provide a respite to the battered bullpen and give beleaguered Manager Dave Tremblay a bit of breathing room to manage the late innings where frequently the bullpen has given up a large number of runs. Chris who was 5-5 at Norfolk with a 3.12 ERA and strikeout rate of 7.3 per nine innings work has matured since last season and from where I sit behind home plate does not lose his composure and pitches out of situations that last year were trouble for him. He has improved throughout the season and pitched a no hitter against the Gwinnett Braves.  I expect that Chris will do well in Baltimore but remind people that he is but one part of what needs to happen to help the Orioles regain respectability in the league.

Hopefully Chris will be one of the answers for the struggling Orioles who with a 15-32 record sit in the Marianas Trench of the Major Leagues even surpassed by the likes to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I have my doubts at how long Dave Tremblay can remain as skipper of the Orioles and with the season headed toward what could be the worst year in the history of the Orioles something will have to be done soon to reverse the tide and return the Orioles to a modicum of respectability.

The promotion of Tillman to the Orioles is not a silver bullet but hopefully Chris will overcome the hurdles of poor run support to help the Orioles pitching staff right itself.

Peace, Padre Steve+

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Tides Roll: Patton and Sarfate Combine to Shut Out Pawsox 3-0

Troy Patton dominated Pawtucket on Friday Night

Troy Patton showed what he is made of last night in Pawtucket and why he is on the Baltimore Orioles 40 man roster. After a catastrophic outing last week where he was bombarded for 8 runs and 13 hits Patton (3-6 5.70) came back and showed tremendous poise, confidence and control and pitched a beauty.  Troy faced 23 batters in 7 innings of shutout work allowing just three hits and no walks striking out 4 Pawtucket batters.  Patton showed great pitching economy and control using just 86 pitches to shut down the Sox.  It was by far Troy’s best outing of the year and should allay fears that without Chris Tillman who was called up this morning that the Tides rotation could be in for trouble.  If Troy continues like this he will become one of the leaders of this young and talented staff and put himself in contention for a spot on the Orioles roster.  I say this because it takes a lot of guts for any pitcher to leave behind an outing like last week and focus on the game at hand. Many pitchers lose their edge and confidence but instead of that it looks like Patton has resurrected his season in this fine effort.

Reliever Denis Sarfate (0-0 S@ 1.32) also shined in two innings of solid relief work.  Sarfate pitched to 7 batters allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out three to complete the shutout of the Pawsox and get the save. It is the first time and I believe it is the first time this season that Tides Pitchers have not walked a batter, even Chris Tillman in his no-hitter gave up one walk.

Tides hitters scattered 11 hits and cobbled enough of them together to score three runs which was more than enough to put away the Pawsox.  The first run came in the 2nd inning on a series of singles which began with Josh Bell singling to center, Nolan Reimold hitting one to left and Brandon Snyder doing the same. With the bases loaded and no outs Paco Figueroa singled to left to drive in Bell for the early lead.  In the top frame of the 6th inning Brandon Snyder singled and came home on Paco Figueroa’s first double since coming to the Tides last week.  The Tides got their final run of the night on Jeff Salazar’s 7th home run of the year.

For the Tides they had 3 runs on 11 hits with 2 errors while stranding 8 and Pawtucket no runs on 4 hits and 1 error with 3 men left on base.  The winning pitcher was Troy Patton who notched his third victory of the season while Denis Sarfate got the save.  The losing pitcher was Felix Doubront (0-1 1.50). Tonight the teams play again in Pawtucket with Brandon Erbe (0-8 6.80) still seeking his first win of the campaign up for the Tides and Adam Mills (1-3 4.15) on the hill for the Pawtucket.

After lots of talk and speculation in the media Chris Tillman was recalled to the Orioles today

One the personnel side of the house the Orioles moved David Hernandez to a relief role and recalled Chris Tillman as expected from Norfolk.  They also recalled Jim Johnson to the team from the Tides.

Up in Toronto the Orioles were blanked by the Blue Jays by a score of 5-0 in a game where everything went wrong for the O’s.  With a the worst record in the Major Leagues (15-34) one has to wonder if Manager Dave Tremblay will survive the weekend. The team has far too much talent despite the injuries that it has had to be doing this badly in a year that they expected to return to respectability.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Batlimore Orioles, norfolk tides

Tides Fall to Pawtucket 5-4 on 2 out Walk-off Home Run

Adam Donachie had a 2 RBI double and scored a run

The Norfolk Tides travelled to Pawtucket for a four game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox.  As has been the case many times this season a strong starting pitching performance was negated by a bad 9th inning relief appearance.  Last night Chris George (1-1 3.96) pitched a strong six and two thirds innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with only 1 walk while striking out 3.  He was relieved by Ross Wolf (0-2 2.57) who pitched a scoreless one and a third innings allowing one hit.  With two out in the 9th Tides reliever Kam Mickolio (1-1 8.78) who has had a very rough season blew his second save when Dusty Brown hit a 3 run home run on a 2-1 count with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

Robert Andino also had a 2 RBI double

The Pawsox struck first in the bottom of the 6th inning when Bubba Bell doubled and scored on an Angel Sanchez single.  The Tides hitters more than made up for this in the top frame of the 7th inning. Rhyne Hughes, Brandon Snyder and Blake Davis singled and loaded the bases.  Catcher Adam Donachie doubled to score Hughes and Snyder.  Dustin Richardson came into the game for Pawtucket and struck out Danny Figueroa and got Joey Gathright to fly out.  With two outs Robert Andino doubled to score Davis and Donachie to make the score 4-1.  In the bottom frame of the 7th the Pawsox scored another run when Aaron Bates doubled and two batters later scored on a Dusty Brown double.

Chris George pitched a strong game but had a no decision in the loss

The score remained 4-2 until the bottom of the 9th. Kam Mickolio who as I said at the beginning of this article has had a very rough year came into the game in a save situation.  He got Daniel Nava to ground out to first before walking Lars Anderson and giving up a base hit to Aaron Bates.  With these two on Mickolio got Josh Reddick to line out to Blake Davis at second.  Mickolio then faced Dustin Brown who had already driven in a run for the Pawsox and on a 2-1 count gave up a home run to Brown over the left field wall for the game ending walk off.

For the Tides 4 runs on 9 hits and 1 error with 5 men left on base while Pawtucket had 5 runs on 7 hits with no errors and three men left on base.  The winning pitcher was Terry Large (1-0 5.27) and the losing pitcher Kam Mickolio (1-1 8.78).   Tonight Troy Patton (2-6 6.56) who looks to get back on the win side of the house for the Tides will face Pawtucket’s Felix Doubront (0-0 0.00) who was recently called up from AA Portland where he was 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA in 8 appearances where he allowed 13 runs on 39 hits striking out 38.

On the personnel side of the house the Tides brought Ross Wolf back from Aberdeen and reactivated Nolan Reimold following the birth of his child.  Talk of a fast move up the chain by Chris Tillman was squelched on Thursday who said that David Hernandez would remain in the starting rotation for the time being. This is good news for the Tides as Tillman and Jake Arietta are the potent one two punch at the top of the Tides rotation having 10 of the Tides 21 wins.  These two pitchers command respect and I expect that when they reach the majors that the two could be as potent as Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were in the 1960s.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Batlimore Orioles, norfolk tides

The North Korean Order of Battle

This article is a follow up to my article about the sinking of the South Korean Navy Corvette Cheonan and the subsequent developments on the peninsula. With North Korea continually raising the rhetoric following its sinking of the Cheonan on March 26th it is important that people in the United States know what this tiny, poor, aggressive, paranoid and mysterious, yet militarily savvy nation has in its arsenal and what its goals in a renewal of hostilities against the South and US Forces in Korea might look like. I will publish articles on basic North Korean plans and war aims, Special Weapons, and ROK/US Forces and plans in the next few days. All are from unclassified sources. Since this was originally posted the situation has continued to deteriorate and I have published an article entitled The South Korean Order of Battle


DPRK Forces are large, well trained in military tactics and political ideology

The according to the Library of Congress and unclassified Central Intelligence Agency estimates the make-up of the military forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is listed below:

Total Population: 23,479,088 [2008]
Population Available: 12,414,017 [2008]
Fit for Military Service: 10,280,687 [2008]
Reaching Military Age Annually: 392,016 [2008]
Active Military Personnel: 1,170,000 [2008]
Active Military Reserve: 4,700,000 [2008]
Active Paramilitary Units: 189,000 [2008]

Total Land-Based Weapons: 16,400
Tanks: 3,500 [2006]
Armored Personnel Carriers: 2,500 [2006]
Towed Artillery: 3,500 [2006]
Self-Propelled Guns: 4,400 [2006]
Multiple Rocket Launch Systems: 2,500 [2006]
Mortars: 7,500 [2006]
Anti-Aircraft Weapons: 11,000 [2006]

Total Navy Ships: 708
Merchant Marine Strength: 167 [2008]
Major Ports and Harbors: 12
Aircraft Carriers: 0 [2008]
Destroyers: 0 [2008]
Submarines: 97 [2008]
Frigates: 3 [2006]
Patrol & Coastal Craft: 492 [2006]
Mine Warfare Craft: 23 [2006]
Amphibious Craft: 140 [2006]

Total Aircraft: 1,778 [2006]
Helicopters: 612 [2006]
Serviceable Airports: 77 [2007]

Defense Budget: $5,500,000,000 [2005]
Purchasing Power: $40,000,000,000 [2007]

Oil Production: 141 bbl/day [2005]
Oil Consumption: 10,520 bbl/day [2006]

Labor Force: 20,000,000 [2004]
Roadways: 25,554 km
Railways: 5,235 km

Waterways: 2,250 km
Coastline: 2,495 km
Square Land Area: 120,540 km

The Same sources provide this data for South Korea

Total Population: 48,379,392 [2008]
Population Available: 26,721,668 [2008]
Fit for Military Service: 21,966,367 [2008]
Reaching Military Age Annually: 696,516 [2008]
Active Military Personnel: 687,000 [2008]
Active Military Reserve: 4,500,000 [2008]
Active Paramilitary Units: 22,000 [2008]

Total Land-Based Weapons: 8,325
Tanks: 1,060 [2004]
Armored Personnel Carriers: 2,480 [2004]
Towed Artillery: 4,000 [2004]
Self-Propelled Guns: 500 [2004]
Multiple Rocket Launch Systems: 185 [2004]
Mortars: 6,000 [2004]
Anti-Tank Guided Weapons: 58 [2004]
Anti-Aircraft Weapons: 1,692 [2004]

Total Navy Ships: 85
Merchant Marine Strength: 812 [2008]
Major Ports and Harbors: 4
Aircraft Carriers: 0 [2008]
Destroyers: 6 [2004]
Submarines: 20 [2004]
Frigates: 9 [2004]
Patrol & Coastal Craft: 75 [2004]
Mine Warfare Craft: 15 [2004]
Amphibious Craft: 28 [2004]

Total Aircraft: 538 [2004]
Helicopters: 502 [2004]
Serviceable Airports: 150 [2007]

Defense Budget: $25,500,000,000 [2007]
Foreign Exch. & Gold: $262,200,000,000 [2007]
Purchasing Power: $1,206,000,000,000 [2007]

Oil Production: 17,050 bbl/day [2005]
Oil Consumption: 2,130,000 bbl/day [2006]
Proven Oil Reserves: 0 bbl [2006]

Labor Force: 24,220,000 [2007]
Roadways: 102,062 km
Railways: 3,472 km

Waterways: 1,608 km
Coastline: 2,413 km
Square Land Area: 98,480 km

According to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of the Republic of Korea (ROK) the balance of forces between the South and the North is listed below.

Ground Forces

North Korea possesses a total of 996,000 ground forces in twenty corps units (12 infantry, 4 mechanized, 2 artillery) plus a light Special Forces command, which oversees special warfare units.

Its heavy equipment consists of 3800 tanks (T-55, T-62, T-72, light tanks), 2270 armored personnel carriers, and 11200 pieces of field artillery, with a major percentage self-propelled for purposes of speedy artillery support. The units are geared for mechanized warfare reminiscent of the Nazi blitzkrieg.

Last but not least, 100,000 Special Forces troopers stand ready to engage in sabotage behind the lines, sowing confusion and turning the whole ROK into a battlefield.


Yono Class Midget Sub

The DPRK Navy is divided into East Sea (10 squadrons) and West Sea fleets (6 squadrons) with a total manpower of 48,000.

North Korea’s fleet consist of approximately 430 combat vessels (Patrol craft, guided missile boats, torpedo boats, fire support craft), 40 submarines (15 midgets), and 340 support craft (landing craft, hovercraft). Like the ground forces 60% of the vessels are stationed near the demarcation line.

North Korea has constructed and is operating up to 130 hovercraft, each one capable of transporting a special forces platoon and operating freely in difficult terrain such as tidal flats, and able to be used for multiple landings by special forces troops at the onset of the war.

Air Force

The air force has a total of six divisions (103,000); 3 for combat (fighter/bomber regiments), 2 for transport and helicopter, and one devoted exclusively for training.

Most of the 1670 aircraft are obsolete, with only sixty modern aircraft (MiG-23, 29). The mainstays consist of 470 old Soviet aircraft (MiG-19, MiG-21, IL-28, SU-7, SU-25) and 320 of ancient type (MiG-15, MiG-17). But it does possess a whopping 820 support aircraft and helicopters.

The aircraft that causes the most concern is the 300 AN-2, flying at 100 mph at low altitudes, that makes detection by radar very difficult, and its transport of Special Forces troopers deep behind the lines is a very definite threat.

The NIS provides the following comparison between the forces of the two Koreas.

ROK (South Korea)       DPRK (North Korea)

Ground forces
Air Force
Combat vessels
Support vessels
Combat aircraft
Support aircraft

North Korea’s regular army consists of 4 corps in the front area, 8 corps in the rear area, one tank corps, 5 armored corps, 2 artillery corps, and 1 corps for the defense of Pyongyang, a total of over 80 divisions and Brigades. Almost all of these forces are based near the DMZ and require little time to be ready for an offensive. In fact because the North Koreans maintains these forces on a continuous state of alert there will likely be little appreciable warning before a commencement of hostilities.

DPRK Special Operations equipment, the SILC Submersible Landing Craft, a Mini-Sub captured in 1996 while attmptign to land commandos in the South and the AN-2 Colt transport aircraft

North Korea has approximately 120,000 troops assigned its Special Forces, the largest Special Forces organization in the world. The Special Forces of the DPRK are grouped into 25 brigades of various types to include light infantry, attack, airborne, and sea-born commando units. They have the support of the Navy and Air Force and use high speed hovercraft and other fast maritime craft, miniature submarines and the AN-2 “Colt” which can transport a squad of soldiers and is virtually undetectable to radar.  These troops will be tasked to open a “2nd Front” by attacking US military installations in Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Guam as well as by disrupting South Korean headquarters, logistics centers, communications facilities, media outlets and government agencies in particular targeting members of the National Command Authority.

The Korean Peninsula is rugged and crisscrossed with numerous streams and rivers.  The climate is difficult hot summers and very cold winters.  The one time that the North has invaded the South it did so in the summer, June 25th 1950.

To be continued….


Filed under Foreign Policy, Military, national security

Tides Defeat Rochester 2-1 Split Series Arietta Wins 5th

Jake Arietta Notched his 5th win against Rochester

The Norfolk Tides recovered from the loss of the first two games to the Rochester Red Wings by taking games three and four of the series, each by a score of 2-1.  On Tuesday Afternoon the Tides evened the series with a win.  Once again it was pitching and defense that did the job for the Tides with just enough situational offense to win the game.  Unfortunately Padre Stevem had this little thing called work to do and could not attend in person but was able to catch parts of the broadcast on his computer in between group sessions and individual counseling sessions with patients at the Medical Center’s Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

It is likely that Chris Tillman could soon be called up to Baltimore as a starter

Jake Arietta took the hill for the Tides facing a Rochester team that until Chris Tillman shut them down Monday had pulverized Tides pitchers.  Both Tillman and Arietta showed that they are not your typical run of the mill AAA pitchers but rather something special.  Both are power pitchers, both have become more confident and more patient, maturing immeasurably since the 2009 campaign.  The two could when they both get to Baltimore be something akin to Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and when combined with a maturing Brian Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie could become one of the most feared pitching rotations in baseball.

On Tuesday Arietta pitched 7 innings allowing 1 ruin on 7 hits with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts lowering his ERA to 1.86, the best in the International League.  In fact of AAA level starters in the International and Pacific Coast Leagues with over 60 innings work only Luke French of the Seattle Mariners affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers has a better ERA.  The only Rochester run came in the top of the 5th when Jason Repko bunted his way aboard and then stole second. He was singled home by Matt Tolbert and that was all the scoring that the Red Wings mustered for the Day.   Arietta was followed by Kam Mickolio who again had a good outing after a rough start mowing down the Wings in order in the 8th. Denis Safate came in to get the save  striking out the first two batters that he faced, but then allowing a single to Dustin Martin who then went to second on a wild pitch and followed that with a walk to Brock Peterson before retiring Jason Repko on  a routine fly ball to left fielder Danny Figueroa.

Closer Frank Mata had His Contract Purchased by the Orioles

The Tides offense also came in the 5th inning when Anthony Swarzak walked Michel Hernandez and was pulled in favor of Jose Lugo. The first batter that Lugo faced was newly called up outfielder Danny Figueroa, twin brother of Tides second baseman Paco Figueroa.  Danny had been called up to replace the struggling Nolan Reimold who was placed on the temporary inactive list due to the birth of a baby.  Figueroa didn’t take long to figure out Lugo and promptly blasted the first pitch into the Straub Beer party deck in right field.  Tides reliever Jim Miller traded a couple of balls for the one Danny hit into the deck from fans so that Figueroa could have a memento of his first AAA level home run.

The Red Wings had 1 run on 8 hits and 1 error leaving 9 men on base, the Tides 2 runs on 4 hits with no errors and 5 men left on base.  Jake Arietta (5-2 1.81) got the win and Jose Lugo (0-3 6.54) the loss.  Denis Sarfate (0-0 S1 1.54) got the save.  The Tides have a travel day Wednesday and open a 4 game series in Pawtucket against the Pawsox on Thursday with Chris George (1-1 4.22) starting for the Tides and Boof Bonser (0-2 10.61) taking the hill for the Sox.

Justin Turner was signed by the New York Mets

There has been quite a bit of action in the personnel department for the Tides and Orioles even since last week.  Michael Aubrey was placed on the 7 Day DL on the 24th retroactive to the 23rd.  Ross Wolf was assigned to Aberdeen while Jim Miller was recalled from Aberdeen; Alberto Castillo returned to the Tides but was called back up the 25th along with closer Frank Mata whose contract was selected by the Orioles.  Danny Figueroa was promoted to the Tides from AA Bowie and Nolan Reimold placed on the temporary inactive list. Up in Baltimore David Hernandez was moved to the Bullpen a move that the Orioles say will be for the rest of the season which could open the way into the rotation for Chris Tillman.  On a further note infielder Justin Turner who was designated for assignment last week was signed by the New York Mets and assigned to AAA Buffalo.  I would expect that due to the Mets’ personnel; situation that Turner could be playing in New York by mid-summer.

Until the next time peace my friends,

Padre Steve+

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The Sinking of the Cheonan and the Escalation of Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

The forward half of teh hulk of the Corvette Cheoson being raised from the Yellow Sea

On March 26th at 2110 hrs local the 1200 ton South Korean Corvette Cheonan (PCC-722) was torpedoed by a North Korean Submarine about 1 nautical mile from Baengnyeong Island. The assailant appears to have been a North Korean Yeono Class miniature submarine using a North Korean CHT-02D 21” torpedo using acoustic homing mechanism set for a detonation under the hull of Cheonan at 6-9 meters depth.  There is the possibility that a Song class coastal submarine could have been involved but the likelihood is a Yeono class boat based on the proximity to land and the observation of a number of “small submarines” departing base a few days before and returning a few days after to their tender. The blast created an underwater shockwave and bubble effect which broke the back of the ship causing it to sink in less than 5 minutes with the loss of 46 crew members.

The probable assailant a Yeono or Yono class Miniature Sub and an Iranian variant below

The sinking of Cheonan was the first sinking of a warship by a hostile submarine since the Argentine light cruiser the General Belgrano was sunk by the Royal Navy nuclear hunter-killer attack submarine Conqueror on May 2nd 1982 during the Falkland war.  The sinking of the Belgrano was controversial but occurred in the context of active hostilities and which posed no real threat to regional destabilization or a war that could easily escalate into a nuclear, chemical and biological conflict. The Cheonan was sunk by the North Koreans in a clear violation of the Korean Armistice and represents such a brazen move by the North Koreans that one has to wonder what purpose that it served.  There are reports that Kim Jong Il ordered the attack in retaliation for a confrontation in the same area in November 2009 in which a North Korean ship was heavily damaged.

The last warship sunk by a hostile submarine

The effects are now being felt following the May 20th release of the international investigation of the sinking which confirmed with hard evidence that the torpedo was North Korean and that there were no other possibilities for the sinking. ( ) The North Koreans reacted with anger toward the report while South Korea, the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and the UN made statements condemning the sinking.  In the following days the US and South Korea announced naval exercises ( ) ( ) and on the 24th the South Koreans suspended economic relations and assistance to the North and announced the renewal of psychological warfare against the North. The North Koreans have responded in kind severing all relations with the South, threatening to attack sites broadcasting into the North and announced that it gave its military the order to prepare for war.;_ylt=Alwl3biZwLFab7TyXX4HwRz9xg8F;_ylu=X3oDMTM5NTExM2R2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNTI1L2FzX3Nrb3JlYV9zaGlwX3NpbmtzBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDMgRwb3MDMgRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3JpZXMEc2xrA25rb3JlYXNldmVycw

North Korean Torpedo components from the sinking of the Cheonan

The North on the 21st announced that “From this time on, we will regard the situation as a phase of war and will be responding resolutely to all problems in North-South relations,” and that “If the South puppet group comes out with ‘response’ and ‘retaliation’, we will respond strongly with ruthless punishment including the total shutdown of North-South ties, abrogation of the North-South agreement on non-aggression and abolition of all North-South cooperation projects.” ( )

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon said that the Security Council should take action against North Korea stating “I’m confident that the council, in fulfilling its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, will take measures appropriate to the gravity of the situation.” ( )

The situation seems to escalate by the hour as additional nations condemn the North Koreans and movement in the UN to do sop as well.  With the problem of succession in the North Korean leadership and potential struggles for internal power between the North Korean military and others within Communist Party and government it is hard to say who might gain in this situation. There are reports that part of the reason for the attack was the need for Kim Jong Il to secure the place of his son to leader the regime if he is incapacitated or dies.  The succession of Kim to the leadership was unusual as it was the first time in a Communist nation that the son of the national leader succeeded his father.  It is possibility that senior military or party leadership could oppose such a move.

There are a number of scenarios for this to play out.  Of course one would be for the North to stand down however that would be an act of weakness and loss of face for the regime after sinking a South Korean warship.  The other alternatives include the full fledged resumption of the Cold War on the peninsula or even the outbreak of a regional war which could draw in other nations and involve the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons on a large scale.   Any such situation would devastate the economies of much of Asia which in tour could cripple the world economy at a time when the European Union is in crisis, the United States is struggling its way out of a recession and many other nations are experiencing economic crisis or downturn.

This is a very dangerous situation and as one who has spent time on the Korean DMZ I can imagine almost nothing worse for the world than a war in Northeast Asia, perhaps a major showdown in the Arabian Gulf with Iran or a major conflict involving Israel and Iran or other Middle Eastern states, but not much other than those scenarios.  The situation has also demonstrated the threat to warships in the littorals from comparatively simple, cheap and deadly platforms firing weapons based on World War Two technology.  The reality for naval surface forces be they in the Korean littorals, the Arabian Gulf or Gulf of Oman is that low tech weaponry on low tech platforms in congested waters can deal deadly blows to unsuspecting warships.

This situation will need to be watched as it has the potential to get worse with dire consequences.


Filed under Foreign Policy, Military

Tides Lose Sunday 8-4 to Rochester but Win on Pitching and Defense Monday 2-1 Tillman wins his 5th Game

Brandon Snyder launches a 2 RBI double in the 1st inning of Sunday’s game

Well Sunday’s weather was best described as murky as were the fortunes of the Tides as they were defeated by a score of 8-4 by the visiting Rochester Red Wings at Harbor Park.  With a delay of 45 minutes due to rain to begin the day and the constant threat of showers throughout the day the Tides got out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning when Rhyne Hughes singled to drive across Robert Andino and Brandon Snyder pounded out a double to score Josh Bell and Rhyne Hughes.

Josh Bell waves Rhyne Hughes across the plate on Brandon Snyder’s Double Sunday

But just when you thought it was safe to go into the water the Red Wings who had hammered the Tides on Saturday night struck again for 5 runs off of Brandon Erbe in the top of the 2nd inning on 7 hits including a 2 RBI triple by Brock Peterson.  Erbe finished the second inning be he was done for the day as the Tides brought in Ross Wolf.  Wolf would pitch three solid innings allowing 2 hits and 2 walks but no runs showing his continued poise to hold an opposing team when they have the momentum. Denis Sarfate came on in the 6th inning to shut down the Red “hot” Wings allowing a hit and a walk but nothing more striking out four in 2 innings work.

The work of Wolf and Sarfate seemed to give the Tides a chance to get back into the game and Jeff Salazar got them back into the game with a solo home run, his 6th of the year off of Wings reliever Steven Waldrop.  However in the top of the 8th the Wings came back with 3 runs on 3 hits the big one being a 2 run homer by Brian Dinkleman.  The Tides would muster nothing more and the game ended with the Red Wings defeating the Tides by a score of 8-4.

For the Tides they had 4 runs 8 hits with one error and 7 men left on base. The Wings had 8 runs on 13 hits and no errors with 8 runners left on base.  The winning pitcher was Rochester reliever Tim Lahey (3-1 6.90) and the loser Brandon Erbe (0-8 6.80).

Chris Tillman delivering a called 3rd strike on Rochester Outfielder Dustin Martin

Monday night would be another matter it was the night of the pitchers.  All the scoring was accounted for in the 1st inning on this temperate and windy Tuesday night.  The Wings struck first as Jason Repko led off with a double and was driven home by Matt Tolbert.  Jose Morales then walked but Tillman got Dustin Martin to ground into a double play and got Danny Valencia to pop out to third to end the inning.  In the bottom frame the Tides got to work fast. Jeff Salazar led off with a double and was singled home by Robert Andino who would score on a Josh Bell double. That gave the Tides a 2-1 lead which starter Chris Tillman (5-4 3.24) and the relief corps tenaciously defended with the help of inspired defense.  Tillman left after completing six innings allowing just the one run on 8 hits walking one and striking out seven.  He was relieved in the 7th by Armando Gabino who was a gem of a pickup for the Tides becoming a very solid middle relief and set up man as well as occasional starting pitcher. Gabino would pitch three innings giving up 3 hits and a walk, allowing no runs and striking out three.  However good his pitching was it was defense that came to his rescue in the 8th and 9th innings. The defensive highlights were many but two most memorable came late in the game to squelch Red Wing rallies in the 8th and 9th innings.  In the 8th with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd Wilson Ramos singled to left field and Danny Valencia decided to test the arm of Jeff Salazar. Salazar threw a laser which took one hop and catcher Adam Donachie made a great tag to get the out on Valencia to end the inning.  In the 9th inning with 2 on including a runner at third base with only 1 out Gabino faced Rochester shortstop Matt Tolbert.  Tolbert hit a sharp ground ball to first baseman Brandon Snyder who threw to shortstop Robert Andino to get the runner at second who threw back to Snyder to just get the very fast Tolbert at first for the 3-6-3 double play and the win.

Armando Gabino gets Dustin Martin to ground out

Rochester had 1 run on 11 hits with no errors and 10 men left on base.  They had their leadoff batter reach base in 7 of 9 innings but between stand up pitching by Tillman and Gabino as well as the defense could do no more against a Tides team that scored 2 runs on 7 hits and no errors and left 6 men on base. Chris Tillman (5-4 3.24) got the win and Gabino (2-0 S1 1.50) got the save.  The loss went to Rochester starter Deolis Guerra (0-2 5.29).  The teams will wrap up their series with an afternoon game on Wednesday at Harbor Park with Jake Arietta (4-2 1.93) on the mound for the Tides facing Anthony Swarzak (0-1 7.00).


Padre Steve+

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Remembering Jose Lima 1972-2010

Jose Lima died today of what appeared to be a massive heart attack at the age of 37. He was an all-star pitcher for the Astros in 1999 and had a zest and love for life. I met him when he was with the AAA Norfolk Tides in 2006 where he won 7 and lost 8 and had a 3.92 ERA.  He was a man that you could tell loved life. In fact Lima who was had signed with the Mets organization was one of those players that made people feel good.  He was not a whiner or complainer but even at the tail end of his Major League career still gave 100% and kept an upbeat attitude on how baseball and life were treating him.  I remember opening day for the Tides that year, the weather was actually nice for April in Hampton Roads and Jose sang God Bless America that opening day at the 7th inning stretch after starting the game but getting knocked out. It was moving, a man from the Dominican Republic who loved this country enough to sing that song with a great amount of reverence, respect and dare I say emotion.  I was touched by that and since I had remembered Lima from the 1999 All-Star game and various Major League appearances, of course all on television hoped that he would make it back to the show to stay.  The Mets did call him up for a few appearances that year but each time he returned to the Tides and finished his season with us.  I spoke with him on the concourse a couple of times and he was always gracious. I never asked for an autograph although I read that he never refused to give one and from what I read about him, especially his work with children, especially those from disadvantaged families in his new baseball academy I know what made him click.  It was not an individualistic love for life but it was life lived in community with his teammates, family friends and later with the Los Angeles Dodgers alumni association.  In the days before his untimely death he was attending the Angels and Dodgers interleague series with his son.  He performed with his band and was involved in his community.  While he did not have a record that will get him to the Hall of Fame he is one of those personalities that made an enjoyable game even more enjoyable because his love for baseball and his love for life.

I am not going to take the time to repeat all the details of his career as them are already published but today wanted to remember Jose Lima from the point of view of a minor league fan. A lot of people will miss Jose Lima a lot, especially his young son. Keep his family in your prayers as well as those who knew and loved him

I do pray that he will rest in peace and that God will grant his family and friends the comfort of the Holy Spirit over the coming days and weeks as they grieve his loss.


Padre Steve+

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