Monday, 3 December 2012

Close quarters

When thinking about war, many tend to think about jungle or open areas like trying to take a trench or hill, but what about getting up close?

Urban warfare or close quarter combat had not play a major role in history as war was mostly fought in big open terrians. Although there were minor events of urban warfare during the musket times and World War one and two, some of the first major events of urban warfare occured during the Battle of Berlin during the last days of the Third Reich. Soviet troops were advancing house to house, street to street, alleyway to alleyway. Using their experience from the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet troops knew better than the Germans and advanced in a fast pace.

The US military did not have much experience in urban warfare until the Battle of Hue in 1968 during the Tet Offensive. Hue is an historical city and is the home of Vietnamese culture. It was one of the few cities left untouched during the Vietnam War until the Tet Offensive when the Viet Cong took over the city. Because it was a special historical city, bombing and artillery was not allowed in order to preserve the city. Without support and experience, the marines had a hard time. Sometimes it took half a day to move from one side of the street to the other. The US military experienced major urban warfare again during the war in Iraq especially the Battle of Fallujah where both US soldiers and marines had to take over city full of insurgents who earlier ambushed and killed four American PMCs and mutilated them on TV.

Urban warfare is considered chaotic as soldiers have to clear every room and every corner. The biggest danger is that there could be an insurgent around any corner waiting to kill. There are also the danger of booby traps, trap doors, hidden entrances, machine gun pits and grenades. Sometimes it may take a company of 100 soldiers to clear four houses.

To have equipment suitable for urban combat, there are guns like the MP5 which uses the 9mm pistol round. It is great for close quarters but the is unsuitable for long range and body armor. To fix this problem of not penetrating body armor, the MP7 was developed with it's 4.6mm round that can do the job. The UMP-45 has the .45 caliber which unlike the 9mm , has a wider diameter plus extra stopping power which can stop an insurgent dead in his track. The .45 caliber was first used on the M1911 pistol which responded to complaints from US soldiers facing deadly enemies in the Philippines not going down after being hit from the 9mm. Of course, submachine guns may not be enough for urban warfare and may require guns with heavier caliber like the 5.56mm. In this case the M4 Carbine was developed for close quarters, in other words, shorter barrel. When advancing in battle, soldiers tend to advance sideways to make themselves a smaller targer which also reduce their chances of being hit. With the introduction of body armor, advancing sideways is not recommended as the side of the vest has little or no armored plates. Therefore, SWAT members advance facing frontwards with their body armor protecting them.

When dealing with the dangers of close quarters, there had been several techniques developed like "slicing the pie" which meant slowly maneuvering slowly around the corner making sure the sight is clear before moving. Small flashlights can be used which can be attached on the gun or used on another hand. They are used to see through dark places but only recommended when doing a quick search otherwise it will give away it's position. It can also be used as defence like barricading yourself in a room and shining your light on the door so when the intruder breaches the door, the first thing he sees is a bright wall of light. The British SAS attach their flashlights under the barrel of their MP5s and "where you point the torch, is where the bullets will end up". In hostage situations, flashbangs/stun grenades are used. They produce a bright light which temporarily blind a terrorist and produce a loud bang which is as loud as a jet engine which temporarily deafens the terrorist. The flashbang provide an extra few vital seconds to identifiy the terrorists and hostages. The Israelis invented a new weapon called the cornershot which can turn around corners. It has a camera and an LCD screen so a soldier can see what is around the corner without exposing himself. The Israelis also cleverly invented the concept of having the fake kitten attached on the cornershot so the terrorist is distracted giving the soldier a few extra seconds to identify and make the next decision. Lasers attached on guns are also used for pinpoint accuracy. When maneuvering around corners, experts highly recommend raising your arm (not holding the weapon) and use it to block any surprise attacks when encountering an enemy around a corner. By blocking his attack, you're prevented him from disarming you.

When breaching doors, a Ramington 870 "Little pig" shotgun is used with special rounds designed to push locks out. There are other ways of entry like using a battering ram or a Thor to bash the door open. Frame charges are used in blowing through walls or windows as a way of surprise entry instead of going through a door that could be barricaded. It is always important that when entering room, a soldier never goes in alone. To make sure he is going to be backed up without talking, he gives a nod meaning he is ready. The second soldier squeezes his shoulder shoulder indicating that he is also ready.

Room clearance is always part of urban warfare and is highly dangerous. Because of this, team work is vital. The door is known as the "fatal funnel" which has to be cleared quickly upon entering. When entering the room, there are areas of responsibilities, i.e. - the first soldier entering scans the right side while the next soldier scans the left side. They enter almost simultaneously so all areas of the room is scanned plus soldiers can watch each other's back. It is impossible for a soldier to scan 180 degrees at the same time. If the first soldier responsible for the right sector sees an enemy on the left, he must ignore him and trust the second soldier with his life that he will take care of the threat. If the first soldier decides to deal with the threat, not only he had ignored his area of responsibility, but put the lives of himself and his comrades at dangerous risk as there could be an enemy hiding at his sector waiting to open fire. Positioning is important because if a soldier's gun is jammed or misses and is in his comrade's line of fire (does not have a clean shot), then the situation can become fatal. So if you thought that soldiers/SWAT teams have an easy job of just going through room by room blazing at fully automatic, think again.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Manila hostage crisis

On August 23 2010, 9:30am, a former police officer Rolando Mendoza boarded a tourist bus Hong Thai 799 carrying 25 Hong Kong tourists. He boarded the bus and asked the driver if it is going to the Heros graves. He then brandished his M16 rifle and announced to everyone on board that they are his hostages and also told them that the issue is not with them but with the Phillipine government. In 2008, he was accused of corruption and drug charges and as a result lost his job and his retirement benefits in 2010. He demanded  his job back. The tourist bus stopped at the Quirino Grandstand where President Benigno Aquino was inaugurated two months earlier. He stuck a big paper on the windscreen demanding his job back and his name to be cleared. Police surrounded the area and started negotiations.

A woman started having stomach pain which got worse and she was released. Mendoza released her on the condition that she will come back. The police did not allow her after her release. The woman's husband was diebetic and needed medical attention. He was released and reunited with his wife. Mendoza's daughter apologized to the two for her father's action.  As a gesture of goodwill, a mother and three children are released in exchange for media to come but the police did not allow them. The police never interviewed the two about the situation inside. During hostage situations, it is always important to interview released hostages to gather important intellegence before carrying out any assault/rescue attempt.

At 3pm, a brother of Mendoza, Gregorio (also a police officer) sneaked through police lines wearing street clothes and carrying a handgun. He wanted to talk to Mendoza before being taken away with his gun confiscated. At night, it was raining and police gave Mendoza a letter that did not please him. The letter said it was offering an extention to review his case and that this process takes over 10 days. Mendoza was angry wanting his name to be cleared on the day. A radio channel managed to contact Mendoza's cellphone which he read the letter live on air. As night continue, Mendoza got impatient and angry. As a former police captain, he knew police tactics and knew that police are trying to wear him out. Gregorio was arrested for breaching police cordons and carrying a gun earlier that day. He refused to coorporate and laid on the ground refusing to leave. A brawl occurred and his son joined him in protest. Mendoza saw the whole scene live on the bus's TV and demanded his brother to be released or he'll start shooting. He eventually lost his patience and shot a tour guide (handcuffed to the door) dead. He then opened fire on the hostages. A hostage  named Joe and another fellow hostage attempted to attack Mendoza. Mendoza shot and killed the fellow hostage and Joe retreated back to his seat where he put his bag in front of his head as defence. Mendoza's bullets blasted the bag to pieces wounding both of Joe's hands and then leaned forward playing dead.

The bus driver had his handcuffs taken away and was ordered to drive. Police shot the tires and Mendoza started firing on the hostages at the back of the bus. The driver then jumped out of the window and ran to police. The driver kept yelling that everyone is dead. Police never interviewed him and assumed that all hostages were killed. This was another missed opportunity to gather important intellegence about the situation inside the bus. Police only interviewed Mendoza's brother Gregorio and still had problems detaining him. The Special Action Force (SAF), trained by the FBI, were deployed under the orders of President Aquino. The police commander however decided to order the police SWAT to conduct the assault instead. The SWAT team were surprised seeing that the SAF were ordered by the president to deploy. The police managed to publish a letter granting Mendoza reinstatement and approved his name to be cleared. The letter was not delivered as it was stuck in traffic and did not make it on time. Attempts to contact Mendoza's cellphone failed. At 7:37pm, the SWAT were deployed with three snipers hiding in the Quirino Grandstand. The heavy rain made it difficult to get a visual on Mendoza. The SWAT team hid on the side of the bus smashing the windows trying to get a clear visual but to their surprise, the windows were alot tougher than expected and tried breaching the front door before meeting gunfire from Mendoza. A tour guide was cuffed to the door dead and the SWAT commander was thinking of how to get in as the front door was jammed. The SWAT team were also seen throwing glow sticks inside and after failing to get in a number of times for ten minutes, they were given informal advice from the onlooking media. They were recommended to breach the back door. They did so and finally able to get in before again meeting Mendoza's gunfire. As the situation was filmed live, Mendoza was able to see the SWAT team's action on the bus's TV. At 8:11pm, the SAF were finally ordered to join the SWAT in assaulting the bus. Tear gas was thrown into the back of the bus which forced Mendoza moved to the front of the bus and at 8:41pm, a police sniper shot and killed him. He laid dead on the front door. Nine hostages were also killed and six were injured.

When the siege was over, there were complete disorginisation with media being able to get up close to the bus slowing down emergency services doing their job. There were a lack of coordination in medical support which led to victims turned away from hospitals which caused more delays for medical treatment.

The police were heavily criticised on their hostage rescue attempt. Critics claimed that Mendoza had let his guard down several times by exposing himself which gave snipers the golden opportunity to kill him. Experts claim that the police should have cut a circuit under the bus that would enable the front door to open and by going on low profile, be able to enter quickly to end the situation.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Art of War

The Art of War was written by Sun Tzu is a text explaining military strategy as a guide to victory.

Sun Tzu lived in the state of Wu during the Warring States period. The state of Chu became hostile towards Wu and had over 100,000 troops compared to Wu's 30,000 troops. Sun Tzu believed that discipline was a key factor in having a strong military force. He gathered a group of palace ladies and ordered them to get into formation when drums began beating. The ladies laughed and Sun Tzu explained the instructions agian in a clear manner. When the ladies laughed and did not move again, he executed one of the ladies and ordered them to start again. At this point, the ladies got into formation without hesitation. Sun Tzu was then appointed the commander of the Wu forces. At the start of the war, Sun Tzu did not embrace for the Chu's large army as he did not have the numbers. Instead of attacking the strong points, he decided to attack the weak points. He invaded Chu and destroyed Chu's remote outposts and maneuvered to avoid Chu's reinforcements. In other words, Chu's big army was going backwards and forwards only to find that Sun Tzu's forces had disappeared. Sun Tzu's tactics had frustrated Chu's forces with many defections made towards Wu. Chu decided to punish and invade Cai, a nation north of Chu. The duke of Cai called for it's ally Wu for help as they did not have the force to hold back Chu. Sun Tzu deployed a small force towards Cai which is used a bait that drew the Chu forced away from Cai and so that meant that Cai was saved without a single battle. The small force confronts the main Chu forces while Sun Tzu's main forces head to the Ying, Chu's capital. The commander of the Chu's main forces decided to chase Sun Tzu's main force otherwise if the commander of the Ying's commander held off Wu's main force then he will take credit. The commander of Chu's main forces was arrogant which was never part of Sun Tzu's thinking. As Chu's main forces gave chase, Sun Tzu turned around and surrounded them with the smaller force to catch up and attack their rear. Sun Tzu's 20000 elite troops ambushed the Chu main force by surprise and won. His movement towards Ying was deception that attracted Chu's main force. After the war Sun Tzu disappeared as he did not like his leaders' behaviour and the King of Wu enjoying the wealth he has when entering Ying. So how did an army of 30,000 defeated and army of over 100,000? Sun Tzu used preparation to discipline his troops, deception to lure the Chu forces and indirect attacks by attacking weak points and never confronting Chu head on.

So does Sun Tzu's Art of War apply to wars being fought today or the past 200 years?

Lets look at the American Civil War for example. During the Battle of Gettysberg, the Confederates attacked the Union troops sitting on top of Cemetery Hill. The Art of War advised that it is not wise to attack forces sitting on top of a hill. During the Civil War, the battles were often fought with both sides confronting each other head on which caused heavy casualties while the Art of War advised that attacks should be made towards the weakest points, in other words, Sun Tzu only wanted to use minimal resources.

During World War 2, the Art of War was applied on the D-Day invasion. Nazi Germany knew that the Allies were going to invade Europe soon and it definately around Northern France as it was in range of air support provided by planes stationed in Southern England. The Allies did some deception tactics prior to the D-Day invasion. Fake tanks (inflated) and equipment were used as fake intelligence and to make the Germans think that other beaches, not Normandy, would be invaded. During the invasion, the Allies were successful while the Germans failed. This was because of generals had no interference from their leaders. The Allies had a simple command structure with Dwight Eisenhower being the top Commander with easy access to other commanders. The Germans had a complex command structure with Hitler being the top and it meant that Hitler was the one making the final decision. The Field Marshal was serperated from the Navy and Air Force while the SS was under Himmler's command. This complex command structure was completely opposite to the Art of War.

During the Vietnam War, General Vo Nguyen Giap had followed the Art of War. He did not fought against the Americans head on because he knew his forces and the enemy just what the Art of War stated. Instead, he chose to conduct guerrilla warfare and to outthink the US instead of outfighting them. The US dropped 7 million tonnes of bombs on Vietnam relying on sheer military force to advance which Sun Tzu does not recommend. Giap knew the US would launch airstrikes before sending troops in. Giap ordered his forces to take shelter during the airstrikes and ambush the Americans when they land. Giap even ordered his forces to fight closely with the Americans to prevent US air support from bombing it's own men. Giap constantly harassed US troops via ambush, booby traps and snipers to the point where the American public no longer supported the war. In other words, the US were losing the war in Vietnam because of it's support lost from it's people. Giap subdue the US without any head on/direct fighting. Giap's advisors got impatient and demanded a full scale head on attack against the US troops. Giap decides to launch all attacks at all South Vietnamese cities and bases at the same time and kept the plan secret and launch the operation by surprise which was called the Tet Offensive. Giap even used spies prior to the offensive. Giap promised a cease fire during the Tet New Year and made a direct attack on Khe Sanh. He wanted the direct attack on Khe Sanh to be a destraction while the indirect attack on all South Vietnamese cities and bases to win the war. However, during the Tet Offensive, the Viet Cong hoped the people of South VIetnam rose and help them win but the massacre of South Vietnamese sympathizers in Hue saw the people of South Vietnam refusing to give support. The images of the Tet Offensive saw the increase in support from the American public. Giap returned to his typical guerrilla tactics which led to anti war protests in the US. After US withdrawal, Saigon finally fell to North Vietnam.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

In a such a short time

Normally a big project would take years if not, decades to build like cruise ships, dams, skyscrapers, bridges and tunnels. Imagine building a small island, an airport, miles of highway, railway lines and a large suspension bridge in seven years? This happened in Hong Kong and the reason for seven years was because Hong Kong was to be handed over back to China from the British. The engineers feared the if not completed by then, the Chinese might pull the plug.

Hong Kong needed a new airport as Kai Tak was overwhelmed by huge number of passengers and cargo with only one runway. Due to the overwhelming numbers, if incoming cargo is delayed, then millions of dollars is at stake. Expansion was impossible as Kai Tak was surrounded by buildings and skyscrapers. When pilots land, they often flew low around buildings which was considered dangerous for people living in apartments around the airport.

The only option left was to build a new airport. There was too few land to build and looked at Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau Islands. Both islands were mountainous and work began on clearing the mountains so both islands were level. The rubble was not wasted but used to connect both islands. Ships were used to vacuum the sea bed to expose the flat bedrock before adding the rubble on top. Because of the shortage of time, The terminals had identical rooves with 126 of them mass produced on sight. A cargo terminal was built with state of the art system where cargo can be transferred through a conveyor belt and if lifted through a high levels of shelves for storage.

Infrastructure had to built to and from the airport. Hong Kong already had two tunnels built decades ago. Due to constant heavy traffic, a new six lane tunnel had to be built. Bridges in the city had to be built due to heavy traffic. It was only built at night and on top of existing roads. Through the Ma Wan channel, a tunnel was going to be built but was too dangerous to build due to theavy traffic of container ships. The Tsing Ma Bridge (long suspension) was built. It was also tall enough for any ship to pass under. At 1733 metres long, engineers found that a deadly typhoon can knock it down so the bridge was made heavier. A tunnel was added inside along with a railway line and it became a double decker bridge. High speed railway lines were built along the highways for the millions of people using rail transport each day.

The fear of not completing on time was showing and negotiations were being made with the Chinese. When Hong Kong was handed back to China, the terminal was still not completed and the fear of the Chinese pulling the plug did not occurred. The Chinese gave Hong Kong a one year extension to complete the airport construction which they have successfully done.

Hong Kong Airport opened in 1998 with the historic closure of Kai Tak. The runway flights were turned off after the final takeoff made by Cathay Pacific and the quote "Goodbye Kai Tak, and thank you" before turning off the runway lights. All the equipment was moved to the new airport in seven hours. Cathay Pacific also made the first landing on the new airport. Hong Kong Airport's location away from the city centre would be alot safer instead of having planes constantly flying low above apartments. To be able to build big infrastructures and a big airport in seven years is an incredible achievement for the tiny land of Hong Kong.

30 day video game challenge - Day 30

My favourite game of all time

Saturday, 29 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 29

A game I thought I would not like, but ended up loving

After enjoying Modern Warfare 2's epic gameplay and graphics, I thought Bad Company 2 was no match against it. Bad Company 2 managed to impress the community with it's comedy campaign along with huge destruction and vehicles in multiplayer.

Friday, 28 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 28

Favourite game developer

A company from Sweden, developed the Battlefield series and made big success from Battlefield 2 to Battlefield Play4Free to Battlefield 2142. It was very brave of them to accept a challenge given from EA to develop Battlefield 3 and try to take down Modern Warfare 3 in late 2011. They managed impressed the gaming community with it's Frostbite 2 engine and major features that Modern Warfare 3 did not offer like 64 player modes, huge maps, vehicles, etc. Battlefield 4 is expected to be released in late 2013 and expections are high. This year celebrates Battlefield's 10th anniversary.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 27

Most epic scene ever

In Battlefield 3's mission "Going Hunting" where the player is flying through the Carrier Battle Group after take off with the Battlefield theme playing while base is giving the pilot its next instructions. Sure you're not piloting the plane but the thrill, the sound effect and the speed of flying off the carrier is amazing.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 26

Best voice acting - Battlefield 3

Digital sounds and great voice acting puts the game one step further to realism. During development, Andy McNab (former SAS) assisted the development by giving advice on how soldiers think, act and talk trying to reflect what a real soldier would speak.
"Words like 'maybe', 'we will try to' or 'we will attempt', don't exist in a soldier's world. We use words like 'you will', 'I will', 'we will'. All dialogue is absolute because soldiers in the real world must be positive in everything they do. After all, real lives are at stake, so there is no room for failure."
Andy McNab

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 25

A game I plan on playing

Using the Frostbite 2 engine, showing off epic campaign trailers plus having multiple special forces factions in multiplayer makes the game look very promising.

Monday, 24 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 24

Favourite classic game - Road Rash

Riding through highways and cities while evading police plus trying to reach the top three without putting too much damage on the bike puts in alot of fun and adrenaline.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Saturday, 22 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 22

A game sequel that disappointed me

Modern Warfare 3 using the same I.W 4.0 engine as Modern Warfare 2 despite knowing that they were facing competition against Battlefield 3 and it's Frostbite 2 engine. After a lawsuit occurred between Infinity Ward's West and Zampella against Activision, 44 Infinity Ward employees left to joing West and Zampella's new company. This crippled IW which saw Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software to help co-develop Modern Warfare 3. A new engine was never developed and many gamers complained it looked like the same as previous Call of Duty games even though MW3 later made $400 million in the first 24 hours plus reaching $1 billion in 16 days beating Avatar who reached it in 17 days.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 18

Favourite protagonist - Captain Price

In 1996, he was involved in an assassination attempt to kill Zakhaev under Captain MacMilan's command. As SAS captain in 2011, he led his team on a number of missions like hunting a nuke on a ship, rescueing Nikolai, searching for Al-Asad and stopping Russia from launching it's nukes to the US. During a standoff, he slid his pistol to Soap which he used to kill Zakhaev. During Operation Kingfish, he deliberately stayed behind to fend off enemy troops, allowing the rest of the team to leave. He was captured and held in a gulag for years as Prisoner 627. He was later rescued by Task Force 141 and led the team in hijacking a Russian submarine by launching a nuke to trigger an EMP over the East Coast to turn the tide of the Russian invasion on the US. He saved Soap from Shepherd from executing him and worked along side Yuri in Prague, Serria Leone and Somalia. He and Yuri assaulted the hotel Makarov was hiding in and killed him with his bare hands.

Monday, 17 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 17

Favourite antagonist - Vladimir Makarov

A former soldier accused of ethnic cleansing in Chechnya witnessed Zakhaev's arm shot off during an assassination attempt and drove him to safety. He also ordered the detonation of the nuclear device which killed 30,000 marines during a battle in the middle east during 2011. He was upset by Bravo Six's actions in killing Zakhaev. The new Ultranationalist government wanted a stable relationship with the US which angered Makarov. Makarov wanted the Ultranationalists to stand down and conduct numerous terror attacks including kidnappings, human trafficking and bombing. In 2016, he led a team on a brutal massacre at Zakhaev International Airport and killed PFC Allen who was undercover. Makarov used his dead body as evidence that the US was involved which led to the Russian invasion on the east coast. He was contacted by Captain Price and agreed to give him the location of General Shepherd. He led a team to hijack the Russian President's plane and captured him after crash landing. He did not want the president to sign the peace treaty and wanted the launch codes for the Russian Army to invade Europe. He even demanded the nuclear launch codes but was too late as Captain Price rescued him. He was hiding in a hotel in the Arab Peninsula when Price and Yuri conducted an attack against it. He escaped via helicopter but crashed and later killed by Captain Price.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Saturday, 15 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 15

Favourite ability from a video game

The ability to go invisible in Ghost Recon - Future Soldier because with the latest arsenal and equipment at your disposal, fighting fair is not an option.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 13

Favourite boss battle in a video game

The ending of Modern Warfare 3 when Captain Price killed Makarov, a terrorist who led an airport massacre, human trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnappings, murders, bomb attacks and started World War 3.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 12

A game everyone should play - Battlefield 3

  • Huge maps
  • Destructable buildings
  • Vehicles
  • 64 players on PC multiplayer
  • Frostbite 2 graphics
  • Digital sound
  • Huge variety of guns and camouflage
  • Variety of dogtags
  • Variety of terrain maps like urban, snow, desert, woodland and close quarters
  • A variety of modes like team deathmatch, rush, gunmaster, tank domination and conquest. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 11

Gaming system of choice

The Playstation 3 plus being able to play online for free.

Monday, 10 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 10

Best gameplay

Modern Warfare 2's soundtrack by Hans Zimmer combined with it's single player story produces epic scenes like manning a minigun flying through the war-torn capital city, escaping in a snowmobile, rushing through the white house or chasing General Shepherd in the very end.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 9

Saddest game scene

The saddest scene was Modern Warfare 2's level Loose ends. It was at the end after Ghost and Roach survived a vicious battle to defend Makarov's safehouse while waiting for the DSM to download all of Makarov's files. Upon extraction, General Shepherd's forces arrive and after shooting the two, grabbed the DSM. Shepherd then burnt the bodies while Price from Afghanistan warned the two about the betrayal but it was too late. Shepherd wanted to betray the Task Force 141 so he could take all the credit and become a war hero after crushing Makarov and Russia. He did this after losing 30,000 marines from Modern Warfare 1 and the world just watched.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 8

Best soundtrack

Not only were Modern Warfare 2's graphics were a huge leap from Modern Warfare 1, but the decision to hire Hans Zimmer to make the soundtrack made it the best epic video game soundtrack of all time. What made Hans Zimmer accepting the offer was the graphics being amazingly advanced, in other words, the I.W 4.0 engine was probably one of the best engines that existed during 2009 and 2010. Using an orchestra, the music blends in with the gameplay which makes great epicness.

Friday, 7 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 7

A game I wish could have lasted a bit longer

Homefront does have a good storyline written by John Milius who also wrote Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now. Many reviewers complained that the single player campaign was too short (about 4 to 5 hours) and the epicness is short lived as repeating the single player is not at all interesting.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 6

Most annoying character

Flynn is a character who is barely serious during war times, loves humour, smoking and fancy music while flying through some of the world's most dangerous places. It's ironic how he is a pacifist and yet he helped transport Bad Company all the way. He lost his pacifism after being captured and tortured. After rescue, he saved Marlowe, ordered Bad Company to provide supressing fire on the enemy and saved Bad Company from enemies before being shot down and killed. At first Bad Company did not like him but after he was captured, they regarded him as a friend after everything he did and would not leave anyone behind until Flynn was rescued.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 5

Game character I feel I'm most like

Nikolai, a character who always help save the day by rescueing Price and Soap from the boneyard, providing intel about Makarov, assisting Soap's medical attention and providing extraction after operations. Not only he is a big helper but he is like a flying taxi saving lives and providing important intel.
In Modern Warfare 1, he had been an informant for the SAS until his cover was blown and was later rescued by Captain Price's squad. He later sent the exact location of Al-Asad's safehouse. In Modern Warfare 2, he rescued Task Force 141 from Brazil using a Pave Low, rescued Price and Soap from the Afghan boneyard using a C-130 and rescued them both again using a Little Bird after General Shepherd was killed. His ability to fly multiple vehicles is highly excelling. Modern Warfare 3 saw Nikolai providing assisstance to Soap wounded in action. He later provided air support in a Mi-24 during an operation in Somalia and provided important intel while helping Price and Yuri catching Makarov at a hotel.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 4

A guilty pleasure game

A game where I can do a variety of crimes and bad stuff. The series probably created alot of controversy as it encouraged young people to commit crimes and left victims filing a lawsuit against the developers.

Monday, 3 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 3

A game that is underratted

The first Black Ops game ran on a disappointing IW 3.0 engine inferior than it's predecessor Modern Warfare 2's IW 4.0 engine. Black Ops 2 however during E3 2012 had surprisingly revealed many changes like it's graphic improvement and single player and multiplayer epicness.What makes the Black Ops series more than ordinary is the zombie modes and wager matches like one in the chamber, gun game, etc. Black Ops 2 setting will be the first in the Call of Duty franchise to be set in the distant future.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

30 day video game challenge - Day 1

Very first video game

Rise of Nations

Developed by Big Huge games, it is a real time strategy game where you control empires from the ancient age to the information age. There are a variety of nations to play as like Chinese, Americans, British, Bantu, etc. Building your own economy and military, you can make alliances, peace and war with others and you can also set difficulties like easiest mode where opponents go easy on you or toughest where opponents will do everything they can to destroy you. Apart from single matches, there are also conquer the world campaigns with simulated campaigns like the Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Cold War. There are even multiplayer matches where you can play with people around the world.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Munich 1972 massacre

Fourty years ago, Munich hosted the 1972 Olympic games. The games was well known for Mark Spitz (USA) winning 7 gold medals in swimming and his record was only surpassed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Michael Phelps (USA) winning 8 gold medals.

On the morning of 5 September, after 4am, eight Black September terrorists armed with AK rifles, stormed the Olympic village. The leader of the group, Luttif Afif (nicknamed Issa) and his assisstant were workers during the construction of the Olympic venues which he was able to know the exact location of the Israeli Olympic team. During the storm in, an Israeli wrestling referee saw a door open with a barell of an AK poking through. He threw his entire weight on the door shouting a warning which allowed a few Israeli athletes to escape through the windows. The terrorists managed to break in and took 9 Israeli athletes hostage while killing 2 others in the process. One of the dead athletes' body was dumped outside which was discovered by a German police officer who raised the alarm.

When the tense standoff began, the terrorists threw 2 sheets of paper out the window demanding the release of 234 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons with all their names printed on the sheet. They demanded the release to be made by 9am but the German authorities needed more time as the Israeli government was still discussing on the situation so the terrorists extended the deadline till 12pm noon. The Israeli government then told the Germans that they refused to negotiate with the terrorists and the only way to resolve this situation was the use of force. During negotiations, the terrorists covered their identity meaning that they had planned to remain alive. If they had intentions of death or suicide, then there was no point of covering their identity. After 12pm noon, the terrorists did not open fire at the hostages. An Olympic official was sent into the Olympic village to check on the condition of the hostages and at the same time, count the number of terrorists inside. The official counted 5 terrorists. The German police were about to conduct a raid when their preparations were filmed live. The police failed to clear the area and the media crowded the outside of the Olympic village and many could have been killed if the terrorist opened fire on the crowd with the AK's deadly 7.62mm rounds. The terrorists watched the preparations live on TV and demanded the police to retreat or they will execute the hostages. The police retreated. Another problem was that the ones conducting the raid were just ordinary street cops. During the preparations, the officers (disguised in sports clothing) did not use every bit of cover and did not hold their weapons properly for the whole time like they've never used it before. The police did not note what weapons were used by the terrorists. The terrorists used AK rifles which takes a second or more to switch the safety switch. By having this in mind, the extra second or two could allow precious time for expert marksmen to be able take advantage over.  

The terrorists then demanded to be transported (along with the hostages) to an airport where they will board a Boeing 727 on a flight to Egypt (a safe haven at the time for terrorists fighting against Israel). Both the terrorists and hostages moved to a bus where they were transported to a nearby field where 2 UH-1 helicopters took them to a military airbase. During the bus ride, the German police clearly saw that there were eight terrorists not five but nothing was being done to change what planned next. At F├╝rstenfeldbruck Air Base, the plan was to kill Issa and his assistant while they inspected the plane and the five snipers eliminate the other terrorists while the helicopters landed facing sideways.

At the airbase, the Germans involved in the raid were just ordinary street cops. The police officers chose to abandon their plan to overpower Issa at the plane as the fear of Issa or his assistant dropping a grenade by the wing section will blow up the entire plane killing everyone on board. This leaves the five snipers to deal with the situation. Sniper one was behind a sandpit, sniper two was behind a truck while the last three snipers were at the control tower. The snipers too were ordinary street cops that were not even trained as snipers and did not have helmets, body armor, night vision and scopes. They ended up relying on the floodlights attached on the tower. Equiped with G3 rifles, they were capable of being sniper rifles (carrying the 7.62mm round) as long as they have a long barell (for accuracy) and scope. The reason for street cops being completely involved was because West Germany did not allow the military to be involved in civilian crisis during peacetime.

During the landing, the helicopters landed facing directly the control tower. Issa and his assistant inspected the plane and upon inspecting, they rushed out thinking it's a trap. As the two ran back, sniper two open fired hitting his assistant in the thigh. A gun battle raged on(the pilots escaped) with the helicopters facing the tower, snipers one and two were in the line of fire of the last three snipers. In this case, the three snipers on the tower were left to deal with the eight terrorists. During the battle, the terrorists opened fire killing all the hostages inside on helicopter and threw a grenade into another helicopter killing all hostages inside that helicopter. Five terrorists were killed along with a German police officer on the tower. The remaining three were captured alive by the Germans. A Lufthansa airliner was later hijacked demanding the last three terrorists to be released. The Germans quickly released the three.

The rescue that turned into a disaster later saw the creation of the GSG9, which was Germany's counter terrorism unit. Israel responded by launching Operation Wrath of God to find those responsible.

After the Munich Olympics, nations hosting the games had intense security with huge investments being made. Security forces had been showing off in front of the world media before the Olympics as seen in Athens, Beijing and London as a sign that they are ready for any terror attacks.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

If oil suddenly disappeared

As you see on the news about rising oil prices and the prediction of oil running out, imagine what will happen to the world if oil SUDDENLY vanished?

First, there is going to be widespread panic with people rushing to petrol stations to fill up their cars before stations run out of petrol.

Then there is a potential famine among the entire world. Trucks are needed to transport food to supermarkets and without fuel, trucks can't run and therefore, millions of people would rush to supermarkets to buy as much as they can before stocks run out. People will end up being independent by growing their own crops and the diet of many countries will rapidly change. Without fuel for transports, providing aid for countries in poverty or disaster becomes impossible and millions more will die from starvation or lack of medical supplies.

Streets will be filled with trash as dumptrucks will be unable to do it's job.

International trade would stop as there is no fuel to run ships. Overseas travel would not happen with planes unable to fly while the once busy congested highways become empty. War might not even be possible without fuel running machines likes fighter jets or tanks. As container ships might not be able to run without oil, the US might use it's navy aircraft carriers as an alternative as they have unlimited range with nuclear generators not needing to refuel for over 20 years. The supercarriers might be used for transporting vital emergency supplies around the world.

With supermarkets, refinaries, petrol stations, running out of stock and transport companies not able to run, millions would be made redundant. China would be worse hit as millions of people work in factories producing goods worldwide and without fuel for transportation, millions go out of work. Many countries would be devastated by the sudden disappearance as the current generation relies too heavily on oil. In this situation, governments around the world would face a very difficult and frustrating challenge.

There are some countries like the United States that have reserve oil supplies. These supplies would be used wisely only on fire trucks and trucks carrying emergency supplies.

Without fuel, transportation of coal to power stations becomes impossible and therefore will cause widespread blackouts. Without power, hospitals would run on generators that would only last so long while there are big concerns about people who rely on electricity to stay alive i.e- using life support machines. Without power, surviving winter becomes a major issue. People living in northern Europe and Canada maybe forced to migrate down south or risk being frozen.

Without oil, the production of plastic is put to a stop. This could mean that hospitals may end up reusing plastic gloves.

However, the focus of biofuel development increases. This allows trucks to run on the streets again delivering supplies. Plastic products are manufactured again using biofuel so hospitals are able to get gloves and other important supplies. Other forms of electricity like wind and solar power are being used. At this situation, the world would be able to get back on it's feet after decades of huge losses in lives, products, jobs and transportation.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing is probably one of the best if not, the best fighter jet in the Western World. This American jet has stealth shaping that reflects radar waves else where and radar absorbing material which makes it a truely stealthy. A pair of F119 engines has supercruise capability. Supercruise is the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without the use of full afterburners, making it harder for heat seeking missiles to detect the F-22. The F-22's afterburners have enclosed nozzles which also gives out less heat and increase survivability from heat seeking missiles. The plane's size is big at 18.56 metres in length and it has the capability carrying alot of fuel and weapons, meaning more range and bigger firepower. It can carry 6 Aim-120 AMRAAM and 2 Aim-9 Sidewinders in a air to air stealth configuration. It's air to ground configuration enables the fighter the carry either the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or SDB (Small Diameter Bomb). The Raptor has a M61 Vulcan placed internally. It is also equiped with advanced avionics and the APG-77 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar. Previous radars have to mechanically move to scan a particular target or area but AESA radar can simultaneously scan all areas in front of the plane and can also distinguish both land and air targets (eg - tanks, bombers, etc). AESA radar can also jam enemy SAM radars and incoming enemy radar guided missiles. It also has thrust vectoring capability which can make the Raptor conduct supermaneuverability and the Cobra maneuver. The F-22 show it's superiority when it scored 144 kills to no losses in an air combat exercise a few years ago. The fighter is intended to replace the F-15 Eagle. The United States Air Force currently operates 187 F-22s.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Falklands War

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. It was fought between Argentina and Britain over at the Falkland Islands in 1982. The Argentinians wanted the Falklands back which they call Malvinas. The Argentinians ruled the Falklands before the British took over and ruled the Falklands for 149 years before the invasion and were thinking of handing it back like Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the people of Falklands wished to remain with British identity and this made the handover almost impossible.

In 1982, Argentina was ruled by a military government and was having an economic crisis at the time. The military government wanted to gain the support of the entire nation by fulfilling the nation's long wish of taking back the Falklands. When the Falkland Islands was invaded, the battle was quick despite strong British resistance.

Britain, ruled by Margaret Thatcher was also in an economic crisis with unemployment going up along with union strikes and riots. If Thatcher was to succeed in retaking the Falkland Islands, she would prove to be an effective leader. Diplomatic talks were going nowhere so the only option left was to send the British forces to retake the Falklands. The warzone is over 8000 miles from Britain so aircraft carriers like the HMS Invincible and the HMS Hermes played a vital role in providing air support. Ascension Island was the nearest British airbase to the Falklands located near the equator. Vulcan bombers were used from Ascension Island to conduct bombing raids but had to refuel several times just to get to the Falklands and to get back.

One famous moment of the war was when a Royal Navy submarine HMS Conqueror sunk an Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The HMS Conqueror was secretly following the ARA General Belgrano in the south of the Falklands Islands. The Argentine cruiser was heading to the Islands through shallow waters which the HMS Conqueror was able to sail through. Instead of letting it go, the HMS Conqueror fired three torpedos and sank the Belgrano within 45 minutes. 323 sailors were killed. After this, the Argentine Navy stayed in port for the rest of the war.

Another famous moment of the war was when the HMS Sheffield was sunk by an Exocet missile fired by an Argentine Super ├ëtendard. 20 British sailors were killed and the onboard went out of control. The Sheffield was using it's satellite equipment to contact Britain which blocked the radar signal. The exocets flying at 700mph, hit the Sheffield. It was the first ship to be destroyed by enemy fire since World War Two.

The Falklands War was also well known for it's air war. The Royal Navy aircraft carriers were equipped with Sea Harriers. The Sea Harriers scored 20 air to air kills with no losses but suffered two losses from Argentine ground fire. Equipped with American Aim-9 Sidewinders, these heat seeking missiles shot down Argentine A-4 Skyhawks and Mirage IIIs. The Argentine airforce relied on airbases on the mainland as the airstrip at Port Stanley was too small. The lack of air to air refuelling was one reason why the Argentine fighters were not effective enough due to limited range.

There was an rare irony occuring that both sides used FN FAL rifles in combat. A rifle from Belgium using the 7.62mm round that is great on semi-automatic but because of it's recoil, becomes unsuitable when firing at automatic mode. The rifle has been used by many countries around the world during the 20th century. 

The British eventually took back the Falklands despite heavy resistance from Argentine troops and fighter jets. With the Argentine forces surrendering, Margaret Thatcher won her next election while the Argentine military government resigning due to mounting public opposition.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Conscription Army vs Volunteer Army

Conscription is the when people at a specified age are forced to do national service by doing basic army training. Some countries conscript everyone, other countries have "lottery" conscription (random name drawn from a hat) and others have selective conscription (officers visiting districts and pick the ones they think are best for the army).

Then there is the volunteer army which is of course people joining the army at thier own will without the need of force.

So which is better? Conscription or volunteer?

People say that by having conscription, it would discipline and improve the confidence of the future generation. It is also one reason to prepare the country for any potential threat/war. In Israel, people serve two years in conscription and if you don't wish to serve in the army, you'll be put in the reserves and continue your normal life. If Israel is to be attacked, the nation can mobilise 250,000 troops in 24 to 48 hours. Countries like Israel, South Korea and Taiwan have conscription to prepare for their uncertain future. Singapore has conscription to not only protect their tiny island (half the size of Los Angeles) but to also fight racism and unite their multi-cultural nation. The United States once had conscription during the Vietnam War and chances were, conscripts were often deployed to Vietnam. To avoid conscription, there were three ways - study full time at University, join the National Guard or escape to Canada.

Conscription does not always guarantee victory. Everyone is different/has different views so a conscript army will have a variety of personnel. This will easily effect the morale on the battlefield. For example, if over half of a platoon were conscripts who were forced to join against their will and are forced to fight in a raging battle, the chances of winning will not stack up. During the Falklands war, the Argentine army used conscripts to fight and many of them were so terrified from the vicious firefights that they ended up sleeping under the rocks until the British forces declared victory. During the Gulf War, many of Saddam's forces were conscripts and after facing the fierce firepower from US tanks, they quickly surrendered.

By having a volunteer army, you'll able to focus and provide more time and resources on the small number which they will easily turn into an elite fighting force with motivation. Barack Obama's decrease in military spending is hoping that the US military will become a smaller but more "flexible force". Big investments in higher quality equipment/weapons and an offer of higher wages can easily attract many young people to join the military like the US or UK.

So what is better? Having one million average trained conscripts or having a few thousand elite, motivated and powerful soldiers? You be the judge.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Low wages

The statistics had shown that the world today has over one billion people are living in poverty, in other words = hungry.

What is one solution from being poor? Get a job?

Getting a job is the most popular reason and solution from being poor but is it really? There are millions of people working and living on less than $1 USD a day. People in poor countries work in sweatshops for companies like Nike that produce all the world's sports gear and workers are paid less than a dollar a day while the company gains the big money. Why does this happen? Why is there an Occupy movement?

During hard times like the recession, it can be hard for a company to keep their factories in the West because of the expensive costs like safety regulations, high quality conditions and average to high wages for workers. So during hard economic times and especially when companies try to viciously compete against each other, if factories remain in the West, companies go bankrupt. Companies have been doing any means necessary to stay in competition even if it mean shifting factories to poor countries and leaving the Western workers redundant.

When companies compete against each other, it's not always one vs one. Some companies compete against more than one. For example

- Apple vs Microsoft (Computers)

- Apple vs Phone companies like Nokia, Motorola (Touch phones and tablets trying to take down the iPhone and iPad)

- Microsoft vs Sony (Console wars - Xbox 360 vs Playstation 3)

- Nike vs Puma vs Adidas, etc (Sports gear)

A Chinese film "China Blue" had shown a sweatshop in action producing jeans while workers got paid less.

One good example of a sweatshop in China is Foxconn. It is a large company having over 150,000 workers like it's a city but is well known in oppressing it's workers. It lied to it's recruits by telling them they will get paid over 1000 RMB a month. Turns out the workers get paid 31 cents (US) per hour while working for 35 hours straight unlike an American electronic worker that earns $23 an hour. There had been reports of workers as young as twelve working in the factory. Anyone trying to form a union in Foxconn is arrested.

Foxconn produces iPhones, iPads, iPods, Playstation 3s and Xbox 360s. A Foxconn worker would have produced a product (eg - microchip for a mobile phone or iPad casings) 2500 times in a 35 hour shift. Completely boring producing the same thing for 35 hours straight. Most workers that do their bit have never seen the final product that is produced. For example - a female worker cuts the Apple shape through the iPad casing and only saw the final product for the first time when an ABC reporter showed it to her.

To keep the workload going in Foxconn, the workers live in Foxconn facilities. Workers sleep in bumks with eight other strangers and eat in a huge canteen. The conditions are a little better than other Asian sweatshops where workers live and eat in horrible conditions. Workers are allowed to go on leave to see their familes once ever two or three months.

Foxconn is well known for it's suicide rates. Because of it's low wages, poor conditions and long hours, eighteen workers jumped off from a high building. There had also been threats of "mass suicides". Foxconn ended up having suicide nets, rooftop watchmen and contracts agreeing to not commit suicide. These suicide rates attracted the world media by storm with all fingers pointing at Apple as they already have more money than the US while Foxconn workers get paid only a few pennies. In other words, your iPhone, iPad or Xbox 360 is from a factory with horrible oppression towards it's workers. Also a similar situation when you buy Nike products too.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). He has no cause and is not supported by anyone and only wanted to maintain his power. He had kidnapped over 33000 children and turned boys into child soldiers and girls into sex slaves. Millions of people had been displaced since the civil war. Kidnapped children were forced to kill their parents and Kony had faces mutilated to make everyone fearful of him. Kony constantly used peace talks as a distraction to rearm and strike again. When the International Criminal Court was formed in 2002, Kony was first on the list of arrest warrants by ICC. He is wanted for crimes against humanity and civil population including murder, sex slavery, rape and kidnappings.The LRA is a christian rebel group fighting for the 10 commandments to rule the Uganda.

There had been a campaign to stop Kony after an American film maker visited Uganda and saw the atrocities of war. The campaign spreaded nationwde around the US and eventually, Barack Obama decided to send troops to advise and train the Ugandan Army to fight the LRA. When Kony found out about the US aid, he changed his tactics to avoid capture. Kony 2012 is designed to make him famous and increase the worldwide support towards his arrest via the internet. With so many people using the internet, the Kony 2012 campaign had spread rapidly worldwide just like the 2009 Iran protests and the Arab spring. Famous celebrities and politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) have been targeted in the hope that they too will spread the message of the campaign to bring Kony to justice.

The US troops sent to advise the Ugandan Army are the Green Berets or the US Army Special Forces. Unlike the Navy SEALs who specialise in maritime operations (eg - diving and SWCC teams), the Green Berets specialised in force multiplying. They were well known for their efforts in Vietnam in training and advising the South Vietnamese Army during President JFK's time. After the selection course, Green Berets attend the JFK Special Warfare Centre and School where they learn a variety of courses but the most well known course is the foreign language course. By doing this course, Green Berets are able to learn and master a foreign language and culture (eg- knowing local sign language). This course will enable to the Green Berets to train foreign militaries/militias which is force multiplying.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

National Debt

As you saw the news in the middle of 2011 about the US Government being in debt, you wonder why this is the case when you thought that they are one of the richest governments in the world.

Well lets break it down.

The US Government has bills to pay like defence, education, welfare, health, infrastructure, etc. The US Government's yearly income is about $2 trillion while the bills are about $4 trillion a year. It is an expensive world out there as the war in Afghanistan now costs $300 million a day according to the Pentagon while the 2012 Iraq and Afghanistan wars together will cost $118 billion which the Pentagon had to get from the Government. The amount of student loans in the US that have not been repayed had reached $800 billion.

How does the US Government fill this $2 trillion gap? It borrows money from other countries. The US is in a $15 trillion debt and out of that debt, over $798.9 billion of it is from China. The US not only has to pay back the loan but also needs back interest.

Interest is the cost of using the lender's money or as compensation for using the money. Why have interest when the lender gets back the money anyways? Interest rates helps the borrower make profit from lending money. It is to help the lender through uncertain times as the economy is like a rollercoaster. For example - a lender lent $10000 now while the economy is in good shape and the currency value is high. But when the lender gets his money back a year later and the economy went down along with the currency, who is the loser? The lender, as the money it gets back is worth less than a year before. IE - The $10000 repayed buys alot less than the $10000 could buy before. So the borrower in this situation becomes the winner as he took advantage of it by borrowing the money at the right time. So in this situation, that is where interest rates come in to make it a win-win situation for both the borrower and lender.

So how does the US Government pay back it's debt? There are two options - cut spending or raise taxes. If the Government cuts spending, then the people that the money is spent on will complain that they don't have enough money to spend, eg - teachers, defence service members, etc. This is also called austerity which is a big topic in the European Union with debt among Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus.

If the Government tried to raise taxes, people will complain that they don't have enough money to spend on as prices go up and income goes down further due to increased income tax.

In the middle of 2011, Obama increased the debt ceiling so he could borrow more money. Greece is in a debt of 500 billion and had seeked bailouts while the UK had reached a debt of £1 trillion.

When countries are in debt and are in a growing crisis, they seek help for bailouts like European countries have been doing. They have been wanting the European Union to bail them out by paying the debts for them with the hope that they will repay the European Union in the future. As of mid 2012, Cyprus has asked for help joining Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain.