Friday, November 20, 2015

Aux Armes, Citoyennes!

I can't believe we're just gonna casually
watch someone get murdered.
What is this, Detroit? 
--The Final Girls (2015)

Money talks very loudly
You'd be surprised the friends you can buy
with small change 
--Money Talks,
J. J. Cale

 He was a man who had read everything,
and understood nothing 
--John Cleese 

The media are calling the recent Paris attacks an act of war. French President Hollande says the nation's response will be "pitiless". 

Unfortunately, these killings were simply another primitive terror incident carried out by non-state players, with simple explosives and individual weapons. It was a terror attack because the perpetrators did not have more sophisticated assets. If they did they would have used them.

Terror is the tool of the weak in a world of militarily powerful nation states. 

Terrorism is not warfare. It is criminal activity. If it were warfare, then the players would be covered as legitimate combatants under the Geneva Conventions; they are not. They are consistently misrepresented as "militia" along with all the other related emotion-laden appellations. 

Yet the fact remains: they are simple criminals unworthy of the title "combatant". Terrorism is not warfare, nor is warfare, terrorism. Just because we call terrorism "an act of war" does not make it so. We are not Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

[Cross-posted @ MilPub.]

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Slippery Slope: Ranger Class, 2015

--G. I. Jane (1997)

I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
Who'll enjoy being a guy
having a girl...like... me 
--I Enjoy Being a Girl,
Flower Drum Song 

I feel dizzy
I feel sunny
I feel fizzy and funny and fine
And so pretty
Miss America can just resign 
--I Feel Pretty, 
West Side Story

 Hey, little girl, comb your hair,
fix your make-up, soon he will open the door,
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger,
you needn't try any more 
--Wives and Lovers,
Burt Bacharach

When we were kids, "Your mother wears Army boots" was about the worst insult we could muster.  Now, it's just another day in the office for female military members.

In the march to equality (androgyny?), this year saw the first three female graduates from Ranger school. Ranger agrees with those who feel that the admission of females will lower the standards of Infantry combat training as well as the effectiveness of combat units But he also believes Ranger training was being degraded long before women entered the school.

Ranger's Ranger experience (referred to henceforth as "RR") was a far cry from today's climate-controlled living experience. Barracks were uninsulated and unheated in the depth of winter; windows were nailed open.

Ranger School had no niceties. RR's candidates were allowed five minutes in the mess hall, so a meal consisted mainly of  what you could stuff in your field jacket pockets, like Hoffman's grubby "Ratso Rizzo" in Midnight Cowboy. That is probably not the case today, as the candidates all looked clean and rested when Ranger had an opportunity to view the camp several years ago. The men from RR's looked like extreme reality show escapees.

They traveled to Mountain Ranger Camp (MRC) in 2 1/2 ton truck with canvas top, freezing in the wind chill of a North Georgia winter. They lived in primitive huts. The showers were cold, and there was a central latrine. They seldom slept more than four hours, and usually that was in the field with only a sleeping bag cover allowed. Rations were C-type.

Compare Ranger school's 2015 three-hour, 12-mile forced march component (the same standard that a non-elite group like female MP basic trainees had to meet 30 years ago) to RR's 19-mile forced march off 1968 with rucksacks and all normally carried TO&E equipment.

The forced march requirement now is only 60% of the 1968 standard. (Note: RR's 1968 training was a degradation still from that of basic line unit training in WWII, when the 2/506/101 performed a 56-mile forced march from Toccoa, GA to Atlanta.) RR's required five-mile run and all p.t. was done in 2-lb boots, not sneakers. His medics gave the men Darvon 600's so they could numb themselves during the day. 

Why the degradation in training? Is it because today's All Volunteer Army does not need to be as tough?

The female Ranger graduates were recycled more than once (having not passed previous classes.) Though recycling was not uncommon in Ranger's experience, only one attempt at recycling was allowed, and it was never at Camp Darby, the patrolling component (as it was with these females) 

Why did they all the women fail at Darby? When RR's arrived they were branch-qualified and knew patrolling and how to use all TO&E equipment and weaponry. Darby was simply a polishing endeavor. There were no recycles at Darby because it was too early to identify the need for remediation.

Ranger school training has been degraded, and now women (with a little help from their friends) will be passing through. And though they will be assigned to units, it is doubtful that will ever be used as combat multipliers in actual Infantry combat scenarios.

These female Ranger's were raised with tough and buff movie characters like Lara Croft and G.I. Jane. Our all-inclusive society is allowing them to realize their dreams, but at what cost will this EOE effort come?

[Cross-posted @ MilPub.]

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Burning Down the House

 All I want is to be left alone
in my average home;
But why do I always feel
like I'm in the Twilight Zone? 
--Somebody's Watching Me,

Confidential information
It's in a diary
This is my investigation 
It's not a public inquiry 
--Private Investigations,
Dire Straits

The United States Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was destroyed on 11 September 2012. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other were killed in the attack. The alleged leader of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khatalluh, was captured by a squad of U.S. commmados, law enforcement and intelligence agents on 17 June 2014.

Khatalluh was taken to an undisclosed location, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder assured us that the prisoner would be tried in federal court. November 5 -- 16 months hence -- and no trial has come of this capture.

So what is happening at the highest levels of U.S. Justice to bring Khatalluh to the open courts of the U.S. federal justice system, as we have been promised? On 3 August 2015, the Associated Press reported that Khatallah's defense team petitioned the court to have the case dismissed; no further motions on the case have been reported.

The U.S. spends billions of dollars on intel and covert operations, going halfway 'round the world to capture those deemed to be terrorists, and then what happens? One thing we do no do is to bring them to justice.

If Khatalluh is responsible for these U.S. deaths, then bring him to trial, as required by law. Why do we not have the satisfaction of seeing high level threats like Katalluh neutralized in transparent federal court trials? Why is everything a secret?

Murder is a capital offense. Do we no longer believe in the efficacy of the federal court system to mete out justice after a crime has been committed?

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Monday, November 02, 2015

War Criminals

 He didn't belong in the Army
or in civilian life either
--George Kaufman (on Harold Ross) 

Don't come a-hangin' around my door
Don't wanna see your face no more
I don't need your war machines
I don't need your ghetto scenes 
--American Woman, 
The Guess Who 

Oh I was born six-gun in my hand
Behind a gun I'll make my final stand 
--Bad Company,
Bad Company

War criminals and terrorists are different creatures and the terms are not interchangeable. So why has everything that obstructs United State's foreign ventures been labelled, "terrorism"?

Surely the Army's  Chief of Staff, the senior Army adviser to the President, should have a firm handle on this topic, yet he goes along to get along with the collective, simplistic delusion. The taxpayers do not know to ask for clarification.

Islamic State presents more than meets the eye. They are fighting Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian and Kurdish forces on the ground, to include the militias arrayed against them. They are enduring U.S. air strikes. This is not what terrorists do.

Simply, their organization has evolved along the spectrum of conflict. Maoist theory predicts this morphology beginning with a group's small actions all the way to Army status.

As we waffle on the topic of confronting IS, what we never do confront is the simple question: 

"What would we do, as the forces of freedom and democracy, IF we should defeat or capture the entire force structure of IS? Is there an answer? Why do we continue to partake in a losing scenario? Does the U.S. taxpayer benefit from any warfare with IS?

The answer does not lie in fighting IS, but determining that for which we fight.

IS has clearly defined its goals and priorities; it is time that the U.S. does the same.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Pocketful of Mumbles

 I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest 
--The Boxer, 
Simon and Garfunkel

 See, in my line of work you
got to keep repeating things over and over
and over again for the truth to sink in,
to kind of catapult the propaganda
--President George W. Bush

Why do we never get an answer
When we're knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war 
The Moody Blues   

The OCT 2015 -  JAN 2016 Army Echoes, the quarterly newsletter sent to over a million retired soldiers and families, has set for itself the modest proposal of keeping its readers in thrall to Them Terrorists, 24/7 ("Sustaining Antiterrorism awareness -- always ready, always alert," p.5.) Just in case you fail to subject yourself to the ample media sources which should have already brought you to this paralyzed state.

Ranger will deconstruct the money graph, to wit:

"Terrorists can attack anywhere, anytime – the threat is real. Over the recent months the continued threats on social media from the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL; also commonly referred to as ISIS) and their influence on domestic extremists demonstrates the lengths that terrorist groups take to threaten our nation and our military communities. ISIL has also expanded their tactics to include cyber-attacks and attempts to exploit private and sensitive information of our military personnel and their families. These risks pertain directly to Retired Soldiers, just as they do the entire Army community."

A sophomore creative writing undergrad would recognize the weakness presented here as fact, courtesy the United States Army. The breakdown begins with opening statement: "Terrorists can attack anywhere, anytime."

Is that true? Can you think of somewhere they could not? How about a nuclear (surety) weapons storage area, the protection of which is the job of the Army, after all. So, no -- not anywhere; check one.

Next: "(T)he continued threats on social media from the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL; also commonly referred to as ISIS) . . . demonstrates the lengths that terrorist groups take to threaten our nation and our military communities." OK -- "social media threats" -- certainly is not a nice thing to do. We call such people "trolls", and what they do is BULLYING. When they act on their threats, they become criminals. 

Bullying certainly has its own corrosive quality, but do WE need to be "always ready, always alert"? Maybe we could just farm out that set of feelings over to the people paid to monitor such transmissions on a daily basis. That IS what they are paid for, after all, and it would cut down on our psychotherapy bills and Unisom consumption, something that would be good for an overworked, over-stressed population, no? 

Aren't Terrorists a Level One threat? If they are out "to exploit private and sensitive information of our military personnel and their families," and "(T)hese risks pertain directly to Retired Soldiers, just as they do the entire Army community," tell us what these tactics entail so that we might be proactive about it. Instead we are fed a vague miasma of fear, riding on the tails of the aura created around terror groups.

Further: the piece is predicated on a falsehood: ISIL is not a terror organization. IS has a military chain of command, their members wear uniforms, carry weapons and attack military targets. They do not conform to the international laws of war.

The last fact does not render them terrorists, but rather War Criminals. Possibly they could be convicted under "crimes against humanity", but the evidence favors war criminal prosecution. A paragraph full of lies and half-truths, courtesy your U.S. Army.

You can sleep well, tonight, despite the fact that rough men stand ready to scare you witless.

[Cross-posted @ milpub.]

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reverie at Reveille

 Follow me;
and let the dead bury their dead
--Matthew 8:22 

 Holding back the years
Thinking of the fear I've had so long,
When somebody hears
Listen to the fear that's gone 
--Holding Back the Years ,
Simply Red 

 It takes very little to govern good people.
Very little. And bad people can't be governed at all.
Or if they could I never heard of it
 -- Cormac Mccarthy

A couple of weeks ago we attended the Black Hat Instructors reunion in Columbus, Ga, home of the Infantry School and Ranger's former stomping grounds. Present past and future collided.

The young soldiers have a startled-deer gaze in their eyes; that is the present. The film American Sniper played on t.v. that night, and we watched it for the first time; this depicted a version of the present. Lord help us if military service has devolved into the triteness displayed in the film. (We knew that Hollywood was already there because it sells to an audience that rejects challenge.)

As an Army-trained sniper, Ranger understands the reality of military killing. "American Sniper" made a harsh reality into a comic book-style graphic novel, laden with melodrama. The eponymous sniper was mad and mean, and shown as determined to deliver his holy vengeance upon the enemy.

Four young men were in the next motel room, and would begin Ranger training the following morning; this is the future. That day was the reunion, and thus, the past. "American Sniper" was the recent past, flowing into the future.

We are all slowly marching into the past, despite our current roles and their iterations, despite our perception of the speed of that movement. Rather than talk Old Soldier stuff, our thoughts go to humanity and military service writ large.

Ranger has known many hard, tough men, starting with those of his youth in the coal towns of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has also known many mean men, and some mean and tough men.

As a company commander he endeavored to run a company devoid of mean-spirited leadership, focused instead on the hardness of our service. Life and service is not as depicted in the thin reality of these melodramatic films. Unlike the sentiments expressed by the sniper character Chris Kyle, meanness has no place in the military or in life.

Disappointingly, this movie, like so many others of its ilk, imparts a mean-spiritedness to American actions, as though that meanness is a natural response to being attacked, and as though that response will save us.

We hope that the young men going off to Ranger training on that day are trained to be tough, without the need to be mean. The years will be mean enough without our actions adding to the burden.

Forty-seven years from now, we wonder how they will remember those that have fallen by the wayside. With equanimity?

We hope it will not be through a callow mean lens like that through which most tough guys are depicted for us today.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Destroyer

You can kill a man,
but you can't detsroy an idea
--Medgar Evans

Load up on guns, bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend 
--Smells Like Teen Spirit, 

Beneath this mask there is an idea,
Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof 
--V for Vendetta (2005)

 The Big Stick talk on the United States' Executive, State and Department of Defense street is about destroying Islamic State (IS) / ISIL / ISIS/ Daesh, forever and ever, amen. President Obama has stated this objective clearly on the White House web page ("We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL.")

But this idea should be examined in a realistic manner, devoid of the feminine dithering of our leaders.

Fact: the destruction of IS is not going to happen anytime soon. Following 12+ years of hostilities , Al Qaeda (the original Bad Boys on the block) has not been destroyed, so what makes us think IS can be destroyed? The best that we have achieved with Al Qaeda is to have killed numbers one through three in their hierarchy; wash - rinse - repeat.

However, these attempts to disorder the group did not destroy the organization. It seems they have the military idea of "slotting" down better than we could imagine. We can kill people with explosives, but we cannot destroy their ideas as handily.

The Islamic State is not the problem in the ME. IS did not destabilize the region. IS simply exploited the now existing power vacuums. IS is not an aberration but rather the apotheosis of a prevailing Middle Easernt mindset. This is why their iteration has been so successful.

Through our efforts at destabilization, we handed the thugs a present. The force that animates and populates IS was already there, simmering and roiling beneath the surface. We simply unleashed it.

To focus on the destruction of IS would simply be to remove a symptom, not to address the disease

News flash: The United States military forces have never destroyed an enemy army. We may have defeated them, but the vanquished forces may live to fight another day, or to morph into something new and try again.

Moreover, calling for the destruction of any entity is philosophically as barbaric as the destructive actions of IS. If destruction is the best the U.S. can conjure as a realistic course of action, then we have lost the finesse that makes democracy unique among governmental systems.

How does destroying an entire army (IS) express the values of a civilized Western  military tradition? Are we deserting our laws of land warfare and reverting to Old Testament standards of conduct?

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Troubles Reignite

The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. 
The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think.
The problem is that Johnny doesn't know
what thinking is;
he confuses it with feeling
--Thomas Sowell 

The problem with leaderless uprisings taking over 
is that you don't always know what you get 
at the other end. 
 If you are not careful you could 
replace a bad government with one much worse! 

*   *   *  

The only thing we have learnt from experience
is that we learn nothing from experience
--Chinua Achebe
Subtitle: Read the Problem.

Sometimes it s necessary to step back from a problem and to evaluate what is actually happening, rather than reacting to what you think is happening. This is doubly important when the assumptions diverge from observable reality. In order to reify our behavior we need to look clearly and interpret the flow of events, from origin (cause and effect) to the present.

As we walk down the lane in the Middle East, it is clear that the center is not holding. It is not even clear if there is a center. The situation is reminiscent of the acrobatic plate spinners of yore: each hand spins the plate around his own center, and there a lot of plates spinning in the air at the same time. Eventually, the motion of all will stop.

The quagmire in the Middle East as we are told will be solved when a power-sharing accord can be reached, but this concept is easier said than done. Terrorism is the bee in the bonnet, but this it is far from exclusively a Mid-East tactic. Let us look at the recent flame-up of the revanchist sentiment in Ireland.

While they have their moments of detente, the internecine violence British in Northern Ireland and Irish Republican Army has resurged recently; the1998 Good Friday Agreement did not hold.

These entities have not achieved a lasting truce in Northern Ireland because the quiet times are actually consolidation and reorganization periods, time to retrain and establish networks. In light of this ongoing and intractable conflict, what are the implications for the Middle East?

If two Christian entities cannot peaceably  resolve their differences, then how much less likely is it for the Sunnis  and Shiites to do so? The Northern Ireland conflict between two civilized societies (Ireland is often seen as the savior of civilization for its monastic academic efforts in the Dark Ages) is centuries old, reaching back to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The end game is elusive.

Ranger Simple Question of the Day:

Why think that the Islamists can achieve a peace that still eludes Christian players?

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An American Tragedy


It is a capital mistake
to theorize before one's data 
--Scandal in Bohemia,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away
If you can use some exotic booze
There's a bar in far Bombay
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away 
--Come Fly with Me,  
Frank Sinatra 

Here they come again,
Catch us if you can,
Time to get a move on,
We will yell with all of our might 
--Catch Us If You Can, 
The Dave Clark Five

It was all going to be so easy, all so simple and clear back in March 2003. America was going to remove the evil of Saddam from the chessboard of the Middle East. The United States had to discharge its collective angst at feeling like just another country vulnerable to terrorism.

A military strike was just the thing, but it could not be against the nation serving as the proving grounds for the terrorists, our best frenemy, Saudi Arabia. No, it was a token strike for a token war.

The simplicity has long disappeared, and instead of safety we have bought daily news feeds of increasing grotesqueries, brutal and pathetic sights we thought we had left behind at some point following the Inquisitions.

Now, like the good liberals we have been guilted into being, we are saying "bring it on" to a new tragedy, the open arms given to the pell-mell self-evacuees of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, etc.

To clarify: We ARE RangerAgainstWar. We are not conservative thinkers, not by a long chork (to borrow from Beckett.) It's just we don't address conservative thought because they're on another plane of existence. We hope for better from liberal thinkers, but to take our on advice on hope, its just something at the bottom of Pandora's Box;  most people don't reach that deeply.

As Rocco Gianluca, Western Balkans coordinator for the International Organization for Migration said recently,“There is no real system. We don’t know who all these people are."

As with the discretionary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are incapable of defining the problem, rendering the chimerical problem insoluble. A problem which cannot be defined has no solution; there is no "there", there.

And since there is no definition of the problem, then an immediate stop-gap measure is needed. The question of concern is, "Why should any Western nation welcome unvetted Middle East Muslims into its population?"

Forget paranoia, good liberals refuse to even ask the question. A recent Friday News Roundup on NPR ended with one of the uber-hip commentators tut-tutting the possibility that there could be any bad guys among the immigrants. Saith he, "Can you even imagine someone waiting at a train terminal or a dock to whisk one of these people off to an apartment?"

Well, uh, yeah - that would be within the realm of possibility, no?

If the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is a real thing, then accepting millions of military-aged men into Europe is a suicidal endeavor. If  radicalized "lone wolf" terrorists area threat, then isn't it logical to imagine that 100's of thousands of unknown immigrants would enhance that threat?

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Manufactured Humanitarian Crisis

--Germany and Refugees,
Arend van Dam

Sufficient to have stood,
though free to fall    
--Paradise Lost, John Milton 

This isn't right.
It's not even wrong.
--Wolfgang Pauli

 Subtitle: Duckspeak on the Prolefeed.

Ranger and I are growing tired of the Duckspeak on the Prolefeed (thank you, Mr. Orwell), specifically surrounding the latest immigration crisis. The wailing, the babies, the fences. We should all shed crocodile tears and open up the borders, yes? No, not really.

Why has the number of refugees the U.S has agreed to accept tripled in the ten days since 10 September? And why  is the United States so enthusiastically encouraging the Europeans to open the floodgates?

The majority of these people are not political refugees fleeing for their lives. They are instead, Discretionary Émigrés seeking to illegally force their entree into cowed Western nations for economic and educational benefit. Discretionary emigrés following a discretionary war.

The photographs in the news show well-fed and well-dressed people vociferously demanding entrance, circumventing the legal protocol which all previous asylum-seekers have had to pursue. We would not honor this mass exodus to those from persecuted African nations; in fact, Greece, Italy and the others ship them back.

So why the carte blanche to the Syrians, the Iraqis, et al.? Could it have something to do with the fact that their skin color is more in line with ours?

Sure, the U.S. has had a major hand in fomenting this madness by unleashing the roiling secularism which strongmen like Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammer Qadaffi had held under wraps, but that does not mean it or any other nation is responsible for setting these nations aright and instilling 21st century modes of behavior. Yes it was fatuous to imagine a garden of democracy would spring up in the desert wasteland, but our job, poorly-executed as it may have been, is done.

Perhaps the only people leaving their home countries who deserve the title "refugee" would be the Syrian and Iraqi Christians. Much as Syria obliterated its Jewish population in the decades before, so now is it attempting to purge this next group of undesirables. 

The remaining refugees are largely Sunni or Shiite Muslims, and their internecine warfare is their own gift that keeps on giving. The U.S. removed the strongmen of the Middle East (Assad is still hanging on) as a gift to the peoples of those nations (said with some sarcasm), with the thought was that the residents would now carve out their new heaven. That is what a people must do in their homeland, so why are these people leaving, and why is it our responsibility to house them?

No case has yet been made that the Islamic State (IS) is composed of dead-enders who are out of step with the population, and we straddle the fence. Either the populations of these countries don't like this form of "radical" Islam, or they are fine with it. If it is the former, they do not seem able or willing to step up to the plate (with massive U.S. aid) to confront their "nemesis".

Do we now recognize the IS as a new nation, a caliphate? If so, who will be defined as undesirables in that state? This is the undefined moment for those who will not fight to exploit the guilt-laden Western nations, so the non-fighters are bolting -- and maybe some of the fighters, too.

Notice the appearance of most refugees: Besides being well-fed and dressed, and the women all wear the Hijab, Niqab or burkha. These are not people renouncing their ways or clamoring for Western-style humanitarianism; if it were so, they would have had it at home.

But they all want to get beyond the Eastern European hard-scrabble lives which would await them in Serbia, Croatia and Hungary -- nations who do not want them, anyway -- to get to Germany and Scandinavia. They're not fools.

Are the emigres majority Sunni? Are they Shiite? Will they carry their long-standing racial and ethnic animus in to their new lands? For those who settle in the U.S., will they carry their resentments against the Great Satan? This is surely some kind of insane Mobius strip which, as we endeavor to rout out radical Islam in our midst, folds back upon itself and opens the floodgates to unvetted Muslims.

It's a nice day for Middle Easterners hedging their bets, and for having your cake and eating it, too.

[cross-posted @ milpub]

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Being Pope Francis

 This is the struggle of every person:
be free or be a slave
--Pope Francis

Terrorism Counteraction (TC/A) training taught us to think like terrorists, but that may be a fool's errand since few who have been brought up in the Western mindset can think that way.

But today, let us try and think like a terrorist.

Pope Francis, controversial in some circles, will visit the United States on 22 September. He recently held said priests could absolve women of the sin of abortion if they are contrite when they seek forgiveness. To some fringe fundamentalists, this is as bad as sanctioning abortion itself, and much as they would kill an abortion provider, so too they might try to kill the Pope. (It is not as though attempts have not been made on the lives of other pontiffs in the recent past.)

Feminist extremists could also see the Pope as a target for his refusal to eliminate the "celestial glass ceiling" and keeping women in support positions (=nuns) versus ordination to the forward leadership positions. To hell with being Rangers, these women would aspire to being Pope.

Add in the contingent that wants to throw illegal aliens out of the U.S. Doesn't Francis argue for compassion, and isn't he suspect of being their advocate, being of South American and not European origin? So here are three disaffected groups before we even leave the runway.

Now add in Islamic extremists and you have some real possibilities for an assassination attempt. It would be quite a coup, in terrorist-think, for any of these groups to execute a mission on U.S. soil.

The Pope would be a fine symbolic target, worthy of expending valuable western-trained operatives. If they have the assets, the Pope would be a logical target for expenditure.

What could the U.S. do to counter the threat?

  • Cancel the Pope's visit due to the threat level
  • As the head of a foreign government (the Vatican), provide him an aircraft with ECM capabilies for his trip 
  • Require the Pope to stay in unknown and unannounced secure military locations (much as President Bush hid out following the events of 9-11-01.)
  • Limit his exposure to the public

If there is anyone who wants the Pope dead, the U.S. would be a great place to kill him. This is a sad thought, but it is thinking-like-a-terrorist. 

Is anyone discussing this potential eventuality?

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Georgia Veterans Hall of Fame

The only thing that makes battle psychologically tolerable
is the brotherhood among soldiers.
You need each other to get by 
---War, Sebastian Junger

Without heroes, we are all plain people,
and don’t know how far we can go
--Bernard Malamud

Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends 
--John 15:13

An addendum to 7 Oct PSA on the "Airborne Instructors Reunion" (The Black Hats):

For those able to attend the Airborne Instructors Reunion, a special guest will be Col Paul Longgrear (Ret'd), the last surviving officer from the well-documented Vietnam Battle of Lang Vei. Ranger wishes to bring attention one of Paul's latest accomplishments, the founding of the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame (GMVHOF).

When Paul was inducted into the Arkansas Military Hall of Fame in 2012, he told us he was humbled to be in the company of such decorated fellow Arkansawyers. Upon realizing there was no such recognition given to Georgia Veterans (the home of Ft. Benning!) Paul decided to form a nonprofit in 2013 to give veterans in his adopted home state the same recognition.

Georgia is now one of only 20 states that honor veterans through a Hall of Fame.

Of the more than 770,000 veterans who have hailed from the Peach State, 18 have been inducted into the first (2013) class of the GMHOF; 16 were in the second (2014).

Paul's goal in forming the organization was to ensure that Georgia military veterans are properly honored for their service and sacrifice and to introduce young people to heroes. He said, "Athletes and entertainers are stars, but not heroes. When they signed on to serve their country, military veterans signed a blank check for an amount up to and including their lives. They are real heroes."

For those interested in making a nomination, candidates may be living or deceased and nominated for valorous military performance, extraordinary achievements or combined military and civilian community service. An independent selection committee reviews the nominations and honorees are inducted at an annul banquet in November.

Visit GMHOF.org for more information or to submit a nominee. You can contact Col. Longgrear directly at GMVHOF, P.O. Box 745, Pine Mountain, Ga. 31822, (706) 302-2220.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

He Knew From Syria

Today's entry is in the "Oldies but Goldies" category, re-titled,

"Not that he's a Cassandra ..."

Ranger nailed this one two years ago to the day:



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ranger's Rule of Order

  Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God 
--Matthew 5:9 

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ,
think it possible that you may be mistaken
--Oliver Cromwell

The run-up to the bombing of Syria has been full of the usual bloviation justifying the use of violence as the American Way of problem-solving. But if and when we bomb Syria it will not be war, because the United States has lost the ability and skills to fight  a real war with all attendant features.

If we contravene the efforts of the world community to stave off our brinkmanship -- if we drop bombs on Syria -- this will be violence without purpose. Do not mistake the application of violence as war; it is not war. It is simply a flash and bang simulacrum of war.

Ranger's Rule of Order #1:
Adding violence to an already violent situation will not ensure a peaceful outcome.

Corrolary: The result will be de facto a continuation of the violence. For civilians, this act is akin to adding salt to an overly salty soup; potatoes would be a more sensible addition if the goal is to ratchet down the saltiness.

Dropping bombs is not peacekeeping.

In war, violence is added to achieve goals, but in peacekeeping violence is SUBTRACTED to reach the goal. At least, that's how it should be.

Even for a Ranger who prides himself in his simplicity, this is embarrassingly simple to have to state.

[cross-posted @ MilPub.]

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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Modalities of Mortalities

 We are not concerned with the very poor.
They are unthinkable, and only to be approached
by the statistician or the poet
-- E. M. Forster 

Out of a hundred people:
Righteous- 35, which is a lot
Righteous and understanding- 3
Worthy of compassion- 99
Mortal- 100 out of 100
(Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.)
Wisława Szymborska 

Outside of the killings,
DC has one of the lowest crime rates
in the country
―Mayor Marion Barry 

Candy is dandy,
but liquor is quicker
--Hard Lines, 
Ogden Nash

The online news source Slate bemoans the fact in their lede today that five children were killed by gun violence over the Labor Day holiday  ("11-Year-Old, 7-Year-Old, Two 5-Year-Olds, and 3-Year-Old Killed by Guns Over Labor Day Weekend"). No doubt bad news, but let's go for some fair-and-balanced, an approach woefully unpopular among the agenda crowd. 

Using Paul Simon's "50 Ways" method, let's scatter-gun the topic of death: 

  • Four to five children die per day in the United States as a result of child abuse. This is via the brutal beatings that we all picture when the dire topic is discussed. However, far more die via a protracted mental and physical dissipation due to long-term neglect, but these tragic cases are under the wire, and go unnoticed by most people. 
  • Three woman are killed daily in the U.S. as a result of intimate partner (IP) violence. Of course, many others are consigned to lives of brutality at the hands of their partners, coming near death many times before actually dying. We do not like to hear it, and sweep it away with a "She should have seen it coming," or, "Why did she stay?" conveniently dismissing the actual problems on both sides which facilitate such "hidden" brutality in our midst.
  • Nine die daily from the results of "distracted driving," defined as texting, viewing media, etc. Some people do not realize that watching the road is not compatible with reading a Facebook feed. We can dismiss this one as "Darwin at work," save the behavior kills so many people who are faultless, save for being an innocent victim of the others' carelessness and narcissism.
  • 3,287 people die daily on the road in the U.S. from all causes of traffic fatalities. Just the cost of driving in a highly-distracted society, among drivers with varying levels of skills, sobriety and consciousness and vehicles in various states of repair. We have all seen the grotesque videos in driver's ed showing the hideous outcomes of poor driving, yet the statistics remain horrendous. But it is not sexy to suggest that we might do otherwise. The cost of living in a free society, don't you know?  

We have not even begun to look at the toll of our two discretionary wars in the Middle East -- the gift that keeps on giving. We are not looking at reasons, but simply modalities of mortalities and morbidities.

Addiction and a sense of entitlement feed many of these destructive behaviors, poverty and despair, others, so you will not see voluntary changes in these self-neglectful behaviors. But they will kill you quicker than beans, all the same. 

But the damn fool gun-toters, "those Americans" neatly and disdainfully lumped by people like once-progressive candidate Obama as the God-and-Guns group ... they are an easy target for our floating unease that things are not right. If we could just do something about guns, well, we'd have a much better society.


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Blackhat Reunion, 2015

U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules
dropping green parachutes

 "Jumpers ... Hit it! Check canopy!"
--Sergeants Airborne (Black Hats)

We anti-violent. Anyone says different,
I'll bust a cap in their ass. 
--Fear of a Black Hat (1993)


The annual meeting of Airborne Instructors, past and present, will take place in Columbus, Georgia on October 2nd and 3rd. Historically, the group meets the first Friday and Saturday in October. Informally they call themselves "The Old Airborne Instructors Group," but the meetings draw a mixed bag. This is truly an historic gathering.

Friday night is a cash bar at 17:30 hours, and Saturday is a covered dish lunch, 11:30 until 1300 hours; bring a dish or dessert to share. Both events take place at the American Legion, 3361 North Lumpkin Road. Attire is casual.

All former instructors and former students are invited. Last year a 94 year-old trooper attended, and World War II instructors have also attended. The Triple Nickels (555th Parachute Infantry Battalion), the first all-black Airborne Battalion in WW II, are also well-represented. They are as historic as the Tuskegee Airmen, though less well-known to the general public.

Point of Contact is Cary Rutland, 706-587-5543; email: crutland173@charter.net.

Hope to see you there.

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Friday, September 04, 2015


--Gangster State,
Arend Van Dam 

Everybody talks about a new world in the morning
A new world in the morning so they say
I myself don't talk about a new world in the morning
A new world in the morning that's today
--New World in the Morning,
Roger Whitttaker 

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation 
--The Garden of the Prophet,
Kahlil Gibran

The commentariat is full of banter about the nature the Islamic State (IS), its structure, motivations and use of terror tactics, the latter of which violates the Rule of Land Warfare.

Be that as it may, how have their actions differed from those of Lawrence of Arabia in World War I? As the differences are minimal, why is IS so exasperating to our Western sensitivities? No one cared about the atrocities under Lawrence because they were killing for us.

One obvious difference is the destruction of antiquities being conducted by IS. To them, however, it is not a desecration. Instead, it is a destruction of blasphemous relics, and by way of the destruction an eradication of the blasphemer, and isn't that the Roman way of war?

Mainly, the atrocities matter to us when they are conducted against us.

That is the difference between an ally and a terrorist.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Asymmetrical Numbers

Welcome to the jungle we've got fun and games
We got everything you want honey, we know the names
We are the people that can find whatever you may need
If you got the money honey we got your disease 
--Welcome to the Jungle, 
Guns 'N Roses    

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
I gotta love one man till I die 
--Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine, 
Porgy and Bess     

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine? 
Could you be mine? 
--Would You Be My Neighbor, 
Fred Rogers

While the topic of the Islamic State (IS) is perversely fascinating, we will instead look just at our reaction to the group, a reaction which violates the principles of war, diplomacy and logical thought. A reaction not equal in reason to the actions of IS, which are clear, evident and understandable, if not grotesque.

The United States has killed both the No. 1 and No. 2 leaders of IS to much fanfare, but to what end? No military or political objective was accomplished in the execution of this very costly project; the U.S. Homeland is no safer. As such, our effort is wasted, and our violence just as criminal as theirs.

Reports indicate that 15,000 IS troopers have been dispatched to the next life, hurried along by ~5,500 U.S. airstrikes. This equates to a success rate of 2.73 kills per strikes. Parsing the cost of each airstrike, are they cost-effective if they do not achieve a military objective?

Are these casualties worth the expenditure, or could our dollars be better spent on social programs here in the U.S.?

Further, the U.S. has trained and equipped only 54 moderate Syrian rebels thus far at a cost of $36 million USD. The goal is to recruit 3,000 fighters by the end of 2015; 4,500 in 12 months. That amounts to a cost of $666,666.67 per recruit. [For that outlay one could buy a bona fide (somewhat) Hollywood sniper and reap a higher entertainment value, at that.]

Aside from the crack 54 -- each earning a cool $400 per month-- one must wonder whose pockets are being lined by the overflow. Someone is benefiting from this egregious expenditure, and it is not the average U.S. taxpayer.

The U.S. pays big bucks for questionable proxy-quasi-allies to fight against people who pay nothing for theirs. So who is winning this asymmetrical war?

Choose any field you wish on which to apply your metrics.

[cross-posted @ Milpub.]

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Thursday, August 20, 2015


 --Carpetbagger, Thomas Nast  

 As specialists and bureaucrats, human beings become tools,
able to make systems of exploitation and even terror
function efficiently without the slightest sense
of personal responsibility or understanding.
They retreat into the arcane language
of all specialists, to mask what they are doing
and give to their work a sanitized, clinical veneer. 
 --Our Mania for Hope is a Curse, Chris Hedges 

The time will come
When you'll be blue
Your cheatin' heart
Will tell on you 
--Your Cheatin Heart, 
Hank Williams

 They'd call us, gypsies, tramps and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down   
--Gypies, Tramps and Thieves, 

Florida is more than the state that brought you Tourist Season, Mickey Mouse and oranges -- it is also the United States' fourth largest cow -calf producing state, so it is with flourish that we mention one of the most lily-livered crimes in our nation's history: the cattle rustle.

In the Old West the branding iron was carried by cattle and horse thieves to alter the brands when rustling livestock. Rustling is a crime, and often, a hanging one. But such will not be the fate of our two Presidential frontrunners, JEB! and Hillary, who have taken the hot iron and re-branded themselves with abandon.

Hillary entered the world as an "XXY", but she has re-branded herself the Double Bar, "XX". Or, for those with a scientific bent, she is now a Double Barr. [RAW considered whether this was too crass, but decided it passed muster. This is not a crumpet-and-clotted cream site, after all.]

Hill presents today as the True Blue wife, mother and grandmother, a veritable Granny Weatherall. Someone who dines at Waffle House and shops at Costco. But who is she, really?

She is a social climber who affixed herself to the bumbling Arkansas boy - Rhodes scholar, Bill Clinton. Her milieu is Old School feminism, lesbians, old hippies, and the plethora of women who have been cheated on or otherwise hard-done-by their mates. On her campaign stops, she is often seen dressing dowdily, like Rosalynn Carter, to appeal to the COSTCO crowd.

During her tenure as Secretary of State she is probably responsible for a multitude of sins, both omitted and committed. Maybe she learned this from Bill, maybe the propensity to untruth is vice versa; perhaps, connubial.

In any event, she has neither the panache nor the aplomb to commit venality with a smile, unlike Bill. Her BRF is as perennially committed as those of Condi Rice or Michele Obama.

Hillary is the Ur-feminist who once told an interviewer that she would not "stand by her man" (if he were proved cheating.) Alas, like all good politicians, she made a deal with the devil and gutted it out. She did stand by her man, and has proceeded  to use him as a stepping stone to the highest office in the land.

BUT, she is a piker up against JEB. As Florida's Governror, JEB stole an entire election for his brother in a grand national tragedy on the par with the best Greek tragedy.

In 2000, Just like the Earps or Clantons in the West of yore, brothers JEB and W marched up to the OK Corral -- the Capital in Tallahassee, FL -- and gunned Democracy into the filthy ground of partisan politics

The Supreme Court stayed the recount of votes in Florida in 2000 (stopped by then Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, heiress to a Florida cattle fortune co-chair of George W. Bush's campaign in Florida), which gave the election to Bush. Harris certified GWB as the winner by 537 votes over his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore in a highly questionable election resulting from poorly constructed ballots.

Never once did Governor JEB consider any course of action beyond ensuring his brother's theft of Florida's electoral votes in 2000. He never said, "This is an issue of State's rights and the Florida legislature and law, and when contention arises, the U.S. legislative branch should properly address the issue." He failed to support the law of the land.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens wrote in his dissent in the case,

"Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

JEB!, scion of the wealthy Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush family, is no dummy. He is being branded as an outsider, though he is a consummate insider. (In the same way that Hillary is being branded as a champion for the poor.)

Start with his simple campaign logo: JEB! Many Southern homes feature a photo of J.E.B. Stuart, a Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War [or "War of Northern Aggression" as it is known 'round these parts.] JEB simply HAS to be a good old boy. 

Say it, feel the way it sticks to the roof of your mouth, like divinity on a sweltering humid day. It sounds like "JED", patriarch of t.v.'s Clampett family ("The Beverly Hillbillies"), which derives from the biblical, Jedidiah. So there you have it. An unholy trinity.

JEB is as profligate a character as was his brother, former President GWB -- the man who single-handedly birthed the Clash of Civilizations we have been exposed to daily in the news (in between stories of Jared the Subway huckster and Ms. Jenner.) JEB has the added political bonus of being as sneaky as his father, former President and former head of the Central Intelligence Agency GHW Bush.

There's more, of course. JEB later worked for a New York banking firm which screwed Florida's teachers and other State employees through mismanagement of their retirement investments.

But that's another Florida story.  One more in a time-honored miasma of skulduggery and venality which, like so much other muck, sinks to the bottom of a gator hole, never to be seen again.

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