Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
People will die of fright in anticipation
of what is coming upon the world
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright
--I Can See Clearly now the Rain is Gone,
Til they were outed, Trijicon, Inc. : Brilliant Aiming Solutions™ featured little Bible quips on their advanced combat optical gun sights, things associated with death and destruction. Friend FDChief recently made note of this on MilPub (Blessed Are the Snipers), and we will extend it since Rifle Marksmanship is one of Ranger's life tools.
All of us Old Goats were taught basic Rifle Marksmanship with iron-sighted, .30 calibre service weapons. This training included Known Distance Shooting prone, sitting and kneeling and offhand. All positions were fired both slow and rapid fire. All these aspects and the course of fire (200, 300 and 600 yards) were modeled after the National Rifle Association National Match Course.
The only difference from the NRA was that military matches issued GI ammunition while civilian matches shot their own personal match ammo using a service rifle. Ranger's first National Match competition was through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The last time pulling range duty for ROTC Summer Camp (Ft. Bragg), the course of fire was simply foxhole, standing and supported shooting at pop-up silhouettes. That was the sum total. Since soldiers usually do not carry around foxholes or field sandbags in their rucks, this course did not provide realistic combat training.
But for scopes. In the past, only the 1903/A4, M1C and M1D and the XM21 service rifles were issued with scopes for sniper use. Interestingly, the effective range is not extended by using a scope, since the limiting factor is the shooter's ability and the accuracy of the rifle. The figure is usually 460 meters normal rifle range for the average shooter and rifle.
If one cannot shoot sans scope, adding one does not change one's inability to hit the target. If you flinch without a scope, you will probably flinch worse after you are bitten by a scope.
The ACOG/Trijicon brags it's Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight is "the most technically advanced combat gun sight available" (brownells.mil-le.com, pg. 39). The US Marine Corps has contracted 800,000 ACOG's at $660 Million USD ($825 per unit in 800,000 lots) for the USMC. Not such a good deal when the catalog lists them at $792-$836 for lots of one, depending on the mounting system.
Probably the Bible quote costs the USMC extra.
The following questions arise:
- How many people are in the USMC? Why are they ordering so many scopes?
- Why is a $792-$836 scope being added to a $1,500 rifle? Why not just train the soldiers to use the factory iron sights?
- Why put an ACOG on an auto-fire weapon?
- Does the use of this scope really effectively extend the 5.56 mm round's range to 800 meters?
- If the enemy is beyond 460 m., why not just work them with mortar and artillery fire?
- If we are currently using Rules of Engagement, then we can't fire until fired upon, and clearly, anybody doing so will not engage unless within 460 m. So, what is the advantage to our soldier's using the ACOG?
- If the enemy is 400-600 m. away, why not apply 7.62 Machine Gun fire on them? Anything further is why God created Redlegs and mortarmen, God bless their souls.
- The AK47, DPM MG and RPD MG are all iron-sighted, 460 m.-effective weapons. We are fighting rag-tag, rag bags for heaven's sake.
So, we now have an issue rifle, with ACOG scope, which costs $2,575 (including after-market add-ons), but what is it?
It is a rifle that often malfunctions in combat. This is a functional as well as a training problem. Fire discipline must be inculcated in the troops; shooting to make noise alone overheats a weapon. Excessive full auto/burst regulated fire also prematurely overheats the weapon.
If we are putting ACOG's on every rifle, then we should eliminate the auto/burst function on the service rifle for all except one auto rifleman per team. Aimed fire should be stressed.
There are several competitive and perfectly serviceable sights and scopes on the market. All are sold by Brownells and can be viewed online. These included the Burris fast-fire ($219.95) and the Trijicon Red Dot ($310.83). There are three pages of comparable M16-family scopes, many of which are more economical and just as serviceable as the ACOG.
Just my opinion based on a lifetime of shooting rifles.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
One foot dancing, one foot nailed
To the floor
Chasing those circles in the ground
The same old shit is still the same old lie
Just when you think you've got it down
Watch it fly
--Trouble, Shawn Colvin
Murphy's Rules of Combat:
If you can kill them, they can kill you
It's all showbiz
SFOC indoctrinated us about the terror tactics of Communists in Southeast Asia, yet the practices of it's opponents -- carpet-bombing, B 52 strikes, napalm, white phosphorus and CS/CN -- were never given the same consideration. Ditto the Phoenix assassination program, which was branded as a tool of democracy in the fight against a heartless enemy.
Fast-forward to October 23, 1983, when the BLT HQ of the 1/8 Marines was destroyed by a truck bomb, killing 241 men. Colonel Timothy Geraghty, the Marine commander has recently written a book on the event, "Peacekeepers at War," in which he maintains this is the first instance of large-scale terrorism against U.S. citizens.
It is a general given that the '83 Marine barrack bombing was an early example of terrorism against the U.S., but is this actually so? Dissenting voices are usually quelled as being unpatriotic louts, while the majority walk lockstep to the terrorist tune. As Glenn Greenwald wrote, "That we are at war -- not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but generally against Islamic extremists -- is an absolute bipartisan orthodoxy that must be affirmed by all Serious people" (More Cause and Effect in our Ever Expanding War).
From a review in this month's Military Heritage, "At the time, it was the worst act of terrorism ever recorded against Americans." "The Marines began to sustain casualties, and their role as Peacekeepers was transformed into becoming active combatants in the conflict. ... Naval gunfire and airstrikes were authorized by the U.S. in direct support of the Lebanese Armed Forces."
Despite Col. Geraghty's position, there is an alternative one:
FACT: This was a Battalion Landing Team (BLT) utilizing naval assets to directly support the Lebanese Forces
FACT: This was not a United Nations Peacekeeping mission
FACT: The Marines were in a military mode
FACT: The Marines did not tactically deploy the BLT, but rather housed them in an administrative posture
FACT: There were no in-depth defense deployed by the BLT
While Geraghty is correct that this was an assault upon a BLT Headquarters, it was not an attack on civilians or upon Peacekeeping (PK) forces. The P.K.'s were not operating as P.K.'s, but actually took an armed position supporting an element of what could be called a civil war. Yes, Syria and Iran had a hand to play in this event, but those facts are irrelevant to the question of this being considered an act of terrorism.
If the U.S. could intervene, then what logical criticism can be made towards Syria and Iran? This is their area of concern, and their right to intervene in Lebanon is no less than that that of the U.S. The U.S. has no heavenly mandate to intervene in anybody's civil war. If they do, it is a law of physics that action will produce a reaction. This law holds throughout the physical and psychological world.
Again, from Greenwald:
"That's what happens when a country is at war -- it doesn't just get to blow up things and people in other countries, but its own things and people sometimes get blown up as well. That's how war works. ... The principal problem is that by pretending that we do nothing to fuel Islamic radicalism, we stay unaware -- blissfully ignorant -- of the staggering costs of our actions."
It's regrettable that good men such as the Marines were killed in this incident, but knee-jerk patriotism branding this event Terrorism serves no legitimate purpose.
The problem with Terrorism is that the U.S. taxpayer is being force-fed over a long period of time a fanciful interpretation of events. It's theater rather than reality. The Marine Barracks bombing occurred 26 years ago, yet we still accept a fictional account of the event.
When the U.S. forces throw Naval aviation and gunfire at a target, they must accept return fire. This is not Terrorism, but a fact of life.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
--Well, I know this much. The rule of law has left here,
and the guerrillas have taken over
--Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever
--This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Not a good day for Walmart's Sam's Clubs. Online Real estate magazine GlobeSt.com reports the company is "letting go" more than 11,000 workers nationwide (More Bad Times at Sam’s Club).
"Letting them go" ... it sounds so ethereal, as though it were of their own choice, like releasing someone from a bad marriage. It is not the truth, like when elderly ladies say they've "lost their husbands." He didn't get lost in the frozen food aisle; he's dead. Euphemisms make the thing no better.
"The measure follows an announcement that Walmart will close 10 Sam’s Clubs across the country that are loosing [sic] money. . . Will we see more closures ahead?" (Of course, if they're "loosing" money on hapless customers, that may have been half the problem right there.)
The question of further closures was posed by a publication over-eager to remain optimistic in a tanked economy. The job losses are a very bad sign following the major holiday season.
As New York Times columnists Frank Rich and Bob Herbert said this week, the only issue for President Obama is the economy ("Politically, no other issue counts.") Certainly not some bogus health care behemoth which provides care in name only. (No Mr. Obama, you don't get to be affiliated with the Kennedy's in any way. Pity, after Mr. Clinton had such a nice photo op shaking JFK's hand . . .) I'm afraid the dynasty ends on your watch.
And as blogger BadTux said so clearly here yesterday,
"You got government spending money on a bomb, that gets dropped on some Talib mud hut, oh wow you just spent probably a million dollars (amortizing the price of the aircraft carrier, aircraft, etc.) to demolish a mud hut that cost maybe $50 (for roofing tin) to build, and you don't even have a bomb anymore when you're done -- you literally just blew that money into smithereens."
Discretionary wars, health care tampering . . . it seems like fiddling while Rome burns.
In addressing Obama's seeming lack of ardor over economic perils, today's WaPo plays with St. Augustine's plea to God (Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet"), Fiscal discipline, but not yet:
"(Obama said Saturday) 'I strongly support' legislation for a commission to tackle the nation's fiscal problems. If he does, you've got to wonder where that strong support has been for the past year."Walmart is the new GM, and when this bellwether of our economic fitness is straining at the seams, doesn't that demand notice?
Monday, January 25, 2010
VA Clinic Blues
I’ve already made up my mind
Ranger actually tires of complaining about the treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinics, but they say venting is healthy.
22Jan10 my appointment was to see the nurse for test results. Not treatment -- simply to be given the results of a previous test. Sign in was 10:40 for an 11:00 appointment. At 12:20, Ranger was still sitting on his thumbs.
The story was, the nurse was out-tasked, and nobody else bothered to take care of me or even notify me of what was happening, even though my check-in was duly noted on the computer check-in log.
This sort of incompetence and negligence is remarkable. Doubly so since no one would have done squat until and unless Ranger unleashed his mouth.
What is the problem? Is it just me?
Labels: DVA outpatient clinic
Planted by Satan’s dibble;
Poor silly wretch, he’s damned himsel’,
To save the Lord the trouble.
--Epigram on a Suicide, Robert Burns
Don't let the sun blast your shadow
Don't let the milk float ride your mind
You're so natural - religiously unkind
--Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, David Bowie
Money, it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands
And make a stash
--Money, Pink Floyd
A few thoughts on money have been knocking around in my head.
Some reports indicate that the damage resulting from the 9.11.01 New York City attacks is +/- $20 billion. Current reports estimate rebuilding costs in Haiti will run upwards of $10 billion. Consider that disparity: a couple of building in NYC cost more than rebuilding the entire region of and surrounding a nation's capital.
Further, consider only the costs of maintaining the 4,000 Marines sent recently to aid in the Haitian recovery and reconstruction effort. If they remain one year, the cost will be approximately $4,000,000,000. This alone is some serious cash, yet is just a drop in the bucket for U.S. efforts in that country.
To that money, let us add the 35,000 troops surging in Afghanistan. An additional $35 Billion per year (somehow, without all those zeroes, it looks like less.) But still, not chump change. Congress has yet to authorize it, though that is the amount.
Where does all this money come from, and where does it go? Is it hot off the press? How does it affect our economy? Why does this not seem to concern the average citizen?
This is not sound economic or military policy. It is a slow form of national suicide.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink,
or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God
--1 Corinthians 10:31
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best
--Nobody Does it Better, Carly Simon
File this under: America behaving badly.
A cable network health program is soon to feature couples who are too heavy to, um, mate ("Too Fat for Sex"). The good news is, the Centers for Disease Control recently reported that American obesity rates may have plateaued at 34% (however, the number of obese + "overweight" Americans stands at nearly 70%.) While the optimists say we've halted the progression of the obesity epidemic, others like David Ludwig said the plateau merely suggests"'we’ve reached a biological limit' to how obese people could get."
A trailer for the Discovery Channel's "Half-Ton Teen" touts, "Once the world's heaviest teenager, Billy Robbins' weight loss efforts have recently stalled and now, he is falling back on old habits. In the third installment, doctors make a desperate attempt to save Billy from self-destruction." Who has the time to watch this -- aren't there nacho platters to be prepared?
There seems to be a larger problem here (no pun intended). In "The Death of Decorum," Gavin McInnes notes the slovenliness of American dress. Not that we don't export our blase look via our Hollywood mavens, but pee jays worn in public seem a new low. "They are the one great unifier that brings all lazy, self-indulgent Americans together, regardless of race or background." (Not that the British shav look of 70's polyester track suits is that fetching, but at least they were made to be worn outside.)
It was also reported last week that young people spend more time on computers and other technologies than adults do at work -- between 10 to 11 hours per day, factoring in multi-tasking (More Screen Time for Youths than Adults on the Job.) The New York Times head said, "If You're Kids are Awake, They're Probably Online." It doesn't seem healthy.
A recent Times Magazine feature on "The Americanization of Mental Illness" stated the U.S. is "homogenizing the way the world goes mad." By exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” the U.S. is altering the expression of mental illness in other cultures.
P.T.S.D and anorexia "now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness."
Ethan Watters, author of, “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche," says "the expectations and beliefs of the sufferer shape their suffering," and the DSM is now "the field guide to the world’s psyche."
Interestingly, Watters asserts that our medical model of psychiatric illness may predispose us to remain ill and suffer marginalization, as we are intractably identified with our illness, and others reinforce that identity. In other cultures where "the illness was seen as the work of outside forces, it was understood as an affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity."
Watters' essay concludes that our latching onto labels and the psychopathologizing of our country is a result of our becoming "an increasingly insecure and fearful people." We are searching for security in an increasingly unknowable world in our labeling and prescriptions.
Maybe that's why we hoard and overeat, and disappear into the ethernet. Because we have become alienated and fearful. The solution would seem to be in doing the opposite of what got us here.
[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog]
--You're probably one of them knee-jerk liberals
that thinks us gun boys would shoot our guns
because it's an extension of our penises.
--It could be true.
--Well, maybe it is. But this is gun country
--Death Wish (1974)
Today was gonna be the day?
But they'll never throw it back to you
By now you should've somehow
Realized what you're not to do
Ranger wonders which is more painful -- thinking or feeling? Both can be devastating depending on the situation, referencing the old Infantry school mantra (It depend upon the situation.) Ranger learned situational ethics as pragmatism, a posture which has served him well in getting his needs met.
Recently torrential rain disallowed sleep and my mind floated on sheets of memory. Ranger is no stranger to either hatred or violence, as he decided to embrace both willingly when entering the Infantry. Violence has been abandoned; only hatred remains. This is progress in an imperfect world.
No one cares to address hatred unless it is backed by its manifestation, violence, or the threat thereof. Hatred just simmers, unseen, if not given spectacular venting. Terrorism encompasses both the former and the latter.
We seem unable to live with the threat of violence, which exists from its germ in hatred. Why should we care if anyone hates us? Yet the threat alone has spawned a new action hero called "the American Warrior". While actual violence should be confronted, we hide our fear and hatred morphed into violence under the veil of "protectionism". In truth, we are as hateful and violent as the threat we propose to counter.
Hatred-fueled violence is self-defeating, yet that is the cycle in which the U.S. finds itself. Our responses to those who would act on their hatred verifies this cycle.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is hatred and violence personified. Our reaction is to trump him. So the U.S. slams him in secret prisons, in isolation, and tortures him. Sport water-boarding becomes the nation's light entertainment and revenge fantasy.
Some people have taken the Infantry rules of situation to an absurd end, claiming the present situation allows for such behavior. They say it all depends on definition of situation. Sport fucking may be fair in the absence of anything more meaningful. In the context of a committed relationship, not so much so. But some behaviors are unjustified in any situation. Torture should never be sport. Context matters; ethics matter.
KSM now languishes, awaiting trial in NYC, the site of the manifestation of his destructive fantasies. How can one sorry person like KSM tie our values in a wad and flush them down the toilet of history? Based on our extra-legal response, we have now indicted ourselves as a hateful and violent people, and the truth is out of the closet.
Can President Obama and Attorney General Holder actually believe that justice will resemble the old statue of Lady Liberty standing proud outside of the Cleveland Federal Court Building? Justice is now a syphilitic, toothless whore with a sword, who has lost the scales symbolic of justice of yesteryear.
KSM didn't do this; we did this to ourselves. This makes us as sorry as the idiots that call themselves al-Qaeda.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
When did the position of Secretary of State
become an equal opportunity billet?
If it's a car you lack
I'd surely buy you a Cadillac
Whatever you need,
anytime of the day or night
--Thank You For Being a Friend,
The U.S. Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is a gravy train for everybody involved, except the U.S. taxpayers. Yet we carry on like the inhabitants of Jonathan Lethem's dystopia, Chronic City, where Times readers can opt for a “war-free” edition. It's not that bad, is it?
Well, the Department of Defense has informed us that U.S. aid to Yemen is being doubled in an effort to counter terrorism there. Never mind that the Yemeni government controls only the capitol, and its power diminishes with every step one takes into the countryside. Sound familiar? It is Afghanistan, redux.
What are we buying with this expenditure? Friendship, or another ally we don't need? The best friends money can buy? U.S. carriers offshore add meaningless air power to cement meaningless relationships. This is not about terrorism; it is about money.
The actions of both Yemen and our policymakers are so predictable that they are painful.
The TSA/Homeland Security are adding full-body scanners in response to the Christmas '09 crotch bomber. The cost has not been fully disclosed, but what is the purpose of the expenditure?
There has been absolutely NO attempt by anybody to infiltrate a bomb onto a U.S. domestic air carrier since 9.11.01. Nonetheless, the U.S. will emplace a system to address a problem that does not exist, the non-problem of on-board quasi-bombs originating in foreign airports. The age, ethnicity and country of origin of the hopeful perpetrators is predictable.
We choose to live in the "enervating gray fog [which] has descended on the financial district and remained there for years, hovering mysteriously" over Chronic City.
We're safe here, right?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
--Good vs. Evil, Mr. Fish
[Note: another favorite cartoonist, Mr. Fish, was axed last week.
"I was cut as a cost-saving measure."]
We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions
We are the champions
--We Are the Champions, Queen
A simple question: Can anyone posit a historical example of military action defeating a terror network? Further, can anyone provide examples of an occupying military power defeating a terrorist network solely via military means? We can restrict our survey to the 20th-21st centuries.
It is Ranger's position that while you can eliminate an externally imposed threat in another country (parachutists), you will never defeat an indigenous insurgent movement. Che in Bolivia and the Chinese guerrillas in Malay might be examples.
An external occupying power will never defeat an indigenous insurgent terrorist network.
[Cross-posted at MilPub]
Monday, January 18, 2010
I'm only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
--Superman, Five for Fighting
These people are a far shot from Otto Skorzeny.
Mr. Skorzeny was a World war II SS Obersturmbannfuhrer and part of the daring Werwolf guerrilla movement. But even Otto Skorzeny was not Otto Skorzeny. Though one of the world's premeir commandos, he was not an existential threat to the U.S. His actions were insignificant in the larger picture of WWII. Perspective is priceless.
The former Gitmo detainees are of no consequence when assessing the overall threat level offered by al-Qaeda and Yemen. They lack sophistication and possess no potential for manueverability or projection of hostile intentions. And al-Qaeda and Yemen pose questionable threats, other than locally.
Al-Qaeda and Yeman are not even al-Qaeda and Yemen, as writ large on the nightly news.
I just want to celebrate another day of life
--I Just Want to Celebrate, Rare Earth
They disguise it, Hypnotize it
Television made you buy it
It's amazing how fast the world can go
from bad to total shit storm
Ranger wonders why he is unaffected by the nonstop newsfeed of death and suffering in Haiti after last week's earthquake.
The barrage of painful imagery is ceaseless, yet the pain and suffering do not even register on my personal Richter scale. My mind completely blocks out and disregards the entire incident. I don't care. The only question is, WHY?
The event falls under the general rubric, "Act of God", when actually it is simply a natural disaster, a geological phenomena known as strike-slip fault, an event which was predicted last year. No gods at work here, though there sure are a lot of dead people.
Are we to mourn such natural events, resulting in large casualty rates paraded incessantly by our eyes, inhabiting our television sets? These events are unavoidable and predictable, and only good national pre-emergency planning could have alleviated the post-event suffering.
Meanwhile, the television in my living room has been disgorging catastrophic photos of an elective earthquake called the GWOT since 9-11-01. This discretionary disaster delivers daily death and destruction which cuts scythe-like through Afghanistan and Iraq, yet we cheer on and praise this deadly endeavor. Our movies are often violent death-oriented orgies paralleling our real life. Death has become our constant companion.
We have killed, wounded and destroyed as much as has this earthquake, but we revel in the glory of it all. We -- the U.S. -- are portable earthquakes awaiting our next victim.
This must be why my humanity is dulled, and nothing advertised during the news breaks will alleviate this fact. The man-made earthquakes in Afghanistan and Iraq have blunted the trauma and zombiefied my soul. This must be why the zombie movie is making such a fantastic comeback today.
We are the zombies, and Ranger is their leader since he feels nothing and doesn't even care. The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has sucked me dry.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Friday, January 15, 2010
not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice,
nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas,
nor kinds of government, nor any other thing.
We are the killers. We breed wars.
We carry it like syphilis inside.
--Lion in Winter (1968)
The key combat skill for an infantry officer is to be able to differentiate between effective and ineffective fire. Not all fire is the same, which may be a news flash to civilian readers. All rounds fired down range are not the same.
While all fire has the potential to kill you, not all fire can keep you from successfully completing an assigned mission. This skill of being able to differentiate fires is also applicable to life in general, for identifying and accomplishing the mission is the overriding imperative.
The civilian analog is the old saying, "Don't bark up the wrong tree." A coon dog can spend hours barking in alert to his master, but if the raccoon has skedadled up another tree, all of his effort is in vain. The mission cannot be accomplished if the correct target is not fixed.
Combat arms types will bypass ineffective fire in favor of applying their resources to completing the larger mission. Seeing the gestalt is more important than being distracted by discrete dissonant elements. This idea is especially applicable to the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) as it is being "fought" now.
There is symbolic fire being placed upon our unit by the al-Qaeda adversary, but the fires are ineffective and defined by largely by noise and nuisance rather than deadly volume or accuracy. To wit: The would-be Shoe Bomber and Underwear Bomber.
All other domestic threats have been equally ineffective, yet what do our handlers tell us? That the threat is effective and existential. Not! We are not in a beaten zone.
Our leaders fail to recognize, or apprise us, or the true nature of the fire. The al-Qaeda in theatre is a far threat, which does not affect our Homeland concerns. We should focus on the threat that is effective, and that threat is not originating in Yemen, Afghanistan or Iraq, but rather in places we least examine.
Our attention is now being shifted to Yemen in response to the crotch non-bomber, who is instead being packaged a source of effective terrorist fire from that sector. Again, not.
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is not a credible threat to the U.S. Maybe shoe bomber and crotch bomber were merely stooges, straw men allowed to compromise our security barriers to ramp up fear, thereby providing further justification for the endless cycle of fear and violence perpetuated on our side. A reason to carry on the "Security Theater" as Jeffery Goldberg called in "The Things he Carried."
Maybe Yemen fronted crotch bomber Abdulmutallab in a Mouse That Roared scenario. Everyone wants a piece of the American Pie, after all -- get it while it's hot. It is plausible that Yemeni intelligence might have sent Abdulmutallab in an effort to further deplete U.S. coffers via opening a new front on terror, a project Americans seem endlessly on board with.
The incompetent bombers getting through our security are not symbolic of al-Qaeda's prowess but rather the ineffectiveness of our security programs. If not this, then the threat is intentionally being allowed to bypass security.
What should we believe? Either we have total incompetence or a conspiracy, or a combination thereof, none of which is palatable.
Near fire is not far fire, a lost concept on our leaders. If not lost, certainly one which does not service the continuance of our military aggression in those regions.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to
mention the aerial photography
--Alice's Restaurant, Arlo Guthrie
Some further comments on the hapless would-be Christmas day aircraft bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
It was brought to our attention that a recent t.v. program filmed the detonation of an 80 gram PETN device on a titanium plate using a hyperelectric charge, and the resultant blast ostensibly twisted and deformed the plate.
Ranger will address this fear-mongering:
- Was this production or home-made PETN?
- Was the crotch bomber's stash home-made or factory-made? There is a difference.
- Where would the crotch bomber get a source of electricity, as used in the demonstration?
- Even had the bomb detonated, how would this have brought an aircraft down?
If the bomber were a sophisticated and dedicated al-Qaeda operative with training and ability, he would have planted the device, primed it, and would have had it explode on the next leg of the aircraft's itinerary. Abdulmutallab's failed attempt demonstrates a very low-level of tradecraft.
The television tests are pure theater, with no relation to the reality of the explosive potential of this device.
The only lesson Ranger gets from this incident is definitely not to wear designer underwear. We're glad the basic brief is coming back strong (Even Less for Men to Think About).
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
--There isn't a real you.
--Oh yeah, I forgot
--Man on the Moon (1999)
The Man on the Moon was a leadership/team-building exercise which challenged participants to, well, survive on the moon.
It entailed identifying crucial items for and prioritizing actions to facilitate survival in such an inhospitable environment. An exercise.
It seems to me that life in modern America mirrors that exercise. The challenge for each of us is to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. To do this, we must ascertain the essentials to supporting life. The nice-to-have items are irrelevant, as they are in all survival situations. The players in the simulation did not have unlimited resources, as it is in our society.
If we are to survive, we must address issues so complex that even our leaders are perplexed as to the solutions. We have epic-level unemployment and concurrent financial and economic burdens, and expect our Congress and President to solve them. However, many of these would-be Solomons never had a real so-called life.
Their only job has been in the rarefied strata of policymaking and governing. Being an attorney, a professor or a community organizer is not exactly meat on the labor bone.
Our society is deeply riven over our core values, yet we still insist upon enervating, free-floating wars and unlimited military spending. We have universal health care issues offset by security concerns. Meanwhile, our population is aging, implying a raft of social care concerns which are still in the ether.
Yet ... we still believe we can have it all, and more for me.
Even though the rules of the exercise clearly indicate otherwise.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today
--Anything Goes, Cole Porter
Columnist Eugene Robinson recently asked, Why is Cuba Odd Man Out Among Terrorist Nations? Why is Cuba and North Korea on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism?
When was the last time a terrorist operating against the U.S. had any proven linkage to either of these countries?
Now think about our erstwhile allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Why are they not on the list?
Before terrorism can be countered (but not, defeated), it must be appropriately defined and understood. Unlike President Obama's declaration at his Peace Prize acceptance, terrorism is not an evil to extirpated like so many vermin.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
but no one thinks of changing himself
Since he was a pre-computer era soldier, all operations orders at all levels of command were hand-written by the operations officer. Often, they were cut-and-paste operations, but every order was given the consideration of human thought. He guesses (stress, guesses) that computer-generated orders may short-circuit these troop leading considerations, leaving glitches in the planning process.
If this is true (and even if not), all orders should be war-gamed before they are finalized and issued. War-gaming orders was a SOP advocated in Command and General Staff College in the 1980's. Ranger reckons this is still a truism.
When one understands the troop leading procedures that spawn an operation order, it is a simple matter to dissect and military action. For the sake of Ranger-simplicity, I used to use a simplifier for planning activities.
All activity would be divided into the following categories:
This simplicity put everything into clear perspective for all members of the action. Simply Movement To -- Actions On -- Actions After. This says it all. Being Ranger Simple can make things fun and easy.
Ranger hopes the Field Order exercise helped. It was a little trip down memory lane.
Labels: five paragraph field order
Friday, January 08, 2010
you're unarmed and still VERY dangerous
-- Tango & Cash (1989)
In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet
and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us"
The Five Paragraph Field order is being presented to the uninitiated to show that all military operations should be represented by a clear operations order. The Order follows a format which rarely varies, so the plan should be understood by all parties involved prior to setting out on operations.
Based on the seeming helter-skelter nature of too many operations in the past eight years, civilians may have the notion that these things are undertaken on the fly. They should not be.
Most Platoon and Company-level operations will encompass the details listed here. Let's refine them slightly for easier consumption. Note that before the order is issued, the METT-T analysis (Mission, Enemy, Terrain and Weather, Troop & Fire Support, and Time) is completed, using the BAMCIS process (Begin the Planning, Arrange Recon, Make Recon, Complete Planning. Issue Order, Supervise). (The Army loves it some acronyms!)
So both METT-T and BAMCIS will prepare for the creation of the operation order, which includes:
 Situation: as described.
 Mission: To be clearly stated and have a "be prepared" statement for when the operation is successful. For example, "1/B/2/47/ will attack hill 0881 @ 0530 hrs 29Jul08 and will be prepared to continue the attack on order to achieve objective X."
 Execution: The coordinating instructions should be clear, concise and easily understood. KISS -- Keep it Simple, Sir.
 Administration/Logistics: This is an area of concern because the admin/log types are on a different radio net and are often unresponsive to lower echelon leaders. These taskings must be clearly delineated and administered by the appropriate staff function of the unit involved. Often, the problem arises that the shooters shoot for the Commander and the admin/log types work directly under the XO's (Executive Officer's staff) supervision. All work for the Commander, but this is always a weak point in most combat operations. The failure to have coordination on this paragraph can unwind an operation in a New York minute.
 Command and Signal: This is where all the signal instructions and electronic communications are clearly delineated. In the Infantry Battalion, Brigade and Regiment these are usually SOP, but it is beneficial to clearly identify all areas of potential confusion. All radio nets must mesh before the operation, not after it is in progress.
Under friendly forces -- attached units should be addressed here with a clear delineation of command structure. Aviation, Artillery and Engineer assets should be identified and their mission, as well as their Command and Signal instructions.
When all of these functions are check-listed, planned and briefed, any operation should have a great chance of success.
A parting thought: Military operations can only achieve the achievable. Following the operations order format allows a leader to assess and delineate the achievable, thereby converting the intention into a practicable effort and hopeful military success.
Labels: five paragraph field order
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
I hurts so bad when you finally know just how
low, low, low, low, low, he'll go
Baby did a bad bad thing,
Baby did a bad bad thing
--Baby Did a Bad Thing, Chris Isaak
The five Blackwater contract security guards who had been charged with killing 17 in a 2007 Baghdad shooting "incident" (the Nisour Square case) were acquitted of all charges last Thursday (Iraqis Angered as Blackwater Charges Dropped.)
On Thursday, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina threw out manslaughter and weapons charges against five Blackwater guards because he said prosecutors had violated the men’s rights by building the case based on sworn statements that had been given by the guards under the promise of immunity.
Of the decision, Spencer Ackerman wrote, "For all I know that was the right legal call. It was stunning to hear that the first U.S. agents to interview the Blackwater guards offered them immunity: not only were they from the State Department, not the Justice Department, but they were from the division of State that oversees the contract Blackwater held. Whether they intended to sabotage a prosecution is unknown, but that’s exactly what they effectively did."Legal technicalities like that, preventing justice from going forward, used to cause outrage in this country ... " (No Guilt on New Year's Morning, Blackwater edition.)
In the trial resulting in their conviction December '08, "prosecutors described a chaotic scene with guards firing assault rifles, machine guns and grenades at unarmed civilians in their cars and on the street. One man was shot in his chest 'while standing in the street with his hands up,' the government claims (Manslaughter Charges in Blackwater Case.)"
This brings to mind the provocation for the Falujah battles, when four Blackwater Worldwide employees were killed and their bodies hung like pieces of meat from a bridge. Bad stuff, but Blackwater employees are seen as being a little loose on the trigger finger in Fallujah before the battle was joined. The Baghdad incident did not occur in a vacuum.
IslamOnline.net expresses the region's general view of Blackwater, quoting reporter Jeremy Scahill's description of it as the "world's most powerful mercenary army". "Riding machine-gun mounted utility vehicles, Blackwater’s armed contractors have gained notoriety for shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later."
"'The world quaked [sic] because of this crime,' said Fareed Waleed Hasson, who was injured in the shooting. 'How have we lost our rights so quickly?'" We ask the same question of ourselves, Mr. Hasson.
Interesting to note that Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh received no such considerations of their rights when being ramrodded through the Federal court system. Rights abound for Blackwater killers but not for accused terrorists.
At the time of these killings, any Iraqi even suspected of anti-coalition forces activity was thrown into jail without the slightest nod to due process. These same suspects were tortured and held without any judicial oversight by either Iraqi or other tribunals. This is a mockery of the rule of law.
Ditto the dismissal of charges against the Blackwater contractors.
Sheena is a punkrocker
Sheena is a punkrocker
Sheena is a punkrocker now
--Sheena is a Punk Rocker,
The cat who doesn't act finicky,
soon loses control of his owner
Why did no one tell me this was impossible? We have some female readers, no? Maybe even some military men have forayed into this arena. A male friend who had blonde hair when younger (now the inevitable dishwater color that everyone mistakes for "greasy") highlights as women do to keep it looking bright, though he'd be loathe for this to be common knowledge.
Forget the Frenchified names like, "salon colour verite," or having the box instructions in French. It is not so exotic as it seems. It is not a salon experience.
My hair is brown, but I thought it'd be spunkier with sun-dappled highlights, forgetting the total unnaturalness of getting them in the winter. Anyway, the result is orange-ish streaks, or "marmalade", as Winston Churchill might have said. As the highlighting solution is a bleach, I should have known better-- what else?
If I were creating a highlighting product, I'd make it ashier in tone, but with a temporary radioactive orange tag so that the user could see where she is placing her highlights. Obviously, men design these products, or it is a cabal to keep the hairdresser industry afloat. Anyway, as I resemble a tabby at the moment, you may call me "Morris," for today.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
I do believe in spooks!
I do! I do! I do!
--Wizard of Oz (1939)
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
--Rum and Coca Cola, Andrews Sisters
War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it
must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves
Ranger has been receiving notices from Social Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense explaining there will be no Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for 2010, and possibly 2011. The official line is, There is no inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), so -- voila! -- no COLA.
Why aren't we getting COLA? If we can siphon off hundreds of billions of dollars for a phony war in Afghanistan, surely we must have enough to help our own citizens?
This doesn't seem correct since everything is costing more. How can things cost more if there is no inflation? The undeniable fact is, the tab at the grocer's rises weekly, as does the cost of fuel, and taxes and other sundry official fees. The states, many of which are cutting public services precipitously in order to stay afloat, have been rapidly increasing all types of taxes.
The inflation forecast according to the Federal Planning Bureau, which updates it's data the first Tuesday of each month (so these are today's figures): "Based on the monthly inflation forecasts, average consumer price inflation should be 1.6% in 2010, compared to -0.05% in 2009 and 4.49% in 2008. The average growth rate of the so-called "health price index", used for the price indexation of wages, social benefits and house-rent, should be 1.2% in 2010, compared to 0.59% in 2009 and 4.22% in 2008."
So, if the inflation forecast for 2010 is 1.6% (revised upward from last month's figure), why are we not receiving lawfully-mandated COLA increases? 1.6% is not ZED.
There is money for wars and health care reform, but NADA for COLA. This amounts to thievery and deceit, as it imposes a hidden tax upon a sizable portion of our society. Yet nobody even whimpers. Why is Glenn Beck not blubbering Walrus tears over this outrage?
Are we so used to being officially screwed that we are happy when the tiniest bit of lubricant is used? The lubricant is the lie that there will be no inflation in 2010. We all know that we are spending more to get less of the items that are essential to maintain our lives.
1.6% rate of inflation means $127.50 is being clipped from my entitlements, and therefore, stolen from my accounts each month. Multiply this across the board and we are talking serious money. And Bernie Madoff sits in jail. What did he do that government is not doing to all of us?
We working folks are so used to being trick fucked that we do not even bother to complain anymore. We're just happy when it's only the head that gets stuck in our asses.
Monday, January 04, 2010
to occupy another country
--Lion of the Desert
I'm a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I'm a three line whip, I'm the sort of thing they ban
I'm a walking disaster, I'm a demolition man
A few words regarding the nuts and bolts of bombs and intelligence analysis per the Christmas almost-bomber, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The plastic explosive, which obviously clears airport metal detectors, is PETN, which was the same that al-Qaeda operative "shoe bomber" Richard Reid used in his soles when he tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami in 2001. In fact, Abdulmuttalab reportedly tried to use 80 grams of PETN to Reid's 50 grams, more than enough to blow a hole in the plane (Was Christmas bomber Part of a Bigger Plot.)
Imagine the horror of 80 grams (2.82 ounces) of PETN hung in a jock strap. PETN is a high order explosive, IF detonated. To detonate PETN, also the explosive found in det cord, it is necessary under normal circumstances to use blasting caps -- either electric or in conjunction with timed fuses. Neither technique was used by either previous shoe bomber-manque Reid or the unfortunate Mr. Abdulmutallab.
PETN is relatively stable and relatively difficult to detonate using expedient means. It was highly unlikely that either device, whether shoe- or underwear-bound, could be set off with a match-lit source. So why all the scare?
It is not a bomb unless it can go BOOM. Even if the 2.82 oz. of PETN were detonated, this would not have brought down and airliner. The threat has been overstated to the extreme. If anyone doubts this, go to the History Channel and take a gander at all the U.S. Army Aircorps birds of World War II that were still flying after being hit with high ordnance flak rounds.
Obviously, an expert demolition man might be able to do damage if the 2.82 oz. were strategically employed and correctly detonated. But that was not even remotely the case in either of the high-scare scenarios we are talking about here.
In the 1980's, a terrorist left a man's wallet with probably a quarter-pound charge of SEMTEX on an aircraft. All he accomplished was blowing a hole in the fuselage while the plane was in flight, after which the pilot safely landed the craft. The threat of the hapless Christmas bomber-to-be is overstated, and it was simply time for a woman (Ms. Napolitano) to have her upbraiding as did her predecessor, Mr. Heckuva-Job Brownie. However, the "failures" are far from commensurate.
While Reid and Abdulmutallab had every intention of doing a dastardly deed, and they did manage to carry explosive materials onto an aircraft, their capabilities and operational skills were inferior to their lofty goals. Intention is not doing.
Ranger wonders how these people will be tried for being bombers when it has never been proved that either device would have gone boom. Shouldn't there be a government burden of proof to show that these devices were, in fact, bombs?
Intent and capabilities are two separate issues.