RANGER AGAINST WAR: November 2008 <

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sin City Mumbai

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

--Happy Christmas
, John Lennon

In 1993, Hindu mobs burned people alive in the streets

— for the crime of being Muslim in Mumbai.

Now these young Muslim men murdered people

in front of their families

Suketu Mehta

Terror made me cruel

--Wuthering Heights
, Emily Bronte

Ghandi's words apply across the board.

This is just an observation on the recent bombings in Mumbai. While it is unclear exactly who is responsible, what is clear are the targets -- Americans and Brits, and members of a Jewish center, who were killed execution-style.

theory voiced by a guest editorialist at the
New York Times offered that Mumbai represents everything offensive to strict Muslims: it is the New Babylon pandering to affluent tourists, and it is Bollywood -- "Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness (What They Hate About Mumbai.) Taking this reasonable interpretation, one could understand the rationale behind a religious fundamentalist's offense, if not their murderous actions.

But why the Lubavitcher Chabad House?

The Lubavitchers are to Judaism what radical Islam is to its more assimilated members. They are ultraconservative, standing out even as odd relics in America, with the men in their peyot and heavy overcoats and covered heads, and women also in modest dress and head coverings who live in traditional family ways. The keep apart from "corrupt" society, like the Mennonites or the Amish, and reject modern society much as the radical Muslims do.

If the bombers are fundamentalist Muslims opposing corrupt society, their logical allies were they to cross the religious spectrum would be the very people they executed at the Jewish center. While I can suspend my disgust for a moment to see the Muslim rationale against modernity's corruption I cannot understand their lack of fellow-feeling with another fundamentalist religious group which also rejects such societal degradation, if that is indeed their
cause célèbre.

I guess anti-Semitism always trumps any other concern.

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Do No Harm

And I'm feelin' glad all over
Yes I'm-a glad all over

Baby I'm-a glad all over

So glad you're mine

--Glad All Over, The Dave Clark Five

The moon gazed on my midnight labors,
while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness,
I pursued nature to her hiding-places
, Mary Shelley

Look at the noises on the moor at night.

There's not a man would cross it after sundown

if he was paid for it

--The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Denizens here know that Ranger is opposed to military action in "The Good War" (= Afghanistan), as well as in Iraq. However, this entry is a la O.J. Simpson -- If I did it, this is how I would have done it.

Special Forces Mike Forces would have carried the action.
They are the U.S. Army's Mobile Guerrilla Groups (MGG), patterned on the French model. If there is one lesson in COIN, it is that any military application of force must be aimed at the insurgents/guerrillas, and the civilian population must be kept from harm.

The Hippocratic Oath should also apply to soldiering: First, do no harm. The scalpel may wielded against diseased tissue, but not at the expense of too much healthy tissue, which is actually the stuff keeping the organism alive, and which will reconstitute it after the excision. It does no good to remove a cancer if the body is left too weak to survive.
Same with a nation.

MGG's and Mike Forces were Company and Battalion-sized units utilizing indigenous troops commanded and tactically employed by French or American personnel. These units were generally employed in the hinterlands and denied areas and took the fight to the enemy. The Mike Forces utilized guerrilla tactics, living in the jungles and fighting as light infantry.

Their organization
and employment mirrored that of the enemy. This is the basic difference between Rangers and Special Forces. Rangers go in and do their job, whereas SF goes in, stays in, trains, equips and leads the indigenous forces. Both the Rangers and Mike Forces are direct action, but the Mike Forces stay on target for months at a time. No showers, no hot meals, no nice stuff.

The legacy of the Mobile Strike Forces (
Mike Forces) comes down through Rogers Rangers, the Green Mountain Boys, Francis Marion and Merrill's Marauders, and later the Philippine Resistance (1942-45), 1st Indochina War (French MGG's) and 2nd Indochina War (U.S. Mike Forces.) All of the above units were military in nature, yet operated behind enemy lines, or in enemy-controlled areas.

The Mobile Guerrilla Groups were effective programs in the Vietnam Wars but went generally unknown to the Army as a whole. These Mike Forces -- the Unconventional Warfare/Guerrilla Warfare (UW/GW) assets of the U.S. Army -- were down and dirty, and their tremendous efforts usually went unheralded.

Add to this the fact that the implementation of the Special Forces branch was highly influenced by Ranger types, and one can see the evolution of the SF into Ranger-mentality type units. Direct action gained ascendancy over UW/GW, a fact evident in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A more optimal approach in Afghanistan would have been that of the Mike Forces, which insures that most fights will be away from built-up areas, thereby minimizing civilian casualties.
SF assets are wasted when they are employed solely as assault-type troops. The latter is a Ranger function.

Why aren't U.S. mobile guerrilla type troops carrying the action in the Afghan scenario? This theatre would be ideal for Mike Forces.
Why has the Army forgotten the effectiveness of the Mobile Groups, indigenous in composition but led by Special Forces?

If we had used the Mike Force concept in Afghanistan, there would have been no need for conventional assets. This concept is what puts the "special" into Special Forces.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Watching the Wheels

What we have here is
failure to communicate

--Cool Hand Luke

Ranger recently applied to the Chief, Military Awards Branch, Department of the Army (DA) to receive his Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) which was awarded to MACVSOG a few years back.

Proper authorizing documentation such as his DD214, 5th Group Orders assigning Ranger to B53/5th Grp. and MACVSOG orders, and my Officer Records Briefs were all submitted to verify that all of my RVN service was with B53, which was also designated as Ops 38 MACVSOG. B53 was a Special Operations Augmentation assigned/attached to SOG (Studies and Observations Group.) Secret stuff stuff at the time, but out in the open now.

Ranger was denied his request,
but not because he didn't qualify. Instead, the Awards Branch mistakenly read that he had requested the PUC for the 5th Group, which he in fact did not request. Clearly and specifically, sent with the imprimatur of his local Congressman and Vietnam veteran Allen Boyd, Ranger requested the SOG PUC.

This is mentioned as yet another example of failed communication with a DA that can't find its ass with two hands. Whoever deep-sixed my request had not even read the clearly-worded request. Is it possible that DA still doesn't understand the command relationships of the
SOA and SOG?

If the Army can't even award a PUC to an old soldier, then how in the hell are they giving proper administrative support to the troops? How can they find OBL if they can't even read a clearly defined request? You will not end up in Brussels if you read is as "Bratislava".

Though this is a minor speed bump, it is far from an isolated event, and is indicative of careless performance of duty and disregard for a serviceman's request.

Will Ranger ever wear this PUC? No. It is but a loose end that needs to be properly documented in my records. Who knows -- it might be worth a free cup of coffee or even put Ranger closer to the front of the soup line one day.

Ranger would also like to point out that he learned of this award by reading Soldier of Fortune magazine. Ranger received no request nor was he informed about the award ceremony. How is that for a thank you from a grateful nation? You would think they would want survivors to attend the ceremony.

Maybe not.



Click the box, then the green circle under post #44
to nominate Ranger Against War for
Best Military Blog:

The 2008 Weblog Awards

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Purveyors of political correctness will, in the final analysis,
not even allow others their judgments...
They celebrate “difference,” but they will not allow people truly
to be different -- to think differently, and to say what they think
--Mark Berley

It is the absolute right of the state
to supervise the formation of public opinion
--Joeseph Geobbels

I love to go to
if only to be near my money

--Bob Hope


On yesterday's Political Junkie (NPR Talk of the Nation), journalist Matt Bai addressed the impact of the Netroots movement in the Obama campaign's success and declared them "marginal." Fawning bloggers who were expecting to "crash the gates of power" may be disappointed, but they were never part of the team anyway.

"He's bigger than any bloggers," he said. "I mean, they can make noise," but the majority of the internet presence is his, implying that the majority of the internet presence is on Obama's election team. It's a great lesson in life: if people take the expedient choice once (see Rev. Wright), they are probably expedient actors: tigers don't change their stripes, political or otherwise. So long, and thanks for the fish.

So all the good folks who bleated their hearts out, paying their way to the convention and hoping for change from their new messiah have just been thrown under the bus.

We at Ranger didn't eat the slop from any feed bag, so we're not too broke up about it. It is, however, rather condescending towards those Believers who paid their way to the conventions to bray at the foot of the dais. We just stand aside and observe the Obamabilia and his "polebritiness" (
Riding Obama's Coattails, Making a Buck Along the Way.)

Yes, he's our next President. And yes, I'm as hopeful as the next guy, really. (Disclaimer: this next bit has nothing to do with Obama himself.) But here is my beef: why has there been no opposition to the contention that we
need leaders of a "new" generation, and that somehow newness equates to an actual meaningful change.

In this new ageism, 71-yr.-old Colin Powell says we need a
"President who is a generational change." Is he so sick of his own toadyism that he imagines the fault lies in the stars and not in himself?

John McCain becomes, "the freed prisoner from a failed war. . . a story with roots sunk
too deeply in the past for this moment (Change)." 42 years -- "too deep in the past"? This generation is poised to have its very own "failed war." Read Santayana.

On Bush,
"father and son, World War II and Vietnam, a faded generation and a fading one . ." So even veterans in their late 50's and 60's are now "fading"? Can they be swept to the margins any more quickly?

So much for the hopes for rejuvenation of the Cougar generation, huh?

My beef is not with Obama,
per se, but rather with a press which is collusive in heralding His coming. "New" -- as in new color, new age, new style, new music -- is all veneer-thin. All the deficiencies which plague their forebears can attach to their inheritors.
Even if the behaviors are creatio ex nihilo; even if one has only dreams of one's father.

To be an X-er, Y-er, whatever, doesn't mean much in the whole scheme of things. People haven't evolved in a generation or five to the point of tossing off the yoke of
covetousness, greed, sloth -- the unique mix of human traits which has landed us in our current precipitous situation. It is shallow thinking to say that because someone looks different, they will be different and somehow better than the ones they replace.

Obama's rhetoric is inspirational --straight from the pulpit. What change he can implement is another matter. Moreover, just because you may be enlightened doesn't mean you can bring your brethren along.
Humans are burdened by laziness and distraction and exhaustion -- a perfect trifecta which has met its match in the wired 24/7 world in which we live.

Everyone has cable, Netflix, computers, Blackberry's, iPods, TiVo. There is so much to see, from the vantage point of your own couch. How much change can you implement when you are three episodes behind on "Lost"?

I resent the simplistic idea that the election of a younger candidate is somehow gonna whip this tired, lazy dog that is America into shape.
WaPo article is typical of this sort of triumphalism: McCain is of a "dying generation," his Vietnam story, "passe." George Bush's Oedipal Complex is REALLY passe, by some 2,300+ years.

C'mon: these are timeless human dramas and tragedies. The hubris to state that their time has passed is galling.
We're not that evolved, thanks. Because you present with sang froid doesn't mean you, too, are not a part of the human tragedy.

What kind of grotesque society have we become, where disposibility and forgetfulness have become assets? Lethe,
Greek goddess of forgetfulness, may have made one feel better for the time, but ultimately one would return to the same problems.

the goddess of memory, served as an invaluable check to this desire for the easy fix.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TSA Bilked

Ever since you started X-raying our shoes,
I've been forced to carry all my plastic explosives
in my pants,
which I find most inconvenient
--Anon poster on the
T.S.A. blog

A Transportation Security Administration contractor at the center of a homeland security contracting debacle several years ago has agreed to pay "$5.6 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims in connection with a contract" to help the agency hire airport security screeners, the Justice Department said recently. (NCS Pearson Agrees to Fine Over Airport Screeners.)

Shocking, no?

The $5.6 payout by NCS Pearson to "resolve allegations that it submitted false claims" is tantamount to a guilty plea, without doing the time.
That is how it is in America: justice will be extracted, whether in time or money. The company is charged with bilking millions from the TSA by over-charging for subcontracted airport passenger screeners.

A federal audit questions $303 million of the $741 million contract, which includes allegations of more than double billing for temporary workers ($48/hour vs. the actual $20/hour) and a $5.4 million, 9-month contract for a CEO of a non-incorporated "event logistics" firm which went out of business after the contract expired.

New reports show the TSA's Behavior Detection program instituted in 2006 has been 99% ineffective. However, in the alternate universe inhabited by TSA spokesmen,
TSA's Ellen Howe puts a more positive spin on the numbers saying the program has been "incredibly effective" at catching criminals. Perspective is all; indeed, the program has an almost 1% success rate. Ahem.

We hope your Thanksgiving travel plans go off without a hitch, knowing the Homeland Security is so tending to your every need. But if problems do arise on the tight ship that is the American Airlines industry, please feel free to share it here.

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Where is the Love?

Thus Ants, who for a Grain employ their Cares,
Think all the Business of the Earth is theirs.

Thus Honey-combs seem Palaces to Bees,

And Mites imagine all the World a Cheese

--Alexander Pope

These last few weeks of holding on

The days are dull, the nights are long

Guess it's better to say

Goodbye to you

--Goodbye to You
, Patty Smyth


It couldn't last forever, and the flames were destined to burn down into a sooty ash. The love affair is over.

The New & Improved security agreement between the People's Republic of Iraq (PRI) and George Bush signals the loss of legal immunity for contractors, as expected (
Iraq Pact Forces Contractors to Confront Work Without Immunity.) Their previous "legal immunity" was larceny rammed through on a wing and a prayer.

Since by all definitions of statehood the PRI is a nation, then it logically follows that everyone in that country, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense and all contractors are subject to the laws of PRI. Nations have sovereignty. Period.

Hasn't the American taxpayer spent trillions on this Fantasyland ride already? If our money was buying democracy for Iraq, then let us accept the entire construction. After all, if we don't believe it, who will? Pronouncements by J. P. Bremer and Crew to the contrary, international law remains unchanged.

The U.S., like a huckster hawking snake oil, has no qualms preaching democracy and the Rule of Law abroad in this
Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), while its shore is ever-receding here at home. The new security document reveals the non-democratic impositions of the U.S.-led occupation.

With contractors falling under the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts, it could become harder for them to recruit new workers and could drive up costs as insurance rates and wages rise to offset the risk of landing in a local jail.

This should not even be a point of contention. If the contractors were to comport themselves in a democratic manner they would not run afoul of Iraqi law. Alas: Contractors can no longer play Cowboys and Indians (just when the boys were having so much fun.) The Indians are tired of the arrogance.

Doug Brooks, the head of the International Peace Operations Association, a Washington industry group for security and logistics contractors, said member companies support accountability in Iraq but have concerns about the fairness of the country's legal system.

Hear, Hear! There are concerns about the fairness of the country's legal system. Uhhh. . .and since when has the concept of legality infringed upon the PWOT? The PWOT is packed with illegal U.S. actions, from its justification on down. Contractors are not imbued with a sense of concern for the Iraqi civilians wounded and killed while under their watch.

Does anybody expect fairness from a legal system that has seen its country treated like a big military playground? Before Iraq can be criticized, U.S. actions to this point need to be examined. Ranger wonders why the Iraqis don't just kick us out on our asses. What good can come from further U.S. presence?

Mr. Maliki -- get some balls and go for it! At least this public eviction would show the world that one person in this entire PWOT is acting rationally.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Will Work for Awards

The 2008 Weblog Awards

I am a jovial ranger,

I fear no kind of danger,

To sorrow I'm a stranger,

And so let mirth abound.

--Travel the Country Round,

Lesley Nelson-Burns


November 4th has come and gone, but if you wanna work out some of that apres-voting malaise, visit the 2008 Weblog Awards and punch your ticket again. Yer 'umble scribes at Ranger Against War are nominated for Best Military Blog, and we feel this is our Ross Perot moment.

We've been a little off our game what with the heady political distractions, but we are back in the counterinsurgency saddle again.
We will remind you that it was Ranger, before Obama, who was promising -- agitating -- for

If elected, we will advocate for everyone in the middle and upper tax brackets to receive a tax cut, and for those too poor to pay taxes, you'll get a rebate check. You can also drop your babies at any hospital, fire station or animal shelter, while still retaining their dependency tax exemption.

We will not surrender until we achieve total victory. Ranger defines Victory as criminal charges against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales,
et. al. [all]. He wishes to try their dogs as co-conspirators.

No bans on assault weapons. We will request pistols be limited to only hunting usage and restricted to 19-round mags. Ranger also offers a *valuable* free shooting lesson to anyone who votes (travel expenses not included.) A chicken in every pot and Peace in Our Time.

Here's how you do it:

Go here: 2008 Weblog Awards. Scroll down to the 44th post which nominates Rangeragainstwar. There is a green (+) sign under the nomination -- click on that green button. The ticker should click up one. That is all.

The nomination looks like this:

"A reasonable, informed mil blog from a counter terrorism subject matter expert. A liberal bent, but mostly middle-of-the-road:

Ranger Against War

This award is adjudicated in two parts: By voting now, you are casting a vote to get Ranger into the finals. After the first week in December, they limn down to the finalist pool based on the support received by the nominees. At that point, we hope we'll be there to ask you a final time for your support.

Democracy is messy.

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Foster States

We are running out of money,
so we must begin to think

--British Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory (attributed)

The goal of all COIN operations
is to set up a friendly government in any given scenario. This means the populace must submit to the government and actively support the regime.

External governments cannot be arbitrarily superimposed upon local societies. If they are, then they are reincarnations of the Nazi/Communist puppet regimes, whether Vichy France or the satellite states of the former Soviet Union.

The basic question is : Does the U.S. really want to foster client states? Both Afghanistan and Iraq were based upon the acceptance of this premise. No one seemed to consider the reality that even if successful, neither state would serve as a useful ally. So why the effort? Why the cost in both men and materiel? Why the cost in loss of prestige?

What is the
mission of military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? This is a different matter from diplomatic and State considerations. In that same vein, what is the mission of the Department of State (DoS)? Do the two dovetail and interlock?

The U.S. military machine is designed to fight wars, not insurgencies. This is not a news flash, yet U.S. combat power is being used as. . . What? Please tell Ranger what the mission is this week.

The following are inefficient and inappropriate practices in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©):

  1. Utilizing tanks in urban settings. Tanks kill tanks and are not designed as street fighters.
  2. The Infantry/Combat Arms are being utilized to secure roadways. This means the combat power of the Army is being utilized to protect the supply functions. This means the Infantry is supporting the support and is therefore not available to counter combat threats.
  3. Utilizing million dollar missiles to kill individual targets that should be eliminated by Infantry.
  4. Allowing the military to dictate policy that should be a DoS function. In effect, the tail is wagging the dog
  5. Believing that physically controlling ground will produce victory.
  6. Preaching hearts and minds, yet continually killing, wounding and imprisoning locals, often without trial. Dropping missiles out of the sky is not a hearts and minds tactic.
  7. The belief that killing people will create a peaceful state.


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Monday, November 24, 2008

Build It, They Will Come

You know I just got paid
I got my hot rod wheels
So if you wanna find out how it feels
Call me - Pennsylvania 6-5000

--Pennsyviania 6-5000, Glenn Miller

You were my pills, you were my thrills

You were my hope baby, you were my smoke

You dropped a bomb on me, hey baby

You dropped a bomb on me, baby

--You Dropped a Bomb on Me

The Gap Band

I have known many adventures in my time. . .

but war
is not really an adventure at all, it is only a substitute. . .
War is a disease. Like Typhus.

--Pilote de Guerre
, Antoine de St. Exupery

Analogies can be helpful things. But one must be careful when dealing with the intricacies of modern warfare to select the appropriate model. Ranger believes a model from his childhood fits hand-in-glove with modern counterinsurgency in the Middle East.

After reading U.S. News & World's reports this week on the Taliban's "New Superbombs" -- even bigger drums filled with bigger hunks o' explosives, it became clear that Looney Tunes' Roadrunner and his nemesis Wile E. Coyote provide the perfect analogy. The Taliban is the Roadrunner, usually outrunning the wily Coyote, who is the U.S. in our current scenario.

The 55-gallon-drum is such a useful item. During our Florida A & M University Homecoming weekends, a revered tradition has the drums lining the sidewalks, where inside braises the best barbecue this side of the Apalachicola. Rednecks find joy burning every example of household toss off of in same such. Every ammo dump is rife with such flotsam.

Against such brute realities, Coyote is ever reading, plotting, and purchasing new destructive technology from the ever-ready ACME Tool Company. For sure, Coyote possesses more weaponry, and the theme song does say that "if he catches you, you're through." However, Coyote usually becomes ensnared in his own well-laid plans. His problem is that he does not understand his nemesis.

Roadrunner sees the holes in the road, and moves them, or chooses to take another path. He is not predictable, and Coyote thrives on understanding the psychology of his enemy, who alas is a shape-shifter. Despite Coyote's increasingly violent methodology, he never gets his bird.

Just as roads figure largely in the Roadrunner cartoon, so it is in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is road-bound as usual, with the added problem that Service and Service Support are no longer protected in the Corps and Division rear areas.

Since there is no Forward Line of Troops (FLOT) or Forward Edge of the Battle Area (FEBA), all of our vehicles, to include combat vehicles, are subject to attack at any time and place. Running unsecured roads is military folly. Fighting dirty little wars for no quantifiable objective is another level of insanity. Fighting unconventional threats with conventional means is neither cost-effective nor sound.

"Roadside bombs that once weighed 10 to 20 pounds have morphed into multigallon drums packed with 200 to 500 pounds of explosives, which insurgents roll into culverts with wheelbarrows (Taliban's New Super-Bombs Threaten U.S. Troops, Even in Pricey MRAPs)."

So U.S./NATO forces are running the roads in multi-million dollar vehicles and the Taliban are countering this threat with explosives hauled out of the fields in the precision delivery modality of -- wheelbarrows. When Sheikh Omar escaped U.S. forces, he did so on a Vespa motor scooter, while multimillion dollar drones with multimillion dollar bombs searched for him. Which side of the battle will you place your money on the win table?

"The enhanced bombs have in some cases proved effective in destroying the U.S. military's expensive new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles—the product of a multibillion dollar investment by the Pentagon that features a V-shaped hull to absorb and disperse the impact of roadside bombs.

"The vehicles were not built, however, to withstand 200-pounds worth of explosives. "They've flipped MRAPs 15 feet in the air sometimes," says one U.S. officer in Afghanistan. "And they break them in half." U.S. troops inside the overturned vehicles have been crushed and seriously injured by falling equipment."

The U.S. answer to the problem is Coyote's:
Do something, even if it is wrong. Spend your way out of the problem, for ACME has a new handy-dandy tool just right for you. But the MRAP's are folly, as they are not combat vehicles and they are not fighting platforms. What purpose do they serve?

The MRAP is like the 55-gal-drum is to the barbecue: a containment device for being shaked-and-baked.
They are classic bomb magnets. They are slow, unmanueverable and most importantly, MRAPs serve no discernible military purpose.

The new bombs, which U.S. military officials say began cropping up in June, are part of an insurgent effort, they add, to disrupt commerce, create chaos, and strike at the heart of government efforts to bring progress to strategic provinces like Ghazni.

This editorializing attempts to overlay meaning on the project, but it is false. There is no progress and the government is as useless as the MRAP's are to address the Taliban insurgency. There is no realistic government in Afghanistan; it is a puppet regime bolstered totally by external military power. This is not a formula for success.

Even if the US/NATO forces control the roads, they will never control the countryside. This means that the government is a sham. Controlling the cities does not counterbalance the popular insurgency, and it IS popular or it would have been defeated in seven years.

The construction-grade explosives are trucked in from Quetta, a Taliban stronghold in neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But the material is manufactured elsewhere, leading officials to believe that insurgents are bypassing border crossings in eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have a greater presence, to bring them in through southern provinces.

possible sources of explosives are the Afghani Army and Police Forces sympathetic and loyal to the Taliban. The U.S. supply system is a probably source of these stolen explosives.

Insurgents and guerrillas will flow around U.S. blocking positions just like the Mississippi flooded around New Orleans. U.S. intel
always claims the explosives were produced elsewhere since this exonerates their poor performance in insurgent settings, but Ranger doubts all explosives came from Pakistani sources.

Even if they did, what does this say about the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) in Afghanistan and Pakistan? What would be the
logical conclusion?

The article claims "good news" when U.S. forces tracked down
"five IED-planting teams, leading to a decrease in roadside bombs in the area from 30 a month in July and August to some five a month in September and October." This is not good news, simply a fact. Yes, a nine-man team was killed and eliminated, but their replacements are a cell phone call away.

That there was a tactical decline in the number of IED's is meaningless over the long haul. It may look good on Officer Efficiency Reports, but
it does not translate into strategic success. Absent the active presence of Afghani Army and Police, the U.S. will never quell the insurgents.

You can not create something out of nothing. There is no nation, and killing Afghanis to produce a puppet state will not be successful.
What exactly are U.S. forces fighting for in Afghanistan?

To reiterate Ranger's position:

  1. A free and democratic Afghanistan is a chimera
  2. The Taliban is not al-Qaeda
  3. A free Afghanistan will not enhance U.S. security in the PWOT
  4. Who gives a rat's ass about Afghanistan?

T-t-t-t-that's All, Folks!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting DIC

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, when?”

--Hillel, ~30 BCE

No soup for you!

--The Soup Nazi
, Seinfeld

The second installment of "We Love the Troops" is the court "victory" hailed by the Disabled American Veterans requiring the Department of Defense to remunerate military spouses for wrongly withheld survivors benefits.

Sharp, et al. vs. United States, the Department of Defense was required to refund an estimated $30 million in military retiree Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities that were wrongly withheld from the widowed spouses' Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hard to imagine DoD actively screwing widows of Disabled Veterans and chalking it up to a "faulty interpretation of the law." That sounds so Yoo and Addington-like.

As with the previous post about Under Secretary Chu, disabled veterans (in this case, their surviving spouses) are being denied their propers. So if the DoD doesn't screw them when they are alive, they will do so when they are dead. To borrow from Bob Dylan, everybody must get screwed when passing through the government wringer.

Is DoD That desperate for funds that they must deny loyal personnel?
People are more important than the acquisition of new weapons systems.

One would think the DoD would be proud and happy to pay these widows as required by law. Instead, the DoD will appeal the ruling. No yellow ribbons for these veterans.

"(U)ntil the court's ruling, to accept DIC, the Department of Defense required an equal cut in SBP, illegally saving the Pentagon millions of dollars in unpaid benefits. An estimated 59,000 military survivors were impacted by the SBP-DIC offset last year.

"The government has projected that the reinstated benefits will exceed $30


"The Defense Department is expected to appeal the ruling."

Doesn't it seem odd that DoD expends $100's of billions to kill insurgents
in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it can't pony up $30 million for rightful benefits for America's soldiers? The DAV thinks it is odd, because they have run two articles on disabled veterans getting the Pentagon shaft in their current November/December issue (despite the fact that this case was settled in Jul 08.)

Fraternal magazine usually wave the flag, but lately they are becoming more disgruntled by
the shameless marginalization of their constituents.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008


I hang onto my prejudices,
they are the testicles of my mind


--General McAuliffe
on German request for surrender

If your testicles are crushed, or your male member missing,

you must never enter a sanctuary of the Lord

--Deuteronomy 23:1


So, Ranger could properly quote the Bible if he ever needed to get out of church duty.

In yet another We Support the Troops initiative (Not) comes Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David Chu's rejiggering of the standards for
Combat-Related injuries, which disqualifies thousands of disabled veterans from receiving certain benefits, like Combat-Related Special Compensation.

His decision will also require many disabled service members to "repay their military disability severance pay before they could receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs." (Pentagon Narrows Combat-Related Definition.)
Unsurprisingly, the Department of Defense has adopted Mr. Chu's reconfiguring of the Congressional mandate as it will result in a reduced disability compensation load form the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Contrary to the 2088 Defense Authorization Act, in which Congress defined disability as
combat-related if it resulted from service in a combat zone or performance of duty in combat-realted operations, Chu argued that the DoD 'endorsed the premise that the benefit for those hurt in combat should be more robust than for members with disabilities incurred in other situations (e.g. simulation of war, instrumentality of war or participation in hazards not related to combat).'"

According to Chu, if a disability results not "as a disease or injury incurred in the line of duty as a direct result of armed combat," such affected service members will be remunerated at a considerably "less robust" rate.

The DAV claims Chu has "(D)isregarded the broader intent of Congress," through eliminated disability resulting from hazardous service, duty under conditions simulating war or disability incurred through an instrumentality or war incurred outside of a combat zone as "combat-related" injuries. As a result, these disabled veterans are no longer eligible for their CRSC as mandated by Congress.

This issue affects Ranger, who has been riding the merry-go-round for years with Officer in Charge Fred Sissons of the Army's CRSC determination board. Only after pursuing congressional channels was Ranger able to receive his CRSC.

The administrative battle was distasteful and contrary to the spirit and intent of the law. Congress honored combat-related disabled vets by awarding CRSC, but then the Army creates a jungle-like maze one must wade through in order to receive the special compensation.

The other services have different interpretations of the regulations, resulting in application and qualifying procedures which are more liberal than those of the Army. DoD lacks a comprehensive approach to qualification for these funds, as each branch controls its own program. For instance, Chu's new guidelines for the Army disqualify combat-related training injuries from CRSC application, yet more servicemen are training-injured than combat-wounded.

In Ranger's case, he was injured in the Republic of Vietnam in a STABO rig accident. He suffered a crushed testicular artery and left testicle practicing jungle combat extractions in a 1970 field exercise. This was a practice exercise, in country, and Ranger was Infantry, Special Forces and drawing combat pay. The injury was surgically treated in the 24th evac hospital. But today's CRSC reps say
this service-connected disability is not combat-related.

The problem in applying for the CRSC is a Catch-22: CRSC requires "combat-relatedness," however, this term does not exist in the pantheon of DVA terminology. The VA uses only the term "service-connected," as required by law.

38 years ago Ranger lacked the presence of mind and forethought to ask the doctor to put in the medical record, "combat-related." The Army didn't care how Ranger was injured, they simply operated to alleviate the problem.
Today, my left nut is service-connected but not combat-related.

Now that's really nuts.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

The Thinkers

In keeping with our day's theme of piffle, witness the amazing Typelyzer (via Abu Muquwama.)

You merely type in the address of your blog, and the Typelyzer's algorithm divines the sort of person who wrote it. Your humble Ranger bloggers earned the label, The Thinkers. Us and Rodin. Here's what they say:

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

If you go to their site, you also get to see a nifty visual which shows from what parts of our brain we are working. To test it, we also took a blog from the top and bottom of our list: Alternate Brain earned the title, "Mechanics" (Yea -- they are!), and poet Mad Celt earned the title of sensitive artist. So the 3-second assessment seems spot-on.

We have to say, this is us. We make linkages (sometimes wild) and we sometimes offend, though we never mean to. Blame it on a temporary lack of politesse. We're thinking about things, you see.

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Sojourner Obama

Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung

I look all white,
but my dad was black

, the Who

Happy days are here again

The skies above are clear again

Let us sing a song of cheer again

--Happy Days are Here Again
Ager & Yellen

If women want any rights more than they's got,
why don't they just take them,
and not be talking about it

--Sojourner Truth


You may call this a bit of piffle, but it is piffle with an edge. Again, this is not about Obama per se, but about the media's take.

In his Bumpy Road Ahead for a Traveller, the WaPo's David Ignatius likens Barack Obama to Sojourner Truth, and finds his sassy wife, "comforting'. "Obama has been the sojourner" he says, finally finding his proper manifestation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Quoting from Obama's recent 60 Minutes interview,

"Obama's reality check will come from his wife, Michelle. When he told Kroft that she had asked him on election night if he was going to take the kids to school the next day, she broke in: "I didn't say that." When he claimed that he liked washing the dishes, she interjected: "You? Since when was it ever soothing for you to wash the dishes?"

You've got to like that. And you have to believe that a man who can smile while his wife lovingly, genially puts him in his place is a pretty sane guy. In this transition time, when the traveler is finally about to reach his destination, that's reassuring.

What silly rhetoric. A man who can smile during this harangue might be sane, or might not. He could be a wife-abuser, just waiting until he gets behind closed doors. I am not saying he is; wife Michelle looks like she can take care of herself. It is just more inane supposition, and a double-standard compared to the press's treatment of women in the recent past.

In Ignatius's reverie, Sojourner Obama is arriving at his destiny on the loving wings of his partner. But another way to see this is through a Clintonian lens: this is a woman who's "Not gonna stand by her man." To see cracks in the veneer in a snide challenge.
When Hillary took this stance, she was severely chided for being a shrewish harpy.

Perhaps Mrs. Obama is a woman like French PM Sarkozy's former wife, Cecilia, who will do as she pleases, absenting herself from onerous State functions, and perhaps even walking off.

Alas, the latter is probably too French. Still -- must a woman's power always originate from the fringes, from her subtle digs and keeping her big male ship afloat?
Has our progress been to accept such behavior, patronizingly viewing it as endearing versus attacking it as an untenable male challenge?

If 20 years has wrought that change, let us see if it adheres across the board.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Drunken Duck

Tell me why must our peace be this puzzle
That fractures the land, splinters war
The last nails cite the shame in our coffin
But in the end we must all die alone

--To Youth
, Flogging Molly

We are told the Iraqi cabinet approves a security pact with the U.S. which "will allow American forces to stay in Iraq for three years after their UN mandate expires at the end of the year," but what does this mean? The Parliament has yet to approve it, and they are the authorizing legislative body.

27 of 38 cabinet members approved of the pact, for just under a 75% approval ratio, but why is the cabinet approving anything? In a democracy, a cabinet is not a legislative body.

What about this side of the world? Why does the Iraqi parliament get a vote on the issue, but not the U.S. Congress? Since the American people are paying for this stupid
Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) shouldn't our representatives get to vote on the way our tax dollars are going to be spent? If drunken duck Bush can imperially sign this pact committing the U.S. to an occupation through 1 JAN 12, then why did we bother having a presidential election?

Ranger has a multi-lateral idea: Why not pull U.S. forces out of Iraq with the proviso that the government of Iraq has the right to request U.S. combat troops should the situation demand such action. Said interaction would then be paid from Iraqi oil proceeds.

The situation in Iraq is a chicken-egg argument. Is the violence caused by the presence of U.S. troops, or is it systemic, just looking for a release valve? If caused by our presence, we should withdraw. If systemic, we should withdraw. The U.S. military is not a civil war prevention force. Any questions?

Pulling out is a win/win, and that's a slam dunk.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Country for Young Men

This is the saddest story I have ever heard
--The Good Soldier
, Ford Madox Ford

Recently Lisa has been saying that Ranger's essays lack facts and seem to ramble, to which a guilty plea is entered. The fact is, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is lacking in facts and rambles.

Sound bytes and faulty logic predominate and guide U.S. policy, so why not with Ranger. This proves that he is still a good study.

Two more generalizations:

  • The war in Afghanistan is the "Good War."
  • Obama says he will escalate the War in Afghanistan

Ranger watched President-elect, Minister of Cool Obama say recently on t.v. the war in Afghanistan must be ramped up to improve the security situation in that nation. He also indicated that Osama bin Laden must be captured or killed since he is still the operational head of al-Qaeda.

"I think it is a top priority for us to stamp out al Qaeda once and for all. And I think capturing or killing bin Laden is a critical aspect of stamping out al Qaeda. He is not just a symbol, he's also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against US targets (60 Minutes.)"

Ranger would like for Obama to reveal the intelligence source of his assertion that OBL is still the operational head of al-Qaeda. If this is true, then the entire PWOT has been a national joke perpetrated upon the suckers collectively called the American taxpayers.

OBL is a person isolated in the mountains of Waziristan, and we are being told that he is still relevant. Please show this Ranger some factual information that goes beyond the normal government bullshit. BS is not an intel estimate, nor should U.S. policy be based upon it

Ranger analysis:

  1. There is no nation called Afghanistan. There is a phony government calling themselves a nation Real nations do not have widespread popular insurgencies. However, such uprisings will always be successful dislodging foreign occupation, especially in an environment of utter poverty.
  • The Taliban -- however distasteful to Western standards, is reflective of Afghan culture and philosophy. The Taliban is not al-Qaeda. U.S. soldiers can not simply kill Taliban because they are distasteful. If this were the formula, then they would have to kill Rush Limbaugh, too.
  • Killing or capturing OBL will not end the al-Qaeda threat. Killing OBL is simply revenge, with no further useful purpose. Wars are not fought for venegrance (unless your wife's name is Helen.)
  • The source of al-Waeda hatred and funding is Saudi Arabia. This social and educational environment (Wahhabism) poses a greater threat via terrorism support than the Taliban.
  • There are no good wars.

The U.S. has and is continuing to stake its national prestige and integrity upon illusions that are naught but smoke and mirrors. The larger issues of Afghanistan and Iraq are not relevant to the PWOT.

If both countries were to become wildly democratic tomorrow, this will not remove the al-Qaeda threat from the world scene.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


So tired
Tired of waiting

Tired of waiting for you

--Tired of Waiting
, The Kinks

Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious?

Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush


Ah, this is obviously some strange usage
of the word 'safe"
that I wasn't previously aware of
--Douglas Adams


Yesterday Ranger went to pick up a handgun he had purchased 12 November at a pawn shop, but was denied taking possession of the gun until the 18th because, "weekends don't count toward the cooling off period." Apparently, only weekdays tick that clock.

What sense does this make?
There is a 3-day cooling off period before one may possess their handgun purchase, but why the arbitrary interruption of counting for the weekend. The purpose of this period is to hopefully thwart crimes of passion or suicides. Do people withhold thinking about these things on weekends? Is the t.v. schedule that great (Gun Sales Thriving in Uncertain Times)?

Furthermore, what good are waiting periods for people like Ranger, who already has pistols right outside in his own car? These laws are infringements on my rights.

Another complaint relating to the purchase of handguns deals with the application process. In Florida, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has declared that a
bbreviations are forbidden when completing a federal firearms purchase form. This despite the fact that the rest of the U.S. Government has a dictionary of authorized abbreviations to be used for such occasions as form completion, a fact totally lost on the B.A.T.F. geek-ass bureaucrats.

There is a fine line between legitimate gun control features and harassment. The latter negates the spirit and intent of the law, and pushes gun trading underground.

Personally, this hoop-jumping bullshit is tiresome. The B.A.T.F. can kiss my G.T.R.A (Gun Toting Ranger Ass.)

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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns
--P.J. O'Rourke


Ranger loves guns, guitars, fast cars, dry pants, cold beer, dry toilet paper, and . . . But let's talk guns.

While conducting some bank business, Ranger's banker mentioned a recent patron who did not have any picture identification save for his Florida Carrying Concealed Weapons (CCW) permit. From the banker's perspective there was no problem as this was a valid government-issued picture i.d.

What caught Ranger's undivided attention was that the gun toting subject was legally blind and using a seeing eye dog for mobility. Turns out there are no requirements in the Florida CCW law/application that specify a person must be sighted to carry a concealed weapon.
Florida -- The Rules are Different Here.

The law does mandate successful completion of a special course; however, shooting is not a component. In addition, the class requirement may be waived if one has passed the National Rifle Association's Safety Course or if one was handgun-trained in the military. Duh.

So, there is no prohibition against possession of a CCW in Florida if one is blind. Now Ranger loves him some guns, but this is one bridge too far. This legal loophole must be closed, if only for the sake of the dog.

Did Ranger mention the man's dog had only one eye? Ranger reckons that is better than having three legs.

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