Monday, August 31, 2009

Stabo Extraction

He's the one who gives his body

As a weapon of the war,

And without him all this killing can't go on

--Universal Soldier
, Buffy Sainte-Marie

Before. . .murder was recognized as murder,

but now murder is a means to achieve a noble result

--J. Krishnamurti


Sometimes Ranger gets so low his bootlaces could serve as strings for a hostile LZ extraction. Sometimes jagged little pieces come together to form a mosaic.

Obviously he is anti-war and opposed to military overreach and oo-rah thinking. Yet at the same time, there is a pride of service. Ranger does not believe violence is ever justified, yet violence is in his guts. This is the basic dilemma facing all thinking veterans. We were taught to read terrain, but seldom to look at the inner paths of our souls.

A recent Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) meeting Ranger attended featured the banner,
"HONOR THE WARRIOR, NOT THE WAR." Ranger challenged that precept and was roundly criticized by the knee-jerk attendees.

Think: If you honor the warrior, then you are ipso facto honoring the war. There is no other way to read this. A warrior is the instrument through which war is executed. The two concepts are inseparable. This is a simple yet profound truth.

The question remains: How does one oppose a war and a warrior nation, yet still retain pride in one's former service? Accepting the pride is to accept the violence inherent in the activity.

Attempting this reckoning burdens me. This knot ties us all together. This is also the reason that PTSD resulting from war will remain incurable -- it is a personal expression of a schizophrenic societal construction.

We award medals and promotions for killing, yet everyone does everything possible not to deal with this aspect of soldiers after their service.
When they are coping with their PTSD, they are often warehoused apart from society in VA hospitals.

When people say, "Thanks for your service", do they follow up with, "Come to our house for dinner"; I wrote my Senator about vets benefits, or, "I volunteer at VA long-term care facility"? Not hardly. The words ring hollow.

Parades and speeches at national political conventions are the institutional expression of "Thanks for your service."

The word "sucker" is always omitted.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


--Do What You Have to Do,
David Thorpe (1998)

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
the saddest are these: "It might have been!'"

--John Greenleaf Whittier

Dum vivimus, vivamus!

[While we live, let us live!]

Neither do men light a candle,

and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick;

and it giveth light unto all that are in the house

--Matthew 5:15

Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
but slenderly known himself

--King Lear, Shakespeare [I, i]


Sunday homily
: Today.

I recently went to the Mayo Clinic with a friend, who remarked what a dismal experience the clinic was. I did not see it that way.

Sobering, perhaps. Realizing that most people are there because they are unwell but trying to get better, and recognizing that we are all hurtling toward the same end, I was actually uplifted.
Of the elderly he said, "But, they're all dying!" "We're all dying," said I.

Tender mercies abound. Frail, frail, the elderly couple at the check in station, he much taller than she, his hand on her neck and shoulder. Well-attired, they are still a handsome couple, but one can imagine him when he was not so tentative. So gently they walk away, he holding under her elbow for her support.

Almost everyone at Mayo except the most blighted manages a smile or a kind word. At the outdoor cafe was overheard numerous phone conversations, all ending with a sincere -- an almost desperate -- "I love you."

Words of encouragement were plentiful.
"You're walking better today," even when one could not imagine the walk to be much worse. A towel wrapped around a waist falls, and a worker picks it up and wraps it back around the woman's waist, saying, "We women understand what it is to take care of each other." Such simple grace.

A Mayo visit is sobering in the way that reading the obituaries is. One realizes that a life -- every life -- can be squeezed into two paragraphs: He was a loving (blank), a member of (blank) church or organization; worked (blank); left behind (blank). That's all. There are few grandiose moments, though each one has the potential for small exultations and gratitude.

In college, I declined a job request to be a companion to a resident at the local senior center, but the job fascinated me, nonetheless. The man sought a companion to walk and talk with him for one hour, three days a week. That man may be dead now, and I missed an opportunity to learn another life, and see things through eyes wiser than my own.

What amends have you made today? What pettishness have you avoided? Did you really listen to someone with an open heart? Are you making something beautiful -- discovering your light?

tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow are among the saddest words in English literature. What would happen if, just for today, you lay your burden down?

[Cross-posted at
Big Brass Blog]

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Combat Pits

Shaolin Monks in Fighting Ballet

Solve a man’s problems with violence,
help him for a day.
Teach a man to solve his problems with violence,
help him for a lifetime!
-- Order of the Stick

Happiness this year:
Is to get our warmongering outta here,
and not oppress folks with fear
and let goat herding Afghans
have an unbombed life, austere
--Schott's Miscellany, David Bean

"The American people. . .
Haven't got a clue"
--sign outside of Austin, Texas business

The Ranger exhibit at the Ft. Benning Infantry Museum features a film loop of Ranger students in the "combat pits" performing unarmed combat. 2009 is a long way from 1969.

The fighting techniques resembled something one might see on the caged television fighting show; the students were not fighting to kill. In the old days, Rangers were brutalized in the combat pits: we were kicked, punched and used as training aids for our fellow Rangers. Many a student was injured, and as result failed to complete training.

If we did not kick our opponent hard enough, the instructor would gladly demonstrate the correct killing blow. We kicked with the side of our boot, and not the toe or heel -- our only nod to softness. This Ranger recalls boot eyelet compressions on his ribcage after being in the pits.

One Ranger student in 1968 died of injuries sustained in the pits, but now the activity is being depicted in the infantry Museum as a quaint wrestling match. The fighting techniques shown were as useless and meaningless as the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) itself.

Rangers should fight using helmets, bayonets, spoons, forks, sticks, dogtags and anything else at hand. There should be a focused determination to kill in the fastest possible manner. Wrestling an opponent is a recipe for disaster. What are these soldiers being taught? This is not The Transporter, and real fighting is not ballet.

I guess this is the way the SOCNET.com tough guys play it. Give my old Ranger ass a break.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Strange Brew

It is difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends upon his not understanding it

--Upton Sinclair

Please, do not destroy my mood.
Tonight, I even like you

--Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)


Ranger does not get the current economy, not even on the micro level.

He recently visited the
Outer Banks Brewing Station, a microbrewrey in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., to imbibe at "America's first wind-powered brew pub" (www.obbrewing.com/), but was basically refused service as he was only there to drink the brewski. Specifically, he was "highly discouraged" from being seating by the hostess. This bud was not for you.

Some particulars are in order: It was 8:30, and the joint was 75% empty. It was not as though there would be a late night theatre crowd thronging the place between then and 11 p.m. Ranger was properly attired and clean, as was his companion (amongst clientele which could be best described as adhering to Beach-Zhlub etiquette.)

He was prepared to lay out a Jackson or so on he and his companion, but was informed by the attendant that he could not be seated due to his liquid only preference, and instead was directed toward the smoky, dark-assed bar portion of the restaurant, filled completely with men watching people running a piece of pigskin up and down a field. Ranger no longer frequents bars, nor does he voluntarily suck cigarette smoke into his lungs.

He repeated his seating preference, and was again, "highly discouraged."
Why would any tourist area restaurant turn away business?

Ranger gets mean when bars turn him away, Ranger mean. Fortunately like gunfighter Mundy, I'm not like that anymore. Most of the time.

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Cash for Clunkers

That which is hateful to you do not do to others.
All the rest is com

Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy
--The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

There's a feeling I get
When I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving
--Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

I got no car and it's breaking my heart

But I've found a driver and that's a start

--Drive My Car
, The Beatles

[This entry was prompted by the 10' entrance poster to the "Desert Wars" exhibit at the National Infantry Museum, entitled "Sole Superpower." It features an infantryman with weapon lunging forward in a style reminiscent of the Bolshevik agitptrop.]

The reality of the American experience has become bizarre and incomprehensible. We break the sound barrier with our combat aircraft daily, but we cannot reach the speed of thought.

This week's Good News about the Afghan elections is supposed to warm our little democratic hearts, but it fails to excite Ranger. We are told the elections are a success,
but the war is a clunker. Unfortunately, we can't get a voucher and dump that war into the junkyard of history.

Instead, we show every sign that we'll dump more assets into that money pit.
How much money does a country expend to build a failed state before one's country becomes a failed state itself? Nothing we do in Afghanistan will alter the fact that the entire country is a clunker that runs only because we, the U.S. taxpayers along with our leaders, are suckers being sucked dry by Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here is the homeland, indigent deaths and pauper burials are on the rise both here and abroad (UK Destitute Burials). This means people can't even afford to die in America, yet we have money to execute foreign wars. In addition, Social Security recipients will not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment for the next two years.

Will congressmen forgo their COLA? What about the President? (Do our Social Security recipients vacation at Martha's Vineyard?)

So, we do not have the money to pay COLA to our entitled, hard-working
and deserving retired and disabled citizens, but we are led to believe that money will be available to reform our health care system. If there is no money for COLA, how do we have money to fight endless wars, and where will the health care money arise?

No nation, family, individual, state or local government can exist or prosper with misaligned goals based on faulty economic realities. America is slowly self-destructing before our eyes and with our complicity. We see but do not comprehend.
Being a sole superpower should not be a suicidal role, yet that is how it is playing out.

You reap what you sow. It was a nice ride while it lasted.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pat Tillman

--King Arthur & the Questioning Beast,
Aubrey Beardsley

Arthur: Merlin, what's the most important quality in a knight?
Merlin: Well, it's courage, it's chivalry,
it's duty to your people, it's.....

Arthur: Stop wandering around! What is it, really?

Merlin: All right, I'll tell you! It's truth!

Every time you tell a lie, you murder some part of the world.


I'm sick and tired of hearing things

From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites

All I want is the truth

--Just Gimme Some Truth
, John Lennon

Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. . .

don't never lie to a Ranger or officer

--Northwest Passage
, Kenneth Roberts

There is a photo of Corporal Pat Tillman in the Ranger section at the National Infantry Museum captioned by a patriotic blurb about what a swell fellow Cpl. Tillman was for abandoning a seductive big league ball career and joining the Rangers. But it also tells a lie.

The fact that Tillman was a great American and a fine man and Ranger is an indisputable fact.
But the plaque concludes by saying the Cpl. Tillman died as the result of enemy fire, in an ambush. Which is a crock of crap.

The fact of his death in a friendly fire barrage was not mentioned. Ditto that fact that there were no enemy within rifle range. This propaganda is being pushed with my tax dollars, and it is a lie.

Lies are not a part of the Ranger creed and they violate Roger's Rules for Rangers. The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©)
is a lie, as is the museum's version of Tillman's tragic death. Where does it end?

Is truth no longer a Ranger or an Infantry virtue? Tillman didn't die for our freedom; he died under exceptionally well-targeted friendly fire.

Ranger mourns not only the death of Tillman but the death of truth.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top Ten

My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why
I got out of bed at all

--Thank You, Dido

It's wonderful to be here
It's certainly a thrill

You're such a lovely audience

We'd like to take you home with us

--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles


"Thanks for your service" -- the now ubiquitous comment of the civilian to the serviceman.

Sometimes said with sincerity, but sometimes merely platitudinous, said obligatorily and with the glee that comes of being pro-war without knowing anything about what that actually implies.
When the latter, it ranks up there with "Jesus loves you!" -- how does one respond to such inanity?

Ranger's standard reply is, "Don't thank me; I did it for the money." Friend Publius responds to those who present in an unthinking manner,
"That's o.k. -- I didn't do it for you."

So this post is a survey of the top 10 replies to Thank You for Your Service (TYFYS). They can be sincere or snarky. We are just searching for a response protocol.

The winning entry will be awarded a
"We Support the Troops" decal, Ranger-style.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Peace Through Superior Firepower

--Cardow, Ottawa Citizen

We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do

--We Gotta Get Out of This Place
The Animals


The CNN reporter covering a recent story on Afghanistan and U.S. troops there said that all Taliban actions were met with overwhelming American firepower.

Sounds like a winner, but firepower is absolutely useless unless the enemy is fixed and then maneuvered against and assaulted and destroyed. The goal of all ground combat is to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. Nowhere does the infantry mission statement include that we intimidate or bedazzle the enemy with impressive displays of ordnance.

If the enemy is not killed, then our soldiers might as well be an exhibit at Disneyworld. We could call it, Fantasia.

There are two types of fire as all combat soldiers are aware -- effective fire and ineffective fire. Seems simple, but we fail to acknowledge this point in application and explication. When U.S. troops return fire onto overlooking hills, this is as useless as tits on a bullfrog.
It is simply wasting ammunition for no benefit. It makes the soldiers feel they are doing something when all they are accomplishing is noise pollution.

The reporter asked a Captain, 'Why are you here?' Came the reply, "Because they told me to come." The reality of an infantry Captain stuck out in the middle of nowhere is not exactly the stuff of stateside hooah fantasies. He also admitted he has little contact with the civilian population.

The soldiers were playing The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place". In Vietnam, this song was banned on the Armed Forces Vietnam network.

These soldiers may realize their war is futile, as we did.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mush Mouth

Simanca Osmani (Brazil)

Because something is happening here

But you don't know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones?

--Ballad of a Thin Man
, Bob Dylan

I've got pot, I've got acid, I've got LSD cubes.
I'm probably the hippest guy around here.

I'm so hip, it hurts!

--I Love You, Alice B. Toklas

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way

--I Can See Clearly Now
, Johnny Nash


There can be sanity in insane places and insanity in sane places, and the line between them is often blurred.

An op-ed which ran in
USA Today by National Security Adviser James Jones ("We Have Clarity in Our Goals") demonstrates some of those disjunctions. Psych wards are filled with delusional patients who swear they see things clearly. Their surety is reminiscent of the fantastical thinking disgorged from the White House post the 9-11 attacks.

Says Jones,
"First, there should be no doubt about the clear U.S. goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Military men love the "D" words, like delay, disorganize, disrupt and destroy, all of which are classic military mission concepts. But does anyone actually believe that the goals of disrupt, dismantle and defeat are achievable in our current military undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan?

While limited disruption may be possible, is it worth the cost?

"With the collaboration of both countries, al-Qaeda and the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 are feeling relentless pressure."
Contained within this one sentence of misstatement of fact lies the fallacy of the entire Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©). Exactly who are the extremists that attacked the U.S. on 9-11?

The answer is, al Qaeda. There were no other extremist groups associated with 9-11.

Jones continues,
"[B]ut should the Taliban be successful in its goal to take over Afghanistan again, there is no question that we and our allies would again be unacceptably threatened."
What analysis provides the basis for this prognostication?

There has been no data presented that the Taliban would export extremism if they reassert control of Afghanistan. The WaPo reports today that a majority of Americans do not think that war in Afghanistan is worth fighting
("Poll Shows Most Americans Oppose War in Afghanistan").
Could Mr. Jones kindly show us the intel briefs of such, which would allow the U.S. people to believe in the continued Afghanistan project?

"By advancing the economy, encouraging individual opportunity and strengthening governance from the smallest village to Kabul, we isolate extremists, put a dent in a drug trade that funds insurgents and help establish security."

Extremists are not necessarily terrorist, nor does
"putting a dent in a drug trade" add up to a strategy of success and victory. The war on drugs is a most problematic construction as witnessed by our own nation's abysmal record on that account.

Our own president used illegal drugs here in the States, and now he's passing judgment on the Afghanistan and Colombian drug trade. Smacks (blows?) of hypocrisy. A study published a few days ago indicates that a large percentage of
our bank notes sport traces of cocaine, which indicates that we are enjoying our illegal drugs while we crusade against the same in far-flung countries.

The Taliban may be a threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan but they are not a credible threat to America. NSA Jones is selling us another packet of Rice paper-wrapped delusional fear.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Angel Boligan (Mexico)

They seek him here, they seek him there,
His clothes are loud, but never square.

It will make or break him so hes got to buy the best,

cause hes a dedicated follower of fashion

--The Kink
s, Dedicated Follower of Fashion

The Special Forces Museum at Ft. Bragg is actually now half of a Special Operations Museum, and it is what is contained in the newest wing that concerns me.

In the Iraq and Afghanistan room there are numerous photos of SF soldiers in Afghanistan festooned with all the implements of war, except they are not wearing uniforms -- they are in civilian clothes. What gives? Do we no longer comply with the Geneva Conventions [GC]?

In World War II, the Office of Strategic Services always wore uniforms when operational in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Studies and Operations Group (MACVSOG) always wore uniforms, even when operating deep into denied areas. Why have the current SF troops abandoned this protocol?

If captured out of uniform, these troops fail to meet the bar per the GC's of being deemed a Prisoner of War. If it applies to them, it applies to us. Why is the U.S. cutting corners?

Then again, uniforms are only 25% of the equation. The GC's require a military chain of command, uniforms, open carrying of weapons and the attack of military targets. Clearly the U.S. Special Forces have a military organization and carry their weapons openly, but what about the attacking only military targets part?

Oh well, two out of four ain't bad; close enough for government work.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fatted Calf

Oh God said to Abraham kill me a son
Well Abe said where d'you want this killin done?

--Highway 61
, Bob Dylan

"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother

when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee,
Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven
--Matthew 18:22

I came that they may
have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance

--John 10:10

Thou shalt have no graven images

--Exodus 20:4


Sunday homily
: What do you sacrifice?

There is a contradiction in the way avowed Christians value life when it concerns their soldiers. According to the Christian, his leader is a good and loving God who values all of his children, but those who oppose our God-mandated actions are evil, or at least misled.

Christianity offers Jesus, whose message is a supposed deviation from that of the vengeful God of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham who requested sacrifice to appease His anger and to save debased man.

Ranger does not much care about religion, but does care about his Army and the country that supposedly walks in Jesus's sandals.

Yesterday Ranger visited the Special Forces Museum at Ft. Bragg and met a Vietnam veteran Catholic Chaplain, probably a retired officer still working at the Post Hospital. The Chaplain proudly recounted the story of how he received the last confessional an SF Captain shortly before he was wasted in Afghanistan. He said several years hence he received his son's confession, and told him his father was "looking down on him from his place in heaven."

At that moment Ranger knew Catholicism had crossed over and become yet another enabler of our phony wars.
Christianity is a supporting arm of our government's newly acquired warrior mentality. Religion has shifted its focus from saving individual souls to propping up national policy.

Ranger was taught to protect the lives of the soldiers entrusted to his leadership and care. Though this stewardship is what we are taught, it is a lie.
The Army (military) requires human sacrifice. We drag our soldiers up to the altar, bless them, then sacrifice them to false gods and prophets.

As an Army we worship badges, tabs, medals and all other accouterments, such as battle streamers, service hash marks and especially victory medals. All of this and none of this has any value unless there has been death and serious suffering in the journey to achieve these baubles.

Our system is based upon human sacrifice that we know by the name, "soldier". Until we cease valuing this sacrifice our policy and our badges are pinned to a vengeful god that requires sacrifice.

We have made no progress since either Abraham or Jesus. Worse than al Qaeda who wishes to regress to the 13th century, our sacrifices are rooted in a belief system created several centuries B.C.E. Jesus's death was supposed to mark the end of human sacrifice, yet we still engage in sacrifice.

We sacrifice to a flag now, and we justify it with a love of God, but Jesus was not a Green Beret.

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Friday, August 14, 2009


Euskadi Ta Askatasuna symbol

Ranger Comment of the Day:
ETA is 50 years old. They have survived both
French and Spanish
efforts to destroy them.
Ranger will be long gone when al Qaeda
celebrates its 50th.

And celebrate they will.


fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and
democracy and communism fuck smack and pot

and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck

god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon

and malcom fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck

the whole muthafucking thing

all i want now is my woman back

so my soul can sing

--Feeling Fucked Up
, Etheridge Knight

Ev'rybody's talking about

Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism,

Ragism, Tagism

This-ism, That-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m

--Give Peace a Chance
, John Lennon

The Basque separatist group ETA (
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna: Basque Homeland and Freedom) had an explosive reappearance on the national scene recently after detonating several bombs in recognition of the group's 50th anniversary.

ETA's reappearance brings several issues to the fore. First, Spain sees this terrorist group rightly as criminals, and Spain's former justice minister
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar says they will have their day in court.

"Their only future is the dock of the accused, justice, conviction and jail," he said, though he warned that while the group had been weakened it would always prove attractive to disillusioned youth.

"'No society is free or has immunity from the threat of organized crime and its capacity to attract members from the marginalized and socially excluded elements in society,' he said (Car Bomb in Spain Proves ETA's Resiliance)."

Aguilar understands these truisms about terrorist movements.

Another point of ETA's story is that is that though their "No. 1 leader was nabbed in France last year" and his replacement lasted only weeks, these actions could not keep the group down.

Historically, killing or attritting the leadership only leads to new generations which arise to assume the mantle of leadership, thereby filling in the void. And usually, the new generations are more violent than the preceding. It is a dance of death in which we foolishly believe that we control the orchestra. We may control government violence, but we do not set the beat.

The groups are then forced to cross-fertilize in order to gain experience and training, in addition to funding. This ensures an escalation of violence.

Another revealing fact comes in the news coverage itself. In short order, ETA is referred to as a "separatist group," "insurgency," murderers, savages and lunatics, a "major armed group," "soldiers" and "organized crime."

Not once in the AP story were they termed "terrorists". ETA knows who they are, but it is obvious reporters can't define them. It is the same squeamishness they bring to discussions of al Qaeda or the Taliban. This is a key issue -- understanding and defining terrorism and the resultant groups is the key to countering the threat.

"In its half-century of existence, ETA has outlasted every other major armed group in Europe, including the IRA in Northern Ireland, Italy's Red Brigades and Germany's Baader-Meinhof." Read "major armed groups" to mean terrorists.

However, ETA and the IRA have a glimmer of legitimacy, as they can be construed as separatists and in possession of a legitimate political agenda [American Revolution, anyone?] The same cannot be said of RAF, Red Brigades, Action Directe and Baader-Meinhof, all of whom had little claim to legitimate objectives.

Those groups were nihilistic in nature. Al Qaeda is also nihilistic, as their violence is theatre and for violence's sake alone, and lacks any legitimacy. However, the Taliban has an understandable agenda. They want a homeland that is (fill in the blank) in which they are in charge of their destiny. This is as legitimate as the actions of Saudi Arabia's government; the only difference is, the Taliban doesn't sit on oil reserves.

Nobody but an idiot could believe that they could ever destroy our way of life, nor should it be presumed that they want to. Nihilist groups cannot be defeated by armies. The Euro terror groups were destroyed by coordinated police and law enforcement intelligence.

Both Germany and France had major anti-terror functions centralized in their national police and tactically in their respective border police functions. The military did not enter into the equation.

It is not correct to say that ETA has outlasted the IRA. It is safer to say that the IRA is not active at this time, but rather lies dormant. The IRA is not, however, dead. The IRA has elected to resolve their issues in a political manner.

"Politically, ETA also suffered a serious setback earlier this year when Basque voters for the first time chose a government allied with the ruling Socialists, rejecting a party that favored greater autonomy. Several parties closely allied with ETA were banned from taking part."

ETA and sympathizers are denied a political avenue to express their grievances and agendas because they are effectively barred from the political process. Ranger sees this as a needless incitement to violence, since political expression is being blocked by Spanish policy. Terrorism is often a tool of desperation.

"In early 2007, Spanish authorities told AP that they believed ETA had only about 15-20 'soldiers' left, supported by perhaps 100 more collaborators who would give them shelter and other logistical support."

It is interesting that the Spanish government considers ETA a criminal enterprise, yet calls their shooters, "soldiers". Shooters for terrorist groups are not soldiers.

Terminology must be applied properly in order to define the problem. Definitions are mandated prior to development of counter strategies. A large percentage of terrorist operations take place in the media, and their aura is enhanced by misstatements and vague notions.

The larger point is that we have insurgencies, separatist movements, crazies, criminals, crusaders, religious zealots on all sides, and all manner of ideological groups: vivisectionists, environmentalists, eco-terrorists. . . and then attempt to define the problem with a simplistic overlay like terrorism. Simple it is not.

Every nation has a distinct approach and orientation, and elements within nations have different notions as to the problem, as well. U.S. policy is riven -- the Department of Defense, Justice, FBI, CIA, DIA, NSC, NSA and BB King all have different takes and approaches to the subject. We can't agree internally, but gladly attempt to impose our viewpoint on other nations.

Terrorism just ain't that simple.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


NOTE: The best laid plans of mice and men. . .
We had had good intentions of providing five posts
a week
as promised Monday.
Alas, that was premature.

It is still summer, and the
next two weeks will be spotty.

However, there will be a homily,
and fairly regular posts
'til then.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together

--Isaiah 11:6

They do not sweat and whine
about their condition,

they do not lie awake in the dark
and weep for their sins,

they do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented
with the mania of owning things,

not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago

--I Could Turn and Live With Animals, Walt Whitman

Congressional Quarterly reported that Rush Limbaugh has signed on to advocate for the Human Society of the United States at the behest of HSUS president Wayne Pacelle.

Like his ideological brother Newt Gingrich, Mr. Limbaugh is a great lover of animals. This is a noteworthy impulse -- to care for the vulnerable among us -- but their compassion does not always extend to the bipedal mammals.

"For years, the HS has tried to change the perception that it is an animal rights group and equates animal life with human life. That image has been particularly damaging among conservatives, Pacelle says.

"Rush doesn't think in terms of animal rights, but human responsibilities, and that's the tenor of our language now. Because we are powerful and intelligent we have a responsibility to be decent to the less powerful."

If only Limbaugh could extend that precept to his fellow humans, we'd have a happy day.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Pistols for Colombia

Note: RangerAgainstWar will return to a 5-day a week schedule,
with spotty weekend pieces


From this month's The American Rifleman: SIG Sauer has secured a $306 Million contract for 55,890 units for the entire Colombian National Police Force. The second delivery will be for 42,000 pistols.

Ranger's questions:

  • Why SIG-Sauer? Why didn't the contract go to an American firm?
  • Why is it a Department of Defense function to purchase pistols for Colombian police? DoD isn't in the foreign police business -- or are they?
  • Why are the U.S. taxpayers footing the bill for over 1/2 $Billion in pistols for another country's police force?
  • When will U.S. policy makers realize arming Third World countries is counterproductive?
  • Why doesn't Colombia buy their own pistols?
  • Did Colombia have to endure a five-day cooling off period?


Smooth Operators

Eligible, not too stupid
Intelligible, and cute as cupid
Knowledgeable, but not always right
Salvageable, and free for the night
--A Chicken With It's Head Cut Off,
Magnetic Fields

Magnificent desolation
--Buzz Aldrin, on viewing the moon

The year was 1969 and this happened sometime around the first moon walk.

Little 1 LT Ranger takes over the 8th Division Advanced Marksmanship Unit after being reassigned from an Infantry Battalion with feet planted firmly on the ground, sort of, when one day a full Division alert was called. The entire ball game rolled out to forward designated defensive fighting positions.

Not knowing nor having a Standard operating procedure, Ranger was clueless as to the 8th Division's AMU alert responsibilities, since we were not a tactical unit.
So it is off to Division G-3, whom we worked for, to see what needed doing. Ranger drove from Mannheim and was admitted to the G-3 area at Div. HQ, Bad Kreuznach.

Here is where it gets weird. Everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off because no one could find the Nuclear Weapons Employment Plan. Moreover, the actual weapons were being deployed down to appropriate Unit level. Keeping in mind that during full alert one never knew if it was real or simply practice.

Again: the Nuclear Weapons Employment Plan went missing. But no sweat -- 'twas just a practice run after all.

After witnessing this, Ranger slipped quietly away and never asked again what the AMU should do during alert. The G-3 had bigger eggs to crack, and the AMU never mustered for alerts.

As an aside
, the G-3 was a senior Lieutenant Colonel who retired a LT General. Naturally, a West Pointer. Who should sweat over a few loose nukes? Ranger never lost a Top Secret weapons plan, and he did not retire an LTG.

The point? Citizens assume the military is responsibly handling nuclear weapons, and this is not always the case. The U.S. should worry and fret about the nukes that we have, rather than obsess over nukes that the Iranians don't have.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Good Jumping


These pictures are from the 1972-73 time frame. One is an arty effort showing young Capt. Hruska overlaid by a photo of same preparing for a hard Parachute Landing Fall.

Ranger actually remembers that landing, as it felt like there was a motor on my ass blowing me across the DZ. If you'll notice, that was an unmaneuverable old T-10 parachute. Oh, the good old days.

The picture from the interior of the C130 is of LTC Jim Anderson, Battalion Commander 4th Stu., Battalion Airborne TSB, USAIS, SSG Cobb, Battalion S-3 NCO and Ranger. LTC Anderson was the Chief of Patrolling Committee, 3rd Ranger Company, and both Cobb and Hruska were instructors. When Anderson went to the TSB Airborne battalion, we both tagged along for the ride (with Ranger commanding 45th Company, TSB, USAIS.)

Note that all three of us are sitting incorrectly. Our right hands should be covering and protecting the reserve parachute handle to prevent an accidental release.

Cobb was a Captain and RIF'd in the early round, reverting to his prior enlisted rank. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major and had the honor of being the CSM of the USAIS. Too bad he was an OCS grad; if he were West Point, he might have been the Commander.

LTC Anderson was a man of honor and wit. Ranger remembers Anderson telling Colonel Gerasci of his call sign --
mal hombre -- that this translated as "Lucky Wop"! That is probably why Ranger got along with LTC Anderson, who retired an LTC and moved to Colorado. Both men are remembered fondly.

All the way. So much easier to say than do these days.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Good Neighbors

Why, I can smile and murder whiles I smile
--Henry VI
, Shakespeare

Here is another contradiction in the heart of Counterinsurgency. The NY Times reports,

"For the last five months, a troop of American soldiers has ensconced itself in the heart of the district’s largest town, living alongside its police officers and public officials, trying to win friends as it struggles to root out enemies (Neighbors by Day and Soldiers by Night in Afghan District.)

Why are troops living alongside Afghan police? Police functions and military operations are different concepts. Moreover, troops indicates the presence of armored cavalry types -- not exactly COIN specialists. Why are U.S. combat troops running around AFPAK in this CI/CT operation?

"The Afghan and American forces searched four homes before sending the detainees to an American base for questioning"

If this were a real COIN effort, the detainee would be questioned and detained by the Afghan authorities. If the U.S. military is detaining Afghan civilians, how does this add up to a COIN strategy and how does it arrive at victory?

"Major Polk said he thought villagers were willing to accept some intrusions if they thought it meant greater security."
Who is the heck is Major Polk and how does he know the minds of the Afghan people? He is an Army officer trying to justify unjustifiable actions. The truth of Maj. Polk's denial comes in the final line:

“We could sit here in our outpost and just do patrols and never get anywhere except have people shoot at us and blow us up.”

A little intelligence indicator -- if people are shooting at you and trying to blow you up, then it is possible the population is hostile. Shoot or be shot; when you are a nail. . .

A revealing statement of the situation on the ground came from some Afghan women who, when
"questioned by an interpreter said that they were glad the Americans had accompanied the Afghan police officers. Alone, those officers would steal from them, the women said." The police, military and civil corruption which is rampant in AFPAK is underwritten by U.S. actions in theatre.

The Major and his unit, Able Troop, are not able to see what is really happening in the area the are occupying, because they must not. They are living a cliche.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009


Ranger Comment of the Day:

Since the WOT started, we've had
130,000 homicides in the U.S.
We have killed 130,000 of our own selves.
Meanwhile: How many have been killed
by domestic terrorists?

Don't give me that liberal yuppie bullshit

about a good fight, this isn't fucking Yale!

A good fight is one you WIN!

--True Believer

When it was recently reported that Osama bin Laden's son, Saad bin Laden, was
probably killed by a US missile strike in Pakistan earlier this year, this is one indication why the U.S. will not be successful in their Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) in AFPAK or Iraq.

The people fighting us are in it for the long haul, and they
believe in what they are doing. OBL puts his sons on board. How many U.S. leaders put their families in harm's way? Generally speaking, the rich and powerful do not sacrifice their offspring on the altar of democracy.

OBL means to win; our leaders are cheerleaders. We may kill OBL's son, and we may even kill OBL, but that won't solve the problem. Did the deaths of the Saddam Hussein family make the Middle East or America any safer?

Another generation of dictatorial rule is germinating in Iraq as we swipe our credit cards through the machine.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Common Clause


Congress recently defeated by two votes a Federal Bill to recognize Concealed Carry permits across state lines.

But why was this bill even being considered? The common clause of the Constitution guarantees that any state recognize licenses legally issued by another. This is what federal republics do, or should do.

Ranger's Florida-issued driver's license and plates are valid in all other states of the Union.
Why are CCW's not covered by this constitutionally-defined clause?

Cars are more dangerous and cause more death and injury nationwide than do firearms, so why are they not regulated by the same standards?

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009


photo Paul J. Richards, AFP

Let no man think we can deny civil liberty
to others and retain it for ourselves.

When zealous agents of the Government

arrest suspected “radicals” without warrant,

hold them without prompt trial,

deny them access to counsel and admission of bail....
we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity...

--Robert M. Lafollette, Sr.

I never would have agreed to the formulation of the
Central Intelligence Agency back in forty-seven

if I had known it would become the American Gestapo

--Harry S. Truman


The new uniforms -- replete with gold badges -- of the Transportation Security Officers were featured on 60 Minutes this weekend. From the TSA website:

"As part of TSA's continued efforts to transition the workforce to a cadre of well-trained, professional transportation security officers, uniforms more reflective of the critical nature of their work [were] introduced in Fall 2007."

The problem is, badges tend to make citizens more compliant and the badge wielders more authoritarian, and TSA personnel do not have arrest authority nor are they police officers.

Or are they? Why give them the uniform of the blue brotherhood if they are not members?

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Pass in Review

by Moises Saman for the NYT

The history of totalitarian regimes is reflected
in the evolution and perfection of the instruments of terror
and more especially the police
--Carl J. Friedrich

Or, "Piss in My Shoe," our little inside joke when practicing for "Pass in Review".

"Declare Victory and Leave Iraq" covers a lot of ground which Ranger has been traversing since Day 1. The article covers the memos of Colonel Tomothy Reese, a senior American military adviser in Baghdad, who suggests it is time for the U.S. military to leave Iraq. The article speaks for itself, but the photo of Iraq police parading through Baquba accompanying the article deserves comment.

Look at the formations --
these are not police, they are assault troops, pure and simple. Is this our vision and hope for a democratic Iraq?

If so, we have missed the mark, because historically militarized police are part and parcel of authoritarian governments. Was this our gift of freedom to Iraq, our vision for a democratic future? How does this vision differ from that of Saddam Hussein, Iran, North Korea, or the governments of any other despot that we disdain?

Our tax dollars are equipping, training and employing questionable organizations and are doing so in our name. It is time to stop this corruption of liberal philosophy.

How would you feel if your local police force was trained equipped and organized as these Baquba police are? This is not an Iraqi issue, but rather an American one.
Why have we imposed this type of policing upon another country we claim to be leading in our image? This is not democracy.

Ranger's Rule:
Police forces enforce civilian law and protect and serve the citizenry of a nation. They respect the life of both criminals and law-abiding members of society. Militarizing police forces negates this philosophy.

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Monday, August 03, 2009


Terror, Pavel Constantin (Romania)

To have humility is to experience reality,

not in relation to ourselves,
but in its sacred independence.
It is to see, judge, and act from the point of rest in ourselves.

Then, how much disappears, and all that remains falls into place

--Dag Hammarskjold, former UN Secretary-General

I am open to the guidance of synchronicity,

and do not let expectations hinder my path

--Dalai Lama


Ranger's recent convergence: Viewing the movie "Defiance" and reading a feel-good book about how to become a Green Beret.

The book is total ooh-rah regarding the selection, training and employment of the Bad Boyz in the making. The plot can be summarized thusly: A bunch of high school football players can't make college ranks, so the beefy boys join the Rangers and later go over to Special Forces.

based upon a true story, depicts a classic Unconventional Warfare/Guerrilla Warfare scenario. This is exactly what the 1950's-70's era SF types were trained for and were expected to perform if the U.S. entered into a general war with the Soviets. In effect, SF would continue where the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) left off in 1945.

SF would function as force multipliers training and equipping guerrillas and insurgent forces deep in enemy territory. In the 1980's, Special Operations Command Europe had objectives 450 klicks forward of the FLOT. Unfortunately also in the 80's, SF emphasis was shifting to Direct Action. T
he edges of SF were starting to get squishy.

In the 1970 version of SFOC, the officer students were trained in Internal Defense and Development (IDAD) and Population and Resource Control (PRC). However, our graduation exercise was a definitive application of all training to converge exactly upon the UW/GW mission of SF. We were expected to infiltrate, link up, train, equip and lead UW/GW fighters arrayed against Soviet forces.

In the Republic of Vietnam, this is exactly what the CIDG and Mike Force troopers did for a living. They executed a UW/GW against the North Vietnamese Army.

All SF and Ranger ooh-rah books proudly boast of the physical requirements for these units, but nowhere do they discuss the mental and I.Q. requirements. What stood SF out from the rest of the Army was our intelligence.

SF NCO's were smart and were partially selected for their brainpower. Smarts were a more important determinant of success than brawn. That is said with the tacit understanding that all of us performed at Airborne levels of physical proficiency before going over to SF.

When the U.S. fights a general war, SF/UW/GW skills will be essential at Theatre Army levels. Concernedly, the force capabilities will be lost due to the atrophy of these synergistic skill sets.

The definition of SF and Special Operations Forces needs to be reified to address real threats to America, threats that go beyond turning SF assets into soldiers who make explosive, door-kicking entries.

There is nothing
special about that.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

Why pay to go to the circus
when you can watch Congress for free?

--Will Rogers

You want me to make this easy for you?

No fucking way!

It's not gonna be. It's not easy for me!

--Mulholland Dr.


It recently came to Ranger's attention that he is a topic of interest on the site bondage.com.

While it is mildly exciting to be tied up with such a readership, it is also sad that most there take a conservative, anti-Ranger stance. He will not be their new poster boy, though he probably knows how to tie more knots than they do.

They don't seem to realize that their own particular kinks would not be looked upon fondly by the conservative powers that be, whom they ideologically cleave to, especially not should any of them be a Person of Importance. They are like any other group of conservative kooks; just kinky kooks.

As usual per that contingent, their weapon is the ad hominem attack. As Ranger does not hide his credentials nor his identity, these continued attacks blow his mind. Apparently, people cannot do the heavy lifting of engaging with the thought, and find it easier to revert to the elementary art of schoolyard bullying. My thoughts would be just as valid whether they came from a draft dodger or a veteran.

My boner-fides are out there for all the bondage readers to see. Tighten up, fellows.


Leadership Lesson

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Under the category: Lessons for young officers.

In 1973 Ranger assumed command of the 3rd Army Advanced Marksmanship Unit, this after commanding Division and Post level marksmanship detachments. He knew a little bit about weapons and their care and cleaning.

The first thing Ranger did was to order a weapons inspection to coincide with an inventory. At that time the shooters had their weapons signed out and secured in shooting boxes. This inspection was mainly to verify their physical existence.

The hitch came when the Sergeant First Class, NCOIC of the pistol team, objected. "We are not an Infantry Unit and we do not clean weapons like they do." To which Ranger replied directly to the First Sergeant, "Weapons inspection will be 0800, Saturday." SFC repeated his mantra.

Saturday rolled around as they always do, and Ranger began inspecting the NCOIC's pistols first. Dirty and grungy. Again the NCOIC told Ranger this was a MTU and not an Infantry unit, at which point Ranger turned to 1st Sergeant and said, "Get this man out of the unit before 0800 Monday. We will continue this inspection at 0800 Monday."

Come Monday, all the pistols and rifles were clean and glistening. No problem.

The point? Young officers often fail to realize that there are two types of NCO's -- those that will help, and those that will screw you. The main job for a young officer is to distinguish between the two.

An ancillary lesson is that a command must be put in such a form that the men carrying it out understand it is to their benefit to execute that order. In addition, never give an order that you will not enforce.

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