31 October 2011

so you wannabe a SEAL?

So Lynn Thompson, chief owner and bottle washer of "Cold Steel Knives" has a blog and posted a video with some training tricks.  MadOgre, the "blogfather" himself commented on how utterly stupid some of the advice shown on the video located here: http://blog.lynncthompson.com/2011/08/glock.html

I'm not a professional firearms instructor (although Ogre is), nor do I play one on TV (or YouTube).  I am however well trained in training riflemen for the US Army although it is not my primary function.   My primary function is to ensure that my NCOs are proficient at training marksmanship (and usually they are, but sometimes they too need corrective training).

As far as Lynn's level of fitness, that is his issue.  I've seen morbidly obese service members from every branch.  The good thing about having a gun is that it kind of negates the advantage the other guys has in how many pushups he can do every morning.

The idea of "suppressive fire" is simple.  Shoot to make the other guy keep his head down while your buddy flanks left (or sometimes right, we mix it up like that cause we can) who can then take a kill shot so you can move on to the next objective and do it all over again.  This is a war zone tactic that is the very basis for "fire and maneuver" which means a STATIONARY base of fire and a MANEUVER element flanking.  It ain't rocket surgery.  Some people think "fire and maneuver" means shooting on the move, but that is not the case.  You will shoot and move for CQB, but I don't care how good you get, you will never be as accurate or as effective as when you are stationary.  Practice enough and you can get pretty darn good, and at pistol ranges that is "good enough for government work." 

Now, at NO POINT IN ANY CIVILIAN SITUATION should you use "Fire and Maneuver" to "reduce a threat" because simply put you are not at war.  If you are at war please disregard and go about your business.  If you are a law enforcement officer and the Zeta's come to town, hit me up and I'll give you some good pointers on how to use fire and maneuver (and hopefully dedicated marksmen) to keep you from becoming another decapitated corpse hanging from a bridge.

However, if you aren't fighting off a ruthless Mexican Drug Cartel you probably don't have any reason to practice "fire and maneuver" or "suppressive fire" when defending your life or the lives of others.  Shoot to stop the threat.  If that means "shoot to kill" that is what you do.  Don't shoot the dirt, don't shoot to warn, shoot to stop the threat.

I have seen Navy SEALs use the "stitch" technique to clear corners.  It is like "pieing" the corners except you are pulling the trigger the whole time to keep whoever is on the other side of the corner from being able to pull their trigger back at you.  This works when you have a lot of men with MP5's and plenty of ammo.  It doesn't work when you have a 5 shot 38 Special revolver as your carry piece.  And that extended mag on Lynn's Glock?  Probably not something you are going to carry day in and day out unless you happen to by Jared Loughner....

Aim fast, shoot fast.  Don't spray and pray.  Don't "walk your rounds in" unless your rounds are coming from long distance assistance in the form of mortars or artillery.  Remember that you are fighting to stop the threat, not kill Osama Bin Laden on a night raid in a foreign country.

29 October 2011

The collapse of the dollar..

There is a lot of talk by people who know that there is a coming collapse in the derivatives market.  What a lot of folks aren't talking about is the range of options that a collapse can bring.

It could be a house of cards that falls down and leaves nothing.  A true worldwide collapse.  I think this is unlikely. 

It could be a complete devaluation of the Dollar and the start of a reboot of the American financial system.  "Nuevo Dollores" so to speak.

Or it could just be another "too big to fail" moment and some behind the scenes deals are made and the public gets screwed.

Or it could be much ado about nothing.  After all, this is imaginary money we are talking about.  The court system may handle this in the normal fashion of broken contracts and bankruptcy.  I mean, 78 Trillion dollars doesn't exist, so it makes sense that as one company folds under and that debt falls into bankruptcy protection that the whole exposure on the derivatives market will be more of a controlled implosion than a sudden crisis.

So what will it really mean?  Well I think there is a high likelihood that the dollar will lose a lot of international confidence and suffer as a result.  I also think that people who have their money in the stock market will be somewhat insulated as the market increases in value to the same rate that the dollar declines.  I think that commodities will be insulated simply because they are commodities.

27 October 2011


Sacrifice sometimes mean "giving something up" but not everyone adds on the follow up "in order too gain something else."

Sacrifice without gain is failure.  In chess you may sacrifice your queen to win the game.  Sacrificing your queen to lose the game is utterly stupid.

So when someone says "You'll have to sacrifice a little more for the 'greater good'" they are telling you to give up something for no gain.  That is not sacrifice, that is stupidity.  When people talk about "shared sacrifice" but don't talk about "shared gain" they are simply telling you to give up something of yours for no gain.

People talk about the sacrifice those of us in the Military make.  Yes we sacrifice our time and even our freedom of choice, but we do that to gain a paycheck and benefits. 

The Occupy Wall Street movement wants to "eat the rich" and somehow make the rich "sacrifice" a little more in order to support some sort of social welfare scheme.  Newsflash, social welfare is an utter failure wherever it is implemented.  Cultures with social welfare stagnate, people stay in poverty, or stay in the middle class, and the rich stay rich.  Social welfare doesn't spread the wealth.

So remember, when someone asks you to "sacrifice" you need to ask back, "what is in it for me?" and not be afraid to be labeled "cold hearted" or "heartless."  Sacrifice must always be working towards a goal.  Otherwise the player on the opposite side of the board is asking you to sacrifice the queen so that they will win.

26 October 2011

An interesting rifle....

I have often pondered the idea of a general utility rifle, one that could put meat on the table, be reliable, serve double duty as a sniper rifle out to 600 meters, and cheap enough that I could stash one somewhere for "just in case" ever becomes a reality.

So what do I see in the "Gun's and Ammo" that my wife sent in a care package but the "Mossberg MVP" 223 Rem bolt action rifle, heavy profile barrel, laminate stock of the "tactical" variety, and takes STANAG magazines?  Well it fits the bill.  223 is a marginal round for big game, but marginal is better than a 22 rimfire, and if worst comes to worst big game will get scarce very quickly.  The 1:9 twist will handle the old 69 gr SMK's just fine, and possibly 75 grain bullets if velocity is sufficient.

The MVP is like a lot of other entry level rifles on the market right now, shamelessly copied the features that make Savage rifles so nice, a barrel nut and wannabe "accutrigger."  In the 308 realm I have a Saiga and a Savage, both with 20 inch barrels, both with "Tactical" scopes, but in 223 I only have an AR-15 that I use for High Power.  So having another 223 in the stable makes a bit of sense, especially if I could get my wife hooked on rifle shooting.....

One of these days I'll upgrade the Saiga 308 to an AR-10 style rifle, maybe after I win the lotto?

Anyways, I would love to see the MVP in 308 and accepting M14/M1A style magazines.  That would be the bees knees for an entry level "do it all" rifle.  Fluted heavy barrel, good factory trigger, decent stock.  It would definitely be a winner.

23 October 2011

Three Percent Plan

Less than ONE percent of US citizens join the US Military.

The good news is that if there really is THREE PERCENT out there, you've got the military outnumbered three to one.  Very good odds for the most part.

However, a well disciplined team will prevail against a disorganized mob.

The founding fathers weren't guerillas in the woods and swamps, they set up a government.  Here in Afghanistan the Taliban has often set up "shadow governors" of districts and provinces in the same manner that our Founding Fathers did over two centuries ago.

What that "shadow government" was able to do was gain legitimacy from the people (only really about a third of them, but enough to last on the field of battle against what had been their own countrymen).  Had King George any idea of what was going on in Philadelphia he would have marched the Army in and hung them all as traitors.

So what can we learn from this?

First, you need a government to replace the government you want to overthrow.  Right now Libya will be going through some intense "growing pains" but one of the first things that they did when the bullets started flying was set up a "transitional council" to deal with the international community.  Imagine if there were a power vacuum, the infighting that is going on now is bad enough.

Second, you need to have said government in place before you make any overt moves (or be like Lybia and be able to declare such a government right quick).  The transition from monarchy to democracy happened rather smoothly (although the Articles of Confederation were kind of a bust) in the US, but it hasn't been so smooth for countries like France (that whole reign of terror thing).

Third, it is literally a life or death gamble, there are no half measures. 

Fourth, it was economics that won the war.  England could have sent fleet after fleet after fleet, except it couldn't fund such an endeavor and still guard the home front. It was economics that lost Vietnam and Afghanistan for the Soviets.  Not necessarily monetary economics, just that when the accounting was done, the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.  In Libya it was NATO spending between one and three billion dollars to give the rebels an air force.

Right now neither the TEA Party nor the Occupy Wall Street movements have set up any "shadow governments" that I can see (doesn't mean they don't exist) so I am not to worried about "revolution" from either of those avenues.  And until there is some sort of organization, at best all there is is a disorganized mob.  And a well disciplined team will defeat an unorganized mob.

Historically militia movements have been easily penetrated by the FedGov in the US.  Historically governments that get oppressive last for decades before collapsing (East Germany, USSR, Yugoslavia).  So I don't think that ours is going to get any more free any time soon.  There are no consequences to government for becoming increasingly oppressive.  When we look at what works in bringing down those regimes it is massive civil disobedience.  It is the people withdrawing support.  It is much more than three percent.  Armed resistance hasn't been the answer (except when backed by powerful international forces) for a long time.

But if massive, passive, civil disobedience fails?  Then smart people would form shadow governments, reach out to sympathizers in the International Community, and prepare for the absolute worst in humanity.

21 October 2011


When people look at Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs they see the successes.  Unfortunately it is the freedom to fail that allows people to succeed.  Without the freedom to fail we don't have freedom to learn.  Learning is sometimes a painful process, ask any Ranger student or Organic Chem major.  One is a physical pain, the other is a mental pain.  

But the possibility of failure, in my case accepting a double recycle in Ranger school in order to continue, gave me the motivation to succeed.  If Steve Jobs had never been pushed out of Apple he would have never gained the insight into marketing that he got outside of Apple.  Imagine if Steve Jobs never learned the leadership lessons that let him inspire others to innovate and think outside the "beige box."

Similarly we find ourselves in a conundrum in Afghanistan.  We won't let the Afghan's have freedom to fail because that would mean we ourselves failed.  Back home some institutions were labeled "Too Big to Fail" and all that did was stall the market.  Things need freedom to fail so that they can move forward. 

Abraham Lincoln was a dismal failure in most everything he ever did, but he did hold the Union together at a terrible price. 

So accepting failure, how many times have you heard someone say "Failure is not an option"?  Unfortunately simply by dictating something doesn't make it true.  Failure is ALWAYS an option.

The key to not failing when it counts is to test yourself to failure before hand.  That is why Infantrymen go through Ranger school.  That is why Engineers conduct "Stress Tests" on systems and materials.  This is why having a FEMA approved plan for New Orleans was a complete and utter waste of time, it had never been tested.

And you can always fail a test.

So how are your preparation plans for an emergency?  Have you TESTED them?  Failure isn't a bad thing.  The bad thing is refusing to learn from failure.  Here in Afghanistan we are refusing to let the Afghans fail, so when we draw down and leave they will be untested.  That scares me a little.  I think it would be better to let them fail a bit now instead of a lot later.  Unfortunately so many decisions and actions out here truly are life or death that progress is slow going.

19 October 2011

More from Fayett'Girl

I had planned to write a post about the good I see in fellow Soldiers, self sacrifice, duty, honor, compassion, love....  But it is more fun to analyze Fayett'Girl's comments.
"However, as far as assault, negligent homicide and conspiracy to commit murder goes, it is only a false accusation if there is no truth behind it."

Exactly. There is no truth behind it. None. Nada. Zippo. I happen to be friends with one of the Soldiers he's falsely accused.

And you? Rather than do your own research on the matter, you wandered off and wrote several paragraphs about other men in other places at other times and held them up as evidence that Yon's accusations aren't baseless. Do you not see the problem with that logic, or lack thereof?

The great thing about pissing off commenters is that they are endless blog fodder.  

Let me put some questions back to you Fayett'Girl, is your friendship with a soldier going to allow you to be objective at all?  Obviously from your posts the answer is no, you have taken whatever version of events your friend told you and believe it to be the truth.  There is nothing wrong with that, friends are supposed to take your side and I am sure that you are a very good friend.

Now, as far as historical examples, I picked a few that you really should look into.  I don't know how old you are so you might have a Ph.D. in Military History and I should be taking lessons from you.  The great thing about the internet is that everybody gets a voice, this blog is mine, and you are welcome to comment (very rarely do I ever delete comments, usually for spam or abuse towards other commenters).  I wasn't trying to use historical examples as a proof that something happened in the present tense, just that similar circumstances have happened in the past tense and so Yon's claims don't seem so outrageous from someone who is familiar with military history. 

I can't prove that Yon isn't a liar.  I can't prove that Fayett'Girl's friend isn't a liar.  Logically you CAN'T prove a negative.  Since I can't prove that someone isn't telling the truth we can always try to prove a positive, that someone IS telling the truth.  So far I haven't been able to find much evidence either way, just a bunch of accusations about character faults. 

If there is a smoking gun out there, some video footage that proves Yon lied, or some audio tape to prove the circumstances of events, then we can be our own judge about proofs.  Right now I'm too lazy to do my own research (quite frankly because I don't really care about Yon) so I'm sure that such proof will be forthcoming in comments.  I'm sure "Brat" who graciously provided a link to a blog that aims to discredit Michael Yon will once again step up to the plate with smoking gun proof. 

18 October 2011

So Michael Yon has a "hate club"

"Argument from authority is the weakest argument."

The most popular blog post I've written in a while has been about Michael Yon.  Truth be told I don't follow the guy much but have never had a problem with his reporting.  I try not to argue from authority, so what I write comes from my own thoughts and experience, nothing else.  When I got an official email saying he had his embedded status revoked (without any official explanation attached to the email) I went to his site and saw a video of a what happens when an IED causes "battlefield amputations."  I assumed that this was the cause of the revocation and posted my assumption.  Then I went to bed.  I think my actions were reasonable.  However, the reaction I got was anything but reasonable.

So far three people have called me lazy for not doing my research and others have posted plenty of links to websites that say Yon is an exaggerating glory hound.  I don't know why they would do this except that they have some emotional connection to the subject matter.  Either this guy "CJ" is a misunderstood saint and Michael Yon is an unstable psychotic narcissist or the other way around.  Of course since everything we read on the internet is true we can assume that both are true and reasonably conclude that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

So I ask you Michael Yon haters, what do you want?  Do you want me to become part of the Michael Yon hate club?  Do you want me to believe that everything he wrote is a complete fabrication?  I simply can't do that, because I am a Soldier, and I know that Soldiers aren't plaster saints.  I know that Soldiers get in fights, sometimes Soldiers rape each other.  Sometimes Soldiers murder each other.  I've been part of sending two soldiers to prison for kiddie porn.  The Navy has relieved over 18 skippers this year for misconduct.  Senior officers.  How many Army Officers have been relieved?  There have been multiple in my AO.  So I can't dismiss what sounds reasonable based on my experience.

A few years back a buddy of mine from OCS was on a Human Terrain Team here in Afghanistan when a millionaire activists came through and wrote up a story about how "The helicopters had skulls painted on them" and people pounded him with accusations of "lies" until he produced a photo of a Blackhawk with a Grim Reaper stenciled on it, then the accusations turned to "Well you exaggerated, that isn't a skull."  The truth is that the dude wrote it like he saw it and the military fanboys didn't want to have their hero's portrayed in that light.  So when I contacted my buddy about the article he wrote back that the critics had a few points about some parts could be misleading but that the content was true.

I learned a valuable lesson there, that truth usually lies between the extremes when it comes to reporting.  I also know the CPT who was in charge of the Cav Troop here in Afghanistan that had the "Kill Squad" and I know the JAG Attorney who prosecuted one of the murderers.  Ten years ago I would have been vehemently denying any wrongdoing up until conviction then I would have been convinced that they had been railroaded.  Ten years ago I had been an NCO for a year and was just another E5 going through SFAS (24 day non-select), what did my opinion count for?

People want to think that their Special Operations Community is filled with highly skilled warriors who kill the bad and protect the good, that the regular Army Soldiers enlisted because of a deep need to serve.  In reality our SOCOM machine here in Afghanistan just killed two women who were members of a Senators household because their targeting is no better than 50% and most of our "Army Warriors" enlist because they need a job.

Michael Yon may indeed be a narcissistic glory hound.  I don't really care.  If you want to post comments on what a loser Michael Yon is be my guest.  But being an uncritical fan of the military is every bit as stupid as being an uncritical critic of Michael Yon.  And as far as suggested reading, history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.  LT Cally had protesters protesting the Government because they thought it was political interference with military affairs and that the fedgov should just let the military do what it does.  It is the same cat fight now as it was back then, except now we have Al Gore's internet to let me waste time when I should be sleeping.

13 October 2011

The right mix of weapons

Great individual warriors will be utterly destroyed by mediocre warriors with good teamwork.

In any battle, there is no "silver bullet" or "superweapon" that cause you to win.  What there is, on the other hand, is the RIGHT MIX of weapons and individuals that will set conditions for victory.

If simply having superior weapons, training, and tactics were all it took to win a war Vietnam would be a prosperous Democracy and Afghanistan would be a Soviet Protectorate State.  So what are the conditions?

Well, if you want to win as the underdog you need a LOT of bodies to throw into the meat grinder.  The Muslim world is awash with underemployed young men who embrace a culture of self sacrifice.  Which is why you don't see Jewish or Canadian suicide bombers, but rather Muslim men from 17-45 who conduct most of the terror attacks.  Conversely this was the same sort of population that fought the Soviets as mujahadeen.  The Vietnamese took around 2 million casualties, and probably could have taken a million more.

My point is that a superpower that kills a lot of people can still lose the war.  How did Ghandi bring about freedom for India?  By changing public opinion, seizing the right moment to help the British public latch on to the "post imperial" though process that accompanied the breakup of the empire. 

The right mix of weapons, the right mix of propaganda, the right mix of resistance.  The Taliban aren't fighting to win here in Afghanistan, they are fighting to remain relevant.  If we allow them to remain relevant they will eventually win.  The question is what is the right mix for Coalition Forces to counter that and keep this place from turning back into a theocratic hell hole?

12 October 2011

Fayette' Girl left this comment:

Among other things, he's made false accusations of assault, negligent homicide and conspiracy to commit murder. He's named names, ranks, locations, email addresses etc of personnel in the unit with which he was embedded.

That is why he's persona non grata. Might want to fact check your writing before clicking, "post".
Any or all of the above would be a plausible explanation of why Michael Yon's press status was revoked.  I can't comment on the facebook stuff as I don't follow Yon on facebook.

However, as far as assault, negligent homicide and conspiracy to commit murder goes, it is only a false accusation if there is no truth behind it.  I knew the Company Commander who was in charge of the Cav Troop that contained the "Kill Squad", members of which are on trial at Fort Lewis.  He had no idea what was going on in his troop because of the vast distance between platoon outposts that he had to cover.

I know that SF personnel have killed people simply for having a cell phone.  I know that sometimes SF will come in, kill a few people, maybe women and children, then call up the land owning unit and say "fix this, bye" and leave.  I know that SF night raids are the number one complaint I receive from the
Afghan Security Forces and GiRoA.  So, pardon me for not being the Army's big cheerleader, but every single one of those "false accusations" has a high probability of actually having some truth to it, based on my knowledge and experience.  Enough to convict?  That is a different question.

Fayette'Girl should read the book "Soldier" by LTC Tony Herbert.  In it he talks about some of the things he saw that were swept under the rug.  This isn't some "Winter Soldier" BS either, this was a highly decorated American Hero who had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward.  Remember the pilot who interceded at Mai Lai?  Yeah that did GREAT things for his career.

Now, is Yon a bit narcissistic?  I don't know, could be.  Normal people don't become journalists.  Then again normal people don't become Soldiers so I might not be a good one to judge.

11 October 2011

Michael Yon persona non grata....

Just got word that Michael Yon's press status was rescinded with the military here in Afghanistan.  I wondered why so I checked his website.  I guess showing video of a soldier getting hurt pretty badly is a one way ticket to the dog house. 

I wonder if this is because he finally crossed a line that someone didn't like, or if because word came down that there would be "no bad news" during the draw down as we exploit our "security gains" from the surge the Administration wanted?

Anyways, if you are going to get your peepee slapped, might as well do it for telling the truth.  For sake of clarity Yon can stay in Afghanistan and continue reporting, but US Military personnel are forbidden from offering any sort of support except for a ride to the nearest commercial airport. 

I don't know maybe the current guy in charge of public affairs never saw "Restrepo" the rules of engagement have changed when it comes to reporters.  Whatever the case, hang tough Mike, and good for you for telling the truth.

08 October 2011

Ah, the results of fairness before talent...

In Rhodesia a white government ruled and Rhodesia prospered, becoming known as the "breadbasket of Africa."  Then the revolution came, and all the poor oppressed black people got to learn first hand how good life could be under Robert Mugabe.

Say what you want about apartheid Africa, it worked.  Now, was it MORALLY right?  Not by a long shot, but the real question remains whether or not white leadership was good for those nations, and the answer from every available metric is a "yes."

So how can people who believe that "communism will work if only the right people are in charge" also believe that "the right people" can't be white?

Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly operates under a revolutionary “progressive stack.” A normal “stack” means those who wish to speak get in line. A progressive stack encourages women and traditionally marginalized groups speak before men, especially white men. This is something that has been in place since the beginning, it is necessary, and it is important.
“Step up, step back” was a common phrase of the first week, encouraging white men to acknowledge the privilege they have lived in their entire lives and to step back from continually speaking. This progressive stack has been inspiring and mind-boggling in its effectiveness.   Source http://biggovernment.com/publius/2011/10/07/occupywallstreets-racist-speech-rule-white-men-last/

I give you the above quote to show you how enforced equality looks.  It doesn't matter what you have to say, your ideas are not judged by their content but by the color of your skin.  Wait, didn't another great American have something to say about that?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today

It seems that there are those who are unwilling to be colorblind, and in this day in age the content of ones character far outweighs the color of their skin.  Had Herman Cain run against Obama the novelty of a main party black politician would have not been an issue, only the content of their character. 

So while I agree with many of the points being made by Occupy Wall Street (chrony capitalism is an abhorrent deviation of free market principles), I do not agree with their end goals.  I do not agree with their tactics.  And I do not agree with their racist policy.

07 October 2011

Financial Collapse

I think a financial collapse is coming.  I think it has already started and the best case scenario is a lost decade.  Worst case scenario is hyperinflation.

How people will react to it is the big unknown.  Collapses have happened before.  Rome collapsed into the dark ages, the USSR collapsed into despotism.  Chile collapsed into Pinochet.

History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes....

06 October 2011

More on "Link Analysis"


So I've written on "Link Analysis" before and how it lead directly to the death of Jose Guerena. 

The more I learn about people and organizations who rely heavily on Link Analysis, or Social Diagramming, or whatever else happens to be the flavor of the day when it comes to data mining the more pissed off I get.

Techniques are just tools.  A wrench can't tell you anything other than it fits the nut or not.  Think of Link Analysis as a tool that says "dig deeper" instead of any sort of oracle of truth.

But you know what is true?  People are lazy, and as long as SOCOM and SWAT are both willing to barge into peoples houses and shoot them based off of nothing more than a series of phone calls to people who may or may not be actual "bad guys" then we will continue to lose Wars on Nouns.

Terror, drugs, poverty, crime, you name it, we've already lost.  Lost the freedoms that were worth fighting for in the first place.  Lost the character to accept responsibility for our actions.  Lost any sort of idea how to live our lives as adults without an over watching nanny state.  I grit my teeth and clench down on the rage at the lack of dignity enforced on all travelers by the improperly named TSA.  Hell, no matter how bad it gets on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, at least we weren't American citizens into sexual assault victims.

But now that The Administration has used a drone and a missile to kill an American citizen overseas in the "war on the terror noun" how long do you think it will be before the missiles fall from the skies of New Mexico?

04 October 2011


I find that most people can do ONE thing well, two things ok, and three things poorly.  There are exceptions to this rule, people who thrive on pressure and manage to push out sterling products almost effortlessly.

I am no exception to the rule.  Since our Engineer and Public Affairs guy went on leave I have been filling down on two jobs for which I have not been trained.  I guess getting into someones battle rhythm is a difficult task for anyone, especially when you are expected to maintain your own.

Anyways, enough of the "poor overworked me" crap.  I am just disgusted that the quality of my work output is suffering.  The regular guy will be back soon enough and I can sleep when I'm dead.

It isn't like I have anywhere to go for a while.