31 January 2012

Top 5 Firearms

I like top 5 lists, so as of right now today, these 5 would be my choices.  Most of these are more "collector" than "shooter" in terms of price, but what is the point of owning firearms you don't shoot?

1. Holland and Holland double rifle in 470 Nitro Express with automatic ejectors, regulated at 50 yards with a 500 grain bullet.

2. Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr

3. Anzio Iron Works 20mm Vulcan rifle.  This is only because getting a Lahti is problematic.

4. 45 ACP Luger prototype.

5. Lemat Revolver

Improbable Characters...

Truth they say, is far stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to be believable enough that you can suspend your disbelief and enjoy it.

So, hat tip to Tam, a gun store clerk turned snarky blogger who drives a German sports car after giving up her motorcycle, points to this forum where someone happens to find the idea of Owen Zastava Pitt being "a big accountant who competitively shoots" a bit "unbelievable."

Well, considering the circles that Larry Correia runs in, a big competitive shooting accountant is kind of run of the mill.  Larry sees one every time he combs what is left of his hair.  Looking through folks I've run across on the interwebs I find that the more "unbelievable" a person, the more likely I am to keep reading what they write.

Joe Huffman, farm kid turned computer programmer and engineer runs precision rifle clinics and Boomershoot in his off time, when he isn't competing with his highly personalized STI Eagle pistol.

RobertaX taught herself electronics and turned it into a career, and writes "I work on a Starship" for fun.

John Mosby (pseudonym) is a former SF/Ranger Operator now trying to pass off some lessons learned to anyone willing to read and practice.

How about Oleg Volk, a man who fled to freedom from communism and now generates pro-freedom propaganda in an attempt to keep his adopted home from becoming his old one all the while convincing beautiful women to remove clothes while holding antique weapons?  There is an unbelievable character for you.

How about Brigid?  Former model turned pilot and forensic investigator with a Ph.D. and all around good gun person?

You know, get all those folks together I bet it would be a heckuva blog meet.  I kinda pity people who are surrounded by "normal" of any variety.

29 January 2012

Iran

The main stream media has been trumpeting Obama's policy towards Iran as "good" because Iran is doing the "crawdad" with nuclear talks and military adventurism.

In a perfect world that would be the end of the story, that sanctions are working and Iran is deciding that peace is worth it.  Unfortunately that is never the end of the story.

The other side of the story starts in Europe.  http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120126-713966.html as I see it right now the Eurozone has to pull together or fall apart.  Either option is a valid outcome to the current economic troubles.  If Europe pulls together we see the finalization of a pan-European political state that has been in an embryonic state ever since the "league of nations" first came around.  If Europe falls apart, well then the Euro won't be competing with the Dollar as it will by necessity become a dead currency, the same as old Mexican Pesos or East German Marks.

Now that Europe as done its best to placate America by saying "No Euros for Iranian Oil" we see a devaluation of Iranian currency.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-iran-econcomy-rial-idUSTRE80P1J020120126 This devaluation is once again proof that economic warfare works.  However it only works against fiat currency (the only way to devalue a commodity currency is to flood the market or somehow make it not a commodity that people desire or need).  However since China is producing more and more of Iran's imports the sanctions by the rest of the world will matter less and less in the long run.  Like the underdog in a boxing match right now Iran is simply riding the ropes and waiting for the bell to ring.  Iran doesn't have to deliver a knockdown punch, just stay in the ring until the big man gets tired.

As a side note the Saudis are sitting pretty to make a profit no matter which way this goes. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_reckoning/2012/01/26/iran_s_crisis_the_saudis_in_the_catbird_seat.html

And while the mainstream media trumpets Obama's triumphant international realpolitik I can't help but wonder if Iran might become "Libya Part Two" in the future.  http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/improbability-of-conflict-with-iran-1.971765

26 January 2012

When you can't do what you want...

One of the lessons I've learned is essential to success in the military, "when you can't do what you want, do what you can."

If you want to take a hill, you literally "can't" do that until you have done the things you have to do to enable that.  Set a support by fire position, called for indirect, set up an echelon of fires that lets you get within halitosis range before turning off your support.  If you just try to take the hill you and your men will get slaughtered.

So do what you can.  This post is brought to you by John Mosby http://mountainguerrilla.blogspot.com/2012/01/public-service-announcement.html since I would like to add on to and wax poetic about what keyboard commandos (and even seasoned professionals) don't know about an insurgency.

If you are a middle aged (I'm in my thirties now, it used to be that 30 was old, but now it is the new 20 I've been told) guy like me you can probably still hump a ruck enough to keep up with the 18-23 year olds that make up the Infantry.  But it hurts like hell and that is why they give CO's and 1SG's humvees to roll around the battlefield.

Now my father is a machinist (I have mentioned this before).  I don't expect him to put on a rucksack and leave my mom to go play guerilla in the woods any time soon.  But who do you think I turn to when I need a rifle repaired?  In addition to rebarreling old rifles and adding scope bases my dad has spent more time under beat up old cars and trucks helping me get back on the road than I ever deserved.  Thank you Dad, I appreciate it and hope someday I can pass it on.

My sister just got certified as an LPN and hired full time.  Next year she'll go back to school to finish up her R.N. degree and certification.  I don't expect her to put on a ruck and go play guerilla any time soon.  But who do you think I'd trust to clean and pack a wound at 0300?


Some folks talk about being a "week long prepper" or a "month long prepper" as if it were anything other than second nature to my mom.  My mom could feed a squad of hungry Infantryman a delicious meal on a moments notice with nothing more than what she keeps in the walk in pantry.  Not many people in todays world know how to turn an animal into a meal from start to finish, but my folks do (and thank you for passing that skill on Dad).  So if you can't do what you want, you do what you can.

A family is generally a built in support network, now that I'm half a continent away from mine I don't have their skills available to help me.  My family supports me, they have stood behind me through a whole heap of military life.  If push ever came to shove those are the folks that I would run to (or my older brother who is also well prepared for bad things to happen).  But right now I don't have them available so I have to rethink survival plans.

But what is the point about all this?  Every successful insurgency depends more on an active and passive support network than on insurgent fighters.  How many safe houses does it take to support just one fighter?  Do you have a buddy who is a realtor, property manager, or landlord and can stash you in empty apartments or houses?  How many "money men" does it take to keep the food, medicine, weapons, and ammunition flowing for an operational cell?  Do you have a buddy who is an accountant, bank manager, or financial planner?  Do you think that even simple things like food become easy to get when you are being hunted and food is being rationed?  How many housewives does it take to add just one extra can of food to their weekly shopping trip to support one fighter?

The fact of the matter is that in an insurgency the Powers That Be will use any and all tools including purchasing habits (when cash is outlawed there will be no "anonymous" transactions), social networking (how many dumb crooks are caught because they updated their location on Facebook?), surveillance via satellite, spy plane, and drones (already in use round the world).  If your network can't keep you out of the limelight you are effectively screwed.

When JM is talking about building a support network he is talking about building people and facilities that allow those who are willing and able to fight to stay in the field.  I can't stress how important it is for those support personnel to be in place.  Fighter win engagements, but logistics wins wars.  Or as Patton liked to say, "Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics."

25 January 2012

What genocide teaches us

The organization "Genocide Watch" has recognized that the persecution of a white minority in South Africa by the black majority is "genocide."  The only difference between the actions of Hitler and the African National Congress is one of competence and scale, there is no moral difference.

I believe it was Confucius who taught that there are three ways to learn, the most noble is by reflection, the easiest is by observation, and the most bitter is by experience.  So it would be foolish not to observe the situation in South Africa and reflect on what we see.  There won't be too many answers here, each and every situation is unique but it is always good to look at a problem set or situation with an open mind.

Gun control works to disarm the law abiding and those either too poor or incompetent to obtain otherwise legal firearms through illegal channels.  People are dieing from machete hacks, shovel hits, strangulation, arson, rape, stab wounds, but not from a whole lot of gunshot wounds.  The purpose of gun control has always been "victim control" and not "crime control" to anyone with a functioning brain.  An armed mob singing "Kill the Boer" would take pause before charging against a farmhouse defended by 2 to 4 AR-15 wielding farmers.  Those farmers then make contact with the next few farms who come as a quick reaction force and finish "providing security" until the "constabulary" arrives.

So, if you find yourself being faced down by a mob, ammunition and the ability to make good use of it are key.  A Mauser rifle has been a Boer symbol since the very beginning, but it seems to be not enough of a deterrent to keep a persecuted minority safe.  I know the old saying "fear the man who only has one rifle, he probably knows how to use it" makes sense when it comes to being a master of one firearm.  However that wisdom is not holding up to reality in South Africa, and "Farm Survival courses" are teaching how to build a resilient community that can provide mutual support in case of an attack.

For what it is worth the death toll stood just over 1,600 when the linked article was written (10 years, from 1994 to 2004), and the current death toll is about twice that.  Numerically the attacks are on the increase.  I think that possibly the 2005 gun control legislation might have something to do with why attacks are on the increase.  Even in South Africa gun control brings nothing but misery and death.  The very definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results...

So, resilient communities aren't enough to stop the attacks.  The government continues to try to destroy the ability of resilient communities to conduct mutual defense against attacks by "criminal elements" of society...  It becomes very clear that the government is giving de facto permission to persecute the minority.  I believe that the statement "never attribute to malice what incompetence will explain" is largely true, and while the incompetence of the ANC run government is legendary, I cannot see anything but evil behind the ANC obstruction in the rights of people to defend themselves.

In the United States our gun laws were originally drafted to keep firearms out of the hands of free blacks.  That turned around and bit everyone in the ass until the "right to carry" movement took hold and now only the most draconian of states (with also the most corrupt state governments, I'm looking at you Illinois where your governors make your license plates) fail to honor basic human rights. 

So what is our situation here?  Would resilient communities have a better chance in Lockhart TX or Dogpatch MS?  I think so, but geography becomes key.  If your "QRF" neighbors in your "Resilient Community" are 15 minutes away they are little better than the police, so you have to plan to survive for that long (and hopefully longer).

The sustained rate of fire for an M4 is about 15 rounds a minute, or one shot every 3 seconds.  So if you plan on 15 minutes of sustained fire you are looking at 225 rounds, or 5 rounds over an Army standard basic load.  Now most "gunfights" don't happen with long periods of sustained fire, but shorter periods of "semi-automatic" fire.  So the ability to rapidly change magazines is a good skill to have.

Another thing to think about is the "stoppage rate" for an M4.  Various "dust tests" have concluded that stoppages occur at various rates for various firearms.  No firearm has a stoppage rate of 0, or a reliability rate of 100%.  So those who only have one firearm had better know how to clear a stoppage.

I knew a sniper who had his M14 jam up in the middle of a firefight.  Instead of clearing the weapon he drew his m9 and kept firing in the direction of the bad guys, while calling for his buddies to increase their rates of fire so he could clear his rifle.  Having a backup of some sort is a good thing, and a buddy with a rifle sure beats the heck out of a pistol.

So what am I going to take away from this?  Well I have plenty of rifles, but none of them are in compatible calibers with each other.  The fix to this is to buy/build another upper in 5.56 for my wife to use (currently I have 2 ARs, one set up as an A2 match rifle, and the other set up as an M4-22 in 22lr).  I have confidence my wife could do just fine with an M4 style setup.  It would be silly of me to give my wife the heavy A2 with irons when I could easily put together something lighter with a red dot on top.

24 January 2012

New Garand owner

So my wife, being the best wife in the world, took me on a gun store crawl of Louisville and surrounding areas on Saturday.  Went to the Kentucky Gun Company (nice folk, good store), Knob Creek (still overrated), Tilfords (very s-l-o-w service), Lotus Gun Works (overpriced), Danny's (nice guy, he might get some of my business later if I need a gunsmith), and Biff's (which had reloading equipment from the stone age still new in box), and didn't find a single k98 worth buying. 

I did however see an M1 Garand at Tilfords that was advertised as "needing an op rod."  Now oprods are an expensive part, but I'm thinking that some of those 86,000 Korean Garands will get parted out and oprods will get a little less scarce.  Buying a used rifle is like buying a used truck, sometimes you just know you'll have to tinker under the hood (or in the case of a Garand, under the wood).

So I took a chance and bought the Garand on a return trip.  It is on a "CAI" reciever but has a Winchester bolt and trigger group.  I'm sure if I shopped around for a Win receiver/barrel combo I could increase the value of the rifle to a collector.   I got it home and pulled out the spring and follower rod the oprod and bolt didn't move under their own weight until the rifle was tilted around 90 degrees.

So I guess that is a "tilt test" fail, but the place where the oprod is rubbing is just under the chamber of the barrel, which from what I can gather is a normal contact point that needs to be greased. The old wisdom is that if it goes round and round it gets oiled and if it goes back and forth it gets greased.  I'll pick up a tub of grease tomorrow and see if the oprod is rubbing in any other spot.  If it isn't I'll take it to the range and toss the dice with some M2 ball ammo for a functions check.

The biggest reason for buying a Garand was the massive number of "Garand Matches" that seem to be held in Kentucky and Indiana.  I may not be the worlds best shot, but I've got the better part of 6 pounds of IMR 4064 and 1k of M72 match bullets already on my reloading bench.

Now I know that I went shopping on a non payday weekend, but having visited more than a hands worth of gun shops in the Louisville area I didn't see any particularly frantic gun buying.  However, if just every gunshop in America sells one more gun per week than they did over last year, that is still enough to make people sit up and take notice.  A Republican would say, "Great! my stock in Colt will go up!" and a Democrat/Communist/Fascist (but I repeat myself) would say "There oughta be a Law!"

I look forward to the day when voting is made every bit as easy as puchasing a firearm.  After all, they are both specific Constitutional rights, it would make sense to treat them as such.

21 January 2012

Reintegration

I've been home for just over a week now.  Things I have learned.

The kids now are not the kids I left.  I intellectually knew this before, now it is a concrete reality.  My wife has done an amazing job being a single parent and I'm very happy to come home to a healthy family that did just fine without me.

Prices for milsurp rifles at any of the gun stores outside Louisville are marked up over what I consider "reasonable" based on the going prices in the Shotgun News and gunbroker.com.  Anyone know where I can get a k98 with good headspace, bore, and crown for around 200 bucks?

If you want Alliant Power Pro 2000-MR powder you will not find it any closer than 1.5 hours in any direction.  Couldn't find any TAC either.  On the flip side I found a brick of 1,000 CCI 400 small rifle primers that I didn't remember buying, so it is kinda like getting a late Christmas present.

The idea of a "quiet Saturday morning breakfast" is not going to happen any time soon.  I woke up before the wife and kids, went downstairs and made hashbrowns and eggs (when you haven't cooked in 7 months it's a good idea to start out on the basics).  I brought my wife a plate of eggs (over easy, I crack them directly into a hot skillet, pour a little water in to make steam and then cover the skillet so that everything cooks up nicely without burning the bottoms of the eggs) and hashbrowns and a bottle of ketchup.  My 1 year old didn't wait thirty seconds before doing a head dive right into Mommy's plate and spilling the contents everywhere.  My wife was mortified, I thought it was par for the course (I managed not to laugh, but it was freaking hilarious).

In Iraq I checked my boots for camel spider, in Afghanistan I checked my boots for scorpions.  At home I have to check my boots for forks, blocks, cars, and other assorted toddlers toys.  I am of the opinion that toddler toys are vastly preferrable to scorpions and spiders.

So things are definitely an adjustment from living in a plywood hooch to living with my wife and two rugrats.  But I truly believe that to be a good Soldier you have to be able to deal with transitions.  One day on patrol you deal with an explosion, the next day you deal with losing a buddy, the next you counsel a soldier who had his wife leave.  The hits keep coming, but the key is to roll with the punches and focus on the mission at hand.  Leave Afghanistan behind for a while, don't suppress it, just let it lie until the appropriate time comes to deal with any baggage.  Cause transisioning from "Warrior" to "Daddy" is way too important to mess up with any sort of baggage.

20 January 2012

Update, my apologies to Wideners

Turns out that Wideners sent the 1,000 173gr FMJBT bullets I ordered in a separate box than the rest of my order.  My wife had them packed in a different area and got them to me.

Life is good.

Fire and Maneuver

Practice the Simple Things HARD, and the hard things become simple.  I can't remember which of my buddies has that as part of his signature line, but it is largely true.  SF, Rangers, SEALs don't really train on anything different than a regular Soldier or Marine, they just train on the basics until they never get it wrong.

I don't know if Squids or Zoomies get a block of "Buddy SET!" and "Buddy MOVING!" buddy team exercises during their version of basic training but I know that even paper pushers in the Army get some live fire training on covering their battle buddy during a buddy team exercise.  This isn't saying that the Army/USMC is better than the Air Force or Navy, just that every Soldier and Marine should be familiar with the concepts of fire and maneuver.  The "Buddy Team" is the basis for all maneuver.  But this isn't rocket surgery, it's a simple concept that is scalable from a two man team all the way up to Echelons Above Reality.

Corporals and Sergeants are expected to be able to control a FIRE TEAM (4 men in two buddy teams) to set one buddy team to cover the other while they move.
Squad Leaders, (E-6's) are expected to control a SQUAD by maneuvering FIRE TEAMS.
Platoon Leaders are expected to be able to control a PLATOON by maneuvering SQUADS.
Company Commanders are expected to control a Company by maneuvering PLATOONS.  Three platoons, one fire, one maneuver, one reserve.

Battalion commanders are expected to control a Battalion by maneuvering COMPANIES.  Three companies (not including any specialty companies), one fire, one maneuveuver, one reserve.
This goes all the way up the food chain to Corps and Army level commanders that move Divisions and Brigades around the battlefield.  But the only real difference between a Buck Sergeant Fire Team Leader and a 3 Star General is one of scale and experience. 

I'm not saying that an E-5 is every bit as capable a commander as an O-5, it just isn't so, but that the basics of fire and manuever are the same.  Things just get a little more complicated as you go up the food chain and get different enablers to work with.  You don't start getting dedicated Machine Gun support until the Platoon Leader level (Squad in the USMC) and mortars to provide indirect fire until you get to the Company levle (Platoon in the USMC).  Having gone through the process of planning a Mech Infantry Battalion defense I can assure you that the level of planning is also much more in depth the higher you get (which is why BN Commanders have a dedicated Staff to help them analyze and plan missions).

So what does this have to do with "A Nation of Riflemen?"  Well first is that a nation of Riflemen is NOT a National Army.  The vaunted "Hunters of Wisconsin" being the whatever largest Army in the world is pure horse crap.  Yes they can shoot, and yes there is potential there, but it takes more than a rifle and the ability to shoot it to make an Army.  It is easier to teach a Soldier to shoot than it is to teach a shooter to soldier.  I'm not going to say that shooters don't have the skills to provide a credible threat against a modern miltary force, just that if you can't transition your INDIVIDUAL skills into a TEAM EFFORT then you are likely to get destroyed by those who can.  As a historical note, the Boers were excellent at combining their individual skills into a group effort.

As a recent historical example the Taliban has been fighting US Forces for over a decade now.  Individually they are fine warriors.  Collectively they fail to add up to a sum greater than its individual parts.  While the Taliban have the ability to mass forces, they aren't good at fire and maneuver.  Their cell structure doesn't give much scalability and their commanders keep getting killed off.  But to become more effect than a few disjointed teams here and there they need to be able to move teams the way a buddy team moves individuals.

So what do you need to know about Fire and Maneuver at the ground level?  First off the basics all apply, Shoot, Move, Communicate.  You shoot so your buddy can move, he moves, then he gets set and communicates to you that he is shooting so you can move.  It really is that simple, but when other guys are shooting back at you things get complicated in a hurry.

The basics:
Know where you are, know where your buddy is, and know where the bad guys are.  Don't run in front of your buddy who is trying to give you cover.  Friendly fire is even more accurate than enemy fire.
Maintain Situational Awareness, don't "tunnel in" on your objective.  The "lone sniper" you see is really the point man for an Infantry Platoon. 

When things go to hell, a "Break Contact Drill" is just fire and maneuver AWAY from the enemy.  Using disciplined fire to suppress or kill the enemy while you gain space in as orderly a manner as you can manage.

When you are the "Fire" element you need to be smart with your bullets.  Belt Fed Machineguns can provide suppressive fire to make them keep their heads down.  You can't carry enough ammo or reload fast enough to do the same with an M4gery (and if you can then you can't do it accurately).  If every time the bad guy sticks his head up you put a ding in his helmet that is every bit as effective "suppression" as you can achieve.  Don't waste bullets, but use them to achieve the effect you desire, which is keeping the bad guy pinned down until your buddy can move to a position to decisively end the fight.

18 January 2012

SOPA/PIPA

I don't have enough regular readers that a "strike" against SOPA/PIPA would do any good.  So until they take it my keyboard from my cold, dead hands, I'll use my little corner of the internet to speak my mind. 

Only someone who is mentally challenged would believe that creating a law in the United States to combat "overseas online piracy" would actually do any good.  Like the DMCA before it, SOPA/PIPA is so full of fail that the only people hurt are those exercising thier first amendment rights.  And as with  the DMCA, the piratesbay.org will simply send a letter back to RIAA saying "Sweden isn't part of the US, you fuckwits" and continue with business as usual ignoring our laws because they simply don't apply to them.

Anytime someone wants to limit your freedom based on activities outside of our borders they should just be a little more honest and say "we want to limit your freedom and lack sufficient brainpower to think of a more plausible excuse." 

17 January 2012

Standing with Israel doesn't mean invading Iran

Arctic Patriot wrote a post about Iran.  I know that speaking out against Israel is dangerous in American politics, but let me say that this isn't speaking out against Israel, this is speaking out against needless warfare.  Wars cost lives and treasure.  I'm not saying the all volunteer military couldn't handle another war, we can, just that another war is not in anyone's best interest (including Israels).

Now, it is true that Iran controls about 20% of the worlds oil supply. However they sell mainly to China. China doesn't want the flow of oil to stop any more than Iran does. If war were to come then that would be the first thing to stop flowing. So China doesn't want Iran to go to war (the same way they don't want North Korea to go to war because it would frustrate trade with South Korea).

I've got mud from Iraq and Afghanistan on my boots.  Don't need mud from Iran on it.  For the last decade Iran has been "two to three years away from a nuclear warhead" according to the talking heads.
If I have to go fight in Iran then I have to go, I signed on the dotted line and I keep my contracts or die trying.  But I think it would be better for Iran to start shooting at other nations before we try any "pre-emptive" bullshit.  The policy of "containment" against Communism was an utter failure in terms of stopping the spread of Communism, but it DID create stability through international treaty.

I'm all for normalizing relations, as we did with China, as a method to stabilizing the Middle East.  Say what you will about China, they are more interested in keeping the trade flowing than in conquering Taiwan at this point.  Even as we have normalized relations with China SEATO has worked the same way NATO worked to keep open warfare away in Europe.  So I am all for another "Middle Eastern Treaty Organization" or METO with our allies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, and now Iraq create a mutual defense block to counter Iranian aggression (instead of trying to halt the spread of Communism).

It has been my experience that people around the world really like Americans, but they really don't like American Foreign Policy when it affects them negatively.  In the first Gulf War over 30 Nations sent troops to fight against Saddam Hussein's aggression.  The Arab world can work together to keep the status quo when it suits them.  On the flip side, the Arab World has also worked together to attack Israel all at the same time.  Our alliance with Israel (and Israel's teeth) have kept that mass attack from being a repeat performance.

In the 1980's NATO wasn't exactly a "paper tiger" without teeth, between the US and UK the Naval capacity alone was a significant detterent.  The ground forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq are more than enough to prevent Iranian aggression (they have Abrams and Bradleys which will beat the crap out of the Combloc stuff Iran has).  So yes Iran is a terrorism supporter, yes they are working on nukes.  However, China and Russia are allies with Iran, and officially we are friendly with China and Russia.  Letting Iran's regional ambitions be checked by Iran's regional neighbors is a much better policy than starting something bigger. 

So it is my opinion that peace with Iran is achievable by creating an international entity that makes the cost of war for Iran heavier than the cost of peace.  This is achievable with the allies we currently have, and what international goodwill we have left.

16 January 2012

Accurate AR: New Trigger

In terms of what makes an accurate rifle, it really boils down to barrel, trigger, and sights.  Even rifles that have a weird final lockup like a FAL or weird fluted chamber like an HK can be made to shoot quite accurately.  Obviously you won't shoot benchrest with a FAL, but judged against other rifles of the same weight and capabilities there isn't a person alive who can look at 5 shots on paper and say "Obviously this was shot by a FAL and not an AR-10 or Saiga 308."

Yesterday I installed a Geisselle SSA trigger on my match rifle.  My rifle started as a used Colt HBAR upper to which with the help of a buddy who has a set of action blocks I added a Rock River National Match free float tube.  The lower is a Rock River with A2 pattern buttstock.  The sights are still stock, but I'm looking at having a gunsmith pin the rear sight for consistency.  I'd do it myself but access to a milling machine or even quality drill press is lacking at this point in time.

Anyways, a quick lowdown on the SSA trigger.  Very simple to install, no problems with the Rock River lower.  It is obviously a 2 stage trigger, and since it is roughly half the cost of a Geisselle match trigger and meets EIC/Service Rifle requirements (4.5 pounds, no obvious external modification) it was my choice to upgrade from the stock trigger.  I'm a fair shot, but not good enough to take full advantage of a Geisselle match trigger at this point, but when I am at that point I'll just transfer the SSA to another AR and upgrade again.

First impressions.  Since I believe that dry fire practice is key, I ran through a bunch of standing dry fire drills and have come to the conclusion that this trigger will help me tighten my shot group.  Not only is lock time cut roughly in half, but I was able to "call the shot" more easily whenever the "click" happened and I wasn't on target.  The first stage of the trigger is a long pull until you meet "stiff" resistance, and the second stage breaks cleanly.  Not like a "glass rod" on some of the better triggers I've used, but very clean with no grit and no additional takeup.  Now I just need to get some 2000-MR powder in....

15 January 2012

Who patrols your neighborhood?

Anonymous left the comment that if I ended up "Patrolling his neighborhood" then I needed to "choose sides quick."  I'm not exactly sure if that was a threat or just a random once off comment from someone who talks big on the internet.

However, whether or not I end up patrolling a neighborhood in the US there are those who are already patrolling your neighborhood.  They are your local Law Enforcement Officers.  They know where you live, they know the rhythms and habits of your particular stretch of the hood, and they are not above putting on body armor and kicking in your door based on a bad tip.  They know that no matter how bad they shred your constitutional rights under the heels of their jackboots that they will have immunity for their actions.  It doesn't matter if the intel was bad (like Jose Guerena or that Grandma in Atlanta UPDATE, Thanks Tam for the info that those officers recieved prison sentences) they will not go to jail for killing your dog, wife, kids (like in Detroit), or you.  They have power over you that I don't want, don't need, and frankly think is a very bad thing.  Click on the link to "Photography is Not a Crime" and feel your blood boil at the abuses people take for exercising their first amendment rights.

The biggest reason that we are having a hard time in Afghanistan is the idea of "shared risk" with the Afghans.  You can't live on a fortified FOB and earn the respect of those who have lived in a war zone their entire life.  One of the big reasons why we see "TSA=STASI" sentiments coming up, and we make fun of the overweight douchebags who raid grandmas house in the "War on (SOME) Drugs" is that they are losing respect.  Our law enforcement personnel have sacrificed legitimacy in the name of "officer safety." 

Do you know the names of those who already patrol your neighborhood?  If you don't, then don't waste your time worrying about random Soldiers who haven't received any orders to patrol inside CONUS.  I don't care how smart or tough you are as a fighter, if you can't see the 50 meter target right in front of you then you have no business prepping for that 500 meter shot.

One of the tenets of success is asking yourself what you will give up to get it.  Are you willing to give up "safety" to get "victory?"  Our cops sure aren't willing to give up "safety" to gain "legitimacy."

14 January 2012

Setting up the man cave....

So one of the first chores I've set out for myself in the new house is carving out my little nest of relaxation.  Right now this means my reloading bench in the basement.  I knew coming back that I couldn't totally immerse myself into "family time" without going crazy.  So I started buying reloading stuff in Afghanistan in preparation for High Power season.

The good news is that the Lee Pro1000 reloader with double disk setup I ordered from Midwayusa was waiting for me when I got back from Afghanistan.  I like to tinker, the unit was on sale, so we'll see how it works for me once everything is properly mounted.  Need to stop by the hardware store and pick up some 4" bolts.

The bad news is that the 1000 308 caliber 173 gr FMJBT bullets I ordered from Wideners wasn't in the box with the 5000 224 caliber 75 gr HPBT bullets.  Considering that I placed that order six months ago and it was delivered to my old address outside Joint Base Lewis McChord and my wife drove it cross country to our new home, I'm likely out $180.00 (which is almost our two week family food budget) not including shipping.  Lesson learned?  Don't buy from Wideners if you aren't physically there to inspect the package when it arrives, which is probably a good thing to do for every internet purchase. 

More bad news.  Somewhere in the packing one of the linkage pins for my RCBS Jr. Press went missing.  Will need to order a new one.  On the flip side I have a backup single stage press available. 

On the awesome side, today I got to play in the snow with my boys.  Don't care how you slice it, that's pretty cool.

13 January 2012

Home again

So I'm back at my undisclosed location stateside.  Coming back is weird, construction that was just started when I left is now complete and open for business.  My sons are definitely older, both are very different from the boys I left. 

Blogging will probably be on the light side for a while as my family gets used to me being around, and I in turn get used to sharing my life with my family.  Any husband worth his salt will tell you that marriage is work.  Being a father is work too, and I've got to remember how to be both.  I came home to a house that I've never lived in before, so it might take a little bit before it feels like "home" and not just another place in a long stream of COPs and FOBs where I've layed my head at nights.  But humans are resilient, and we reach a "new normal" relatively quickly.

Pulled my competition AR out of storage to check the bore, no rust.  A quick pmcs on the weapons showed me that they all stored nicely, and I just need to set up the reloading press to start cranking out the match ammunition before the High Power season really starts up.

11 January 2012

As seen on AFN...

During a PSA for hygene they actually found someone dumb enough to say:

"Using hand sanitizers based on alcohol can dry out your skin, a better method is plain old soap and water."

I don't know what planet they are on, but soap and water strip oils from your skin every bit as much as alcohol ever did. 

I ain't home yet...

But I ain't going back to Afghanistan anytime soon.

I landed in Manas Air Base 9 June 2011, and flew out of Bagram to an undisclosed location in Europe on 11 January 2012.  This was a "short" deployment, but by this time tomorrow I should be well on my way to an undisclosed location in the continental US.

I can't say exactly how the mood is in the Army as a whole, but in my little microcosm of experience the feeling of wasted time marks this deployment.  There are Generals and Politicians who look at reports on Afghan Security Force progress and think that things are looking better.  And from measurable metrics like "does Mohammed have a government issued gun to shoot and truck to ride in?" then things are getting better.

On the ground, it is hard to sell that sort of "progress" to a grunt and expect him to take a bite of that shit sandwich and think it's a shrimp po'boy.  This deployment leaves Afghanistan quite a bit like we found it, and it feels like prisoners finally getting paroled to go back home.  A lot of the talk was "what you gonna do when you get stateside?" from Company B sounded a lot like "what you gonna do on the outside?" from Cell Block B.  Instead of talking about how we made a difference, we talked about how we were barely relevant.

I won't say that I'm demoralized entirely, the mission in Afghanistan could be done right if we were given the freedom to do it right.  The problem lies in that we would have to accept an increase in casualties to increase our effectiveness.  That is politically untenable, even for those who cause leg tingles.  We have definitely "won the hearts and minds" of the Afghans serving in the Security Forces.  I have yet to see any sort of real progress showing that the Afghan Security Forces are winning the hearts and minds of Afghans.

Normal Americans love the military because our relationship has a long history that has (until NDAA 2012) been largely "we don't really do domestic except for disaster relief" and they can get behind what our MISSION really is.  We are a deterrent to large scale conflict directed against the United States.  When it comes right down to it, that is the role of all branches of the military.  Everybody likes that mission, everyone understands that having a big stick can keep a pack of rabid dogs away.

What people really DON'T like is the idea of a squad of grunts patrolling their neighborhood, confiscating private property, and "detaining" those suspected of terrorism.  If that happens we are so far lost that there is no recourse to honest citizens but to oppose tyranny or roll over on their backs and wet themselves for their new totalitarian dictator.  Because it is a very real option to have a well equipped Army and Police Force, and a population that views them as hostile to their way of life, kinda like that dusty old place I just left.

08 January 2012

Mars Needs Women

Last night I popped a Rob Zombie CD into the laptop and listened to "Mars Needs Women, Angry Red Women" and it has stuck with me.  Made me think of the old couples therapy book "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus."  Then I watched "Boondock Saints" again.

The gun control movement seeks to tell women that they need to be protected.  The gun control movement tells us that we really can't fight back.  The government tells us not to take matters into our own hands (even a 911 operator wouldn't tell a 19 year old mother to shoot the bastard, just "do what she had to do" as if mincing words made a difference).  It is almost as if we really are from different planets, call it "Planet Reality" and "Planet Wishful Thinking."

I'm a big fan of strong female characters.  The list keeps growing.  Xena and Buffy had good runs on TV.  Angelina Jolie played "SALT" and Zoe Saldanada in "Columbiana."  If a little girl wants to be an international spy she doesn't have to look to being an accessory on James Bond's arm anymore, she can be one all on her own.  Breda shut down her blog because she feels her mission is over to empower the women she knows.  These qualify as "very good things" in my mind.

As much as the gun control advocates say that the rise of female shooters is a "fluke" or "bad data" it doesn't change the fact that there are a lot more pink available in the gun world than there used to be.  Love or hate Charter Arms I found the the "Pink Lady" 38 snubby that my wife carries to be reliable and actually pleasant to shoot. 

When my wife and I got married she wouldn't touch a gun.  Now when I get home we are going to get her a rifle of her very own.  I think a Marlin 795 is a good starter gun, and if needs be I can modify the stock to fit her frame.  After she gets good with the 795 I'll see about building her an M4 clone if she is interested. 

You know why the media and liberals absolutely hated Sarah Palin? Because she doesn't need to be protected, because she advocates fighting back, because as feminine as "Caribou Barbie" is, she's still more man than most Democracts I know. It is almost as if were are being separated into two seperate species, one where we maintain our dignity and rights, and one where the iPod People have convinced everyone to buy Apple, drive Subarus (Volvo and Volkswagon also acceptable) and serve as sheeple to their masters. We really are on different planets, a planet based in "reality", and a planet based in "how things should be" according to liberal utopian ideology.


Getting back to Rob Zombie, "Planet Reality" needs women.  Not necessarily angry red women, but women who are either shooters, or supportive of shooters.  So I'm absolutely tickled pink that more and more women are stepping up and reclaiming their strength.  Not in some sort of poetry reading kumbayah drum circle BS, but reclaiming their strength in the gun shops, ranges, and sporting fields of America.  Now if we could just get more gun store clerks to treat women like actual customers....

But they have armor!

While Kevin Costner is not my favorite actor by any means, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" wasn't a bad film, at least in my memory.  During the "inspirational speech" portion of the film Robin tells the disbelieving peasants "Even a child can be taught to find the chinks in armor!"
Robin was right, all armor has weak points.

With the proliferation of body armor, commercial and surplus, it makes sense to think about defeating body armor with the tools you have.  So far only limited crime has been committed by criminals in body armor, but I can only see that number going up as it is part of the Zetas MO.  In the criminal arms race, body armor is the next step for organized crime.

Modern armor is usually a vest with ballistics inserts and a ballistic helmet.  This armor is specifically designed to protect against the "center of mass shot" that most of us train to deliver.  That being said, you don't have to take the center of mass shot.  Specialized armor such as an EOD suit is unlikely to be used by an attacker as it is unwieldy (however improvised armor as used by the North Hollywood Bandits covered more area than standard commercial body armor).

Generally the soft portion of the vest is multi layered kevlar, a polyarylamine with very high tensile strength.  The ballistic insert can be made of ceramic, plastic, or metal (AR500 steel makes dandy inserts if you don't mind the weight).  Each insert has pros and cons.  Ceramic is great for one or two hits.  Plastic stops hypervelocity rounds from rifles, but not always low velocity high momentum rounds from big pistols.  Metal inserts are damn heavy and interfere with a compass for dismounted movement.

A ballistic helmet is generally made of kevlar fiber stiffened with a synthetic resin although there are many more surplus "steel pots" on the market than kevlar.  The steel pots can be defeated by nearly any firearm, but the kevlar ballistic helmets require something in the centerfire rifle category.  Spider silk has been considered a future replacement for Kevlar, but despite advances in manufacturing technology it hasn't matured as a technology.

Tools for defeating armor.

VEHICLES: 

Doesn't matter how much body armor you are wearing if a tank rolls over you.  That is why tankers call infantrymen "crunchies."  I'm pretty sure that a soccer mom SUV will do sufficient damage to stop body armor clad criminal.  The big armored "battle wagons" that the Cartels have been making south of the border will definitely crush someone in a ballistic vest.

BOMBS: Specifically IEDs

I mention this only because it is something that has become a reality on the battlefield.  First in Iraq before being exported to Afghanistan this is a tool/tactic that will not go away.  While I don't consider myself a jack booted thug I am plenty sure that is exactly how the goat humping jihadists see me, so their preferred method of defeating armor is a really big bang.  It works. 

The drug Cartels have adopted the IED as a tactic in Central America, and Brownsville, Texas, is the first place I could find where an IED was used on US soil.

INCINDIARY DEVICES:

Dowsing someone in a burning fluid defeats body armor.  Molatov cocktails anyone?  It isn't like you'll have access to white phosphorous or napalm bombs, and surplus flame throwers are getting rare as hens teeth....

CHEMICAL WEAPONS:

While the civilized world continually disarms itself of chemical munitions a lot of tin pot dictators are getting their grubby hands on all the chemical weapons they can find.  I don't recommend using chemical weapons to defeat body armor.  If you you want to understand why chemical weapons are a really bad idea, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10408124

GUNS: use a RIFLE.

People have eyes, and eyes need unobstructed line of site to function.  So until they make bulletproof face shields (like the NH Bandits improvised), the triangle created by eyes and nose is a good place to aim if you can.  If your target is looking at you and you hit anywhere in that triangle then you can move on to the next target.  Disrupting the central nervous system is a good way to stop an attack, and shooting glasses aren't designed to actually be shot.

Another thing that armor wearing criminals have is joints.  Specifically hip joints.  Shoot someone there and if you don't kill them, then you should be able to immobilize them.  The hip area represents a sizeable target, although much smaller than "center of mass."   The North Hollywood Shooters covered themselves in body armor, but had the police used AR-15's with high velocity bullets against the shooters hips they could have shortened the engagement nicely.  Ballistic inserts don't cover joints just yet, but I have some pretty good ideas on how to incorporate that feature into the next generation of body armor.

Branch arteries in the neck, legs, arms, are also good things to disrupt.  Unless you make your own armor like the NH Bandits did (or are wearing an EOD blast suit), some limbs will be exposed.  Lethality is achieved by disrupting the flow of oxygen to the brain, and cutting through an artery or two is a relatively quick way to achieve that disruption. 

Another thing to consider is that a kevlar vest has holes.  A torso hole at the bottom, a neck hole at the top, and arm holes on each side.  Each of these holes is a good target if you have an angle to shoot it.  This means elevated shooting down for the neck and arms, and depressed shooting up for the torso hole.  Had the Police got off the street with a 308 caliber patrol rifle and shot down the NH Bandits neck hole from a rooftop it would have stopped the fight much more quickly.

In the extreme case of the North Hollywood Bandits, they made armor to cover their entire bodies. Good for them but in the end they still died from multiple gunshot wounds. Pistols turned out to be relatively useless, shotguns only slightly less worthless, and patrol rifles were in short supply. A 308 or 223 rifle would have punched easily through the layers of kevlar. Guess what the North Hollywood Police did not have?

Finally, there is a tactic that I have never personally used, but some hunters have called "breaking down" an animal.  Bullets are shot not to kill the animal but immobilize it, aiming for the knees, hips, spine.  If your bullets cannot penetrate the armor, they can at least transfer kinetic shock through it to crack bones, burst blood vessels.  This is the only way to really describe what happened to the North Hollywood Bandits, the police just shot them until enough armor was damaged that bullets started getting through.

The great thing about direct fires, if you aren't achieving the effect you desire, just pour on more.  It worked for the North Hollywood Police.

The slow collapse into the soft dark ages....

This is a long winded and winding post.  Sorry there isn't more spit and polish on it but sometimes I write just to put thoughts down before they flit away like butterflies at dusk.

The veneer of civilization is pretty thin.  However like all veneers, it is also pretty broad so if a piece gets scratched away it isn't too hard to fill in the gaps again.  I've been pondering the quesiton "what is civilization?" quite a bit lately.  Is it roads?  Is it agriculture?  Is is book learning, such as engineering?  Or is it culture such as sculpture?

Here in Afghanistan they have a sort of a civilization.  They could have more and better everything if they decided that they wanted more and better.  Often times they are simply content with what they have and don't see the benefits of drip irrigation instead of flood irrigation.  In Iraq they had plenty of roads, plenty of relatively modern agriculture, but still have horrendous corruption and tribal conflicts.  So civilization isn't just any sort of infrastructure, or any sort of art or culture, it is the appropriate mix of infrastructure, legal standardization, and social culture.

Infrastructure allows economic mobility.  Legal standardization combined with a culture that respects honesty minimizes the corruption that eventually hurts everyone.  China is a good example of a "civalization" that is rapidly turning from agriculture to industry.  However, because of the social climate of corruption corners are cut, contractors pay party officials to look the other way, and next thing you know a major earthquake flattens substandard housing.  But the corruption continues, because it is good for business in the Chinese culture.  And the Chinese know that business is good for China.

So what frightens me most about the United States is the death of Rule of Law.  When the Administration breaks contract law to support the UAW in the GMC Bankruptcy, when MF Global is legally allowed to raid customer accounts to pay off debt in total violation of established practice and law, when "Recess Appointments" fail to meet recognized legal standards, we have POWER unconstrained by our Laws.  Our civilization is falling apart.  Rule of Law is good for business in America, and the only replacement for rule of law is corruption.  However multinational corporations have learned how easy it is to operate in a corrupt society like China, do you think they will have any compunction of applying those lessons to a corrupt American Government?

It isn't our "crumbling infrastructure" that makes economic powerhouses like China, India, and Brazil drool with envy that is causing our civilization to fail.  It is our rising culture of corruption.  Corruption allowing a modern Cesaer to turn the Republic into a Dictatorship. 

Now, I believe that you should never assign bad intent to an action when simple incompetence will do.

But right now Americans are worse off economically than any time since the Great Depression.  This is creating a culture of reliance on Uncle Sugar.  A culture of reliance that is tolerating the obliteration of the Rule of Law one piece at a time.

Of course this time the Barbarians won't invade in a horde from the north.  They will emerge from the underbelly of our society.  The Crips and the Bloods, the Mafia, the Cartels, each will do their best to attach themselves like life sucking tics to the bloated imobilized behemoth that our society will become.  In turn the bloated behemoth will turn into a rotting carcass and the tics will keep order in order to keep the money flowing.

The real losers are the people.  Would Cesar have killed himself if he knew his actions would cause the downfall of the Roman Empire?  No, in the history of the world very few men seize power only to serve the people.  Hate Pinochet all you want, but once he was done putting the country back on course he let go the reins.

The old saying "Rome wasn't built in a day" also has a corrolary "Rome didn't fall in a day" either.  The UAW was protected because they had "their man" in power.  So far everyone has lost, and the only "redistribution" that has gone on is the spread of poverty to an ever growing population of "the underclass."  But we have our bread and circuses.  Or as we like to call it "foodstamps and Kardashians."

There are those who believe, with plenty of anecdotal evidence to back their claims, that this collapse has been engineered by those who want to "take all the worlds wealth."  I don't believe that.  I believe that we are in an death spiral of our own creating.  Congress buys votes with social programs.  Social programs start costing more than Congress can cover.  We borrow from China.  Social program spending increases.  More votes for bread and circuses.  The public coffers are dry, and the only question now is will their be real cannibalism as a result of the inevitable collapse? 

Our civilization is ending by all the measures that I can see.  I cannot see any avenue of saving it that will fly under the current system (we have too many people voting to keep Uncle Sugar handing out the dole).  So the question remains, what will replace the current system?  If we are smart and put the pieces in place now, we will plant the idea of a Republic and Individual Rights and Responsibilities so deeply in the American psyche that we won't fall into a worse sort of despotism that always seems to follow the fall of an Empire (Rome to Cesaer, France to Napoleon, Russia to Lenin, Germany to Hitler, China to Mao, etc).

This isn't exactly cause for alarm.  Many Empires have rebuilt themselves and maintained a national identity and character.  The Germans got rid of a Monarchy, built a Republic, turned it into a Dictatorship, then into a Democracy all in the last 120 years.  History does march on, even when you are in the middle of making it.

06 January 2012

Honors, Lineage, and Titles

On facebook debate is raging about whether or not Jesse Ventura is a SEAL based on the report of a SEAL Sniper punching Jesse Ventura in the face.  It is an honest question, one that any Reference Librarian can look into the history books and say, "No, he was not a SEAL, he wore the UDT Badge and was assigned to UDT 12, clearly he was not a SEAL."  However he was assigned to SEAL Team One as a Reservist for two years, 1973 to 1975.  Kinda like being a Special Forces Operator in the National Guard, you wear the same tab as the active guys, but get less respect.

In the Army we have the same debate over "who is a Ranger" quite often, but let us look at some history.  The 5307th Provisional unit fought its way through Southeast Asia without ever using the term "Ranger", but that unit affectionately called "Merrill's Marauders" became the parent of the current 75th Ranger Regiment.  But in 1945 if you asked a Marauder if he was a "Ranger" he might have looked at you funny and asked, "What's a Ranger?"  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merrill's_Marauders

Conversely, on the other side of the planet, the 29th Provisional Ranger Battalion was training with British Commandos, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions were prepping for Operation Overlord.  So Which one of these units was a real "Ranger?"  It is a good question.  It gets even fuzzier when you look at when the Airborne Ranger companies popped up in the Korean War.  Still to this day if you earned the Ranger Tab you are a "Ranger" or if you served with a Ranger unit you are a Ranger (even if you didn't earn the tab).

Now the UDT/SEAL story is similar.  In 1975 the US Navy declared the UDT Badge "obsolete" and all UDT Badge holders needed to apply for the Naval Special Warfar (SEAL) badge instead.  So the question is, is Jesse Ventura a SEAL?

The answer is, he earned the right to wear a SEAL badge, whether he ever put in the paperwork to change badges is another matter considering it wasn't until the year he left the navy that his UDT Badge became obsolete.  The same way a Marauder might not have known what a Ranger tab looked like in 1944, but when the 75th Regiment was formed the Marauders were retroactively authorized the Ranger Tab.  So to a Marauder who was enjoying civilian life in the 1970's when the Regiment stood up, what would the retroactive award of a Ranger tab mean?  It means he is a Ranger.  The same way that Jesse Ventura is a SEAL.

Bottom line is that anyone accusing Jesse Ventura about "lieing about being a SEAL" is either uninformed or simply trying to split hairs to sling mud at Jesse Ventura.  This is a non-issue as there are plenty of other aspects of Mr. Ventura's colorful life to take umbrage against, but the whole UDT/SEAL distinction is non-existant the same way a Marauder is a Ranger.

04 January 2012

There is no undefeatable Buddha Palm Death Punch

There is no single tactice, technique, procedure, or piece of equipment that is a "silver bullet" that will win a fight.  Anyone who says differently is selling something to Pentagon procurement managers.  Avidus left this point, largely true, about why closer is better. 
Another saddening point to consider is that most people in a resistance role will not have the training to successfully make long range shots. Your success rates will likely be much higher at closer ranges.

However, being largely true doesn't mean completely true.  Why are we having the debate about the 5.56 being inadequate in Afghanistan?  Why are the Taliban and Haqqani fighters choosing Enfield rifles over AKs?  Personally I'll keep taking my chances with the illiterate goat humpers as opposed to the folks who show up to my left and right at the High Power matches. 

Because closer is deadlier for both sides.  By choosing antiquated bolt action rifles that outrange an M4 the bad guys are able to maintain "standoff."  In Desert Storm the Iraqi Army was obliterated on the ground, even tank on tank battles were one sided because of "standoff."  If you go to any website or reference book about the capabilities of US Tank Crews, you'll see a "maximum effective range" listed that is *ahem* highly conservative.  Similarly other "maximum effective ranges" are for planning purposes only.  The "maximum effective range" of the m24 sniper rifle has been listed as 800 meters for years even though I have yet to meet a sniper who doesn't have data on the m24 and m118lr out past 1000 meters.  For what it's worth the old m118sb ammunition was less accurate, but still capable of 1k shots.  I know snipers who have data out to 1400 meters in their data books.

To a very large extent the hardware you have available dictates tactics.  If all you have is a pistol that limits your options.  When you have an international network of financiers and weapons smugglers funneling Dshkas, RPGs, and SVDs into your organization that opens up possibilities.  The Taliban may be illiterate goat humping cavemen, but they do know how to pack a Dshka up a mountain to conduct a long range ambush.  A large portion of learning to use terrain is learning to minimize the standoff advantages, or to gain a standoff advantage (hence climbing a mountain with a Dshka). 

There really is a manual labeled "Tactics" http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/3-90/index.html and it is a good place to start for thinking about how men, weapons, and terrain interact.  I won't say that the terrain will dictate the tactics you use, but if you are going to do something "audacious" you had better know if the terrain will support that.  The 6th Rangers crawled several hundred meters through open fields on their approach to Cabanatuan, and the German Army displaced an entire battalion undetected through a single hole in the wall to set up a base of fire in Stalingrad, all because they knew that they could get away with it because of the terrain.

02 January 2012

You can get away with anything once.

Avidus left this comment to "2 minutes of precision"

The counterpart to that tactic is to emulate "Flame and Citron" and get very close, very calmly, shoot, then carefully leave the area.
I will suggest that since Hollywood and video games have turned the sniper into a figure of popular culture, a well dressed fellow calmly walking away is less likely to even be considered.

Everyone will be looking up and away for the big gun with the big suppressor.
This is a true statement, however there are some serious caveats.  First off, in the realm of military tactics, "You can get away with anything once." is a good rule to follow.  But "better lucky than good" only gets you so far in any endeavor.

There is a reason that Soldiers in Iraq went to "aggressive scanning" in urban areas.  Things like RKG-3 anti armor grenades have to be deployed close.  However, an Iraqi student was able to walk up behind a Soldier, shoot him in the head, and then leave unmolested a few years ago. 

So, you can get away with anything once.  Eventually the odds catch up and the enemy adapts to your tactics.  Warfare is like the "Red Queen" theory of evolution, sometimes you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in place.  Think about the evolution of American Football. The "Shotgun" the "I Formation" and other such "tactics" each had their day in the sun until other teams caught on and developed the appropriate technique to counter those tactics.
Right now "flame and citron" will not work against any of the NATO forces that learned hard lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It might work against a different force such as the Norks or Iranians but getting close to a well armed opponent who is looking to kill you is a quick form of suicide.

Let me ask this, if you want to remain anonymous, with all the cameras in our world, would "Flame and Citron" be a viable tactic in an urban area?  The answer is no in the developed world, and maybe in the developing world (like Iraq).  In an rural area, where will you find a crowd to calmly walk into? 

I'm not saying that "flame and citron" should be taken out of the playbook.  I'm saying that you can't rely on it, you need to look specifically for terrain that would allow it to succeed, and then you need to have balls of steel to pull it off. 

On the flip side Snipers don't live forever either.  Anyone remember Juba?  That bastard got hit with a 500 pounder.  Do the same tricks over and over again and your number will come up.  Fighting smart means thinking through options, in both time and space, and setting yourself up to conduct follow on operations.  Conserve your combat power, think asymetrically. 

If every chowhall in Iraq had burned to the ground in 2008 what do you think the EFFECT would have been on morale?  It would have crushed morale.

First it would have conveyed the message that you weren't safe on the FOB.  Everyone knows this is true in the back of their mind but a lot of people really want to FEEL safe even if it is a lie.

Second it would have meant MRE's, T-RATs, and UGR's for at least a few weeks.  Bad chow sucks balls.

Third it would have shifted resources from rearming and refueling to rebuilding chow halls.

So fight smart.