29 May 2012

White Male Privilege

So John Scalzi wrote a piece that said being "straight white male" is the easiest setting in the RPG of life.

Others have much more eloquently explained why that is, how our culture proved superior to other cultures and became THE CULTURE to emulate.  Marko wrote about his experience as a "straight white male" from one country where "straight white males" dominate the culture to getting citizenship in another country where "straight white males" dominate the culture.  That's right kids.  Nobody wants war with the US, Germany, or Great Britain.

Because below all the things that make us a superior culture; rule of law, property rights, equality of individuals, etc, is our ability to subjugate inferior cultures by the use of superior military might.  Don't forget the abysmal hygiene conditions that allowed us to wipe out entire cultures just by showing carrying smallpox or a novel strain of influenza.  The very best that any culture could give back?  Syphilis.

My ancestors prowled the seas of Europe on Viking longships and gave rise to the continents greatest warriors, from the Normans to the Russians.  Generations later their descendents would practice their love of war against their cousins almost as a reflex action.  White man sparked the industrial revolution by trying to make the logistics of musket repair simpler with interchangeable parts.  Screw handcrafted artisan work of the Samurai, the M1 Garand produced by the millions firing 30-byGod-06 and in the hands of drafted farm boys and city slickers alike the hot blood of barbarian ancestors roared down through history and eclipsed the Empire of the Rising Sun.

So why is "White Culture" dominant?  Because we fought for it.  Because we worked for it.  And even if France is the weak little brother of "White Culture" they'll still whup up pretty quickly on most anyone who wants a go.  My father delivered this world as it is to me.  I will pass what I can to my sons.

White male privilege is dieing.  Somehow we've run out of real fights to fight.  Notice that when white folks aren't fighting each other our culture declines?  The advancement of civilization has come hand in hand with the Napoleonic Wars, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Cold War.  So like an old Viking scarred from the wounds of many battles we sit by a digital fireplace and tell stories of how we were great in our youth.  The young girls smile and giggle and treat us like a kind and harmless grandfather, happy to ply us with more mead.

Over the years we've adopted more people into "white male culture."  First it was minority men, then women.  Now that everyone can partake the cries of inequality come forth like the whining of toddlers over who gets the bigger piece of lefsa.  Being successful is hard, hell if it were easy someone else's ancestors would have dominated mine.

27 May 2012

Memorial Day

I've kicked around the Army for a while now and people come and go.  You get assigned to good units and bad units, and eventually you move on to something different.

But along the way you lose people.  I remember the first death from an auto accident and how that affected my company when I was a young private.  It caused the older Soldiers to start talking about other deaths the unit had before I got there.  I remember the first suicide in my career, I remember how that affected those who still alive who couldn't understand why it happened, and why she made that choice.

I remember the first suicide of a Soldier under my command.  I remember the death of family members of my Soldiers.  I remember a beautiful young widow crying her eyes out while her 18 month old son played and didn't understand that daddy will never come home again.  I remember a mother choking back her tears knowing that her son is gone.  I remember the memorial ceremonies, the last call of the unit roster, and the firing of seven rifles in unison.

I remember the cross section of America that comes to those memorials.  Old bikers in full patches and young families trying to explain the concept of war and loss to small children.  Veterans who wish they could trade places with the deceased in the casket and civilians who feel powerless in the face of fate.  The pipers who pipe the fallen home.

26 May 2012

Women in the Infantry, what is the problem?

Problem solving is a simple process.  Define the problem.  Identify solutions.  Wargame different solutions.  Pick the optimal solution from those identified and execute.   So why is there a push for women in the Infantry?  What exactly is the problem that this is designed to solve?

The Marine Corps opened up Infantry training to "WMs" or Women Marines.  As I understand it the training is open but the job field is still closed.  The training is to help improve the level of training and readiness of female Marines who necessarily augment line Infantry units in executing the "Security, Stability and Support, and Civil Support" portions of Full Spectrum Ops.

Wait you, say, Full Spectrum Ops is all about kicking in doors!  Not so.  A military operation is broken up into four areas, "Offense/Defense, Security, Stability, and Civil Support" that is very familiar to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Notice that we do not need women to conduct Direct Action.

Let me say that again, WE DO NOT NEED WOMEN TO CONDUCT DIRECT ACTION.  So why is there a push to get women into the Infantry?  What exact problem is this going to solve?

We need women for all the "other stuff" such as community engagement, medical relief, female interrogation, all the stuff that comes after direct action.  SOCOM has been very successful with their "Female Engagement Team" (FET) program.  The difference between a FET and a random female who goes through Infantry training is one of focus.  Infantry training focuses on Direct Action, and as I stated before, we don't need females to conduct that mission.  We need women trained in Civil Affairs and community engagement, not Ranger qualified door kickers.

Right now my Brigade is one of the 9 brigades shuffling women out of the Special Troops Battalion and Brigade Support Battalion and into Infantry and Cavalry formations.  So far this is just letting women serve in their MOS in a maneuver battalion, not providing Infantry positions to females.

Thus sayeth GEN Odierno:
"This revision will result in the opening of six military occupational specialties and 80 units, more than 13,000 positions, to women -- opening up new opportunities to our female soldiers, which make up about 16 percent of our force and allows us to leverage the tremendous talent resident in our ranks."

Odierno said the Army is now "collecting information" and "setting a course forward" on how to move women into additional military occupational specialties (MOS) in the infantry and armor branches.

"There's been no decisions made. What we want to do is bring information up to the (Army) Secretary and I, so we'll take a look at it and decide the way forward on how we want to progress in potentially opening up these positions."
So there isn't a need for women in the Infantry from an operational standpoint.  What we've always needed is female Soldiers with Civil Affairs or FET training.   So why is there this big push after more than a decade at war to get women into the Infantry?  Lets see what a Pentagon Talking head had to say about this:
"We believe that it's very important to explore ways to offer more opportunities to women in the military," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in February.
So once again this all boils down to "the senior leaders of the military are too white and too male!"  And instead of looking at why that it they are blaming service in the combat arms branches.

To be clear, this drive is not based on an actual or perceived operational requirement.  This is all about someone's idea of "fairness" and how the world "should be" and not how it is.  Now, the real question is, "has anyone asked the mid career female population if they want a crack at Ranger school?"   Because as idealistic as the hippy chick majoring in gender studies is when she requires "true equality" she isn't the population that is going to bear the brunt of Infantry training.  Has anyone sat down and asked our female Officer and NCO population if they want a shot at joining the Infantry?  I don't care what someone outside the military thinks about this, it isn't their ass on the line.

To me "it's not fair!" isn't much of a problem.

25 May 2012

Brett Kimberlin

I don't have a dog in this fight, I'm not a law blogger.  Heck I'm hardly a gun blogger.

But having spent the day sick in bed reading about those who have been affected by Brett Kimberlin's lawfare attempts to silence those who mention his criminal past I find it ironic that Barbara Streisand is one of the donors to Brett Kimberlin's non-profits.

You see the "Streisand Effect" is when someone wants to keep information hidden, and because of their actions that information gets spread further and wider than if they had just shut the hell up. 

Now, "Lawfare" is a term about getting what you want through a legal mechanism instead of traditional military violence.  But make no mistake, lawfare is deadly serious business, backed by the full power and might of the jack booted thugs of the state.  And while I'm not a lawyer, I might know something about warfare.

There are two common principles of warfare that apply here, in my humble opinion.  1.  Dominate the terrain.  2.  Don't make yourself a target (also known as don't make it easy for the snipers).

All conflicts exist in terms of Time and Space, which we call "terrain."  In this terrain there are always things that are advantageous and disadvantageous in terms of occupying a portion of said terrain.  Brett Kimberlin keeps losing in court because he never has the high ground, all of his suits for defamation fall flat because the comments "perjurer, terrorist, suspected murderer" are in fact demonstrably true.  Truth is a good high ground to have, especially if you can prove it.  If you can't prove that you are true, then the next best thing is to prove that the other guy is false.  Brett Kimberlin has proven himself to be full of falsehood over repeated court cases.

But Brett Kimberlin has an advantage in lawfare in that he has nothing to lose.  As long as he stays in the fight he can harass people and take their time and money.  This strategy is the same as all terrorists, the good guys have to win every time, but the terrorist only has to get lucky once.  Simply dominating the terrain doesn't guarantee you'll win, but it makes it most likely the other guy won't.

Now as to the second principle, don't make yourself a target...  Brett Kimberlin has quite handily made himself a target.

I recommend that those being engaged in lawfare by Brett Kimberlin file a motion to have him committed.  By now there is enough evidence in the public domain that Brett Kimberlin cannot determine truth from falsehood that a reasonable argument can be made for his involuntary commitment at a mental institution to provide the care he so desperately needs.

My final thought?  I think that in a justice system so blind and bloated that Brett Kimberlin can get away with "lawfare" using frivolous filings and suits that it would be easier for the uninformed who doesn't know the legal terrain and would therefore be at a disadvantage, to simply "disappear" someone who attacked them as Brett Kimberlin has.  The problem with violence?  If it isn't solving your problem you just aren't using enough.

23 May 2012

The phone call

Today I learned that one of the Soldiers I went off to war with in 2009 was laid into the ground two weeks ago.

Sometimes survivors guilt is easy to deal with, sometimes it's hard to deal with.  Being in the Infantry you know that you signs on the line and you takes your chances.  Still when someone else catches the bullet it doesn't make you feel any better that it could have been you.

Sometimes I think forgetfulness is a blessing of age, some things just need to be let go.

Military Ammo, training

In a perfect world we would have all the time to train on the skills we need to go to war, with all the resources needed to conduct world class training, and no training distractions to pull people from training.  Here in reality that isn't the case.  And then there are "nebulous" training requirements that mean all things to all people.  One of those nebulous requirements is that of the Squad Designated Marksman.

Every manual out there says you should train them, every manual out there says this is what they should be able to do, but in the end it is a unit responsibility to ensure that SDM's can actually put steel on target at the ranges they need to.  I have yet to see a live fire training exercise where the SDM was actually given a target to engage at distance.  I'm sure someone somewhere has done it, but it was probably an afterthought as the ranges set up by the Army to support the Army never had to play with an SDM when they were being built back in WWII.

So training SDMs is a problem, but we can adapt our current facilities to meet the training needs, it just takes a bit of flexible thinking.  The other side of the house is equipping our SDMs.  The answer to that has been debated for a damn long time.

The best answer in the current inventory is an M16A4 with an ACOG, or barring that an M4 with an ACOG.  Why?  Because in the hands of a trained marksman even with M855 it isn't difficult to make hits out to 600 meters.  On the other hand everyone wants M14s or M110s so that they have a 7.62 caliber rifle at the squad.  There is nothing wrong with that except now your ammo is incompatible with everyone elses and you increased your SDM soldier load by 15 pounds at the lightest.

The solution to the problem really falls down into one of training.  We can't get enough experienced NCOs to actually be competent marksmen that they can turn SPC Joe Snuffy into a competent marksman in order to have a cadre of competent SDM's who aren't immediately promoted to Team Leader or pulled away by the Snipers.

If you'll notice, the SDM issue is an Army issue.  The Marine Corps maintained their tradition of "Every Marine a Rifleman" and so they don't have SDMs. This is why I'm convinced it is a training problem.  Even with crappy M855 the Marines train to shoot 500.

Anyways, what proceeded before is a long backstory to the debates over what is better, M855A1, Mk262, Mk318 SOST, or the various 7.62 solutions for equipping SDMs.  The Army tests ammo for suitability by "mean radius" which uses some statistical manipulations to calculate where bullets fall within a given shot group.  The Navy tests by Extreme Spread.  Both of these methods require shots to be put on paper, and the both require every shot to be plotted to provide the calculations for accepting a lot of ammunition into the inventory.

Extreme spread is a good way to get a quick look at your maximum effective range for a one shot hit on target.  As long as your rounds always land between the extreme spread you can easily calculate your max distance for a head shot or torso shot.  On the other hand "Mean Radius" is useful for describing the cone of fire that a properly stabilized machine gun will put on target.  The Army doctrinally likes machine guns more than snipers (dating back to our doctrine of fire and maneuver relying on machine guns to fix an enemy while a maneuver element flanks to close with and destroy the enemy) so the Army accepts ammunition tested by "mean radius".

The navy on the other hand puts hard and fast MOA limits at distance on ammunition.  Both Mk262 and Mk318 are in spec only if they are 2 minutes or less at 300 meters.  At that distance you can expect a similar sized group of M855 to be around 12 to 14 inches.  By the time you get to 600 meters M855 falls all over the place, usually around a 28 inch circle. 

Time and time again Army units have noted that the Navy spec'd ammunition produces tighter groups (the AMU used Mk262 ammo when I went through SDM training) and recommend that SDMs be issued Mk262 ammunition.  The biggest problem for me is that I can't get any for SDMs to actually do any sort of training on match grade ammo since I'm tied to the Army supply system right now.

Now the Army has accepted M855A1 as the new "green round" and it is supposedly more accurate than M855 even though it has the exact same accuracy standards for acceptance (machine gun level accuracy).  Supposedly this stuff will shoot under 2 MOA at 600, which I really hope is true.  If it is the case I will be able to train SDMs on ammunition that doesn't suck balls for accuracy at distance.  The debate on lethality of M855A1, Mk318 and Mk262 don't really bother me, at this point I just want PVT Snuffy to be able to hit the target with 90% chance of making contact with the first shot.

22 May 2012

Reloading, history, random musings

The good thing about a progressive press is that for the most part every time you pull the handle you get a loaded round (once every station is filled).  The bad thing is that there is a lot more to go wrong every time you pull the handle.

The 75gr HPBT bullets I bought from Widener's (made by PRVI in Europe) have a varied reputation.  They shoot well enough that by the time I run out I might be better served to buy Nosler 77's or Hornady 75's instead.   My experience has been good, they shoot better than M855 at all ranges I've been able to compare.

I've been using a Possom Hollow trimmer in a drill adapter, and it is working very well.  If I could just figure out how to chamfer and deburr as quickly I could save a lot of time.  But by chamfering/deburring whilst enjoying a television show with my wife I can keep up my productivity.  I think that I can make things go quicker if I set up another box to chuck the chamfering tool in the drill...

Of course the great thing about power tools is how much faster you can make mistakes.

I've been doing some research into old rifles.

If you are going to make a Swede Sniper rifle in the M41 configuration all you need to do is take an m96 bend the bolt then slap on a Type 2 Short Slide Rail and a front sight hood for optics.  And presto, you have a reproduction M41 sniper rifle.  If you happened to use a Type 3 SSR like I did, then you need to remove the locking bolt from the top of the mount and find a way to fill the screw holes so that it looks like a Type 2.

If you want to make a Swede Sniper Rifle in the M41b configuration you need to use a Swede M41b mount, which is a Type 2 SSR with an additional Swede Only recoil control bolt on the front of it, replace the rear sight ladder with an m/55 micrometer style adjustment sight, and blue the bolt.  Why they blued the bolt is beyond me.

If you happen to have a CAI receiver on your M1 Garand like I do then all the experts will tell you "spend the money and get a GI receiver from the CMP" which is not bad advice at all.  The CAI receivers were investment cast the same as Springfield Armory M1As and we know what pieces of junk those are.  Yes you get a bad one occasionally, but if it works then don't mess with it, right?  We'll see if mine holds up or grenades in my face.
  
The CAI Garands started life in Italy as Breda M1's, saw service in Denmark (hence the Crown VAR marked barrels) and found their way as parts kits to Canada since the importation of Breda receivers is somehow a no-no.  They are truly a Frankenstein rifle, and somehow that suits me just fine as all my military type rifles seem to be a mash up of parts from different manufacturers.  One of the benefits of industrial production, interchangeable parts going back all the way to Simeon North and Eli Whitney.  When Marko wrote that "Guns are Civilization" he must have been channeling my High School Sophomore history paper where I noted that "interchangeable parts for firearms commissioned by the newly formed US Congress sparked the industrial revolution in the United States."  Truly guns make the world a better place, and if you don't agree you can shot down your computer, iPod, and cellphone before hanging yourself on a rope you make from your hair shirt.

I have yet to see an all parts matching rifle significantly outshoot a mixmaster rifle (although some juniors shoot with club rifles by Bushmaster or Armalite and do quite well).  In the AR world we call those rifles "custom" instead of "Frankenstein" or "mix master".  However I am sure that anyone who can shoot a factory match rifle well will shoot a custom rifle well.

19 May 2012

Watermelon Fascism

The "Great Big Lie" that if you tell enough people will believe it during my lifetime has been "impending ecological disaster" and the only way to save ourselves from "impending ecological disaster" is to give up rights and allow the wise would be masters to have ultimate control over our lives.

I say "impending ecological disaster" because in the 60's it was "global cooling" then when it started to get warmer it was "the landfills are filling up and we'll all be living in a sea of garbage" then when warming continued it was "global warming" and then warming tapered off and stabilized and now it is "climate change."  Along the way we were told that plastic in the sea would destroy the global food chain, (turns out not so much http://news.discovery.com/earth/ocean-garbage-patch-exaggerated-110112.html)   Now I've already heard that Fukushima Daichi will kill us all.  When someone goes on about how the future is DOOMED, DOOMED I SAY! unless we give them power over our lives I want to slap them with a farm grown salmon then shoot them in the back of the head and bury them in the mass grave that they intended for me.

At least when McCarthy said there were Reds amongst us he got that right.  How cruel is history when McCarthy is the only legitimate example of using scare tactics appropriately in living memory?

The calls for abandoning our modern society (which is a triumph of conservation and preservation of ecological diversity) by idiots like this http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-face-genocidal-eco-fascism or when even educated people like astronauts should know better http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/15/world/europe/wwf-living-planet-report/index.html than to call for massive changes to our society....

Let me fisk some quotes here... (hat tip to Tam)


"The report is clear that we're still going downhill, that our ecological footprint, the pressure we put on the earth's resources, continues to rise so we're now using 50% more resources that the earth can replenish and biodiversity continues to decline," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.
The report includes a list of the world's top 10 polluting countries topped by Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. They're followed by Denmark, Belgium and the United States. Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland make up the remainder.
China isn't on the list?  The list is bullshit.  Where have these people been?  Have you ever considered that Iran burns off enough natural gas every day from its oil fields to meet their domestic energy needs for a year?  Puts that "peaceful nuclear program" in a different light now doesn't it?  Seriously, Belgium?  You can swim in the damn water in Belgium, which is not something that I'd care to try in the Yellow River.  You know what all those countries have in common?  Tourism, they are so "polluting" that people come from the world over to visit them (and if you don't think that people from all over the Middle East flock to Kuwait City for the best medical care they can buy you are an idiot).  Each of the countries on that list is a veritable paradise compared to the "Stans in the Steppes" or most of Africa.

Last I checked Ireland wasn't exactly at "Communist level Pollution" when it comes to ecology.

Oh wait, I bet their are talking about that odorless, colorless gas that is the very basis for life on this planet, Carbon Dioxide.  Useless garbage science.  Prehistoric levels of CO2 have fluctuated to levels more than twice our "modern maximum."

Now let us quote our Finnish Fascist (hat tip to Firehand)
Just as only one out of 100,000 has the talent to be an engineer or an acrobat, only a few are those truly capable of managing the matters of a nation or mankind as a whole. In this time and this part of the World we are headlessly hanging on democracy and the parliamentary system, even though these are the most mindless and desperate experiments of mankind. In democratic coutries the destruction of nature and sum of ecological disasters has accumulated most. Our only hope lies in strong central government and uncompromising control of the individual citizen.
Ten out of ten murderous dictators agree with you.  However, Zero out of Ten dictators gave a rats ass about the environment.  People who are willing to seize power to support an ideology are interested only in power, not long term environmental possibilities based on fuzzy logic and soft science.  I mean according to this guys logic North Korea, China, and Russia should be environmental utopias....

Now, clearly the more developed a nation the more extra resources it can spare to be good stewards of environmental diversity.  I am a strong conservationist and can point to a very valid link between wildlife management and economic success.  Any country that adapts its wild life and wild areas for economic purposes (hunting, recreation) creates a self sustaining system where the people who hunt, fish, and hike pay to keep the wild stuff wild.  African nations that allow sport hunting have healthier animal populations than those that don't, simply because it makes sense to take care of a renewable resource that brings in hard foreign currency.

The very idea that somehow living in a mud hut and cutting down trees for cooking and heating fuel is "greener" than nuclear or hydropower is ludicrous.  But the environmental fascists are not interested in solutions, they are interested in ideology, specifically an ideology that allows them to play out their fantasy of recreating the worst man made die offs of fellow humans in living history.  To their point of view, Hitler didn't kill ENOUGH Jews, and Stalin didn't kill ENOUGH Ukrainians, and Mao didn't kill ENOUGH Chinese.

It is like these people don't live on the same planet that I do, or at least they haven't traveled enough of the world to notice that American and European (and our Aussie and Kiwi brethren down under) cities pollute less, recycle more (at a known economic loss due to the cost of recycling) and have better air and water quality than ANYWHERE in the communist or "developing" third world.  Even the watermelons acknowledge this:
It shows a near 30% drop in biodiversity since 1970, and an even faster decline in the tropics of 60%. However, the index for temperate regions rose 31%, as some species showed signs of recovery after huge biodiversity losses the previous century.
"The read down on the temperate zone masks much more precipitous declines in other parts of the world. You see a huge loss of biodiversity across the tropics and in the poorest countries and I think that's the most alarming fact in those indices," Leape said.
 America and Europe, great land of temperate regions, already bemoaned as the worst polluters outside of the Middle East...  The cognitive dissonance here is staggering. If everything is worse in the undeveloped world, how in the world is the solution to be less developed?

The solution to pollution is dilution.  Modern societies pollute less because basic needs are met with more efficiency than stripping your local forests for cooking and heating and defecating into a ditch or stream to give your neighbor dysentery.

You want to know what civilization really is?  Miners and farmers who put raw material into our economy.  It is engineers who design roads, water distribution systems, and electric distribution systems.  Do you know who builds civilization?  Construction workers, electricians, and plumbers.  And do you know who keeps it all running?  Sanitation workers.  Energy in, energy out, resources in waste out.  People say "civilization is a thin veneer" but the people who really make civilization happen aren't the kind to gripe and whine and turn feral at the drop of the first atom bomb.

15 May 2012

Barbarians

Rome was in decline for a long time before the Barbarians were able to sack that once great Empire.  I consider myself the first wave of the Barbarian horde sacking and looting the Republic.

What is the difference between an Active Duty Soldier who gets a paycheck to risk his life and a someone freeloading off the fedgov by "making art" or reciting "Cowboy Poetry" I ask in all seriousness.  The military produces nothing, the very best that you can get out of military spending is an educated worker who may actually end up putting back into the system more than it took to educate him.

It isn't that I make this nation safer in any meaningful way.  Your average concealed carry citizen is doing just as much if not more than I.  Morally I'm taking from you, the taxpayer, and providing what exactly in return?  Yes I go to war, big deal, more than half of you don't want to waste money in remote hell holes to begin with in the first place.

I'm the guy that makes foreign wars in remote hell holes possible.  I'm the guy who signs up to do that job because it is easier than real work.  When the economy goes south recruitment goes up, because those who are willing to do violence for money are never in that short of supply to fill the ranks of the big green machine. 

Someone told me a long time ago that "When you wake up three days in a row and feel like you can't make a difference in the life of a Soldier you need to get out."  And so far that hasn't happened.  But for the last few years I've woken up feeling like I can't do a damn thing to help out my Nation.

At least I every morning I can wake up and say, "at least I'm not in the TSA where my job is to sexually molest young children and the disabled" and "at least I'm not in the BATFE where my job is to kill innocent civilians in multiple nations and violate the civil rights of Americans."

At best I'm a benign tumor in a terminally ill patient dieing of parasitic overload.

Yes there are lies we tell ourselves to pretend we are knights in shining armor instead of naked berserkers ripping the very flesh off the slowly dieing Republic.  The Romans used Barbarians when they could, and succumbed to them when they no longer had the strength to deal with those who only deal in strength.

The looting has started, and it is in my paycheck that while the number has increased over the years has lost real value over the years.  And still, all this spending that has been done on the .mil over the years is nothing to the redistribution of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Those three programs of "getting something for nothing" have done more harm to the American Republic than anything I could do.  Loot what you can, while you can, right?

But then I think of my sons.  And what future will they have?  What can I do to position them in the best possible position of advantage for the circumstances for their life.  Not all Republics collapse and rise again as something better.  Most collapse into a dictatorship or worse.  It is a pressing problem, one that I am exacerbating with every day served.  But even if every servicemember chose to not show up tomorrow the fall would still happen, and there is nothing that any of us can do about it now.

12 May 2012

The 1911 is old meme

Ok kids, way back in the 1980s high capacity semi automatic pistols in 9x19 were making inroads with military and police forces across the globe.  The civilian market soon followed with the introduction of the plastic fantastic Glock.  Heck, the US Army even went with an aluminum framed Italian pistol holding 15 rounds in the magazine.

The 1911 is dead, right?  The new pistols of the future are firmly displacing John Moses Browning's service pistol for good.  Hollowpoint bullets are on the market, it looks like the europellet is going to replace the 45.

For a while it looked that way, and then came the 1994 AWB, which limited new pistols sold to a 10 round magazine ("Clinton Clips" as they were called....) and suddenly having 8 rounds of 45 ACP in a semi auto pistol looked a lot more sensible.  After all, if you have to choose between 10+1 of 9x19 and 8+1 of 45 ACP the old warhorse doesn't seem so bad.

So the 1911 enjoyed a bit of a popularity lift due to artificially constrained market forces, and next thing you know there are a whole bunch of crap manufacturers cranking out 1911s that jam like crazy.  So the plastic guns get a reputation for "teh ultim8" in reliability (when in truth all guns fail, some just more spectacularly than others).

As a result of all thise, the 1911 market is still saturated because no one holds the patent on the design.  You and I could start cranking out 1911s in any machine shop that had a CNC milling machine, bench vise, file and stone set.  This is not a complicated gun to manufacture, but like any JMB design, requires some hand fitting to run perfectly.

Eventually the AWB sunsets like all crappy legislation should, and 1911s coast on popularity for a bit longer (being the worlds longest serving Service Pistol does mean something after all, what that is exactly I couldn't tell you).  Now those who got into shooting in the AWB are ditching the 1911 and going back to plastic guns.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Nor is there anything wrong with the 1911 design, it is a big steel pistol that handles 45 ACP better recoil wise than many of those plastic guns handle 9x19.  The 1911 is a great beginners gun since is really is a pussycat and as Tam said "stupid easy to shoot well."  Tam went back to a plastic pistol, nothing wrong with that.  My next pistol will not be a 1911, likely it will be a compact 9x19 of some sort.

Will the 1911 enjoy a second resurgence some time in the future?  Who knows, nobody I knew back then would have predicted the rise from the ashes of the 45-70.  Of course old tech is proven tech.  The Garand is a mechanical monstrosity that still puts serious lead downrange, the same can be said for the 1911.  In the end a flying chunk of copper and lead doesn't care one whit about the launching platform.

Snipers

Hat tip to Firehand who pointed out the article in question.

Former SEAL Sniper Brandon Webb says that the Army Sniper School is "really more of a designated marksman course."

In other news, the Army dominates Camp Perry. http://www.odcmp.com/Comm/publications/PDFs/AnnualReport11.pdf  and the SEALs don't bother to send anyone to the International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, http://www.benning.army.mil/snipercompetition/content/pdf/Day%203%20Results.pdf (the team that came in 4th is from a Reserve Unit from Hawaii, and I highly doubt they were able to get SOTIC trained like the SF teams ahead of them but they beat the Marines that showed up).

Now the SEALs are a fine organization of thugs who kill people and blow shit up, no doubt about that.  However when the Marines are being out shot by Army Reservists I have to question Brandon Webb's assessment of the 5 week Army Sniper School as somehow deficient and the USMC Sniper School as an example of "doing things right."

11 May 2012

The ongoing idiocy of Army fielding

The USGI magazine is a crappy piece of stamped aluminum that can go from "working perfectly" to "failure to cycle inducer" at the drop of a hat or even for being left loaded for too long.  So given the depth of redundant work TACOM goes about trying to improve the aluminum body GI Mag by ripping off Magpul's follower and using Brownell's improved magazine spring.  Then they came up with a multiple hundred dollar "gauging tool" to determine if a magazine's feed lips are in spec or not.

Meanwhile, for those actually fighting a war overseas and not working in a cushy lab stateside the GI Mag isn't cutting it.  So in response PEO Soldier issued PMags through the Rapid Fielding Initiative.  PMags were given a National Stock Number (NSN) and put into the supply system.  All is well in the world.  PMags for deploying units and there was much rejoicing.

Until this last week when TACOM (Tank and Automotive Command) sends out a message that "Polymer Magazines are not authorized for use on the M4/M16 series rifle" and I kid you not I read the message myself.  I couldn't believe it, so I looked up the TACOM manual for the M4/M16 and sure enough the PMag is not listed as an authorized accessory.  But then again neither is a "ghetto grip" or "grip pod" or "bipod."

For what it is worth, you can look up TACOM's press release where it claims that "Soldier's use chemicals that may react with polymer magazines" without explaining how those same chemicals don't react to the nylon on our rucksacks with plastic frames, polymer furniture on the M4/M16, and even the Vibram soles of our boots.  This is a cheap excuse and the grunts know it.  TACOM also says "exit polls from units departing theater continually rate the M4 as a reliable weapon" when asked why the hell they canceled the XM8, HK416 and FN SCAR programs. 

So what does a Commander do when faced with bureaucratic idiocy at its finest?  Say "Screw you, I'm in command, and I will issue my Soldiers the equipment that I deem is best." 

Seriously, there has to be some kickbacks going on at TACOM for this level of crap to be pushed down.

In full disclosure, I have a bunch of GI Mags that I use.  Most have been upgraded to Magpul followers but not all (found another 7 mags when I opened an old footlocker that was in storage) so yes I use them.  I also have PMags that are still new in the package for a "just in case" scenario.  But I can buy a PMag for about 3 bucks more than a Brownells magazine on sale, so it makes sense to buy the PMag.  It also makes sense to upgrade my remaining GI Mags with Magpul followers.

Interaction with the Nanny State

My oldest son turned 3 years of age early this year, and at his 3 year checkup the pediatrician was concerned about his verbal development.  Generally speaking men in my family are "late bloomers" when it comes to talking as toddlers.  So the pediatrician recommended a consult with a child development specialist to evaluate my 3 year old for "normal development."

So my 3 year old was evaluated on 5 areas, from "verbalization" to "shyness" and he failed 3 of 5 categories (the specialist wrote "shyness" next to each failure).  This isn't anything I didn't know, but I hoped that the "specialist" would have some sort of advice or resources to assist in teaching my son.

The "specialist" had no resources to give, and this week my wife received in the mail a notice that a committee on child welfare would meet to discuss our "case" at such and such a time and we are welcome to attend.  I am livid, absolutely fucking pissed off.

Any person with two brain cells to rub together knows that this is a colossal waste of time for all involved.  There is no environment better for my son than with his family.  There is no immediate action to take to play "catch up" on his verbal skills that this committee can offer.  The outcome is 99.9% certain that the committee will find "no evidence of neglect, endangerment, or abuse" and close the matter.

However, that .01% chance that the committee of busybodies will make some other determination pisses me off.  I've been reloading ammunition to sooth my rage (assembling precision ammunition requires a calm mind).

In my sons 3 year life he has been stationed with me at three Army posts in three different states.  He has held my hand and sent me off to war twice, and Captain's Career Course once.  He will send me off to school again this summer, but come hell or high water we will see each other more than I was able to at MCCC.  In comparison to other kids I think my son is amazingly normal and well developed.

For the last few days I've had the opportunity to look into my soul and see how far I would go to protect my child.  They say don't get between a mama bear and her cubs.  The same advice applies to not pissing off bruins as well.

09 May 2012

Condition 3 carry revisited

When I was at Ranger School there was still the "hand to hand" or "Combatives" training.  One of the more interesting parts of that training was when an instructor would toss a taser or plastic knife into the bout.  Yes I got shocked.  Yes it "got my attention."  By the time a fight involves body contact the first person to a useable weapon usually wins.  I know this, I understand this, and I still think that condition 1 carry is inappropriate for the vast majority of situations.

I've written before on why Condition 3 carry is good for slowing down your OODA loop so that you don't do something you don't want to do in hindsight.  http://randomthoughtsandguns.blogspot.com/2010/12/condition-3-carry.html 

This debate will not die, http://blog.robballen.com/2012/05/04/p5565-i-like-to-keep-the-halon-and-the-actual.post, and very respected people are dead set against Condition 3 carry with some very valid reasons.  However, those reasons are not objective but subjective, just like my reasons.

Tam has a valid point that it is "handgun" not "handsgun" and if you have a hand trapped by an attacker you are at a severe disadvantage to racking your slide.  Case in point George Zimmerman, laying on his back having his head bashed against a concrete sidewalk is probably very happy that he didn't condition 3 carry.

But, and this is my big but, if you are going into harms way, confronting unknown persons in the dark, then condition 3 carry is a bad idea.  If you are planning to put yourself in danger by all means make yourself as dangerous as possible to any potential threat.

Now, if you are NOT putting yourself in harms way, what do you gain by condition 1 carry?  A few fractions of a second while playing frisbee with your dog at the park to react to a "prison yard rush?"  If you are in a "normal" situation where even if you are trying to not be "condition white" and something bad happens, what is the first thing you do?

BAM, toddler gets hit by a truck, what do you do?  If it is anything like China you walk on by, or take a video of it.

BAM, fire hydrant fails, what do you do?  If it is anything like reality you stop and gawk for a while.

BAM, big ugly guy turns the corner in a threatening manner, what do you do? 

Well, you have 4 options; Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Submit.  If you choose fight then your OODA loop goes right out the window, your analytical portion of the brain turns off, and you FIGHT.  Of course you could end up shooting an undercover policeman, just like happened in New York.  OODA loop fail, inability to properly assess the situation.

If you choose to Freeze while you take in information you might make yourself a tempting target to the big ugly homeless guy who is staggering towards you with his face contorted because of acute angina.  He walks away if you can unfreeze fast enough to call 911.

If you choose Flee, then you live and he may or may not. 

If you choose "Submit" you shouldn't be reading this blog.

I cannot make anyones choices for them, nor can I make people stop writing posts about why "condition X is totally wrong and should be banned by law!"  Carry in a manner that you choose based on your experience and risk level. 

Now why is Condition 3 a really good idea?  If it weren't for condition 1 carry we wouldn't have the meme of "Only Ones" from the cop down in Florida who said  "I'm the only one in this room qualified to handle a Glock 40" before shooting himself in the leg in front of a classrom of elementary students.

"But Merc" you say, he disobeyed the 4 rules!  Yup he did, and so will you at some point.  Whether your screwup results in a hospital visit or not remains to be seen.

05 May 2012

The consequence of debt

So wirecutter posted a link to a story about an insider who says that DHS is arming up to go all SS on the American public.  Long story short, America can't service its debt, the dollar collapses, the world goes mad.

Normally I'm a pretty skeptical guy, so the thought of a government planning to go to war on its citizens is one that makes me ask, "what would they gain from such an action?"  After all, if you are going to do something, then you are probably doing it to gain some sort of advantage in either the short or long term.

But two years ago I would have told you that federal agents would never violate the federal laws they were sworn to uphold in order to move weapons across the border to Mexico where they would end up killing Mexican citizens and American citizens when they came back across.  Clearly the cries for "more gun control" from the usual suspects in Congress stating that their agents broke the law because they were hampered by the law not allowing them the freedom to do whatever the fuck they'd like whenever the fuck they'd like were part of the "long term gain" from that action.  They wanted more gun control, and damn the bodies they were going to get it.

So I am a little less skeptical about insiders in the .gov telling a truth that sounds too outlandish to be real.  I may not see exactly how tearing this country apart with another civil war would be in anyone's best interest, unless that party expected to be a victor, ruling unhindered by any pretense of constitutional law or restriction.

What does our current dear leader have to say about Constitutional laws and restrictions?

OBAMA: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.
But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted. One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.
MODERATOR: Let’s talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you’re on Chicago Public Radio.
KAREN: Hi. The gentleman made the point that the Warren court wasn’t terribly radical with economic changes. My question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place – the court – or would it be legislation at this point?
OBAMA: Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way.
You just look at very rare examples during the desegregation era the court was willing to for example order changes that cost money to a local school district. The court was very uncomfortable with it. It was very hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.
The court’s just not very good at it and politically it’s very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally. Any three of us sitting here could come up with a rational for bringing about economic change through the courts.

Ok, I see it now.  In order to bring about the utopian dream of Marxist wealth redistribution we have to kill a bunch of people break a few eggs to make an omelet.   All the classic tricks are being worked on... take control of the food supply (stop family farms from being an economic possibility, seize food as part of "emergency response" or some such nonsense).  Can't have mass starvation in the worlds bread basket unless you follow the Russian model of starvation in the breadbasket of Asia.  Have a secret police?  Yup the Department of Education SWAT team sounds like a good start there.  I mean, how hard is it to pass an official budget?  Pretty hard it seems, unless there is absolutely no way to pass an official budget without totally destroying the illusion that there is a way out of the debt hole we've dug ourselves into.

Now I am still skeptical, often times "war games" or "emergency response scenarios" are discussed and worked at high levels (you want your people to have a plan to respond to an earthquake or massive power outage).  So this report of "planning to go to war with America" could be both true and inconsequential.  But what if it is not?  That is the question, isn't it?

High Power update, reloading stuff, gear

Today I did better than my last match (617-1X back in March), as I shot a 660-6x.  Neither of these numbers are going to make other shooters quake in their boots at my martial prowess.  One of the guys from the office brought his rifle and we squadded together.  For those doing the math, 660/800=0.825 so I am statistically hitting inside the 8 ring.  This is holding in the black, and I'm looking forward to working to get better.  After all, 660-6X was dead last of all the adults shooting today.

AAR comments:

On my handloads, loading 24.4~24.6 grains (the tolerance of charge weights dropped by my setup) of Alliant Power Pro 2000MR under a 75gr HPBT or 80gr A-Max is a solid performance choice with Wolf 556 primers and Lake City brass.  My buddy was going to shoot the match with M855 green tip, and I gave him some of my handloads to use instead.  He won two stages and at the end had 22 more points than I did.  There were no signs of pressure with any cases ejected from either rifle, and ejection was consistently at the 2 o'clock about 5 feet from the rifle in the prone position with both loads.  The barrel didn't show any signs of excessive copper fouling in my barrel, and I'll ask the other guy I work with if he noticed any fouling.

On slings.  Last match I used a traditional leather 1907 style sling, this time I used a green cotton M1 web sling and I think that I'll use it from now on.  The leather sling is good, but the M1 sling was much easier to clip and unclip from the rifle.

On gloves.  The Creedmoor sports open finger glove really helped me stay stable in slung positions.  This piece of gear more than any other made shooting much more pleasant.

On jackets.  Since my Creedmoor hardback is still pending arrival we simply used a canvas work jacket to try to keep the sling from utterly destroying our biceps.  It was not an ideal solution, but better than nothing.  I'm looking forward to the arrival of my hardback.

Final thoughts.  I didn't magically gain 43 points on my score over the last seven weeks.  My first match this year wasn't my finest performance, and this match had much better wind conditions.  I also had better ammo, tighter sights, and a better glove.  So in this sport, gear counts.


03 May 2012

Planning, dwell time, .mil life

Sometimes I have to ask myself, "am I bitching or just telling it like it is?" when discussing my life.  A while back I wrote that I wouldn't recommend a career in the Army to someone who had other options, and that advice is still the same. 

4.5 months ago I got off a C17 and we went  back to doing things in garrison.  This summer I'm losing three months of family time to an Army school.  The Army will call my three months away from home "dwell time" and count it as "quality family time."  The truth is that "dwell time" is not "quality family time" and there are really no "good jobs" out there that get you home in time for dinner on a regular basis in the active Army Officers.

To explain a deployment cycle, a unit gets ready, deploys, comes back and gets put into "RESET" where all our equipment is gone over and made, when RESET ends a unit goes into the "Train" cycle that ends with a major validation exercise, and then the unit goes into the "Ready" or "Available" pool of units. 

So here I am, and we are planning for our next deployment.  We aren't out of RESET yet, and already planners up and down the chain are working on getting ready to go out the door.  Of course planning is just planning and a lot can change between now and any potential mission execution.  But still my head is in my next school and a potential future deployment.

But my experience on the ground in Afghanistan gives me little hope that another deployment will change anything for the better any time soon.  I know that I'll still go, still do my job to my very best, but somehow I'm not expecting it to be a fruitful endeavor.