28 June 2012

Health care....

So the SCOTUS decided that Obamacare is a tax, that Congress has the Constitutional Authority to levy taxes, and that while unprecedented a tax that goes to a private corporation in the form of "medical insurance" still meets the definition of a tax.  Personally I think that is a stretch too far for the definition of the word "tax" but I guess if the force of government is bearing down upon someone to hand over money it doesn't matter so much who receives the geld.  If you pay the Danegeld you'll never be rid of the Dane.

Is this the end of America?  No, the end of America happened decades ago, we are just now feeling the effects of tumors.  The first cancer was slavery, and the first symptom was the Civil War.  The second cancer was the Depression and FDR.  The third cancer was the "War on (some) Drugs" as Tam likes to say, although I think it is more appropriate that it is the "War on certain chemicals" as even in quantities too small to have a measurable drug effect on your system it is still illegal in most cases (remember kids, the dose is what makes the difference between medicine and poison).  There have been other smaller tumors along the way, all done with the very best of intentions.  The war on poverty, the Patriot Act, the various pork projects that did nothing but empty the public coffers faster than the productive could fill them. 

Today for the first time in my career I listened to a course instructor, teaching Captains through Lieutenant Colonel say, "The US is no longer a superpower."  And none of us disagreed with him. A room of over twenty commissioned officers, from combat arms to engineers to military intelligence, and we all nodded our heads in agreement.  Combat patches on right shoulders, awards on chest, and we agreed with the instructor who himself served in war and peace for over twenty years.  Sometimes the most dangerous thing you can have is a delusion of grandeur, or even a delusion of adequacy.  We are beyond the comfort of delusional thinking in the Officer corps. 

NCO's complain that Officers make simple shit hard, and there is some truth to that, but the truth is grounded in the fact that Congress controls the purse strings, and Congress writes the rules.  Yes even an all male unit must undergo mandatory sexual harassment training.  The problem with ignoring policy like that to "make life simple" is that you will be relieved of command, and replaced by someone who will implement policy. 

I look to the world around us and see that universal health care comes with a dear price.  And the very best the world can come up with for universal healthcare has been Canada, where we get the phrase, "Access to a wait list is not access to health care" and doctors routinely recommend the "American Option" to patients with the means to obtain healthcare south of the border.  The phrase, "Medical Tourism" has driven patients from countries with universal healthcare to countries without.  Look for that tax revenue stream to dry up.

When I was a child I thought as a child, spoke as a child, and acted as a child.  But when I became a man I had to put away childish things.  The idea that there can be any sort of government on this planet that can alleviate human suffering and bring about a utopia is a childish thought.  Like flying unicorns or luck dragons it is an amusing diversion at best, at worst it is a lifelong obsession.  This obsession the Left has with making the world a better place brings nothing but ruin.

I am thankful that I will not be part of implementing this boondoggle on the American people.  I work very hard to implement the policy pushed down to strategy pushed down to missions pushed down to operations that I don't agree with.  Officers don't make strategy, at best there are a few 4 stars at echelons above reality who can influence the strategy makers.  The hands on the helm are not affected by those of us rowing below decks.  Half the time the policy changes take us by surprise the same as the rest of the nation.

So there we go, the fundamental change of America continues.  The mid level careerists in a different government agency will work to implement this dog turd on the American public.  I wonder if a Legionnaire turned to a Centurion and said, "You know this 'Bread and Circuses' policy can't last forever."

24 June 2012

Global Warming, check my math and logic

We have exactly 5 decades of observational data on atmospheric CO2 concentrations from an observatory on top of an active volcano that spews carbon dioxide.  So, starting in the 1950's the concentration was 315 ppm, and as of the latest it is 395 parts per million.  Lets do some simple math.  395 minus 315 equals 80 parts per million increase over 50 years.  Divide 80 by five and we are looking at 16 ppm per decade, or 1.6 parts per million increase in carbon dioxide per year.

Remember a few posts back where I scribbled out some calculations about how much increase per year in CO2 concentration could come from the reported human fossil fuel burning numbers?  If we assume for the moment that my numbers are correct, about 4 ppm per decade, then where the heck is the remaining 12 ppm coming from?

Well, the IPCC says that the extra CO2 is coming from somewhere else, maybe offgassing of permafrost or the deep oceans.  Bottom line is that they don't know where the vast majority of the carbon is coming from (if my numbers are anywhere near accurate, which is why I desperately want someone else to crunch the numbers).

Lastly, this "carbon makes more carbon feedback cycle" is utterly ludicrous.  If warming is caused by carbon, and carbon causes warming, this planet would never experience an ice age.  Obviously something else is going on that we don't know about, can't account for, or aren't measuring.

Second issue, the IPCC claims that greenhouse gasses will cause the troposphere to warm and the stratosphere to cool.  The model is simple, the earth warms the troposphere but the added greenhouse gasses slow heat transfer to the stratosphere to a rate below the transfer of heat from the stratosphere into space.  No laws of thermodynamics are broken in this model.

However, I have an equally valid model that goes like this, the stratosphere is warmed by UV radiation interacting with Ozone.  Ozone depletion in the stratosphere causes more UV to go through to the surface (since the troposphere contains very little ozone) and the stratosphere cools.  Meanwhile the surface gets warmed by the extra UV radiation, and causes the troposphere to warm up via the normal convection and radiation cycles, but this does not speed up the heat transfer from the troposphere to the stratosphere. 

Which model is true?  Obviously the science of ozone thinning has been well documented, so why is my model any less valid than the IPCC accepted model?  http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/361/1469/769.full

Corporal Yauch, two years later

On a trip between two Army bases I wasn't so far out of line with Batesville, Arkansas that I couldn't justify not stopping by to pay my respects to one of the men we lost in Iraq in 2010.

Two years ago was a weird time for me.  I was working long hours and up to my eyeballs with UCMJ and med boards trying to straighten out the rear detachment.  Having been voluntold to fill a seat at the Army Ball at Joint Base Lewis McChord with my 3 month pregnant wife I was dressed to the nines in my blues until we called it a night and went home.  A few hours pass and my cell phone goes off and it is my boss in Iraq and his words are, "We had a bad day."  The whims of fate, one minute listening to a Medal of Honor recipient speak on leadership and duty, saying the toasts to the President, to the Army, and finally to our fallen comrades.  A night of tradition and ceremony followed by a phone call, adding more names to the ranks of our fallen comrades I had toasted scant hours before.

He let me know what was coming down, evacuating the wounded and the dead, all the things I would have to do to receive them, and all that we could do for their families we did.  But it never feels like enough.

Standing by the grave of a young man who stood up like so many of his peers in the Army did, and so many of his peers in the civilian world didn't, and he said, "sure, I'll do it."  Whether the source of your oath is from deep patriotism or just a desperate need for a job it doesn't change the fact that you made an oath and are then honor bound to see it through.  And he did, along with another NCO that we lost that day. 

When I found out that my boys were dying again in Afghanistan I was angry.  I had just done 7 and a half months there and came out just fine.  And I've had to ask why, why has God spared me from harm?  I don't deserve to come home any more than anyone else, why was I spared injury or death?

It is survivors guilt, and it is something that I haven't dealt with very well.  Guilt isn't logical, and logically I know that who lives and who dies is never fair or logical.  The whims of fate are what they are, and they can't be changed.  But emotionally survivors feel like failures, second guessing themselves as to whether they truly did all they could do to keep their buddies alive.

I didn't find any sort of closure or healing, but I did find some wisdom.  Turn survivors guilt into survivors purpose.  Assume that you did get to go home for some reason, and then live to fulfill that reason.  I have a lot of very valid reasons to live, and to keep on living.  I am thankful for the life I have, and maybe next time I deploy I can make sure more of us come back.

23 June 2012

IPCC Warming, check my math

The IPCC 4th assessment report shows 0.2 degrees Celcius per decade of warming for the last 30 years.  I'm not going to argue this point, but we'll analyze it a tad.

If my math is correct in the previous post, that means we've had between a 6 and 9 ppm increase in CO2 due to burning fossil fuels, making concrete, etc, to go with a 0.6 degree C rise in average global temperature.  When the IPCC says that the lower range of Carbon sensitivity is around 2.4 degrees (based on the lowest estimate of sensitivity) we should expect doubling carbon dioxide to raise the temperature 2.4 degrees.  2.4 degrees divided by 400ppm should give us a 0.006 increase in temperature per part per million of carbon.  That means that atmospheric CO2 would need to increase at 33.3 ppm per decade to give a 0.2 degree celcius rise.

Does that sound a little outlandish?  This is why the IPCC has to have such complicated feedback models involving water and other gasses, there just isn't enough man made CO2 in the atmosphere to account for the warming observed based against the anthropogenic carbon dioxide.  The IPCC says that of that 2.4 degrees of sensitivity, somewhat around half of that is due to carbon and the rest is due to "positive feedbacks" in the climate models.

Now the craziest claim about CO2 in the IPCC assessment reports?  Natural forces respond to anthropogenic carbon with yet even more carbon.  But wait, didn't the IPCC also claim that natural forces took up 60% of anthropogenic carbon?  Yes, yes they did.  But if the world does get warmer, we know that atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase even without humans burning 29 gigatonnes of fossil fuels. 

With high confidence I can say that a colder Earth has less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and a warm Earth has more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  I cannot say with confidence that the current warming is caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide based on observed CO2 measurements of our atmosphere since the end of the little ice age.  The CO2 ppm swings have been on orders of magnitude beyond what we have put into the air.

22 June 2012

Can someone check my math?

I came across this quote from an Ohio State website with notes from a lecture.

The impact of human activity (industrial or otherwise) upon the Earth's atmosphere is real and it is measurable.
Which really rubs me the wrong way, because the literature I've read, from wikipedia to peer reviewed original research, has vastly different conclusions about the exact measurable amount of human control over climate, what is a correct method for conducting those measurements, and assigning meaningful amounts of the blame to natural forces.

But what the hell, lets do some science.  Total atmospheric mass is 5.1480×1018 kg, at least according to Wikipedia.  The AGW proponents claim that around 20 Giga Tons of Carbon are put into the air every year (some claim 29 gigatons, but I like round numbers as starting points).  At this point the math is simple.  Convert giggatonnes to kilograms, and for the sake of easy math I'm going to assume metric tons, so 20 gigatonnes becomes 20,000,000,000,000,000 kg.  To make the math easier we'll just knock off sixteen zeros (divide each side of the equation by 10 quadrillion), so we get 2 kg divided by 514,800 kg.  That gives us 3.855 times 10 to the negative 6 power of carbon as a percentage of the total atmosphere.

But wait, there's more!  There is always more isn't there?  So we've done a back of the napkin calculation here and shown how little 20 giga tons of carbon actually is in relation to the atmosphere.  But this calculation exists without a time stamp, so lets multiply our answer by a century and see what the cumulative affect is.  But we are stuck down at 3.855 times ten to the negative 3 power.  Still a very very small number.

Multiply that original number by a thousand and we are still at 3.855 percent of atmosphere by weight. Just so you know, that is the current level of emission (roughly) along a ten thousand year time span.

But wait again!  Don't we measure CO2 in "Parts Per Million" instead of a percentage of total mass?  Why yes, yes we do.  Here the math gets a little more complicated as different molecules have different masses.  But we can pull out Avagadro's Number and crunch it, or we can consult a handy reference tool http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/molecular-mass-air-d_679.html and look up a standard molecular weight for "air".  So 28.97 kg per mol, then 1 kg of air has 1/28.97 mols of "air" in it.  So we get 0.03451 mols of "air" per kg of "air" and multiply that by 6.022x10 to the 23rd power will give us the number of molecules in that kg.  So we are looking at 2.078 times 10 to the 22nd power molecules per kg of air.

So, to calculate the number of molecules of anthropogenic carbon in that kg we need to multiply the percentage of carbon by the total the total number of molecules.  So 3.855 times ten to the negative 6 power multiplied by by 2.078 times ten to the 22nd.   That gives us 8.073 times ten to the 17 molecules of carbon.  Now to get that back into a useable percentage form to calculate parts per million we divide 8.077 to the 17th by 2.078 to the 22nd.  Simplifying the math that is 8.077 divided by 2.078 to the 5th.  That gives us 3.885 to the negative 5th.  Or 0.00003885 which is about right I think, as 1 part per million is equal to 0.0001, so at this rate we should expect atmospheric CO2 to gain 1 part per million about every two and a half years.

Does that fit with our CO2 measurements?  No, because even AGW proponents say that 60% of anthropogenic CO2 is taken back by the carbon sinks, it is only the remaining 40% that sticks around.  So what that means is that we can expect less than 2 ppm increase in CO2 per decade if my math is correct.  I have very little confidence that my math is correct because this is really just my scribbling on the back of a digital envelope.  So all that talk of catastrophe if we don't cut carbon emissions now?  Not too worried about it, at 2 ppm per decade it would take (lets see that's 20 ppm per century, doubling would require 400 ppm) about 2,000 years.  If you increase my starting estimate to 30 gigatons you increase the incoming carbon by 50%, which means that this final number to double carbon content of the atmosphere only goes down to 1,000 years (assuming the rest of the math is solid).

Seriously, can anyone check my math?

21 June 2012

Group size

Today I went to the range and shot a 10 shot group at 100 yards to see if I screwed up the crown of my AR by polishing out a nick using a hemispherical machine screw chucked into a hand drill.

I don't normally shoot from the bench, but this was confirming the accuracy of the weapon system as opposed to testing the accuracy of the weapon operator.  My group gave me an interesting result.

Extreme spread for the 10 shot group was 2.375 inches, subtract the furthest flyer and the ES dropped to 1.5 inches, and if you drop the furthest out then the 8 shot group went to 1.25 inches.  These are edge to edge minus a caliber using a ruler that is only calibrated to the 1/16 of an inch, so excess digits are me converting fractions to decimals and not actual precision measurements.

What is even more interesting is that the 10 shot string was a 98-1X using a 20 yard rapid fire pistol target at 100 yards.  Not going to win any benchrest competitions any time soon, but more than adequate for High Power shooting.  The 20 yard rapid fire pistol has a smaller dimensions than the High Power SR-1 target, so I'm pretty sure that the score would be higher on the actual target.

Something that screwed me up at my last match was that my thin sight post got lost in the black of the target, using the smaller pistol target meant my front sight post could cut across the black of the target and let me know when it was cut in half for vertical elevation control.  This might mean I need a fatter front sight post to help keep my shot placement steady.

16 June 2012

Water vapor, slaughtering sacred cows

Don Gwinn of "Push the Pull Door" posted a screen capture of a Christian ranting against Stephen Hawking's assertions of atheism.  Marko Kloos responded that such people were relatively harmless until they voted in mass and started indoctrinating children with their unscientific twaddle in public schools.  It was an atheist smug fest.

Someone asked, "What about global warming?"

Wow, talk about an abrupt topic change right?  I mean a document created by a committee of people from today (the IPCC) should clearly be superior to a document created by people 3000 years ago right? 

And someone bit at the hook, jumping to defend Anthropogenic Global Warming as "scientific" and "mainstream science."  Even going so far to claim, "The upper temperature bracket has tracked well with the IPCC 2001 projection."

Unfortunately for the one who according to his profile studied Philosophy, temperatures have flatlined.  Evidently studying philosophy means spouting your mouth off before looking at the data.  Declining solar output from 2001 to about 2008 caused temperatures to cool.  Amazing how much the sun affects climate. 

As far as other IPCC predictions, one of the "projections" made with "almost certainly will happen" was an increase in tropospheric water vapor that would exacerbate the "greenhouse effect."  Unfortunately for the IPCC there has been a reduction in tropospheric water vapor to go along with that decline in temperature they didn't think would happen.

Science is simple, either your hypothesis is supported by the experiment or not.  Right now the IPCC hasn't had good luck with the "projections" they've made.  In fact now they focus almost solely on "surface temperature" because it is the only way they can show warming.  This is almost scientific fraud at its worst, associating surface temperatures with "climate" is almost as bad as Piltdown man.

And yet nothing I write here will change the mind of any true believer in AGW.  Nor is anything that Don Gwinn going to do to make fun of Christians going to stop anyone from believing in that faith.  Make no mistake, AGW has bypassed "science" and gone straight to "cult like belief system" where outsiders are persecuted and insiders do whatever it takes to protect the group.

As a side note, the error bars on the IPCC projections are enough that anything from freezing to frying and in between.  Reminds me of the Hippy Dippy Weatherman's ultimate forecast, "The weather will continue to change."


15 June 2012

What is going on in the world?

I pay more attention to things going on in Afghanistan than most other Americans because 1, I've been there and 2, I have friends still over there.

But I haven't been paying much attention to the rest of the world.  I don't know what shenanigans Iran or Venezuela is pulling off this month.  I'm pretty sure the low grade genocide against whites in South Africa is still going on, and still being ignored by the same crowd that put forth a commercial campaign to get President W to "send the Troops to Darfur."  And for those folks asking for troops in Darfur, now two presidents have told them, "yeah, some other time."  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rafael-medoff/george-clooney-sudan_b_1353817.html 

I don't even need to do a Google search to know that Africa is a hell hole of misery and poverty (I've had friends over there as recently as last year).  Still want to go over there and hunt a cape buff some day.

Here at home I think we've crossed some sort of "watershed moment" where the size of Government is incapable of actually shrinking.  It is incapable because enough idiot voters believe that the bloat provides "vital services" or some other BS.  If a government is providing "services" you can bet that it is doing so in the least efficient and most wasteful manner possible. 

Email and FedEx are killing the Post Office.  Just imagine how much simpler it would be if a private company managed the affairs of the DMV.  Really all the DMV does is record who has paid taxes on their vehicle and who has passed a driving test, do we really need a government agency to handle something as simple as database management?  In my home state of Washington private agencies can act as front offices for the DMV, and it is always much easier to deal with them than an actual DMV office.  The next step is to just open up bids, and as long as the State gets their cut of the tax money everyone should be happy right?

But I don't think that it can actually happen, despite the Scott Walker victory in Wisconsin.  Taking collective bargaining rights from public employees just puts them on equal footing as Federal employees, and we've seen how effective that has been at curtailing .gov bloat.

It seems to me that a simple math test should be required before someone is allowed to run for public office.  No matter how complex the manipulations between the "input" and "outflow" portions of the data sheet you really need to keep your "input" and "outflow" numbers the same or you sink into debt.  And it really is that simple, even a game show host can do it.  This video is dated to last year, but is it any less true today?


It is like I pop my head out of my own little world and none of the "problems" anyone was talking about last year are any closer to an actual solution.  OWS is still griping, the TEA party is still pointing out that basic math doesn't lie, and to top it all of it's an election year.  But hey, the President says that the private sector is doing fine, so all is well right?

12 June 2012

Barrel steel, steel coatings

So I plan on shooting my current Colt HBAR (chrome chamber, naked bore) barrel until it gives up the ghost.  However since I plan on shooting after that point I have been researching what barrels are out there to replace the one I'm using.  Considering that the cost of parts only goes up it makes sense to buy high wear parts and stock them for the future.

High power shooters choose stainless steel barrels and that is that.  I don't know of any high power shooters who don't.  I'm the odd duck on the line who is shooting a CMV barrel.  So that narrows down my list of barrel choices.

Krieger barrels start at over 400 just for the naked barrel.  A White Oak barrel made on a Wilson Blank is about half that.  Is the Krieger twice as good as the White Oak?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  Noveske is about the same price as Krieger, but once again I'm not a good enough shooter to know the difference.

Stainless steel barrels come in a couple varieties that I can find, 416 Stainless for the major brands, and 410 Stainless for Bravo Companies stainless barrels, and LW50 for yet other companies.  The "better" the steel the more expensive the barrel (generally speaking).  Straight 416 has the lowest life expectancy, only slightly better than uncoated CMV.  416R, which has a lower sulfur content than regular 416, seems to last folks about twice that of CMV.  410 and LW50 seem to start losing accuracy about 3 times that of uncoated CMV.

On the CMV side of the house, there are two alloys that come up, 4140 and 4150.  The only difference is a small bit of carbon in the mix.  As far as wear and tear goes, I can't find any significant difference between these two steels when they are uncoated or coated in the same manner.  That doesn't mean differences don't exist, only that I can't find them.

Steel coatings, traditionally for the AR world has meant chrome.  A chrome bore and chamber has been a staple offering for reliable rifles the world round and the AR is no different.  However chrome makes accuracy a crapshoot, either the rifle shoots good or it doesn't.  And there is no way to tell which barrel will survive the chroming process with accuracy intact.

Now a "new" process has hit the gun world, nitriding (aka Melonite) which allows better dimensional stability in the final product than hard chrome plating.  The Smith and Wesson M&P 15 series makes good use of melonite coating on their barrels to good effect.  Life expectancy of a melonite coated barrel is as good as if not better than the best stainless steel barrel.

So there are options out there other than stainless.  However melonite coated 4140 or 4150 barrels in a Service Rifle contour are pretty much a custom order at this point, so it looks like I'm going with stainless for now.


10 June 2012

Individual skills, group tactics.

In my last post about "Support By Fire" someone asked, "what do you do about it?"  Well I'll speak mainly from second hand experience in Iraq from different forums and exercises conducted based on after action reports.

The answer is, by the time your door is kicked in you can't do a damn thing but submit or die.  As long as there is a somewhat functioning legal system you can take your chances with that (many Iraqis did and were back on the streets within days).  If you are prepared to go "Aces and Eights" on the thugs you can rig your house to blow and take some with you.  But for those who choose to submit and live, I cannot fault their choice.  Every person who becomes a prisoner taxes the thugs resources, every person who stays alive really does live to fight another day.  You can't fight when your dead, but if you are dead already then take as many as you can with you. 

But if the thugs start rounding up people you know, chances are you are already on a list and you should get out of your residence at the first opportunity.  After all, if you know they are going to be at a certain place, but not at a certain time, that is a tactical advantage.

Tactical advantage is all about knowing something the other guys doesn't know, holding terrain the other guy doesn't hold, and making decisions that make the other guys decisions irrelevant. 

I've mentioned the "sniper spiderweb" before.  You could in theory do it with two positions, but only on a perfectly flat plane, single hill, or double hill terrain.  Since reality isn't like that, you need three positions or more, and in my opinion 5 is about ideal. 

If you can set up five sniper positions all facing in on an objective, you can always retreat away from or towards the objective and have four other teams covering your movement.  Remember what I said about "support by fire" trying to achieve standoff?  I guarantee you that unless they are going to unload with heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles they won't be outside the "spiderweb."  And if they do bring heavies to the fight, you have eyes on that position and can choose not to fight that day.  Or you could choose to wait to blow the objective after the thugs are inside, a house born improvised explosive device is a bad day for the entry team.

Only your imagination limits how you respond to thug aggression.  But if you decide to do it alone then you have already isolated yourself.  It is true that not having a network means you can't be compromised by others, but it also means your job is much much harder.  Getting "Juba" in Iraq was a matter of expending massive resources and a lot of luck (and dropping a 500 pound bomb on his building) so a lone wolf can be very effective. 

So at the end of my post I don't have THE answers to "what to do about X" but I have a bunch of thoughts.  Tactics are not written in stone, and thinking that there is a playbook that has all the answers is dangerous.  There are steps to follow to ensure maximum odds of success (such as always maintaining security and setting up a robust support by fire position) but there is never a guarantee of success.

09 June 2012

Aimpoint Red Dot, pop up qual, reflections on marksmanship

Last week my unit ran through the annual rifle qual on a 300 meter pop up range.  20 rounds prone supported, 10 rounds prone unsupported, 10 rounds kneeling.  Targets ranged from 50 to 300 meters.  50 and 100 meter targets are "Head and Shoulder" targets, 150 and beyond were the "Crazy Ivan" targets.  The "Crazy Ivan" is slightly thinner than an E-type, and is therefore a better target to simulate actual enemy soldiers.

I shot a 37 out of 40, which was a score bested by my shooting buddy who failed to engage a target and shot a 39 out of 40.  I rushed the trigger three times, he waited too long setting up the shot once.  I've shot 40 for 40 a few times before (twice with an M16A2 with irons, once with an M4 and ACOG), and was disappointed in my performance this week.  This time I was using an M4 with an Aimpoint CompM2 on top (or M68 for those who insist on the .mil designation). 

Don't get me wrong, just because I haven't been training on that setup since 2007 is no excuse for poor marksmanship on my part.  Using a red dot sight is stupid easy even if it is dang near impossible to get a solid cheek weld with one on an M4, and the targets are huge (human sized) in comparison to the black on a High Power target.

So my ego is a little bruised, I know I can do better and yet I didn't.  However, this has given me some reflecting on how I've trained, and how to focus my training in the future.  So what follows is my meandering thoughts on rifle marksmanship.

Since getting back from Afghanistan and getting back into High Power matches I feel like a noob all over again.  I started this year with a 617, followed by a 667, followed by a 630 (albeit with some huge screwups on my part for that score, such as shooting at the wrong target).  None of those scores are enough to even qualify above NRA marksman.  I shoot "expert" darn near every time on an Army qualification course but can't even get ranked as a "sharpshooter" by the NRA?  Why is that?

Well for one thing, the scoring is different.  On an Army qual range, it is binary, a hit is a hit and a miss is a miss.  On a High Power range, you can miss the target but if you hit you have rings 5 through 10, so your score is a bit more analogue.  So I can hit the target every time and still not qualify above "marksman" because my shots are not very "precise."  Precision is the name of the game, and right now I don't have it.

When I shoot High Power, my best strings are always rapid fire sitting and rapid fire prone, why?  Because they most closely resemble the Army Qual Tables that I've been shooting since basic training (in the previous century to you young whippersnappers).  I am very good at concentrating to engage a target rapidly in a short period of time.  I am not very good at standing slow fire or prone slow fire.  The rhythm of those events is much newer to my experience. 

The Army trained me pretty well for rapidly engaging targets (and on a qual range I was often the first one to fire when a target appeared) using a battlesight zero.  At 200 and 300 yards my rapid fire scores are fairly decent (often above 180).  What the Army didn't train me for was slow fire, mastering the zen art of doing the exact same thing every time and doing it well. 

So far my training for slow fire has been dry fire.  I think that I will start adding all the other accoutrements to my training routine.  Instead of focusing just on sight picture and trigger pull, I'll use snap caps and a cartridge box to re-create the entire ritual of shooting slow fire.  Get my mind and body used to every motion, how long it takes to go from loading to firing to loading again.  I know I can shoot precisely, I just need to get used to doing it the High Power way, feeling comfortable with each motion so that I'm not fumbling with the ammo or bolt release, just on the shot.

The old saying, "It is much easier to teach a Soldier to shoot than a Shooter to soldier" is becoming less and less true to me.  We can collapse basic training into 6 weeks if necessary to push people to the front lines, but to truly train to mastery of rifle marksmanship?  That is taking me significantly longer.  Sure beats golf though.

08 June 2012

Rifle Cleaning

I hate CLP.  It is a poor substitute for a cleaner, lubricator, or protector.  Unfortunately it is the only "Army Authorized" cleaning solution.  I don't think anyone has ever gotten a barrel truly clean using CLP.

For my Service Rifle AR, I don't think I've ever used CLP.  And now that I'm shooting more, I am cleaning more.  I picked up two cleaning solutions in the last few months, Rem 40X and MPro7 Copper Remover.  As much as I like shopping in the automotive section for my gun cleaning chemicals I felt it was time to get something barrel specific.

I've shot 3 matches this year, and lent the rifle to someone for a 25 meter alt qual.  I usually use an Otis pull through system to knock out the fouling between uses.  But I noticed some copper streaks near the muzzle that just shouldn't have been there, so I broke out the old sectional rod and went to town.

First I wrapped a patch around a brass bore brush, then soaked that in Rem40X.  A couple strokes up and down the bore had black liquid flowing out of the muzzle.  So I repeated the 40X treatment for three more patches.  Then two dry patches, the second patch came out dry and white.  So then I hit the bore with MPro7 copper remover, and started getting some brownish green gunk.  Let the copper remover sit, then dry patches until they came out clean and white.

And still the copper streaks remain near the muzzle.  The tops of the lands are polished to a dull shine but the grooves are still fouled with copper.  Slightly frustrating, but unless I switch my powder to Hogdon CFE or Power Pro 1000 then I'm just going to have to live with some stubborn copper fouling.

For the rest of the upper receiver, bolt and BCG, I used my normal cleaning method of 5w-30 and synthetic grease.  The best part about using grease?  After a match there is still some lube on the bolt, even if the gas rings have been blown dry. 

I should probably invest in a synthetic coated rod, having a bare metal rod (no matter how soft the alloy) can't be the best thing for my bore.

So, hands down Rem40X is great for a deep cleaning of your rifle bore, but even then it may not get out all the copper fouling.

07 June 2012

I'm having a slow year....

This year is half over, and my post count is way below normal, by about 50%. 

There could be some legitimate reasons for this, having more responsibility at work, having more responsibility at home, but in the end I really just have less give-a-damn about things that I used to be more passionate about.

Then again I reload more, I shoot more, and while I'm not particularly good at reloading or shooting I'm good enough to keep engaging in both.  I should probably buy a spare barrel and bolt for my AR while they are still relatively cheap.  One thing I have learned, even in my short time as an adult ammo and gun prices only go in one direction.

Bubble Economics

Economic bubbles are funny things.  They are funny because in hindsight they are very predictable.  The best traders throughout history have been able to lead the bubble, and then abandon ship before the messy "pop" at the end.

The Dutch Tulip bubble was the first in modern history, and it still provides the guidelines for modern bubbles.  Tulips were a "safe" investment because they were "rare" and had no history of market failure.  Just like the analysis that showed that houses in the US were a "safe investment, good as cash" because most Americans pay their mortgage on time.  The tulips crashed, the housing market crashed, the stock market crashed (a couple of times), the S&L crisis, the dotcom bubble burst, etc.

The next big crash is the "sovereign debt bubble" as historically bonds have been "as good as cash" over the course of modern history.  But we only need to look to smaller currencies, from the Mexican Peso to the East German Mark to see that nothing is ever truly safe.

So what happens after the bubble bursts?  Well for all those who clamor about "redistribution of wealth" that is exactly what happens.  Those who made money and got out before the pop have gained some wealth, and those that stayed committed to the end lose a lot. 

So get out of bonds now.  The bubble can only burst, and right now sovereign debt has been stretched to 300% of the worlds GDP.  If we stopped spending money now, and put the output of every wage earning job on the planet to paying off the debt it would take three years.  Three years of not paying for a military, police, fire department, zoning official, dog catcher, mayor, senator, or president.  Three years of dedicating your life to pay off debt.

You know what they used to call it when you had to dedicate years of your life to pay off a debt?  "Involuntary servitude." 

So what will the market look like after the "pop" happens?  I don't know, but if history is a teacher, debt will become next to worthless (just like tulips or mortgage backed securities) and the market will value them that way for a long time.  The scary thing is that like the "Tally Stick" swindle in Britain, governments don't play fair with the markets.  Governments can confiscate your wealth (FDR's gold confiscation) at the drop of a hat.  And they will always have enough useful idiots to give the government full approval (Hitler was a very popular leader, winning 98% of the vote in some cases).

Bottom line?  Things will get worse.

05 June 2012

A site to follow or bookmark.

I received an email from a good friend about a project that his son has undertaken, to blog along with the Civil War, 150 years after the fact.  I think that this is an amazing project, allowing us to experience the war unfold in time.  While we can't experience the grinding monotony of Civil War life, the tension as massive Armies move about by rail and sea, and the political gamesmanship of the era, this will give us a glimpse of the span of effort across time of our bloodiest war.

http://www.starsandstripesforever1.blogspot.com/

The US Civil War is still a valuable referrence to anyone studying the art of war.  The successes and mistakes of the first true modern war are worth reflecting upon.  Not simply because those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, but because when those lessons from the Civil War are applied to the Korean war, it makes sense that some tactics and strategies are truly timeless. 

So please pass the link around, this is a project that deserves support.  Already there are enough posts to read that I'll be playing catch up for a bit.  As always, please be respectful, this isn't the time to refight the Civil War on a young persons blog, but to learn from it.

02 June 2012

Support By Fire

As part of any offensive operation the attacking force will set up a "support by fire" position to make life easier for the assaulting force.  When people talk about "Fire and Maneuver" it is the "Support by Fire" position that provides the fire.

So if you wake up to the sound of your front door being kicked open by jackbooted thugs odds are there is already someone else covering your residence to make sure you don't get out alive to fight another day.  Of course by then you are screwed anyways.

A support by fire position will be set up in the following manner.

1.  Close enough to be effective, far enough to maintain some standoff.  Obviously in thick forest the SBF has to be a lot closer than in high altitude desert.

2.  Able to communicate with the assault element in multiple ways to ensure a proper "shift fire" and "life fire".  The only thing more accurate than enemy fire is friendly fire.

3.  Able to seal off 270 degrees of the objective and in coordination with an observer element (usually scouts or snipers) to cordon off the remaining 90 degrees.  To visualize this, think of the objective (a house or camp) as the center of PacMan, and his open mouth is the "blind spot" that the SBF can't see.  By shifting another element out to the extreme flank, they can have eyes on the blind spot from the SBF position.  If in an urban environment the degrees change, but the principle stays the same, a main SBF with observers supporting the SBF which is in turn supporting an assault element.

Currently in the "War on a Noun" there are not a lot of active SBF operations as the preferred method is a soft raid.  All that means is the SBF isn't shooting while the assault element goes in.  They are still there, and still providing eyes on.  This tactic is a lot like civilian LE agencies use for "The War on Certain Chemicals" to the point where I don't see any real differences.

Now I could get into machine gun math, about how long a SBF position can suppress an objective to give time for the assault element to get into place, but that isn't necessary.  A few highly accurate rounds are just as effective at making someone keep their head down as multiple machine guns spraying ammo across the battlefield.  If every time you stuck your head up it got buzzed by a bullet that would slow you down right?  You can make SBF work with just about anything, it is an old tactic.

Now this is all part of a bigger operation.  The flank security (or outer cordon) is isolating the objective, the SBF (or inner cordon) is denying the enemy the ability to move out of the objective, the assault element is going to conduct actions on the objective.