29 July 2012


Military deception is the antithesis of camouflage.  Camouflage is designed to hide you, make the enemy think that you aren't where you are.  Deception is the opposite, making the enemy think you are (or something) is somewhere that you are not.

Deception falls into the realm of "Information Warfare" and the common tools of deception are: decoys, false positions, false intelligence/signals, sensor spoofing,  pattern conditioning, feints.

Think of every platform your enemy will be drawing intelligence from, and those are your opportunities to deceive.

Decoys:  These are the basics of deception.  A false minefield will have the same effect slowing the enemy as a real minefield for a while, an unmanned aerial drone may cause the ground forces to switch on the SAM Radar to target it (and therefor make it a target for a HARM strike).  Remember, if a camouflaged position says "Nothing to see here!" a decoy needs to say "I'm a legitimate threat!"

False Positions:  In the days of old, armies would increase or decrease the number of cookfires in the camp knowing that enemy scouts would report the number to the enemy general.  In modern warfare this can be fighting positions with broomsticks sticking out, as long as it looks "real enough" to cause the enemy to fight you where you aren't, or underestimate (or overestimate) your strength.

False Intelligence/Signals:  Assume everything you push out over any communication channel will be compromised.  In WWII the Allies dropped a cadaver dressed in an Allied uniform with false plans in an envelope inside an attache case into the sea where a German warship could recover it. To ensure that the false battle plans were gauged by the enemy to be real, radio communications were sent out to reinforce the false intelligence.  By reinforcing a falsehood German troops were not in place to respond well to OPERATION OVERLORD.

Sensor Spoofing:  In WWII to support OPERATION OVERLORD the allies spoofed German Radar sights looking at the English Channel by having aircraft fly orbits over the water and drop chaff.  This caused a massive return on the German Radar Screens that looked like the invasion of Calais that the Germans expected from the false plans and false signals recieved.

Pattern Conditioning:  This is where you don't aim to spoof anything but your opponents expectations.  Your patrol moves out every night at 2100 and returns every morning at 0500.  You do this for a week straight with a single squad.  Except the next week you do it with 3 extra members of the platoon, and leave them behind at a fighting position of your choosing.  Now you have 21 members of your Platoon moved across the battlefield into a position where the enemy does not expect. 

Feints:  A military feint is when you attack deliberately where you think the enemy will expect your main attack with something to draw the bulk of his forces away from other areas that you really want to hammer.  You do this by plussing up the Feint operation to look like the main attack.  One thing I learned as a very young soldier is that you NEVER abandon your post to go where the fighting is on a defense, if the defenses need to be arranged you must let the leadership do their job and rearrange it, because the moment you abandon you post to help your friends you create a gap in the defenses that a smart enemy will exploit.

And there you have it, a criminally brief introduction to the shaping operation known as military deception.  The bigger the operation, the more intensive the deception plan needs to be.  In 2003 GEN Franks left the entire 4th Infantry Division bobbing on boats in the Med to support a deception plan created by feeding false intelligence to an Iraqi spy about Jordan opening a western front for the Americans.  And it worked.  As Patton is alleged to say, "A battle plan without a deception plan isn't a plan."

Rollingstone should stick to indi bands and not "Global Warming"

This month, scientists issued a new study concluding that global warming has dramatically increased the likelihood of severe heat and drought – days after a heat wave across the Plains and Midwest broke records that had stood since the Dust Bowl, threatening this year's harvest. You want a big number? In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can't do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we're now leaving... in the dust.

This is the last part of a paragraph that spanned five pages of rollingstone.com about "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" which takes the worst IPCC predictions and say, "It is all true, trust the scientists!" and even when quoting the scientists uses the proof of "over 40 computer models" to make their point.

This is not journalism, this is activism.  Now I know that RollingStone magazine isn't exactly "Nature" or "Annals of the American Chemical Association" but let us take a look at just this one paragraph, as I am too tired to handle the lot of it.

First off, the likelihood of severe droughts and heat has happened since the days of Joseph and the sojourning of the Hebrew people in Egypt.  Secondly, breaking records is what happens as time goes on, if we didn't think that it was so why would we have the Olympic games every 4 years?  Third, the temperature of the continental United States is NOT "Global Warming."

Fourthly, crop failure has happened again since the earliest records of humanity, this is nothing new.

And lastly, the Holocene has not been "climatic stability" by any stretch of the imagination, we had the Roman and Medieval warm periods and the Little Ice Age, where temperatures averaged hotter and colder than current.  The message that the current level of "warming" is unprecedented is only given by those who massage enough data to "hide the decline" or "get rid of the MWP" to dupe people into being scared enough to demand the change a would be policymaker desires.

You can read the whole piece here if you like, but it is full of propaganda and very little science.  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

28 July 2012

Counter Vehicle Tactics

When your enemy is rolling around on the roads in armored vehicles your options to deal with that are limited.

1.  Stick to terrain that the vehicles can't reach. 
2.  Blow up the vehicles with whatever you've got.

Really that is what it boils down to, and so let us discuss option 1.  If you force the enemy to dismount and come to you then what range you decide to engage the enemy has more to do with terrain and opportunity than tactics.  Dismount to dismount tactics are well documented, and here marksmanship is very important to allow maneuver.

The second option, blowing stuff up, requires you to close with the enemy.  John Mosby has written here http://mountainguerrilla.blogspot.com/2012/07/stealth-is-survival-or-victory-is-in.html about getting close, hitting hard, and getting out.  What he writes is sound, and I would simply like to add on my thoughts to the matter.

To hit hard against a better equipped force you need explosives, or something that provides the same "shock" and damage effect on your enemy.  Honestly the old RPG-7 is too small for this role anymore with the anti-armor cages and nets on armored vehicles.  We are talking things like an anti tank recoilless rifle, a shoulder launched anti tank missile, a command detonated anti vehicle mine, an anti tank grenade.  Here is an example of Iraqi Insurgents using the RKG-3 anti tank grenade.  This is what closing with a mounted armored force looks like in an urban area.

It isn't too difficult to turn several hundred thousand dollars of armored vehicle into scrap metal with enough "boom" behind your effort.  Here rifle marksmanship is less important than sheer guts, although you will want trained marksman to cover the escape of the assault team.  Not every convoy is going to be an easy target, in fact anti grenade tactics work very well if actually used by the mounted force.

What the Iraqi Insurgents failed to do was capitalize on their initial "boom" with follow on effects.  Remember, there is no silver bullet in warfare, what you need is the right mix of tools in the toolbox to build your victory, and while I stress rifle marksmanship it is just one tool in the box.

27 July 2012

My own sexist realization

I rant against rabid feminism that seeks to subjugate men, or hold women to a lesser standard, because the logical inconsistency annoys the hell out of me.  I believe in treating people as equals until they prove otherwise, and today I realized that I was not acting on that belief out of fear.

Some background is in order, right now I am taking a class that has separated me from my family for a few months.  The Army still considers this "dwell time" but it is anything but.  The course is designed for Captains and above, but the National Guard has the opportunity to send 2nd Lieutenant or higher as they see fit for their state.  In this class we have a few Guard Soldiers, and one of them happens to be a female 2LT.

She is struggling with the classwork because there is nothing in her background to give her any familiarity with the coursework, and she is very new to the Army.  I don't offer to help her because I am afraid to give her the power over me to lodge a sexual harassment complaint.  I would have no problem giving aid to a male 2LT in the same boat, because I wouldn't have that fear.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't do anything, but as an Officer even the hint of impropriety is punishable.  I have been an investigating officer for such allegations of misconduct where the one accused was as innocent by all available evidence that I could gather.  The woman he was accused of sleeping with denied it, her friend who was named by name to witness this denied it, he denied it, the women who lived in the BHut denied him ever visiting, and in the end there was nothing more than the original accusation of a female soldier with no evidence to back it up.  Careers, livelihoods, and even freedom were put into jeopardy because of an unsubstantiated accusation which required a mandatory investigation.  And even when someone is cleared of unsubstantiated charges it stays on their record.  Get enough "unsubstantiated" investigations on your record and the promotion board starts to think that you are good at getting away with it, not that you are innocent.

So I am fearful that I would at any point be subject to such a witch hunt.  And because of that a fellow Soldier is not going to receive help from me.  No wonder feminists constantly claim that male peers don't give them the support they give each other, if I am in any way indicative of the larger male population as a whole there are a lot of female Officers out there floundering in isolation because we are afraid to offer assistance.  And who really loses out in the end?  One of the Soldiers that she will be trying to protect from death or dismemberment.  Congratulations feminists, this is the world you made.

26 July 2012

Open Source Intelligence on anti Sniper technology

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may be familiar with the Boomerang system.  While I won't get into the technical specifications of the Boomerang system, or other acoustic based technologies I think students of warfare would be well served to look into the field.  A quick rundown is available here: http://www.gizmag.com/go/4497/ and another quick read here: http://homemadedefense.blogspot.com/2010/06/military-technology-gunshot-detectors.html

An "emerging" technology, or at least emerging to me, is the mid wave infrared muzzle flash detection systems.  The SWAD system out of Israel seems to be mature enough for deployment right now from what I can gather.  http://www.elisra.com/SWAD.html

So what does this mean for the future of warfighting?  Well it means that snipers will have a harder time working to keep up with technology in the years to come.  The ballistic sniper identification technology seems to be less precise than the IR flash detection system, but it is also available and deployed now.  It also means that it is possible to spoof either system, for any student of warfare knows that as soon as we develop something to detect an enemy (such as RADAR) it isn't very long before we work out how to deceive that very system (chaff, decoys, stealth technologies, active jammers, etc).

I really would like to get my hands on a SWAD to play with and see if I could defeat it using commercial off the shelf technology, such as jamming the IR sensors with a handheld laser pulled from a Compact Disc burning drive (CDRW drives burned in the IR spectrum).  I don't know for sure, but that is where I would start.  Other options include shooting through a mist of water to absorb some of the IR muzzle flash, or a tactic change such as using road flares or dazzlers to confuse the system (which I don't think would work).  Possibly an IR LED attached to the muzzle of the snipers rifle turned on a few seconds before the shot is taken would cause the computer to dismiss the actual muzzle flash as "background noise" (I have no idea).

Maybe in thirty years we will have Suited Heavy Infantry Troopers with acoustic and IR detection systems that display the real time position of active enemy threats on a shared common operating picture with their squadmates.  And maybe there will be a guy like me figuring out how to pain false targets, disrupt the data link between S.H.I.T.  members so that an underdog can fight.  While they react to a supposed sniper threat they walk into a prepared kill zone or something.

In the old spiritual song, "Down by the Riverside" there is a part that goes "and I ain't gonna study war no more!" which isn't something I recommend anytime soon.  Thinking you have mastered your craft is a quick way to be written down in the history books as a fool.

21 July 2012

Aurora Colorado, it could have been worse.

A lot of people have their knickers in a bunch over the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  A lot of voices are crying "we need to fix this so it never happens again!" as if their opinion mattered, or as if criminals or the insane gave a rats ass about laws in the first place.  "Knee Jerk" legislation sucks like a chest wound.

First off it could have been a lot worse.  Had I, or anyone else who put their mind to it wanted to kill a bunch of people in a theater it would have been a lot more effective to use door wedges, chains, padlocks, and a few molatov cocktails to kill more than 12.

Think about it this way:

Step One, use the door wedges, chains and padlocks to defeat the emergency exits. 
Step Two, use the molatov cocktails to start a fire and create panic and confusion.
Step Three, as people find out that they can't get out start mowing down groups as they rush into the fatal funnel, the last remaining exit from a now burning theater.
Step Four, ditch your gun and disguise into the burning flames and run from the theater like everybody else afraid of the crazy gunman.  If you can do this all in under 5 minutes you have a good chance of escaping beyond the "security cordon" that law enforcement is going to put up to "contain the situation."

None of this is secret information, police response times are public knowledge, and all the components are readily available for purchase or manufacture.  There are even some very good plans to make a functioning submachine gun out there for anyone to use, simply using common hand tools.

In terms of life lost, the attack in Aurora barely comes up as a blip on the radar against nightclub fires: http://listverse.com/2010/03/08/top-10-modern-night-club-fires/

Is this cold hearted of me?  Probably, but a "knee jerk" reaction to "stop this tragedy from ever happening again" is even worse than cold hearted, it is stupid.  The "knee jerk" reaction to 9/11 gave us the TSA, how's that been working out?

19 July 2012

Rape jokes and feminists

Offensive comedian Daniel Tosh makes a rape joke and a bunch of women get their panties in a bunch.
It's really easy to believe that "nothing is sacred" when the sanctity of your body and your freedom are never legitimately threatened.
Anyone who believes that has never dropped the soap in a shower, or experienced the helplessness of being surrounded by a bunch of other boys, teens, or men looking to give you a beat down.  Normal people don't become comedians because they had such a healthy childhood.  Sometimes nothing is sacred not because of someone is an entitled prick but because there truly is nothing sacred in a war zone.  Some things are too big and crushing to feel or face without some dark humor.
This isn't a joke about women getting raped—it's a joke about the way that rape culture, which includes rape jokes,makes women feel
Get that guys, you are a part of "rape culture."  What the fuck does that even mean?  I'm pretty sure there are no secret meetings where those of us with a penis sit around smoking cigars and admiring the iconic art, architecture, and literature of "rape culture."  Maybe "rape culture" happened sometime after the Minoan culture?  Maybe Clovis was the real beginning of "rape culture."  Or more likely "rape culture" is a fucking figment of some idiotic bitch who buys into "feminist culture" bullshit.  You can quote me on that one.

You think men don't understand violation?  Allow me to share my favorite joke on the matter.

"A deployment is kinda like prison sex, you didn't ask for it, don't want it, just eventually get used to it."  Is it funny?  Or is it just an observation on the amount of fucking abuse people can take and still find a new normal?

And as far as making women feel when we talk about rape?  A surprisingly high number of women have rape fantasies http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201001/womens-rape-fantasies-how-common-what-do-they-mean  So the thought of being raped is a lot like a rape joke, it depends on the person committing the act and the person on the receiving end.

I guess that since some women are physically smaller and weaker than men that they feel because most men are bigger and stronger that we are somehow fearless and blessed by "the patriarchy" with advantages they were never even given the opportunity to have.

Here is the secret ladies, there are no free rides.  The whims of fate happen to everyone, but there are some things that are never going to be equal.  I don't bleed once a month or have the ability to breastfeed an infant.  I just can't do it and I'll never be able to experience that part of the human condition.  No amount of surgery can change that aspect of my biology.  My testosterone production makes me bigger, stronger, and more aggressive.  It means I excel at things that require competition and learning to be a team player is a lot harder for me than for a lot of you.  Women will fucking gang up on a man in a heartbeat, and they will turn on each other faster than a pack of rabid hyenas.  Men may be the fighters, but women are positively vicious in their own way. 

I can't speak for Daniel Tosh, the man may be the ultimate male pig.  On the other hand, even in all girl culture there are women who prey upon women.  http://www.amazon.com/Female-Chauvinist-Pigs-Raunch-Culture/dp/0743284283  Feminists need to stop looking at all men as predators, and all women as victims.  I've known too many men victimized by women in the legal and social circles to have any sympathy for the feminist movement anymore.

18 July 2012

Anybody know what is up with Wirecutter?

I get "this blog removed" trying to get to "Knuckle Draggin' My Life Away" or http://ogdaa.blogspot.com/ and that Wirecutter doesn't seem like the type of guy to silence himself.

Anyone have any details?

15 July 2012

Non-geographic Terrain

There are two parts of "terrain" that have no real physical geography in the traditional sense but have significant military applications, the cyber realm and the electromagnetic realm.  A lot of what goes on in these realms are classified and I won't get into very many details because frankly I'm just beginning to come to an understanding of what goes on in these areas.

First the electromagnetic spectrum is not man made, but it is what we use for wireless communication and RADAR.  Everything we put out there in the EMS is some sort of signal, and whether that signal has been modulated to hold data (such as radio or data links) or not doesn't matter one whit when it comes to detecting that frequency.  Some emissions aren't modulated to carry data at all, such as RADAR or radio beacons. 

The only man made piece of military terrain out there is the cyber domain.  What you are reading this blog post over right now is considered military terrain.  The internet has been militarized.

Now, the EMS and Cyber terrains are not exactly "lethal" in that bullets, bombs, torpedoes, and missiles aren't arriving through them and killing someone at the other side.  What EMS and Cyber do is largely help clarify and define the battlefield.  A RADAR operator is using the EMS to clarify the physical battlefield, the enemy is using Al Jazeera to push out their information warfare messages, and some governments are slipping viruses to other governments.

The common denominator here is that this is all technology driven, and it is usually "high technology" as opposed to "low technology."  I can't build a cell phone, I can't build a radar system.  I can't even build a simple telephone.  About the best that I can build myself with common parts is a telegraph key and crystal radio transceiver to send it out over the EMS.  When I say I can't "build" I'm not saying I could assemble one from parts, I assemble computers from parts all the time.  But that is not the same as building.

So how do you protect yourself in these realms?  Hide with pride and keep your anti-virus up to date.  If you are going to use high tech communication tools, you should use low tech encryption at a minimum.  Things like platen codes or book codes for written communications, code words for verbal comms.  If you need to give your location on a map an easy way is to have an agreed upon "point A" and "point B" and then give your azimuth to each.  I am 47 degrees from point A and 270 degrees from Point B.  Having a 3rd point is necessary if you will be traveling between point A and B.  Of course speaking in code over a single channel radio is useless if the enemy has direction finding capabilities.

There are ways to defeat direction finding, but I won't go into them suffice to say that it is worth your time to look it up.

10 July 2012

The Far Ambush

Rifle Marksmanship is the basis for fire and maneuver.  You can't maneuver freely unless the enemy is pinned down.  Secondly, if you are doing fire and maneuver correctly the enemy is dead by the time you get to where the enemy is.  John Mosby is a big fan of closing with and destroying the enemy, that is the role of the Infantry and how you decisively win an engagement.  Lets take a few lessons from their tactical toolbox.

First lesson in "fire and maneuver" is that fire is the harder part.  Anyone can run towards the enemy, not everyone can lay down a good effective base of fire.

I'm a fan of long range marksmanship because is builds the skills necessary for setting up a good base of fire.  A lot of people think that you need "volume of fire" to be effective at suppressing the enemy.  Ask anyone who was part of a fire team pinned down in an urban area for a while if that sniper put down a volume of fire, or just put accurate fire to keep them pinned in place.  Suppression is defined by the effect it has on the enemy, not the volume of fire going out.

Nothing in the tactical toolbox is a silver bullet.  Not extreme range rifle marksmanship, not explosives and demolitions, not indirect fire, not fire support, not civil engagement, not propaganda.  Everything you do needs to be put into the context of an effective whole.  Any single tool in the tool box will be rapidly countered by the enemy.  You need a mix of tools so they can't easily predict your next move.

I stress marksmanship over CQB not because CQB is worthless, but because in terms of value added training it is worth less than long range marksmanship.  In my experience taking a skilled rifleman and training on CQB will waste less rounds than taking a lesser skilled person and training them on CQB.  It is a lot easier to teach someone "ready up" drills on a short range during active conflict than train them in long range marksmanship with facilities that are no longer exist for your side.

If you get caught in a long range ambush you need to be able to accurately return fire and assault through (or break contact from) the ambushing force.  If you get a chance to conduct a far ambush accurate rifle fire is the best augmentation for a machine gun that you can get without having an IDF asset of your own.  Train to shoot to the maximum effective range of your weapon system first, worry about CQB later.

Surviving Indirect Fire

John Mosby brought up some good points about getting close to an enemy force negates some of their IDF capabilities.  This is true, it is a tactic that the PLA used quite effectively in Korea and was used by the NVA/VC to negate American IDF in Vietnam.  This isn't a tactic that the insurgents in Afghanistan or Iraq have used very much, although it remains a valid technique, John also pointed out that even with dismal marksmanship training most Americans are good 200 meters and under which may explain why the Iraq/Afghan insurgents don't use this technique.

Indirect fire is the "Big Hammer" on the battlefield.  Indirect fire comes from mortars, cannon artillery, rocket artillery, close combat aviation (helicopters), and close air support (fixed wing). 

Mortars.  Mortars are a "high angle of attack" platform controlled by the ground maneuver commander (Platoon level in the USMC, Company level in the Army).  High angle of attack means the tube is angled between 45 and 90 degrees.  Mortars are the quickest IDF to respond to enemy contact.  The effects of mortars depends on the size of the round, a 60mm mortar is barely better than a hand grenade, an 81/82mm mortar is about 50% again as effective, and a 120mm mortar is about twice as effective with a ground impact fuze.  With an airburst proximity fuze they are a bit more effective.  Time of flight can be anywhere from a few seconds up towards a minute (or longer for some heavy mortars).

Cannon artillery.  105mm, 152mm (Soviet) and 155mm artillery can come from either towed howitzers or self propelled howitzers.  Where you are in the world kinda dictates what you can bring.  The deserts of Iraq were just fine for self propelled Paladins, but the mountains of Afghanistan kinda dictate air mobile M777s.  Cannon Artillery can fire high angle or low angle attacks.  Within a certain range envelope artillery can fire a "high/low" mission which will deliver one round high angle and one round low angle of attack.  German self propelled artillery with an automated fire control system can deliver up to 5 round on target at the same time in this manner.  Cannon rounds are usually 3 to 5 times more effective (lethal) than 120mm mortar rounds, able to pop road wheels off of tanks.  GPS guided "Excalibur" rounds are accurate within a few meters.  Time of flight can be well over a minute.

Rocket artillery.   This is the long range, big payload, expensive to shoot hammer.  From 80 kilometers away 50 pounds of high explosive can come through a roof or a window with single digit meter precision.  Great against fixed targets, not so great against those not in a fixed position.  Time of flight can be measured in minutes.

Close Combat Aviation.  Any armed helicopter can serve as a weapons platform in the sky.  The Soviets have a great system in the HinD, but the Apache carries a bigger main gun which can more easily defeat armored ground vehicles.  Either way, CCA is much more responsive against mobile targets because there is a pilot in contact with the ground commander (or his FSO or RTO) who can make real time adjustments based on situational understanding.  Getting CCA into the area can take some time, but once in the area they like to stay and play until they run out of things to shoot at the targets on the ground.  Multiple aircraft can service a target continually, and you calculate this by the distance to target, time to refuel/rearm, and how long a load of ammo will last at the target.  CCA is bad news for insurgents with no air defense capabilities, hence insurgents using RPG-7's and sometimes getting lucky.

Close Air Support.  This can range from something low and slow like an A-10 or prop driven fighter, to a sleek and fast F16.  This is where 500 pound bombs come from, and it is usually very effective on target.  There are different types of "terminal control" for the attack.  Suffice to say CAS brings a lot of firepower, but they can't stay and play as long as CCA, and require more coordination to shift fires based on input from the observer on the ground.

So, with this "Big Hammer" in the toolbox, how do insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya manage to stay in the fight?  Planning, preparation, and rehearsals. 

Notice that it takes time to get the Big Hammer into the fight.  If you attack and then leave, the conventional force may not have time to get rounds on target.  This means to be effective you need to keep your operations within a disciplined time window (the longer a fight goes on the less likely it is going to be successful for an insurgent force).  This means you need to plan your operations with an eye for avenues of approach and egress.  This means you need to prepare fighting positions, in Grozny they barricaded the ground level entrances to buildings and sandbagged the roofs on the third floor, then connected buildings with tunnels.  This kept the Russian ground troops out of the ground floor, provided some protection against IDF from above (high angle of attack inside cities is the general rule) and allow Chechen rebels to maneuver between buildings with impunity.

So, avoid detection, harden your fighting position (learn from the Chechens and don't fight on rooftops), avoid being pinned down.  So to sum up, hide with pride, conduct operations with speed and precision, don't get pinned into a fixed position where the Big Hammer can pound you flat like a recalcitrant nail.

08 July 2012

The DHS Terrorism Report

The LaFree Report put together for the DHS needs to be understood in its proper context, it is nothing more than an attempt to justify further expansion of DHS activities. http://start.umd.edu/start/publications/research_briefs/LaFree_Bersani_HotSpotsOfUSTerrorism.pdf

It is not an attempt to arm policymakers with facts to think about when making policy, it is not an attempt to show that domestic terrorism is an extremely rare event, it is nothing more than a bureaucrats justification for more funding to do more intrusion to get more data to get more funding to do more intrusion.

Now you can argue that by including world terrorism statistics they are not looking at just the American populace to build a threat matrix.  That is complete and utter bullshit, DHS doesn't do foreign threat analysis, so the only thing they CAN focus on is Joe and Jane taxpayer.  Trying to make a document that covers terrorist threats against the US, and then completely ignoring the other 200 odd countries on the planet that may have an axe to grind against the U.S. is something only a fool would consider a good idea.

Over 6 billion people on the planet and they want to put the microscope on 300 million.  That is putting the microscope on 1 American and ignoring 20 other threats.  Hope that puts it in comparison. 

07 July 2012

Marksmanship Training, focus on what matters.

I would like to propose a method of classifying marksmanship qualification standards.  The four very broad categories seem to cover everything I want to discuss.

Untrained Marksman, someone who is not proficient in using a battlesight zero.
Trained Marksman, someone who is proficient with a battlesight zero.
Skilled Marksman, someone who is proficient to the maximum effective range of their weapon.
Sniper, a Skilled Marksman who possesses the other skills necessary to serve as a sniper.

Please note that the worst guy at a High Power Match who scores "Marksman" is still going to have a better training base than the guy who never shot beyond 300 meters on an Army pop up qualification range.  That is the difference between a Trained  Marksman and a Skilled Marksman.  Also note that a Skilled Marksman and a Sniper can be firing at targets at the same ranges, and the effective difference is one of "value added" skills that a trained Sniper brings to the fight.

But getting back to training focus.  Training for CQB is easy.  You can do it with a rifle, pistol, bb gun, paintball marker, or airsoft setup.  This is not where you should focus your training.  CQB falls well inside a weapon systems battlesight zero.  A "Trained Marksman" should be proficient at CQB, but a "Trained Marksman" should be working to become a "Skilled Marksman" instead of a CQB expert.

So you ask, "Where should you focus your training?"  Traditional long range marksmanship.  Standing, kneeling, sitting, prone unsupported.  Why should you do this instead of working on CQB techniques?

Skill.  CQB is a single direction skill gain, it gives you nothing but CQB.  Traditional marksmanship training on the other hand improves everything else.  The skills you learn practicing traditional rifle marksmanship translate into faster target acquisition once you do need to fight at CQB distances.  CQB training can destroy your long range accuracy, mainly because of trigger control and precise sight alignment.  When you train to rush a shot to get fire off before an enemy can fire back you are training your muscles and brain to rush the shot.

Logistics, mainly money.  To get truly good at CQB techniques you have to shoot a lot.  Hence the preference for using something cheap like a 22 long rifle analog of your main weapon system, paintball markers, or airsoft gear.  You can burn out a barrel of a rifle before you ever get truly proficient at CQB.  In peacetime one of the Rangers I went through SFAS with had burned out 2 M4 barrels in 18 months with the Regiment.  That is the type of training you need to be truly proficient.  The rest of us are constrained by budget and get "good enough" to be better than the guys we are going up against.

Tactics.  If you are the underdog in a fight CQB should be part of your "escape and evade" skill set, not a part of your "attack and destroy" skill set.  If you close with a larger and better equipped force the odds are already stacked against you.  No matter how good you are at slicing the pie around corners the other side will win in the end.  Using an M4 for CQB is fine, but I want to shoot the bad guys from as long away as I can get and still put steel on target.

There are a lot of venues to train.  High Power, F-Class, Palma, and "outlaw" sniper matches are great for long range marksmanship training.  If you don't know how to get started go to an Appleseed and learn all you can there.  On the other end of the spectrum  USPSA, 3-Gun, IPPC matches are all great for CQB style training.  Yes the folks who focus solely on short range CQB style stuff will be faster than the folks who focus solely on High Power.  So be familiar with CQB techniques, but focus your training on accuracy, because only accurate fire is lethal.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan the vast majority of insurgents fall into the "untrained marksman" standard and the heavy reliance on things that blow up shows this.

Below are some articles discussing insurgent marksmanship.

Afghan/Taliban marksmanship, which really explains why they rely so heavily on IEDs.

Taliban Sniper fire put into context

The sniper war in Iraq, American view.

The sniper war in Iraq, Insurgent view.

A good post about gear not making up for a lack of skill, Army SDM training.

05 July 2012

Hunter Killer Teams

In Grozny the Russians ended up resorting to the same "Hunter Killer Team" tactics that US forces applied during the Surge in Iraq.  Conversely the insurgents in both Grozny and Iraq started doing the same thing back.

A hunter killer team is a minimum of 3 personnel.  A primary shooter, a spotter or heavy weapon operator, and security.  You see a HKT is a modular concept.  US forces liked to send a Fire Team as a Small Kill Team, or a 3 man Sniper team consisting of Sniper, Spotter, and Automatic Rifleman. 

The insurgents liked the mix of sniper, RPG gunner, automatic rifleman/machine gunner, IED man.  Different mix for different cells.

This is combined arms warfare broken down into the lowest elements possible.  As few weapon systems as necessary working in a synergistic effect with operators to achieve more than any single man/system alone.

The process of setting up an ambush (the preferred method of HKTs on both sides) is the same as setting in a Platoon or Company in an ambush.  Observations and Fields of Fire, Avenues of Approach, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key Terrain, Time, Civilians.

This tactic is here to stay, and may eventually become codified in doctrine.  It requires disciplined teams that can operate independently and still work under a Commander's Intent.  When I was in Afghanistan I saw the aftermath of a team that was not disciplined.  An insurgent with an AK penetrated their security and killed three of them from the inside out. 

Below are two links.  The first is to get your mind wrapped around how easy it is to set up and use HKTs in a tactical environment.  The second is much longer and worth the time to read if you can spare it.



03 July 2012

Chechnya, an example of TSHTF scenario

The Iraq war was born in Grozny.  Not the initial invasion where the US military dominated the battlespace, but the "insurgency" afterward.

Go forth and read this article: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IAV/is_2_91/ai_106792175/?tag=content;col1 and see that we didn't see the "writing on the wall" when it came to Iraq.

We really were the "arrogant Americans" in Iraq, at least at the policy level.  The lessons of Chechnya are one to be studied at length by anyone who wants to be familiar with successful insurgent warfare tactics.  Read this article written a scant 6 years after the first to compare/contrast: http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htinf/20080731.aspx

01 July 2012

The point of diminishing returns

In any weapons platform there is an envelope performance that gets increasingly difficult to surpass without scrapping the whole platform and going on to another.  Hence the reason that bolt action rifles are still the majority of sniper rifles for most of the world.  Yes I know the USSR and the SVD blazed the way for semi-auto sniper rifles being adopted across the globe, but seriously count up the number of SASS systems verses manual bolt action sniper rifles and see that the bolt guns beat the self feeders in terms of numbers.

When we talk about the quintessential American rifle, no not the 30-30, no not the Win70,  NO not the Rem700, but the AR-15 (come on, stick with me here), then there are some awesome choices to be had.  But each choice limits something else in a way that I would like to wax poetic about. 

First off is caliber.  About the biggest thing you can cram into an AR magwell and still use a magazine is a member of the WSSM family, from 223 WSSM up to 308 WSSM (or 30 Olympic or whatever it is called these days).  In places where hunting requires .24 caliber or larger then a 243 WSSM or 30 WSSM makes sense.  If you want to shoot long range then one of these "Super Short Magnums" can really ring out the most from the AR-15 platform.  At the cost of more expensive ammo, more expensive bolts, and reduce magazine capacity.

My recommendation?  Keep your ARs in standard 223 Rem/5.56 NATO caliber if you aren't hunting.  If you are going to shoot LONG range (out past 600 yards or so) then you probably want something with more oomph than an AR-15 can deliver at that distance.  Yes we can shoot 77gr OTM ammunition out to 800 yards, but even some of the more exotic WSSM or 6.5 Grendel cartridges only gain a tad bit in range on top of that.  The AR shines at 600 and under, which is plenty for most shooters.  And increasing the caliber (or decreasing it) gets well into the point of diminishing returns except for specialized applications.

Second off is barrel length.  You can spend the money to register an SBR with a 7" barrel if you want to, or you can build a "Space Gun" with a 26 inch bull barrel to compete as a "match rifle" in High Power competition (and the guys shooting these monstrosities are posting some damn high scores).  Or you can make an M4gery or M16 lookalike to compete as "Service Rifle" if you so desire.  Each barrel length gives a trade off between "handiness to carry" and "shootability."  Most professionals I've talked to prefer to shoot an M16A2 or A4 but prefer to carry an M4.  Trust me, if you go to war you'll carry your rifle a LOT more than you ever shoot it.  Trade off here is ballistics, it seems that the "sweet spot" range for AR-15 barrel length is 14.5 to 20 inches.  Longer or shorter than that range is into the realm of diminishing returns.

My recommendation, stick with 16 to 20 inches unless you are doing a "specialized" build.  The ballistics of a 223 give up too much below 14.5 and don't gain enough beyond 20 to really justify those lengths.  Don't get me wrong on the lengths beyond 20 inches, the 223 does gain some velocity, but you are well into the "realm of diminishing returns" at that point.  This goes back to caliber, a 223 WSSM out of a 7 inch barrel is kinda stupid (but do what you want) while a 9x19 out of a 28 inch barrel is equally as stupid (once again, do what you want).

Third is weight.  You can make a 5 pound ultralight or an 18 pound monster varminting rig.  If forged aluminum is too heavy you can get a polymer lower.  If you don't like thick barrel you can get a pencil barrel.  If you don't like recoil you can add weight to the buttstock. 

My recommendation?  Unless you are doing a "specialized" build (such as a lightweight backpacking rifle, or predator calling rifle, or ultra heavy prairie dog gun) stick between 6 and 10 pounds total weight with any accessories you feel necessary.  You can go crazy making an ultralight gun that opens up groups after three shots or go crazy making that prairie dog sniping system that won't change POI until you've shot a hundred rounds.  Your choice as to what fits your needs, no wrong answer here.  Although at some point if you are looking to reduce weight it is just cheaper to work out more often.  Getting below 6 pounds can be costly, and getting above 10 pounds is usually costly, so unless you are making a specialized rifle you are into the point of diminishing returns.

Fourth is accessorizing.  You can put rails all over the dang thing if you so desire.  Yes I've made use of a quad rail system to mount a flashlight, PEQ-15 and grip pod when I deployed.  However you can go with old school handguards as well (and we fought plenty of wars with plastic handguards). 

My recommendation, skip the quad rail unless you actually plan to put something on there.  You don't need a Brigade Quartermaster's worth of accessories to shoot well.  If all you want is a place to attach a bipod you have other options.  But it will always be your rifle, so do what you want.  Sometimes looking cool matters in the gun world.

Lastly, recognize that the AR-15 has some pretty significant limitations.  It is not an ideal platform for 1000 yard shooting (you can do it if you want), nor is it an ideal platform for shooting one handed while hanging from the skid of a helicopter (you can do this too if you want).  What it is pretty ideal for is making a rifle that does what you want it to do within the limits of the platform.  Good shooting.