29 November 2012

Forced conformity, evidently it isn't fascism when it is our side advocating it....

Via Arctic Patriot we find this quote.
If you made it this far, I want to add this. Can atheists be moral? Sure they can. I personally know such a man. But God help any man… atheist, or calling them self a Christian, who finds themselves in my foxhole, who support in your face immorality. If it comes down to it, I am not going to fight for your liberty to display your vulgar lifestyle parading around anytown uSA for all to see. If you find yourself in my foxhole, it would be wise to pretend to conduct your self like a man and doing your buggery, cross-dressing, what ever fetish you do, behind very closed doors.
 Ok, what sort of immoral behavior are we talking about?

Polygamy?  The Bible says it is just fine, unless you desire the office of Bishop.

Sex with family members?  Once again, right there in the Bible.

Whoring out your wife to get out of a sticky situation?  Yup, in the Bible.

Whoring out your daughters to keep sodomites from ass raping your guests?  In the Bible.

Killing another man to cover up the fact you had an adulterous relationship with his wife?  In the Bible, and you get to be in the lineage of Christ.

A woman puts herself in a risky situation by going where she shouldn't be and hoping for the best?  Yup, right there in Ruth.

"Vulgar" is a word not in the King James Bible, neither is "morality."  You can find the very worst examples of humanity in the Bible, because it is a book about how God loves us despite our filth.

We are not judged on this earth by how we inflicted our version of "morality" or "vulgarity" on someone else.  We are judged by our actions, and our actions can be kind, or our actions can be cruel.  Christ was not cruel, even when he was passionately angry he stopped the violence once the temple was clear.  Christ went to the sinners, the sick, the poor, and offered them hope, love, and healing.  He could have taken an earthly crown and ruled by dictatorial fiat, but he chose to be a servant, and build a kingdom not of this world.

The path towards perfection has no end in this life, and anyone who would oppress another human, based on some vague notion of "immorality" is nothing more than a fascist with cross or a Bible as a thin excuse for their own lust for power.  Don't get me wrong, fascism can be a very effective form of government, but anyone who espouses it needs to be put down like a rabid dog.

27 November 2012

Military Sex

A former West Point graduate writes frankly about her experience with the drive to copulate in a combat zone.  As a knee jerk reaction some have used her as an example of why women shouldn't be in the military, that her taxpayer funded education was wasted, or other such defamations.  Read the comments at WRSA if you want to get a feel for the most vocal of freedom advocates?

Sometimes telling the truth will not win you any friends.  In Vietnam the 4th Infantry Division set up a brothel, and one historian still has a hand painted sign, "The price of a woman is 400 piastres, if you are charged more report it to the MPs."  People have been screwing in war zones since humanity first discovered the that having a bigger stick than the other guy was a good idea.

Somehow when Kipling writes that single men in barracks don't grow in to plaster saints everyone nods wisely in agreement.  But when a female acknowledges that she desires sex in a war zone it seems that all hell breaks loose.

Near death experiences make you feel alive, in a way that nothing else can.  Sex is one of the ways that we cope with extreme experiences, whether good or bad.  Lose a friend to an IED or mortar attack?  Sex sure won't make your day any worse.  Get your bell rung by an incoming rocket?  Sure as shooting something deep down in your lizard brain wants to try to pass off your genes to the next generation post haste after an event like that.

A good Officer knows not to give an order that won't be obeyed.  General order number 1 is still a punitive order, but it is definitely NOT a deterrent of any sort.

I guess in someone's perfect world we are all warrior monks who calmly go about the business of killing people then reflect quietly in private meditation to achieve some sort of balance.  It doesn't work that way.  People drink to try to process, people have sex to try to process, people get in fights to try to process.  People are not pure platonic ideals, even when they volunteer to put on a uniform and go do stuff that other people don't want to do outside of a video game.

If the Freefor are going to go all puritanical about sex, then good luck winning the hearts and minds.  How can it be that the Freefor are all libertarian about money and taxes, but then get their panties in a bunch over women having a sex drive?  Seems like a sideshow issue at best.

26 November 2012

Exit Planning for the Empire

In military planning, going somewhere and breaking things is relatively easy to plan.  Getting out of there is another thing entirely.

We still have troops in Germany, Japan, and Korea.  They are stable democracies (now) that are valued trade partners (now).  Meanwhile Central and South America have been SOCOM playgrounds for the last few decades, and with the exception of Hugo "I smell sulfur" Chavez, relatively good trade partners.

We went into WWII without an exit strategy, and turned Germany into ground zero for the conventional Cold War.  We went into Korea without an exit strategy and ended up playing "who blinks first" with the Norks for six decades.  We went into Japan without an exit strategy and ended up installing a military governor.

What sort of nation acts that way?  To conscript their citizens and send them to occupy foreign lands?  Empires.  And all empires fall.  And all empires have an Emperor. 

If I were emperor, my policy would be thus.  We don't go to war with anyone not worth occupying.  That means an industrious people with a solid grasp of literacy and mathematics.  It is easy to work with the Japanese or Germans.  Or even Indians (God bless their continually occupied hearts).

Vietnam?  Who really cares if some jerkwater nation on the backside of nowhere falls to communism?  It only means that the jerkwater nation beat us to our endpoint by a few decades.  Kuwait on the other hand, invade, save that valued trade partner!

The true value of a nation is not in a particular resource, but in people willing to turn resource into wealth and engage in trade.  I wouldn't wage war based on "keeping people free" or any altruistic goal.  I would wage war on building a profitable peace to follow.

Slowly but surely the world would be made better, as our trading partners prospered, and those who didn't trade didn't prosper (that is the other side of the foreign policy gambit).  You don't have to go to war with a country to wreck their economy.  If only I were Emperor.  Then again, I'm sure my domestic policies would be a proper mess.

25 November 2012

How we got where we are in terms of reduced liberty

Back in the day there were very few restrictions on business.  As a result, businesses generally did what businesses do, which is make as much of a profit as they can.  As much as a free market cheerleader as I am, in the back of my mind lurks Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and the consequences of an industry, even a society, of unrestrained capitalists perpetuating economic exploitation of workers and consumers.

This led to Big Unions, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Had the free market been able to behave in a moral manner, with responsible use of resources and labor, then perhaps we wouldn't have needed more big government and socialism to reform the system.

Here I sit with the modern convenience of the internet, with full confidence that the food I purchase has met with certain standards in production (a necessary government function based on the deplorable state of some slaughterhouses "back in the day") and enjoy electricity produced by coal fired power plants that put out chemically inert reaction products (H20, and CO2) instead of a yellow plume of sulfuric acid.  I enjoy a river that doesn't catch fire.

Hippies in America talk about how abusive we are to the land, without acknowledging that Conservation goes back a very long time.  Between 1900 and 2000 in our fair country we saw a massive stabilization of forest land, even as timber products continue to rise (largely through more efficient use of stock).

The free man's choice, "if you don't like it, leave" is great in theory.  However in practice, the ability to leave requires a level of resources that many just don't have, whether through legitimate poverty or poor resource management.

The Constitution of the United States was never set up to deal with immoral businessmen, so Congress, operating under the "General Welfare" and "Interstate Commerce" clauses set about to remedy the situation (and therefor ensure their re-election).

We know through the social experiments in Germany and Korea that the free market system produces the most wealth for the most people, and that the fairest system of Socialism produces the most misery for the most people.  But we have never had a society where businessmen didn't go straight to a "rush to the bottom" when it comes to ethical practices, either through government standards or other.  Minimum standards become maximum standards quite quickly in most cases.

History is paved with very good reasons why we got to where we are, with a massive bureaucracy and intrusive nanny state government.  And I like living in a nation where I don't get all my minerals in one breath.  So the question becomes, how do we ensure wise stewardship of shared resources (land, water, air) without resorting to a massive Federal bureaucracy?  How do we provide legal protections for citizens from exploiting employers (no one should owe their soul to the company store)?

Can we accomplish all of that through a robust legal system with guidance to jurors?  Can we even trust jurors to act as citizens instead of socialist activists?  Things I have been pondering.


23 November 2012

Lets have that conversation about liberty....

The Founding Fathers created a good document in the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.  I do not believe the Constitution is perfect.  Some of the things I would change.

To Safeguard Liberty

1. Slavery.  It is morally repugnant, and it was a compromise at the time to keep the Confederation of States together.  The ideas of debt (indentured servitude), bankruptcy, and slavery are important.  All people are free.

2. The Judiciary.  Explicitly give the courts the power to determine whether laws are Constitutional or not. 

3. Get rid of the "a well regulated Militia" language of the second Amendment.  Simply put, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

4. Outline the distribution of representatives based on the population of the least populous state.  The current language of "apportioned" allowed our current system to be "capped" and the districting games ensued.

5.  "No crime shall be considered a felony without a human victim personified."  If you can't put a face and name to the victim, the crime cannot be a felony.   No regulatory felons for not being able to follow some esoteric rule that you didn't know about.

6.  The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Militia only upon declaration of war by Congress specifically authorizing the use of the militia for a period of not more than 2 years.

7.  States are required to maintain a number of 800 person Infantry Battalions equal to the number of Representatives in either active or reserve readiness, and the necessary logistical support units required for complete mobilization.

8.  The Federal Government shall maintain a land based Militia Force only for foreign duty at Embassies, ports or bases as required by Congressional consent. 

To fight "Bureaucratic Creep"

1.  Outine a standard for laws.  "All laws must clearly the intent of the law, and address guidance to jurors."  Jurors have the ability to decide on whether the law in question is applicable to the situation at hand based on the stated intent of the law.

2.  Specifically say that "Congress does not have the power to delegate any responsibilities, and no amendment to this rule shall be instituted by less than a unanimous vote with all Representatives, and Senators present, and each State Governor shall have the power to veto any amendment to this doctrine prior to becoming law." 

3.  Any law or regulation not renewed by a 2/3ds majority of each House at the beginning of each session of Congress shall be struck from the public record and no longer be enforceable.

4.  There shall be no Cabinet level offices added to the Cabinet of the President without an amendment to this document by Congress.  Approved Cabinet level offices are Defense to ensure adequate military capabilities are available to deter aggression, State, to manage embassies and assist US citizens with international interests, Interior to advise the President and Congress on domestic resources and development, Treasury to serve the Republic as manager of finances as appropriated by Congress.

To fight the dangers of a economic idiocy.

1.  All States will be responsible for the minting and management of Copper, Silver, Gold, and Platinum coins in accordance with Treasury standards.  Weights will be 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 gram units.

2.  The Government of the United States may not enter into debt to foreign interests.  The Several States may purchase debt from the Treasury for a period of no more than 2 years.

3.  The Government will not provide payment or compensation to any individual for anything other than service rendered.

4.  Define "General Welfare" as "the necessary infrastructure between the several States as necessary for conducting commerce."

To fight the dangers of business as usual rule, term limits.

1. The limit of terms for a Reprsentative shall be 4, or 8 years, whichever is less.

2.  The limit of terms for a Senator shall be 2, or 12 years, whichever is less.

3.  The limit of terms for a President shall be 1, or 4 years, whichever is less.


Comments are open.

21 November 2012

Air Rifle training

This past year a British comedian referred to the Women's Air Rifle event of the 2012 Olympics as, "Girls with BB Guns at 33 feet."

Enough people kindly explained that a highly trained competitor using a 3,000 dollar precision air rifle shooting at a target the size of a pinhead with numbered rings a quarter of an inch around it isn't exactly popping beer cans with a Red Ryder.

I can attest to that.  My hits on the 10 "pinhead" are few and far between, and statistically I'm just breaking the 6 ring on a good day.  That is (in a mathematically perfect scenario) all shots inside 2 centimeters at 10 meters.  Not that I am that good of a shooter, I get a lot of 8s to balance out the 4s, so there is a LOT of room for me to improve.

I wish that I had started out trying to learn precision on an air rifle instead of a Savage 10 in 308 Win.  There were some benefits to starting out on a 308, it convinced me to get into reloading, which then convinced me that the 223 was a more economical shooting choice for 600 yards and under, which got me into High Power competition, which convinced me I needed more practice, which got me into setting up a 50 foot small bore range where I used to live (and shooting 22 subsonic).  Now I don't have a 50 foot small bore range in my backyard, but I do have a basement, which got me into learning the discipline of the Air Rifle.

As the caliber and recoil got smaller, my skills had to get better.  Easy to blame flinch on the recoil of a 308, hard to blame flinch on the recoil of a 22 rimfire.  Impossible to blame flinch on an air rifle.  As the equipment got smaller in caliber, my skill had to increase to make use of it.

When I started training, I thought mastering ballistics was the key to accuracy.  Now I think that fundamentals are the key to accuracy, and that ballistics is something to worry about later.  Funny how the cycle of training has come full circle to where I was as a kid, shooting an air rifle for pennies.

Economically I can reload a 308 round for less than 50 cents, for one pull of the trigger.  223 is about half that, depending.  A 22 rimfire is about a third of that (depending on brand and bulk of purchase).  A 17 caliber pellet is a fraction of rimfire ammo.  So I can pull the trigger around 25 to 50 times with a quality pellet and spend the same as a single round of my reloaded 308.  Well worth it.

18 November 2012

Protect and Defend the Constitution

From all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution is a list proscribed list of things the .gov must do, and how it must go about business.  The Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, is a list of what some call "negative liberties" or things that the government cannot do.  The term "negative liberties" is really a bad term, as the Bill of Rights just codifies natural rights, things you have simply by being your own person.

But how does that "protect and defend the Constitution" play into the Oath of Enlistment or Oath of Office?

Do we task the .mil with determining the Constitutionality of laws?  No, that would be the judicial branch of government.

Do we task the .mil with writing laws and enforcing them?  No, that would be the Legislative branch of government?

The .mil falls under the "Executive" branch, and the role of the Executive is really very narrow when you look at it from a Constitutional perspective.  Instead of a "Priest King" responsible for the economy and leading the "free world" you have a Head of State responsible for defense and representing the US internationally (usually through the State Department).

So what does it really mean to "Protect and Defend" the Constitution?  Does that give the .mil a right to round up secessionists?  The Constitution denies any State the privilege of secession, and one could make the argument that the 10th Amendment makes that denial apply to the citizenry as well.

For an oath to have meaning, it must actually mean something.  This nebulous idea of "defending the Constitution" is a whole lot different than "fighting Tyranny."  As we have seen with Lincoln, FDR, GWBush and Obama, tyranny can be deemed Constitutional.  From rounding up Americans and putting them in concentration camps, confiscating privately owned gold, forcing travelers to pose nude for bureaucrats with no power to arrest, to setting up domestic roadblocks and interfering with the Supreme Court upheld right to freely travel....all Constitutional acts according to the "for the general welfare" language, become Unconstitutional?

I think people do not understand exactly how much weasel wording the Founding Fathers put into the Constitution that allows a veneer of "rule of law" on a Congress unconstrained by conscience.  Because that is the crux of the Constitution, the most powerful branch of .gov is the Legislature, and the power to change the Constitution, the power of the purse strings, all lies with the Legislature.  I can only assume that the Founding Fathers assumed that the Legislature would always be composed of the best of us, the most educated, the most erudite and eloquent, the most insightful and thoughtful.

So what does the oath to protect and defend the Constitution really mean?  It obviously means different things to different people who have raised their right hand and given their solemn affirmation.  But at this point the oath is functionally meaningless, as the encroaching tyranny still wears the mantle of "Constitutionality."  I guess if you are a Judge, required to pass judgement on what passes muster and what doesn't, that oath means much more.  For LT Beltbuckle or PVT Tentpeg, the oath has no real bearing on operations.

16 November 2012

Insurgent Logistics.

Sometimes I'll run across something that has a bunch of open source links that are interesting.  This was one of them, in that if you substituted the names and countries, it could have been any of a number of insurgencies in modern history.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/1114/1224326573695.html

In our reality, but on the other side of the world there now exists a network of small time logistics folks who supply the resistance.  They take money from international supporters, go across the border to by legal goods, and smuggle them back into a war zone to fight "the thugs."

I tried to base FC7 on the lessons of reality.  From the Ho Chi Min trail to the underground Jewish ammo factories in Israel.  Anyone who says logistics don't matter is whistling past the graveyard of history.

There are very smart people looking into the issue of logistics as they apply to an insurgency.  It is an interesting subject, asymmetric application of logistics.  Kinda like aikido...doing the very least you can to accomplish the desired effect.

15 November 2012

Generals Gone Wild

Gen Petraeus' disgrace - in a matter that has little apparent connection to his performance as a military leader - opens the way for a needed public discussion, says Andrew Bacevich, visiting research fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and a retired Army colonel.

"Knocking him off the pedestal - this huge standing that he had - ought to create a climate in which serious people can begin to ask serious questions about why our military has not delivered on our expectations" in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says.
From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20317910

First off, COL (ret) Bracevich makes a great soundbite.  He also makes a point that the .mil has been largely given a pass on performance.

Thomas Rick, in this article published in The Atlantic blames the whole failure of the military to "accomplish something" at the feat of the Flag Grade officers.  Even to the point of equating "firing" officers with a measure of a successful military.  Obviously a 12 million man draftee Army fighting a parity force is a bit different to lead than an all volunteer Army fighting an asymetric force.  There are very good reasons that there are fewer GO's fired (for one the selection process for getting into a leadership position is very tight and the selection process generally works good enough to separate the wheat from the chaff).

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/11/general-failure/309148/

The biggest problem here is that when someone has the balls to tell the President that what he wants is foolish, like GEN Shinseki did prior to the second invasion of Iraq, they get replaced. 

If you want us to invade a country, we can do that (and are pretty good at it).
You want us to kill people, we can do that too (and are really good at it).
If you want the .mil to figure out what the National Objectives should be, you need elect a General to the White House (something that we haven't had since Eisenhower).

What the hell was the long term goal in invading Afghanistan?  Did anyone lay out a plan, we'll invade, get back at the Taliban for sheltering Al Quaeda, and then what?  Set up a stable democracy in a country that has never had a stable democracy?  And the Bush administration made a huge case for Iraqi WMDs to justify military intervention, replaced one 4 Star who said "this is a bad idea" with a 4 Star who said, "sure I can invade with half the troops Shinseki wanted.  I'm sure the Iraqi people are smart and industrious and will have no problem transitioining to democracy despite living under a one party military dictatorship for multiple decades."

The real problem is that the military has done what it was told.  This is what happens when someone doesn't sit down and figure out the damn strategy before getting inolved in tactical domination.  And when someone in the .mil says, "hold on, what you are asking us to do is stupid and counterproductive" they get replaced with someone who will follow orders without regards to politics.

The President publishes a document outlining national strategy.  The SecDef publishes a document outlining DOD support to the Presidents direction.  The Combatant Commander's (COCOM) Review OPERATIONS PLANS (OPLAN) in support of those guiding documents.  A lot of ideas and reviewers put their unique take on how to do business. Some of those plans are predictable, such as responding to an invasion of a country with which we have a treaty obligation to defend.  My point is that by the time "National Strategy" is filtered down just two levels, to the COCOM 4 star billet, it has gone from "Strategic" to "Operational."  The Operational level of war is no longer strategic. 

Between "tactical" and "strategic" is this realm of "operational level" where you do something to directly affect something else.  "Operation Restore Hope" or "Operation Overlord" or "Operation Urgent Fury" are all historic examples of an Operational level of war.  An ally of ours is invaded, say a tiny country that produces 20% of the worlds oil, and the president says, "Hey SECDEF, do we have a plan to restore the international borders and push back the agressor?"  At this point the SECDEF looks to the COCOM Commander, who is supposed to have an OPLAN for just this contingency on the shelf, and say, "Yes Mr. President, we have a plan to do that, it will likely take six months of prep and cost X billions of dollars."

Operations have to be approved by POTUS and if it is a war, approved by Congress.  There is supposed to be this Executive and Legislative check on the use of military force.  One that assumes an Executive and Legislature with enough military experience and cunning to be judicious in passing judgement.  Still, Kennedy sent troops to Vietnam, and Congress backed doubling down under Johnson, with a much higher percentage of Veterans in both branches.

At the heart of an Operation is a 4 Star General, not making strategy, but turning a strategic decision into an operation to achieve some strategic goal (such as "make good on our promises to our allies" or "defend liberty from those who would oppress it.")  Blaming a General for a strategic failure is stupid.  If the .mil is going to be held to a higher standard by all means let the Generals (and Sergeants Major, and Chief Warrant 5's) all do their thing and make policy.  But nobody wants that, nobody wants a military that is anything less than a willing servant to the Republic.  Not our fault that Democracy gives us the government we deserve.

And that is the military you want, the ones that answer "yes or no" to the "can we do this" questions.  You do not want a military making the "should we do this" type questions.  Afghanistan is not an impossible mission.  Afghanistan is an impossible mission to accomplish in less than thirty years.  I cannot see a way to "win" Afghanistan in the current timetable.  Right now the policies being put forth at the Operational level seem to be reflecting this reality, and trying to get untangled without too much mess on the exit.

But would the American public, voters and taxpayers, have choked down the cruel logic that it really isn't worth our time to invade Afghanistan?  Following the 9/11 attacks the clamor of the public to "do something" was pretty intense.  Sometimes I admire the British with their national character of "keep calm and carry on" in the face of adversity.  Because our national reaction to 9/11 was to invade a country of no strategic worth and create the TSA which has no practical security value.  Sometimes doing nothing is the right answer to aggression.

On the flip side, sometimes the only appropriate answer to aggression is overwhelming violence.  It is difficult to pick a leader who truly knows when to use which tactic in the toolbox.

As a complete aside, there has been a lot of news lately about Generals and Admirals behaving badly.  From ADM Stavridis' IG investigation to Kip Ward's demotion, to BG Sinclair at Fort Bragg's sex scandal, to Petraeus's affair.  It seems like there is almost a concerted push to take away public credibility from the military.  I guess it is much easier to pull funding from something people loathe than something people love.  I'm all for people understanding that Soldiers and Sailors are just human, but for all their faults, a lot of the people I work with and for really are heroes.  On the flip side, some are real turd burglers.

Economic Liberty

Digging further into the idea of an "economic insurgency" or individuals fighting through economic means for "economic liberty" I've started digging deeper into the American Open Currency Standard.  I've researched it before, and looked into the "Free Lakotah Bank" when it came on line a few years back (I was honestly surprised to see they are still around, and still doing good business by all reports).

The idea is simple, coin "barter medallions" that have intrinsic value in terms of a commodity metal.  Gold, silver, and copper.  It becomes a "store of wealth" against inflation as you cannot destroy the intrinsic value of a commodity, although the value of a commodity will fluctuate against other commodities based on market forces.  Don't let that scare you, the value of any currency fluctuates based on market forces.

Now the idea that communities should be able to store wealth in the form of a local currency has appeal to folks of all political stripes.  Looking at the AOCS Community Currency page, http://www.opencurrency.com/directory/currencies/community-currencies/ You'll notice that "Liberal Bastions" such as Fort Collins, CO and Cape Cod, MA are on the list.  I don't know if it gets much bluer than either of those locations in terms of a voting block.

Now those are only the local currencies using the AOCS precious metal barter concept.  When you look at the other types of currency models (such as hours banking) you get a much larger list.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_community_currencies_in_the_United_States

I guess if you are in the process of trying to restore liberty it wouldn't hurt to get your local chamber of commerce to buy off on the idea of barter medallions.  A commodity currency that can be redeemed into fiat currency pretty at much any stage in the cycle of trade, which will keep wealth in the community.  Encouraging people to convert fiat currency into barter medallions for local use will gradually transition money into wealth.  It is a sound principle, and one that liberals and conservatives seem to agree on.

 What if the Fed raised or lowered interest rates, and nobody cared?  What if your local gas station started accepting barter medallions at a "spot price" and people were smart enough to turn dollars into barter medallions, and watch the price of gas go up (as the value of the dollar goes down) but see their wealth protected?  What if your local bank started offering the "spot conversion" between the barter medallion and a fiat currency?

I've talked a lot about marksmanship being just a tool, one that is largely unimportant at the strategic level (you can win without good marksmanship, you cannot win without good strategy).  But if you could take power away from the Fed simply by using an alternate currency?   It seems like getting involved with your local chamber of commerce and selling this idea is something that 20 million deer hunters could do now, today, with little to no organization to support their efforts.

13 November 2012

Weekend musings...

I recently had a chance to attend a Saturday of Appleseed.  I did not pass up the chance, mainly because I would like to see improvement in the two years since I last attended.  I wasn't able to make it to the second day of instruction, and no qualification tables were shot on Saturday (a Boy Scout troop filled most of the shooting line, and getting new shooters into the culture fundamentally grounded is pretty cool to watch.)

In two years I have come a long way.  I received one correction from an Orange Hat instructor, my firing side leg was not high enough in the prone position.  My groups were consistently in the 1 inch square at 25 yards, all day long.  I miscounted on the opening redcoat target and didn't put three rounds into the 400 yard silhouette, and I put 4 rounds into the 300.  At the end of the day I didn't make the same mistake and cleaned the target.

Fundamentally I'm getting better.  But I've been on the line with an older gentleman who, from the standing unsupported position, managed to maintain a tighter group at 100 yards.  Shooting next to an NRA High Master is always a bit humbling for me, and reminds me that being the best shot at Appleseed is like being the tallest midget at the county fair.

I don't know if the difference in the history taught at appleseed has undergone a script change in two years, but there was definitely a greater sense of urgency in the instructors as they covered things that I don't remember hearing last time.  The massive die offs at the Jamestown colony when they worked, "each man according to his ability, and each according to his need" verses the prosperity of property rights.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_who_does_not_work,_neither_shall_he_eat

Later on the instructors described the massive mobilization of militia, one instructor put out the number 14,000 strong, all moving towards Lexington/Concord in response to the 80 riders who went out to warn the citizens.  I don't know if that is true, but it is generally agreed upon that the British Regulars were outnumbered by the end of the battle.

If 700 men marched on your town, could you call up enough Patriots to make a difference?  The militias of the day were organized, they had riders, they had officers, they had drill, they had a network.  They even had a shadow government.  They were ready.  They had also been participating in a low level political and economic insurgency for YEARS before the first shot was fired.

That is a model for success.  Vanderbough is correct that the Founding Fathers and the militia model of minutemen is a valid model for success.  Where he is shaky is the timeline, gathering popular support, and the "no free Waco" idea.  People don't mind the government going after crazy cults or racist former Special Forces guys in Idaho.  People do mind when they go after the local security of a town, which is something I don't see happening in our immediate future.

The Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence over a year after Lexington and Concord, well after they authorized the Continental Army, Navy, and Marine Corps (to be counted part of the Army).  Men were signing their names on the enlistment parchment before the Declaration had even been drafted.

But the structure was there.  It was local, and it was 13 colonies wide, and those agitating for Canadian colonies to join as well.  The Appleseed instructors may have been preaching to the choir from where I sat, but surrounding me were people who were clearly unfamiliar with a rifle, young boys still in school working towards a marksmanship merit badge.

Following Appleseed I stayed with a friend, and we discussed the concept of "Economic Liberty." The American Revolution was largely about taxes, "no taxation without representation" should be a familiar theme (I think that "No Representation without Taxation" is a pretty catchy theme for justification of disenfranchisement of a large portion of the unproductive).  The current troubles in America are also largely economic, and reverting back into the early Jamestown model, where the output of everyone goes into the "common store" model.  Government knows best has never worked.  Not in Jamestown, not in Russia, not in China, and not in America.

My friend and I did not agree on a workable solution between the two of us (two Patriots, three opinions sometimes) but we did agree that having a single fiat currency controlled by a central bank is definitely NOT the model for economic liberty.  If you work for wages, and are paid in a fiat currency, the central bank/government mandated inflation makes your life increasingly worthless as time goes on.  Your time is worth less and less in terms of real property.  The Founding Fathers were right to insist that coins be minted in gold or silver.  Without that standard currency can NEVER be "wealth" over the long term.

We've seen how different towns across the world have adopted a local currency to keep wealth in the community.  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2012/0505/Greek-town-creates-its-own-alternative-currency  I am convinced that this is the model for economic liberty in the future.   Some nationally or internationally recognized currency, and a basket of more local currencies to suit local economies.  Right now your Visa or Mastercard works in France or Russia, and they do the conversion for you when you make a purchase.  Add a few more currencies to the recognized basket and it is just as simple as being a guest in a sovereign state (although interstate as opposed to international).

So why would a basket of local currencies promote economic liberty?  By keeping the national fiat currency from becoming so worthless that it is utterly abandoned.  If you get paid in Ohio BuckeyeBucks and the Dollar is dropping like a stone because of poor management by the central bank, your local economy can still manage as there are farms, mills, bakeries, etc, all in Ohio.  Different states would have different economic strengths, but as long as the exchange rates are fluid, a viable alternative to the dollar can promote economic liberty.  One of the ways you can spot a good idea is when Libs pooh pooh it.

Also the idea of an "income tax" on wages is really "slavery" rehashed.  There is really no economic liberty when the first half of your workday goes to pay someone else.  Not that I'm an anti-tax nut, taxes are a legitimate and necessary function of government.  However the ponzi scheme associated with FICA, Medicare and other payroll taxes is really morally repugnant.  I may be heartless for saying that it is morally repugnant to require the healthy and fit to pay for the sick, lame or lazy (to be honest I really don't mind paying for the sick and the lame, but the lazy really get my goat).  I don't have a problem with charity, I do have a problem with the .gov using coercive force to make it happen.

12 November 2012

Suppressive Fire with Small Arms

If you haven't read JM's post on small arms suppressive fire here: https://mountainguerrilla.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/suppressive-fire-for-the-irregular-war-fighter/ go do so now.

Everybody on the same page?  Good.

Suppressive fire is about making the enemy unable to maneuver against you (so you can leave such as in a break contact scenario or maneuver your own force against them in an attack).  Suppressive fire means the enemy is fixated on the obvious source of fire and can not effectively maneuver against it for some period of time (nothing lasts forever, no matter what the De Beers advertisement says).  Get that?  There is no "rounds per minute math" here in the very bottom level definition of suppressive fire.  The combat math is useful to figure out how long you should be able to suppress for planning purposes (which lets you plan how quickly you need to get your assault position in place), but it is not a measure for success.

If you have four men in a fire team, all huddled in a mortar crater, and they are all afraid to put their head above the rim because a lone rifleman pings one off their helmet before they get their eyes on the horizon, THAT is effective suppressive fire.

A lone rifleman won't keep the fire team pinned down for long, the Team Leader will issue orders to two of his men to dash in opposite directions at the same time while the other two try to "shoot likely positions of the enemy" to break out of a bad situation.  If our pinned down fire team is able to do so, then the suppressive fire did not last very long.  Suppressive fire must be lethal to be effective.  If you are pulling the trigger and not killing or wounding someone then they are planning to exploit your failure to kill them.

Remember the 77 Maxim's of Maximally Effective Mercenaries: That which does not kill you hath made a tactical error.

Suppressive fire is about the effect on the enemy, not number of rounds fired.  I cannot state that enough.  If I were instructing a class of new Infantry Officers I would have stomped my foot while I said that.  I can't emphasize that enough.  You don't need a machinegun to achieve suppressive fire.  It is nice to have, but it is not necessary.

What is necessary?

First is Accuracy.  A near miss is still a miss.  Enough people have now experienced bullets zinging very close to them that they are not afraid of improperly aimed fire.  You have to hit where you are aiming to be effective at suppressing the enemy.  Calling a miss "suppression" is just an excuse for bad marksmanship (and remember, Marksmanship Matters a great deal at the tactical level). 

How do you choose the weapon systems for your "Fire" element of Fire and Maneuver?  Look at the target, and decide what you need to be effective against it.

The second necessary element is Force.  Will your bullets be able to achieve good destruction of the target?

A reinforced concrete bunker will soak up a lot of 7.62 before giving way.  More than an Infantryman can carry.  It will soak up a lot less 50 cal.  It will just shrug off 5.56.

A brick wall will get punched through by a 50 cal, and get tore up very quickly by 7.62, but 5.56 won't do much.

A wooden wall (barring some thick log cabin monstrosity) is no obstacle to 7.62 and 5.56 will chew through it nicely (for a few walls anyways).

A 22 long rifle has plenty of energy and accuracy for quick fleeting targets under 50 yards for headshots.  Do not discount some crazy guy with a bunch of 25 round magazines for a 10/22 as being able to keep a bunch of men with superior arms pinned down.  Accuracy is the first part of the lethality equation (accuracy, penetration, deformation), and the first part about providing effective suppression..

If your suppressive fire efforts are part of a "reaction" drill, then all those "force" planning considerations go out the window and you return fire with whatever you have in an attempt to gain fire superiority.  React to contact drills are all worth their time in gold to rehearse.  

The third consideration is Volume of fire.  After your bullets arrive at the target with enough force to be lethal, or penetrate whatever barrier you want to break down you need to be hitting the target with the appropriate frequency to keep the enemy from moving.  Your fire must be quick enough that the enemy is stuck in the O portions of their OODA loop.  Whether you do that with five AR-10s at 500 meters or 20 guys with 30-30 rifles at 200 meters is all METT-TC dependent (but make a choice based on those factors). The timing is different for different weapon systems, if you have a bolt action rifle, you cannot fire a second shot fast enough to make up for a near miss, with an AR you can.  As JM wrote, this frequency really depends on range, so use enough volume to achieve suppression, but no more.

There it is, accuracy, force, volume.  Now that you know you need to provide accurate fire, that is doing the desired damage to the enemy, you need enough volume to achieve tactical superiority.  This is where machine guns are nice, but not necessary.  The more accurate your fire, the less volume you will need, which means you can use fewer rounds to achieve suppression for a longer time..

How does accuracy, force, and volume of fire interact with tactics?

In the offense, How do you make the enemy fight in two directions?  You have a base of fire (such as a Support By Fire position or an Attack By Fire position)  This lays DIRECT FIRE on the enemy.  This makes the enemy seek COVER if possible, CONCEALMENT if not, to keep from being killed.  If you are "Supporting by fire" then your assault element will maneuver to the enemies flank, and begin their assault.  This is where the support by fire line has to turn off bullets ahead of the advancing assault.  This always involves some sort of front line trace and communication backup.  If it doesn't you will end up with fratricide.

If however you are in an Attack By Fire position, the other direction can come from indirect or air assets.  Your direct fire makes the enemy duck behind something, then mortars or artillery explodes overhead.  The enemy dies without any extra maneuver force moving across the enemy position.  This is a very useful tactic if you have the assets to do so.  If you don't you can set up two Attack By Fire positions, using terrain, to attack the enemy from two directions and achieve the same "destruction" without an active maneuver force.  Think of this as an L shaped ambush without an assault prior to exfiltration.

In the defense, you engage the enemy in prepared engagement areas, using the principle of Attack by Fire or Support by Fire in an "aggressive defense" principle.  The Army Qualification for small arms is based on an "aggressive defense" scenario.  However there is no difference between "aggressive defense" and "suppressive fire" in terms of how you employ the weapon system.
If someone ever asks you "What do you do in this situation?" responding with, "Well it is METT-TC dependent" makes you sound like an unprepared ROTC Cadet.  Ask them where they want to conduct an operation, pull out the map or walk the terrain and go through a hasty planning scenario.  Talk through the Mission, Equipment, Time, Troops, Terrain, and Civil considerations, explain your reasoning and logic for each step.  That is how good leaders are developed.  If you aren't training one or two people to replace you at all times you are failing your organization.  If you don't have a map, or someone is just being a smartass (remember, all tactics can be defeated, there is no Buddha Palm Death Punch) then don't waste your time.

JM listed Rommel's "Attacks" as a good source of learning for small unit tactics involving fire and maneuver.  I've read it, and think that someone should start of with "Battle Leadership" by Adolph Von Schell.  Between the two I think Von Schnell was the better teacher, but that truly is just my opinion after reading Attacks and Battle Leadership.  Everyone should read Rommel (Just like everyone should read Sun Tzu and Clausewitz) but I think if you read Von Schell first it will make Rommel easier to understand.

11 November 2012

Search Term What the Hell?

Pretty much everything on that list is supposed to be there, with the exception of "chimpanzee reproduction"

Seriously, how did that search end up at my blog, twice?

Three Magic Words

In any relationship there are three magic words that sometimes need to be said to help the people involved move beyond some point of contention.  Those three words are "Let it go."

A Troll is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and most often pathetic.  Dan III keeps coming back to my blog to do all the things that trolls do, steer the topic away from the original post, call other people inflammatory names, and generally make an ass of himself.  I say that over half of the Deer Hunters in the US aren't even a member of the NRA in a comment to my own blog post, and now DanIII says that "Your initial essay referenced that only NRA members were politically active" as if putting words into my mouth makes him all the more brilliant.

I have my blog set to automatically require my approval for any comments on posts over a week old, it helps keep the comment threads free from spam.   Now I generally do not moderate comments on my blog, but I decided to publish Dan III's latest attempts to appear relevant in a slightly different manner. Below is a screen capture of my "comments awaiting moderation."  I guess he could complain I'm stepping on his right to free speech or something by not publishing his mindless drivel in the manner he intended (based on the quantity of comments was to overload the comment thread with DanIII comments).

I think Dan III might have a troll crush on me.  Three different comments by the same individual, in the same post, all basically explaining his utter brilliance and how I don't fight fair.  It is kinda cute yet pathetic, like a sad panda starving for attention.

Dan III, just "Let it go."  If you want to troll, by all means go on with your bad self, but if you really want to explain to the world how brilliant and suave you are, you really need to start your own blog.  Heck, maybe this is just the wholesome encouragement that Dan III needs to "let it go" and move on with his life.   Don't be shy sunshine, let the world really know what you think.  Blogger and wordpress are out there, go get 'em kiddo.

07 November 2012

The election as an analogy

I didn't vote.  I am registered in a firmly blue state living in a firmly red state and really had no positive feelings for either party in this quadrennial election of our priest king.  I could not in good conscience vote, not with these two candidates, and before someone says I should have voted L, I made my choice and that is that.

The reality of the situation is that we are utterly broke.  The issue that matters isn't rape, abortion, healthcare, or taxes on the rich.  The reality of the situation is that government spending is so out of control that there has not been an official budget for years because to put one out there would be to make real the unsustainable debt we have dug ourselves into.

The logical, rational answer is to balance the books, bite the bullet, and live within our means.  The teleological answer is to drive full speed ahead and really really believe that everything will be better in the future, because that is how you want the world to work.

The teleological argument is never rational.  In my recent "intense fellowship" with ArcticPatriot about philosophy I did not bring up Teleology, but it is possibly the most corrosive philosophy we have in our society.

We did this by following a teleological argument of "building a better future".  We did this by electing people who promised a great fantasy land just around the bend.  In Canada it was "mouseland" that brought socialized medicine and here it is "Hope and Change" that brought about "Obamacare."  Instead of dealing with the reality of the present the public has bought a roadmap to the promise land with no means to get there.

Neither party in this election faced up to that reality.  They argued over who had the better fantasy land.  People talked about a "war on women" as if it were a serious matter instead of dismissing it out of hand.  Obamacare based on Romneycare, women in Massachusetts haven't been too molested by Mitt.

Those who are buying guns and ammo now, welcome to the party, you are late.  Those who are stocking up now on dry foods.  You are very late to the party.  Anybody who started "getting concerned" this last summer?  Sit in a corner and listen, or go read the back posts of about a gajillion blogs out there that explain the reality of the situation.

I don't have much put away in precious metals.  Plenty in ammo and food.  Need more in water purification and medicine.  So far I haven't seen a news article on a run on FishMox or pool bleach so those who are panic buying haven't been doing their research.

In reality it is never too late to buy an extra bag of rice, an extra box of ammo, or an extra bottle of an nsaid.  In fantasy land the government protects you, is there to feed you when something bad happens, and your medical bills are paid for. 

Would my mood have been better had Mittens won?  Probably not.  I really doubt that the Executive alone could do what is necessary to preserve even a smidgen of economic sanity.

There be rocks ahead Captain.  Damn the rocks, full speed ahead!

06 November 2012

Benghazi

Here it is about two months after the sacking of our embassy in Benghazi and the finger pointing is mostly over.

Stories have come forward about GEN Carter Ham and AFRICOM being told to stand down.  Stories have come out that all the combat power we could put out there was two unarmed surveillance drones.  Stories have come out that the units needed to conduct a VIP extraction were "training" and needed to be briefed then taken to an airfield, and that the only real option was an F16 strike from Rota, Spain, but the analysts couldn't make out clear targets on the ground.

All of that may be true, all of that may be false.  Here is what I do know to be true.

1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group is assigned to Stuttgart, Germany.  Last I checked every forward deployed SF BN made their Charlie Company a "mini Delta" in terms of training for hostage rescue.  Times could have changed, any current long tabbers feel free to correct me.  I'm assuming that this was the unit that the Pentagon referred to as "in training."  Personally I would have thought pulling them from training and briefing them enroute would be an option, but only if an aircraft with an adequate communications suite were available to support that (it would be pure speculation on my part, I just don't know).

6th Fleet, US Navy is based out of Naples, Italy.  Currently headed by a 3 Star Admiral.  Currently has more firepower than most small countries.  Under direct control of 6th Fleet is Combined Task Force 62, a Marine Expeditionary Unit.  A MEU is described as: Each MEU is an expeditionary quick reaction force, deployed and ready for immediate response to any crisis.  A MEU has it's own lift assetts, no word on whether or not they were in any place close enough to respond, or if they were "training."  No idea of SEAL or other NAVSPECWAR units currently assigned to 6th Fleet.

The 56th Rescue Squadron of the 48th Fighter Wing located in the UK.  I don't know if PJ's are trained in pulling out ambassadors.  I do not know if a Phoenix Raven team was available anywhere in Europe.

What this tells me is that, AFRICOM (which gets the bulk of it's operational forces from the Reserves or FORSCOM, so it gets a pass), EUCOM, 6th FLEET, and at least 2 Air Force flag grade officers (48th Fighter Wing and Air Mobility Command) all had to have the same "unavailability of forces" on the same day, at the same time.  Your taxpayer dollars at work.

So, what is more plausible, that the very best the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps could come up with is two unarmed drones?  Or that something else went on.  All the explanations from the DOD have made sense on their own, but when you look at the whole picture it just doesn't seem to add up.

04 November 2012

Counter Insurgency and the Regular Army

During the Cold War the US Army and US Marine Corps pushed to Special Forces and Force Recon the job of "counter guerilla" and "counter insurgent."

When facing the Russian Bear at sometimes spitting distances the Top Brass had to prioritize men, equipment, and training.  The choice they made emphasized conventional fire and maneuver tactics to support two strategic goals, 1. Prevent war by maintaining a professional Army ready to respond at a moments notice, and 2. In the event of failure of Goal #1, win on the field of battle.

During the Cold War units from SOCOM did all the "back of nowhere brush wars" that were not on the strategic radar of our national interests.  Green Berets deployed all over South America fighting Communism and Drug Cartels, and South America has been relatively stable as a result.  The low level insurgency in the Philippines has seen constant US support to the legitimate Filipino government.  You could say that Green Berets have been going after MILF since the 1980s.  (Get your head out of the gutter, MILF is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front).

The doctrine, tactics, and strategies embraced by Regular Army Combat Arms Officers was highly efficient (and still is) at creating leaders who could win tactical engagements on the field of battle.  We saw how this failed to work in Vietnam, where Counter Insurgency (COIN) was actively discouraged by top Army brass.

The British Army, with a long heritage of "Empire Policemen" to live up to, did not divorce the function of "counter insurgent" from their Regular Officers, and taught that civil support via military operations is a legitimate function of the Regular Army.  Comparing the British response to the insurgency in Malaya against the American response to Vietnam as John Nagl did in "Learning to eat soup with a knife" makes it clear that if the Regular Army wants to be good at counter insurgency, it has to maintain a tradition of counter insurgency in the regular Army.

Early in the Vietnam conflict Green Berets were generally doing what we consider "effective COIN tactics" in building up local security, supporting the local villages, and growing the native forces to deal with the insurgents.  Once the Regular Army came in, the top brass saw no benefit in keeping some of the Army's most highly trained light infantry soldiers doing "police work" instead of "taking the fight to the enemy."  One of the outcomes of Vietnam was that Special Forces would become a recognized Branch, and it would become very much separate from the Regular Army from which it drew recruits.

To this day there are those who confuse a tactical victory on the ground with an "indicator of success."   Recently COL Harry D. Tunnell was rightly criticized for the command climate of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division during it's deployment to Afghanistan.  This is the same officer who as a Lieutenant Colonel wrote a paper on choosing effective language to foster trust and respect with local national counterparts.  So how could an officer be praised for grasping the fundamental issue of COIN, that it is about human relationships, end up being in charge of the Brigade that had the "Kill Squad"?  I don't know, I cannot speak for the man, but it could be something as simple as he believed that it was more important to kill the insurgent in a "counter guerilla" campaign than to support the fledgling and largely impotent Afghan government.

Using COL Tunnell as an example, we have an officer with a good grasp of the "theory of COIN" who then utterly failed to implement good COIN strategy.  As anyone who has been in any military unit, just because you passed through the training to join your unit doesn't mean that you will actually be good at your job.  SEALs get kicked out of DEVGRU with some regularity according to the back office scuttlebutt.  If you are a long tabber who is "just not quite there" then it is highly possible to get moved to a "B" team or to a staff position where you are less likely to get someone killed (or LNO position).  Even the Ranger Regiment regularly sheds fully qualified Rangers back into the Regular Army.

But, if COIN is not a core Regular Army mission, how can you judge a Regular Army leader as being effective or a total clusterfuck at COIN operations?  In Afghanistan people are fond of saying, "We've been there 11 years now."  But that doesn't paint the right picture.  We've been to Afghanistan 11 times for one year at a time is a better way to put it.  As units, commands, and Generals rotate in and out each brings with them their own concept of "what right looks like" and what the priorities should be for 1, supporting the nascent government of Afghanistan, 2, actively engaging and destroying Anti Afghan Forces (insurgents, taliban, Haqqani, etc), 3, providing security to the civilian population, 4, improving infrastructure.

Each unit prioritizes differently, each unit only has the consequence of being in the area for a year (soon to be 9 months for the Regular Army).  The lack of consistency shows in the lack of consistent results.  This lack of consistency is largely due to an Officer Corps that learned COIN the hard way, by reading through the massive reading lists put out by various commands.  And the lesson learned from all that reading, studying, and thinking (and then putting it into practice) is this; there is no one right answer for COIN.

You have to think through the problem.  You have to find the right answer for that place and that population.  You have to implement the solution while mitigating negative unintended consequences.  Sometimes it is as simple as digging wells, sometimes it is as complex as setting up a trade school.  Never has it been as easy as simply killing the insurgents.  If we don't capture these lessons into our official training pipeline, within 5 years this skill will be functionally lost from the Regular Army, and in 10 years even the knowledge base will be too small to matter.

One really good lesson is that the National Guard and Army Reserve are a huge resource in terms of Soldiers who know what it takes to keep a town running.  Using the civilian skills of Guardsmen and Reservists to mentor a local national counterpart became "efficient use of forces" for any commander bright enough to stop asking, "what is this unit on MTOE" to "what is the skillset of this unit?"  For example an Infantry Unit out of the Florida National Guard had a very large percentage of policemen from Miami Dade Metro who were excellent police mentors.  A California NG air ambulance company had the highest patient survival rate in all of Afghanistan, which caused the Army to stand up the "Flight Medic" program to bring the training standard on par with the civilian flight EMTs that the CA Guardsmen were in their civilian life.

The Army can and will continue to change, but the question is will it embrace COIN as a Regular Army mission or not.  For decades SOCOM was enough for the COIN mission.  I doubt that it will be enough in the future.  The Army has finally gone to "Regionally aligned forces" in FORSCOM with COCOM commanders so it looks like COIN may become something of a core competency on the operational side.  I don't know how that will translate into the training and doctrine side.

Current Economic Model: Life is Unfair

Aesop has brought up a lot of points lately, and this one deserves fleshing out a little bit more.

Let's be rational:
American products can't be competitive on price when we've got .gov mandatory minimum wage and craptons of .gov rules & regs. There is no bottom to wages overseas, and "competing" with that just drives all of us broke.
Unions control so few workers in this country anymore (except for govt. employees) that their influence on product cost approaches neglible with each passing year.

-Aesop
Aesop is exactly right.  Life isn't fair.
 
Overseas they don't have to worry about OSHA, unemployment, Social Security, EPA regs, or one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  Except for fully developed countries in Europe (or Japan) we see that growing economies have a lower tax and regulatory burden on corporations.

Aesop is partially wrong that unions influence on product cost approaches negligible every year.  Where did we get OSHA from?  There is a longstanding history of collusion between Unions and regulators.  Even to the point where the Labor Relations Board made history by telling Boeing that it couldn't move manufacturing to a right to work state.  Boeing has done the cost analysis on dealing with a union strike every five years, and being told to "eat the cost" by the US Government is tantamount to highway robbery.  

So when you talk about direct cost of Unions, Aesop is correct.  But you cannot divorce unions from their destructive past that led to the current high cost of manufacturing for everyone (even non union shops that have to deal with the regulatory and bureaucratic nightmare demanded by Unions).  You can hire a union carpenter or an illegal immigrant hanging around Home Depot, and enough people are not going to pay Union wages and so illegal immigrants keep hanging around Home Depot.  It is just the way the world works.

On the flip side of that, our Western past in manufacturing looks a lot like "Communist Slave Labor" to social critics, from Dickens to Marx.  What social reform didn't kill, the EPA did (think of the US Steel Industry, still the number 3 manufacturer in the world, but only the 11th largest exporter).  Is the cost of clean air worth the social cost of the Rust Belt?  The public said "yes" and ever more rabid environmental wackos take their place as the head of the EPA (don't get me started about extremist environmental doctrine brainwashing our kids in public schools).

Our current system of laws makes it profitable to outsource jobs overseas, and so that is what corporations do (except for small business that doesn't have the resources to outsource, or a customer base not large enough to deal with the hassle of doing business overseas).  Why do you think "small business" was such a hot topic during the last election cycle?  Functionally small business is the only growth for manufacturing (outside of the high tech industry) in the United States.  My hat is off to anyone building anything in the US at this point, you are a better man than I.

The idea of "free trade" verses "fair trade" has a place in our national conversation on trade and tariffs.  But the conversation has been functionally over since NAFTA was enacted by a bipartisan effort.  Free trade (and the low prices on imports) won that conversation, and even the idea of "protectionist tariffs" brings guffaws amongst politicians and media pundits now.

People complain about WalMart being the root of all economic evil, but consumers have spoken.  Sears is going out of business (it's all over but the bankruptcy in my opinion), but WalMart was able to ride the crest of legislation that opened up market opportunities on the supply side to meet the low priced cravings on the demand side.

In the BRIC countries of rising economies we see that the idea of "slave labor" really isn't.  Peasants are willing to work 80 hours a week and sleep in a company dormitory (something that we had during our industrial revolution) because it sure beats working on the farm.  The standard of living in China has risen at such a high rate that the number one priority of the Chinese government is continuing the prosperity gravy train.

That means forcibly keeping their currency depressed to get favorable exchange rates with their number one consumer, the United States.  This economic model cannot go on forever, we know it and they know it.  And a dollar collapse hurts the entire world as much as it hurts us.  But getting back to the point that Aesop made, "Life isn't fair."

Now on the flip side, anyone remember the craptastic cars that the Big 3 were putting out in the 70's and 80's?  Ever wonder why the hell Americans working in a Toyota factory in Kentucky can put together such a good product while the Americans working in Detroit were putting out junk?  Wanna play "guess which assembly line was union?"  Wonder why Toyota has the highest brand loyalty in the industry?

America is still a huge exporter, mainly for agricultural products and high tech equipment (not to mention being the worlds best Arms Dealer).  But until the situation changes (which it won't, because there are a lot of people making money on the current economic model, and a lot of consumers benefiting from low prices).

However Aesop's general statement is not exactly true for every industry.  The garment industry has been utterly demolished in the United States, but cheap imports on ammunition have not hurt US companies too badly at all (although if you buy Winchester White Box you may have to do some digging to find out if your ammo was imported from Serbia, the Czech Republic, Israel, or some other place).

Now, is it a legitimate function of government to try to regulate the economy through laws and currency manipulation?  That is a more interesting question in my mind.

03 November 2012

Buy gear you can afford, but don't waste your money on junk.

So my troll has been giving AP grief in the comment section about "Communist Slave Labor Boots" as if American Union made boots were morally superior.  I'm lucky, sometimes trolls give good blogfodder.

Dan III is stupid for a number of reasons.  If you are a "threeper" like Dan who believes that the system is irrevocably broken, then it doesn't matter where your boots come from.  If you are Rambo ready to bring the system down and then "restore the Constitution" then who made your boots is a non-issue.  I distinctly remember a bunch of French Muskets ending up in the hands of the Continental Army at some point....

What Dan suffers from is "irrational thinking" and confusing "Patriotism" with "morality."  What good does it do to spend twice as much on an American Made product if you are gearing up for a coming civil war with the Powers that Be in America?  When someone can explain that logic to me they should get a Ph.D. in bovine excrement (don't even bother Dan, you don't have the brain power).

Dan III believes that the system is irrecoverably broken because of his stance on the NRA.  If he believed that the system was fixable he would be working to fix it, not disparaging those who are trying.  Logically he can't have it both ways, that the system is totally broken (therefore bring on the collapse) or that the system is recoverable (therefore BUY AMERICAN!).  Logic is a harsh mistress.  If there is a third option here (the premise of the excluded middle being implied by the binary choice of the system being broken or not) then someone other than Dan III please bring it up.

On this blog I've posted pictures of Turk and Swede Mausers, and soon will post some K98's.  Do I deserve the scorn of the troll because I bought foreign weapons?  I own a Saiga, made in Russia.  I've owned Chinese AK's and my ONLY 12 guage shotgun is a Norinco clone of the old Ithaca M37.  I've mentioned all of this before.  A lot of thought went into purchasing that shotgun, and while I'd love an original M37 even more, I can't afford one based on my spending priorities.  I actually could afford one, but it would cut into other expenditures so I'm not going to pay the premium for an American M37.

Just food for thought, I chose the Norinco M372 because it has bottom eject, cylinder bore barrel, and a 5 shot tube.  If I ever had to clear a building with it I can switch shoulders mid stride and never have to worry about a hull to the face.  The cylinder bore is just fine for the ranges I'm looking at using buckshot, and fine for slugs beyond that.  I thought about the intended use of the firearm, then I went out and bought the best quality for the lowest price I could. 

I would by a Polytech M14 clone in a heartbeat if the import rules were changed.  Even my Garand is a foreign parts gun, the only thing "made in America" is the investment cast receiver.  Yes I know that Norinco directly funds the PLA.  Doesn't matter if you believe the system is broken.  I honestly expect that any hostilities with China will be initiated by a country OTHER than China. 

My personal chest rig is made by Condor, which I bought from the good folks at  http://www.uspatriottactical.com/ on sale.  I've used Chinese made 5.11 tactical boots, but found they didn't last as long as my made in America Belleville 390s.  I can't say enough good things about Belleville 390s, they fit my feet great and they've lasted through two deployments since 2009.  My next pair of boots will be made in America only because they work really well for me. 

So my gear comes from around the world.  I choose my gear based on function and price.  I have no problems putting a 300 dollar scope on top of a 250 dollar rifle.  I buy foreign scopes too, last one was made in Europe.  The last American made scope I bought was a Redfield, and now even that manufacture has been "outsourced" and yet I would buy another if I needed another good hunting scope.

Heck, even with reloading components I buy Canadian powder for my 308, and Serbian bullets for my 223, and I'm about to switch over to Russian primers for all of them.  Although I will continue to buy American made ball powder for my 223 loads (accuracy has been very good, I have no complaints at all with my heavy 223 loads), because I thought it would just as good as the Belgium made TAC powder for cheaper.  My Chevy car was made in Korea, my Dodge truck was made in Mexico.  Conversely my Honda motorcycle was made in Ohio.

I wonder how Dan III sleeps at night, knowing there are people out there like AP and myself, who don't live according to his irrational rules, who have logic and history on their side.  I guess it really doesn't matter, as whatever I write here is more than enough to set him off yet again.  But I guess it is easier for Dan III to gripe about Chinese Boots or the NRA than actually train, network, or prepare.

02 November 2012

My plug for the NRA, JPFO, and 2AF

Usually my trolls don't bother leaving a handle, but Dan III (hint to other Threepers out there, he's making the rest of you look mentally incompetent and overly emotional, not someone you want to depend on when your life is on the line).
AM,

Oh....sorry....it is YOUR blog.

You made an extremely ridiculous remark about only NRA members being politically active. The remark was asinine. I didn't deviate from the topic. I only remarked on a comment you made as part of your topic commentary.

You have a public blog. Perhaps you should restrict comments to moderated comments. I always am amazed when you bloggers cry and whine that someone who replies at "my blog" pees in your Wheaties and challenges part or all of your commentary.

I questioned and challenged a most ridiculous statement you made about only NRA members being politically active. You are the one who refused to acknowledge reality and retract the error of your statement. You want to blog your thoughts on an open, public forum then you should be man enough to take the HEAT rounds when you throw out untruths such as you did with your NRA remark. That remark of ignorance or naivete detracted from the substance of your commentary.

Your hypersensitivity to my remarks about the NRA seems quite immature. Too bad you got your panties in a bunch over it.

DAN III
Since there is a well known dislike between those who support the NRA (such as Sebastian) and those who don't (Such as Dutchman who insults Sebastian with the nickname "Snowflake") I understand the animosity.

To the complete radical, uncompromising person, the NRA is nothing but political insiders who sold out the rest of America repeatedly, by endorsing candidates based solely on their gun stance.  To a rational person, the NRA is a single issue organization that has to deal with elected officials no matter their party.

Now a radical would say that "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the face of tyranny is no virtue."

So what can I say?  What follows is not going to change anyone's mind, but it will explain why I think the way I think.

The NRA has done more for me, and my freedoms, than Dan III has.  The NRA member who owns a single 30-30 rifle and less than a complete box of shells but keeps paying their member dues has done more for the NRA than all those hunters and shooters who benefit from the lobbying efforts and court challenges on their behalf.

There are solutions to dealing with a political entity that you don't like, either replace it by force, add your support to an alternate entity, or try to reform it from within.  Those who are familiar with the internal revolution in the late 80's through mid 90's understand that the NRA has the capability to reform itself from within.

Those who say that the courts and laws of this country are irredeemably corrupt and flawed have decided that reform is not an option.  That is their right, they are entitled to their own opinion.  However they are not entitled to their own facts.  The fact is that a google search for "NRA Court Challenges" brings up a large number of hits.  The fact is that the NRA plays nice with other pro gun organizations. 

The fact is that in my lifetime we have been winning in the courts, and in the public debate.  The NRA has played a large part in that success. 

If you don't like the NRA, by all means donate to the Second Amendment Foundation, or JPFO, or your local State Rifle and Pistol Association.  But if you do believe that reform is still possible, then there is no excuse not to support the reformers with your dollars.

Anytime you get two people to form any sort of association there is compromise involved.  I personally don't think that the NRA is radical enough or aggressive enough.  However, I also don't have a law degree, don't have any experience arguing before the Supreme Court, and I've avoided Washington DC except for a one day trip to visit the Tomb, the Wall, the Korean War Monument, and that was all I cared to see.  I am not a political animal by nature, and I lack the "charisma" that makes one a "people person."  My distinct lack of charisma caused me problems in both Ranger School (earned the tab) and SFAS (completed, non-select). 

But I'm smart enough to know that there are folks out there that are political animals, who do have charisma, and who deserve my support in the struggle to preserve freedom.

01 November 2012

How much Organization?

In any communication there is a level of encoding, transmission, and decoding. In language there is the point I tried to make, the words I actually wrote, and then the message that was actually received.  It seems that the words "We don't need a FreeFor War Department and Staff" have been bantered about, as well as "we don't need a 5 Paragraph OPORD with all annexes and appendixes."  I never wrote about creating a General Staff or a formalized operations order, so I will try again to get my point across.

One man alone with a rifle is less effective than 4 men trained to work together.  Every successful insurgency or revolution has had some level of organization.  Call it a "skeleton" at the beginning, but by the end it is a fully fleshed out organization.

The reason that 20 Million Deer Hunters exemplify the "Fetish of Marksmanship" is that they do not represent a credible threat to anyone.  Argue all you want about "potential" but right now no one fears the Fudds.  Except possibly the Violence Policy Center, which is convinced that anyone with a scope on their rifle is a skilled sniper just waiting for an excuse to snap and assassinate someone.  That is to be expected from a Liberal organization like the VPC, because they see violence as a legitimate political tool, a tool they don't want their opposition to have.

So the question remains, what is the appropriate level of organization for right now?  My gut answer is "teams and squads."  Anything more than that gets complicated quickly, and anything less than that is no better off than we are right now.

4 or 8 people can get together for a game of paintball or airsoft and not raise eyebrows.  They can conduct land navigation training while geocaching.  Individual skills are great to hone, but it is at the team and squad level that are the building blocks to success.

Think about it this way, it takes 8 teams to make a platoon.  Easier to organize 8 teams than 32 individuals.  It takes three Platoons to make a Company, easier to organize 24 teams instead of 96 individuals.  It is easier to organize 4 Companies into a Battalion than it is to organize 400 individuals.  A team structure can be "cellular" in nature, which is good for opsec.

400 hundred individuals, each isolated, unsupported, uninformed verses 96 teams ready to react verses 48 squads to task organize as needed.  Did I make my point?