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April 17, 2004

This is no sh1t!

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That's how war stories officially start.

Over at Mostly Cajun, even though LarryDale omitted the obligatory intro - he has a great, run-of-the-mill, why-the-service-is-fun kind of story to tell. Reminds me of a crisp winter day at Grafenwoehr when no one showed up for the M203 range...

Have I ever told you how very, very, very good I am with the M203?

Read this story over at Mostly Cajun and you'll have an idea. Even if he was (shudder) a tanker.

April 16, 2004

New Gun Video

In the tradition of the Glock video and other offerings of the Armory - we bring you a really cool video of Bluegrass Armory trying to destroy one of their .50 Cal BMG rifles.

I want one of these!

Dial-Up Connections

High Speed Connections

by John on Apr 16, 2004 | Gun Rights

April 15, 2004

A new milblogger!

Say hello to SlagleRocks Slaughterhouse - a Mamamontezz baby!

Welcome aboard, Zoomie!

The Bejus Pundit discovers two cut from different cloth than Fabrizio.

Deserters. The Underground Railroad to Canada is open again.

I'm just guessing - but I'm betting the Flea is a Quaker who would not take these two in, however polite a hearing he'd give them.

I'll take my holes in front, please.

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Oh - and have the courtesy to look me in the eye, eh?

From Andrew Stuttaford in The Corner today.

Amid all the talk about European 'appeasement', it's worth reading this extract from a Reuters story:

"ROME, April 15 (Reuters) -...Fabrizio Quattrocchi, one of four Italian security guards abducted [in Iraq] earlier this week, was shot dead on Wednesday after Italy refused to bow to the kidnappers' demands that it withdraw its troops from Iraq. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a video recording of the killing showed that Quattrocchi was hooded when his kidnappers put a gun to his head. "When the murderers were pointing a pistol at him, this man tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'Now I'm going to show you how an Italian dies'. And they killed him," Frattini said. "He died a hero," he added..."

Indeed he did. The murderers that butchered him are, needless to say, beneath contempt.

Regardless of what you think about the war in Iraq - I hope you can respect a man with enough brass to engage in a last great act of defiance.

If anyone knows if (and where I can get) the Italians have an equivalent of "Taps" I'd appreciate it.

Absent that, Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, "Fabrizio Quattrocchi."

quattrocchi.jpg

A former infantryman, the Spirit of Legio X burned within.


Ooo! Look! Anti-Gun Humor!

Good to know we're all just hood-wearing redneck racist death merchants. He really knows us, doesn't he, this Mike Seate?

There probably won't be this many white men packing heat in our city since the 1918 Armistice Day parade.

Here's his list of thigh slappers:

· Ask a gun seller whether he carries any weapons that shoot rapid-fire cream pies. Explain that there's a particularly annoying clown on your block who needs to be taken out. Say this while winking every so often.

· When trying on a new .44 magnum pistol for size, ask whether there's a model available with a quart-capacity flask attached for evenings out. Remind the seller of how "the only thing more fun than shooting is drinking and shooting."

· Dress up in a white sheet and pointed hood and carry a noose. Then ask gun salesmen whether they have anything to "help create the perfect matching ensemble."

· Find the convention's organizers and demand to know why Dirty Harry, Rambo and "that weird Moses guy" aren't appearing in person this year.

· Tell passers-by you're thinking of starting a street gang and need information about the best kinds of guns and ammo to use for drive-bys.

· Set up a booth selling accidental death insurance policies and grave markers. Offer a free cemetery plot with the purchase of any assault rifle.

· Skip places in the line of visitors waiting to enter the convention center by insisting that you're mad as hell at that nosy mother-in-law and need to get even, right now.

· Get hold of the speaker phones connected to the public-address system and shout "Hey everybody -- Bill and Hillary Clinton are outside the building!" The stampede should last for hours.

· Find a table specializing in the sort of teflon-coated bullets that are capable of piercing bulletproof vests. Tell the seller you were considering becoming a police officer until you saw them.

Anybody got some (that are printable, people, and not criminal) that they'd like to send to him? From our side of the fence? Leave 'em here, or click on the "Mike Seate" link, and mail 'em direct! If you leave 'em here, I'll package 'em and send 'em along.

Hat tip to RL for pointing it out!

by John on Apr 15, 2004 | Gun Rights

"Guns make all photo's better"

Can't argue with that sentiment. So, without further ado...

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Squad Designated Marksman school. Taught by members of the Texas State Rifle Association National Match Team. All RNA highly classified shooters and Distinguished Rifles.

Hoo-ah!

by John on Apr 15, 2004 | Gun Rights

We interrupt the Charity War to bring you this update from SGT Hook.

...in which the First Shirt's troops answer Andy Rooney's questions.

Of course, Andy would claim excessive command influence, no doubt.

This is my favorite:

4. If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?

I am not here to earn a medal Mr. Rooney. I am here to serve my country and defend our way of life. I am here to make sure there is a home for me to take a trip to.

A medal. (was the answer for 6 of the 15)

Go read the rest.

After you mail your taxes, go Buy A Gun!

Go exercise that 2nd Amendment right.

Aaron sez so!

I gotta wait for the refund, but then that M1911 is mine!

All these people can't be wrong!

aaron.jpgann-coulter.jpgfanke-janssen.jpgfidel-castro.jpgharrison-ford.jpgjchenry.jpgkimdutoit.jpgmamamontezz.jpgmira-sorvino.jpgmisha.jpgnicholas-cage.jpgonelittlevictory.jpgravnwood.jpgrose-mcgowan.jpgsondrak.jpg

by John on Apr 15, 2004 | Gun Rights
» links with: Buy a gun day
» There's One, Only! links with: Tax Day! Buy a Gun!
» There's One, Only! links with: Tax Day! Buy a Gun!

April 14, 2004

Here's another possible source of the US-Brit friction...

...alluded to in my post below. From the Free Iran blogsite.

British overtures to Iran set allies at odds By Alec Russell in Washington April 15, 2004


British officials in Iraq have all but ignored President George Bush's
plan to foster a new democracy in the country in favour of their own
agenda, according to an American former official in Baghdad's interim
government.

His comments mark the first time an official has publicly let the mask
of co-operation between the White House and Whitehall slip.


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Wow - Waaaay too much text in here!

Plus, I haven't picked on my favorite target, tankers, in a while.


So. Now that we are going to go withStryker MGS's and stuff instead of M1's, I see that the tankers are experimenting with how to use those soon-to-be-redundant tanks.

The M1 Abrams Bunker.

M1 Bunker.jpg

Kinda like the Germans did with this Czech Pzkw 35(t) turret in Norway.

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(Cool site, too).

by John on Apr 14, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Musings From The Imperial Senate links with: Busy

This bit can cut both ways.

Washington Post April 14, 2004 Pg. 1

Insurgents Display New Sophistication

Campaign Leaves Bridges Heavily Damaged, Hampering Military's Push South

By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DUKE, Iraq, April 13 -- Insurgents fighting the U.S.-led occupation force have sharply increased the sophistication, coordination and aggressiveness of their tactics over the past week, Army officers and soldiers involved in combat here said.

Most dramatically, as several thousand U.S. troops pushed south this week from the Baghdad area to this new base in central Iraq, one highway bridge on their planned route was destroyed and two others were so heavily damaged that they could not be used by heavy Army trucks and armored vehicles.

Those attacks on convoy routes, which U.S. forces were using for the first time, revealed a previously unseen degree of coordination among insurgent groups, said Army Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, the commander of a brigade-size task force now assembling for possible combat operations against the forces of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr in or near the holy city of Najaf.

Go Dana! (Yeah, I know him) This is both bad and good news. Bad news in that they are feeling bold, or desperate, enough to start fighting like this in a stand-up fashion. Good, in that in this, they are starting to fight our way - which means they are playing to our strong hand.

The real danger here is the Cronkite Factor, of winning the combat but losing the more important agitprop war... which this nation hasn't been good at, internally and externally.

"The dropping of the bridges was very interesting, because it showed a regional or even a national level of organization," Pittard said in an interview. He said insurgents appeared to be sending information southward, communicating about routes being taken by U.S. forces and then getting sufficient amounts of explosives to key bridges ahead of the convoys.

With occupation forces battling Sadr's Shiite militiamen south and east of Baghdad and Sunni Muslim insurgents to the north and west, the timing of the Iraqis' tactical development is nearly as troubling for U.S. forces as its effect. But the explanation for the change is not yet clear, military commanders said.

Here in southern Iraq, which is overwhelmingly Shiite, U.S. officers say the best guess is that former soldiers who served under President Saddam Hussein have decided to lend their expertise and coordinating abilities to the untrained Shiite militiamen.

Here's where you would like to be a fly on the wall. Is it because they've decided that a new government not under their control is just too much of a threat, and they are fighting for survival (a good spin)? Or, they perceive that the US political resolve is weakening and that there is a window of opportunity to wrest political victory from the jaws of military defeat, as the North Vietnamese did? We know which side the antis are taking here.

"It's a combination of Saddam loyalists and Shiite militias," Maj. Gen. John R. Batiste, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said in a brief interview here at FOB Duke, where he was reviewing combat preparations.

Batiste said the influence of former Iraqi Republican Guard officers was especially apparent in the fighting in the Sunni town of Fallujah, where, he said, many veteran officers made their homes. "You could staff a division with the Iraqi officers living there," he said.

Based on previous combat performance, you'd think not a very good division... except these are the guys who did a credible job of fighting the Iranians in the two-dimensional war that they fought in the 80's. Two dimensional in that air power wasn't that big a factor. And in the current fighting, unlike OIF and Desert Storm, air power isn't the dominant player it was. We can't afford to blow everything up as we're trying to rebuild - which means that the bad guys have neutralized several key advantages of ours, and now we have to rely even more heavily on the quality of our troops. And it starts to really beg the question: are there enough? I don't have the privilege of sitting in on the big guy's briefings and strategy sessions - but from where I sit - there aren't enough. It's telling that there are elements of three US divisions comprising the 2,500 troops involved in this. In some respects, it simply reflects the aspects of modularity that we're trying to implement as a part of new doctrine - on the other side, it's simply making a virtue of necessity, as we arguably don't have enough forces in theater.

The politics of this make my head hurt. But we are, I think, in great danger of slipping into Lyndon Johnson's fatal mistake with Vietnam - not willing to treat it as a full-blown war and ask the public to step up to the plate. That's a tough job for a war leader in a democracy when the barbarians aren't at the gates. We beneficiaries of representative democracy really prefer to not be bothered until it's too late - and for too many people, 9/11 is slipping from memory.

What officers here say they are not seeing is a sharp increase in the number of foreign guerrillas involved in the fighting. That element, said Pittard, is tiny -- perhaps "about 2 percent."

That's a good thing, thus far. It means the resources they can draw on are finite.

One of Pittard's combat engineers noted that several hundred pounds of explosive material and a fair degree of expertise were required to destroy a span on a major highway bridge. Several Army convoys moving south to this base -- the task force commanded by Pittard includes elements of the 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Division and 25th Infantry Division -- were delayed by more than 12 hours by the operations against the bridges, which Pittard called "irritating" but not a major problem.

That's Dana alright.

In a separate ambush east of Najaf, a group of fighters suspected to be part of Sadr's militia let a group of six U.S. armored vehicles pass their position, then placed obstacles across the highway behind them, cutting off their line of retreat. The armored vehicles were forced to move forward across a bridge. While they were on the bridge approaching a police checkpoint, Iraqi fighters, some of them wearing police uniforms, began firing on them. No U.S. troops were hurt in the incident.

Gotta respect that plan. They are reading their books and taking it seriously. Something they didn't seem to do before. This suggests that cooler heads are prevailing and the ill-disciplined hotheads are either losing power or are fertilizer. We're seeing signs of the Darwin Combat Calculus.

The new assertiveness of the anti-U.S. fighters was displayed further later that day on the outskirts of Baqubah, where dozens of RPG-toting fighters confronted a platoon of four Bradley Fighting Vehicles, according to a 1st Infantry Division after-action report. "The platoon was literally surrounded by the enemy," the report said. One U.S. soldier and about 20 Iraqis were killed in the encounter, the report said.

"More and more, they're starting to stand and shoot," said Sgt. Maj. John Fourhman, the top enlisted soldier in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade. "Before, they just ran."

It's turning into a battle of wills. And that's where we lost to the North Vietnamese. Now we'll find out who has the best assessment of the mettle of the American people. KerryWaffles, or President Bush.

The whole article is here. Registration required.


Yet, there are signs that the pressure is working and that Sadr is concerned. He is sending mixed signals (more of that registration stuff) as he seems to realize that his guys probably aren't going to be able to stop Dana Pittard and his Band of Brothers, while at the same time, he has to maintain a sufficiently resolute line to maintain discipline and loyalty among his fighters - at least until he can dump them for a safer spot elsewhere.

And lastly - there is this bit that serves to illustrate the contradictory nature of what we face in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqis reacted with relief and frustration Wednesday to President Bush's suggestion that he may send more troops here and that they would take decisive action to restore order.

Razzaq Abdel-Zahra, the owner of an auto parts shop, saw a short report of Bush's comments on Arabic satellite station Al-Jazeera.

"I was relieved to hear Bush saying that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq because any withdrawal means disaster in my country," he said. "Every militia will try to take control of Iraq. This will lead to a civil war and subsequently Iraq will fall apart."

But he also said the president's vow to use "decisive force" to maintain order would lead to more unrest. "Violence breeds only violence," he said.

This guy wants it both ways. Since he lives there - maybe we should listen to the cultural message in this. "We want to be awed. If you awe us, we won't fight you. If we percieve you as weak, we will fight - and then we'll be mad at you for fighting back - because it was your fault we thought you were weak."

In other words, just about the opposite of the way we think in the western world, and opposite of the way we are approaching it. I dunno. Just random synapse activity here.

The rest of that article, again with the registration thing, is here.

April 13, 2004

Oops. I goofed.

I had too many windows open on the machine this morning. And I was tired from Dog Hunting. Though the hunt was eventually successful.

The post that I sent people to for Serenity? While a great post in and of itself - it's not the one I intended (which makes the originally confusing comment by the Flea suddenly sensical to me!).

This is the post I meant to point you to!

But they're both good - so while I'm embarrassed at my goof, I don't feel like I did ya wrong!

From a frequent emailer regarding Fallujah.

There was a statement in yesterday's Stars & Stripes which I really liked: headline was "New push in Fallujah improves Marines' morale" and the statement was made by Sgt Andy Folk, "'Today is going to be a good day,' he said as he grabbed a bottle of water and a Meal Ready to Eat for the long day ahead. 'Today we're going on the attack.'"

Sometimes doing nothing saps at morale in ways that doing something reinvigorates.

News from the Front.

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Official USMC photo by SGT Jose Guillen of 1st MARDIV Marines in Fallujah.

Update for family members of the 2/4 Marines, fighting in Fallujah. Even allowing for the normal hyperbole of commanders, I think morale is pretty good in this bunch. Obviously a little dated, but indicative of the fighting spirit of the Jarheads and their Navy Corpsmen.

Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2004 2:03 AM Subject: Update from Lt Col Kennedy

Dear Ladies, the last two days have been the hardest two days this battalion has faced in over 30 years. Within the blink of an eye the situation went from relatively calm to a raging storm. You've known that since arriving there has been violence; attacks have been sporadic and mostly limited to roadside bombs. Your husbands have become experts at recognizing those threats and neutralizing them before we are injured. Up to this point the war has been the purview of corporals and sergeants, and the squad they lead.

Yesterday the enemy upped the ante.

Early in the morning we exchanged gunfire with a group of insurgents without significant loss. As morning progressed, the enemy fed more men into the fight and we responded with stronger force. Unfortunately, this led to injuries as our Marines and sailors started clearing the city block by block. The enemy did not run; they fought us like soldiers. And we destroyed the enemy like only Marines can. By the end of the evening the local hospital was so full of their dead and wounded that they ran out of space to put them. Your husbands were awesome all night they stayed at the job of securing the streets and nobody challenged them as the hours wore on. They did not surrender an inch nor did flinch from
the next potential threat. Previous to yesterday the terrorist thought that we were soft enough to challenge. As of tonight the message is loud and clear that the Marines will not be beaten.

Today the enemy started all over again, although with far fewer numbers, only now the rest of the battalion joined the fight. Without elaborating to much, weapons company and Golf crushed their attackers with the vengeance of the righteous. They filled up the hospitals again and we suffered only a few injuries. Echo company dominated the previous day's battlefield. Fox company patrolled with confidence and authority; nobody challenged them. Even Headquarters Company manned their stations and counted far fewer people openly watching us with disdain. If the enemy is foolish enough to try to take your men again they will not survive contact. We are here to win.

The news looks grim from back in the States. We did take losses that, in our hearts, we will always live with. The men we lost were taken within the very opening minutes of the violence. They could not have foreseen the treachery of the enemy and they did not suffer. We can never replace these Marines and Sailors but they will fight on with us in spirit. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves nor do we fear what tomorrow will bring. The battalion has lived up to its reputation as Magnificent Bastards.

Yesterday made everyone here stronger and wiser; it will be a cold day in Hell before we are taken for granted again.

Paul Kennedy and Jim Booker

This might annoy our British brother-in-arms quoted in a post elsewhere in this space. Tough.

Now perhaps we have set a standard that will cause our enemies to give pause and rethink their approach. For the die--hard members of the ancien' regime, probably not.

And if not, it simply remains the mission of the Marines to help them get their virgins raisins.

For the story that actually goes with the picture, go here.

Serenity hits the nail on the head.

Right here. Go read. From the whole "Why we fight" thing to the moonbat protestors who essentially scream for the blood of our troops (and are surprised when some of us get grumpy about it). No, not all protestors are moonbats.

A putatively Brit perspective on things in Iraq.

Mind you, this is the same army whose prescription for successfully dealing with the Malay insurgency involved very specific targeting of individuals and brutal actions against them. Worth pondering, though I think the Brits have a generally 'softer' area of Iraq to police. Of course, the counter-argument to that is, "It's softer because of their approach." In my experience, the Brits are generally more attuned to cultural nuance than we are, and do get along better in that regard. Comes from being an smallish island nation dependent on overseas trade and is also a relic of the Empire. It's just harder for Americans to get the exposure to external cultures. After all the Canadians (sorry to my largish Canadian readership) aren't that dramatically different from us (though where they exist, they can be pretty sharp - and the Canadians are more Brit-like in their approach to the outside world, which weakens my argument somewhat) and hispanic culture in the US certainly doesn't prepare you for working in the Islamic world!

US tactics condemned by British officers

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Telegraph

Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.

Strong words not necessarily supported by the following comments. I suspect the correspondent is perhaps projecting a bit.

One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.

The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi _expression for "sub-humans".

Too bad the fellow won't speak openly - because he makes a pretty harsh statement. This is almost troll-like behavior on a blog, in a sense.

Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.

"The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."

I suspect there is truth to the "Bandit Country" mentality, if I'm not prepared to accept the premise of the 'untermensch' comment. As the big dog, and the one that the fleas are attacking all the time - (oops, there I go, slipping into that disrespectful mode) I can imagine the troops are having trouble distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.

The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people" - was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slaves and gipsies.

Although no formal complaints have as yet been made to their American counterparts, the officer said the British Government was aware of its commanders' "concerns and fears".

The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used to fire on targets in urban areas.

British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets.

The American approach was markedly different: "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

We do use the radars, and we do fire back at times - when the situation (and lawyers in the TOCs permit), but this borders on calumny. I obviously don't track every event, but as an artilleryman I'm connected with people over there, and many is the time we've not responded with indirect fires to an attack like that, but have instead sent the reaction forces to the spot - almost always missing the bad guys, who skedaddle pretty quickly - taking advantage of the fact that they know we won't routinely respond with fire to attacks from populated areas. This Brit isn't reading the same after-action reports I'm reading, anyway.

"They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has led to some confrontations between soldiers.

Can anyone point to a credible report of this kind of activity? At this point, the article starts to sound more like a screed written in a Baghdad bar, right after having watched a re-run of "Apocalypse Now."

"The British response in Iraq has been much softer. During and after the war the British set about trying to win the confidence of the local population. There have been problems, it hasn't been easy but on the whole it was succeeding."

The officer believed that America had now lost the military initiative in Iraq, and it could only be regained with carefully planned, precision attacks against the "terrorists".

"The US will have to abandon the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut approach - it has failed," he said. "They need to stop viewing every Iraqi, every Arab as the enemy and attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people.

As I've observed before, there is some truth to this nugget. Hopefully the Brits have dusted of the Malaya book, and the SAS/SBS are working with our SOF on dong just this.

"Our objective is to create a stable, democratic and safe Iraq. That's achievable but not in the short term. It is going to take up to 10 years."

I agree whole-heartedly. You can't create something from nothing overnight. But it helps if the target population would take some responsibility and show some initiative as well, which leads to this next bit, in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

April 12, 2004

Let's go give Kevin some support, shall we?

Kevin, over at Boots on the Ground, could use some warblogger support.

Let's go dive in. All for One and One for All!