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June 04, 2004

Why the basement looks as it does.

While I rant about gun rights and such on occasion in this space, and many of you have discovered the Arsenal, which was one of the original inspirations for this blog, the Ghost of a Flea has an excellent post that neatly encaspulates why the basement is so cluttered, what motivates me to do what I do, and spend money and effort, and time on military artifacts, rather than socking it away for our retirement. Why we drive cars with 280,000 miles on them, and only buy a new car once a decade...

I want to know things like this, as it helps me in my work as a historian:

The authenticity of the helmet was never in doubt. But the researchers used techniques called neutron diffraction, x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy to confirm that among other things, the noseguard was not authentic. Alastar Jackson of Manchester University, an authority on bronze armour, had already suggested that the noseguard might be a different alloy mix, since its edges were much sharper than those on the rest of the helmet and its shape was wrong. Pantos says: "It just did not look right. It could have been tested a simpler way. But we went the extra mile, took the extra step, and we haven't finished our work."

"It is much later, because it doesn't work, it is too short, its profile is too vertical," Prag says. "You try putting it on - and Manolis demonstrated this by making a plaster cast - and it bangs on your nose. It needs to stick out because your nose sticks out.

"It suffered in battle. John Prag's point is that this is a cheapo soldier's helmet," says Pantos. "It did not have the thickness of the helmet that Achilles might have used. It does not have that crest on top. It has a fantastic mark at the back that suggests that something sharp went right through the eye, presumably through the head, and very nearly came out through the back. So it has been battered in battle."

The dead soldier's armour would have been stripped from his body by the victors and then set up with other trophies of battle on wooden posts in the sanctuary of Olympia, as offerings to the gods. Armour would be "killed" in a sacrificial ritual, just as a lamb might be.

Prag says: "It happened a lot at Olympia. It stands there for a long time, and either the sanctuary gets too full, or the post rots and it falls down and the sanctuary guards gather it all up and they bury it. At that point you are committing it to the next world, and you have to kill it. You kill a lamb by cutting its throat, to commit it to the next world, to the gods. You kill a helmet by bending the cheek pieces up, and the noseguard up, so that it is dead, it is useless."

It also keeps students interested, when you can show them actual artifacts from the period in question... as well as keeping me interested!

If you'd like to read the whole piece on the helmet from the Guardian Weekly, go visit the Flea via the link above.

All right, another challenge...

...though frankly, it seems these are either too hard, and most of ya don't give a hoot, either.

Too bad. My blog, costs ya nothing but wasted moments of your lives...

And there is a secret those who do play haven't twigged to, yet.

So, what's this?

All ya win are bragging rights...

UPDATE: Here's a hint - all of the photos I use for the challenges (to be more specfic, the photos from which I snip the challenges) are in the Arsenal photos...

4th Generation Warfare

While there is still some controversy regarding the term '4th Gen Warfare" I've got a pretty good briefing on the subject from the man who has been briefing it around lately, recently to II MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force). I've copied over the slides as jpgs, so you can see the brief as the Marines saw it (with the author's permission, please credit LTC (R) Wilcox should you use these for any purpose yourselves). The notes that go with the slides are probably more important than the slides, but I haven't figured out how to export those from Powerpoint without creating a huge file on my server... so - if you go over and scan through the brief and decide you would like the whole thing, drop me an email and I will forward you a copy of the complete brief (1.7 megs, zipped, so have a care what email address you want it sent to!).

Shoot, the recommended reading list is worth the visit.

Click the picture to be taken to the presentation. Email me at armorer*at*DIESPAMDIEthedonovan.com if you want a copy.

June 03, 2004

Sigh. Not just military families...

...suffer from the GWOT. Being immersed in the military community that's easy to forget - we have the mechanisms in place, and subliminal emotional prepardeness for sudden death.

First responder families do too - if a little different.

Here's one such story, from a sister who writes letters to her brother - a FDNY firefighter who died on 9/11.

Thanks to the Flea for pointing it out to me.

Silly News Polls.

Since CNN is still running it - go vote in their poll regarding lifting or extending the Assault Weapons Ban. I think we know where the Armorer sits on this issue, eh?

And I offer this, without comment:

An Arkansas school teacher who gave her students a fish-shaped water gun is under fire from a parent who says she disapproves of weapons in her house, reports KPOM-TV in Ft. Smith, Ark. The teacher at an elementary school in Rogers, Ark., gave her students the squirter following a lesson about animals in the rain forest. School officials say she feels horrible about the entire situation and didn't mean to offend anyone.

The parent who complained, Karen Young, doesn't want fish-shaped toy guns in her house because she accidentally shot an ex-boyfriend one time when the gun she was beating him with went off.

Oh hell, I have to comment. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't make this stuff up! From this little series of Fox News gems.

by John on Jun 03, 2004 | Gun Rights

Gratuitous Gun Pics

INFANTRY: Long Range Sniping and Thin Air

June 3, 2004: When the .50 caliber (12.7mm) sniper rifle was introduced in the 1980s, it was expected that records for the longest range sniper shot would regularly be broken. That finally happened, in Afghanistan on March 2-1, 2002. A team of Canadian snipers (Master Corporal Graham Ragsdale, Master Corporal Arron Perry and Corporal Dennis Eason of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), using the .50 caliber MacMillan Tac-50 sniper rifle, got at least one kill at 2,400 meters. There were several others at ranges nearly as long.

The previous record had been 2,250 meters, set by U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock in Duc Pho, South Vietnam in 1967. The Hathcock shot was also made with a .50 caliber weapon, but this was not the modern .50 caliber sniper rifle, but a standard M-1 .50 caliber machine-gun with a scope on it. The previous records, many with poor documentation, with 7.62mm caliber sniper rifles, rarely exceeded a thousand meters. Technically, the 12.7mm sniper rifle is only accurate enough for consistent hits at up to about 1,800 meters.



Carlos Hathcock

The Canadians, and all modern snipers, use custom built rifles and ammo for their work. Hathcock had another disadvantage, he was firing in hot and humid Vietnam, while the Canadians were firing in the thin (at 11,000 feet) and cold air of Afghanistan. The hot, humid lowland air provides more resistance, and distortion, for a bullet. With that in mind, Hathcock always insisted that the shot was as much luck as skill. The Canadian shots were all skill, as they killed nearly two dozen Taliban and al Qaeda fighters at ranges of around 2,000 meters.

Before the specially made .50 caliber sniper rifles came along, the standard sniper rifle was 7.62mm (.30 caliber), with a standard effective range of 800 meters (although shots out to 1,000 meters were not unknown). The .50 caliber sniper rifle doubled those ranges, and then some. U.S. troops in Iraq are using .50 caliber sniper rifles, but are not getting as much opportunity to make really long distance shots because most of the operations are in flat areas.

I can't resist a little fun here... the PPCLI are also known as Princess Patti's Completely Lost Infantry...

This is probably a good point to bring up this little tidbit, too:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper wants to give Canada's armed forces a $1.2-billion per year and bring troop levels up to 80,000.

Harper's defence package would see the number of troops skyrocket from the current 52,400. The Conservative plan also gives Parliament the right to authorize the deployment of troops to combat and peacekeeping zones, a decision cabinet members currently make.

While the state of Canada's military has yet to emerge as a major election issue, funding shortfalls and the aging equipment used by troops have been the focus of much debate in recent years.

Last week, Harper said the Liberals have put the lives of Canadian troops at risk by not funding the armed forces at levels that can afford appropriate equipment. In particular, the Iltis jeeps used in Afghanistan have been blamed for not protecting Canadians from mine accidents.

"We don't want to go over the top and start pointing the fingers at particular individuals and saying they are guilty for deaths, but hopefully as political figures we'll take our responsibilities towards citizens, towards our troops seriously," Harper said.

Just as we're having trouble with troop fatigue meeting our current commitments, so too have the Canadians. Not that this will provide immediate relief - the time between authorizing an increase, and accessing, training, and integrating those troops is about two years, especially if you are standing up units, not just filling out existing units.

Of course, as the thoughtful contributor of this little tid-bit pointed out:

Sweat it! We're going to be #15 no longer; #14 here we come!

Hat tip: Strategy Page, and JMH!

by John on Jun 03, 2004 | Gun Pics
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #20
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #20

June 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part IV

The Grenades.

There were at least three types of grenade made for the V-B system. First, was the standard HE grenade, which US industry produced over 20 million of for the war. Next was a message grenade that was used by the French, but rejected by the US. Lastly (that I’m aware of) was a pyrotechnic grenade, used as a carrier for flares, star clusters, and smoke.

Like the launchers, the US V-B grenades were essentially the same as their French forbears. The main difference between the two versions of the HE grenade is that the US grenade was made out of malleable iron instead of cast (brittle) iron. Both grenades were serrated internally to assist fragmentation – and because external serration would increase gas loss (and matching range loss) during launching. As John Heinrichs noted in comments to the earlier post on the subject – many grenades were serrated externally to improve the soldiers grip, and that the serration was for that purpose – it being known that external serration was ineffective in assisting controlled fragmentation. The historical record is mixed. There are US records dating to WWII where it came as a surprise that external serration was ineffective – perhaps simply because if anyone had tested prior to that, it was unknown to the then-serving officers on the Board.

I suspect it’s all correct. Some people and manufacturers knew, some didn’t, and most didn’t care in any big way.

Anyway, back to the story… The grenades are about 2.5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (you metric-types can do your own conversion…) and weighed 17 ounces or so, just over a pound. They had a range of about 200 yards when fired at 47 degrees, and a ‘danger zone’ of 75 yards from the point of burst. Since the range exceeded the bursting radius, the grenade was considered both ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’. The distinction being that an offensive grenade has a smaller bursting radius than its average throwing distance – i.e., it can be used by a soldier in the open, whereas a defensive (generally more powerful) assumes the user is under cover.

The pyrotechnic grenade (cylinder in the middle) was simply a carrier for combustable material, whether phosphorus or some other incendiary compound. They weren’t very effective and didn’t see much use.

Last, but not least, is the ‘message grenade’. Intended for use by cut-off units, it contained a tube into which a message could be inserted, and the grenade then fired. Upon landing, a small smoke charge would go off to make the grenade more visible. Several problems arose. The smoke charge was too small, consequently, it was hard to see. The fuze failed to function in soft ground. Until the somewhat mobile battles of late 1918, pretty much all the ground people were fighting over was soft ground from years of pounding. Lastly, if you were cut off, you couldn’t tell anyone you were going to be sending messages, so they wouldn’t be looking for them when they landed. If they were trying to get to you – same problem, exacerbated by the fact that cut-off and surrounded units are many times closer together as individuals on the battlefield… and getting hit with one of these things, well, sucked.

Here endeth the tale.


Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part III

The Launchers.

There were essentially 5 types of V-B launchers in US service. To minimize the time between adoption, production, and issuance, the V-B launcher and grenades were adopted as-is. The only initial changes needed were the dimensional changes required to adapt to US rifle barrel/front sight profiles. When US production caught up there were 4 US- specific Marks of launcher adopted, though the Mark II was never manufactured.

1. The original was the French launcher. While US producers were tooling up to the new specs, the French produced 50.000 launchers for issuance made to the French specs, with the problems alluded to in the report above.
2. Mark I. Between the time the specs were determined and US producers were tooled up, the French produced another 50.000 launchers to the US spec.
3. Mark II. Not much is known about this one. It was spec’d but never adopted or produced.
4. Mark III. These launchers were stamped on the outside for which rifle they were intended to be used, and the launchers intended for the M1917 had a knurled band on them so that a soldier could assure himself he had the right launcher in darkness. (Trivia- the US issued more M1917 rifles during the war than M1903s). The Mark IIIs were like the original French launchers in that they had a straight slot milled in the stem and they slipped over the barrel and were shimmed in place.
5. The Mark IV had a spiral groove that hooked around the front sight and gave a more positive lock. The version for the M1917 rifle maintained the knurled band. My example is a M1917 version. The knurled band is eroded away by years of being buried on the battlefield, but it fits the M1917 easily, and will not fit the M1903. At least not with the effort I’m willing to put forth!

Part IV. The Grenades.

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part II

The French led the way with the ‘cup discharger” (as the Brits called them) style of grenade launching. The Brits, Germans, Russians, and the US followed them in close order. When US forces arrived in theater in France in 1917, we discovered that while it looked cool and impressed the ladies that you could stand up and toss a grenade 50 yards, the veritable sheet of lead the Germans were sending about 1 inch over the top of whatever cover you were behind tended to spoil your aim. So the US simply adopted the French version in-situ and over time made some minor changes in light of experience. The Brits, Germans, and Russians all developed their own launchers and grenades. I’ll cover the German discharger in a later post – and I’ll cover the Russian, too, if I ever score a launcher. I can cover the Russian grenades.

The British version (also a post for a later time) used standard grenades, with or without a special baseplate, and launched the grenades using the special blanks (in this case, Austrian) already developed for the rod grenades. The French, German, and Russian models were all bullet-through’ grenades, designed to be launched using standard ball ammunition, with the bullet passing through a tube in the center of the grenade. In the French version adopted by the US, the bullet also initiated the fuze, which is kinda cool. You could also load two grenades into the launcher and launch them together, with a concomitant decrease in range, but more fun in the target area (as long as you weren’t the poor dumb b*st*rd in it)

The upside of this type of launcher is that it used standard ball (‘ball’ being the technical term for regular bullets, being a holdover from when bullets were balls) ammunition and didn’t damage the bore of the rifle in the way rodded grenades did. On the debit side, in addition to putting all that weight on the end of the barrel (affecting accuracy should the soldier have to do some shooting beyond grenades) the god of recoil still demanded payment, sometimes in the coin of broken stocks. This is reportedly the primary reason the second recoil lug was added to the stock of the M1903 rifle in 1917.

The normal firing mode was to place the butt of the rifle on the ground, align the rifle to the target, and adjust for range by raising or lowering the barrel (pivoting on the butt for you snarky purists). The French went so far as to make special racks that you could load multiple rifles into and salvo fire. These racks had vernier adjustments and simple range tables, enabling more accurate (and comparative saturation) fires than individual soldiers firing their rifles, though obviously not terribly practical in the assault.

The US adopted the V-B system in July 1917 for use with the M1903 and M1917 rifles. Until production was established for US rifles, some number of Lebel and Berthier rifles with launchers was issued to US units, and came with some french trainers. Despite the usual grumblings from the Ordnance establishment regarding non-standard ammunition and weapons, the field commanders said “Tough shit, I want something, and all you offer is nothing, so suck it up, bub!” and took the rifles and went out and killed Germans with ‘em.

As is ever the case when you leave the troops alone for a minute, clever (but not necessarily technically competent) troops started adapting the Lebel V-B launchers to the US rifles. A surviving report from the 42nd Division covers the topic:

“Someone at the Ordnance Base re-designed the base of the French tromblon to that it would fit the muzzle of the Springfield rifle, but they failed to take into consideration the great difference in pressure developed by the propelling charge of the American cartridge. It seems that the Rainbow (nickname of the 42nd Div) was the first to receive this new brainchild and they were promptly issued to the infantry squads in the divisions. The next day many of the men were in the hospital and their rifles were beyond repair.”

Part III. The Launchers.

A good read.

The Army's officlal unclassified After Action Review of Operation Iraqi Freedom is up on the net.

I tried hard to get into this study group, but I wasn't able to swing it. But a bunch of my old Army buddies helped write it, and while it is of course an 'official' version, it's NOT just meaningless drivel published to polish the image.

You can find it here: On Point.

Another Interesting Day in History...


1943 All-black 99th Pursuit Squadron flies 1st combat mission, over Italy

1943 Pope Pius XII denounces air bombardment, is totally ignored (and this still holds true)

1969 Australian CV Melbourne rams US DD Frank E Evans, 74 die - what's odd about this? How many of you knew that Australia ever had a carrier? Much less, two? And that the Evans wasn't her first victim?

1989 Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.

June 01, 2004

2LT Leonard Cowherd, Final Roll Call

"First Sergeant, Call the Roll."


Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...


"First Sergeant, let Lieutenant Cowherd's name be stricken from the roll."

Play this as you read. Amazing Grace


All,

Before all that is to follow, I want to thank the Agnew's for hosting a gathering after the Arlington ceremony. They are the parents of Charles', Leonard's twin, roommate from VMI. This was 'just' the thing; you can't put that many high-energy young people together without laughter and good memories finding a way to the surface. This gathering was vital to lifting spirits and providing a steam valve for emotions. At the end - the young ones stuffed the 'old folk' in one limo headed back to Culpeper while they went out in another to find some adventure.

As it should be. Thank you for opening your home and your hospitality.

I now have to apologize to all of you who attended the Arlington ceremony. We know this wasn't a trivial thing for your to accomplish. We are sad that we couldn't visit and thank you personally. I now know that an Arlington internment is one of being 'whisked' - here and there and it all makes sense but... So many friends and we didn't get to say hello rightly. Thank you. Your presence and support meant more than you'll ever know; to Sarah, to the Cowherd's, to the Cerri's, and to veterans everywhere.

And what to say of the ceremony itself?

We left Culpeper with a motorcycle escort and through every county and interstate we were handed off to the next jurisdiction's protection. At points there were up to 6 motorcycles and police cars guiding us through the various turns and road nuances. The coordination and dedication to make this possible were not lost on us. At the end, the motorcycle police managed to array themselves at the entrance to Arlington with a standing salute to Leonard. We never had the chance to meet, know, or thank them... They just honored him.

Of Arlington?

An old friend who lovingly...sadly opens his door for what must come. Arlington is America's memory of what makes the nation. Other memorials on the mall are wonderful and meaningful - but Arlington is not only for us...it is of us. Generations have made this place part of the national fabric. Rich man, poor man. General, private. Lifer, conscript. All services, all heritages. Men and women who gave the full measure; honored in perpetuity.

There are no surprises at Arlington. Everything is as manicured and as perfect as nature can be made. Acres and acres of military order. Simple. Dignified. Elegant. As long as there is Arlington, there will be America.

Pulling in we were momentarily amongst the tourists. And they were not interruption - they were purpose. I too have been on the outside looking in. Now, with roles reversed, I was thankful to see those throngs coming to learn and experience and teach. I saw more than one parent pull their child aside to point and whisper a lesson of our country. I saw many stop and put their hands over their heart as we passed; simple, dignified, elegant.

The day was early-Summer, Southern gem. Hot but not stifling. Blue sky with wispy white. And the cicadas? Strangely appropriate. For you in other parts of the country, they are big but gentle things. I doubt anyone who attended didn't have at least one land on them at some point in the day. And the sound? A distant jet on the runway waiting to take off. A constant whine. And it was good...nature carrying on. And Leonard would have been fascinated and investigating.

And the ceremony?

These words, my feelings, are insignificant to describe the wash of emotion in all of this.

As the hearse door opened I placed my hands upon my daughters shoulders...and I felt her shudder. MG Blount holding her to the left,
Charles to the right, her mother, her brother, and I to her rear. The
Cowherd's a part of the single family we've all become.

The Old Guard does not make mistakes. The wooden casket came off the hearse rails with precision and practiced timing.

There were 12 chairs under the small awning erected beside the grave site; just enough seats and space for immediate family. Sarah to the right-front in her black dress. Again, her mother and I found ourselves directly behind. My son to my right shoulder and the hundreds of family and friends closed in around us. It is hard to imagine intimacy in all of this, but it was there. There were quiet and peace in that little circle amidst the vast openness of Arlington.

Have you heard Amazing Grace on bag pipe? If that little bag of wind was put on earth for no other reason than to play this one song - it would still have a place amongst all the wonderful instruments the world has ever known. And the kilted-piper didn't end his song, he just turned and walked away...till the strains faded in the cicada whine.

The prayers offered by the family minister were perfect; a soldier's prayer born of powder, honor, and hope.

The 21 guns were three, crisp firings of seven. Again, the Old Guard does not make mistakes. However, a moment to speak of those guns. Like Leonard, I am a West Pointer. Like Leonard, I religiously counted guns whenever a dignitary arrived at school. 21 reports signified a visitor with enough importance to grant the Corps amnesty for all the various troubles and peccadilloes cadets seem to manage. West Point has a lot of visitors and a lot of cannon fire but rarely 21. 18 - "peon." 20 - "oh good Lord, another wanna be." and so on.

And on this day, on this sacred ground, 21 guns were fired to honor 2LT Cowherd.

Taps... An American will always struggle during Taps. While surely a
harbinger for many, it is our heroes we cry for. Not of sadness per se - of loss. How to measure against their lives? How to reconcile against their sacrifice? How to deal with what it takes to keep America? Simple, dignified, elegant...

The flag was creased, folded, and lovingly presented to my daughter.

She understands its meaning. It currently rests in an oak case with the Army seal. It will have a place of honor always. Leonard's mother and brother each received one as well.

Stand a little stiller during your next National Anthem. That song and that flag are paid for.

And my daughter?

Leonard's wife...my Kiddo. Leonard was her everything and she is his honor.

We all have our moments, Sarah more.

I'll offer historic perspective that seems most appropriate. Stephen Pressfield recreates the words of Greek king to the families of the 300 Spartans:

"When the battle is over, when the 300 have gone..., then will Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it. But who ladies, who will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen. If they behold your hearts riven with grief, they too will break. And Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, then Sparta will stand and all Greece will stand behind her. Why have I nominated your men and you to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the three hundred? Because you can."

If these words ring true, then look to my daughter, Leonard's mother, my wife, and all the rest of the families' members. They are bearing up. America stands strong and proud. In Sarah's love, she has found an open heart for friends and a strength of belief that will carry her through.

Sarah's future is now at hand. I know there is a large community waiting to see... wanting proof in their faith that families are cared for. Believe. Army, VA, AER, TAPS, AFSC, Social Security and a bunch of other acronyms have checked into the net offering help both immediate and long-term. The years ahead are waiting and will write their own story. For now, no one could ask anything else.

To all of you that have been part of this thread - its been a way to keep you up to date and answer questions we know you have. I grabbed your names that first night because you needed to know or I knew you would want to know. Others have joined along the way as arrangements and details fell into place. As I tap these last words on this Memorial Day - I hope you haven't minded one man's view into what the day is all about.

Thank you for cards, and flowers, and prayers, and visits, and trips, and food, and errands, and arrangements, and condolences...and for holding our hand. You friends around the world have truly helped.

Our sails are filling with wind again and we'll all be back to work tomorrow. We know there will be awkward moments. Don't worry. Believe us...we understand. We'll all get through it. It's OK.

30

T
Tony Cerri

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

The posts, as I intended them to be seen, are here.

One thing to feel good about this morning...

My tribute to 2LT Cowherd, his wife, Sarah, and the combined Cowherd and Cerri families drew well over half the hits in less than half the time than did the N!ck B3rg post.

And, perhaps most importantly, the hits were referrals from websites and lots of discussion groups and emails. rather than people googling for it - which means that people were sharing it around in ways that weren't true with the other post.

Thanks y'all, even those couple who misunderstood it.

May 30, 2004

Dance With the Debbil...

...and reap what you sow.

May 30, 2004


TERRORISM: Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and the Impossible Dream

May 30, 2004: In the last 24 hours, Saudi Arabia underwent another dramatic al Qaeda attack. At least seven terrorists attacked the upscale Oasis housing compound in Khobar, an eastern town at the Saudi end of the causeway to the island nation of Bahrain, 25 kilometers offshore. After Saudi police commandos raided the building the surviving terrorists, along with dozens of hostages, had taken refuge in, it was discovered that at least sixteen people died (including two Saudi security guards, seven Saudi civilians, a 10-year-old Egyptian boy, an American, a Briton, a Pakistani and a Filipino, and at least two of the terrorists.) The al-Qaeda raiders had slit the throats of nine of their 25 hostages.

Earlier, the raiders had gone through the compound demanding that Arabs tell them, "where the infidels are." At least two of the terrorists were captured by the Saudi commandoes.

The terrorists are trying to force all non-Moslems from the kingdom.

This attack is the second one in May. Even with these attacks, the overall danger to most of the expatriate workers is lower than the risk of being a
crime victim in their home countries. So far, most of the expatriates realize that, and just accept the higher, terrorist created, "crime rate" in Saudi Arabia. The American embassy, however, has been telling all Americans to leave Saudi Arabia. This is because it would be politically embarrassing for the State Department back in the United States if it did otherwise. Naturally, most Americans will stay in Saudi Arabia, and the State Department will feel itself free of most responsibility, because the Americans were warned to leave.

The deaths of so many Saudis, and Moslems from other countries (especially the Egyptian boy, whose father worked locally), has increased the popular outrage against al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. What worries the government, however, is that 5-10 percent of the population that supports al Qaeda and enables the terrorists to recruit and operate in the kingdom. This is not the first time the Islamic radical minority in Saudi Arabia has exploded in violence. It happened in the late 1970s, and in the 1930s. Each time, the Saud family put down the violence with greater violence. It's happening again, except this time there is a worldwide Islamic radical movement underway as well. Al Qaeda began among the Islamic radicals in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Moslem nations. Al Qaedas goals of driving all non-Moslems from the Middle East and eventually converting the world to Islam, are impossible to achieve. But the true believers don't know that. They are willing to die for the cause and that will continue until, as has happened so many times in the past, a new generation comes along, notes the futility of the al Qaeda violence, and falls in love with
another solution.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.