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November 13, 2004

National Ammo Day Buy-cott.

Here at Castle Argghhh! we like guns. D-uh. Whether little bitty ones, or depleted-uranium dispensing ones, or 16-inch monsters, we like guns. And, pretty much, we believe that you should be able to own 'em. Pretty much what you want to own. We'll entertain some restrictions, and you should have yours taken away if you don't know how to play safe, but other than that... we're pretty open ended on the subject.

Which is why we support Kim du Toit's efforts to make the US a Nation of Riflemen. As an annual event, Kim is pushing the 3rd Annual National Ammo Day. Buy a hundred rounds to make Schumer, Feinstein, Brady, uncomfortable. Then go shoot 'em. Safely. (The rounds, at legal targets. Not the politicos. Hat tip to the English Teacher in Japan!) They really hate that, because it undermines their premise that you aren't smart and reliable enough to own guns... only agents of the government can. And I became unreliable the day I retired, as far as they are concerned. I could handle nukes, but now I shouldn't be allowed near handguns... but of course, they have government paid-for security, that, oddly enough, you don't have...

Anyway - if you don't own a gun, go buy one (in compliance with all the local laws, of course - even if you don't agree with 'em, unless you want to be the test case...) and get some ammo. If you support the concept, but don't want a gun, cool - buy some ammo for the gun owner you know! (Again, with all those legal disclaimers!)

While I'm at it - it's time for a Periodic Goblin Warning™.

As a service to Goblins who are considering Seizing The Arsenal (this excludes LE types: y'all come with a warrant, knock [no no-knocks, please, the front door is expensive], take what the warrant specifies and we'll talk about it in court - just please take care of 'em, you know, periodic cleaning, oiling, etc. They're used to being spoiled like that) here is a periodic warning on Why Trying To Steal My Collection Isn't A Good Idea.

Note to thieves trying to figure out where I live: Once you do that, you've got to get past the living interior and exterior guard, the security system (hint, cutting the phone and cable WON'T help), and finally, if I'm home - me. WonderWife (TM) v3.x is also right handy with the Winchester M97 trench gun. I like that one because it's handy, will blow you into large chunks, but not pass through the walls of the house to annoy my neighbors. Hardwood floors, so clean-up is easy. I'm a reasonable fellow, if you surrender meekly or run away, that will be fine. Not interested in killing or maiming anyone unless you are dumb enough to attack me or my family. The furry members count, btw. Do that, then I will clean the gene pool. Plus guys, impressive as it looks, it's not as valuable as you might think - and it would be very hard to move, since you would be flooding the market. Not to mention the fact that every dealer within a (classified) radius would have a list of serial numbers and descriptions within 24 hours (ain't the internet great?). Oh, yeah - did I mention that robbing licensees is a federal offense? The feds don't go overboard after little stuff, but whacking this collection would likely garner their interest - so choose your accomodations! Plus 'bangers won't like these - the ones that look like they can shoot a lot - can't, and many of them won't work properly if you hold them sideways like they do in the movies.

So, go find an easier target, eh? No - better yet - get a real job that has better fringes.

AND the Usual Disclaimers™ for Anti-gunners and surfing LEO's.

Everything you ever see in photos here that I own is fully legal to own, federal, state, and local - WHERE I LIVE! Your mileage may vary, such as living in the Borg Collectives of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, etc. Though ya might be surprised to find out what's legal where you live. I am a licensed collector (which isn't a license to collect, just to receive via the mails), and that only applies to curio and relic firearms. Fortunately, that's about all I want to own. On these pages I will from time to time share my toys, much like Kim du Toit does.

If ya don't want to wait on me, go hit the "Second Amendment Shrine" link over there on the right.

Update - fixed those pesky ATF links. Wascals went and moved everything!

by John on Nov 13, 2004 | Gun Rights

Guest Post.

Long time commenter SangerM sent this along. He was going to put it in the comments, but chose instead to email it. So I'm posting it.


This started as a small post in the comments to your Vet's Day post (which I really liked, BTW), but it grew, and I didn't want to clog that. Also, I don't know if you want something this long posted there anyway, but I really wanted to tell this story. Sooooo, here it is. Even if only you read it, then I'll feel like some who understands some of this will have done so... Enjoy!

In July 2001, I bought the book "Ghost Soldiers" from the author, Hampton Sides. He was at a small table in the Hampton VA Holiday Inn outside the main meeting room where the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor were holding their annual reunion. I bought the book and asked Sides to sign it, then I went off looking for veterans to sign it also.

I was successful beyond my hopes.

Basically, immediately after getting Sides' autograph, I started pestering veterans for signatures. In all, I was able to get about 45-50 folks to sign it. Suffice to say that the time I spent getting those people to sign the book was among the best 5 hours of my life. Of course, I was unable to just get a signature and move on; often I was treated to a story or a snippet of a story, some of which were in the book (like the one about a deaf prisoner who missed the escape), and some not.

For example, I met a fellow who said he was the youngest POW in the war, and another who was on the PT boat that took McArthur off Corregidor, and another who was actually born in a POW camp to a prisoner nurse, and so on. I met a woman--she was 98 years old the day I met her--who was one of 6 or 7 nurses who escaped from Bataan in a Navy PBY on Tojo's birthday. In fact, one of the men told me about watching an appendectomy performed in the hold of the transport ship that was taking them to a POW camp in Japan and he showed me a magazine picture of the native American soldier who had gone onto live to be around 75. I met another man who said he was only 15 miles or so from Nagasaki when it was A-bombed!

Can you imagine!?

I also met a widow of a Vet who told me that for a score of years or more she washed her husband's feet every day when he came home from work because he had foot rot during the war and had problems with that all his life. I even met a shy old fellow who was in the ETO, who actually worked on the Enigma machines. I was MI in the Army, and one of the most foundational lessons they teach is how important the Enigma decryption effort was to the winning the war. He was surprised anyone had heard of it!!! He and I had a lot to talk about.

Quite simply, I was enthralled, as I always have been when I meet people who've experienced things I would never want to. But I was also very comfortable there. These men were not strange to me, just the location and the encounter. I had not been in the presence of so many WWII vets since I was a boy, and it was strange being among them as an adult, with knowledge my 10 year-old self never had. My stepfathers, a couple of uncles, and my father-in-law had all been in the Pacific in WWII. One of my uncles was on Oahu when Pearl was attacked (his was a story too); one of my stepfathers ended up in Alaska, participated in the goat-screw attack on the Aleutians, and later flew "over the hump" into India a few times; my other stepfather was a Marine in a group called Carlson's Raiders--which I have been told the Marines of today do not like to discuss--and he was on Tarawa, from what I gathered. My father-in-law was a 22 year veteran Navy Corpsman who was on Okinawa and Tinian, and who later was literally one of only about 5 survivors of a company of Marines on some hill in Korea, and who then spent 2 years in the
Antarctic for the first of the geophysical year studies.

Quite a legacy, eh?

In fact, as a child, I spent many an hour at the Elks lodge with my father, or at the local barber shop or the drugstore, listening to these fellows (who were not so old then) talk about stuff. I and my wife and many of my friends also lived with fathers who woke up screaming in the middle of the night, or who got spooked to the floor whenever a loud noise was heard.

The point of telling all this is to explain that I felt very much at home among these old vets and their wives, and I enjoyed myself in a way that I have not done since I as a boy. It was so very, very pleasing to find myself again sitting among people who were older than me, and to just listen, and to be awed again. On more than one occasion, I was moved almost to tears as the grown-up former soldier part of me overlaid an adult's understanding on the child's wonder, but that was ok too.

What I found most astonishing was that a good many of the fellows (and their wives) said I was one of the few younger folks to actually show any interest in what they had done! Literally, more than once, I responded by saying that I knew lots of folks my age who were interested in the War, and more than once, the old guys (usually as a group) would say their kids never acted like they cared!!!! To this, I responded that if they were anything like my fathers and uncles and other war vets, they never talked much about the War, and when asked they always said they didn't want to talk about. Also, I told them about how my Mother and my aunts and grandmother (and my friend's "womenfolk" as well) would often tell me not to ask the "old man" about the War. Why? Because it would upset the guy. And so whatever we did learn, we learned by eavesdropping or acting invisible, or pretending we were doing something else. I can never remember any of the men in my life telling me directly anything about his war experiences when I was a child, so I was amazed to hear these guys complain about this. I suggested to one and all that they might be surprised if they went back and asked their children what they thought about the claim that they were not interested.

It's hard to say if I made a difference, or what value there was to all of that, but I was gratified beyond describing every time one of the Vet's spouses would lean over and "confidentially" thank me for asking her husband for his autograph, telling me how important that was, and how much he really appreciated it.

Can you believe it? Thanking me! Ha! How confused a world is that?!?

That book is one of my greatest treasures!!!


November 12, 2004

Random Synaptic Activity

Three things combined recently to cause history to hit me like a ton of

First, I was walking through the lobby of the motel I'm staying at near Fort Benning, Georgia, when some young soldiers, fresh from Basic Training, walked in with wives or girlfriends. I have been moving among these soldiers the last three weeks as we work on an experiment designed to assess new technologies and structures for light infantry. Their earnestness and desire to do right reminds me of puppies. Their actions on the objective reminds me of mastiffs.

Second, I got a comment on my blog to a post I made about the Marine Corps Birthday and the fighting in Fallujah; "The Battle of Fallujah is an assemblage of American military "Firsts". The 1st Marine Division, the 1st Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division."

Third - yesterday I participated in my very first Veteran's Day parade... as a veteran.

The three things just collapsed in on themselves, as I have been among the absolute freshest veterans in the Republic, and yesterday I was a relative youngster among the Vets of WWII.

I now think I know what my father thought, when he saw me in my shiny new 2nd Lieutenant suit, as he administered the Oath of Commissioning 24 years ago.

Reading about what's going on in the Battle of Fallujah over the week, I was struck. Michael Moore *is* a Big Fat Liar. This is not news - but I've got proof. In his movie he wished us to believe that the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in Iraq were disillusioned, dispirited, and felt betrayed. I don't doubt there are a few. There have always been warriors who regret their choices, and some days, you're just damn tired of it.

But tired, dispirited Marines don't say, like Captain Robert Bodisch, a tank company commander, when his vehicle was disabled, "I have to get another tank to go back in there." Soldiers who are more worried about coming home than doing their duty are not overheard saying, "Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out - I'm from Alabama." as Sergeant Anyett of the Phantoms of the 1st Infantry Division's TF 2/2 Infantry was overheard saying by Toby Harnden of the Telegraph. Nor do you hear this, also reported by Mr. Harnden (who is doing great reporting, btw): ""Yeah," he yelled. "Battle Damage Assessment - nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job."

"I just love my job." Now there is a happy warrior talking. No, he doesn't like killing, really. But he does like putting the hurt on people who are putting the hurt on people. He's a professional - even if next year he's back home, selling shoes. And boy, are these guys and gals professionals.

Military Operations in Urban Terrain. MOUT. City fighting. The most complicated, dangerous, difficult, and wearing battle to plan and participate in. So much so that one of the reasons the Marines got the job of taking Hue back during the Vietnam War is because it was considered too difficult to have the Army and Marines do it together. Coordination between the two services would have been too difficult.

Yet today, in Fallujah, three storied 'firsts' are fighting side-by-side as a team. The 1st Marine Division, in it's guise as the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and task forces of the Army's 1st Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions. Overhead fly Air Force, Army, and Marine aviators. Just a little back sit Marine and Army artillery. Navy and Army hospitals are caring for the wounded of both sides. There are even muslim chaplains ministering to the needs of enemy wounded, and praying for enemy dead. The battle proceeds apace, with UAVs and satellites overhead, anti-sniper sensors, See-through-the-wall radars, acoustic weapons to try and handle those actions where the bad guys hide behind the innocents.

The most difficult and dangerous fighting an army can do - and these elements of 3 distinct unit cultures, with their supporting arms and services arrayed around and among 'em - are house by house, street by street, block by block, taking back Fallujah. And while there is serious loss of life among the insurgents - there is nowhere near the historical level of civilian casualties inherent in fighting in occupied built-up areas. Some of that is because a lot of the insurgents aren't very good - murderous, but not soldier-quality. But most of it is because of the next wave of the new 'Greatest Generation' now crashing ashore in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Besides, how can I not love warriors like Recon Marine Corporal Gabriel Garza, who, after providing assistance of a delicate nature to Rolling Stone stringer Evan Wright (as noted in his book, "Generation Kill," that I'm reading right now), says,

"I've just performed testicle surgery on the reporter."

And it didn't include removal. Now you know our young warriors can practice restraint!

Today, as I go back to my safe routine, my thoughts will be with my new brothers-in-arms, and I know that the torch has been passed, and is in most excellent hands.

A most excellent Veteran's Day.

"If it ain't raining, you ain't training!" That was the comment on a post several days ago - and so it proved yesterday, as parade participants and spectators got some good cold, wet, training in. I was supposed to have today off, but I find that the engine of business churns on and requires my presence. So I'll leave you with these pictures - and a promise of a more fleshed-out post to come.

But most of all, Thank You Monteith! You've got a hell of a ride, and yesterday certainly reignited that itch!

This is the Armorer, Monteith, and a fellow-collector in the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, whose jeep you will see later.

This is Montieth, prepping his Ferret for the parade. The Armorer is pleased to note that while he casts a large shadow, he can still clamber on these things and get in. He wouldn't want to have to get out under pressure, however!

And a big thank you to parade organizers, the Police, and, most importantly, the citizens of Atlanta who took time out from a work day for most of them to line the parade route in a cold, drizzly rain!

November 10, 2004

Veteran's Day, 2004

Today I will participate in my very first Veteran's Day parade... as a veteran. Not that I haven't been a veteran these many years, that goes with being a soldier and now a retired soldier. I've attended, I've supported, but not participated. No, this is the first time I've been invited because I'm a vet, to participate in a parade. As one of the honorees, so to speak, though just in the manner of participating, not by name or anything. Allow me to thank frequent commenter Monteith, who extended the invitation, and in whose personally-owned Ferret I'll be riding, along with other vehicles, like a Vietnam Gun Truck, that the local owners of military vehicles are providing as mounts for the ever-thinning group of WWII veterans. I will be in august company. All the days of combat during my entire period of service, had I been there for all of them, would not match the combat duration of the veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. I truly served in a period of time that was a vacation from history. There are soldiers who graduated from Basic Training here at Fort Benning six months ago who are more 'veteran' than I.

Today we celebrate the living. The survivors. We honor the dead in May. Except today we honor the dead, too. We can't help it. The bonds of combat soldiery are tightest because of those who aren't there. Most of us have an "absent companion" or four that we drink to, when the time is right. Tomorrow it will be right. I have 13 that I will drink to - but I'll wait until I get home. 13 shots of tequila, well, that's not something to do before you get on an airplane! I won't do it tonight when I get home, either. I spread 'em out between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. My father doesn't even try. If he toasted all his ghosts, his liver would rip itself out of his belly and run.

We have bonds. Bonds that sometimes our closest family don't understand. Why does Grampa Joe keep bailing that wino out of trouble? Because that wino lost two fingers tossing a grenade out of a two-man fighting position during the a vicious night fight on Guadalcanal, that's why. Because that stranger that Dad greets like a long lost brother once a year is, in fact, a long lost brother, who shared the exhilaration of the night combat drop on Point Salines. Because the quiet guy you've never seen before extracted your Dad's best friend's body from a helicopter crash in Mogadishu by cutting off his legs - so that no man would be left behind. Because that guy over there negotiated with Aideed to get the legs back.

Because that woman over there comforted many of your grandfather's friends as they lay dying, the last thing they ever saw, or heard. Because that janitor in your school spent a long night on LZ X-Ray, cut off from his unit, keeping his squadmates alive. Because that Bank President over there drove an AMTRAC across the reef at Tarawa under a withering fire so your uncle wouldn't have to slog in on foot, fighting both the sea and the Japanese. That man in Lions with your great-uncle? Your uncle helped him walk out from the Frozen Chosin.

Because that man over there helped Uncle Bob deal with Esther's "Dear John" letter, that arrived right before "Big Push." And him, that guy playing with his grandkids, who always seems to have some candy for you... well, he's a Glow-worm, a fighter pilot who jumped from a burning aircraft after he lost that dogfight with the Bf-109, and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp - and survived the forced marches to the west, as the germans were falling back from the onslaught of the Red Army. His buddy? The wingman whose 'six' was being covered. We are also a maudlin, sentimental group. We honor ALL of our veterans. Especially the ones who didn't really volunteer, but would and did give their lives freely for their brothers in arms, too.

We have the bond of shared experiences, whether it's Basic, Jump School, the JRTC, Graf, Pahakuloa, Camp Red Cloud, Hof, Okinawa, Tay Ninh, Vung Tau, Suwon, Phenix City, El Paso, Biloxi, the convoys across the Atlantic, storming over a beach, busting bunkers, hunkering under artillery, rescuing families caught in the middle, finding that cask of cognac and... and the list goes on and on and on.

It will be an honor to take my place among you, you men and women who simply did their duty. Who didn't run. Who came when asked. I will be among giants. But my thoughts will be with the newest wave of veterans.

The one's doing the most difficult and dangerous fighting an army can do - and these elements of 3 distinct unit cultures, the 1st Marine Division, and the Army's TF 2/2 Infantry of the 1st Infantry Divsion and TF 2/7 Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Divsion, with their supporting arms and services arrayed around, overhead, and among 'em - are house by house, street by street, block by block, taking back Fallujah. And while there is serious loss of life among the insurgents (a Good Thing) - there is nowhere near the historical level of civilian casualties inherent in fighting in occupied built-up areas - nor in the assaulting elements. Some of that is because a lot of the insurgents aren't very good - murderous, but not soldier-quality. But most of it is because of the quality of the next wave of the new 'Greatest Generation' now crashing ashore in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tomorrow as I ride in the parade, my thoughts will be with my new brothers-in-arms, and I know that the torch has been passed, and is in most excellent hands.

The Republic is well served. Well served indeed. And as long as we find men and women willing to do the hard, dirty work - there will be a Republic.

We have not fought most of our wars this last hundred years alone. And other nations, other armies, with whom we have much in common also honor the living and remember their dead. This year, I honor our Canadian brothers, who shed blood with us in Afghanistan, and sadly, a good chunk of it was shed by us... so it's only fitting.

Usually around Christmas you see the poems about the American soldier and his sacrifices. The Canadians have one too.

Who Is He

He is profane and irreverent, living as he does in a world full of capriciousness, frustration and disillusionment. He is perhaps the best-educated of his kind in history, but will rarely accord respect on the basis of mere degrees or titles.

He speaks his own dialect, often incomprehensible to the layman. He can be cold, cruel, even brutal and is frequently insensitive. Killing is his profession and he strives very hard to become even more skilled at it.

His model is the grey, muddy, hard-eyed slayer who took the untakeable at Vimy Ridge, endured the unendurable in the Scheldt and held the unholdable at Kapyong.

He is a superlative practical diplomat; his efforts have brought peace to countless countries around the world. He is capable of astonishing acts of kindness, warmth and generosity. He will give you his last sip of water on a parched day and his last food to a hungry child; he will give his very life for the society he loves. Danger and horror are his familiars and his sense of humour is accordingly sardonic. What the unknowing take as callousness is his defence against the unimaginable; he whistles through a career filled with graveyards.

His ethos is one of self-sacrifice and duty. He is sinfully proud of himself, of his unit and of his countryand he is unique in that his commitment to his society is Total. No other trade or profession dreams of demanding such of its members
and none could successfully try.

He loves his family dearly, sees them all too rarely and as often as not loses them to the demands of his profession. Loneliness is the price he accepts for the privilege of serving. He accounts discomfort as routine and the search for personal gain as beneath him; he has neither understanding of nor patience
for those motivated by self-interest, politics or money.

His loyalty can be absolute, but it must be purchased. Paradoxically, the only coin accepted for that payment is also loyalty. He devours life with big bites, knowing that each bite might be his last and his manners suffer thereby. He would rather die regretting the things he did than the ones he dared not try. He earns a good wage by most standards and, given the demands on him, is woefully underpaid.

He can be arrogant, thoughtless and conceited, but will spend himself, sacrifice everything for total strangers in places he cannot even pronounce. He considers political correctness a podium for self-righteous fools, but will die fighting for the rights of anyone he respects or pities.

He is a philosopher and a drudge, an assassin and a philanthropist, a servant and a leader, a disputer and a mediator, a Nobel Laureate peacekeeper and the Queen's Hitman, a brawler and a healer, best friend and worst enemy. He is a rock, a goat, a fool, a sage, a drunk, a provider, a cynic and a romantic dreamer. Above it all, he is a hero for our time.

You, pale stranger, sleep well at night only because he exists for you, the citizen who has never met him, has perhaps never thought of him and may even despise him. He is both your child and your guardian. His devotion to you is unwavering.

He is a Canadian Soldier.

Hell, he's any soldier of a true democracy. And he too is one of my brothers-in-arms.

Update: I was really rushed to get out the door when I posted this, and I neglected to credit my source for the Canadian info - in the indefatigable CAPT H. I regret the error, truly.

by John on Nov 10, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: It is Veteran's Day
» pamibe links with: Veteran's Day
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Remembrance Day, 2004
» Dust My Broom links with: A day of Remembrance
» Dizzy Girl links with: Veteran's Day: Some Gave All...

These are my homeys!

If you're going to be one, be a BIG RED ONE!

Capt Kirk Mayfield, commander of the Phantoms, called for fire from his task force's mortar team. But Sgt Anyett didn't want to wait. "Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out - I'm from Alabama."

Two minutes tick by. "They're moving deep," shouted Sgt Anyett with disappointment. A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smoke rose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given.

"Yeah," he yelled. "Battle Damage Assessment - nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job."

Get some, gents. Just remember to clear the target area of the innocents.

Good soldiers all. Just what ya want, walking the walls. Rough men and women.

Some more of that good, meaty stuff coming from the Brit papers.

Happy Birthday to the Corps

And what better way for a military organization to celebrate it's origins than kicking butt and taking names? Well, once the civil powers-that-be have directed it, anyway. By the way, guys - Remember those "Not In Our Name" people? Kick in a few doors - in their name! The new battle-cry, "NION!" Nice thumb in the eye, that.

Quoting K-Lo at NRO, who is herself channeling Marine Corps Public Affairs (as in all Marines, active, reserve, and former) are Public Affairs Officers)

November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress met and passed the following resolution - in secret - thus establishing an American Marine Corps (based on the Royal Marine Corps model):

Resolved: That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors & other officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required. That they be enlisted and commissioned for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress. That they be distinguished by the names of the first & second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered a part of the number, which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Semper Fi, dudes.

However - even though you have to dig to find it, Fallujah is a Joint op. The descendants of Custer, TF 2/7 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, are fighting in Fallujah.

Soldiers of the Big Red One, TF 2/2 Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, are fighting in Fallujah.

And not doing easy stuff, like manning the cordon line around the city, either.

The flimsy metal door was ripped off its hinges as a hefty boot from a Legion platoon soldier made decisive contact. Inside the small room lay an AK-47 rifle, alarm clock parts and a handwritten notebook in Farsi. Moments earlier, the gunman, thought to be Iranian, had fled as Legion, Hunter and Outlaw platoons of the US army's Task Force 2-2 undertook one of the more dangerous tasks of the battle for Fallujah. Clearing buildings door to door in a guerrilla stronghold is risky at any time. Into the bargain this time, the platoons from Phantom troop had been ordered to sweep Fallujah's industrial zone, a haven for foreign fighters.

Oddly enough, the best print coverage I have seen of the fighting in Fallujah are from the Brits covering it.

Update: While finishing this post, I got a response to the note I sent Kathryn admonishing her for being a USMC shill. Turns out K-Lo's got a price.

what can i say? a marine sent me alcohol last week. need i say more? shilling away.

Ya want some space in The Corner for your favorite cause? Send K-Lo booze!

Updated Update: Welcome to NRO-niks! Feel free to check around the rest of the area. I have to go buy some chianti for K-Lo.

November 09, 2004

A Waste of Oxygen...

I've added a posting category (sorry John, couldn't help myself).

Here's entry #1...and it isn't even the worst example.



Okay, sports fans.

This one was tougher than I expected. It even disturbed the Commissar. Dunno why, though. It's Commie iron. Arditi and Captain H pretty well nailed it, with just a little help.

Here's your final clue to the challenge. New pics also added to the album. Apparently, not many of you have seen the inside of many tanks. And at least two of you who have, CW4Bill and the Instapilot, have only seen the interiors of tanks because you blew their turrets off, which does make it hard to get a good sense of the interiors, what with the altitudes, ranges, speed and all.

This beast is one of several vehicles kept around here so SOF soldiers can learn how to hotwire 'em, drive 'em, shoot 'em, and blow 'em up. Hey, if you know how to use the other guy's stuff, you don't have to bring as much of your own, eh?

Random Militant Musings

First off - the Red Ensign Standard is snapping in the breeze, if you'd like to read what militant Canadians and their fellow-travelers (like the Armorer) have to say about things.

Next, the Instapilot stole my first post this morning, so I'll just pile on his...

Regarding the BLU-113: I still wanna meet the guy who was sitting on the pot, flipping through Reader's Digest, who suddenly had the inspiration... "Hey! Why don't we take redundant Army 8" cannon tubes, fill 'em with RDX, stick a GBU-guidance system on 'em and drop 'em on bunkers!?!"

That was some outside-the-box thinking. When you read the Instapilot's post, you may wonder why the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is funding development of this monster.

Simple. The requirement to hit targets like deeply buried bunkers exist. The alternative weapon choice is a nuke. DTRA's role is to both protect the US from threats, and to reduce arms proliferation. If we can do it with a creative conventional bomb, we may not need to develop the nuke that's already on the drawing boards.

Beth is off doing her job, and has found herself in a pool of blue-staters who are *terribly* concerned about Operation Phantom Fury, the assault on Fallujah. They are checking the news all the time, and wringing their hands over the casualties, muttering about how horrible it is. These people *really* miss their vacation from history. They really are nice people - but they live in a different world than the one I do. They know I'm a retired soldier. So, being nice people, they asked Beth,

"Your husband is retired military, right? I'm sure he's glad he no longer has to do this, or be involved!"

The Mistress of Argghhh! knows the Armorer well. Her response:

"Hell no! He's a warrior. If he could, he'd be over there right now, up to his eyeballs in it. "

Damn straight. The Armorer volunteered for recall on 9/12. The Armorer keeps his volunteering current, even though it would be fiscal disaster if the Army took him up on it. The Armorer is a broken-down hulk of his former self, and would only be a liability in direct combat, most likely - but, to paraphrase the old recruiting song, "If I am needed, I'll be there."

I'm a Regular, by God, subject to recall for life.

And by his post (and other comments) the Instapilot feels exactly the same way.

Which is how we're supposed to feel.

Don't take that as a willingness to rush into a war. Different thing entirely. But once the throw-down starts - Party On, Garth!

Lastly - we have a new study from the JFK School of Government at Harvard, that well-known bastion of neo-con warmongering. The study report discusses the origins of Terrorism. Guess what, sports fans - Poverty doesn't cause terrorism. At least as far as this researcher is concerned.

Alberto Abadie: 'In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but ... when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism ... but ... also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin.'

Uh-oh. Michael Moore and Martin Sheen, call your office.

A John F. Kennedy School of Government researcher has cast doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom.

Associate Professor of Public Policy Alberto Abadie examined data on terrorism and variables such as wealth, political freedom, geography, and ethnic fractionalization for nations that have been targets of terrorist attacks.

Guess what? It just get's better! Ya know who has the least terrorism? The extremes. Free societies, and totalitarian societies.

Before analyzing the data, Abadie believed it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty, especially since studies have linked civil war to economic factors. However, once the data was corrected for the influence of other factors studied, Abadie said he found no significant relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences.

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism. Though terrorism declined among nations with high levels of political freedom, it was the intermediate nations that seemed most vulnerable.

Mike, Martin, Babs, Janeane, Alex - cancel those calls. Time to rehabilitate Neville Chamberlain. Turns out you guys were right. Appeasement *does* work. Supporting dictators *does* reduce violence, well, at least the open kind that makes the papers. As long as you are willing to go all the way, anyway. Damn that Churchill and Roosevelt for not following through on the plan.

I really do have a point here. Honest. Coming up now.

Though his study didn't explore the reasons behind the trends he researched, Abadie said it could be that autocratic nations' tight control and repressive practices keep terrorist activities in check, while nations making the transition to more open, democratic governments - such as currently taking place in Iraq and Russia - may be politically unstable, which makes them more vulnerable.

"When you go from an autocratic regime and make the transition to democracy, you may expect a temporary increase in terrorism," Abadie said.

Read the whole thing yourself.

That's where Iraq is. Russia. And elsewhere. The choice is - do you fight the tyrants, or do you roll over? The Hollywood left says to roll over.

I say there's just some people as needs killin'. And those people are in Fallujah, the Sunni Arab minority who don't want to share power with the Shia Arab majority. And yes, innocents are going to die. But we're going to be killing far fewer of them in this city fight than has ever been done before - and we're developing the tactics, techniques, procedures and hardware that will make it harder and harder for people like the fedayeen to hide in the cities, using the innocents as human shields.

And yes, those of you with Beth, I'm perfectly willing to go there, do that. I swore an oath that still binds, regardless of inconvenience it may cause.

Ich Dien. Send Me. No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great. Duty First.

Tired slogans all. But I still believe in them. But I don't believe in all of them. There's some Wilfrid Owen in me, too. I just don't happen to think that Operation Iraqi Freedom is WWI-like in motivation.

Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Shame on us, and our political class, if we let it become so. Even more so, if, having started this, we don't have the stomach to finish it. *That* would be a crime.

"About damn time...let's do it."

That's what's going through Hog drivers' heads in pre-mission briefs right now.

Urban CAS used to be an oxymoron.

Not any more.

I'll be looking for some links and photos later on today to support my comments on the subject--my two cents on Fallujah from a close air support prespective. In the meantime, here are a few things to ponder as our thoughts and prayers go out to the warriors on the ground who are, as we speak, stomping on the serpent's head...

We now have free-fall munitions (bombs) that can collapse a building but leave those surrounding it destroyed; collateral damage minimal.

We have fixed-wing platforms with point-and-shoot weapons that have proven extremely effective in close-quarters battle (GAU-8 cannon to name one).

Combined arms is improving at an exponential rate...pilots can now give immediate feedback to ground maneuver units on a scale heretofore unheard of...John Boyd's OODA loop just got tight as a gnat's a**hole...heh.

Situational awareness, once obtained by sticking your head around a corner of a building (and hoping it wouldn't get shot off) is now being expanded (again, exponentially) by extra sets of fearless eyes...UAVs...and guess who gets the data? Not only the guy in the TOC...but the guy pulling the trigger, both on the ground and in the air. Right now, the Marine and infantryman is getting it faster that the CAS pilot, but give us time...

There were major lessons learned by USAF C2 elements directly supporting V Corps during the major ground ops phase of the Iraqi campaign. Even better, these lessons weren't lost on the Air Ops Center types either (the ones who orchestrate airpower in the overall campaign). Now coordination is more direct, real-time and relevant to the maneuver commander's needs.

Bad news: we keep relearning these lessons.

Good news: The experience, knowledge and adaptation that occurred in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM hasn't had a chance to be forgotten.

Better news: the air guys are itching for this fight as much as the ground guys are...we probably won't get al Zarqawi, but you never know. That's icing on the cake...

What will satisfy us most is the liberation of thousands more and the obvious message being sent to the thugs, the killers of women and children, the primordial head-hackers who are an embarrasment to the human race: "Time's up. Surrender or die. Do your worst; your existence is finite and today is your last."

Cue Terminator music...we have been unleashed.


November 08, 2004

I'll help load the damn thing...

...if we decide to do something about the Iranian nuclear threat. (HT: Drudge)

We can be pretty responsive to the bunker buster mission, too. There's a film of the geeks at Eglin hand-pouring liquified explosive into one of these during the tests to see if they could put something together that could go after Saddam's C2 facilities. Short answer: "yes."

A friend of mine who flew F-117s in the first Gulf War said they got these things operational so fast that the ones he he carried "downtown" were still warm to the touch when he pre-flighted them.

Don't dick with democracies...


by Dusty on Nov 08, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» The Jawa Report links with: Size Does Matter

How to make the Armorer smile (a rare event, actually)

Give him a tank to play with. New action figure: East German Tank Commander Johann.

Good News on the Getting Creative to Save Lives Front.

Something else getting a fast-track push to get developed and into the hands of the troops, outside of normal processes:

RPG air-bags. Yep. RPG air-bags. You know the bad guys will come up with a response, but that will take awhile.

ARMORED WARFARE: RPGs Stopped by Air Bags and Electricity

November 8, 2004: Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) are the typical weapons of choice when insurgents decide to attack trucks and armored vehicles. RPGs are cheap, simple to operate, and if used properly can inflict significant damage on Stryker and Bradley armored vehicles. Unarmed and armored Hummers are especially vulnerable, since the various armor kits for the Hummer are designed to protect occupants from small arms and machine gun fire, not anti-tank grenades.

One quick fix to protect the Hummer is a unique airbag system developed by a small California company that deploys a "curtain" down outside the side of the vehicle being attacked. Four bags are needed to protect all quadrants and are held in place with simple Velcro straps. A small radar detects the incoming RPG or RPGs and inflates the airbag with a carbon dioxide gas cartridge. The RPG is literally "caught" by the airbag like a pillow and slowed enough so the nose-mounted fuse doesn't detonate the warhead. Instead, the RPG ends up collapsing upon itself, shredding the secondary self-destruct fuse and looking like a stomped-on beer can. Currently, the airbag and cartridge have to be replaced after one use, but the designers are working on a reusable airbag that can simply be rolled up and put back into place.

Cost for the system is expected to run between $5,000 to $7,000 dollars and weighs around 50 pounds. The Army is in the process of awarding a contract with the goal of getting systems to Iraq within 6 months, at a initial product rate of 25 systems per month. Other systems are being refined for use on canvass-topped vehicles and the Stryker. The system has the potential to replace both the current Stryker "RPG" fence standoff metal framework as well as reactive armor systems and has the twin advantages of being lighter and less expensive than reactive armor. It's also safer around infantry than reactive armor. Multiple tests of the airbag system have been run using RPGs, with one test managing slow down an RPG enough to stop it relatively intact – forcing a stop to the tests until range safety could come out and blow it up in place.

Over the longer term, the Army is looking towards electronically "charged" armor protection. The protection scheme would be composed of an outside armored plate, a spaced gap, and an inner charged plate. Shaped charges are essentially hot streams of metal traveling at (very) rapid speed to penetrate armor. A shaped charge from an RPG or other antitank weapon would detonate, penetrate the outer armor plate, and the hot metal stream would make contact with the charged inner plate, forming an electrical circuit that ends up plattering the metal across the inner plate rather than breaking through into the hull of the vehicle.

Charged armor is a better solution than reactive armor, as it is both lighter than reactive and also non-threatening to nearby infantry. At least two anufacturers have successfully demonstrated charged armor solutions, one retrofitting a Bradley AFV with a large capacitor to charge the inner hull plate. One manufacturer has demonstrated that the Bradley charged armor can take multiple RPG hits onto the same section of the hull without penetration and was willing to show a short demonstration film to those of the proper security clearance. In theory, charged armor should work equally well against weapons with larger shaped charge warheads, but the manufacturer would not comment on any tests done in that area. Ideally, charged armor would be an integrated solution as a part of a hybrid-electric vehicle. Power would be available from the vehicle to charge the armor for protection and installing the equipment would not require an expensive rebuild from the ground up. – Doug Mohney

Hat tip: Strategy Page!

Other interesting tidbits from the boys at Strategy Page. Twas a busy day in history today. Some good, some bad.

Good. 1789 Elijah Craig brews the first bourbon whiskey, Bourbon County, Ky. Can't stand the stuff myself, but I know there are those of you who love it...
Bad. 1923 Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich.
Bad. 1939 Failed assassination attempt on Hitler in Burgerbraukeller, Munich
Good. 1942 Hitler proclaims fall of Stalingrad (He was wrong)
Good. 1942 Operation Torch: U.S. and British forces land in northwestern Africa (Really bad day for Germany.) Bad day for France, too. They got beat again - by us, this time. If you think about it, France and Italy are the only countries in WWII to lose to both sides.)
Lastly, for the Instapilot: Good. 1950 1st jet combat, Lt. Russell J. Brown's F-86 scores a North Korean MiG-15

November 07, 2004

Some of you need some help...

...with the "Identify this tank" challenge. There has been one successful ID thus far.

Here's a clue:

And here's another.

Tidbits from the National Infantry Museum

Which, being full of guns, with grounds full of artillery and tanks, is one of the Armorers favorite places to visit. The Armorer doesn't want to move here, but he does like visiting!

In the rotating exhibit section, to the right of the entrance, there are some OIF and OEF exhibits. Saddam's hunting rifle and ceremonial sword are in great company. The collection of the Infantry museum holds other relics of tyranny, such as Himmler's hunting guns and Goering's marshall's baton.

American infantry have thrown down numerous tyrants in their day. Assisting and assisted by their brother Anglosphere infantry, I would hasten to add. And, now and again, French infantry, when their government allows it. Ably assisting in this effort, and acknowledged by the museum, are their fellow-travelers, the Artillery and Armor.

The museum contains furniture the Armorer would like to have. Especially this piece for the living room. She Who Will Be Obeyed will allow it becaue it has a lot of nice brass in it.

And boy is the museum full of interesting little tidbits. Two Davy Crocketts. Several items the Armorer would like to add to the Funny Hat collection.

Developmental. rifles. all. over.

Mortars. Funny cars. And guns, guns, guns. What's not to like?

There's even a train!

If you are ever in Columbus, go visit Ft. Benning. See the Airborne School - and above all, visit the National Infantry Museum!