There are three soldiers in this picture. One is wearing ACU, one multicam, one a ghillie suit. Exercise: which one would get shot first?
…and it’s anyone’s guess which will arrive first.
The new camo’s been needed ever since some decision by some blind person led to the adoption of the dreadful “universal camouflage pattern,” replacing a fairly effective temperate woodland pattern (as seen in the BDU), and a very effective desert pattern (as in the DCU). The decision was taken in unnecessary haste and largely out of irrational envy of the Marines’ trendy new camo uniforms.
To compound a dumb decision driven by envy, came a dumb decision driven by sheer minginess: some MBA in the Pentagon said the Army could save money if it didn’t have to wear different camo to suit different terrain, so the UCP was chosen as a compromise that looks like a woodland pattern in the desert, and a desert pattern in the woodland. It’s not quite as in-your-face as the red coats of General Howe’s wannabe gun confiscators of 1775, but it’s pretty close (see photo).
Yes, saying you could save money by not having different camouflage colors for different-colored backgrounds is a bit like saying we could save money on aircraft if we stopped spending so damned much on making them fly. Astute of you to notice that. Dim of the brass not to. Moving on…
The deficiencies of the uniform are so glaring they’ve even penetrated through the layers of flunkies, sycophants, suck-ups and other human insulation surrounding the Chief of Staff. He noted:
“It’s the wrong color. It’s not the right patterns,” he said. “Every test we’ve done [says] it’s wrong. So we’re going to come up with a new pattern.”
No $#!+, Sherlock.
Of course, it’s so blatantly the wrong color for anywhere on this planet that they went to a better pattern — Crye Multicam — in Afghanistan years ago. So why not just stick to Multicam? If you have to have the dumb idea of one pattern everywhere from the Arctic Circle to the Hindu Kush to Equatorial Guinea to Pata-freakin’-gonia, the guys at Crye have got a better dumb idea than UCP. But no, that’s not the way the system works. It can only rush into a bad idea. It takes all kinds of procurement expertise, and all kinds of years, to take a good one and beat all the merit out of it.
Stand by for that.
Don’t expect much different this time round. The same RDT&E and procurement bureaucracy that dumped UCP on us is driving the train again.
Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (whose name reflects a fond hope, not a concrete reality) has noted that, hey, we’re wasting a boatload of money when every GO or FO orders up a new salad suit for his minions, and every service would rather their men go naked into battle like Greeks of antiquity than wear something invented by another service. The old suits were cheap because everybody wore the same basic duds, and his service could only… how shall we put it, accessorize him.
So you can tell the guys from the Joint Anything Command. Each one is dressed distinctively — kind of like the Village People.
The waste has been staggering. The Army spent 10 times as much developing the horrible UCP as the Marines spent before them, developing two camo uniforms. Then the Army actually spent more than the staggering amount blown on ACU development, just to approve and issue the COTS Crye Multicam pattern as the OEF uniform (so now they’re into uniform development for 20 times what the Marines spent, and you’d be hard pressed to say any of the Army uniforms is better than the Marine ones).
The GAO report linked above is a section of a longer report that also examines other wasteful government programs.
Remington’s staying put. We’re going to have a post elaborating on that.
DEFCAD is still down, at least with respect to firearms parts files. In related news, Francisco Franco is still dead. The Forum may light a beacon for those of you who missed your chance to download 4.2 Saito and the Liberator files.
Speaking of which, the buried lede in this story is that a guy named Michael Weinberg and his organization, “Public Knowledge, a digital-rights advocacy group that represents consumers in technology policy,” are working with legislators on a ban on 3D printing of gun parts.
Want a bullpup version of a Remington 870? Bullpup Unlimited has you covered with their conversion stock (hat tip: Oleg Volk).
Speaking of NSSF, remember the year-over-year monthly count of NICS checks that, last time we looked, had set many records for duration? April’s numbers are in, and the streak continues. It’s now 35 months, one month short of 3 years, that every month has been higher than the same month the year before. (Looking at data this way is a standard management procedure to observe growth without being confused by seasonality in the numbers). Hat tip: No Lawyers.
A group of gun-ban enthusiast women got Amazon to take down a target for sale because it represented a woman — a zombie woman. This, they says, promotes violence against women like them. We guess if that’s how they want to define themselves, go for it. We knew the gun control movement wasn’t looking real lively. But who knew it was undead? (The author of the story glosses over the zombie bit. Typical journalist).
This Walther was liberated at Dachau by MG William A. Levine. It can’t be displayed by the museum that owns it.
Meanwhile, Chicongo is on track to break its murder record, despite the sheer unpossibility of gun violence in a city that completely bans guns. How completely? Chicago museums can’t display historic guns, like this Walther liberated along with thousands of desperate, starving scarecrows at Dachau.
An Alderman who is a history buff is working to change the law, at least as far as museums are concerned. But citizens? No gun for you!
Foreign and Enemy Weapons
Russia threw a big bash for V-E day. Putin tossed down vodka with some 2,000 surviving veterans… and thanked them. Putin said: “You toppled a vicious foe. You brought freedom to the people of the entire world.” Well, except for those trapped in the Soviet Union, who didn’t get any freedom for another 60 years, roughly.
SF History and Lore
A filmmaker of questionable integrity has been promoting a documentary that’s supposed to be the story of an American SF soldier, John Hartley Robertson, whose helicopter was shot down in flames. It’s a fraud every way you look at it.
VA managers in Pennsylvania let an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease thin the herd a bit. Accountability? Hey, we said this is the VA. The careless managers got as much as $70k each in bonuses.
HELL. That’s what they got when “politically correct” senior officers ordered that no Christian chaplain appear, nor Christian prayer be uttered, at a memorial service for several fallen SEALs in Bagram in 2011. Instead, they’d have our valiant Afghan allies provide a mullah — who, praying in Arabic, consigned the SEALs (“Infidels!”) to hell, and celebrated the terrorist victory: “the Muslims are the winners!” If you wondered why we don’t have this war won yet, this is a pretty good illustration of why — including the fact that it took two years for anybody to listen to the tape.
As you may have detected, the analog world has been seriously harshing our digital mellow this week, and there were a lot of things we really want to get to, but might not. So here are they with, with one exception, a mere line or two each. Which is far less than these worthy links deserve in the way of comment, but better a line than no line at all, yes?
ITEM: Defense Distributed will be releasing its plans for an entirely printed pistol soon, with the only metal parts being the firing pin and the cartridge. The news has leaked to the conflicted Forbes reporter, techno-libertarian but anti-gun Andy Greenberg. The single-shot pistol is called The Liberator, and in employment concept as well as in some design concepts — like using then-state-of-the-art technology — it resembles the WWII SOE/OSS project of the same name. It’s a conceptual update of this design. The links you need: (1) DefDIst Blog (nothing yet); DEFCAD downloads (ditto); Greenberg’s Forbes article. Greenberg brought the news to anti-gun zealot Steve Israel (D-NY); Israel would like to ban all guns and all 3-D printing but will graciously settle for a ban on printing gun parts. Of course, national level agencies in several nations have long had lethal weapons that pass through magnetometers. Israel doesn’t object to states having this power, just to individual citizens subjects having it.
One point Steve Israel, among others, seems to miss: knowing that this is possible, and gun design being far from extreme engineering, he can’t put the cat back in the bag. As Cody Wilson says, this is here now, deal with it.
ITEM: We told you that Remington’s Project X was a Remington and TrackingPoint deal (and why). Well, we were right. Meanwhile, TrackingPoint has closed their own online store, they say because of overwhelming demand.
ITEM: The President took to Mexico City to blame the 2nd Amendment and American gun owners for Mexican crime. “Most of the guns used in crime in Mexico come from the United States,” he said, a popular idea in Mexico, if not exactly true. But his Attorney General and the ATF have been doing what they can to make it come true.
ITEM: What we really need, it turns out is not a ban on guns — but a ban on puppies. We’ll elaborate on this in the coming week.
ITEM: Airbus has launched its “C-130 Killer,” the A400M turboprop military transport. The first customer planes (for France, Turkey, and then for other nations) are nearing completion. And it’s about to get certification. But, there are still a few gremlins in the plan. (1) It’s still not clear to drop paratroops or do any type of aerial delivery whatsoever. That’s going to take months to a year. (2) It’s not going to be able to fly low-level missions. That’s going to take a couple of years. And (3) is the big one: Airbus has sold 174 of the planes, but even if it delivers them all, it’s projecting a loss on each plane and on the project overall. The C-130 has been doing all the stuff the A400M can’t – including making money for its manufacturer — since 1955. Read all about it at Aviation Week.
ITEM: This should probably be under “Unconventional,” but it’s the result of aerial bombing. Along with entire cities — sometimes even the one they were trying to bomb — Britain’s notoriously inaccurate night bombers of World War II destroyed the lobster fishery of Heligoland Island, by killing most of the tasty crustaceans and discombobulalting the rest into sterility. A million-dollar scheme plans to use wind-turbine foundations as habitat for new lobsters. One wonders if any species have been extincted completely by war — not just locally like the Heligoland lobsters.
ITEM: The Israelis are rumored to have struck a Syrian arms convoy. (Since we penned that, it’s gone from “rumored” to “reported”). How’s that finestkind Russian Air Defense system working out for you, Boy Assad? Ochin plocha, kid.
ITEM: An Italian WWII partisan wrote a diary in code. He wrote it in a really good code because he didn’t want the Germans to break it. Then he forgot the code! But turns out, a German broke it… this week, after it was posted as a puzzle to cryptographic hobbyists.
ITEM: The principal tourism draw of the city where Boston marathon bomber Speedbump spent six months? “Taking IED construction classes.” But he said “no” when the FBI asked him if he was a terrorist, so it’s all good. Why didn’t Dillinger try that, or was that a different FBI?
ITEM: Four bodies were found in France in 2009. Two of them were identified as British soldiers and have been laid to rest; all four were from the same unit.
ITEM: Here’s a daring story of a spy’s escape from the Gestapo. It’s unclear whether he was working for the SIS or SOE. His brother was executed in the aftermath of an SOE operation, which suggests SOE, but then, that’s why SIS didn’t like SOE — they tended to get the Germans riled up, and shot spies send no secrets.
ITEM: The lede’s a bit buried on this Telegraph column (yeah, we’re hitting the Telegraph hard today) on the subject of Churchill’s baptism of fire. To us, the news is that he formed the same opinion of the Afghans that everyone else before and since has done:
His dispatch of September 5 pays tribute to the bravery of the Pashtuns. “Their swordsmanship, neglecting guards, concerns itself only with cuts and, careless of what injury they may receive, they devote themselves to the destruction of their opponents.”
But he is less well disposed to the mullahs who incited the violence in the first place, and is appalled by their habit of trading their womenfolk to buy rifles. “This degradation of mind is unrelieved by a single elevated sentiment,” he writes. “Their religion is the most miserable fanaticism, in which cruelty, credulity, and immorality are equally represented. Their holy men – the Mullahs – prize as their chief privilege a sort of droit de seigneur. It is impossible to imagine a lower type of beings or a more dreadful state of barbarism.”
The excerpt is from a new book by T-graph columnist Con Coughlin that sounds like it’s a must-read. There are several more excerpts, and they’re all fun to read and informative.
ITEM: While we’re expressing astonishment, let’s look over their shoulders as the media continues its desperate search to find something, anything, that might have motivated two extremist moslem jihadi brothers who attended an extremist radical mosque to do what their imams tell them their god requires, and blow people up. If you’re a media guy or an academic, this is a great puzzlement. So CNN finds this creature called Adrian Raines from the soft end of the soft pseudoscience of criminology, who explains that Speedbump and Flashbang couldn’t help it: there was something wrong with the chemistry or structure of their brains. His evidence? He doesn’t have evidence actually, but a hunch: “We’ve found a neurological abnormality in the brain that predisposes to violence and psychopathy that’s also been found in boxers.” Ah! It wasn’t the Islam, it was the boxing. (And who’s “we?” Last time we looked, no one was letting him near a brain with a scalpel in hand). Anyway, we await the results of his systematic quest for pugilism in the histories of 10,000 other terrorists who just all happened to be mohammedan in orientation.
No Link ’cause it came from the dead trees
ITEM: What percentage of Frenchmen joined the Resistance, either as a Maquis guerilla, an underground agent, or a member of an auxiliary logistics or support group? Not 30%, or even 10%. Around 2%. Prior to D-Day, more Frenchmen joined the SS Charlemagne division, the collaborationist Milice, or other quisling outfits than joined, supported, or even told another soul they sympathized with either the Communist FTP or Gaullist FFI. All you guys thinking about revolution or resistance need to give this one a long hard think.
If you’re the Ohio Highway Patrol, you buy new shotguns. The Dayton Daily News has the full story, which we’ll trim down to the facts. The OHP ran into a problem when they were forced to change from the discontinued Crown Victoria to the cramped Dodge Charger. (Having been stuck with a supposedly upscale-trimmed rental Charger that had an interior like a police car, we shudder to think what the interiors of the actual cop cars are like). The problem: their 20″ barreled Remington 870s wouldn’t fit. From the point of view of a normal riot shotgun, this thing is a Shriner’s clown car.
Arriving to save the day: 14″ 870s that can be crammed into the clown cars, unlike the old 20″ guns.
The answer: because they’re a government agency, they don’t have to save money and saw off the barrels, they can buy all new 14″ NFA 870s on the taxpayer’s dime: 1,483 of them for a total of $645,011. They got $187 each for about 1,000 of the old 870s, which have already been sold off, despite the OHP claiming that that were worn out at 10-15 years old (what? They’ve been riding around in cop cars for 10 years and probably have under 100 rounds through each one, but they’re worn out?). Seriously, OHP spokesman Lt. Anne Ralston said that the old guns were a menace to “officer safety.”
They paid about $23k each for the Chargers. The Ohio taxpayers must have bottomless pockets.
The OH Investigative Unit got into the act, too, dumping its “worn out” 12-year-old Mossbergs for Remingtons with an attached light. The OIU is essentially the vice squad, chasing gamblers, pimps and food stamp fraudsters. And these two paragraphs about them teach us one thing, although it’s not about the OIU: reporters, and their editors, are functionally innumerate.
The state is also spending $98,980 for 110 shotguns for the Ohio Investigative Unit, which handles complaints and warrants involving liquor control, food stamp benefits, gambling and human trafficking.
Those Remington 870s were more expensive than the patrol’s — $1,043 each — because they need additional features such as lights for officers who often do their work in dark places, Andrews said.
Let’s run the numbers, shall we? 110 x $1,043.00 = 114,730. That can’t be right! 98,980/110 = $899.82. Hmmm… that isn’t what the article says, either. There’s only one possible conclusion: Lynn Hulsey of the Dayton Daily News = 4th Grade arithmetic FAILure. (Sure, it’s possible that Andrews gave Hulsey bogus numbers, but Hulsey went ahead and printed them).
The flamboyantly anti-gun and anti-legal-gun-owner Christian Science Monitor, the web site that was once a newspaper back when it first strapped on its anti-gun spurs in the mid-1960s, is running a rather tricky and slightly tendentious quiz (only slightly, because it certainly is closer to the middle of the road than the usual CSM article on the subject, and it primarily deals in factual questions with right or wrong answers). The title is “How much do you know on the topic of the Second Amendment?” but it’s really more, “How much do you know about the current state of Second Amendment law?”
We naturally ran the table, 15 for 15. Have at it. We’ll reproduce the questions, but not the answers and multiple-choice distractors, below. Go to the site to get scored!
Which right is protected by the Second Amendment?
Which is the correct text of the Second Amendment?
Constitutional scholars have long debated whether the Second Amendment protects the private possession of firearms or only the possession of firearms in the context of a well-regulated militia. The US Supreme Court examined the question in a 2008 case. What was the name of that landmark decision?
What issue was at stake in the 2008 [redacted] case?
What did the Supreme Court decide in the 2008 case?
Prior to 2008, the US Supreme Court last decided a case involving the Second Amendment in 1939. The case, US v. Miller, was a challenge to the constitutionality of the National Firearms Act of 1934. What did that federal law require?
What prompted Congress to pass the National Firearms Act of 1934?
In the 1939 case, US v. Miller, two men were caught with an unlicensed sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun that they had transported from Oklahoma to Arkansas. They claimed the federal license requirement violated their Second Amendment rights. What did the court decide?
In 2010, the Supreme Court took up another landmark Second Amendment case, McDonald v. Chicago. What was the issue the high court decided?
Does the Second Amendment guarantee a personal right to own fully automatic military-issued combat rifles, heavy machine guns, and perhaps even shoulder-fired missiles?
Does the Second Amendment guarantee a personal right to own semi-automatic rifles that resemble the fully-automatic military versions of the same firearm?
Following the 2008 Supreme Court ruling overturning the handgun ban, the District of Columbia City Council passed a new gun control measure, this one banning “assault weapons.” The Council defined “assault weapons” as semi-automatic rifles and pistols with certain military features. The new ban was challenged in federal court. A federal appeals court in October 2011 voted 2 to 1 to uphold the ban. What did the court say?
Gun rights advocates filed a new complaint in 2012 seeking to overturn the District of Columbia’s assault weapons ban. The lead plaintiff is Dick Heller, the same gun owner who successfully fought the District’s handgun ban. To challenge the assault weapons ban, Mr. Heller attempted to register a semi-automatic rifle he uses for target shooting, a Bushmaster XM-15-E2S. Which of the following individuals also used a Bushmaster XM-15-E2S?
In 1994, Congress passed a ban on certain semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. How was Jared Loughner, the admitted gunman in the 2011 shooting spree involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, able to purchase 30-round magazines for his pistol?
According to the National Rifle Association, how many privately-owned guns are currently in the United States?
There are almost 200 comments below the story at this time, the first 20 of which convinced us that our usual policy of not reading comments on general news sites is a good one. The signal to noise ratio is immeasurably small.
Question 13 is probably the most tendentious one. Let’s rephrase it: “The CSM reporter/ette who wrote this quiz probably has a pressure cooker in his/her kitchen. What other 2013 newsmakers also used pressure cookers?” See what we just did there? Wait till you see who the CSM equates Dick Heller to.
Question 14 is not correct on the size of the shooter’s magazines, but we know from experience there’s no percentage in trying to get the Christian Science Monitor to correct a factual error on a gun story. They’re just not interested in facts vis-a-vis narrative, and the actual facts wouldn’t change the correct answer to the question regardless. The quotes they use in Question 12 come mostly from the Brady amicus curiae filing, no surprise if you know the CSM’s history.
The CSM survived as a paper as long as it did because it was subsidized by a requirement that the members of the Christian Science (aka 1st Church of Christ, Scientist) cult subscribe. The requirement was dropped as the numbers and finances of the cult members dwindled; the group rejects medicine and surgery and tries to treat ill family members with prayer alone. Several members and faith healers associated with the cult have been convicted — even in the cult’s native Boston — in grim cases where children died of trivially curable diseases because of their parents’ committment to the cult’s cruel doctrine. After that, membership numbers began the freefall they’re still on.
There’s nothing wrong with prayer, but if you have a dehydrated baby, for instance, prayer and an IV of saline solution will do anything prayer alone will do. Plus, save the baby. There is that. WWJD?
In March, this FU message greeted Army students. Funding was restored — over the Secretary’s resistance — in about a month.
Some time ago, we commented on the service secretaries (who are political appointees, commonly lawyers without significant military experience or ties to the military culture) and their decision to throw service members’ tuition assistance programs into the well of the sequester pain-amplification.
We didn’t follow up with a report that a united bipartisan Congress ordered the funding restored in the next Continuing Resolution, or that most services dragged their feet, but after sharp enquiries from the provision’s Congressional sponsors, grudgingly reinstated most benefits by mid-April.
The Air Force rather typically was first, and the Air Force and Army restored 100% coverage. The Marines and Coast Guard lagged, and the Marine leadership left left some Marines out in the cold — specifically, those who’d enrolled while the program was in the cooler. Military.com had an excerpt of the Congressional letter:
It is our understanding the Department of Defense (“Department”) has not yet taken action to restore Tuition Assistance for service members as required by Section 8129 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, Public Law 113-6 (the “Continuing Resolution”). That law requires the Secretaries of the Military Departments to carry out tuition assistance for members of the Armed Forces during the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, using amounts that shall not be less than the amount appropriated or otherwise available by the Continuing Resolution…
Concern about the high cost of TA is legitimate. Even Solyndra wasted “only” $850 million. But the benefit was promised to current troops, and unlike Solyndra, the US gets something for the money: better-educated service people (and ultimately, vets/citizens).
These cuts were of a piece with the FAA cuts that zero in on air traffic controllers, and White House cuts that close the house to tours while allowing Air Force One to fly to fund-raisers. They’re trying to maximize public pain for political reasons. It’s despicable, but they are politicians, that’s what they do (both parties of them, actually). In any event, Congress forced the reopening of tuition assistance to active-duty service men and women (except for some unlucky Marines). Most of the time, Congress is not worth extinguishing if it broke out in flames, but they got this one right.
We regret not covering this as soon as funding was restored (as early as 11 April for the USAF) and thank the anonymous helper who privately sent us a link to a related story.
Three readily juxtaposed articles from the St. Louis newspaper will answer those question. One primary way they obtain guns is theft. Sometimes it’s an organized theft ring stealing the guns, like these guys who were sentenced back on 1 March 2013:
Denis M. Joiner, 20, of Chicago, was sentenced in federal court here [East Saint Louis, Ill] Friday to nine years in prison for a series of thefts from gun stores in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, prosecutors said.
Joiner and three other Chicago men stole a total of 455 guns, prosecutors said, including 124 from a Salem, Ill., store known as “Hunting Stuff,” that they then sold in Chicago.
Gee, didn’t anyone tell these thieves that they were violating Illinois’s very strict gun control laws? In fact, they committed hundreds of gun law violaions, but like most anti-gun jurisdictions, Illinois doesn’t enforce those laws against real criminals. These guys were only charged with theft. They were caught by expert police work, right?
They were caught when one was arrested by police in Chicago after firing shots into the air on New Year’s Day last year. His prints matched a box left at the scene of one of the thefts, they said.
Oh, right. They were caught because one was an utter blockhead. Got it. Three of the four thieves were sentenced to relatively short terms for enabling hundreds of gun crimes — from five to nine years in prison, of which they’ll probably serve less than half. The fourth was not sentenced, but his life of crime still caught up with him — he was murdered in Chicago a year ago January. Fortunately, Rahm Emanuel can still count on his vote. And when the other three jitbags get out, they won’t be able to pass a background check, but they already know how to get guns without them.
ST. LOUIS • The handgun Sean Johnson used to shoot an administrator at a business college downtown last week had been stolen during a burglary in St. John in 2011, police said.
Sean Johnson. He certainly looks scholarly! Aren’t you glad we taxpayers were supporting him with financial aid? (Image: STL Police, not sure which crime it’s from).
Sean Johnson’s another charming guy — he had a warrant out for probation violation, but nobody was really looking for him. They figured he’d turn up, and he did: he didn’t appreciate being turned down by a financial aid counselor at a career college, so he shot the guy with a Kel-Tec pistol. (He then shot himself in the side, apparently by accident). Another story describes how the criminal had defaced the serial number of the Kel-Tec, unaware that ATF Firearms Technology Branch has ways to recover ground-off engraving and stamping.
The ineptocrats at the press called the Kel-Tec a Tec-9. Because it was 9mm and had “Tec” in the name. (Did you know the AR-15 is the preferred weapon of Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, they do go “AR”).
Oddly enough, Johnson would not have passed a background check, either. As an ex-con (for trying to cut a taxi driver’s throat) and under an active warrant, he was a prohibited person. But somehow he managed to get a gun in the underground market. (He was, unusually, charged with two firearms violations as well as the attempted murder).
Oddly enough, the warrant for Johnson’s arrest had his home address. So why wasn’t he picked up? His home address was in St. Louis, MO. And they don’t want to be bothered picking up fugitives:
County police sends information to other jurisdictions where fugitives have home addresses, but it said St. Louis city police asked about a year ago to be taken off the list.
The police chief explains that they only bother picking up homicide and aggravated assault suspects. They’re too busy to chase mere aggravated assult or attempted murder convicts who blow off their probation. There are too many of them.
Really makes you want to visit St. Louis, doesn’t it?
And so what happens when these guns get in the hands of criminals? Often enough, they don’t work. Very fortunate for one ATF undercover officer. The would-be shooters, who go by “Freaky” and “Blood” (we are not making this up!) have been resettled in a new zip code for the time being.
Tim Madigan, who wrote a quickie exploitation book on the Branch Davidians cult at Waco, Texas, is still struggling to understand them. (The book by someone who did understand them is Dick Reavis’s The Ashes of Waco, by a reporter who took the trouble to understand the Davidians’ odd theology and treats them with respect, while being as unsparing with them and their leader as he was with the authorities who burned them out. Reavis was later — still is — a journalism professor at North Carolina State University and his papers reside at a library in the Texas State system).
Madigan’s book was, unlike Reavis’s, shallow and lightweight; a journalist committed to the newsroom religion of snarky atheism usually has a hard time understanding people of a faith, no matter how mainstream and commonplace their belief is. He has utterly no hope of understanding a group as far out of the mainstream as the Branch Davidians; understanding them cost Reavis, a much harder-working and more honest reporter, a great deal of blood, sweat, tears and toil.
Absent the effort to understand the Davidians, Madigan comes across like a gawker at a Barnum sideshow. He hasn’t gotten any deeper or more introspective in the last two decades.
Yet 20 years ago this Friday, [Clive Doyle] was one of only nine Branch Davidians to survive the internationally televised inferno on the Texas prairie. Killed that day near Waco were cult leader David Koresh and 73 followers, including Doyle’s 18-year-old daughter, Shari, and 20 children under 14. Before the fire and the 51-day standoff with the federal government, Doyle’s daughter had been one of many women and girls of the cult taken into Koresh’s bed. Koresh — who preached that he was the Lamb of God, drove a sports car and motorcycle, and had a rock band and an arsenal of illegal weapons — had ordered his male followers to be celibate.
Doyle has had two decades to reflect on these things, and clearly he has. So my question was obvious.
“You mean, have I woken up?” Doyle said to me with a smile.
“I’ve had questions and adjusted my beliefs somewhat,” Doyle said that day in the park. “But I still believe that David was who he claimed to be. You are sitting there listening to him. You hear all these things and the Scriptures come alive. And at the time, everything seems so imminent. That’s why I believed the way I did.”
As we draft this, the same agency that so badly botched the 2nd Davidian raid — the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team — is closing in on the survivor of two brothers who perpetrated the Marathon bombings. The agency that botched the initial raid, and then shredded its raid plan to obstruct the investigation, BATFE, is so little trusted that in the intervening two decades it lost its bomb lab authority in terrorist cases to the same FBI. (Update: local police bagged the surviving bomber). Unlike Tim Madigan (or Clive Doyle for that matter), from all indications the FBI HRT has learned a great deal. While police and citizens in the Boston area have been hard hit by these jihadis, the cops have taken aggressive measures to contain the surviving bomber and protect the citizens. There will be weeks of debate about whether their measures were too hard on civil liberties. Bostonians didn’t seem to mind, but they’re not liberty-minded people. On the other hand, one benefit of locking down the whole freakin’ city was that there was no repeat of the dismal civilian shootings that took place in the Chris Dorner disaster in Southern California. Boston has some bragging rights over LA today.
Despite the excellence of the response, we do have a single-source insider tip that a cop had a negligent discharge Friday morning. But one guy’s one screwup doesn’t define a whole police force, and Boston PD, the various ancillary forces (college campus cops, MBTA transit cops, State Police) and the FBI can take a bow — before moving on to cataloging evidence.
It’s encouraging to compare the performance of the ATF and FBI at Waco in 1993, which was dreadful, to the performance of FBI and local police since the Boston Marathon attacks. Even embattled US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, best known for her clumsy botch of the Aaron Swartz case and understood by all to lack the ability, character and temperament for the job, didn’t look bad — at least not yet.
This story was intended to run on 19th April at 20:00 EST, but the autopublish didn’t execute due to operator error. It was published on 20th April and backdated.
The Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece by Bill Bratton, former Police Commissioner in Boston (and subsequently, New York and LA), yesterday. Bratton notes that interagency cooperation is a real thing today, and not the zero-sum battle for primacy that it was in his day (in Boston, the late eighties to early nineties).
One good sign is that there don’t appear to be any major turf battles going on among local, state and federal authorities involved in the investigation. The FBI quickly took leadership, thanks to protocols put in place in the late 1990s and after 9/11 that set jurisdiction for different types of incidents. This allows other agencies (at all levels of government) to fall into line and know their respective roles. When I was on the Boston force, by contrast, all sorts of incidents—for example, a plane running off the runway at Logan Airport and into the harbor—would be followed by unproductive turf battles between city and state police.
The past few days have also vindicated the sort of heightened preparedness emphasized by security and health officials since 9/11. Controlling crowds and directing traffic remain priorities for Boston police on the day of the marathon, but they have also drilled to prepare for much more. The police tent by the finish line has gotten bigger over the years. Whereas it was once equipped mainly to deal with exhausted and dehydrated runners, it now hosts a wide range of personnel ready to activate various contingency plans, including responding to a terrorist attack—how to deploy emergency-medical technicians, where to arrange the ingress and egress of ambulances, etc. Then there was the senior doctor from Massachusetts General Hospital who noted that his team was prepared for the gruesome injuries they encountered because they received training recently from Israeli doctors experienced with terrorist bombings.
Bratton goes on to note the limits of police in securing something like the Boston Marathon, which starts in distant suburban Hopkinton, nearer Worcester than the finish line, and ends on whar are normally downtown’s busiest streets. Since they can’t lock down such an immense target, they need to be able to respond.
Such preparedness is so important because a democratic society simply cannot secure all venues and events at all times. There is no ability to cordon off a whole marathon route and treat miles of urban streets with the degree of security at, say, a baseball stadium. It is impossible to secure everything. There will always be vulnerabilities along a 26-mile route, and police will always have to make decisions about how to deploy their finite resources.
Public-safety officials are doing just that in London, where I have been visiting this week and where some 35,000 runners are expected for the city’s annual marathon on Sunday. Police will surely send extra resources to those parts of the course near historical sites such as Tower Bridge and Big Ben—the kind of landmarks that attract disproportionate attention from those who seek to create violent spectacles of mayhem.
Of course, terrorists are by design an asymmetric threat. They flow like water. Dam off one target, they flow around your security to strike elsewhere.
One thing that is always available to respond to terrorists is — the public. In Boston, as in every post-9/11 terrorist event, members of the public have stepped up to do the right thing. One young man who was waiting to see his girlfriend finish is alive today because a bystander applied an improvised tourniquet to one severed leg and put direct pressure on the other leg’s pulsing femoral artery. Another woman who was critically wounded was comforted — and treated — by a stranger as she lay wounded. The individual then handed her off to professional responders, and walked away, seeking no recognition; she only knows him as “Matt.” These guys are not on the org chart that Bratton and other high-level planners have, but time and again, starting with United 93, the regular guy has stepped up to help.
The same thing has happened with the investigation. As Bratton notes in his article, so many citizens came forward with so much video that evidence managers and their systems were overwhelmed — but they, too, stepped up when they had to. As a result, law enforcement yesterday received pictures and other information about suspects. For the bombers, the clock is ticking on the end of their lives at liberty, and a partnership of the public and Public Safety wound the clock.
Contrary to the suspicions and beliefs of many professionals, the citizenry have not botched, screwed up, or somehow failed the response or the investigation. They have assisted, and from what we have seen have had no complaints about handing off to the pros when the time comes. But used right, Joe Public, whose instinct is usually to do the right thing, Hollywood notwithstanding, is a force multiplier for public safety managers.
Bratton goes on to say that the police should not be ruling any class of suspect in or out at this point, simply following the evidence where it goes. Does he have that little faith in his former subordinates and their Federal alies? Of course that’s what they’re going to do. But he does cite evidence for his fear: “After the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, investigators lost months focusing erroneously on a security guard who was near the scene.” True enough.
He could also point out the many rabbit holes the FBI’s Amerithrax probe went down, or the recent Texas investigations that a fund-raising group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, managed to distract from the actual murderers (who had been identified pre-mortem by one of the victims, already). What those botched investigations had in common was bad conduct by LE leakers and the press working together. “The public should be prepared for more false or misleading news reports like those on Wednesday announcing an arrest in the case,” Bratton advises.
Part of the problem is the nature of police work, which is often a matter of building evidence to support conviction of a criminal who clearly did it. Part of it is the great sucking 24/7 news vacuum, which is going to be filled with something. Andy McCarthy, the prosecutor who put away the Blind Sheik, explains why investigators would rather not share their progress with the world:
This is a common phenomenon in the high profile investigations that follow terrorist attacks. The investigators actually working the case would rather there were no disclosures made about the status of the investigation. At this point, their work is best done in secret — or, at least, as much secrecy as is possible. Otherwise, any conspirators who may not already have fled will be alerted that it’s time to skip town, destroy evidence, and intimidate witnesses. These investigative agencies actually work for the public, however, and the public has an extraordinarily high level of interest in the progress of the case. Thus the agencies have official press agents whose job it is to keep the public reasonably informed without compromising investigative leads and tactics — not an easy job.
Then there is the most unruly and damaging dynamic in the equation: the media and its anonymous law-enforcement sources. It seems every media outlet is in a rabid competition to be first, rather than most accurate, with every breaking development. This combines toxically with the fact that sources who hide behind anonymity — precisely because they are not supposed to be running off at the mouth — have widely varying levels of knowledge about the actual goings-on in the case.
Couple this with the fact that most journalists and many agents are not well-versed in the esoterica of the justice system — in which, for example, “arrest” is different from “custody”; a “suspect” is different from a “person of interest”; and “detention” is different from “apprehension” — and you have the roadmap to error-ridden reporting. The problem is not that reporters and sources are intentionally misleading the public. It is that their information is both less reliable than they think it is and easily given to miscommunication. A potential witness’s voluntary submission to a law-enforcement interview could be mistaken for a suspect’s surrender to police custody. Solid leads on a potential bomber based on video and forensic evidence could be miscommunicated as a solid identification of a suspect. The issuance of an arrest warrant for a person not in custody could be miscommunicated as an actual arrest.
After having said all that, McCarthy does speculate about who is most likely behind the Boston bombs. Although “speculate” is a bit strong; what he’s really doing is noting that the media is shying away from one possible line of inquiry.
We know that jihadists tend to target predominantly non-Muslim civilian populations with mass destruction weapons, as was done in Boston on Monday. In addition, their preferred weapon for the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the improvised explosive device (IED) — the kind of home-made bomb that is recommended by al Qaeda’s Inspired Magazine and that often employs “pressure cookers” of the sort used in two recent jihadist terror attacks in the U.S. The attacks on Monday were by IEDs that featured pressure cookers. None of that proves that the Boston Marathon bombing is the work of jihadists, but it does underscore that — absent hard information pointing in a different direction — it is entirely reasonable to suspect that this is the case and to investigate accordingly.
By contrast, we haven’t had much “anti-government” terrorism but when we’ve had it — e.g., the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — it tends to be targeted at government installations, not civilians. And historically, the radical Left is far more wedded to violent “direct action” than conservative movements like the Tea Party, which has no history of violence. It should go without saying that we have had terrorists of varying political stripes, and even of no coherent political persuasion. Therefore, no radical ideology that urges violence should be ruled out at this point when, apparently, no perpetrators have been identified. How strange, though, that what experience suggests are the least likely scenarios — conservatives or anti-government extremists striking savagely at their defenseless fellow citizens — are being embraced seriously (even wistfully) by some media pundits, while one must walk on eggshells to describe scenarios whose proving out would surprise no one.
Bratton, a former top cop who would like to be a top cop again, is constrained by that. If you could talk to Bill Bratton, the former beat patrolman, without Bill Bratton, the police politician, intervening, you might find a view of the case close to McCarthy’s. Certainly the most likely perpetrators are Moslems, jihadis. But they’re not the only possible perpetrators, and so McCarthy would almost certainly agree with Bratton, that every line of evidence must be followed where it leads, and it’s not impossible that the media’s preferred perpetrator, a white guy in a wife-beater shirt with a Ron Paul sticker on his pickup truck, is to blame.
So far, from the outside looking in, the investigation looks solid. Maybe we should wait to see what the investigators find out.
Booooring, you say. Cheap copies of crummy comblock stuff, made by starving slave labor. Interesting only because of its sheer quantity. Soon to be the world’s first radioactive parts kits, imported by Century International, if Kim Fat Kid starts something.
Not exactly. Sure, the Norks have copied all the usual stuff from their former Soviet and Chinese sponsors. And even though their GDP is miserably low thanks to classically Communist mismanagement, and its exact amount anyone’s guess, you can indeed build a whole metric crapton of guns if you can spend a third to a half of even a miserable nation’s comic-opera GDP on arms. So that much is true. But the Norks have also developed some interesting weapons of their own. Here’s a video; watch for the oddball pistols:
(Hat tip, Gun Free Zone, where Miguel was bemused by the Nork conception of gun safety. Heh. Perhaps it’s just that life is cheap in the Orient).
Those Unusual Nork Pistols
We don’t speak Hangook, so we don’t know what these guys are saying, but the metadata say they’re officers of North Korean special operations forces. (Is the fat guy a one-man deception plan? Or is he just illustrative of who gets the calories in a socialist worker’s paradise?) But while the rifles are bog-standard AKMs — Type 68, in Nork nomenclature — the pistols are interesting. They’re the Type 70, a blowback-operated, .32 ACP (7.65 Browning, 7.65X17SR) pistol issued to officers (an older DIA document IDs it as a “Type 64 (New Type)” pistol and notes that it is marked “7.62.” even though it’s .32 ACP). It’s a single action pistol looks a bit like a Browning Model 1910, but it’s hammer-, not striker-fired. There’s also a suppressed version. Norks love them sabotage, espionage, terrorism and so forth, so they produce a lot of suppressed and concealable guns.
Type 64 “7.62″ (.32 ACP) pistol. DIA image.
The Norks also make a direct copy of the Browning 1900, the Type 64, also regular or suppressed, in .32. Small Arms Defense Journal erroneously suggests that the suppressor is asymmetric, but the DIA notes it correctly as a standard Maxim type. It looks asymmetric because on the 1900, the barrel is below the recoil spring, unlike most of Browning’s more familiar later designs; that naturally makes the upper bound of the suppressor drop below the sight plane. The DIA also suggests that the suppressed version has a shorter slide, but its own photo doesn’t really seem to bear that out. Instead, it looks like the quiet gun has a longer barrel. DIA notes that the barrel threads are fine, which suggests that the suppressor may normally be left on (as a rule of thumb, finer threads hold a suppressor better, and coarser threads are superior for quickly mounting and dismounting it). If you have a Browning 1900 that is stamped 1964 7.62 on the left side of the frame, you might just have a Type 64.
Why the long-obsolete, retirement age 1900? Small Arms Defense Journal’s Dan Shea speculates that a famous Korean patriot’s assassination of a Japanese overlord with a 1900 adds some cachet to the gun’s reputation in the Land of the Morning Calm.
In addition to suppressed .32 pistols, North Korean SOF, saboteurs and intelligence agents have been known to use Czech Vz61 Skorpion .32 ACP submachine guns, usually with the factory suppressor. The ones we’ve seen have all been Czech made, but there’s no reason the Norks couldn’t copy this subgun/PDW. The Skorpion seems simple, but it’s more sophisticated inside than it looks at a glance. Like the earliest AR prototypes, “safe,” which is marked “0,” is the center of the selector/safety settings. You rotate the safety forward (where it says “20″) for automatic, or rear (“1″) for semi-auto fire. The gun fires from a closed bolt.
The trigger mechanism is a cousin of the AK, or for that matter the M16 or Garand, with the distinctive fore and aft hooks on the hammer. The pistol grip contains a clever cyclic-rate reducing mechanism that comes into play in automatic fire. A hook called the “bolt catch” holds the bolt to the rear while a weighted “actuator” is driven down into the grip. A spring drives a plunger on the actuator back up, where it impacts a lever that trips the bolt catch. This mechanism reduces the cyclic rate some 20% to a still quite high 800 RPM.
Then, there’s their standard service pistol, for Army officers and not just for spooks. Sure, they once issued the TT-33, but when the rest of the commie world went to the Walther-inspired Makarov or other pocket pistol, the Norks went their own way. First, they modified the TT into the Type 68, which had some features the original lacked — like a safety. It also had a ramp-based locking system (like a Hi-Power or Glock) instead of the cam links of a TT-33 or M1911. The slide serrations differ from Russian or Chinese TTs, also.
Then, they got fascinated with Czech small arms. First, they supposedly bought some CZ-82 or -83 pocket pistols, but then, they adopted the CZ-75. Here’s Kim Chi Breath trying to demonstrate his mastery of one, with bonus target drone shootdown footage.
You can see the resemblance of the gun Kim handles to the standard 1980s vintage CZ. You can also see the unusual Nork pistol shot scoring system. They don’t actually show where the Beer Leader’s shots hit.
Baek Du San presentation model. Image: KPA Blogger.
Of course, the North Korean “licensees” didn’t pay CZ as much as a the price of a dogmeat casserole. They just copied the Czech pistol, and declared the copyist a great inventor of the North Korean proletariat or something like that. The Korean copy is called the Baek-du-San (“White Head Mountain,” a terrain feature in North Korea held as sacred since ancient times), and closely resembles a mid-1980s CZ, except for the unique grips, the Korean markings — and the so-so workmanship. Supposedly, they chose this because Kim Jong Il was a fan of the CZ, although all information from Norkistan needs to be taken with a grain of salt. One blogger who covers the KPA has a blurb on the Baek-du-san that includes photos of a blinged-out presentation model and a long-barreled target gun. The standard b-d-s is well illustrated in the latest Small Arms Review.
Long guns — and their home-grown MG
What about long guns? For most of their infantry weapons, te Norks are content to copy foreign, mostly Russian, prototypes. AKM, RPK, PK, PKM, DShK, NPV are all in their inventory. (They also produce 5.45 versions of the Kalashnikovs, but it’s unclear how wide the issue of these weapons is). The North Korean SKS (Type 56) , AK-47 (Type 58) and AKM (Type 68) variants differ little from their Soviet forebears; the biggest differences are in markings, except for the Type 68′s absent rate reducer. The AK-74 versions (Type 88 and 88-1) do show some Korean innovation, however. The folding stock rifle is a sidefolder of unique design that resembles an FN-FAL Para stock. There are also unusual helical, high-capacity magazines that have only been observed slunk from the shoulders of Kim’s personal security detail.
There is one weird and wonderful Nork weapon, though, that is entirely home-grown, and quite an oddity at that. That’s the Type 73 light machine gun, a weapon that combines lots of PKM features with a uniquely Nork dual feed system. Like the American SAW, the Type 73 is designed to accept belts and a box magazine interchangeably. (Unlike the SAW, the Type 73′s magazine feed apparently works).
Type 73 LMG. Image: Small Arms Defense Jourmal
The Type 73′s magazine interchanges with nothing; the gun also has a very unusual feature: a grenade launcher. Why? Don’t ask us.
The replacement for the Type 73, the Type 82, is a closer relative of the PKM and dispenses with the magazine feed.
Other relatively rare machine guns still show up in North Korean service. KPA Blogger asked what these oddball MGs were (right) after they appeared in a recent propaganda video. They’re Russian RP-46 (Ruchnoi Pulemyot 1946G, the light or company machine gun of 1946. They were essentially a conversion of the pan-fed DPM to belt feed, and they use the same belts as the SG-43, PKM, and most other 7.62 x 54R mm machine guns, includinh the two North Korean guns (Types 73 and 82).
North Korean minigun-style Gatling gun, about which little is known.
And finally, we have a true oddity, a North Korean minigun in their standard 7.62 x 54R caliber. Little is known about this gun, except that the Norks have tried to export it. The image is from SADJ.
Clandestine and Deniable Weapons
There are also weapons that the Norks use for clandestine service. We’re familiar with these because the South Koreans have captured them — many of them. A few have turned up in Japan as well. Among the most interesting is a copy of the M16 rifle that is, according to SADJ, innocent of any markings whatsoever. It’s unclear whether these “deniable” rifles were made in China (which does make M16 copies) or in North Korea itself.
Adding it up
The North Koreans not only have enough weapons of generally reliable, functional types, they also have a capability to design and engineer their own weapons. Some weapons, like the Type 68 and Type 73, show advantages over, or conceptual departures from, their foreign-designed forerunners. By and large, though, the North Koreans make weapons according to foreign designs, with relatively few modifications. We’ve covered the known exceptions to that rule here.
Then, there’s the day-glow camouflage suits. What? And going back to the first video, there’s all these dogs. If you want proof that the security forces have a tight grip on Norkland, note that those magnificent Shepherds haven’t yet been turned into plates of gaegogi.
Johnson, Harold E. Small Arms Identification and Operations Guide — Eurasian Communist Countries. DST1110H-394-76-CHG 1. DIA Task PT-1110-01-01L. Washington: Defense Intelligence Agency, 5 September 1980.
Shea, Dan; Hong, Heebum; Kim, Namho. North Korean Small Arms. Small Arms Defense Journal. 27 Mar 2013. Retrieved from: http://sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=1785 (this is the best single article on Nork small arms).
Shea, Dan; Hong, Heebum. North Korean Pistol Baek-du-San. Small Arms Review. May-Jun 2013. p. 126. (This is a supplement to the March article in SADJ, with Hong’s photos of the gun which were not available in time for the March story).
US Marine Corps. North Korea Country Handbook. May, 1997. Retrieved from: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/nkor.pdf Note that much of the small arms information in this handbook is inaccurate; trust Shea and Hong instead.