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Procurement Riddle: 10 Things to Reverse the Trend

This slide was prepared as a support slide for “Hondo” Geurts’s presentation on SOF acquisition (.pdf) at last week’s SOFIC. We don’t believe he actually used it, but it essentially illustrates the multifaceted procurement riddle:

procurement_riddle

The essential riddle is this: even as the rest of the world iterates faster, military procurement takes longer and longer to field technology, and costs more and more — with the usual Congressional or Pentagon response to soaring unit costs being to cut procurement quantities or stretch out procurement costs, which really blows out unit costs. (See: C-5, F-111, M1 Bradley IFV, F-22 and F-35 for some examples, but we have plenty in the SOF world. Remember all the radios that we are just about to field in the 80s, 90s, and 00s? None of them went anywhere).

Here are 10 things that would reverse the trend — things that they’re not doing now  — since it’s a manmade trend in the first place.

  1. No more Cost-Plus Contracts. This is an unethical form of procurement that corrupts both the government and the contractor. Firm fixed price, take it or leave it.
  2. Cut the Red Tape. FFS, we have a Defense Acquisition University in which the people we need to innovate our future weapons have to spend hundreds of unproductive hours learning how to stroke the dragon just right.
  3. Multiyear procurement authority. About the only thing worse than micromanagement is uncertainty. Right now, any contract can have a whole new set of terms imposed every time some new Congressman comes along s
  4. Consider all procurement without reference to the company offering the bid or the location of the facilities. Double-blind the proposals both in the DOD and in Congress. Otherwise you wind up with lots of contracts going to low-quality providers in Johnstown, PA, because an important and corrupt committee chair was from there.
  5. No Social Clauses in Contracts  Do we want them to be counting diversity beans, or stuffing money in union goons’ pockets? Or do we want them developing weapons? You have to pick one. So far, we’ve picked the wrong one, producing Hondo’s slide above.
  6. Enable Innovation with Prizes  Offering a prize for a tough design assignment — a frequency-agile, highly-directional antenna, for example — gets multiple teams of bright guys to knock themselves out finding solutions to your problem. And you only have to reward the best ones.
  7. Decentralize. Look, we’ve been chasing uniformity in procurement, and production economies of scale, for most of a century now, and where has it gotten us? Decentralize. Don’t make the Army, Navy, Marines, and SOCOM all buy the same rifle bullet. What better test than to actually use the things for a while?
  8. Give every unit Discretionary Procurement Funds. It’s worked for combat preparation, it will work better for peacetime. It doesn’t need to be a lot, just enough to encourage experimentation.
  9. Hold an annual innovation conference on how those funds were spent, and how those innovations helped (or what was learned from them, if they didn’t help). Most experiments are going to fail, but something will be learned from them if you share the lessons learned. If not, they have to be learned over and over again — a characteristic of the procurement system that is not working now.
  10. Give Budgetary Awards to the best performers at the Innovation Conference, on the SEAL belief that “it pays to be the winner.”

All of those could be enabled with one bill in Congress or Senate. All that needs is for someone on the DOD SOF side to ask. Who’s going to do it?

And yes, we can brief this.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Bats (again).

haley_fox_mugshotWhat’s more dangerous: the bat in her hand, or the bats in her belfry? Sam Campbell would probably say the bats in Haley Fox’s belfry… although she doesn’t swing a bad Louisville Slugger, either.

An Oregon woman in an online relationship with a man from Alabama set up a table with candles and wine glasses for their first meeting.

She told him to close his eyes, according to court documents, and then she slammed a metal baseball bat into the back of his head three times.

Haley Fox, 24, of Turner, was arrested Thursday.

Police said the victim met Fox online sometime in 2013. This month, he agreed to move to Oregon to live with her.

Personally, we’ve always thought online dating was a bad idea. This tale is not going to change our mind on this.

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Watch out for the one with your name on it.

Samuel Campbell, 26, of Adger, AL, arrived Wednesday and went to her home on the 7000 block of Lipscomb Road Southeast in Turner. A probable cause affidavit states he sat down at the outdoor table and Fox poured him some wine.

After asking him to close his eyes, a probable cause affidavit states Fox admitted picking up a metal bat and striking him from behind in the head with a two-handed batting grip.

“Fox stated she played softball from grades 4-11 and knew how to hold a bat,” the affidavit states.

Police said her motive was that she did not want to be his girlfriend, so she decided to hurt him.

You know, she could have just… not invited him to travel 3,000 miles to her place? But we suspect she doesn’t reason like non-bat-quano-crazy people.

Court documents state another woman appeared after the bat attack, and the victim reported hearing them talk about using duct tape to bind him. Campbell told detectives he believed he was going to die.

However, he convinced the women that he would not disclose what happened if they would just take him to the hospital, according to court documents, and they agreed.

We get the impression that Campbell is not a genius. He just looks like one compared to these nutball chicks.

The other woman, 26-year-old Jennifer Beaumont, has been interviewed by police, but is not facing charges at this time.

The man suffered a fractured skull and required nine staples to his head, court documents state. He has been released from the hospital.

via Police: Woman in online relationship beats man with bat at first – WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news..

Like we said, online dating is a bad idea. If you can’t find someone to make you miserable, or beat your head in, any closer to home than catty-corner across the whole freakin’ continent, you may need to adjust your standards.

When Defensive and Offensive get Out of Balance

There have been weapons since time immemorial that combine defensive and offensive capabilities. Think of a siege tower from the days of ancient and medieval warfare. It combined offensive capability (delivering infantry to a fortress wall) with defensive (keeping the slings and arrows of outrageous defenders off the infantry until the ramp dropped).

The two classic 20th-century examples are the main battle tank and the dreadnought-type battleship. Both of them had main guns in turrets, and armor to protect against enemy weapons with analogous power.

All this armament and armor dictates a certain size, weight, and (always a sticking point in peacetime) expense. These in turn impose limitations: they can only go some places, they are vulnerable to an attack of the pinpricks (infantry, torpedo boats), and you can only build a finite number of them. So naturally, throughout history, very intelligent men have looked at how to tackle the problems of size, weight and expense.

One of the recurring ideas has been to short one side or other of the arms/armor balance. To go heavy on armor at the cost of offensive capability is relatively rare, but the Israeli Merkava MBT is an example. It was driven by the uniquely Israeli situation, where the loss of tanks threatens the nation less than the loss of crews.

The more common approach is to limit armor to the benefit of offensive armament. This approach occurs over and over in history, and it often seems to work, until the thin-skinned ship or vehicle goes nose-to-nose with one built to the balanced plan. Let’s look at two examples of gunnery/armor imbalance.

The Naval Version: Battlecruiser

On the naval side of this equation, the fate of the battlecruisers is instructive. In the 20th Century, close-range naval battle became rarer (due to the proliferation of very deadly torpedoes, which forced opposing fleets to fight at arm’s length).

Battlecruisers were armed like battleships with big guns of one foot or more caliber (12″+), but armored more like cruisers (some British battlecruisers had only 3″ of armor; 6″ was more common, but not much against battleship armament). This made them: very fast; theoretically economical for treasuries to buy (in practice, those economies did not appear); and great for projecting prestige and power in peacetime.

The battlecruisers’ first combat test was in the WWI Battle of Heligoland Bight, where British battlecruisers emerged victorious — after fighting only German cruisers. The lesson was little more than 12 >6. Again, battlecruisers beat cruisers at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. In the 1915 Battle of Dogger Bank, the vulnerability of the battlecruisers was first exposed. The German battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz got nailed by its British opposite number, HMS Lion, and Seydlitz survived only because a hero, petty officer Wilhelm Heitkamp, flooded burning magazines at the cost of terrible wounds. (Lion, too, was damaged).

HMS Lion (l., under fire) and HMS Queen Mary (r., having exploded) at Jutland.

HMS Lion (l., under fire) and HMS Queen Mary (r., having exploded) at Jutland.

In the war’s great battleship contest, Jutland in May 1916, battlecruisers failed spectacularly. German gunnery (always the strong suit of the Germans) found the range of three ships and blew the hell out of them. (The British had also tried to make up for slower gun-drill than their enemy by stacking lots of charges and shells in turrets and barbettes. Bad decision).

A shell from Lützow hit Q turret of Lion, which was packed with ready ammunition. Front armor upgraded to 9", but top armor was only 3.5".

A shell from Lützow hit Q turret of Lion, which was packed with ready ammunition. Front armor upgraded to 9″, but top armor was only 3.5″. Lion survived unlike the other Battlecruisers because the aft magazines had already been flooded when Q Turret blew.

Invincible, Indefatigable, and Queen Mary went up in explosions, with over 1,000 dead on each, and it was Lion’s turn to survive only because a hero, Maj. Harvey, RM, flooded burning magazines at the cost of terrible wounds. The German battlecruisers suffered one lost (Lützow) and four, including the hard-luck Seydlitz, almost destroyed.

Other nations’ battlecruisers, notably the Germans, didn’t fare especially well, either.  but the Germans had many other naval problems beyond ship design.  The Japanese, after Jutland, learned from the British Jutland experience and rebuilt their battlecruisers with more armor, declaring them battleships. The Royal Navy, for whatever reason, didn’t.

In World War Ii, the British battlecruisers similarly had a tough time. HMS Hood was felled by a magazine explosion reminiscent of Jutland when facing an unequal fight with DKM Bismarck in 1941; over 1,400 British officers and men perished, only 3 survived. HMS Repulse was lost in action with Japanese aircraft on 10 Dec 41; the battlecruiser speed helped her dodge dozens of torpedoes, but waves of Japanese torpedo bombers just kept coming. HMS Renown was the sole survivor of British battlecruisers; she had been brought to action only once, indecisively, early in the war.

Hood was one of very few battlecruisers initially commissioned after Jutland. After World War II, aircraft and torpedoes strangled the development of gun-armed capital ships, and no one ever built a battlecruiser again. They were well armed, but poorly armored, and they attracted the same enemy attention as a well-armored battleship. It was not conducive to long life and health, and the thousands of sailors who perished on these ships give mute testimony to that fact.

Recent underwater archaeology has found that the battlecruisers of Jutland settled to the bottom in two large parts (fore and aft) with a debris field between. HMS Hood, on the other hand, was fragmented. Like all battlecruisers, it was a middleweight in the heavyweight ring.

The Army Version: Tank Destroyer

US Army Tank Destroyer patch, never official but very widespread.

US Army Tank Destroyer patch, never official but very widespread.

Most of the armies of World War II fielded Tank Destroyers. There were several ways to construct them, but the general idea was a very powerful anti-tank gun in a lightly armored carriage. The Russians and Germans also used multipurpose assault guns with a limited traverse, but typical period-MBT level armor. (Remember that during this period, tank armor and armament were both increasing rapidly). But Tank Destroyers were made to fight tanks.

One thing driving their creation was lower cost than a turreted tank.

The US was unique in making turreted, lightly armored TDs. The US M10, M18 and M36 tank destroyers dispensed with overhead armor and put the gun crews in an open-top turret. This was still a big improvement on the previous tank destroyer, a 75mm gun on a barely-armored White halftrack.

M18_hellcat_side

M18 Hellcat “Gun Motor Carriage” — potent, but lightly armed, its automotive technology would underpin American light armored vehicles for decades, even as the Tank Destroyer concept faded.

Tank Destroyers, despite the name, were very vulnerable in open combat with tanks. They were effective only when ambushing enemy tanks. US tank destroyer theory from before the US entry into World War II was almost completely overthrown by war’s end, with most American tank officers agreeing with their European counterparts that the best counter to a tank was a tank.

In the last half of the 20th Century, the Soviet Union used a tank concept that was similar in some ways to a United States tank destroyer, sacrificing some protection for greater mobility, although in the form of a conventional, rear-engined, 360-degree-armored MBT. There were sensible reasons for this: in Western Europe, where the Soviets expected to fight, there were many rivers, bridges and cities constricting travel, and a narrow, light tank was better suited to offensive warfare than the hulking monsters preferred by NATO forces, who expected to start out, at least, on the defensive. To the benefit of the generations that would have been military age at the time, that war was never fought, although Desert Storm exposed some of the weaknesses of Soviet tank design. They were, as cleverly designed and innovative as they were, well-armed middleweights, stepping into the heavyweight ring.

As a result, they lost most places they fought, even when the crews fought like lions (like the Syrians in Golan, for example).

The Battle of Debecka Pass illustrates the weakness of this design fairly well. An Iraqi motorized rifle company, with a tank platoon in support, encountered a Kurdish Pesh Merga company minus, reinforced with a Special Forces ODA and ODB. Using the Raytheon Javelin missile that attacks the top of armored vehicles, the SF men, engaging from outside the accurate range of the tanks’ main guns, destroyed ten of the Iraqi vehicles (2 tanks and 8 APCs), killing the tank crews and some of the APC crews and dismounts, and forcing the surviving vehicles into retreat. The one-sidedness of the battle is evident in that there were no USSF and very few Pesh casualties.

The new Russian Armata T-14 tank, about which we’ve been meaning to write for a while, shows a new level of attention to protection for a Russian design, a tank that is better balanced between arm and armor than any of its ancestors since the legendary T-34. One wonders if the fate of the Iraqis who trusted their tank armor at Debecka factored into that Russian decision. Of course, we won’t know until they hang one out where somebody can shoot it with a Javelin. But the overall lesson of history seems to be that combat rewards a balance of strengths more often than it rewards making deliberately out-of-balance designs.

Lesson Learned

Don’t be a middleweight in the heavyweight ring.

New Jersey: Drugs, Guns, and Crime

North Jersey is a remarkable little corner of the planet. Cheek by jowl with some of the most expensive real estate in America are some of the nation’s most down and out losers. The drug addicts are mostly invisible to the Wall Street nabobs who sleep well in Jersey — at least until one of them breaks into a nabob’s house and steals his stuff. (Many of these addicts, though, are too disorganized and dysfunctional to successfully travel a few miles and conduct a residential burglary in a wealthy area. Instead, they steal from other poor people nearby).

Back in February, Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli tweeted this video out on his media twitter account.

In Heroins Grip. All should follow this.

via John Molinelli (@johnlmolinelli) | Twitter.

The video wouldn’t be complete without some Rev’rend intoning that it’s all because the people don’t have jobs. Earth to Jersey: addicts aren’t addicts and dealers aren’t dealers because there are no alternatives. They’re that way because they like doing drugs, and they like selling drugs, and that’s the alternative that they like. Maybe because, in the world of the therapeutic state where everything’s a disease to be cured, the consequences, prior to an early death, are low enough that the cost-benefit calculus looks good — to a malformed mind.

If you read deeper into Molinelli’s Twitter account, there were dozens and dozens of fatal ODs in his county last year — about one and a half to two per week on average. Of course, if his county is like the other ones we hear about from LE (many of these deaths never even make the newspapers!), they don’t come at a steady rate, but occur in clusters.

A lot of them are young people who got off the life track and onto the drug track. (As the video sort-of notes, the dealers may be from the urban black underclass, but most of the customers come from the white suburbs). We have a dozen or two a year in our own, much less populated, county here in NH; the ambulance we saw the other day in front of a homeless shelter (conveniently located near the high school!) may have been the latest, or it could be that that title still belongs to the kid they found in the woods a couple of weeks ago. The woods where he had been living, as he injected 100% of the earnings of his crappy retail job in the form of heroin, or what someone sold him as heroin.

These drug users are pitiable, lost souls. But they commit a lot of property crime, and a good percentage of violent crime. Another large percentage of violent crime is, you might say, the Alternative Dispute Resolution system employed by the jobbers, distributors and retailers of recreational pharmaceuticals. If it weren’t for these drug users, an awful lot of crime wouldn’t be occurring. (Or maybe they’d be doing it over alcohol. Criminals commit crime, as a Geico ad featuring them might say).

And how did they get, in the title of the short video, “In Heroin’s Grip”? Did it reach out and grab them? Or did they offer themselves as sacrifices to the dark gods of momentary pleasure? We think we know the answer to that one.

We’ve always thought of an OD as a neat and orderly terminal dot at the end of a chaotic life of rampant crime. Cruel but true.

We have tried soft love, and it fails. We’ve tried tough love, and it fails. Maybe love is not the answer.

Maybe cruelty is the answer. Maybe it’s time to stop treating the real world like a Hallmark after-school special. If we really thought of the Drug War as War, we’d clandestinely inject fatal impurities into the drug supply chain and let the users kill themselves off, and the suppliers go belly up for lack of clientele. We don’t do that, so the whole thing is empty, vain posturing.

Molinelli, of course, is a good New Jerseyite. He wants to ban your guns because his dope dealers (that get wrist-slapped in the NJ courts, and released to commit further crimes) are committing gun crimes. More empty, vain posturing, but in this case, at the expense of real people.

 

“Locks Keep Honest People Out.” Example #32,767.

We never heard of Samy Kamkar until this Wired article, by Andy Greenberg, hit. Samy’s little gadget is not only a successful automated exploitation of a common combination lock, it’s also a successful exploitation of everybody’s (including our!) fascination with 3D printing… and mischief.

If you’re not impressed with Samy after this, you’re not paying attention. What college taught him all of this? Nothing but hands-on experience, baby. He dropped out of high school.

If you want your own Combo Breaker, the 3D models and source code live on Samy’s GitHub. He’s fully on board with open source, as you might expect for someone who came up in the maker community:

https://github.com/samyk/combobreaker

Fortunately, your locked stuff is still safe, because who’s really going to build one of these things?

Except, you can do it by hand, too. Voilà:

OK, but in the first video he shows you a little of how to make an automated version (there’s a follow-up coming). In the second one he shows you how to do it by hand — with his website crunching the numbers for you. Do you want to really know what’s going on here — inside the lock? Well, as it happens, he’s got that, too.

Now you know why you didn’t throw away any of those locks you don’t have combinations to. You can find the combinations for them now! Of course, so can anybody else, but if you ever needed more proof of the old adage that, “Locks keep honest people out,” here it is.

This technique may or may not have been taught in a Defense Against Methods of Entry program, and may or may not have analogues on other American and foreign locks.

Samy’s website and twitter feed are very worthwhile if you’re into this stuff.

Where will Samy Kamkar wind up? Well, Apple’s famous two Steves started out making a gadget that would scam free long-distance calls. Under today’s Federal communications laws they’d have been major-league felons before their age of majority.

(Yes, the number in the title outs us as reformed geeks, doesn’t it?)

Friday Tour d’Horizon Week 20

We’ll cover the usual subjects: Guns, Usage and Employment, Cops ‘n’ Crims, Unconventional (and current) Warfare, and Lord Love a Duck! In the past, these stories would have been dropped as they timed out. Now, we’re trying to have better “tab discipline.” Yeah, we know — rotsa ruck with that.

Guns

We really wanted to write more about these gun stories. So many guns, so few fingers….

Picatinny Arsenal Shows Off

Among the new technologies being demonstrated by Picatinny Arsenal are the developmental Caseless Telescoped ammunition Light Machine Gun, CT-LMG, and a favorite of ours: 3D Printed weapons parts. AAI has been working with Picatinny on the CT-LMG and offered some technical details during NDIA 14. The CT-LMG uses a polymer-cased shortened cartridge to simplify the venerable M249 — and to lighten it by as much as 48%. Ammo, too, has been cut in weight (39%). It also uses an airgapped chamber area, like the M60 barrel, to control heat and prevent cook-off. The 3D printer can, as we’e been saying for some years, produce legacy parts or entirely novel ones. Here’s video of the CT LMG.

Chinese Technology

TFB has a great writeup by Timothy Yan on a Chinese Police & Small Arms expo, based on information and photos he found on Chinese websites. The Chinese may be slow to innovate, but they never stop iterating, and their gear keeps getting better all the time. Man, we wish we could read Chinese (and Japanese, too), but we don’t have any Asian languages at all.

What’s Unusual About Nazis With an MG-34?

When it’s 2014. And in California. (Yeah, it’s a story from last year but we missed it at the time).

Littlerock-raid-1.7

Along with the MG-34, the haul included an AK, what looks like a MAC-11, and a ton of AR magazines (the AR is lying on the table near the MG-34).

A group of alleged White Power geeks were busted with this stash of arms in Littlerock, California, which is near Palmdale in the desert east of LA. Two of the three were felons; at least some of the firearms were stolen.

Honest, Mom, It Followed Us Home. Can We Keep It?

New arrival — the Form 4 came in for the Auto-Ordnance (Kahr) Thompson M1 SBR, so we picked it up today. Some first impressions tomorrow or Monday.  A few ultra-quick notes:

This is a file (factory) photo of the gun in question.

This is a file (factory) photo of the gun in question.

  • The SBR was definitely the right buy for a collector (who can’t swing a transferable gun). The appearance and general gestalt of the gun is right. Of course, we went NFA for 1.3″ of barrel length on an M4, so your mileage may vary.
  • The metal work is a lot better than the Numrich-era 1927 a friend of ours had. For example, the fit of the trigger housing to the receiver is excellent; there’s no cracks in the surface of the casting, etc.
  • That said, none of the edges are broken… this thing has eleventeen ways to cut your skin. Justin Moon may have set Kahr up with millions’ worth of equipment, but they need a few Shaviv deburring tools. Or the will to use some of the files they had.
  • I’d forgotten how uncomfortably heavy the recoil springs on the Numrich/Kahr semi are. Much more than a GI gun. The trigger is long and creepy-crawly, but not heavy. A bit like an AK or SKS, but not so smooth.
  • The finish is not right, a modern black gloss instead of Parkerizing.
  • TSMGs were always heavy, and this one is no exception. The balance is not bad, though.
  • This one’s length of pull strikes us as much longer than the GI tommy guns we’ve shot.

Usage and Employment

The hardware takes you only half way. (We got nothin’ here today. Long story involving a browser crash).

Cops ‘n’ Crims

Cops bein’ cops, crims bein’ crims. The endless Tom and Jerry show of crime and (sometimes instantaneous) punishment.

Flashbang Sentenced to Join Speedbump

rolling_stone_dzhokar_flashbang_coverA Boston jury (!) sentenced Dzhokar Tsarnaev to death. Flashbang’s media fans hardest hit. The Boston Globe editorial offices will be hosting suicide prevention counsellors. They’re so upset at Rolling Stone that they can’t decide what story to assign Sabrina Rubin Erdely to make up.

Pennsylvania State Police Aren’t Just Hosed-up on Guns

But on many other things as well. Embattled nominee for State Police Commissioner, Marcus Brown, hasn’t been confirmed yet, but he’s already bitterly at odds with “his” cops.  Past PSP have worn the uniform only if they came up through PSP; admin weenies and “seagull managers” like Brown have traditionally worn suits. Brown’s first act was to award himself the uniform, outraging rank and file (and especially, union-activist) cops. Then the thin-skinned, brittle Brown compounded his problem by destroying a set of lawn signs criticizing him.

Brown was selected by anti-gun Governor Tom Wolf for PSP based on his record of anti-gun activism in Maryland police agencies. While at the Port Authority Police, he pioneered the technique of running out-of-state plates until one gets a hit indicating an out-of-stater had a gun license, and then pulling the guy over and searching his car on a pretext (like the usual “drug-dog alert”.

We heard today (Friday) that Brown will not be charged for stealing the signs. The Pennsylvania State Senate, though, has taken no move to confirm him

When the Mayor Hates the Cops…

…the cops hate the mayor. And when cops get punished for doing cop work, they find other stuff to do. Anyone surprised that violent crime is “surging” in Baltimore?

Meanwhile, if you’re paying attention, the Dinkins Days are back in Central Park with packs of “teens” robbing and assaulting citizens. “Wilding,” anyone?

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he’s not concerned

Of course he isn’t. He doesn’t go to the park, and where he does go, he goes armed and with a phalanx of bodyguards. But what could he do, if some faint trace of Vitamin Clue penetrated his phalanx of guards and settled on him? He has a Mayor who sees the criminals as his constituents, and the cops as his enemies. This has several possible final outcomes, most of which resemble the NEw York from the .

Unconventional (and current) Warfare

No, the Paks Didn’t Initiate and Support the Bin Laden Raid

Seymour Hersh, the one-time investigative reporter who long ago devolved into a parody of the worst excesses of the Fourth Estate, has a new conspiracy theory that’s pretty far out even for him: it’s that the Pakistani ISI was keeping Bin Laden on ice in Abbotabad, but they also double-crossed him to the Americans, and then agreed not to resist an American attack.

There may be elements of truth in the story, but they’re like the intact grains of corn occasionally seen in a cow patty. And as has long been usual for a Hersh story, it hangs on a single anonymous source, with a few named sources who go so far as to admit that Hersh’s tale is “plausible.”

There are definitely details in his story that are known to us to be absolutely false.

The Salman Run

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman isn’t wasting his time dancing with a President who’s got a crush on Salman’s main threat, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even the New York Times, normally better attuned to the dynamics of golf courses that deny women membership, or the problems of getting your Unique And Special Snowflake™ into the right pre-pre-K in Manhattan, than it is to the dynamics of international politics, seems to grasp that this is a “snub.” Gee, the day after the White House announces that Salman is coming to collect his ritual bow from the President, Riyadh announces the King’s sending an underling. What do you think?

Putin’s Agent of Influence: Steve Cohen

Remember what motivates spies? MICER? Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego, Revenge? The difficulty in pinning down which of these motivates pro-Vladimir Vladimirovich propagandist and alleged historian, Communist Stephen Cohen, is probably less important than the fact that he does, in fact, comport himself as an Agent of Influence. Pejman Yousefzadeh calls him Putin’s “Favorite Puppet.” Allegedly one of Vladimir Vladimirovich’s  predecessors called people like Cohen “Useful Idiots.”

Cohen’s mentor, Robert C. Tucker, was a Stalin-era Agent of Influence, so he comes by his trade honestly (not that he practices it that way).

Again, we don’t care why he does it, but we’d guess #s 1,2, maybe 3, and certainly 4. Cohen’s wife and financier is 1%er Communist Katrina vanden Heuvel, owner of The Nation and perhaps best known in the United States for her loathing for the American flag. (The link to her flag-loathing column inspired by 9/11 appears to have been broomed, but its lede survives here).

Explaining this Graphic: Jackie Speier, D-CA

From the land of fruits and nuts comes this:

lesser prairie chicken

She was trying to make some point about the National Defense Authorization Act. Since we can’t seem to get past “some” point and a poster of a prairie chicken, we just put it down to whatever’s in the smog out there in Californistan.

In Venezuela, Bad Luck Continues

Despite building Socialism tirelessly for 15 years now, Venezuelan maximo líder Nicolas Maduro encounters the surprising (to him) appearance of food shortages. (Gee, has that ever happened before?) His answer, naturally, is moar socializm. The government will now take charge of all food distribution.

Every real (i.e., non-Marxist) economist on the planet is slowly shaking his head. But Maduro is undeterred: he has plenary emergency power and can run the country by dictate, so he just raised government workers’ pay by 30%.

Inflation (by official rates) was 68%. Must be the looters and wreckers.

Lord Love a Duck!

The weird and wonderful (or creepy) that we didn’t otherwise get to.

In Canuckistan, More Gun Restrictions alarm the CBC, because they’re not restriction-y enough. This bill supposedly guarding shooter’s rights actually bans gun ownership by felons and those accused of domestic violence (in other words, almost anybody who ever got divorced). Yet because it removes some anti-gun authorities from unaccountable bureaucrats at RCMP to cabinet members responsible only to the head of government, and liberalizes gun transportation laws a little. As freedom goes, this is weak tea indeed, and Canada’s gun owners and sportsmen (and -women) deserve better, especially from an allegedly Conservative government (OK, Progressive Conservative, an appelation that probably makes as little sense in French as it does in English, but explains, perhaps, some of the wishy-washiness at the core of Canadian thought).

For Next Mother’s Day…

Sent your Mom flowers for Mother’s Day last week? In the Washington Post, some airheaded bimbo named Jennifer Grayson outs you as an environmental criminal. 

So next year, spare the rosebushes and send Mom the head of Jennifer Grayson.

Range 15: The Movie (NSFW)

Just for the record, NSFW is not some super-secret SEAL team that wannabees always tell chicks they’re part of. It means Not Safe For Work, as some of the language and, what do they say — adult themes? — in this video are.

Why Indiegogo? Let’s let Mat (Best) and Nick (Palmisciano) answer.

Hollywood wants our movie.  They want to take it, castrate the script, cast a boy band to play us, and then spend two miserable hours hashing out how war is hell.

Fuck that.

Let’s do this our way, blow some shit up, and make the best military movie ever.

We’ve personally pushed all in on this.  We aren’t wealthy people, but we’ve sunk every dime we can sink into this movie, and this is by far the biggest project any of us have ever taken on.  We can’t finish this, and give Hollywood the middle finger, without you.

As the above hints, it’s one of the more entertaining Indiegogo campaigns you’re going to read with one-liners even in the perks: “We are not responsible for alcohol poisoning or bad decision-making. Even though we may influence both.”

They plan to make the movie regardless, so what do they want money for?

Bottom Line: The more we raise, the more badass your movie becomes.

  1. Bigger explosions.
  2. Crazy special effects.
  3. Non-stop Act of Valor style knee slide shooting.
  4. Forget about 3.  That’s not happening.
  5. Hot chicks.
  6. Even bigger explosions.
  7. More badass celebrity cameos.
  8. Viper semen.
  9. Did we mention hot chicks?

Oh. That’s what they want the money for. Well, we’re in!


The card above links to the Indiegogo campaign, as does this link. You’ve got it for action.

Friday Tour d’Horizon (long, after the jump)

…aka “Die, tabs, die!”

(Note: Sorry for the delay posting this. We were doing analog stuff and then crashed in a recliner with Small Dog. Also, if you are trying to reach us by phone, we’re in AT&T insurance replacement activation limbo at present.) 

Lets Start with Gun Stuff

Kalashnikov USA moves

During 2015 they plan to relo from their current digs north of Philly, to a new location in South Florida. The Siberian winter of 2014-15 seems to be a factor. They currently are selling the last of the pre-sanction Saigas, and plan to introduce US made Kalashnikov models this year. Hat tip, Lee Williams. Catalog: 2015-Kalashnikov-Catalog-web.pdf

Brownells has Some Good Stuff

Including X-Products 7.62 magazines at a discount (not common), and “retro” AR barrels ready to go for your M16A1 builds. They also had Federal GI-type ammo on sale, but before we could post it the neckbeards got there first. (Example, XM855).

HK MR556SD and MR762SD Now Available

The good news… you can now buy the HK rifle with the OSS suppressor. We’ve written about the can before. Here’s the link to a dealer who’s got ’em.

The bad news… it’s got a price only a fanboy could love: $4k in 5.56, and $6k in 7.62. The dealer suggests that only a few hundred were made, which means most of them will go right into the safes of well-heeled HK completists.

Usage & Employment

A Rare Self-Defense Win

In Pinellas, FL, a man killed a neighbor after an argument, and prevailed over murder charges with a self-defense defense. James Ellul killed his trailer-park neighbor with a knife, and prosecutors charged him about as hard as they could.

Pinellas Sheriff’s officials said at the time that [James] Ellul got into a fight with neighbor Jerold Lester Jr., 55, at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park, 7403 46th Ave. N. They said Ellul was mad over the noise from Lester’s motorcycle, and that he got into an argument with Lester and stabbed him to death.

But Ellul’s attorney Scott Weinberg maintained that Ellul acted in self-defense. The fact that jurors made their decision in about 45 minutes is a good indication they agreed, he said.

Now, we don’t know the facts of the case, but in states like Floririda with robust self-defense case law, prosecutors tend to drop cases they have little confidence in. There must have been something going on here, but the telegraphic Tampa Bay Times report — that quote is almost all of it — is remarkably uninformative.

Note

The remaining sections of this are:

  • Crims Bein’ Crims, Cops Bein’ Cops
  • The Military, Still at War… Sometimes With Itself

The post got so long that we put them “after the jump” this time.

Continue reading

Rangerette Herd is Thinning

First, let’s show a picture that’s not from Ranger School, but that shows a specific Army woman’s grit and determination. Captain Sarah Cudd is at the very limit of her endurance finishing the 12-mile march for the Expert Field Medical Badge. The EFMB test, modeled on the EIB test with many changes to adapt for the difference between medical skills and grunt skills, is at least as hard, and similarly culminates in a 12-mile march with light combat equipment, a march that is murder on those that don’t do it regularly.

The 12-mile march must be completed in three hours, so it’s a brisk walk with few breaks, or even, for some participants, a jog. The rucksack is bulky, but not heavy; it contains a change of uniform, boots and underwear, an NBC suit, and wet weather gear. (The exact pack contents are dictated by the EFMB standards. Here’s a slightly out-of-date version, .pdf of course). No ammo and no armor is carried or worn. For an infantryman, the march is not a real problem on the EIB course, but a lot of medics taking the EFMB have a more sedentary duty than your basic grunt, and the march kicks their kiesters.

Two things stand out in this video: the sheer pluck of CPT Cudd, and the encouragement she’s getting from the test cadre (the guys in black hats). Note that nobody’s telling her she can’t do it: they’re egging her on. Having done a lot of evolutions like this on one side of the instructor/student divide or the other, we’ll tell you that that’s pretty normal.

However, project her performance off the test range and onto the real world. She (and, undoubtedly, many of the men who took the test with her) would not then be ready to fire and maneuver, let alone march another 12 miles. And that’s what infantry has to do. Moreover, the terrain where this test took place, Ft Dix, NJ, is quite flat compared to some of the places we’ve done combat in the last few wars. So, it’s a gut check, and women can gut it out.

What’s Happening in Ranger School

Despite the presence of teeming swarms of civilian and Army press, we’re hearing little official word. Rumor Control says five more female Ranger Candidates have exited the course. Only one actually quit (what the Rangers call LOM, Lack Of Motivation, once the course begins or VW, Voluntary Withdrawal — the same term we use at SFAS and SFQC — prior. This lady came this far only to end with LOM on her Ranger green card. But men do that every day of the course). The others have failed mandatory events or dropped medically due to injuries — a measure, also, of their guts that they injured themselves rather than quit.

The ratio of commissars to women candidates may now be higher than ten to one. They are determined to drag the remaining candidates, whether our figure of 3 is right or not, over the finish line. The mandatory events are mostly behind them; the obstacles standing in their way are two: the deteriorating physical condition of the women (just like their male peers; everybody comes out of Ranger School a physical wreck of one kind or another), and passing 50% of patrols, with at least two passing grades (also, everyone has to have four graded positions minimum, meaning two passing grades is the barest minimum). Word is, any female student who breaks 50% at the four-patrol (or any) point will be given no more graded positions lest they jeopardize her graduation. And every grading decision — for the females only — must be justified to the commissars and the command, who have applied pressure on grades. As you might not  have expected, many of the men in the class are pulling for their female peers to succeed, too. (Of course, they may just be savvy politicians, safeguarding their careers with some Diversity Points).

And the fallback Plan B position is already in place. The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe calls for lowering the standards, to wherever the women are:

…the military is unfair while evaluating women and should start from scratch with a new set of standards.

The issue came up repeatedly this week in Washington at a forum titled “Women in Combat: Where We Stand.” Sponsored by a few groups that call for all jobs in the military to be opened to women, it featured a recurring undercurrent of skepticism that the services are evaluating women fairly.

Well, we agree. They’re moving a lot of goalposts for this coven of militant man-hating feminists, and a subset of female officers, entitled careerists.

“It’s really important that the standards are there, but it’s really important that we’re using the right standards, and not just something that’s based on research done 40 years ago,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Meghan Malloy, who served alongside Special Forces in Afghanistan as a member of an all-female cultural support team. “I feel like those opportunities need to be there for those of us that want to go out and get them.”

Don’t even get us started on the CST women who think they’re SF now because they rode around with a team in MRAPs (or the Civil Affairs & Psyops women before them). It’s not about your feels, Meghan. The Army does not exist to give you opportunities: it exists (1) to defeat the nation’s enemies in ground combat and (2) to deter enemies by maintaining readiness for (1). If you’re not contributing to that, you’re not contributing at all: you’re on welfare in uniform.

Then, there’s the FDNY Approach:

Women can’t meet the standards? Just blow the standards off, when the woman is well-enough connected. That’s what the fire department just did in the case of bosses’ darling, unfit underachiever Rebecca Wax. One of the key events in training is the Functional Skills Test, which the New York Post describes:

In the FST exam, probies [probational firefighters] must breathe through a mask attached to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.
They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility.
They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.

Wax has attempted the test numerous times. Once, she made it to the end, but five minutes late; on five other attempts, she has collapsed into failure, run out of air, or quit, well before the end.

So if you need to be rescued, and she’s what FDNY sends, make your peace with God.

Most offended? All the women already on the Fire, who had to, and did, pass this test. Including two women in the present class, Hildany Santana and Nia Terrelong, who scored in the upper half of all trainees, male or female, on the test that Wax’s patrons say is “impossible for females.”

The test based on what firefighters actually need to do. What instructional designers call a criterion-referenced test. But criteria are so… last century. Now, it’s all about the feels. 

The City Council had already raised the maximum age for new firefighters to accommodate Wax’s firefighter fantasy. Wax is from a wealthy and connected Manhattan family, and believes her above average scores on academics should compensate for her inability to perform basic firefighter tasks. Her ambition isn’t to ride a truck to fires anyway, but to rise to command, after all, and who needs to set the example to do that?

No word on whether Generals Dempsey and Odierno have sent someone to get some pointers.

Update: After gripping and grinning with her rabbi, the Commissioner, at graduation, Wax has taken her place (well really, some real firefighter’s place) in Engine Company 259 in Queens, which makes local residents wonder why they don’t rate real, qualified firefighters. Good question.

Note

Dan Lamothe mentioned a “women in combat” event in DC, but was vague about who organized it. It was run by several shadowy non-profits with mystery funding. One of them caters to female Courtney Massengale types, careerist officers; others are 70s movement-feminist retreads. These links may begin to inform you, despite Lamothe’s preference that you not be informed.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-in-combat-where-they-stand-tickets-16111427714

http://www.4militarywomen.org/Index.htm

http://www.wrei.org/MilitaryWomen.htm

It’s very simple: what is more important, military readiness, or certain officers’ ambitions? The Army, where the most important decisions are taken by the officers who have clawed themselves to the top of a pig-pile of nakedly and narcissistically ambitious officers, usually answers that question in favor of officers’ ambitions.

Meanwhile, there are officers whose ambitions are quite different, and include combat and leadership for their own sakes. As Lartéguy wrote, “That is the Army in which I wish to fight.”

How Officer Moore’s Murderer Got His Gun

Ray Moore and family members salute Brian. Photo credit: Mike Shain/TimesLedger Newspapers

Ray Moore and family members salute Brian. Photo credit: Mike Shain/TimesLedger Newspapers

Like a lot of cops, 25-year-old Brian Moore came from a family with a tradition of service. (The TV show Blue Bloods is less fake than you think). His devastated dad Raymond Moore (photographed by Mike Shain at right, saluting Brian’s casket as it left the hospital on an NYPD ESD truck) is himself a retired NYPD sergeant.

Imagine that for a minute — your son dies because he took up your profession, and because he couldn’t do it halfway, but had to do it well. Imagine for a minute how that feels. God.

The Crime

Brian and his partner, Erik Jansen, saw a sketchy looking character fiddling nervously with his waistband, a very common firearms “tell.” Moore, in the driver’s seat of their unmarked, asked, “Do you have something there?” Demetrius Blackwell replied in the positive — and pulled out his Taurus revolver and fired three shots at point-blank range. Two rounds went wide, but one hit Brian Moore in the forehead. The bullet passed longitudinally through his entire brain and exited through his brain stem. Fast work by Jansen and first responders, and then by surgeons, kept Moore’s body alive, assisted by machines, but for all intents and purposes, Brian Moore was killed instantly by that single .38 Special round that transected his brain. With family gathered around him, the machines were stilled, and Brian Moore’s heart followed.

The Criminal

 

A truculent Demetrius Blackwell arranges his scrawny bones in contempt of his captors. He'd kill them all, if he could. Never forget that.

A truculent Demetrius Blackwell arranges his scrawny bones in contempt of his captors. He’d kill them all, if he could. Never forget that.

Blackwell was soon caught. In the courts, he’s innocent until proven guilty, but that’s a legal fiction as the lawyers say, arguendo. He has been identified by three eyewitnesses; his trial will be a formality, the legal minuet proceeding according to form to a preordained conclusion. He will be a celebrity when finally lodged in Upstate, where the inverted social order will celebrate him for his heinous misdeed.

That’s as wrong as ketchup on ice cream, but it’s criminals we’re talking about here. If they were all right, they wouldn’t be criminals. Maybe it’s what they know. Maybe Demetrius Blackwell is following his father’s profession, if anyone knows who his father is. (Reporters have so far had little curiosity about the doer).

But here and there people are pulling records. Out on Long Island, Newsday generated a long and disjointed catalog of crimes and (typically for New York, too-light) punishments, including an attempted murder rap from a 2000 incident that netted him barely five years in the mild regime of Clinton Correctional Facility, and several more recent assaults with and without firearms, as recently as November, which did not put him back behind bars. The UK’s Daily Mail, which takes a supercilious interest in Yankee crime, has a report where they sound amazed at Blackwell’s history of revolving-door justice. (The report has errors, as early reports frequently do. Moore was not hit twice, thanks more to Blackwell’s marksmanship than his intent). Yeah, British cousins: we’re amazed, too. But that’s how Blue-State America rolls, in terms of crime and punishment: lots of the former, and damned little of the latter.

The Gun

Meanwhile newspapermen are focusing the blame where they usually do: on the gun Blackwell used this time. But that turns to to be quite revelatory of how a guy like Demetrius Blackwell, who’s been a prohibited person since sometime in the 1990s even though he’s only 35 himself, guns-up for a cop killing. The New York Post:

Perp Gun.jpg

Investigators found the gun used in Moore’s shooting. They are doing ballistics tests on the five-shot Taurus model 85 revolver, which has a 2-inch barrel and was found hidden under a box, beside a back yard BBQ next-door to where Demetrius Blackwell was arrested Saturday night.

The Taurus is a second- or third-tier gun, a Brazilian imitation of a Chief’s Special, one that’s popular with home or self-defenders on a budget. At the range and given the hit that Blackwell lucked into, it probably doesn’t matter what the gun was, but its history is interesting.

The gun, which still had two bullets in the chamber, was stolen on Oct 3, 2011, one of 23 guns stolen at a bait and tackle shop down in Perry, Ga. Nine of those guns have since found their way to NY streets.

via Shot NYPD cop dies | New York Post.

Time-to-crime on guns averages a lot longer than three and a half years, but we’d bet the Post is wrong. We’d bet that every one of those stolen guns has found its way to New York streets. The Post’s informants at the PD or at ATF can only tell them about the nine guns that have been recovered. There are 14 more still out there… in hands like Blackwell’s.

But the problem isn’t that the guns exist. Taurus has made tens of thousands of Model 85s. We all probably know somebody who owns one. (Personally, our recommendation would be find a used Chief’s Special, or Colt Detective Special if you can go a hair larger, instead). None of these vast army of Tauruses killed Brian Moore. Only the one that was operated by Demetrius Blackwell’s accursed hand, and directed by his depraved mind.

That, dear readers, is where crime is found, and where it must be attacked: in the depraved mind of the criminal.

Let’s Refocus on Brian Moore’s Sacrifice, before signing off.

A Fed buddy texted us this morning, “He was a man of honor. I am ashamed to say few of our agents honor their oaths like he did.”

brian_moore_happy

In the Army we called it selfless service, which is why SF guys struggle in FBI, DEA, ATF and other three-letter agencies; you go from having 95% solid guys to having 50% or 20% or, God forbid, 10% guys you can count on in your own agency. That’s why and how these little cross-agency networks of the guys who go out and roust the Demetrius Blackwells of this world form; because a guy finds a stand-up guy at ATF, or HSI, or the local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office, and you know there’s a kindred soul there. Across government service today, the majority, the payroll patriots, have put down their newspaper with a sigh, “Tough on his family,” and then they move on. Meanwhile, those 50% or 20% or, God forbid, 10% of guys, the ones you can count on, are mourning a kindred soul.