Category Archives: Unconventional Warfare

LA Times ID’s Afghanistan’s Problem: Toy Guns!

There are some ideas that are so retarded you just about need to have a Columbia J-School ticket for your brain housing group to contain them. That includes the idea that the ultima causa of mayhem in Afghanistan is that Afghan kids, unlike, say, LA Times reporters’ precious, coddled Unique and Special Snowflakes™, have mamas that let them play with war toys.

Yeah, that’s it.

Afghan boys with toy guns

It certainly can’t have anything to do with the unrelenting warfare kicked off by a Communist overthrow of King Zahir Shah in 1973, and the unstable state of war that has flowed like a red tide across the landlocked and desperately poor country ever since. It can’t have anything to do with a nation that, after successive governments by wooly-headed Commies, actual Soviet puppets, bloodthirsty mujahideen, and the Bat Guano Crazy Taliban dropped clean off the UN Development Index in 1996, and that therefore for about four generations on the Afghan scale has had nothing to offer an Afghan boy but the prospect of growing up to be killed or crippled in intramural combat like his male ancestors all have been.

(Well, he could be a chai bacha, an Afghan euphemism for a professional catamite, at least until he’s too old. That’s a role that LA Times reporters could probably aspire to).

Anyway, it can’t be any of that. 

Nope, gotta be the toy guns. So cue up the latest masterstroke that will fer-sure-this-time-forget-them-fortyleven-other-times erase the bloodshed that’s been part of Afghan life since before Afghan was a word, and get your ban on, and in 5-4-3-2-1 Afghans will start behaving just like Swiss.

Or not.

Finally, after years of outcry by politicians, parents and civil society groups, the Interior Ministry announced last month that it was officially enacting a ban on the sale of plastic firearms in Afghanistan.

At a news conference in Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “After this, there is a ban on the sale and use of plastic guns…. The interior minister directed police in all provinces to collect these toys and prevent their sale.”

Sediqqi said the ministry would work alongside the Ministry of Commerce and the nation’s various trade groups to prevent the import of such toys, mainly from nearby Pakistan and China.

The news comes as a welcome relief to a growing number of parents who for years have refused to buy plastic guns for their children.

“Why should I buy them weapons rather than something that would teach them something positive,” said Geran Popal, a teacher, who has repeatedly denied requests by her three children to buy them fake weapons for the Muslim holiday.

Zuhra Bahman, who last month had started an online petition calling for a ban on the “the manufacturing, import, advertising and sales of imitation weapons in Afghanistan,” also welcomed the news.

Yeah, online petitions. A major factor in Afghan power politics, especially petitions started by women community organizers, the traditional bedrock of Afghan society. Amazing thing is, the guy writing this article has an Afghan name. Did he get a complete cultural brainwashing at UC Irvine or something?

“I am very pleased, this is people power at work,” said Bahman, the mother of a 3-year-old girl.

Bahman, who has studied child development, said that further legislation or a presidential decree should be directed at other imitation weapons, such as plastic knives and hand grenades.

Calls for such a ban have met with resistance, mainly from other parents, she said.

via Afghanistan’s growing toy gun problem has gotten so bad the government finally acted – LA Times.

At an age when most American kids are still being driven to school by mommy and are completely unable to solve personal problems without helicopter-parental intervention, many Afghans are engaging in the national pastime, mayhem. We’re not entirely sure one childhood pathology is superior to the other.

The LA Times, on the other hand, is.

And by the end of the article they’ve tied it to their real agenda: a ban on real guns.

“I find it pathetic that Afghanistan has banned toy guns but not disarmed 99% who shouldn’t own real ones,” tweeted Roya Aziz, an Afghan American who spent eight years in Kabul.

A U.S. raid in June on a weapons cache belonging to Jan Ahmad, a strongman in the northern province of Parwan, stirred a debate in the nation.

Those who supported Jan Ahmad, including Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive of the Afghan government, said the raid, conducted by a foreign army, violated civil rights and the sovereignty of the Kabul government.

Critics of the anti-Soviet, anti-Taliban strongman saw it as the first step in the disarming of militiamen and other powerful figures maintaining illegal arms stashes.

They’ll never figure it out: arms are downstream from culture. In Afghanistan, it’s logical and even necessary to band together with those of your family, tribe, race or ethnicity is a necessity in the absence of a strong national government (and the absence of a strong national government is guaranteed by the preference of Afghanistan’s powerful neighbors, and by the lack of a strong national identity compared to those ties of family, tribe, race an ethnicity).

This isn’t the first rodeo with banning toy guns. This link is to a photo with a caption indicating that the Germans, who probably have more national experience with gun confiscation that anybody, having at one time done it from the Pyrenees to the Crimea and everywhere in between, were confiscating toy guns in Kabul in 2003. To “prevent children to get used to playing war games.” How’s that working out?

The US has wasted, now, 15 years of effort in building cross-family/tribe/racial/ethnic institutions, including mad efforts like trying to build an Afghan National Army organized by American diversicrats to “perfectly represent Afghanistan” by counting ethnic beans. “Oh, that kandak is short Hazaras, transfer some Hazaras in from this one.” The third-raters that become American personnel officers can’t manage American personnel effectively, so you can imagine how their failure-prone policies do when imposed on a radically different culture and set of motivations.

Telling an Afghan who lives in a village that is his because its previous owners were ethnically cleansed out of there in 1998 or 1987 or 1898 under the Taliban or Soviets or Abdurrahman Khan, that Diversity is Strength, and getting him fired up about the American national pastime of racial beancounting, is about as effective as telling him his sons ought not to have toy guns, when a couple of years from now they will be firing real ones in actual combat — regardless of what overall trends occur in Afghan history.

Will Israel Nuke Iran First?

BLOWING UP PARADISEDefense intellectual and former Strategic Defense Initiative planner John Bosma argues in the American Thinker that for Israel the options are closing rapidly, and the least bad option may be to make a nuclear preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, aiming to disrupt development but also to kill the maximum number of scientists and technicians, and to leave any surviving facilities fatally irradiated.

Far from producing peace, Bosma claims, the deal negotiated between two preferentially antisemitic teams could be extremely destabilizing; it…

…also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.

Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.

via Articles: Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War.

A limited Israeli strike could produce the nuclear disarmament of Iran that Obama and Kerry had claimed, before some of the terms of the deal put the lie to their statements, that they sought. Nuclear weapons are one effective solution to the underground bunkers used by Iran to shelter its systems.

Israel cannot  service this target set with conventional weapons — its stocks are not deep enough, and it’s clear that they can’t rely on the United States, at least under this Administration, for resupply.

The deliberate American silence over Iran’s genocidal intentionality sends an unmistakable signal to Israel that the US no longer recognizes a primordial, civilizational moral obligation to protect it from the most explicit threats imaginable. It is truly on its own, with the US in an all-but-overt alliance with its worst enemy. The shock to Israel’s leaders of this abrupt American lurch into tacitly accepting this Iranian intentionality cannot be understated. Iran is violating the core tenets of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a US initiative after the Tokyo and Nuremberg war-crimes trials to codify genocide as a crime against humanity. Now the US is silent.

But this shift is also recent. Every US government prior to President Obama would have foresworn nuclear talks with such a psychopathic regime or would have walked out in a rage upon such utterances. Yet Iran’s genocidal threats have had no discernible effect on Obama’s canine eagerness for a deal.

The two main factors Bosma sees making the nuclear option “almost mandatory” for Israel are the Iranian government’s continued propaganda and doctrine calling for nuclear weapons explicitly for the extermination of Jews, and, as recounted above, the US’s sudden tilt to the Iranian position. But he also lists a number of other reasons, which we’ll paraphrase:

  1. Iranian nuclear progress is self-sustaining and can’t be stopped with conventional weapons or sanctions. For Israel, it is a matter of nuke, or be nuked.
  2. Iranian progress is concrete hardening has essentially neutralized such weapons as the 30kp Massive Ordnance Penetrator, meaning it’s nukes or nothing.
  3. The presence in the agreement of a new US-Iranian limited military alliance targeted against Israel.
  4. The Russian agreement to deliver to Iran S-300 anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft weapons. This dual-purpose weapon is in the improved Patriot class and complicates strike planning (to put it mildly). The weapons are enroute to Iran already. (Russia is also delivering nuclear weapons delivery technology, including ICBMs). Some of these Russian missiles come with Russian mercenary crews. In addition, with Russian and Iranian assistance, the terrorist group Hezbollah has been converting its ineffective rockets into precision guided munitions with defense-evading technology.

While Bosma’s grim predictions may never come to pass, his position has a certain logic. (We believe it won’t come to pass because the Israeli government will shrink from following that logic to its inevitable end). In any event you should Read The Whole Thing™. It’s a brief but very information-dense piece.

If the Israelis did take this approach to survival, how would they do it? Given that the US Government is likely to share any intelligence indicators of a strike with Iran, Israel will have to proceed under an unprecedented cloak of secrecy. But at this point, their very least worst option for the long term survival of Israel and its people may well be to nuke Iran.

This is one consequence of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for lofty intentions, standing alone.

How Things Have Changed In National Defense

Washington, October 1962. The President, Vice President, and key cabinet and General Staff members gather in the situation room during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

JFK and LBJ

Everybody’s there — JFK, LBJ, MacNamara, Strangelove.

A few interesting things about this set-up.

  1. It’s  bunch of middle-aged white guys; the time when all the power brokers would be carefully selected for race and sex balance was far in the future. Then they wanted a war cabinet to lead America; now they want one that Looks Like America, college prospectus version.
  2. Most of these people got there because they had a reputation for competence, even if in some cases (MacNamara, for one) the reputation might have been a mistake. They came from diverse backgrounds. Now, it would be all Lawyers, Lobbyists and Leading Fundraisers who Look Like America.
  3. All of the men were veterans of some kind. Mac served as a statistician in the Air Corps. JFK’s combat record is well known; LBJ’s combat record is well known to be a fraud, but he did put himself in uniform, in the theater of operations. (He’s a lot like John F. Kerry that way). Now, a veteran in a war room meeting is rare.
  4. You could still be a general or a senator without a college degree in 1962, if you’d excelled in leadership. But most of JFK’s civilians came from Harvard, and took a dim view of anyone with a “lesser” education. LBJ had a degree from a state teacher’s college, and the Harvard men never let him forget it.
  5. It’s not a lavish place. Today, every White House function has the style and decadence of the court of Caligula, but look at the chairs these nabobs are resting their bones in: GI steel armchairs with vinyl upholstery. Look at the linoleum floor. Look at the utilitarian, Formica-topped drop-leaf tables with the water glasses on them — and note that they’re only in front of the President and VP.

Nowadays there would be five times as many people, most of them useless people who got where they are by sucking up or being born on third base. The President’s advisers are those who brought him the money it took to make him who he is. Those filling the room all have a life of “achievement” that began with admission to the “right” school based on family legacy or SAT scores. They are surrounded by trappings of luxury that Caligula could envy, and by a small army of staffers, aides, assistants and interns whose servility and devotion Caligula’s chattel slaves could not equal.

This isn’t a partisan observation, by the way. “No matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in,” as Neil Innes acidly sang. After JFK, both parties were increasingly dominated by a compact, narrow caste that makes the inbred, hemophiliac Crowned Heads of 19th-Century Europe look like a varied assortment. Politics today is the illusion of a deep partisan divide, in the service of a unified, decadent and self-perpetuating aristocracy.

Update

Several commenters (below) have pointed out that this was actually at Cape Canaveral. One even gave us the date: 11 September 1962. Using that date, we found some video on the JFK Library website:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/USG-03-06.aspx

Along with a photo of JFK with Wally Schirra from the same date:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/eFuIYlAyq0u5sS-uoHSaug.aspx

It’s interesting to see the President’s frail frame next to the lean but robust pilot and astronaut.

From the Cape, he took Air Force One to Houston, where the next day, 12 Sep 62, he viewed the Houston Manned Spaceflight Center (including a very early Apollo capsule mockup) and then spoke at the Rice University stadium. There he made his famous speech promising to put a man on the moon, and return him to Earth, within ten years.

http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news/1347274094/

Thanks to all of you who corrected our original mistaken atribution.

Correction /Update on the French Train Attack

As is usually the case, the initial media reports were incomplete and incorrect. Today, we have more details on the incident. Rather than a counterattack by US Marines, it was a self-organized “pack, not a herd” of young men that disarmed and disabled the attacker, a known Islamic fundamentalist named Ayoub el-Qahzzani, 26.  (Sounds close enough to Ala-kazam! to us).

three train heroes

L-R: Anthony Sadler, Aleck Skarlatos, and Chris Norman show off medals they received from Mayor of Arras, France, Frederic Leturque. Note bruise on Sadler’s nose and blood on Norman’s shirt. Spencer Stone was in hospital.

  • The four men were three young friends: Spencer Stone, an Air Force airman on leave; Alek Skarlatos, a National Guard soldier on vacation; and non-vet Tony Sadler; plus a middle-aged British man Chris Norman, who lives in France and is identified as an “IT Consultant.”
  • They disarmed ala-Kazam! and beat the snot out of him; that part of previous reports is correct.
  • He was yelling at them, “Give me back my gun! Give me back my gun!” But as Sadler put it, “We just carried on beating him up.” Good call, kid.
  • Ala-Kazam! was a member of a former terrorist cell that was rolled up before it could attack in Brussels. He was on the radar of Belgian, French and Spanish counterterrorist police.
  • Ala-Kazam! was prepared with a cover story. His cover story is that:
    1. No, he’s not an Islamist or terrorist…
    2. He was just planning a robbery!
    3. Gun? What gun? Oh, that gun. He found it under a bush in a park in Brusells.
Spencer Stone, 22, was injured in the fight, as were two passengers. This is his USAF basic picture.

Spencer Stone, 22, was injured in the fight, as were two passengers. This is his USAF basic picture. He recognized the sound of an AK being loaded, and charged the gunman when he came out of the restroom.

The cover story is amateurish, but it will be believed by those who want to believe. Already French officialdom is trying to minimize any terrorist or Islamist motive,  and certain elements of the press are going with the “how do you know it’s Islamic,” or the good old “root causes” search. In 5-4-3-2-1 expect editorials about the importance of avoiding “anti-islamic backlash,” and expect these heroes’ faces to be crowded off TV by the terrorist apologists of CAIR.

As more details emerge, they get more remarkable. Anthony Sadler’s dad, also named Tony Sadler, a soft-spoken guy who seems to just radiate good will and decency, remarked that he expected his son to learn something on his trip and then he goes…

… and seems to become France’s national hero — I’m told he might even meet the President of France. Still wrapping my head around that.

French President Hollande would probably be honored to meet these guys, actually. Any leader can always make time for good news and praiseworthy countrymen, or in this case, tourists.

Skarlatos's pre-deployment picture. He, Stone and Sadler were friends sightseeing Europe after his Afghan tour.

Skarlatos’s pre-deployment picture. He, Stone and Sadler were friends sightseeing Europe after his Afghan tour. He shouted, “Spencer, GO!” and followed his friend against the Arab terrorist.

Skarlatos, whose first name is variously spelled Alec, Alek, and Aleck in news reports, is confirmed to be a member of the Oregon Army National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team and an Afghanistan veteran. Oregon Guard spokesman Major Stephen Bomar said:

It’s fantastic that no matter who it was, someone stepped up to stop such a horrific event. We’re absolutely proud that it happened to be someone from the Oregon Army National Guard

Frankly, this is the best possible outcome. None of the victims will die; the terrorist has failed. Moreover, despite being armed with an AK and a basic load of ammunition, and having possibly received training in Syria, he was beaten up by an international group of civilians and off-duty troops including a part-time soldier, an Air Force junior enlisted guy, and two pure civilians, one of them old enough to be his father, from a profession (IT) noted as a refuge of nerds and the non-physical.

It was, in fact, fully in the spirit of the heroes of United 93, but with a much better outcome, and it illustrates one of the weaknesses of ISIL’s and al-Qaeda’s current epidemic-of-lone-wolves strategy: as Kipling wrote, “the strength of the wolf is the pack,” and they’re finding out that when they show up without the pack, they misclassified their targets. Not sheep at all, but able to spontaneously organize a counter-wolfpack.

Finally, Ala-Kazam! is lucky he’s just in jail, not in Hell. On a video shot by another passenger, the Americans are heard fully in charge of the situation:

US voice 1: Dude, I tried to shoot him.

US voice 2 (amused): He did!

Apparently, Ala-Kazam!’s gun had an ala-ka-jam. He may have had a handgun, also.

US voice 1: You’re also missing the handgun.

Euro voice (maybe Chris Norman?): The handgun is missing.

US Voice 2: Can we just look under chairs, and shit?

At that point, the audio on the video becomes a multilingual discussion of the search for the missing pistol.

FMI:

  • El País (Spain; Spanish language): El autor del atentado contra el tren Ámsterdam- París vivió en Algeciras. (The perpetrator of the attack on the Amsterdam-Paris train lived in Algeciras). It also identifies his weapons as an AK with nine magazines and a 9mm “Lugger” with one magazine. Oh, here’s an English translation where they spell Luger right. Pity, a Luger wasted on a bum like this. The stories contain some details on ala-Kazam!’s pre-beatdown life; for all his extreme Islam, he’d done time for dope dealing.

That’s it for now or we’ll never go live with the post!

PS: it would have been nice if the gal in the platform shoes had been one of the beaters, but apparently she’s one of the French cops. In the French media, the police spokesman telling this story of failed jihad with evident relish was by appearance and name a Frenchman of Arab heritage (as was one of the victims in the small arms attack).

Everyone Named in this Story is a Dirty Rotten Something.

Donald Trump called dirty rotten traitor Bowe Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor,” which caused Eugene Fidell to call Trump “contemptible and un-American.” With us so far? The media, like Thomas Gibbons-Neff in the Washington Post, quickly rushed to amplify Fidell’s comment. Who is Fidell, and why is he defending Bergdahl’s somewhat tattered honor? The Why bit is pretty simple: Fidell is Bergdahl’s lawyer. Bergdahl is facing the 21st Century version of this:

(It could be worse. He could be getting the full Danny Deever).

Funny how a mere sergeant can afford very expensive legal representation.  Think a guy at Fidell’s level represents other NCOs about to get the Big Chicken Dinner for wife-beatin’ or messing with drugs? Nope, there must be something special about Bergdahl. Maybe he has something in common with some of Fidell’s other cases. (We’ll get to that).

Fidell went on to say of Trump’s comments:

They are a call for mob justice. Sergeant Bergdahl cannot speak out in his own defense because he is facing a preliminary hearing in the military justice system. Nor, as a practical matter, is he in a position, for the moment, to bring the defamation lawsuit Mr. Trump richly deserves.

You don’t say. Of course, Bergdahl can speak in his own defense, there’s no gag order. It is this very lawyer that is encouraging him not do it — because, of course, he’s a dirty rotten traitor, and anything he says has a high probability of screwing up his mouthpiece’s efforts to help him walk away from it without a penalty.

As far as a defamation lawsuit is concerned: we’re not lawyers, but a guy who walked out of his base and joined the enemy, to the detriment of his unit and former colleagues, would seem to us to be defamation-proof. Of course anyone can file a defamation lawsuit — military poseur John Giduck did (and wound up settling on unfavorable terms, paying his opponents’ legal fees), and convicted terrorist, bomber, perjurer, and not least adjudicated pedophile Brett Kimberlin makes a habit of it. You can sue anybody for anything, in a country where all the rules are made by lawyers. But you have to have something like a case to win. Bergdahl suing for being called a “dirty rotten traitor” would be like Michael Jordan suing for being called “tall and athletic.”

No American should have to put up with this kind of unprincipled behavior, especially from a person seeking public office

Fidell is expected to support the highly principled Hillary Clinton. And we weren’t aware that one of our duties as citizens — office-seekers or not — was to keep mum about scoundrels. To find that in the Constitution, the poor document not only must be “living” but also “out of its mind on drugs.”

… six soldiers died searching for Bergdahl — something Fidell said the Army found to be untrue.

What, they’re not dead?

Now, as to who Fidell is, as you might expect for the guy that some aspect of trying to get a dirty, rotten traitor off somehow rewarding, he’s a key member of the al-Qaeda and terrorist detainee bar, whose millionaire lifestyle and low workload as a Yale professor allows him plenty of time to work diligently to spring the Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees that Gulf Arab terror sponsors are interested in springing. Indeed, he and his wife, a New York Times columnist, worked hand in glove to try to enable these men’s return from Guantanamo to their homelands (where many if not most of them predictably reverted to their prior terrorist behavior). The conflict of interest at the Times went undisclosed until they were caught, and then was given a high-handed brushoff by the Times’s then- ethical-criticism goalkeeper, Clark Hoyt.

As to why he’s defending Bergdahl, well, we don’t know why, except he has a lot of experience defending other enemies of America, which he says he does out of the good of his heart — but damn, he sure does live well.

Maybe Bergdahl isn’t the only dirty rotten traitor.

Still… did it have to be Trump?

He’s hardly our role model of martial virtue — he’s a dirty rotten draft dodger!

Two USAF Special Operations Airmen Die in Accident

Two USAF operators perished in a parachuting accident at Eglin AFB.

One airman was killed and another critically injured in a parachute training accident near Camp James E. Rudder on the Eglin range around noon on Monday.
Both airmen are members of the Air Force Special Operations Command, which is headquartered at Hurlburt Field.

After that story was posted, the second airman died of his multiple injuries.  150805-bettelyoun-officer-air-force-940a_8cebcbfdddfd485018041054eb820617.nbcnews-ux-600-480

USAF policy is not to release names until 24 hours after NOK notification is complete. When that period elapsed, the two fatalities were identified Martin “Betty” Bettelyoun, 35, a Combat Controller, and Timothy “Timmy” Officer, 32, a Tactical Air Control Party strike controller.

Combat Controllers (who serve on Combat Control Teams, CCTs, and can be parceled out to friendly elements) can control air strikes, landing and drop zones, and even airfields, including ad hoc, austere airfields established for special operations or in the first phases of conventional ops. TACP airmen control air strikes and generally have both Air Force and Joint terminal attack certification. The Air Force’s insistence on this certification is a pain in the neck, but may be a contributing factor in the fact that strike mishaps and friendly-fire strikes as a percentage of overall strikes are at historical lows. All CCT members and all TACPs who work with special operations forces must maintain military freefall proficiency.

Not much is known about the accident. It is under investigation. A collision, either in freefall or (more likely, given one man’s temporary survival) under canopy seems plausible.

This stuff keeps going on while all America watches the antics of greedy politicians and inconsequential disputes about football inflation.

Hazardous world out there, guys. Take care.

Update

Since we wrote this, an Army Golden Knights demo parachutist collided with a Navy Leap Frogs jumper during an airshow in Chicago. This appears to have been a high-speed under-canopy collision. Both men were transported to a trauma center The Navy man is seriously injured by expected to survive, and the Golden Knight, SFC Corey Hood, died the next day of his injuries.

This is a timely reminder that even the safe, daytime, Hollywood jumps of the demo teams, jumps that combat jumpers laugh at, aren’t really “safe.”

A fellow could get hurt doing this.

Hey, Let’s Not Give Terrorists $150 Billion.

We don’t have the reasons that Robert Bartlett has to loathe the Iranian theocracy. We have our own reasons. But the deal is a bad deal. Bartlett is right. Veterans Against the Deal are right.

The beard whose image appears before Secretary Kerry’s is not the beer spokesman some take him for, but the Most Interesting Mass Murderer In The World. Qasem Soleimani is head of the IRGC Qods Force, a group that has killed quite a lot of Americans, including helpless, bound captives.

This group, modeled overtly on the Nazi SS, benefits directly from this deal, and Soleimani, who is currently listed as a “known terrorist” by the United States; subject to sanctions by the UN  (UNSC Resolution 1747 [.pdf; if that doesn’t work start here]); sanctions by the European Union (CEU IR 611/2011 [.pdf]); and sanctions by the United States; has led it since at least 1998. He himself benefits directly from this deal, as it erases all those sanctions and rewards all the bestial behavior that produced the. Indeed, nobody benefits from this deal but terrorists, unless you count the funny-smelling feathers it places in the caps of President Obama and Jean Frog Kerry.

The paper Qods Force leaders’ names go on should be a wanted poster, not a blank check.

UPDATE

The same organization that created the Bartlett ad has another powerful one — with the father of Clay Farr, a soldier killed by a Qods Force-furnished Explosively Formed Penetrator.

We’ll say it again: The names of Qasem Soleimani and the other Qods Force leaders should go on a wanted poster, not a blank check. Dead or Alive works for us.

Hell, Just Plain Dead works for us, too.

The Respected Spy

Maj. John André was tried by an ad hoc commission of Continental generals. Captured in civilian disguise, his uniform was sent across the line.

Maj. John André was tried in September, 1780, by an ad hoc commission of Continental generals. Captured in civilian disguise, his uniform was sent across the line for the trial, but his attire on capture sealed his fate. Yet, the Americans who hanged him held him in great regard. (Painting for the US Army by Don Stivers. Source).

It is rare for a spy to be respected. He’s often held in contempt by his own side of ultimate allegiance, not just by his enemy, or the side of his former allegiance, who can be expected to have their noses out of joint over the espionage.

If you run through the protagonists in certain famous spy scandals — names like Pelton, the Walkers, Kampiles, Hanssen, Ames, and our favorite whipping boy, Pollard, you can’t help but think that the professional intelligence officers of lands they spied for are not especially warm to them as human beings. They’re a rum lot; weasels and backstabbers and more weasels, and worse, small-time weasels.

For example, Israeli officers and diplomats work towards the freedom and ultimate aliyah of Pollard not because they love him, but because it’s what they must do for the good of their service — there are other spies out there who need to know they’re not going to be abandoned. Even if they manage to drag him to the banks of the Jordan, they’re not going to be taking long showers with the guy.

While the US and Allies held numerous trials of war criminals after World War II, we made little attempt to bring to book those whose sole crime was the murder of SOE, SIS or OSS officers or agents taken behind the lines. Sure, we’d tack the charge on when it was just one more count against some guy who had dozens of other misdeeds on his head. But spies? They entered the jungle, they entered the food chain. That seems to have been a widespread opinion among the sleek lawyers and judges who selected the trial defendants.

That’s why it’s always unusual to find a spy who was respected by both sides. One that sticks out rather remarkably was British officer Maj. John André, the ill-fated go-between between his own general and the legendary American turncoat, Benedict Arnold during the American War of Independence. André was a British subject of unshakeable loyalty and, by all accounts, remarkable character. We’ve just been reading Alexander Hamilton’s appreciation of André, and it’s a startling document — in part, because no one today writes English with the fluency and impact of the men of Hamilton’s class, place and generation. But also because of the real respect and affection which André’s captors clearly held for this charismatic young man.

Period engraving of André's execution.

Period engraving of André’s execution. Of course, all these pictures embiggen with a click.

André, of course, was hanged as a spy for his role in Arnold’s clandestine conspiracy to betray West Point to the Crown. André was what today might be called Arnold’s agent handler (old Army term) or case officer (more general IC term). But he was that in addition to being a rather important and involved officer on the staff of the British commander; even the British, who were old hands at intelligence by 1780, hadn’t professionalized the trade, yet. André was typical of the talented amateurs upon whom Britain depended for centuries.

A secondary motive for André’s execution may have been a tit-for-tat reprisal for the hanging of American spy Nathan Hale. (Hale seems to have conjured similar respect and affection from his British captors). After this incident, the hanging of spies seems to have been eclipsed as a matter of policy, although all bets were off if a marauding band of soldiers caught an enemy spy skulking around, red-handed; military justice had a frontier aspect, in those days.

André was caught with incriminating documents from Benedict Arnold in his boot. He confessed, although within narrow limits: he gave up nothing to implicate any other; gave cover to his friend and commander, Sir Henry Clinton; and even was able to send a letter to Clinton, in which he probably was able to make Clinton understand the limits of his confession and the effectiveness of his damage control in protecting British networks. He went to his death without a qualm, except that he hated the idea of being hanged like a spy, and had appealed to the Continentals for a firing squad instead, as more befitting the death of a soldier. General Washington turned him down.

It is not simply the changing times that account for the respect in which the men who incarcerated, tried, and ultimately executed them, held André (and Hale). Hundreds of Americans, including uniformed officers taken in battle, had been hanged by British forces on flimsy pretexts (although this was more positively a policy of Cornwallis in the South than Clinton in New York), and they are but little remembered today, and if they have a monument at all it is a grave-stone (Hale and André both have several; André is memorialized in Westminster Abbey and as the image below shows, in Tappan, NY, on the scene of his capture).

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Memorial to Maj. John André, on the scene of his hanging and original interment, Tappan, New York. After its erection in the 19th Century, the stone was dynamited twice by irritated Americans!

Likewise, you have probably heard of André, but never of Thomas Shanks. He was an American, an officer up from the NCO ranks in the 10th Pennsylvania cashiered for stealing shoes (!) who then went over to the British. Shanks was caught skulking around the periphery of the Continental Army, and made a confession of sorts. Shanks was tried by a commission of 14 General Officers (including Benedict Arnold!) that was set up by command of General Washington (in a document that is in Alexander Hamilton’s handwriting, and held in the National Archives). Shanks was convicted and sentenced on a majority (non-unanimous vote), had the sentence affirmed by Washington, and hung as a spy in Valley Forge, 3 June 1778. You probably never heard of Thomas Lovelace, a member of “the tory forces in the British Army.” Lovelace was the leader of one group of several elements of American-born Loyalists who were infiltrated from Canada in 1781. Their mission had been to gather intelligence for a possible British invasion southward, and also to conduct what acts of sabotage and, wrote General John Stark (of “Live Free or Die” fame), “brigandage.” Lovelace, who had his incriminating British commission in a pocket, was tried 2 Oct 1781, sentenced on 7 October, and the hanging carried out at dawn on the 8th. But there seems to be no one who attests to the good character or decency of men like Shanks and Lovelace; they were the Peltons and Pollards of their time, and seem to have merited the contempt of both sides.

What the changing times do account for is the speed of the whole process. Andre was captured, confessed, tried, had his one appeal (for death by firing-squad; he never asked for his life) rejected, and hanged all in the space of ten days — and documents had to be written by hand and carried on horseback! Today, we have email and web dockets and every death penalty case becomes Jarndyce v. Jarndyce; the lawyers are liable to pass on before the convict does.

King George III bestowed posthumous honors on André and his family (his brother was knighted). Washington and the Continental Congress honored the three militiamen who caught him with a silver medal and $200 annual pension each. (The pension was relatively small, the equivalent of $3,400 today according to Dave Manuel’s inflation calculator — the official bls.gov calculator, based on the Consumer Price Index, only goes to 1913).

After Hale and André, it seems that fewer spies were hanged. In a world of irony, stopping the executions of spies during the War of Indepndence probably didn’t save very many. The British tended to put their captives in prison hulks that were breeding grounds for pathogens of all kinds, and the colonials didn’t always treat their prisoners appreciably better; General Stark’s memoirs recount, in a footnote, that spies and traitors who were not imprisoned were sentenced to duty aboard “public American ships” for the remainder of the war — modern galley slaves! Hanging might have been a mercy.

The past is truly another country.

Large-Scale Clandestine Production of Small Arms

There are a number of designs out there for “resistance” type submachine guns that circulate on the net and are available in books. Many are familiar, for example, with P.A. Luty’s Expedient Homemade Firearms: the 9mm Submachine Gun that landed Luty in hot water with Scotland Yard, or with the work of Bill Holmes (a pseudonym); many of these books date from the golden age of the survivalists in the 1970s and 1980s.

These books are not as far-fetched as you might think. In World War II, the open-bolt submachine gun was found to be well adaptable to converted automotive-part and -accessory production lines (in the form, for instance of the M3 and M3A1 submachine guns) and equally well adaptable to cottage industry (in the case of the Sten Mk II). Resistance organizations built their own submachine guns, often modeled on airdropped Stens but sometimes of indigenous design, such as the Polish Bljeskavicza (sp?).

Resistance groups that produced Sten copies included the French, Norwegian, Yugoslav and Greek resistance, and a number of these home-grown subguns grace those nations’ museums. In an unusual twist, Germany produced its own Sten copies of several types (the most well-known being the MP 3008) during its in extremis phase.

In the 1960s, an American went to prison for supplying counterfeit Stens to Cuban exiles for their war on Castro’s socialist workers’ paradise.

One of the books that offers plans for an open-bolt submachine gun derived from Uzi, CZ 23-26 and Sten practice is Gerard Métral’s (an obvious pseudonym) Do it Yourself 9mm Submachine Gunpublished in 1985 by Paladin Press. The meat of Métral’s publication is sixty-odd dimensioned drawings of parts, which if fabricated and assembled would produce a crude 2nd/3rd generation open-bolt submachine gun, but he also addresses clandestine serial production, as opposed to the one-off manufacture of hobbyists. Here’s an extract of that bit of his book:

CLANDESTINE LARGE-SCALE PRODUCTION
BASIC PRINCIPLES

These basic principles can be explained by the following joke, believed to have been originated by Jews in Palestine during the last months of the British mandate.

A poor man was working in a plant named Sewing Machines, Inc. He wanted to give to his wife a sewing machine but had no money to buy one, so every evening he’d smuggle home a different piece that his factory was making.

After many days his home stock was complete, and he tried to assemble the machine for his wife. He tried many times, but he always ended up with a machine gun.

A clandestine resistance organization needs considerable quantities of weapons. The importation of complete guns may be difficult and costly, and a single police operation may undo months of effort.

Such an event happened to the Irish Republican Army, when on 30 October 1987 the Eskund II, a ship loaded with tons of Libyan weapons was intercepted by the French authorities. The method suggested here consists of a decentralized mass production of harmless metallic pieces that may be used for various purposes. All machining operations requiring heavy machine tools are completed at this stage. The parts are then dispersed in several small workshops where they can be completed without special tools or skilled labor.

COVER

The clandestine organization needs efficient cover to buy large quantities of metallic components without alarming the authorities. The only way to do this is to control at least three small or middle- sized industrial plants used for subcontracting work and with a regular output of some kind of mechanical devices.

You must have a net of interconnecting enterprises devoted to the decentralized production of mechanical devices. The idea is that the orders and movements of the gun components will be completely hidden in a stream of civilian goods.

It is also assumed that you observe all the basic rules of security for a clandestine organization.

PRODUCTION SCHEME

Many components of the submachine gun could belong to any civilian mechanical device, and no one would likely suspect their final destination, at least in their half-finished state. I call these elements “general-purpose pieces.” The clandestine organization may order them from ordinary factories. The springs used in the gun are good examples of such pieces, as are the plugs and support rings.

Salami-principle sear

Salami-principle sear from partially-prefabricated bar stock.

Other components are to be made in two steps. First a bar is machined to the correct profile in an industrial factory. The longer the bar, the better the camouflage. These bars are then dispersed to the smaller workshops, where they are cut like an Italian salami. Most of the resulting rough cuts require only a few drillings to finish the piece. I call these parts “salami-principle pieces.” The sear, the bolt, and even bolt carrier are such pieces.

The receivers and trigger mechanism housings are taken from commercial steel tubes and U iron, which appear innocuous. Once the work has begun, it will be difficult to conceal the parts’ ultimate function. Fortunately, this phase is done quickly, even in small workshops. For your security, you must remove the pieces from the workshop as soon as they are machined.

The pistol grip, either in its metallic-and-wood or plastic version, is a compromising piece. You have to build it in a secure place. Because it doesn’t require special machine tools, it is possible to manufacture it in private homes.

The barrel is the most critical part of the process. For accuracy, a gun must be rifled. As indicated above, it is possible to rifle a barrel with primitive tools, but this is inadequate for a large-scale production. You must therefore find a way to smuggle industrial barrels. I recommend importing finished barrels whose cartridge chambers have already been machined. To smuggle these components, it is wise to use the ant strategy; i.e., import a small number of pieces over and over. It will minimize loss in case of interception and deflect suspicion of a large-scale operation. Barrels can be easily concealed in metallic pipes, imported as bars, or hidden in a truck chassis.

Magazines should also be purchased from industrial sources.

Final assembly should also be done in a secure place. Since the quality of manufacture is difficult to control under clandestine conditions, only after the final assembly will it be possible to test whether the guns work or not. Therefore, you must have a place to fire the guns, without alarming the whole neighborhood, with an adjacent workshop to make the final corrections.

An important element in this production scheme is theTh distribution of jigs and tools to the various manufacturers, especially for the small pieces.

Buying barrels or magazine is not practical, of course, for truly clandestine manufacture in a denied environment. To truly have a clandestine arms factory you must be able to make these difficult parts, and you must also be able to make ammunition.

To keep such a factory in the face of a hostile intelligence or security service requires full-on tradecraft, including isolating links such as cut-outs, and clandestine communications and logistics. It’s a tough set of conditions to meet, especially behind enemy lines. But we can learn a little from the organized criminal enterprises that have done this before, and a little from the resistance organizations that have done this before, and we can apply logic and reason to the problems that might arise.

Coast Guard Sinks Syndicate’s Sub

It sounds like a story from World War II: the stealthy grey shark, the hunting surface combatants, the hints of radar and other electronic wizardry. But the U-Boat that went down was a semi-submersible from an unidentified (at least in public) drug trafficking organization.

It went down, probably scuttled by its crew, when intercepted by the US Coast Guard. The vessel had been trimmed so that only the small helmsman’s position “conning tower” and the engine intake/exhaust “snorkel” were clear of the water. Technically, it’s a semisubmersible, because it always kept some parts above water.

coast guard sub snatch 1

Coast Guard law enforcement agents in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat stand off as others spread-eagle the four man “sub” crew.

 

 

The blue paint made the boat hard to see from the air, which is, of course, the general idea. The next couple of shots give you some of the idea, and remember, the overhead aircraft’s camera is zoomed in on the boat… if they ran it slowly enough to leave a minimal wake, this thing would be very hard to spot. The freeboard of the semisubmersible is less than the

Some parts of the video have been fogged for security reasons (note upper left and upper right areas, where data blocks would be displayed otherwise). We think the arrow is a wind direction and speed vector.

coast guard sub snatch 2

 

The next shot appears to show the removal of the crew from the now-sinking sub. These semi-submersibles’ survival is based entirely on stealth; once discovered, unlike a military sub, they can’t fight; they can’t dive; they can’t run away from the much faster RHIBs and other surface pursuit vessels, much less from helicopters, drones, airships/aerostats and airplanes, all of which take part in the Drug War.

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The vessel has a strange resemblance to another ship with a flat deck and minimal freeboard: the Union ironclad Monitor and its successors from the Civil War.

The next photo shows the coxswain station: utterly conventional small powerboat technology. You can also see a little of the structure of the vessel, which appears to have been built using moldless foam composite techniques, possibly over a wooden armature or frame. coast guard sub snatch 4

 

 

The outcome of this Tom-and-Jerry game is drearily predictable. For the sub crew, the sub’s shadowy owners and commanders, and the United States, the future runs out as if it were on rails.

This sub crew have won the lottery: even if they wind up doing some time in prison, they’re in the United States now, and will be cushioned in the arms of the justice system and the welfare system alternately for all their remaining days. Of course, if they want to keep committing crimes, they certainly will. They’re just four more data points among millions of criminal aliens, beloved by one party as future bloc voters, and by the other as unskilled subminimum wage laborers.

The sub’s shadowy dispatchers, too, will observe and learn from this capture. If the loss of this sub and its cargo — some 8 tons of cocaine, of which 2 tons went down with the ship and 6 went into evidence — represents an allowable transit loss, they’ll keep on doing this. We do not know how many runs the average doper u-boat makes before it falls into Coast Guard clutches, and we do not know how many are lost at sea, whether that is a more significant cause of losses than US patrols or not. If semisubmersibles are not effective then the next step is obvious — full submersibles, which run on batteries and surface to recharge only, or submarines, which can recharge batteries underwater at periscope depth by using a snorkel.

The US, meanwhile, will continue to fight this drug war. The US is probably locating the subs using the somewhat neglected antisubmarine technology built during the Cold War and minimally maintained since.

That means that cartel sub designers must leapfrog from where they are now, somewhere to the left of Holland at the turn of the last century, to more modern, more stealthy, low-noise designs, or through more unconventional operations (for instance, running a surface vessel with no criminal connections, and shadowing it underwater with a submarine transport).  They can also get away, at least once, with a seaborne equivalent of a technique they’ve used in the air: holding back most of their performance until they’re intercepted by a lower-performance interceptor, and then blowing its doors off. There’s no reason a private venture with a couple million dollars to spend couldn’t produce a sub capable of 40-odd knots — a speed diesel-electric submarines hit in the 1960s — at least in a burst of speed to evade pursuit.

The real danger comes, not from the drugs these criminals smuggle, but from the inevitable proliferation of this technology into criminal circles. It’s not too hard to imagine what terrorists could do with this technology.

Meanwhile, our SEALs go hypothermic in wet subs because the Submarine Force doesn’t want them to have a dry means of delivery, beyond a $2 billion attack sub a sub skipper would never hazard to insert or extract a special operations team.

Here is video of the Coast Guard boarding and recovery.

When subs are outlawed, only outlaws have subs.