Category Archives: Unconventional Warfare

Is Welfare “Defense” Spending?

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Man Who Would Be Caesar™ (except, by legal chicanery rather than by conquest), is apparently outwaged that the coarse Americans (who are so backward that they have had only one republic in the last couple of centuries) and les sales rosbifs (that’s Brits, for all y’all that don’t parlez Continental), think that the Continent ought to spend a whopping 2% of GDP on defense.

He thinks that money spent on social-welfare handouts to the kleptocracies south of the Med and East of Suez ought to count, too.

Reuters reports that Jean-Claude Drunker, former PM of Luxembourg (defense spending approx 0/year) and current EU Commission President, is upset at Gen Mattis’ pointing out of the paucity of European defense spending:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security.

“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said, arguing it would be sensible to look at a “modern stability policy” made up of several components.

“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” he said.

Right if you compare spending on apples, oranges and pineapples in the EU with spending on apples in the USA you discover that the EU spends more. Oddly enough it seems unclear how spending on “development aid, plus humanitarian aid” helps deter or stop determined invaders. Indeed a cynic might suggest it just serves as a hint that “there’s rich people to mooch off there” to the hordes of migrants now entering Europe.

That’s actually just an update to an interesting post on the mechanics and disputed terms of EU vs. Brexit called You and whose army? at the blog L’Ombre de l’Olivier, and you ought to Read The Whole Thing™. But we’re not engaging with Olivier’s main point in the post, but rather his belittling of the idea that “development aid and humanitarian aid” are meaningful means of power projection.

He is, in fact, right on.

Non-military aid is only of use in power projection when it is used that way. Now, everyone who thinks that the EU either as an institution, or as individual nation-states (an unclean concept, in Juncker’s post-Christian faith without faith), actually uses it that way, is invited to step this way to see the famous Egress. The idea is, you give the wogs stuff, they like the stuff, they like you, and you are more likely to get what you want from them, and be able to jaw them out of all their primordial hatreds for the tribe next door (or that used to be next door beyond the round-up). Not to mention their primordial hatred for you.

Primordial hatreds, by the way, exist everywhere and between everybody, just waiting for the right demagogue to drum them up. The Serbs had quite forgotten how horrible all the other southern Slavs were until Slobodan Milosevič went on the stump at Kosovo Polje in 1989. Three years later they were ineptly implementing a kind of Children’s Crusade version of the Endlösung.  

One problem with use of humanitarian aid for security purposes is this: those that you aid are probably not the ones that threaten you. The Northern Hemisphere in general has spent untold trillions in the sinkhole that is Haiti. Yet Haiti is no threat to anyone; the Haitian government has, since its formation in 1805, harmed no one except the former French colonists, and practically all Haitians. As a government, it’s incapable of organizing a beer run, let alone an invasion. It’s rather amazing that they were able to massacre the French plantation owners, but perhaps every nation has one shining hour when they rise above their native ability and do something decisive, and that was theirs. Haitian émigrés in the USA prove no more capable than they were at home; most wind up as wards of the state, either on welfare or in jail.

There is probably no nation that has a greater reputation for aid and humanitarian generosity than Canada. It may be a case of a very high level of aid and low level of defense spending. Canada, of course, faces relatively few concrete military problems, apart from the ones its alliances get it into. (For which, we note, the Canadian Forces always show up with their game face on). But the big, catastrophic defense cases? That’s why Ottawa has alliances. Getting along with everybody is nice; having the US and UK as big brothers acts as a social lubricant.

But there is a constant temptation to redefine defense, either as Juncker has done to include unrelated activities, or to include the cause du jour and to pack the DOD budget (or its equivalents overseas) with unrelated expenses.

One US-ian example of this has been insistence on the sophomoric idea that global warming, or, climate change, is a military or defense problem. Hey, then all the warmists and “Results First, Experiment Later” Red Queens of science, like the Jerry Sandusky of Climate Science® himself, can tap into that sweet DOD cash… and units on the deployment docket don’t know why their ammo budget evaporated and they’re saying “bang, bang” like kids playing Army, during predeployment training.

Hey, global warming evaporated your ammo. Is there nothing it can’t do?

We see the military used for things it’s good at, and things it’s not. It’s great at disaster response, even though that’s not its job. Why? Well, it’s good at traveling, setting up, and organizing. Every unit has a staff that is a perfect building block set for organizing anything — you have your functional Legos: S-1, -2, -3, -4, are the basics: personnel, information, operations, logistics. (One of the open secrets of Special Forces’ adaptability is that every member of every team is trained on and has experience in being, essentially, a staff action officer for any one of those functions. Give a team a mission and in ten minutes there is a staff established to plan and organize it).

The problems with defining humanitarian stuff as military stuff go deeper than the hollowing-out of budgets, at which the European continental powers excel and for which they need no excuse. The French armed forces today, for example, are about 5% the size in personnel of the force that defeated the Germans in 1940… oh, wait. It’s actually about 2/3 of the size of the small force that resisted (in France’s sole success) Italian invasion along the côte d’azur. And it’s about half the size of the army of twenty years ago. And France’s is by far the most powerful defense establishment of the post-Brexit EU nations. The forces are professional, but they’re expeditionary, and unable to actually defend France, should it ever come to that.

Jean-Claude Juncker doesn’t mind being emperor of an empire armed like that, because he’s still in the grip of the idea that history has ended in Europe, and the continent will nevermore host a battlefield.

He believed that before the collapse of Yugoslavia, too.

Terror Sponsors Using Lobbyists, Unwitting Veterans to Quash Lawsuits

Some of the nation’s slimiest lawyers and lobbyists work, out of sheer greed, for state sponsors of terrorism. A number of these have been trying to mislead veterans into supporting terrorism, too. This Nevada gun show booth last month was established by Saudi terrorist hireling Eric Eisenhammer of California, and was trying to mislead vets into supporting a paid Saudi “legal jihad” lobby working to protect Arab terrorist financiers from American lawsuits.

The amendment pushed by the Saudis and their coin-operated American friends would gut a law named the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) which lets Americans sue the foreign nations whose terror sponsors have injured them and their loved ones. Essentially, it is a counterstrike against Iran, whose Revolutionary Guard Corps exports terrorism worldwide and is behind most Shia islamic terrorism, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi state clerics and terror financiers promote terror globally and are behind most Sunni islamic terrorism.

These bloodthirsty terror exporters are also oil-rich, and have found no impediments to hiring American lawyers and lobbyists to advocate for them; and the sort of amoral lawyer and lobbyist who pursues that sort of client has no problem buying American politicians, whose boundless greed is a watchword.

Such an amoral terrorist lawyer or lobbyist, a person pleased to serve the architects of 9/11 as long as the check clears, can’t be expected to have compunctions about misleading veterans to act, bizarrely, as spokesmen for, in cases, the very terrorist sponsors behind their wounds and their buddies’ deaths. Eric Owens writes:

Saudi Arabia’s government … appears to be funding luxurious, all-expenses-paid trips to Washington, D.C. for the veterans which include stays at the $500-per-night Trump International Hotel.

The law is the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which creates a way for American citizens to file civil claims against foreign governments for deaths and other damage related to terrorist acts if the foreign governments financed those attacks.

In November, two Republican senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, proposed an amendment to JASTA that would allow Americans to sue foreign governments for terrorist attacks only if the foreign nations “knowingly engage with a terrorist organization directly or indirectly, including financing.”

Saudi Arabia is paying Qorvis MSLGROUP, “one of the largest public relations firms in the world,” to lobby for the McCain-Graham amendment.

The McCain/Graham amendment, written by and ordered by their Saudi paymasters, means that the Saudis’ millions-of-dollars-of-traitorous-lawyers will be able to drag out the suits against their laughing terrorist paymasters forever.

Eric goes on to name names of the lobbyists grasping for al-Qaeda dollars:

One of the consultants Qorvis has hired — on an undisclosed salary — is Eric Eisenhammer, the founder and CEO of Dauntless Communications, “a digital communications and public affairs company” in California.

Qorvis has also hired Tennessee-based consultant Paul Stanley….

Not related to the former KISS guitarist, we think.

A third person attempting to recruit veterans who will personally tell members of Congress they oppose JASTA is Sarah Durand, the former chief of staff for Kentucky first lady Glenna Bevin (and, before that, president of the Louisville Tea Party).

Durand may or may not have any affiliation with Qorvis.

One of Qorvis’s terrorist henchmen, who was understandably unwilling to give his name, did speak to Eric Owens, the author of the piece.

“This is not some back-stage, behind-the-scenes maneuver,” the spokesman told TheDC. “This is totally out in the open. This is totally transparent.”

However, none of the materials they’re sending veterans admit that they are funded by the Saudi terror sponsors.

“We’re not telling veterans what to think or what to say,” the spokesman also said. “The charge that veterans didn’t know what they were talking about is not really the truth. It could have been the truth for a couple you talked to. But the veterans who come to Washington are conversant with JASTA. They all think it is bad policy.”

…after being given the one-sided story of the terrorist mouthpieces, naturally.

Among the veterans who have lobbied against the law are military attorneys and retired generals, the Qorvis spokesman said.

Military attorneys! — there’s a bunch to trust about as high as you can deadlift an Abrams.

Retired generals! — gee, that’s a group some members of whom got that star and flag by walking over the bones of their own betrayed subordinates… it isn’t a reach for some of them to sign on with the Saudi-controlled Qorvis and the global moslem terror campaign.

So, basically, it’s lawyers and lobbyists, and former military officers with the morals of lawyers and lobbyists. Got it.

Do go Read The Whole Thing™, as Eric has documents, emails, etc. backing up his whole story.

 

Innovation in Defense: A Marine’s View

Marine Captain Joshua Waddell just detonated a truth bomb in the Marine Corps Gazette. We’ll place a couple of excerpts here, but it really defies any synoptic treatment; you will want to Read The Whole Thing™. While he writes about his own Corps, many of the pathologies he identifies are present in the other services as well.

First shot: the chasm between war fighter and the providers of beans, bullets and bullshit:

[T]here is something deeply wrong with the part of the Marine Corps occupying the I-95 corridor leading to the Pentagon. What has become painfully apparent to me is the drastic difference between the mindset of the Operating Forces and the Supporting Establishment. While I grant that, in the case of the former, the prospects of being shot, blown up, or otherwise extinguished tend to be wonderful motivators to constantly improve and perform, the Marine Corps Supporting Establishment is filled with senior officers whose backgrounds include extensive experience in combat within the Operating Forces. Why then is there such a divide between the organizational energy and innovative agility of our Marines and the depressive stagnation found within the Supporting Establishment?

I believe I know a big part of the answer: self-delusion.

We’d also finger the dead hand of Congress, as applied to personnel and acquisitions management. But we do agree that the problems in the uniformed service (and their service-specific civilian bureaucracies) are the major part of the problem and too often Congress or various Administrations are blamed for things the services should be fixing themselves.

Objective analysis of the U.S. military’s effectiveness in these wars can only conclude that we were unable to translate tactical victory into operational and strategic success. As military professionals, it is not sufficient to offload the responsibility for these failures, at least in their entirety, to decision makers in Washington or in perceived lack of support from other governmental agencies. ….if you accept the objective, yet repulsive, fact that our Marines died on the losing side of our most recent wars, you cannot then accept that the status quo of the Marine Corps, and the larger defense establishment, is in an acceptable state of affairs.

By this point, the minds of most Colonels and higher, and a good number of junior officers and senior NCOs, have slammed shut. But Waddell is trying.

This is further compounded by future forecasts of conflicts with adversaries that are beginning to look like more like peers despite the self-aggrandizing “near-peer” label we assign them.

That last sentence is a direct hit. If you have been paying attention to the Russian and Chinese militaries for the last 10-15 years, “near-peer” has to put your teeth on edge. It’s reminiscent of the pre-Pearl Harbor view of the Japanese as nearsighted, dimwitted copycats.

We allow ourselves to look at our impressive defense budget and expensive systems and throw around hyperbole about the United States having the greatest military in the world. How, then, have we been bested by malnourished and undereducated men with antiquated and improvised weaponry whilst spending trillions of dollars in national treasure and costing the lives of thousands of servicemen and hundreds of thousands of civilians? Judging military capability by the metric of defense expenditures is a false equivalency.

One point that Waddell does not make, but probably should, is that dollar comparisons between countries are unrealistic in part because of the huge non-defense padding in defense budgets. For example, the Davis-Bacon Act pads the prices of all military construction in order to reward a particular political constituency; two classes, rather then one, of essentially unarmed Littoral Combat Ships are bought so as to grease two separate grifting Congressmen.

Of course, Marines can still improvise, adapt and overcome; it’s just that these days, what they’re overcoming is their own bureaucracy. He has several C2 related examples, stemming in part from the fact that by the time the services’ creaky acquisition system buys high technology, the stuff is so obsolete it has to be maintained by contractors that hire retired programmers of dead languages. Here’s one of his examples:

As an isolated example, it is shameful that our company commanders are buying Android tablets with their own money for their units to use with Special Operations Command (SOCOM) open-source software to conduct en-route C2 in our SPMAGTF-CR units while HQMC hides behind a log-jammed and unnecessarily restrictive certification process. Here, I would invite critics of this particular effort to explain how they foresee tactical adversaries breaking advanced encryption standard 256 encryption and other commercially available cybersecurity measures on a protected, yet unclassified, network as being a risk more unacceptable than our infantrymen being shot or our Ospreys being downed. However, if the U.S. Army’s 82d Airborne and 75th Rangers have outpaced our capacity for expeditionary communications (which they have), then the Marine Corps should be rethinking its role as the Nation’s first choice as its crisis response force. Yet, we are satisfied with ourselves for finally providing the PRC-117G to the Operating Forces while our adversaries outmaneuver our C2 infrastructure with cell phones, third-party applications, and open source encryption. Only through aggressive HQMC leadership and the adoption of a sweeping campaign of modernization that favors commercial and government off-the-shelf solutions will the Marine Corps begin to come back up on par not only with the civilian sector but with our fellow expeditionary units within the DOD.

Do Read The Whole Thing™. Because he doesn’t just rail at problems, he proposes solutions. Not that he’ll be there when they’re implemented, because HQMC is even as we speak assigning him as the Marine Liaison Officer on Shemya Island. Hat tip, Western Rifle Shooters.

California Islamic School Rejects Anti-Terrorist Money

Jihad Turk, of the anti-anti-terrorist Bayan Claremont islamic school. You can’t help but jihad when it’s your very name….

Meet a guy named Jihad, who’s so flush with dodgy Arab money that he can turn down nearly a million from the taxpayers, because it came with an expectation his institution would not be a propaganda outlet for small-j jihad.

They don’t want anti-terrorist money, you see. Terrorist money? That, they’re cool with.

A California Islamic school … rejected $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combatting violent extremism.

The school’s head jihad guy Jihad is blaming Trump for the fact that it’s not taking the lavish grant from the Obama-era “countering violent extremism” program. This topsy-turvy program, which apparently continues its undead depradations, sought to fund questionable Islamic institutions whilst blaming other, smaller groups, and fringe crackpots, for the global tsunami of Islamic terrorism.

Money from Saudi terror financiers? That’s OK. After all, the head of the school is named Jihad. There are 7,000 Saudi princes with their checkbooks out for jihad every day!

Other questionable Islamic non-profits did take the money, scores of millions of dollars of which were shoveled out “in the dwindling days of the Obama administration,” per the story’s own moslem author who thinks it’s all a good idea.

The school says it would have used the money to train Islamic and anti-American “community organizers” and “social justice workers.” Oh, yeah, we’ve run into those cats.

Social justice, mohammedan applications thereof.

The school had hoped to use the money to help create a new generation of Muslim community leaders, with $250,000 earmarked for more than a dozen local nonprofits doing social justice work.

Suicide vests were presumably optional. And being California-based, maybe they’d have had hybrid VBIEDs.

But the fledgling school’s founding president, Jihad Turk, said officials ultimately felt accepting the money would do more harm than good.

It’s “a heck of a lot of money, (but) our mission and our vision is to serve the community and to bring our community to a position of excellence,” Turk said. “And if we’re compromised, even if only by perception in terms of our standing in the community, we ultimately can’t achieve that goal,” he said, adding that accepting the funds would be short-sighted.

via Fourth Muslim group rejects federal grant to fight extremism | The Sacramento Bee.

So there you have it. Taking money for an anti-terrorism message: “We’re compromised.” Taking money from the guys procuring murder on a global scale? “Shukran, effendi.”

But hey, they’re just as American as anyone who wants to enslave you.

Speaking of which, another foreign-funded pro-terrorist professor has been taking some incoming for his pettifogging explanation that, when the US allowed slavery almost two centuries ago, a problem “solved” with the deaths of 600,000 non-slaves, that permanently tainted America. But the current practice of slavery, among the very people who fund him? “That’s different, m’kay.”

Jonathan Brown, a tenured Georgetown professor and holder of the Al-Waleed bin Talal Chair in Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University, has delivered a lecture defending slavery and rape non-consensual sex.

You may recognize the name Al-Waleed bin Talal better if we throw in its next chapter, ibn Saud. In that article, Rod Dreher makes a certainly unauthorized exploration into Prince Al Waleed’s genealogy:

In other words, what is a Catholic university doing employing a professor who defends slavery, including sexual slavery, to the point of equating it with Christian marriage?

What kind of fool thinks Georgetown is a Catholic or even Christian institution any more? It is fully converged to the social justice faith, nihilistic atheism.

Al-Waleed bin Talal, the Saudi bllionaire who funds that professorship at Georgetown, is the grandson of an Armenian Christian woman who escaped the 1915 Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks, and who was presented to King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, founder of the Saudi dynasty, when she was 12 years old. She was likely an Orthodox Christian child (Armenians are Orthodox) captured and pressed into slavery by Muslims. She could have been a concubine, but he made her his wife. In those days, less than a century ago:

An immense slave corps, mostly of African origin, now served the royal family and its palaces. …

Abdulaziz had been prodigiously fertile, taking brides in order to co-opt one or another tribe or to mend relations with cadet branches of the al-Saud. Abdulaziz, as a unitarian Wahhabi, had been a sternly devout Muslim and as such never had more than four legal wives at a time. But these were regularly divorced and rotated as his whims and passions warranted. And the king had also made ample use of slave-girls and concubines. In this, he had held fast to an Islamic tradition that allowed rulers to take women as chattel in addition to the four wives allotted under Sharia law.

In 1921, …[i]n triumph he and his warriors visited the emir, or prince, of Unayza, a large desert trading post halfway to the Iraqi border. In the emir’s palace, according to family members, Abdulaziz was presented with a beautiful 12-year-old girl, Munayer.

Munayer’s father, it is thought, was most likely an Armenian Christian from eastern Anatolia. His wife certainly was. Six years earlier, in 1915, the family had been forced to flee in terror before the vast anti-Armenian massacres of that year. Unlike the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who fled west to Athens or Beirut, Munayer, her father, mother, and two other siblings traveled southward, along old caravan routes, deep into the interior of Wahhabi Arabia. It was a strange choice for a Christian family. They may have been too terrified to reason carefully. Or perhaps they intended to head for Lebanon or even Persia – safe havens then for fleeing Armenians – and simply got lost.

This slaver is, as Rod points out, Prince Al Waleed’s granddad, and one or the other of grandad’s child-slave wives is probably al Waleed’s grandma. Not that they keep track of mere women in the House of Ill Repute of Saud.

In case you’re wondering just how it happens that extremst, terror-supporting moslems don’t seem to honor their mothers. Who cares? They’re only women!

Dreher also quotes a moslem reformist (tough job, that):

“Slavery wasn’t racialized” in Muslim societies, Brown stated. That would be believable if it weren’t well-known black people in the Arab World and African-Americans in this country weren’t constantly referred to as abeed (slaves) simply because the color of the skin.

Obviously Dreher and his moslem-reformist pal, Umar Lee, didn’t get the memo (or the money) from Riyadh. Equally obviously, Professor Brown of Georgetown and Jihad (!) Turk of the Californian-based Islamic (jihad?) school, Bayan Claremont, did. And a third obvious fact is that a Government program granting millions to characters like this is at best a waste of money and at worst a subsidy to enemies.

We already have a superior program to counter extremism: it comes in you choice of colors: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force.

Military Pilot Retention Too Low

Not enough pilots are staying in the flying services past their initial certificates of indenture terms of obligated service. A phalanx of generals and admirals, led by the USAF’s Vice Chief of Staff Steve Wilson (right), made the terrestrial trek from the Pentagon to Congress to tell them that.

Gen. Steven Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, told congressional leaders, “We can recruit pilots without a problem. The problem is retaining them. For the last five years, retention of pilots has declined. We need to keep 65% of pilots past the 10-year point,” when pilots’ post-training contracts expire. Gen. Wilson continued, “Today, we’re doing less than half of that.”

OK, so about 70% of pilots are ejecting as soon as they can, instead of the 35% expected historically and in Air Force (etc) budgets. And budget was one issue: Wilson and the other generals think that they can, essentially, bribe these pilots into staying. They can even make the case that paying pilots more saves a fortune, compared to the cost of training a replacement:

Wilson reports that the Air Force and Navy train a combined 2,000 new pilots per year at an ultimate cost of $10 million for a seasoned fighter pilot. Retaining 400 more fighter pilots for an additional five-year commitment, by Gen. Wilson’s estimates, would save the Air Force approximately $2 billion.

But money is not why the pilots are leaving. Why are they leaving? Frankly, it sounds like a leadership problem: too little flying, which has been declining, versus too much deployment away from home to do all that not-flying, which hasn’t let up at all.

Service leaders described the push of too little flying, together with long deployments, and the pull of comparatively lucrative airline pay that is drawing pilots out of the armed forces. Gen. Wilson says flying is why people join the Air Force and “today’s fighter pilots are flying 140 to 150 hours a year—that’s significantly down from before.”

Hey, we can remember when we considered it a confidence builder that near-peer adversaries provided their pilots with 2-8 hours training a month, while our guys got 20-25. Looks like flight hours have been halved, even when a pilot spends most of a year away from home in a deployment year, and a third of a year away from home anyway on a year that doesn’t contain a deployment to some global sphincter.

On the other hand, the tanker guys tell us that they have all the hours that they can handle, precision flying to support all those deployments, and often from deployed bases that aren’t on any tourist’s itinerary.

Pilots averaged 260 days away from home per year during deployment and 110 days away from home on temporary duty when not deployed overseas.

One of the problems with all the “sickeners” piled on pilot life in lieu of flying is that, while the Air Force (Navy, etc.) recruits young single pilots, at that ten-year point it has to retain families. You’ve made the pilot’s life miserable as a trade-off for a declining quantity and quality of flight time, and you’ve made his or her family’s life miserable, and they get nothing out of the flight time directly. So after that ten-year point you have pilots leaving, and freshly-divorced pilots remaining.

Wilson says that when pilots reach the 11-year mark, families ask whether it makes sense to “keep doing this when the airlines are hiring, paying a lot of money, and providing better stability.” Service leaders estimate the major airlines are hiring 4,000 pilots each year to meet the combined needs of industry growth and pilot retirements.

via Military Leaders Testify On Pilot Shortage – AVweb flash Article.

So that brings us to General Wilson’s argument for more money: maybe we can apply enough money to dull the attractiveness of the airline route, kind of Novocain for all the pain we’re making these pilots and their families suffer.

There’s a problem with that, and that’s this: anyone who’s considered an airline job for more than five minutes has discovered that airline hiring is highly cyclical, and the vast majority of airline personnel are ruled by one or another 20th Century, adversarial union, that mandates all personnel actions happen in strict seniority list order. In a hiring year, your speed of getting into the queue can make a difference of 100 or 200 seniority numbers — which can make a difference between employed or unemployed, next recession. Game-theorize this, and the guy (or gal) who goes airline early wins every time: the chance to go airline in 2023 is not worth the same as the chance in 2017, it’s worth hundreds (or thousands in really big and merged lines) of seniority numbers less.

One safety valve that the services have long had is the flying reserves, where in theory a pilot could keep flying Eagles or Warthogs while pursuing his or her airline career. (This is a win-win for both, as the airline and service flying cultures both benefit by cross-pollination). But that has lost a lot of its appeal as repeated long deployments in a period of endless war has made it almost as unpleasant as full-time service, from the family point of view.

We suggest that there has been another reason for the decline in pilot retention, and that is those ongoing wars, and, especially, the perception, true or not, that in those wars a combat pilot risks his neck for unclear American goals, and especially that the people who send him into harm’s way don’t care enough to pull him out if he gets in a jam. His squadronmates will circle over him; any ground forces in the area will try to come for him; the theater Special Operations Command has a plan, although often only token resources, to come and rescue him. But nobody in Washington, whether wearing suits or I-was-in-high-places medals, will do anything but give a self-promoting speech about him.

If the war we were engaged in was World War II, there would be no question of retention (even absent Roosevelt’s order freezing enlistments). In places like Libya or Syria, our pilots risk their lives to bomb one group of black-flag throat cutters on the behalf of another band of black-flaggers. And the leadership treats giving them half the training hours that were thought necessary when those leaders were junior officers as if it were doing its crews a big favor.

Half-Baked Plan to Arm Kurds Rejected

The well-informed pro-Kurdish news site, Kurdish Question, has taken an interesting look at Trump Administration rejection of a plan that outgoing Obama security officials had set in motion. The plan was generally to arm and train Kurdish SDF forces.

The Kurds are neither cut-throat Islamists nor unwilling to fight. This makes them quite unlike most of Obama’s regional allies. But the Kurds are also a burr under the saddle of all regional powers: Iran, the Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia, the surviving, rump Iraq of Shia Islamists and Iranian cat’s-paws, and an increasingly Islamist and totalitarian Turkey. Iran, Iraq and Turkey are all home to Kurdish minorities who are more or less inclined to separatism. (The Saudis loathe them for not being Arabs, and being somewhat indifferent moslems). So throwing in with the Kurds may be the right thing from a humanitarian and a short-term military point of view, at the expense of a century’s more chaos in the region.

Of course, a century’s more chaos in the region is an all-but-certain result of the last 16 years of feckless United States policy, from the laissez-faire “let their inner Western citizen out” of the Bush years to the bug-out-and-lash-out foreign policy of Obama.

Trump’s national security team rejected a last moment plan by the Obama administration to arm the Kurds to take Raqqa from ISIS, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. However, analysts told ARA News that US President Donald Trump will eventually have to work with the Kurds to defeat ISIS in Raqqa.

Initially, the Obama administration was trying to work with Turkey to produce a force to take Raqqa, but finally they realized the Turks were not able to create a working force, and that the Kurds were the only option. The Turkey-backed rebels so far were not able to take al-Bab city in northern Syria, and were even forced to increase the number of Turkish ground troops.

With only three weeks in office, the Pentagon pushed Trump to arm the Kurds, warning that if Kurds would not receive weapons by mid-February, their offensive could be delayed up to a year.

Moreover, officials expressed their concerns about terrorist attacks being planned inside Raqqa on the targets in the West. According to reports, attacks in Europe and also in Turkey had been planned from Raqqa, the de-facto ISIS capital.

The Trump administration decided not to go ahead with Obama’s plan.

The Obama plan required U.S. forces to train the Kurds in using the new equipment and fighting in a densely packed city, but it lacked details about how many U.S. troops would be required and where the training would take place, a Trump administration official told the Washington post.

The “Trump Administration Official” is nameless in the Washington Post story, so the odds of him actually existing are no better than a coin toss. Nameless officials are a popular second option to nameless “experts saidd” as a mechanism for a reporter to insert his or her own opinion into a story.

To the Trump team, it seemed that Obama administration officials had delayed authorizing the plan because they knew it was inadequate and did not want to be held responsible, the official said.

However, analysts say that Trump does not have many other options to fight ISIS in Syria.

Hey, nameless experts show up, right on schedule! But wait, we get a quote and a name from one:

“President Trump is simply asking for a review of all options from the U.S. military. The fact of the matter is that unless Turkey plans to commit more military force in Syria, or recruit more Arab fighters, the [Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces] SDF remains the best placed local partner force for the U.S. military,” Nicholas Heras, a Mideast researcher at the Centre for a New American Security told ARA News.

via Trump rejects Obama’s plan to arm the Kurds in fight for Raqqa – KurdishQuestion.com.

Bear in mind what the Center for a New American Security is: it is de facto a partisan think tank formed in opposition to Bush policy, and can be seen as the brain trust behind the disastrous bug-out-and-lash-out foreign policy of President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Kerry. It is full of self-important failures who see themselves as the Obama Government in Exile. (Think of it as the Kennedy School for losers who can’t bear leaving the National Capital Area).

The Kurds, of course, and their supporters behind Kurdish Question, would like to see the US back their much-abused, stateless nation. So far, signals from President Trump indicate that he would rather find a way to work with Turkey, Russia and even the Syrian government, the last of which Obama sought to have overthrown by islamists. It’s hard to envision a way to work with those powers that would allow the Kurds air to breathe, let alone a land of their own where their sunrise flag might fly.

What a Raid Can and Can’t Do

The raid is one of the most fundamental operations in the military. It’s one of the three types of patrol you can do with any size unit, even a squad (depending, of course, on target). It has roots in humanity’s savage past, and was (and is) a favored activity of stone age tribes. But it can be done at extremes of sophistication, and have geopolitical consequences.

The Delta raid on Modelo Prison to free an imprisoned American, Kurt Muse, in 1989 in Panama was a raid; so was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (making it very distinct from the Japanese attacks on Manila or Singapore, where the raids were meant as part of a larger operations plan leading to occupation).

What is a raid? Here is our definition:

Raid: a military operation in which forces sortie from a friendly position to attack, disrupt or destroy an enemy position, but make no attempt to seize and hold territory, and return to friendly lines.

Let’s see how that comports with the JCS Pub One(.pdf) military definition:

Raid — An operation to temporarily seize an area in order to secure information, confuse an adversary, capture personnel or equipment, or to destroy a capability culminating with a planned withdrawal.

Hmm. We actually like our own definition better, because it encompasses naval and air raids, which don’t seize an area (unless you want to stretch the JCS’s “seize an area” to encompass achieving local aerial and naval superiority).

Because strategic raids were such a big part of naval operations since time immemorial (the Vikings — the real ones, not the Hollywood ones on the soi-disant History Channel — were ace practitioners), the earliest effective strategic air raids seem to have been executed by the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War. We’ve previously recounted one such raid here, but have just discovered an even earlier one, carried out by two prewar-designed Sopwith Tabloid biplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service.

From Hunt’s Britain’s Forgotten Fighters of the First World War:

On 8 October, the remaining two airworthy machines piloted by Sqn Cdr Spenser Grey and Ft Lt R. G. Marix set off to bomb the airship sheds at Cologne and Düsseldorf. Grey’s efforts were frustrated by poor visibility and he bombed the railway station at Cologne instead. However, Marix in 168 dropped his bombs on the airship shed at Düsseldorf from just 600 feet, setting fire to the Zeppelin inside, destroying it completely. Both machines returned to Antwerp but had to be abandoned when the airfield was evacuated due to an enemy advance on 14 October 1914.

The Sopwith Tabloid also may have been the first British plane to mount a machine gun but it is generally best known for winning the 1914 Schneider Cup and as an ancestor of more successful Sopwith types. The image is of a modern replica by Missouri-based Airdrome Aeroplanes.

Raids can be overt or covert, and, in rare cases and for some phases of the raid only, clandestine. An example of a clandestine raid would be frogmen placing limpet mines on ships in harbor; in theory the frogs are on their way back to friendly territory before the FOOM moves the raid from the clandestine to the covert column. Generally an operation cannot be clandestine if the enemy can recognize its effect on him or his forces, which rules out most raids.

Specialists could argue for hours over whether a foot patrol to place an interception device on an enemy landline, or to emplace some other type of sensor, is a technologically extended reconnaissance patrol, or a clandestine raid. And in fact, the argument about terminology is not terribly important — no one has even been defeated by a definition, however comprehensive and well-crafted.

Update

Thanks to Captain Mike, the glitchy and truncated video’s been replaced with a full-length one. The video length is about 45 minutes; ignore the 1:30 running time it reports, it’s over at the “halfway point.” This video is higher quality, too. -Ed.

Guns and Gun Smuggling… AD 1628-29

The Plymouth Colony existed from 1620 to 1692, when it merged with the greater Massachusetts Bay (Boston) Colony.

Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony reported regularly on the progress of the Pilgrim settlement. His reports are surprisingly engaging and immediate for documents approaching 400 years of age. One problem he had to deal with would be the plot of many a Western novel or film set 150 years after his time: unscrupulous merchants arming hostile Indians.

In the meantime [wampum] makes the tribes hereabouts rich and powerful and proud, and provides them with arms and powder and shot, through the depravity of some unworthy persons, both English, Dutch, and French, and likely to be the ruin of many. Hitherto the Indians round here had no guns or other arms but their bows and arrows, nor for many years after; they scarcely dared handle guns, they were so afraid of them; and the very sight of one, though out of kilter, was a terror to them.

But the Indians to the East who had dealings with the French got guns from them, and in time our English fishermen, with equal covetousness, followed their example. But upon complaint it pleased the King’s Majesty to prohibit it by a strict proclamation, commanding that no sort of arms or munition should be traded to the Indians by His subjects.

Some three or four years before this there came over one Captain Wollaston, a man of fine qualities, with three or four others of some distinction, who brought with them a great many servants, with provisions and other necessaries to found a settlement. NOTE 1

One of Wollaston’s men was named Morton, and Bradford has nothing good to say about Morton at all; he got involved in all kinds of willful mischief, and mocked the Puritans’ austere religion, but by far his greatest transgression was arming the Indians.

In order to maintain this riotous prodigality and excess, Morton, hearing what profit the French and the fishermen had made by trading guns, powder, and shot to the Indians, began to practise it hereabouts, teaching them how to use them. Having instructed them, he employed some of them to hunt and fowl for him, until they became far more able than the English, owing to their swiftness on foot and nimbleness of body, being quick-sighted, and knowing the haunts of all sorts of game. With the result that, when they saw what execution a gun would do and the advantage of it, they were mad for them and would pay any price for them, thinking their bows and arrows but baubles in comparison.

And here I must bewail the mischief that this wicked man began in this district, and which, continued by men that should know better, has now become prevalent, notwithstanding the laws to the contrary. The result is that the Indians are stocked with all kinds of arms, — fowling-pieces, muskets, pistols, etc. They even have moulds to make shots of all sorts, — musket bullets, pistol bullets, swan and geese shot and smaller sorts. It is well known that they often have powder and shot when the English lack it and cannot get it, it having been bought up and sold to those who trade it to the Indians at a shilling per pound — for they will buy it at any price. This goes on while their neighbours are being killed by the Indians every day, or are only living at their mercy. They have even been told how gun-powder is made, and all the materials that are in it, and that they are to be had in their own land; and I am confident that if they could only get saltpeter they would make gunpowder itself. Oh, the horror of this villainy! How many Dutch and English have lately been killed by Indians, thus furnished; and no remedy is provided, — nay, the evil has increased. The blood of their brothers has been sold for profit; and in what danger all these colonies are is too well-known. Oh! that princes and parliaments would take some timely steps to prevent this mischief and to suppress it, by exemplary punishment of some of those gain-thirsty murderers, — for they deserve no better title, — before their colonies in these parts are wiped out by the barbarous savages, armed with their own weapons by these traitors to their country.

But I have forgotten myself, and have been too long on this digression; now to return. Morton having taught them the use of guns, sold them all he could spare, and he and his associates determined to send for large supplies from England, having already sent for over a score by some of the ships. This being known, several members of the scattered settlements hereabouts agreed to solicit the settlers at New Plymouth, who then outnumbered them all, to join with them to prevent the further growth of this mischief, and to suppress Morton and his associates. Those who joined in this action, and afterwards contributed to the expense of sending him to England, were from Piscataqua, Naumkeag, Winnisimmett, Weesagascusett, Nantasket, and other places where the English had settled. The New Plymouth colonists thus addressed by their messengers and letters, and weighing their reasons and the common danger, were willing to help, though they themselves had least cause for fear. NOTE 2

Appeals to the British class hierarchy, the Crown, Morton’s previous pledges of allegiance, and so forth, were unavailing.

So they saw there was no way but to take him by force. They resolved to proceed, and unanimously requested the Governor of New Plymouth to send Captain Standish and sufficient men to seize Morton. This was accordingly done; but he defended himself stiffly, closed his doors, armed his associates, and had dishes of powder and bullets ready on the table; and if they had not been overarmed with drink, more harm might have been done. They summoned him to yield, but they got nothing but scoffs from him. At length fearing they would wreck the house, some of his crew came out, — intending not to yield, but to shoot; but they were so drunk that their guns were too heavy for them. He himself, with a carbine, overcharged and almost half filled with powder and shot, tried to shoot Captain Standish; but he stepped up to him and put aside his gun and took him. No harm was done on either side, except that one of his men was so drunk that he ran his nose upon the point of a sword that some one held in front of him on entering the house; but all he lost was a little of his hot blood. Morton they took to New Plymouth, where he was kept till a ship went from the Isle of Shoals to England. NOTE 3

They wrote and sent a case against him along with him, but it had no effect; he wriggled loose and was back in the New World in a couple of years, causing further mischief.

But Bradford remembered, at the last minute, that as furious as he may have been with the shifty Morton, that was not what he was supposed to be writing about.

But I have been too long about so unworthy a person and so bad a cause. NOTE 4

The sort of weapons these were is a matter of some disagreement to Early Colonial historians. Traditionally they were assumed to be matchlock muskets and arquebuses, but more recent scholarship suggests that as early as 1620, the date of the initial landing, matchlocks were on the way out.

Matchlocks were developed in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and were often referred to as arquebuses or harquebuses, which described a fairly light weapon with a curved stock (Peterson 2000:18). As the century progressed, matchlocks developed longer barrels for greater range, power and accuracy and as a result, became heavier, to the point that true matchlock muskets required a rest be used to support the weight of the barrel for the shooter. Matchlocks were used for approximately 150 years in America but their use as the primary weapon of choice only lasted about 75 years until about 1620 when was begun to be replaced with flintlocks (Peterson 2000:19). By 1675 they had virtually disappeared. NOTE 5

While the source calls them “flintlock,” they were a variety of emerging flint technologies, mostly dog-locks, often called the English lock to distinguish from slightly different Spanish and French locks, or Dutch snapphans (transliterated to English as snaphaunce) locks. These are all slightly different flavors of the emerging flintlock. By using a flint that scraped against a steel frizzen and showered sparks into a pan of priming powder, the flintlock provided a more positive ignition and shorter lock time than the matchlock, which lowered a burning fuse or match into an open priming pan. It would reign throughout the Colonial era and into the early 19th Century, before being replaced by the even more positive and practical percussion lock or caplock.

Appearing at the same time and just after the development of the snaphaunce there were five other types of flint locks in use in the colonies. These were the English lock, the English dog lock, the Scandinavian “snaplock”, the Spanish Miquelet lock, and the true flintlock developed in France in the later seventeenth century. It is believed that the English lock quickly superseded the snaphaunce and that most of the locks found in the New World up to approximately 1625 are of this variety. The dog lock appears to have succeeded the English lock from 1625 to approximately 1675 and the flintlock supplanted the dog lock after 1675 (Peterson 2000:32).

Seven general types of firearms have been identified as being used in Plymouth Colony through a comparison of the archaeological and historical records, these are the musket, harquebus, caliver or cavalier, fowler, carbine, pistol, and the blunderbus. The musket is described as by the 1630 English Martial Arms list as a piece with a barrel four feet long, an overall length of five feet two inches and a bore of .74 caliber. A musket can be further described as a heavy military gun of the 16th to early 17th century with a matchlock. Muskets weighed approximately 16 pounds and required a forked rest to support it. NOTE 6

A dog-lock pistol attributed to Plymouth Colony gunsmith and  officer John Thompson has descended in his family and is among the early weapons documented in this PDF.

And what about the “classic” Pilgrim gun, the blunderbuss? As it happens, it was both less and more common that popular tradition, and pre-21st Century history, would have it!

The blunderbus is a weapon that has often been erroneously associated with the Pilgrims. The image of the black clad buckles on the hat and shoes wearing colonists carrying a turkey on one shoulder and a ridiculously wide mouth musket on the other has been a recurring misnomer for generations. The blunderbuss is a short arm of large caliber with a wide flaring muzzle. They were first introduced into England in the middle of the seventeenth century and were predominately equipped with flint locks. The blunderbus was used essentially in the same way as a modern shotgun by being loaded not with one large shot, but with a number of small bird or goose shot. When fired, these shot spread out in a wide spray wounding and incapacitating any enemies in front of it. This would have been a weapon well suited to the guerrilla warfare that occurred in New England during King Philips War in the 1670s. Previous researchers have stated that these arms were not used in this country before the 1700s, but they were identified in the Plymouth records. NOTE 7

Unfortunately, we don’t know what kind of arms Bradford’s bad apple, Morton, dealt to the Indians, nor what role these smuggled arms played in the many small fights and several large wars between the settlers and the Wampanoags and other native races.

It’s remarkable to find reports from what seems like the ancient past, almost 400 years ago, that speak to us in language we can clearly follow, and which make clear the very human passions and motivations of their long-dead writer; it’s even more remarkable to learn that new discoveries are being made by historians like Craig Chartier, even on matters that we thought were completely understood!

And, Chartier notes that most known early Colony Period sites have never been excavated. His own research depends primarily on period records, which have survived well. Who knows what discoveries await this century’s archaeologists?

Notes

  1. Bradford
  2. Bradford
  3. Bradford
  4. Bradford
  5. Chartier, p. 2.
  6. Chartier, pp. 3-4.
  7. Chartier, p. 4.

Sources

Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation. Portcullis Books. Kindle Edition.

Chartier, Craig. Firearms in Plymouth Colony. Plymouth, MA, 2009: Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project. Retrieved from: http://www.plymoutharch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/62869457-Firearms-in-Plymouth.pdf. An earlier (2002) version is online here: http://plymoutharch.tripod.com/id71.html

Goldstein, Karin. Arms & Armor of the Pilgrims. Plymouth, MA, 2002: Pilgrim Hall Museum. Retrieved from: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/pdf/Arms_Armor_of_Pilgrims.pdf

 

 

Why They Call it Reaper: MQ-1 Brings the FOOM!

Please enjoy the following video, courtesy of the US Central Command. In which a splodydope-piloted VBIED gets returned to kit form at approximately 58,000 feet per second. You will need a heart of stone not to chortle with glee.

The vehicle in question is a ISIL specialty, an armored-up truck or military vehicle converted to a command-detonated VBIED, with the crew and (usually) the commander who commits the vehicle having a FOOM switch. (The commander, observing, keys the switch if his boys get cold feet. The coward may die a thousand times in Shakespeare, but in ISIL he only gets one shot, no pun intended).

The vehicle is hardened against small arms fire by improvised armor made from steel plate. If you look closely, you can see that the armor on the ISIL vehicle in the video is slanted to increase thickness and deflect more projectiles, in the style of German WWII armored cars and halftracks. The guys who drive these things are suicidal idiots, but the guys who build and dispatch them are not.

File photo of a more lightly armored one from a few years back in Iraq:

Comparing that to the VBIED in the video you can see how much the technology has evolved in the last few years — not that it can prevent a HEAT round like the Hellfire missile from finding the truck’s explosive filling and producing a mighty secondary.

The crew is usually a single splodydope but sometimes the count-the-body-parts method reveals a crew of two or more, presumably as another measure to prevent abandonment of mission by the kamikaze volunteer.

But there’s no reason to let them bring the FOOM to their desired location. With the good guys retaining command of the air, these truck bomber wannabes are perfect for droning.

It’s a win-win all round, a rare commonality of objectives in the Middle East: they want to die for their moon god Baal, aka Allah, and we just want them to die.

Yemen Raid: US Loses 1 SEAL & 1 MV-22 Osprey; 4 Injured

A JSOC raid in the Al-Qaeda stronghold of al-Baydah Province in Yemen this weekend ended in mission success — the targeted HVTs were killed — but at a heavy price, with one frogman from the unit commonly known as SEAL Team SIX being killed and three more suffering unspecified wounds.

In addition, a damaged USMC MV-22 Osprey was abandoned and destroyed in place. One man was injured in the Osprey “hard landing.”

The enemy lost fourteen AQAP fighters, and three named AQAP leaders:

Yemeni security and tribal officials said the assault in central Bayda province killed three senior Al Qaeda leaders.

The surprise dawn attack killed Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims, Yemeni officials told the Associated Press. The al-Dhahab family is considered an ally of Al Qaeda, which security forces say is concentrated in Bayda province. A third family member, Tarek al-Dhahab, was killed in a previous U.S. drone strike years ago. It was not immediately clear whether the family members were actual members of Al Qaeda.

“Actual members of al-Qaeda”? The reporter that wrote that is a blockhead. What does he expect them to have, membership cards? Secret decoder rings?

In addition to the enemy casualties, sensitive site exploitation gathered significant intelligence on site.

Drone strikes on 20, 21, and 22 January in the same vicinity killed five targeted AQAP operatives.

Statement by GEN Joe Votel, Commanding General of the US Central Command (CENTCOM):

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite servicemembers. The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.

Statement by Donald J. Trump, President:

“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world.

via US Navy SEAL killed, 3 injured in raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen | Fox News.

Meanwhile, the loss of the SEAL and the other mens’ injuries have been overshadowed by the Islamic-terror immigration freeze. While the usual paid protestors and let’s-trash-its have swarmed the airports, and one Senator was on TV crying for the poor Yemeni terrorists who killed and wounded these guys, nobody in public life seems distressed about the loss of the GIs.

UPDATE

According to David Cincotti at The Aviationist, two crewmembers were injured in the MV-22 crash, and this photo is the destroyed aircraft:

Two points to whoever set the charges… not much of intel value to recover there.