Category Archives: Unconventional Warfare

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was:

Here’s a question for all y’all (or in our native New England turkey-herdish, for youse guys). Answer after the jump:

The 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Separate (Provisional), is or was: free polls


Continue reading

More Jade Helm Full Retard®

YouTube is a great place to look for proof of the proposition that half of everybody is below average. Here’s a screenshot of some of the people who don’t know that you Never Go Full Retard®.

Screenshot 2015-03-27 18.55.27


OK, they’re a little bit… nuts, eh? Or, perhaps, cognitively challenged? They just don’t know that the Academy doesn’t like it when you go full retard.

But surely that’s all of them, right? Er, no….

Screenshot 2015-03-27 18.55.58


“Texas FEMA Domes?” “Synagogue of Satan?” (Tip, folks. Learn something about other religions before you form opinions on them. There are people who worship in synagogues. Oddly enough, the God they worship is not Satan. Or Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Baal, or The Lightworker. (Yeah, we slipped that in to see if you were paying attention). As far as FEMA oppressing you is concerned, you do realize that these guys can’t even get MREs to a flood or tornado scene in two weeks. If you see someone’s tongue stuck to a cold window, and his pants are on inside out, that’s the FEMA guy.

“Red Dawn Texas”? Oh, brother. Full Retard®. But if the actual YouTubes are retarded, you should see the imbecility in the comments:

Screenshot 2015-03-27 18.56.23

Plasma Burns? We’ll tell you what burns: stupid. In some of these cases it spontaneously combusts on exposure to oxygen.

Hey, the Three Stooges only played at being this stupid, and they entertained people.

After the jump, there’s a guy who claims to be former SF, and who talks sense (we don’t know him, nor does the retired SF field-grade who found the link) in his YouTube. And yes, all the spastic goonery above was in response to this good-natured, calm and patriotic video by Pastor Joe Fox (if we got his name right) on the next page

Continue reading

Quick Update on JADE HELM 15

jh_logoOn 24 March, no doubt in response to the hyperventilating around the more suspicious end of the libertarian blogosphere, the US Army Special Operations Command issued a press release about exercise JADE HELM 15.

The title of the release mentions that this is about preparing at home for threads abroad, and it goes on to say:

USASOC periodically conducts training exercises such as these to practice core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies. It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training, equipment and resources possible.

While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas.

The training exercise will be conducted on private and public land with the permission of the private landowners, and from state and local authorities. In essence, all exercise activity will be taking place on pre-coordinated public and private lands.

Do go Read The Whole Thing™, especially if someone has told you the sky is falling. It is not, Mr Little. Everything in that release is ex cathedra stuff that was approved by the boss or his representative for public release, not our informed speculation. (Although we can’t help boasting it tracks our informed spec pretty closely).

More informed speculation follows.

Why are these exercises spread out over such a large area? Because, in wartime, the operation of a Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) can cover a large, even continental area. (While the exact alignments of SF Groups, Theater Special Operations Commands, and other elements is classified, it’s not rocket surgery to figure out the general areas of responsibility).

Moreover, single SOF missions may involve long, intricate and arduous infiltration/exfiltration means using multiple services’ equipment and personnel. (For example, a flight of over 1,000 miles, with a parachute jump at the end, and the a/c having to fly 1,000 more miles to get home, is not out of the question).

A parachute infiltration is not just training for the jumpers, but it’s training for the aviators and mission planners, too. The skills involved in flying 600 miles to a blind (i.e. unlit, no radio beacon) dropzone you’ve never seen before at low level are completely different from the skills used to run six minute racetracks around Holland DZ at Fort Bragg, or to hold formation on a mass-tactical drop of the 82nd Falling Horde on the much larger Sicily DZ.

Infiltration means are not the only system that needs to be thoroughly shaken out in peacetime exercises, in order to be able to count on it in wartime contingencies. Communications systems also need distance to be tested, especially satellite and HF burst transmissions.

Compare to big combined-arms exercises: while the tankers think that they’re the ones being exercised, at higher HQs they’re sweating the logistics of drawing prepositioned armor or moving units on or off railheads. A well-developed exercise shakes down every echelon and every enabling support function in some way.

In addition to these enabling technologies, one would expect SOF elements in JADE HELM 15 to conduct strategic reconnaissance, direct action, and guerrilla warfare training.

Frankly, we’re pleased to see such a large and sophisticated exercise taking shape. It tells us that SOF is off the back-to-back-deployment treadmill and is able to hone its edge with realistic and effective training again.

That’s a good thing.

Flashbang & Speedbump Went Shooting

On a range we know well, the two Boston Marathon bombers, the late and unlamented Tamerlan “Speedbump” Tsarnaev, and his brother Dzhokar “Flashbang” Tsarnaev, went shooting just two years ago, a few weeks before committing mass murder, according to evidence revealed in the trial of Flashbang. The Feds have posted a .pdf of their range sign-in sheets.



They went to Manchester Firing Line on Brown Avenue in Manchester, NH on 20 March 2013, and rented two Glock pistols plus safety equipment (mandatory on the range, naturally). The two residents of militantly anti-gun, 2nd-amendment-abolitionist Massachusetts rated themselves “intermediate” skilled on handguns, although where they acquired that skill is anyone’s guess. (The following self-evaluation is Flashbang’s  Speedbump also rated himself intermediate on rifle. Note that Dzhokar lied about the “unlawful user, or addicted to,” question, according to all his friends.


Both brothers signed the sign-in sheets; the following is Dzhokar’s.


They lived in Cambridge, a town that requires its own off-duty police to lock up their guns and that as a matter of policy does not issue Licenses to Carry to anyone not politically connected (an LTC is necessary to purchase, own or register a handgun in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts).

The one handgun they had was a 9mm Ruger P95, Serial Number 317-87693, which had had the numbers defaced. They probably acquired it from the Maine drug dealers ATF was able to trace it to as part of their ongoing drug business. Drug dealer Danny Sun bought the gun new from Cabela’s in Scarborough, Maine; jammed up on unrelated charges, he admitted transferring it to  Biniam “Icy” Tsegai, a fugitive from justice at the time, and one of the Somali/Ethiopian/Eritrean “refugees” that have swarmed Maine’s organized criminal activities. According to prosecutors in a related case, the gun came to Tamerlan Tsarnaev through a former classmate at Cambridge Rindge and Latin school (a school where anti-American cant is embedded in the curriculum), a career gun criminal (at 21!) named Stephen Silva.

A few months later, the demonic duo detonated two bombs built according to a plan published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. That night, they snuck up on a MIT campus cop car and shot officer Sean Collier dead from ambush, in an abortive attempt to steal his handgun. Later, they would be involved in a firefight with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan would fire some 54 rounds and the police several hundred (they were never properly accounted for, but there was mass contagious firing, almost all unaimed). Tamerlan was killed when he ran out of ammunition and threw the empty Ruger at the cops. He was being taken into custody when  Dzhokar ran him over with his own SUV (hence the nickname. “Speedbump.”). Dzhokar, for his part, was wounded in Watertown and then wounded again in a second case of contagious shooting when he was located after a long manhunt and a dragnet that paid only lip service to hundreds of years of requiring a warrant. There have been increasing incidents of criminals using public ranges. Smith & Wesson, still trying to navigate the treacherous waters of the People’s Republic, closed their pro shop range to the public after a records showed that a violent criminal had trained there.

Breaking: Bergdahl to be Charged with Desertion

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlThe only surprise in this is not that the evidence supported charging the little crapweasel with desertion, but that anybody in the Administration, dedicated as it is to “different spanks for different ranks,” was willing to sign off on the charges.

You may recall that in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Hillary Clinton (during the initial Taliban negotiations, Secretary of State), said that desertion or not, honorable service or not, it didn’t matter.

CLINTON: [O]ne of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn’t matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.

SAWYER (in disbelief): It doesn’t matter?

CLINTON (dismissively): It doesn’t matter.

(Hat tip, Paul Bedard). Of course, given Hillary!’s long-standing disinterest in and contempt for military and foreign service personnel, that shouldn’t be a shocker. (“What difference does it make?”). Stumblebum National Security Advisor Susan Rice, fully briefed on Bergdahl’s betrayal of his mates, pronounced at the time of the swap that he, we are not making this up, “served the United States with honor and distinction.” (We admit, Rice may be using herself as a yardstick, which sets the bar limbo-low).  And the President, in words similar enough to Clinton’s to suggest deliberate messaging, said that he had “absolutely no apologies” for trading the Taliban bigs for the defector. “[W]e don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to get someone back,” on whether the individual was a hostage, a prisoner or, as in Bergdahl’s case, a deserter.

There’s a certain logic to this: their actions make clear that Obama, Clinton and Rice (not to mention junior player in this fiasco, former SecDef Chuck Hagel) don’t view a traitor any differently from any other soldier: even one like Bergdahl who got his buddies killed. In fact, they may prefer the turncoat.

Who Did We Lose for this Putz?

A former soldier who was there when Bergdahl went over the wall breaks it down at, of all places, the generally pro-Administration Daily Beast. Nathan Bethea remembers a friend’s desperate battle against insurgents who seemed to come from nowhere:

[T]he attack would not have happened had his company received its normal complement of intelligence aircraft: drones, planes, and the like. Instead, every intelligence aircraft available in theater had received new instructions: find Bergdahl. My friend blames Bergdahl for his soldiers’ deaths. I know that he is not alone, and that this was not the only instance of it. His soldiers’ names were Private First Class Aaron Fairbairn and Private First Class Justin Casillas.

Not all the casualties were so indirect. Bethea lists six more who actually died looking for the deserting crapweasel.

Though the 2009 Afghan presidential election slowed the search for Bergdahl, it did not stop it. Our battalion suffered six fatalities in a three-week period. On August 18, an IED killed Private First Class Morris Walker and Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen during a reconnaissance mission. On August 26, while conducting a search for a Taliban shadow sub-governor supposedly affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss was shot in the face and killed. On September 4, during a patrol to a village near the area in which Bergdahl vanished, an insurgent ambush killed Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews and gravely wounded Private First Class Matthew Martinek, who died of his wounds a week later. On September 5, while conducting a foot movement toward a village also thought affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey stepped on an improvised land mine. He died the next day.

Inside the Beltway, that list of names draws a shrug. Those names were mere enlisted swine and expendable junior officers, the sort of people who exist to serve, and to be disposed of, by the Beltway version of Burke’s Peerage.

Who Did We Swap for this Putz?

The five Taliban leaders released for Bergdahl have all returned to war against the USA, one way or another. They’re quite a rogue’s gallery of bad actors, the Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn called them “Five of the Most Dangerous,” which may be exaggeration, but not by much.  Several of them were wanted by the UN for war crimes, but this decision effectively amnestied them. They are:

kairkhwaKhair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa. Why do many Afghans have only one name? Is it because this weasel snapped up five? He’s not funny, though. This fine glowering face was the Ministry of the Interior for the Taliban, was a member since 1994, and was responsible for the secret police. He gave orders for the ethnic cleansing and massacres of Hazara people in central Bamiyan province, in part to get rid of the Hazaras, hated on religious and racial (the TB are Deobandi Sunni, mostly white, and the Hazaras Shia, mostly Asian).

mullah_mohammad_fazlMullah Mohammad Fazl. This scowl just shouts “gentle man of God,” doesn’t it? Well, maybe if your god is allah, and your sacraments are mass murder, slavery, and female genital mutilation, it does. He was a senior Taliban commander — some documents suggest Chief of Staff — and was responsible for integrating Al-Qaeda, Chechen, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other international terrorists into the Taliban fight against the Northern Alliance and, then, against the US-Afghan-led coalition. He also commanded mass murders of Uzbeks and other ethnic minorities before his capture in 2001.

mullah_norullah_nooriMullah Norullah Nori is another mass murderer, in his case of Uzbeks and Hazaras from his post as emir of north-central Balkh Province. There were few Pashtuns in Balkh, so Nori offered local Tajik leaders the Dari equivalent of plata o plomo; he got enough takers that he was able to use his mostly Tajik militia leaders and sub-mullahs to do the dirty work of exterminating entire villages, and driving others into exile (the Hazaras to Iran or to Bamian city where the local Hazara warlord, Khalili, was strong enough to protect them; the Uzbeks to Northern Alliance territory. Nori was taken alive by Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, and handed over to the SF team accompanying him in late 2011.

mohd_nabi_omariMohammad Nabi Omari ran the Taliban ratline through the Khyber Pass that funneled their top leaders out of harm’s way and into the safe hands of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, a Taliban sponsor from the movement’s earliest days. It is believed that he was instrumental in the escape of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden from Afghanistan into Pakistan, where both were able to plot further terrorism under the benevolent overwatch of the Pakistani service. Omari, though, waited too long to put himself through the ratline, and fell into American hands. Until his fortune fell into the hands of Americans who value the esteem of jihadis over the lives of their own servicemen — lucky for him.

abdul_haq_wasiqAbdul Haq Wasiq was one of the top men in the Taliban’s intelligence service, astride a Golgotha of torture and murder. He had a comprehensive knowledge of and involvement in  Taliban/Al-Qaeda relations. Like many Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, he was able to maintain communications with both organizations while in Guantanamo through his attorneys, supplied by the pseudo-pro-bono terrorist bar. (The attorneys are actually compensated indirectly by Gulf terror sponsors for wink-and-nod “legal work”).

Now we find ourselves waiting for a court-martial of a guy who gave his best shot at changing sides, only to find his best shot wasn’t good enough to do more than irritate anybody — except, of course, for the eight-plus men who died because of his betrayal. The whole clown circus will be assembling in the center ring soon. Look for the pro bono lawyers, driven by terror-financier cash under the table, or by simple self-aggrandizement. There will be camera-hounds, and cameras aplenty for them to hound. There will be TV “journalists,” blow-dried coifs over empty skulls, wondering If The Boy Hasn’t Suffered Enough. And worst of all, this craven bugout will not be facing the honest end that Eddie Slovik earned in WWII. They’ve already promised not to execute him, no matter what.

Gee, how humanitarian. 

There’s a probably bogus statistic rolling around, that says that 22 GWOT veterans kill themselves every day, week, fortnight, or some other interval. It’s probably a bogus statistic, derived by the usual media mathematic method of anal extraction, but there are some veterans who do off themselves.

What a crying shame that Bergdahl couldn’t be one.

No, SF is NOT preparing for civil war. Sheesh…. (long)

jh_logo This is the look of panic:

CIVIL WAR PREP: Pentagon To Conduct “Realistic Military Training” For War On American Soil Against “Insurgents”

The Pentagon looks like they’re gearing up for a civil war by releasing information about ‘realistic military training’

This is where we usually say, “Read The Whole Thing™” but that pretty much is the whole thing But if you’re disbelieving still, go thither yourself: CIVIL WAR PREP: Pentagon To Conduct “Realistic Military Training” For War On American Soil Against “Insurgents” | Doug Giles | #ClashDaily.

Here come the MC-130Js full of Rangers. Oh noes!

Here come the MC-130Js full of Rangers. Oh noes! “I said, ‘Don’t look, Ethel.’ But it was too late. She looked.”

There are other, even more partisan and more conspiratorial, sites that are even more wound up over this than Doug Giles is.

Which is really saying something. Because he’s wound up to the point where he renamed the briefing slides from their anodyne Army verbiage to: Jade-Helm-Martial-Law-WW3-Prep-Document. 

He’s aghast that The Iron Curtain of Fascism is Descending on America. (Harumph optional). That “Martial Law” title as much as anything shows that some guys have gone to 11 on the rheostat of outrage without understanding the thing that they’re so upset about. No, it’s not a preparation for Martial Law, although it may be a prep for WW3 — in somebody else’s country.

The evidence before us is a set of unclassified briefing slides for an SF and SOF unconventional warfare exercise — basically, guerilla and underground role-playing — that will take place across the southwestern United States. Jade Helm is a series of SOF and SOF-heavy exercises (in which conventional forces exercising their capabilities are also used as SOF training aids) that has been running for a while. For any veteran of Special Forces the slides will strongly recall other UW exercises, notably the culmination exercise of SF training, which has been coded Robin Sage for a very long time. (Previously it had other names, like Gobblers Woods).


Jade Helm differs from FTX Robin Sage in several ways:

  • It is not an initial training evolution, the main objective of which is to educate, train and evaluate individuals on the cusp of Special Forces qualification. Instead, it is a collective training exercise designed to improve, enhance and evaluate fully-qualified special operations units.
  • It is not contained in a small area where these exercises have been going on for years, such as the areas of Bavaria and the Palatinate where Exercise Schwarzes Pferd (Black Horse) took place during the Cold War, or the rural region of North Carolina where Robin Sage historically takes place.
  • It is not restricted to the participation of SF ODAs, the 12-man Operational Detachment Alpha that is the fundamental organic element of SF. (For SEALs, the equivalent is the platoon). ODAs are designed to split into two elements of roughly equal capability, to task-organize into even smaller elements with specialized capabilities where needed, and to assemble into larger units and efforts freely. They also can form the backbone of a large element of foreign irregular or regular forces, as leaders, advisors or trainers. Along with the ODAs, this exercise will shake down several ODBs (a task-organized element based on the HQ of an SF company supported by one or more ODAs and non-SF support personnel), and a Special Forces Operations Base (SFOB) based on a reinforced Group or Battalion headquarters.
  •  Jade Helm is not an SF exercise exclusively, but one that will also employ other ARSOF, joint SOF, including at least one MARSOC CSOT. The Marines were screwed in 2007 when they trained for Direct Action missions and were delivered into a theater that was expecting a UW-trained and culturally-preadapted element. We’re betting they will do much better in 2015, given the chance to prepare and train for the UW mission, and the record MARSOC has achieved in the interim.

Far from teaching SOF troops to operate the mechanism of a police state, exercises like Jade Helm give SOF troops critically needed experience operating against and inside the territory of a police state. Normally the “police” and “secret police” role players are selected from soldiers and real police. The “guerillas” can be conventional Army or Guard soldiers, or even ROTC cadets, friendly foreign troops, and in one case I’m aware of, were civilian volunteers. (The SJA put the kibosh on ever doing that again. Unfortunately).

These briefing slides were freely provided to local officials, in order to secure their cooperation in an exercise that will play out across their territory. In specific, these slides were for certain Texas authorities. Some genius at the command thought that that the slides were self-explanatory. As the current “martial law!!!1!!” hullaballoo shows, they’re not, unless you’re well steeped in Unconventional Warfare doctrine and fluent in its acronyms. As a public service, we’ll provide the slides here as a free download and explain what’s going on.

JADE HELM 15 Request to Conduct RMT.pdf

There are 12 slides. We will tell you for each slide what it means, OK? But in order to keep the stretch of this long post on the front page of the blog to a minimum, we’ll tell you after the jump.

Continue reading

“New” Mission for Army SOF

Charles T ClevelandThe Fayetteville Observer has an interesting story on a public briefing at UNC-Chapel Hill on new missions for ARSOF. But they’re really not “new” so much as they’re “newly recognized;” under this new doctrine the military will be doing things it did during the Indian wars, the Philippine occupation and in many counter-insurgency operations and advisory deployments for the best part of a century.

The difference, perhaps, is that while in those wars remotely stationed officers were left to fly by the seat of their pants and improvise outside the framework of military doctrine, new unconventional warfare doctrine is going to give them something solid upon which their great-grandsons’ can base future improvisations.

[USACOM Commander LTG Charles T. Cleveland] said that for the first time in its 60-year history, Army special operations forces have written their own doctrine, better spelling out to other Army leaders how their unconventional warfare fits into the Army’s core competencies.
That could lead to better efforts in what Cleveland called the “messy middle” between conventional and special operations forces – counterinsurgency.

Iraq started with conventional forces during “Shock and Awe.” Afghanistan started with small teams of Special Forces soldiers working with the Northern Alliance.

But both wars “ended in the middle,” Cleveland said.

As we’ve always said, “We were winning when we left.”

“We’ve got to figure out these transitions. We weren’t able to capitalize on tactical success,” he said, emphasizing that the military can’t repeat past mistakes where they fought wars “one year at a time.”

New_USASOC__DUIThis may be one of the first shots in what will be a barrage of “who-lost-Iraq” finger-pointing by various vainglorious Beltway bloviators and policy panjandrums. But unlike most of those talking mouths (heads? Those just hold up a hairstyle), Cleveland actually fought these wars as a Special Forces and special operations commander.

It’s interesting to see that his focus is on the military, itself, internally. While there may well be political problems with the conduct of these wars (may be?), he sees plenty of things right within his own command that can be fixed or improved.

He goes on to suggest an idea that almost deserves its own capitals, as The Third Mission:

Historically, the Army had two missions, Cleveland said. The first, to fight and win the nation’s wars. The second, to respond to contingencies, including humanitarian disasters.

“There is what I would submit to you is a third mission,” he told students. “We have a requirement to build, maintain and then deploy a global network of land power capabilities.Not only ours but those of our allies, friendly nations and surrogate forces.”

That third mission is needed, he said, because the world is changing.

“We’re not fighting the way we did back then,” he said of earlier wars. “Waiting for large scale combat?  We can’t afford to wait that long.”

It’s a remarkable, sophisticated view of military operations that encompasses systematic force-, and, especially relationship-building with foreign allies.

Because “There’s nothing new under the sun,” a phrase that was probably old when first chiseled into a clay tablet, it turns out that the main message is a new take on an old one. What is Cleveland’s “human domain” but the latest restatement of Napoleon’s “In war, the moral is to the physical as three parts out of four?”  But he takes it in directions where the great general (and begetter of aphorisms) never did go.

Special operations forces are more than a different model of hammer, he said. They’re a different tool entirely.

“My strategy was change the fundamentals about how we talk about our form of warfare,” Cleveland said. “I think that what has emerged is a human domain.”

That human domain – in which Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers work – is no different from the “air domain” that was discovered amid the World Wars.

Please do Read The Whole Thing™. And you tell us if what emerges in the paragraphs after the last one quoted is not, without explicitly stating the case, a very near justification for an independent Special Operations Force, just as we established in 1947 an independent Air Force.

He never does make the call, and he probably would not. An independent SOF force may not be a good idea, and the route to an independent AF has sometimes been rocky and has seen the Air Force focus, at times, on internal, almost irrational mythologies at the expense of joint operations. Anybody aware of the relative efficiency of battlefield transport in the chaos of Vietnam compared to the bureaucratic quagmire that Air Force central Soviet-style management has made of the problem of moving men and matériel around Afghanistan or Iraq knows the answer is not one more staff, one more HQ, and one more bureaucracy stacked on a rickety stack of top-heavy bureaucracies.

What SOF does in wartime, it does in well-established symbiosis with conventional forces, to the benefit of both sorts of forces and the overall mission. But what it does in peacetime can extend those benefits, ideally preventing the need for combat employment of conventional forces, and if that is not possible, helping to lay the groundwork for their success.

Because that groundwork can be laid, years or even decades in advance, in the human terrain.

Napoleon I would approve.

Can Your Suppressed Pistol Beat This? 78 dB.

That’s the measured performance of this little beauty:


.32 ACP Welrod, from the collection of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

Vintage 1941 or so, developed by the SOE. The ASOM notes another detail, which explains the strange magazine-is-the-grip design of the Welrod (bold is ours):

A limited range, close-qurters head shot weapon, the Welrod’s main value was its level of discreetness when used. This weapon could be fired with the magazine/grip removed, in which case it did not look like a weapon at all. Using the weapon in this manner allowed operators a level of stealth necessary for operations behind enemy lines.

Internally, Welrod’s suppressor design features are typical of silencers of the time. It has a ported barrel which vents into an expansion chamber partly restricted by screen discs. Modern suppressor designers abjure these design features as archaic and backward: the ported barrel saps velocity, and the screen discs are thought to be much less effective than shaped K-baffles or other baffles.

Really? Show us the quiet, guys. Show us a centerfire single-shot suppressed pistol that can beat 78 dB. We’re not asking much in the way of accuracy — the original Welrod was intended for contact ranges, but was good for minute-of-Nazi-skull out to 20 yards or so — but let’s see more muzzle energy for less noise than the Welrod.

We’re guessing that, without going to a captive cartridge like the Tunnel Rat experimental revolver or certain Russian silent-pistol designs, you can’t get materially better than those 20th Century Britons did with the Welrod. (For all their efforts, we’ve had a hard time confirming behind-the-lines use of this system, even with so many formerly secret archives opening up lately. Anybody know different?).

True, Jesse James the motorcycle loudmouth is claiming something similar for his rifle suppressor, but when he delivers that you’ll be able to hang it up next to your jet pack in the garage where you park your flying car. He’s the Baghdad Bob of gun credibility with that one.

But you would think we would be able to excel something made before computers, finite element analysis, and 70 years of progress in understanding sound theory and in production and metallurgical technology. That we are not, generally, far beyond the status quo of 1941 speaks volumes for the ingenuity and application of those wartime engineers.

The Spirit of De Oppresso Liber

The young buck on the left is not showing his most distinctive feature — then-lieutenant Jack Singlaub’s prominent ears are contained inside his English para helmet, as he prepares to jump into France — behind enemy lines as part of the Jedburgh program.

He didn’t end his service to the USA there; he retired, not voluntarily, in 1978 as a Major General. We’ll get to that in a moment, but in the interim, he was one of the founders of the CIA before returning to the Army where he held important positions in the Korean and Vietnam Wars (including Chief, MAC-V SOG).

He was a Major General and Chief of Staff of US Forces in South Korea when the Carter Administration planned to abandon the country, withdrawing US troops and support, leaving the South Koreans to the tender mercies of North Korea’s de facto king, Kim Il-Sung, and taking a good Billy-Beer-fueled whiz on the sacrifice of the roughly 200,000 US and Allied dead and missing from the Korean War. (Carter’s beef was with South Korea’s authoritarian leader at the time, Singlaub criticized Carter’s half-assed policy in an interview. Per a CGSC Paper on the controversy:

Singlaub granted John Saar of the Washington Post an interview on May 19, 1977, just days before the administration envoys were to arrive. Singlaub commented bluntly that the withdrawal plan was ill-advised, opposed by many of “the senior military people” and would lead to war with North Korea. He expressed his deep concern that policymakers might have been working with outdated intelligence, citing a recent intelligence estimate that demonstrated that North Korea was much stronger than had been previously thought.

Despite his outspoken opposition to the policy decision. Singlaub also took the position “If the decision is made we will execute it with enthusiasm and a high level of professional skill”. The interview also included reference to the misgivings of Gen. John W. Vessey, then Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations and U.S. forces in Korea and his deputy. Lt. Gen John J. Burns.

Unidentified sources were quoted as saying that Vessey had expressed his concerns directly to Carter and Defense Secretary Harold Brown.  Both the Washington Post and the New York Times featured articles on the interview. The administration’s response was not long in coming. Several hours after the publication of the interview, the White House announced that Maj. Gen. Singlaub had been told to report personally to the President at the White House.

Where Carter fired him, put him in a nothing job, and when he heard that Singlaub also disagreed with Carter’s neutron-bomb unilateral disarmament, cast him into a punitive early retirement, directing the denial of the gimpy old paratrooper’s disability claim.

Previously, old political general (and no fan of SF) GEN Bernard W. “Bathrobe Bernie” Rogers had told Singlaub that the decision was already a done deal, and that Carter had rejected military advice on the subject. Rogers, the Courtney Massengale of his era, would never stick his neck out on the subject, but he’d certainly prime Singlaub to stick his neck out.

It’s true that the incident gets muddier the more closely you look at it. Singlaub’s own post-incident statements have left his intentions unclear, and the Washington Post reporter seems to have been — no surprise there — a man of pretzel ethics, simply looking for a scalp for his paper. (Why any general officer would talk to a Post or Times reporter is a mystery for the ages. Let them make up their stories without words of yours to twist). But the picture emerges of an officer who, despite being quite small in stature, was enough of a giant to face certain death behind Nazi lines, and certain career death in the Oval Office.

One of the most remarkable things about General Singlaub is that he is still alive. And he will be attending an event on Friday that will offer any of you who are in, or can get, to Fayetteville, NC, with a chance to see and possibly meet him in person. (We won’t be there, but we’ve met him several times, and we’re nobody to him anyway).

Joan Singlaub,  COL (Ret) Andy Anderson, and the ASOM [Airborne and Special Operations Museum] Foundation invite you to meet one of the original Special Operations Soldiers of the United States Military.

The program starts in the Main Theater of the ASOM then moves out front to unveil the Singlaub pavers.

This was received by email but maybe the link to The Whole Thing™ will work. (If not we found it here, too). For the record, the ASOM is the museum in downtown Fayetteville, and open to the public, not the more intimate regimental museum that is on Ft Bragg proper, and requires some hassle to get through the gate to.

Time is 1330R Friday 20 Mar 15 (this Friday!) so be there or be square. Uniform is casual but tasteful, please: be respectful of the presence of many old heroes in the flesh and in the spirit.

Quick quiz: how did Carter having his signature policy upended work out? For the South Koreans, a lot better than being integrated in the Juche state would be, eh? And maybe that’s the best measure of the achievement of John K. Singlaub: freedom for millions. Now that’s the spirit of De Opresso Liber.

(There’s a good program on 28 March as well, with author Maurice Renaud, whose parents were residents of St. Mêre-Église, the first town liberated by American paratroopers on D-Day; check out the Museum web site).

Land Mines vs. Booby Traps vs. IEDs.

Those three are the most hated, if not always the most feared, enemy weapons. Much as WWII bomber crews loathed flak more than fighters (their gunners could shoot back at fighters!) the unattended (or command-detonated) explosive device is more loathed than direct fire. Tom Kratman nailed this in his military science-fiction novel, A Desert Called Peace, which we’re still reading.

“I don’t even like the idea of land mines,” Parilla muttered.

“No one does,” Carrera agreed. “Not until you have a horde of screaming motherfuckers coming to kill you and all that stands between their bayonets and you is a belt of land mines.”

How Armies Use Mines

In military usage, mines, which may be emplaced by combat troops or by specialist engineers, are used as artificial obstacles to hinder or channelize enemy forces, or as ambush initiators. It is good practice to initiate an ambush with the greatest casualty-producing weapon, or greatest shock-producing weapon, available to you, and the authoritative WHAM! of a Claymore is an excellent way to send a message to the enemy, when that message is: “Die, die, die!”

Note to national policymakers: If that’s not the message you’re trying to send as a matter of national policy, you may have selected the wrong tool when you chose the military as messenger.

In a well-executed ambush, the Claymore blast is followed by overwhelming firepower and then, very rapidly, by a lift and shift of fires from the objective to the enemy’s potential escape routes, while troops assault across the objective to ensure the total destruction of the target element, and to gather any intelligence that can readily be gained from their still-warm bodies and shattered equipment.

Just because enemy units are armored, there’s no reason not to initiate your ambush with a command-detonated mine. The Claymore has long had anti-tank equivalents in off-route AT mines, essentially a remote-command-launched rocket that you aim in advance where you expect the enemy armor to be. We don’t know how far these go back, but the first one we used to use was based on the old 3.5″ rocket launcher (the Super Bazooka invented in WWII and used in Korea after the 2.36″ one proved useless on T-34s). The US also has a set of shaped charges and platter mines that have a limited standoff capability. Most American troops never see or train with these devices; for whatever reason, they’re not a training priority, but they’re in the inventory.

The main use of mines, despite that long digression about ambushes, is to fortify positions. A minefield of this type has very limited utility if not covered by friendly observation and fire at all times; otherwise, the enemy can simply blow or lift the mines, something that, like mine emplacement, can be done “retail” by combat troops or “wholesale” by engineers. For this reason, the Hollywood trope of the patrol caught in the minefield is actually a very rare occurrence off-screen. You do not actually find your patrol in a minefield on a nice sunny day with the leisure to probe for mines with a stick (and please, not a bayonet). You find your patrol in the middle of the mines, usually a night in the foulest weather imaginable, and under accurate enemy direct or indirect fire.

In addition to mines that can be placed by troops, minefields can be emplaced hastily by engineer equipment, including sophisticated mechanical minelayers that lay mines in a ditch or holes the machines themselves dig, and pods that can scatter mines from aircraft, usually helicopters or (these days) UAVs.

Minefields emplaced by civilized troops for defensive purposes are, by international convention, marked with recognized international symbols. This is part of why mine, booby-trap, and IED warfare by irregular forces is often hated by regulars; the irregulars do not comply with these rules and norms, and so are thought to be fighting underhandedly. (The guerrillas, for their part, see it as merely doing what they can in an asymmetric fight).

The other part of forces’ loathing for enemies’ mine warfare is, as Tom’s character Duce Parilla seems to have internalized, you can’t fight back against a mine. The guy who killed or maimed your men is long gone. (Of course, you can fight back against minelayers, but the fight is indirect and requires you, too, to play to your asymmetric strengths). This feeling of frustration by mine-warfare attack (in this case, by booby traps that produced casualties) was a key ingredient, along with inadequate officer selection & training and bad leadership at all levels from corporal to Corps, in the misconduct of Americal Division troops that became known as the My Lai Massacre.  They were so tired of taking casualties by booby trap, and so badly led, that they took out their fear and frustration on enemy noncombatants instead.

As tragic as the outcome was for the simple peasant families of My Lai 4, the murders were a great victory for the Communists in the key center of gravity of the war — the minds of the American public and their elected leaders. It was part of an array of events that drove a schism between the military and the media that endures almost 40 years later.

So What’s the Difference?

Mines, Booby Traps, and Improvised Explosive Devices are three somewhat overlapping categories of (usually but not always) explosive weapons.


Mike Croll defines landmines as:

mass-produced, victim-operated, explosive traps.1

In American usage (Croll was a British soldier and, subsequently, NGO counter-mining expert), “landmines” also includes command-detonated weapons like the Claymore. It was once customary for patrols to use a Claymore wired with a tripwire and a pull or pull-release firing device to delay pursuit; this usage has been banned by American military lawyers who were, we are not making this up, inspired by Princess Diana.

Booby-traps are distinguished from mines by dint of not being made en masse in factories, but as Croll points out, “the difference can be academic,” and it’s certainly not significant to the victim. While no non-explosive victim-operated weapons are currently in production worldwide, non-explosive traps have been used since prehistoric times (Croll also traces the archaeology of caltrops and Roman obstacle fields in his book). In the early years of the Vietnam War, US forces did encounter Malayan Gates, punji pits, and other non-explosive mantraps; as the war ground on, the enemy improved his logistics and regularized his forces, and such bulky, hard to make, and easily detected traps gave way to explosive weapons.


Improvised Explosive Devices encompass everything that blows a fellow up, and that didn’t come out of the factory in the form in which it ultimately is used. The ED is often I from factory weapons that were not envisioned by their inventors as traps, command-detonated, or suicide mines. This definition of IED includes explosive booby traps, of course, as a subset. The many forms of suicide IED are also a subset; suicide weapons have approached mass-production status in Iraq and Iran, with such markers of production status as dedicated circuit boards.

We’ve provided a couple of Venn diagrams to help you sort ‘em out, but as Croll himself notes, there’s a considerable gray area. An AT mine can be fitted with a pull-release device or pressure plate and deployed as a massive overkill anti-personnel booby trap, for example. So perhaps instead of having solid borders, the circles should shade into one another.

But we’re with Parilla and Carrera. We hate ‘em, unless we’re behind ‘em and anticipating the banzai charge of the Third Shock Mongolian Horde.


1. Croll, p.ix.


Croll, Mike. The History of Landmines. Bromley, England: Leo Cooper, 1998.