Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

Fun Facts about Boston SWAT and the “gun trucks.”

Mostly from Boston and area cops. Mostly second-hand. But this is some good context for this morning’s post on the cop shooting in East Boston.

You Gotta Ride

boston-police-motorcycle-patrolIf you get off active duty as a Seal Team Subzero assault team leader and join the Boston PD, you’re probably not going to be on Special Operations (the local flavor of SWAT). That’s not just because there’s an in-crowd that you’re probably not “in,” but also because it’s a love child of the motorcycle platoon. The official party line about the outfit glosses over that …

The Boston Police Special Operations Unit is a specialized unit within the Boston Police Department responsible for combined duties involving Highway Patrol and traffic enforcement, crowd control, and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) services within the city.

 One unique feature of the unit is that the Special Operations Unit primarily relies on the use of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and Harley-Davidsons in their daily patrols. The use of motorcycles allows the unit to perform routine traffic enforcement; accompany parades, crowds, and visiting dignitaries; and to quickly travel to situations wherein the unit’s SWAT skills are requested. Specialized trucks and support vehicles are also used to transport equipment and officers when needed.

 The Canine unit with twenty seven patrol/narcotics, and EOD dogs, and Bomb (EOD) squad are also under the Special Operations Division.

… but the deal is, you gotta ride if you want to kick doors with the nation’s oldest police department. You gotta check out in the motorcycle platoon, first.

And yes, you have a ticket… please don’t call it a quota… we believe the current term is objective.

It’s All on the Buddy System

Getting into a military special operations element usually requires some kind of selection, qualification or standards-setting rite of passage. Getting into Boston PD Motorcycle and Special Operations? If the unit’s managers think you’re a good guy, you’re in. It helps if you have other coppers in the family, or course. (Well, that’s everywhere. You’ll never stamp it out, and you might not want to, because for every nephew-they-wish-wasn’t, there’s usually three good cops in a cop family).

This has been a shock to some guys who come from military special operations, or from other departments that have high standards for their entry squads, like LAPD’s SWAT or NYPD’s ESD.

There is NO Physical Requirement or PT test

This guy isn't a Boston cop, but you could say he fits the profile.

This guy isn’t a Boston cop, but you could say he fits the profile.

Not for the PD, nor for Special Operations. The unions have fought any attempt to impose such a requirement so long and so vigorously that nobody even brings it up any more.

On the plus side, if you want to get in shape, nobody in the department leadership is going to stop you. More donuts for them!

It’s far from the only police department in this position. One of Boston’s many colleges has a large and generally switched-on police department, where they’re actually taking measures that may be effective should, God forbid, they face an active shooter some day. That department has a physical fitness test. It’s optional. If you opt to take it, and pass — it’s not a high standard — you receive a $2,000 cash bonus. If you fail? You get $150, to apply to a gym membership. An interesting way of motivating cops, to be sure. And more than BPD does.

The Whole City PD has 8 Carbines. Total.

What's in their gun rack? Less than you'd expect.

What’s in their gun rack? Less than you’d expect.

Remember the “gun trucks?” If you built a gun truck, it would probably have rifle racks in it, an ammo locker, and maybe some trained officers, and you’d have them prepositioned for quick access to likely trouble spots.


The Boston Police Department runs two “gun trucks,” with two trained officers in each, per shift. And they just drive around, unless dispatched. And the guns? They have shotguns. And carbines — two each. And their sidearms. And that’s it.

The four carbines in the two gun trucks on the street are it for a city of about three quarters of a million (when the city’s many colleges are in session. The population drops in the summertime).

Four guns, four officers. That’s cosi fan tutte in a city where even the local FBI got turned by organized crime, the Irish Republican Army and its spinoff terrorists find their entire basis of logistical support, bank-armored-truck crews are practically the fifth pro sports team after the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, and the Islamic Center of Boston is still preaching the gospel that energized the Tsarnaev brothers. Four guns.

Unless a truck is down for maintenance, or an officer is sick. Then you have one truck, and two guns. Thank both Gods that the IRA and the Islamic Center don’t coordinate much.

Bear in Mind

While Boston Police Department’s Special Operations may not be on the cutting edge of organizational effectiveness, and may not be armed and equipped like other major police departments are, bear in mind what happened when two fellow cops were down:

They hooked up and went in to the gunfire, beat the bad guy, and saved their own guys’ lives.

This all seems to have been spontaneous action from guys from the level of sergeant on down. Imagine what they could do with some better gear — and leadership.

More Details on the Army’s Feeble Fitness Test, OPAT

In response to our commentary on the OPAT, Occupational Physical Assessment Test, we’ve received a lot of interesting comments, including some that wanted more technical details than what we provided.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with primary documents that help you understand this test. Now, these documents exist on two planes; one is the bare words on the document, which are written to give an impression of scientific objectivity and leadership impartiality; the other is the subtext, for these documents all are written with a view to support the political Party Line with respect to combat fitness, a Party Line that we think everyone understands.

The new OPAT... only has one ball.

The new OPAT… only has one ball.

Instruction on how to administer the OPAT is here [.pdf]. It does not answer the question some had on what intervals are used on the beep test, as the beep test audio is a computer file provided separately. Here is another set of instructions[.pdf] with illustrations and some differences — for example, the first forbids use of d-handles on a trap bar, the second shows a soldier using the d-handles.

This next document suffers from the antimnemonic and counterinformational name, USARIEM Technical Report T16-2. [.pdf] The subtitle, however, does express its intent: Development of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) for Combat Arms Soldiers. This document purports to explain how the OPAT was developed, although at the time of this document (Oct 2015) it was just intended to classify soldiers for Combat Arms specialties (specifically Combat Engineers (12B), Field Artillery (13B, 13F), Infantry (11B, 11C) and Armor (19D, 19K)). If you are Army, you will note that these are all enlisted MOSes, and have no bearing on the You Go Girl! careerist officer contingent behind all this social engineering, but that’s neither here nor there. In most of those fields and in most activity domains (although not, perhaps, endurance, which this test can’t measure) the physical demands on the enlisted soldier are greater than on his officers.

Setting up a bifurcation in the physical duties of the infantry leader and his subordinates leads one to the South American army, where privates dig the officer’s foxhole and carry the officer’s rucksack. This division of power is why the world quakes before the military prowess of Bolivia, for instance. So the Army is likely to pay at least lip service to the idea of making officers and enlisted soldiers meet similar standards.

That the Social Justice Warriors are behind this document is very clear:

A number of studies have shown, however, that [the Army Physical Fitness Test] score is not highly correlated with the performance of the physically demanding tasks performed by Soldiers. Furthermore, the APFT score includes adjustments for age and sex, not only biasing for/against certain groups, but making it potentially legally indefensible if used as a screening tool for entrance into certain MOSs. Since it is not practical to test Soldiers performance of physically demanding tasks prior to entering an MOS, criterion-based physical performance tests (i.e., tests that are predictive of soldiering task performance) are essential if the Army wishes to establish valid standards to select Soldiers for an MOS.

Translated to plain English, that means: the APFT doesn’t measure anything except ability to do push-ups, sit-ups, and 2-mile run; a test score can’t be used as an MOS cutoff anyway, if it’s age-normed and sex-normed; and that the Army can’t measure, say, the ability of a would-be cannon cocker to pick up cannon shells, so they need some test that will predict whether Soldier X has this capability before they let him strike for a cannon-cocker job. (They just assume they can’t measure something like shell-handling capability… and then, later in the paper they use tests like that to “validate” their proposed OPAT!) So they conclude that, rather than test soldiers on a realistic test, some stylized, abstract and formalized test will test Soldier X’s readiness for picking up artillery shells better than pointing him at an artillery shell and saying, “Mongo, lift!” will.

In depth job analysis revealed that five of the seven MOSs (11B, 11C, 12B, 13F, 19D) had similar critical physically demanding tasks, while two MOSs (13B and 19K) had additional or different tasks with heavy physical demands. In order to reduce costs, simplify and streamline testing, additional analyses were run to determine if a common battery of physical performance tests could be used for all seven MOSs without a large loss in the predictive capability.

That’s the source of the next assumption. They selected 23 difficult physical things, in all, and if someone could do those, then they could probably do everything the MOS required.

Remember why they’re doing this (emphasis ours)

[T]hree courses of action for gender neutral Occupational Physical Assessment Tests (OPATs) were developed for seven combat MOSs.

They did not follow through and see whether their selectees then actually could perform the combat arms job, and this was done entirely by lab boffins without any visible input from people who actually have done combat arms jobs, let alone have done them in combat, which hasn’t exactly been in short supply for the last decade and a half. But they did compare how performance on three preselected batteries of tests related to performance of the 23 tests that they decided, based on zero experience, were the edge conditions of combat arms service.

When the tests were chosen, the standards were initially set by the proponencies (i.e. the schools that train soldiers in those specialties). However, the standards were reset, lower, by the Natick boffins, based on the performance of actual soldiers. If 90% of the soldiers they tested, say, in MOS 11B, could not complete some 11B task, the standard was reset at whatever level it took to get a 90% pass rate. Thus, the claim that this test is based on the needs of the MOS is only true if you accept that the boffins are the best judge of what the MOS needs, and the performance of a set of soldiers should take primacy over the tasks they need to do). This is one of many examples where the development of the test was biased towards the command’s desired lower standards.

(It’s not unusual for a soldier who’s no good at one physical activity to be accepted by his peers based on other performance strengths, a classic example being the strongman who’s a poor runner. But by lowering the standards in this manner, the boffins assured that the test is a performance test of everybody’s weakest event, and ensures that, for instance, a weak man who’s also a poor runner will be accepted, because the criterion is set by the weak in every event).

While the boffins lowered standards, they did not raise any if the soldiers of the MOS outperformed the school standard. This is another example of the bias towards lower standards. There are many more such examples.

The three test batteries were:

  1. medicine ball put, squat lift, beep test, standing long jump, arm ergometer
  2. medicine ball put, squat lift, beep test, standing long jump.
  3. standing long jump, 1-minute push-ups, 1-minute sit-ups, 300 m sprint, Illinois agility test

The most predictive of performance on the 23 tests was Test 1, which edged out test 2, on what was apparently the sole criterion of evaluation, an R2 test of predictive value (R2 tests have their own issues); Test 3 was not significantly predictive of performance on the 23 tests (r2 as low as 0.58). Tests 1 and 2 were both about 80-90% predictive, according to the paper, and Test 2 was cheaper to administer, so the Army chose Test 2.

They went to validate the test against the criteria developed, originally, by the proponencies, with the standards lowered by the boffins as described above. However, they decided that some of the tests just were too much trouble:

Some of the tasks were not collected due to either a large skill component (as the hand grenade throw) or the duplication of the physical demands with another task (multiple foot marches).

You might be excused for suspecting that this was just one more in the many examples of bias towards lower fitness standards that permeates this entire project.

They compared their approach to the pre-recruiting tests used by many foreign nations. They are dismissive about some foreign tests:

Predictor tests range from those highly faithful to the original task, such as the weight load march and jerry can carry of the Australians….

They certainly didn’t like that antipodean idea. They never considered anything like it.

That’s how the OPAT took shape, and now we see the result.

Update 1200

Even as the Army prepares to send the physically feeble to Combat Arms, recruiters have a feebler and feebler cohort of young civilians to choose from, according to the very same “beep test” used in the OPAT:

America’s kids ranked 47 out of 50 countries measuring aerobic fitness — a key factor for overall health — in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. By comparison, Tanzania, Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Japan raced away with the top five slots. The least fit country: Mexico.

Gee, would some degree of the American decline be explained by the gradual replacement of Americans by those unfit Mexicans? (You’d suck at aerobic activity, too, if you had to breathe Mexico City air. The city’s in a bowl; it’s like LA without movie-star sightings and other vestiges of the dying SoCal culture).

Research teams from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of North Dakota analyzed data on more than 1.1 million kids aged 9 to 17. Subjects were evaluated using a multi-stage fitness test also known as the “beep” test. How it works: You run back and forth between two points 66 feet apart to synchronized beeps. The point where you can’t reach the line before the beep, that’s your level.

…and that luckless recruiter just knows that the few superior examples are probably going to choose the less-Social Justice Warrior infected Marine Corps, or the “if you’re not going to be in a fighting service, you might as well take it easy” Air Force.

Army Fitness Standards Plunge for “Social Justice”

social-justice-warriorsArmy managers (not leaders, they’re fresh out of leaders) were in a tough position. They had sworn to uphold combat arms fitness standards and prevent ineffective soldiers from joining, but they were ordered to make Social Justice, as defined by a system of race and sex quotas, paramount in personnel management. All while maintaining a fiction that these were anything but race and sex quotas!

What’s a self-before-service careerist to do? Why, “suck up and squirt down,” as always. If the personnel don’t meet the standards, a careerist lowers the standards, and conceals the standards plunge by any obfuscatory technique that seems to be handy. The ends justify the means — and the ends never have anything to do with combat readiness.

One way this is being done is with a new fitness assessment called the OPAT, or Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is just for soldiers trying to change jobs to a more physical specialty. It involves four exercises:

  1. A standing long jump;
  2. Seated power throw of a 2 kg (4.4lb) ball;

    A soldier demonstrates the seated power throw.

    A soldier demonstrates the seated power throw.

  3. Deadlift from the ground to standing erect with arms at full hang, using a trap bar;deadlift
  4. A new kind of shuttle run on an electric timer, which is scored by repetitions.

The political officers developing the test considered using combat-oriented tests of ability like the Ranger Physical Assessment Test, but those tests didn’t meet the prime objective of removing physical fitness as a limitation on the assignment of careerist women officers. The OPAT uses the tools of modern fitness assessment and management, but limits them to an extremely low standard, to get around the biological complication of sexual dimorphism in Homo sapiens. 

For combat arms, you need to jump 160 centimeters (about 5’3″), throw the ball 450 centimeters, deadlift 160 pounds, and complete 43 lengths (one way) of the 20-meter shuttle run. The reason? For the greater glory of the Rangerettes, of course.

This new requirement comes as the Army works to integrate women into its previously closed combat specialties. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Dec. 3 lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service, paving the way for women to serve in the previously all-male infantry, armor and Special Forces fields and opening nearly 220,000 jobs across the military.

A team of OPAT experts, as part of the Army’s broader effort to educate the force on opportunities now available to female soldiers in previously closed jobs , will travel to the service’s major installations beginning later in September.

The women admitted under this standard aren’t really the problem — because the standards are sex-neutral (the credentialed-but-uneducated cretins who drafted them say “gender-neutral,” because they haven’t mastered the denotational difference between sex and gender), they will admit lots of men to combat arms, men who are as strong as the average woman.

maj-nick-barringerOr, as fitness expert MAJ Nick Barringer breaks it down in another story in Army Times, for the four exercises, based on published papers: as strong as the average 12-year old Hungarian boy. As strong as average 9-to-14-year-old boys. One-sixth as strong as 13-to-15-year-old boys who had eight weeks of training with a trap bar. And as strong as a 16 to 35 year old male non-athlete in “poor” health, or a “very good” senior citizen.

Nick sums it up:

The current standard for combat arms, according to the OPAT, requires you to have the lower body power of mediocre 12-year-old, the upper body power of an elite 14-year-old, the strength of an average 13-to-15-year-old who works out, and the endurance level of a fit senior citizen.

I get that some will argue that these are the minimum physical performance requirements when correlated with basic soldier tasks in the combat MOS world. However, we are looking at the minimum standard the wrong way.

Right now, it’s being used as an access point, measuring when a soldier is at his or her best. Instead, it should be the minimum level of performance a soldier can maintain indefinitely when at his or her worst.

When these soldier tasks happen in the real world, is the individual well-rested, perfectly fueled and adequately hydrated? Probably not, so we need to start at a point where even on the worst day their power, strength, and endurance is at a level that leaves no question they can perform above and beyond the minimum requirement as long as needed.

MAJ Barringer, hope it was worth it, because you just threw your career away by failing to see the glories of the emperor’s raiment. But he’s not done:

Otherwise, the only test standard that should be raised is the number of shuttles: If an individual who barely meets the current strength and power standards happens to meet a fit prepubescent teen, they at least better be able to run.

In a way, albeit a perverse way, the OPAT approach is pure genius. The weak, unfit men who will need to be carried by their fit peers or stuffed into rear-area supernumerary positions will far outnumber the women who will need similar treatment. The women won’t look nearly as bad as they have so far, not surrounded by acres of Millennial (or is it Millenial — not based on mille annum, but mille anum?) cheetos-chewing couch commandoes.

Now, this couch potato test will not be applied to currently serving soldiers in the combat arms. The Acela aristocracy has got a bunch of wars they’ve started, and it’s not like they’re going to send their own kids (male, female, or confused) to fight them. The test will only be used to sweep volunteers from non-combat specialties through to combat arms unimpeded. The real purpose is to open the door to careerist female officers, especially Academy graduates.

Hate Modern Art? Blame the CIA!

This may be a Jackson Pollock, plucked from the walls of a museum. Or it may be a Jackie Polkowsky, plucked from the first grade art class recycle bin. How to tell?

This may be a Jackson Pollock, plucked from the walls of a museum. Or it may be a Jackie Polkowsky, plucked from the first grade art class recycle bin. How can you tell?

Now, the CIA gets blamed for a lot of stuff they didn’t ever do, like invent AIDS and whack JFK. They probably don’t get blamed enough for stuff they do do, like leak like the post-berg Titanic. And they certainly don’t get blamed enough for stuff they don’t do, like give leaders usable information, instead of the CYA on-the-other-other-hand pablum that the gigantic self-licking ice cream cone that is the bloated HQ produces.

But according to the British Independent, there’s something that they deserve blame for: modern art. If you ever suspected that Jackson Pollock was a no-talent parvenu, celebrated far beyond his kindergarten abilities, well, nothing in here is going to change your mind.

And if you thought Jack the Dripper was just an example of sui generis talent, that rose to the top in the endless (but fair!) tournament that is the art world? Think he was a real bang-tail gone cat? Daddy-o, you got played. Thoroughly.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America’s anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

Initially, more open attempts were made to support the new American art. In 1947 the State Department organised and paid for a touring international exhibition entitled “Advancing American Art”, with the aim of rebutting Soviet suggestions that America was a cultural desert. But the show caused outrage at home, prompting Truman to make his Hottentot remark and one bitter congressman to declare: “I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash.” The tour had to be cancelled.

Willem de Kooning (here Interchange, 1955) was another artist whose market was made by the agency.

Willem de Kooning (here Interchange, 1955, sold for $300 million last year) was another artist whose market was made by the agency.

The Truman comment was, “If that’s art, I’m a Hottentot.” As his fellow tribesmen, we’re all bemused that the CIA was subsidizing this stuff, but subsidizing it they were — in part, to put a stick in Stalin’s and later Khrushchev’s eye, and in part, because they were inbred enough to like this kind of art. (Best appreciated with Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, “Bird” Parker, or John Coltrane on the Hi-Fi).

At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.

Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.

“Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!” he joked. “But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.

“In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another.”

The irony was, of course, that many of the very artists whose exhibitions and gallery sales were secretly being propped up by the national black budget, were bitter opponents of the US and all it stood for, and stalwart soldiers of scientific socialism, always ready to wave the Red Banner as long as they didn’t have to leave the benighted capitalist land of philistinism and go live there. So there was a complex system of cut-outs and covers to ensure that the artists never learned who their secret patrons really were. This was called the “long leash.”

Do Read The Whole Thing™. Somewhat bemused to see one of the panjandrums of the whole thing is now….

…in his eighties, Mr Braden lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, in a house packed with Abstract Expressionist works and guarded by enormous Alsatians.

Ah, an art collection picked up on the public dime, perhaps? Wouldn’t be the first Beltway nabob to do very well indeed by doing good. Still, he’s a dog guy, he can’t be all bad.

And us? Well, what do we know? We’re Hottentots.

An Overview of US Defense Posture, 2016.

feeling-luckyThe problem with many official pronouncements that emanate from the E-Ring is credibility. Most of the denizens of that Ring are so ate-up with policy and partisanship, that even when they refrain from slanting their output to fit the party line, the knob-polishers and horse-holders who grovel ambitiously around the penumbrae of their campfires have slanted their inputs so as to please them.

In other words, one of the hardest things, when you’re Boss (or close to it), is getting the Regular Joes and Janes to tell you unvarnished truth, and not what they think you want to hear.

So that is some background to the word we got from a friend currently performing a period of penance in the Pentagon for his sins as a senior special operations officer. The word is that Pentagon planners are increasingly referring to outside documents to get a handle on what’s really happening in Defense. One document that came up is the Heritage Foudation’s frank and scathing 2016 Index of US Military Strength: Assessing America’s Ability to Provide for the Common Defense, available here. (Big .pdf). We’ve actually discussed this document before (or perhaps the 2015 version), but it’s worth looking at again.

The document focuses on the three regions where threats to vital US interests have arisen or can arise: Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. It weighs US military power by yardsticks of capability, capacity, and readiness.

The conclusions are sobering:

…little has been done to arrest the decline in our nation’s physical ability to confront … challenges. (p.xiii).

America’s “hard power” has deteriorated still further over the past year, primarily as a result of inadequate funding that has led to a shrinking force that possesses aging equipment and modest levels of readiness for combat. (ibid).

America’s continuing decline in military hard power is thoroughly documented and quanti ed in this report. (p.1).

In aggregate, the United States’ military pos- ture is rated as “Marginal” and is trending toward “Weak.” (p. 12).

Essential maintenance continues to be deferred; fewer units (mostly the Navy’s platforms and the Special Operations Forces community) are being cycled through operational deployments more often and for longer periods; and old equipment is being extended while programmed replacements are problematic. (ibid).

[USAF] “readiness” dropped from “strong” to “marginal.” Although difficult to categorize, the readiness decline is best attributed to reports that under half of the service’s combat air forces meet full-spectrum readiness requirements. (p.13).

…our comparative military advantage is starting to wane, but even as American military power declines, the demands made on the military are increasing. (p.46).

The decline in the size of the active-duty force caused by reduced budgets has sparked tension among the Active, Guard, and Reserve components over their respective missions and corresponding resources. (p.61).

Many NATO Countries spend less on defense than the New York Police Department. (p.81).

One of the key weaknesses and most mismanaged areas of defense over the last two administrations has been the nuclear balance. If it continues to deteriorate, it will probably be impossible to prevent former US allies and nuclear dependents from going their own way with their own independent deterrents.


rainbow-powered-unicornsThe reasons we’ve had two administrations’ worth of nuclear decline are varied, but certainly the largest factors are the last administration’s focus on counter-goatherd operations, on the one hand, and the present administration’s quixotic pursuit of unilateral nuclear deterrent and “peace” at any price. You could say that the former results from short-term thinking and lack of a horizon focus, and the latter results from sheer childish naivety.

The same naivety that thinks that our nukes are destabilizing tends to be comorbid with belief in other kinds of magical thinking, like Gun Free Zones. It’s not a partisan political problem, this magical cognitive fuzz: does anyone remember the No Child Left Behind Act, which solemnly explained how, over time, all children would be elevated to be Above Average?

Say what you will about education, but basic numeracy seems absent inside the Beltway and along the Acela Corridor.


Actually, the cartoon misses the teamwork in the new, Diversity-Forward Military. Instead of one stout guy, the missile must be launched by a 90-lb. woman, a dwarf, and a pygmy.

One of the most disturbing parts of the document is the appendix that lists major systems and their scheduled replacements — if any. For example, the Navy has no replacements in mind for its cruisers, just a low-low mix of destroyers and defenseless, offenseless, “presence” LCSes. The submarine force is subject to massive cuts by attrition. In every defense regime, manpower, units and both quantities and kinds of forces are being cut without respect to requirements.

Eliminating variety of forces is the kind of thing that looks good to managerial types who want to apply MBA quantitative figuring to readiness. The problem is that this simplifies the enemy’s task in developing countermeasures for your forces. You not only need a certain level of capability, you need enough variety in your capability to be unpredictable to the enemy. This is very hard to get across to a zero-time-under-rucksack “Defense Intellectual” with a green eyeshade, who has risen to sit in the Aeron chair of command critic.

The next edition is due sometime next month, November 2016, and the word inside the Ring is that it will describe an even bleaker situation.

How To Get Prison in California? Kill Cats.

robert-farmer-cat-killerIf only he’d killed people, he’d have all the Golden State with him in sympathy. But he committed a real crime — cruelty to animals.

A 25-year-old South Bay man faces up to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to  torturing and/or killing more than 20 cats he abducted from a quiet residential San Jose neighborhood.

Robert Farmer took the cats off the streets of the Cambrian Park neighborhood during a two-month period last fall, injuring some and killing up to 16. Only four bodies were found.

He pleaded guilty to 21 charges of animal cruelty. His sentencing is not set yet.

“As this sad case comes to a close, our thoughts are with the families who lost their beloved pets,” prosecutor Alexandra Ellis said in a written statement. “We intend to hold Mr. Farmer accountable for his perverse and violent acts.”

Farmer was arrested on October 8, 2015, as he slept in his car. San Jose police found an unidentified orange tabby dead in the car, along with some cat collars.

His crime was actually worse than that. The orange tabby in his car wasn’t just dead.

An orange female tabby cat found dead of blunt force trauma in 24-year-old transient Robert Farmer’s car during his Oct. 8 arrest also had dilated genitals, according to a necropsy report from the San Jose Animal Care and Services division.

A search of Farmer’s car turned up a tub of petroleum jelly along with two cat collars, according to a San Jose Police Department report.

Eeeewwww, does that mean what it sounds like it means?

‘Fraid so:

Myriam Martinez, who owned Thumper, one of the cats Farmer is suspected of killing, shared the necropsy report with this newspaper; it states the orange tabby had vulva and rectal openings of more than one centimeter each. Martinez also shared crime laboratory documents that report a match between DNA found under the claw clippings of the orange tabby and Farmer.

Cat killer and diddler. That’s one siiiick puppy. Most of the press stories, like the top one, say he “tortured and killed” the animals. Few of the stories reveal that he buggered them. (Strange, but the graphic story and the bowdlerized story used here both come from the same newspaper).

“I can’t describe how I feel for what he did to our pets,” Martinez said. “The more we read court documents, the uglier it gets.”

Mrs Martinez, you’ve got that right.

Now, we’re not suggesting that Farmer, who we’ve already stipulated is one sick puppy, ought to be running around off a leash, or out of a cage. Indeed, in a just world, he wouldn’t be getting out in 2032. (Really, much earlier, because CA paroles everyone except Manson). We just wish they’d keep people locked up for that kind of cruelty to humans.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when no one thought it was cruel or unusual to throw away the key to this guy’s cell, or strap him into Old Sparky, or hang him from a tree. In those days we had a healthy society that thought what he did was cruel and unusual, when right now we’re about one Supreme Court decision away from having to accept and celebrate his kittysexuality. As we said before, eeeewwww.

VA Still Delaying Care in Phoenix

VA-veterans-affairsThe VA Medical Center that became the poster child for an out-of-control, corrupt, and failure-prone bureaucracy is still a mess. The Washington Times:

Two years after they first sounded the alarm about secret waiting lists leaving veterans struggling for care at the Phoenix VA, investigators said some services have improved, and cleared the clinic of allegations that top officials ordered staff to cancel appointments.

But confusion and bureaucratic bungling remain prevalent, long wait times are still a problem, and veterans are having appointments canceled for questionable reasons.

More than 200 veterans died while waiting for appointments, and investigators said at least one veteran would likely have been saved if the clinic had gone ahead with his consultation.

“This patient never received an appointment for a cardiology exam that could have prompted further definitive testing and interventions that could have forestalled his death,” the inspector general said.

The VA is still reeling from an initial 2014 report that found top executives cooked their books, canceling appointments and shifting others onto secret wait lists to try to make their backlogs appear less drastic, hoping to earn performance bonuses. The problems were first reported at the Phoenix VA, where dozens of veterans died while waiting for care, but investigators found similar secret wait lists and botched care at clinics across the country.

The Times is referring to a new report from the Office of Inspector General. The report does not seem to be on the OIG website yet, but there is this report about consults at Phoenix, with this little gem in the summary:

VHA does not require staff to complete prosthetics consults immediately. We substantiated that one patient waited in excess of 300 days for vascular care. A patient received vascular care in October 2015 following a consult request from a clinician in Vascular Surgery in June 2013.

And this bleak conclusion:

During the past two years, the OIG has reviewed a myriad of allegations at PVAHCS and issued six reports involving policy, access to care, scheduling and canceling of appointments, staffing, and consult management. Although VHA has made efforts to improve the care provided at PVAHCS, these issues remain.

No one has been held responsible, except for one heartless, greedy manager (who is suing for her job back).

In another case in Phoenix, the VA dallied so long over a cancer diagnosis that by the time they got around to it, the treatment was: hospice. The OIG thought they should at least get credit for making the hospice call correctly: that’s government service for you, participation-trophy tee-ball. No one has been held responsible.

In other recent OIG releases, the Fayetteville, NC VA played fast and loose with surgical protocols, but the OIG was not able to substantiate the charge that this led to patient deaths — because the VA never conducted the mandatory investigations of the deaths. No one has been held responsible.

And in Madison, Wisconsin, the VA blew $100k a year on a surgical device it can’t use, and sends patients to other facilities if they need; and blew $300k on two robots without checking to see if they’d work in the facility (they don’t). And the VA has so mismanaged the GI Bill that it’s blown half a billion, and is on track to blow $5 Billion in the next five years. And in Salisbury, NC, the backlog of radiology exams was 3,300, and 15 vets died waiting for the exams, but it wasn’t the lack of exams that kilt ’em, and the backlog is down to merely 1,500 or so, so it’s all good, right?

Is it time to disband this thing, yet?

The Greatest Blue Falcon Ever

File photo (1989) of an F-14A live-firing an AIM-9. Just not at an American jet.

File photo (1989) of an F-14A live-firing an AIM-9. Just not at an American jet.

Here’s a story of a guy who’s probably the ultimate Blue Falcon — of all nations, services, and epochs. Yes, he’s that bad. First, the backstory: Timothy W. Dorsey is probably the worst example ever of how an Admiral’s son can rise in rank in the Navy despite, shall we say, limited competence.

Dorsey’s father, James Dorsey, was an aviator who rose to three-star rank (Vice Admiral) in Pentagon billets after his shipboard days ended. So Timothy’s career skids were greased, and in the 1980s, he skated through training and into the cockpit of an F-14, then the Navy’s premier fighter plane. Career-wise, he blew past aviators with better skill and judgment.

At least, until 22 Sep 87. As an investigating board put it, in the words of board chairman VADM Kendall E. Moranville:

The September 22, 1987, destruction of USAF RF-4C was not the result of an accident, but the consequence of a deliberate act. His subsequent reaction [to the radio command] demonstrated an absolute disregard of the known facts and circumstances.

He failed to utilize the decision-making process taught in replacement training and reacted in a purely mechanical manner. The performance of Lieutenant Timothy W. Dorsey on September 22, 1987, raises substantial doubt as to his capacity for good, sound judgment.

We necessarily rely on the self-discipline and judgment of pilots to prevent such incidents; we have no other choice. Nothing, in my opinion, can mitigate Lieutenant Dorsey’s basic error in judgment.

Yes, Dorsey, carrying out what was supposed to be a guns-cold practice intercept of a friendly reconnaissance jet, armed, locked, and fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder entirely on his own volition. The two pilots in the Air Force jet ejected and survived with minor injuries. Then, he lied about it, displaying a shoulders-wide streak of moral cowardice in his character. A former squadron mate:

I would never have guessed he’d ever make it to commander, much less admiral. In fact, I thought his career was over back when the shoot-down happened. He refused to accept any blame for the shoot-down and swore he was just following ROE even though he knew it was a friendly. I mean, the guy did it on purpose.

For most people that board’s dry understatement, “substantial doubt as to his capacity for good, sound judgment,” would have, shall we say, nailed the three wire on their Naval career.

But most people can’t rely on Admiral Daddy Dorsey (at the time of Timothy’s RF-4 kill a RADM) to run interference. Dorsey Junior couldn’t fly — they clipped his wings after that staggering display of poor skill and character, forbidding him from ever flying a Naval aircraft again, although they still allowed him to wear the wings on his uniform — but he continued onward and upward in the Naval Reserve. Fast forward to 2012 (we’ve changed the order of some of the quoted paragraphs):

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta this month announced to the Senate several nominations for promotion to admiral.

On the list is Navy Reserve Capt. Timothy W. Dorsey, … who, while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, committed what the report said was an “illogical act.”


Dorsey intentionally fired his fighter jet’s missile at an Air Force reconnaissance plane, nearly killing its two aviators and destroying the aircraft during a training exercise…

His promotion to admiral has some in the aviation community shaking their heads, especially because minor discretions by flight officers over the past decades have resulted in reprimands and the ends of careers.

Compare Dorsey’s career trajectory — “Mess up and move up” — with what happened to anyone who attended Tailhook in the wrong year. In the end, he didn’t get his Admiral’s Star, but it took an Act of Congress (albeit without the capital A) to stop the promotion.

One wonders what Capt. Michael W. Ross and First Lt. Randy H. Spouse think about Dorsey. Who are they?

“The airplane just starts shaking like you wouldn’t believe,” Ross said. Both he and Sprouse thought they had collided with the F-14.

“I’ve got fire lights – let’s get out of here!” Ross shouted.

“I’m gone!” Sprouse said from the back seat as he pulled an ejection handle rigged to both seats.

Back on the F-14, [Dorsey’s backseater] Holland took to the airwaves. “Mayday! Mayday!” he shouted. “Got a kill on a Fox 4!” Within moments, the Navy brass was on the radio, demanding answers.

“I’m sorry,” Holland recalled Dorsey saying as they circled the downed aviators and watched the burning wreckage sink. “I guess I kind of screwed this up.”

That was before he started applying the DAMN method:

  1. Deny everything;
  2. Admit nothing;
  3. Make counteraccusations;
  4. Never change your story.

Within 30 minutes, a rescue helicopter from the Saratoga plucked Ross and Sprouse from the water and took them to the carrier. Their injuries were relatively minor – primarily a badly bruised hand for Ross and a dislocated shoulder for Sprouse.

Indeed, while Dorsey’s willful screw-up didn’t have big consequences for Dorsey, it did for RF-4C pilot Ross, who’s full of reconstructive hardware and in pain every day, to one extent or another:

His ejection caused a powerful whiplash that resulted in a degenerating spine and a premature end to a career he believed was on a path to make the rank of general.

“I’m not trying to say I flew when I was unable. I never did that,” Col. Ross said. “But it got to the point where I started getting myself in positions where I was doing more desk work than flying.”

All told, he said, he has had seven back surgeries in which surgeons have installed screws, plates and rods to keep him functional.

Fished out of the water and taken to the Saratoga, Col. Ross waited for an apology from Lt. Dorsey. It did not come until last year, when the former Air Force pilot received a note from Capt. Dorsey as his nomination was pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, what’s a man who’s got a really bad character, and has decided to ply his Navy trade part-time as a Reservist, going to do with the rest of his waking hours? What the rest of the cheats, connivers and chiselers do: go to law school. And he became head, general counsel, and spokesman for a racket that cons lower-IQ lower-enlisted guys in military towns into overpaying for shoddy merchandise, and then gouges them with lawsuits, filed thousands of miles away in Virginia, where Blue Falcon Dorsey, like Admiral Daddy Dorsey before him, is “connected.”

Now, recently Dorsey’s personal and political pal, Attorney General Mark Herring of Virginia — whom you may remember as the guy who tried to singlehandedly erase all concealed-carry reciprocity of VA with other states, until the state legislature folded that dictate until it was all sharp corners and proceeded to clean out his polyps with it — announced that he had a great deal in the form of a settlement.

The deal is a great one — for Blue Falcon Dorsey and the other crooks of USA Discounters. They get rid of all past, present and future legal liabilities with a $40 million slush-fund infusion to Herring and other state AGs, cleaning up their balance sheet — and letting them continue to cheat service members to their heart’s content. Cha-chingg!

And the deal is a great one — for Herring, giving him $40 million in off the books money he can sluice to his pals in connected “non-profits.” Just in time for the 2016 election! Cha-chingg!

The deal is a crappy one for the service members that Dorsey used to, still does, and will continue to rip off, as Dorsey and Herring do the grip-n-grin and laugh about the chumps.

In the bad old days when a base/post, brigade/wing, or battalion/squadron commander was king, he would put chiselers like Dorsey’s USA Discounters “Off Limits” and let them work their wiles on the civilians. You can see why the last few Secretaries of Defense and the Navy, and their political buddies like Mark Herring, and their crony capitalists like Four-More-to-Ace Dorsey, have wanted to see the services “fundamentally transformed.”

But it turns out not to be necessary, because Almost Admiral Four-Short-of-Ace Lawyer Timothy W. Dorsey and his gang ran USA discounters into the ground. And it went bankrupt in 2015.

Don’t worry about Dorsey, though. You know ol’ Blue Falcon paid himself first.

(Many hat tips to Jonn and NHSparky at This Ain’t Hell for most of the links in this post. There was also a good story in the Washingtonian, but it’s not online any more, just a comic-book style illustration of Dorsey smoking the RF-4).

Scruff Face Loses a Round to Dead Chris Kyle

Law-ScaleAndHammerChris Kyle was already dead, but his widow Taya Kyle lost a large judgment in a lawsuit by Jesse “Scruff Face” Ventura against the estate of the murdered SEAL. Ventura, who in his pre-showbiz/politics life was a SEAL/UDT named James Janos, sued Kyle based on a sea story in Kyle’s book American Sniper. In the story, Kyle belts a former SEAL turned celebrity who’s badmouthing serving SEALS.

The description (physical and behavioral) seemed to fit Ventura, whom quite a few SEALS have wanted to haul off and sock in the jaw over the years, and before his untimely death, Kyle confirmed in a radio interview that he did mean Ventura. Ventura sued, and without Kyle to testify the preponderance of evidence suggests that Kyle’s story as published had, at least, been “improved.” Well, that’s the nature of sea stories, isn’t it?

But a jury seems to have awarded Ventura, who hasn’t amounted to much since his disastrous turn as a Minnesota governor, functionally all of the money Kyle made on his book. Taya Kyle appealed and the 8th Circuit handed her a large win — and smacked Scruff Face in the jaw, figuratively. The Minneapolis Red Star/Tribune’s Randy:

A three-judge panel unanimously threw out the $1.35 million award to Ventura for “unjust enrichment,” saying Minnesota law did not permit it. And in a 2-1 decision, it reversed the $500,000 award for defamation, remanding the case to the district court for a new trial on that question.

The decision was a victory for Taya Kyle, the widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote the bestselling memoir “American Sniper” that Ventura said defamed him. It was also a win for national news organizations that had urged that the verdict be thrown out.

“If a person bringing a libel suit could collect not just for damages, but for unjust enrichment … the whole nature of libel law would have been changed in a very threatening way,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment attorney in New York, who had filed an amicus brief on behalf of 33 news organizations.

The ruling was a serious blow to Ventura, the former professional wrestler who served as governor from 1999 to 2003.

Only two guys know whether Chris Kyle belted Jesse Ventura on that boozy night in 2006, and Kyle’s station doesn’t come up on the net any more. (True or false, the story doesn’t reflect glory on either SEAL. “Hey, I decked some Social Security age dude?” And Ventura opened himself up for this kind of thing when he badmouthed the guys downrange during wartime, which is something he actually did even if he didn’t use the words Kyle’s story puts in his mouth).

We understand why Ventura would have the jaws about a story that paints him in a horrible  and negative light, especially compared to his carefully tended public persona. Doubly especially if that story is not true.

But what’s the right answer, if somebody lied about you? Is it to get the truth out, or is it to clean out the accounts of his widow and orphan? Pursuing this suit has just made Ventura look even worse. We totally understand why he might have done it, but he’s hurting himself.  And we’re here to predict that he’s going to fight this back in the district court (where the defamation judgment’s been remanded for a new trial) and to the Supreme Court (where he can appeal this 8th Circuit ruling, although it seems like a long shot). The story isn’t over. However unfortunate that may be for the reputation of the SEAL Teams and SOF in general.

US Signs UN Gun Ban Treaty

All in favor, say, "Heil!"

All in favor, say, “Heil!”

Straight from his latest diplomatic triumphs in Syria and in handing over control of the American-invented Internet to a lawless UN body, Secretary of State John Kerry signed an extreme anti-gun treaty drafted by the totalitarian and authoritarian states that make up the majority of the United Nations.

Kerry, who has had an all-but-sexual drive to find someone, anyone, to surrender the United States to, ever since he tried to cut a private deal with the North Vietnamese in Paris in 1970, argues that the law does not infringe gun rights because it still allows hunters to have firearms, if government feels like giving them permission.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday signed a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation, riling U.S. lawmakers who vow the Senate will not ratify the agreement.

As he signed the document, Kerry called the treaty a “significant step” in addressing illegal gun sales, while claiming it would also protect gun rights.

The main objective of the treaty is mandatory global gun registration. It does this by requiring signatories to report all firearms transfers, down to the level of “end users.” This is the backstory to the current push for “common sense gun laws” like “universal background checks,” or backdoor registration.

The treaty would require countries that ratify it to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and components and to regulate arms brokers….

The Control Arms Coalition, which includes hundreds of non-governmental organizations in more than 100 countries that promoted an Arms Trade Treaty, has said it expects many of the world’s top arms exporters — including Britain, Germany and France — to sign alongside emerging exporters such as Brazil and Mexico. It said the United States is expected to sign later this year.

The coalition notes that more than 500,000 people are killed by armed violence every year and predicted that “history will be made” when many U.N. members sign the treaty, which it says is designed “to protect millions living in daily fear of armed violence and at risk of rape, assault, displacement and death.”

The Coalition believes that, once this treaty is signed by Congo and South Sudan, the current violence in those African kleptocracies will come to an absolute standstill. There are some ideas so stupid that you pretty much have to be a globalist NGOnik or diplomat to believe them.

Of course, when that doesn’t happen, look for the same rootless globalists — like Kerry — who support the first treaty to propose a tightening. Because Kerry’s target is not some warlord in mismatched camo in whatever the natives are calling Stanleyville these days: his target is you.

Now, one may not be inclined to take the word of a retired sergeant, who is known in team room and Chancery alike for his disdain for diplomats and all their demoniac works, that this treaty is a steaming pile of that which issues from the south end of a northbound equine. So allow us to refer you to these words written four years ago by an actual striped-pants diplomat, and one who has, moreover, retired to not-quite-gun-free-but-working-on-it California, no less. In a long post on this treaty, he notes:

The treaty, as with all liberal/leftist efforts, seeks a massive role for the state and an implied one for lawyers, in those countries, such as ours, where we take the law seriously. Look at Article I, for example. The objectives laid out there would require an enormous new body of law and regulations to be drafted and implemented in the US; it would require it to be drafted in such a way as “to establish the highest possible common standards for regulating or improving regulation of the international trade in conventional arms.” In other words, we would have to try to bring our laws and regulations into sync with those of the rest of the world. I do not need to spell out what that means when it comes to bearing arms.

Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 comprise the core of the treaty. These articles would provide endless employment activity for “activists’ and their lawyers. They establish obligations on the “State Parties” that would, in essence, kill the trade in small arms. The language about weapons “being diverted to the illicit market,” or “used to commit or facilitate gender-based violence or violence against children” means endless lawsuits against exporting and importing states, manufacturers, and sellers. While the ostensible purpose is international trade, that would quickly become a domestic legal issue in the US. Say, for example, that a Glock, either one made in Austria or in a Glock factory in the US, were used for “illicit” purposes or was involved in an incident of “gender-based violence” in the US, the lawsuits would be ferocious. The threat of constant legal action effectively would halt the export and import of small arms–at least from and to those countries that take laws and treaty obligations seriously. The treaty would provide the basis for additional US domestic legislation that would incorporate the UN language and ideas into our laws. Private firm gun manufacturing and sales would be halted by the constant threat of lawsuits.

Again, these are the words of an actual diplomat, one who has served in Foggy Bottom, in many missions abroad, and actually in the United Nations itself. He speaks with the authority of the insider. And his conclusion?

While proponents claim that the UN Treaty would not infringe on the second amendment rights of Americans, that is a lie. The purpose of the treaty is to circumvent the second amendment by destroying the small arms industry and trade. It is an effort at a gun ban. They know that and we know that.