Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Fred the Great: On Duty, and On General Order Nº1

Frederick II "The Great's" sarcophagus was hidden in a mineshaft by Nazis who feared it would be destroyed by the Allies. It wasn't (his peripatetic corpse finally was buried on his lawn where he'd originally requested -- in the 21st Century).

Frederick II “The Great’s” sarcophagus was hidden in a mineshaft by Nazis who feared it would be destroyed by the Allies. It wasn’t (his peripatetic corpse finally was buried on his lawn where he’d originally requested — in the 21st Century).

Frederick II, “the Great,” of Prussia was one of the most brilliant generals that ever lived. His strategy, his tactics, and his relative attention to logistics and mobility were all ahead of their time, and enabled the relatively small principality of Prussia to kick ass and take names all over Europe.

Frederick is also remembered for his correspondence: a witty writer, he was fortunate to live at the time of the Enlightenment, and exchanged pithy and deep letters with Voltaire. He encouraged immigration to Prussia, but particularly skilled immigration: he cared not if one was a Huguenot farmer, Jesuit scholar or a Jewish trader, but if you had something to bring to Prussia the door was open to you. At the same time he accepted Protestants fleeing Catholic pressure in some countries, and Catholics fleeing the Protestants in others — as long as they could bring something to Prussia.

He is less remembered for his artsy personality; he may indeed have been queer as a three-mark coin, and he wrote four symphonies and scores of concertos in the baroque style as well as military marches; he sponsored CPE Bach and received a sonata as a gift from Bach’s father, Johann Sebastian Bach (that’s “the” Bach to you musical ignorami). He preferred French to his native German, but was fluent in both, and functional in several other European languages.

The National Archives calls these swords of Frederick the Great, but says in the same article they were from the coronation of Frederick I.

The National Archives calls these swords of Frederick the Great, but says in the same article they were from the coronation of Frederick I, so they may predate the great general-king.

But in military arts, he is remembered for what he said as much as for what he did (which laid the groundwork for Bismarck’s unification of the German states under a Prussian king a century on).

He won battles and lost them; he came within a hair of losing Berlin to a Russian and Austrian alliance that fortuitously fell apart after the death of Elizabeth of Russia and the ascension of her nephew Peter the Great (Peter III, the not-so-great1, see the footnote and correction in comments), an admirer of Frederick, to the throne.

But he was a master of, not exactly the pithy aphorism like those for which Napoleon was deservedly legendary, but a well-turned entire paragraph, of which we have a couple of examples to offer you today.


He had this to say (in a letter to Voltaire, who was critical of Frederick’s militarism), about the military life and its attractions, or lack thereof, for him:

Do you think I take any pleasure in this dog’s life, in seeing and causing death in people unknown to me, in losing friends and acquaintances daily, in seeing my reputation ceaselessly exposed to the caprices of fortune, in spending the whole year with uneasiness and apprehension, in continually risking my life and my fortune? I certainly know the value of tranquility, the charms of society, the pleasures of life, and I like to be happy as much as anybody. Although I desire all these good things, I will not buy them with baseness and infamy. Philosophy teaches us to do our duty, to serve our country faithfully at the expense of our blood and of our repose, to commit our whole being to it.

You may believe him or not — we suspect that he took rather more pleasure in campaigning than that, at least while he was winning. We also suspect Voltaire didn’t buy it for a minute.

The next aphorism is also one that deserves reflection almost 240 years after its utterance. While today’s abstemious (sometimes to the point of asceticism) American officers revel in the purity of the Temple they have made of their bodies, Frederick’s words, from 1777, rise from his grave at Sans Souci to condemn General Order One:

It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.

Yeah. What Fred said.

The only reason we haven’t actually lost yet is that the pathetic hadjis are coffee-drinkers, too.


1 Re: Peter the not-too-great, read Max’s comment and check the bios at and at Russian state-controlled broadcaster Russia Today for the short and unhappy reign of this guy, who was most important in Russian history as the way that Catherine the Great (who really was great) rose to the throne. The problem with kings and nobles is, of course, the tendency to regression to the mean (or beyond) in their posterity.

A Remarkable Defensive Gun Non-Use

Crazy man with knife

Crazy man with knife (file photo).

You don’t expect a 2nd Lieutenant to demonstrate much beyond potential. But this 2nd Lt. in the West Virginia Air National Guard is already a veteran of the Marines and a husband and father experienced in the world. He recently was in a local Walmart when a woman began screaming for help. A man was holding a knife to her neck.

Police eventually responded to the scene and put the suspect in handcuffs. Nelson said he later discovered that the woman he was threatening was his own mother. He turned the knife on his mom when she refused to buy him a gun, according to a copy of the police report obtained by TheBlaze.

Nelson and his wife both carry everywhere they can, legally, to protect themselves and their family. In this case, Nelson protected two strangers — the threatened woman and her disturbed son.

Nelson, remarkably, resolved the situation by only displaying his firearm without drawing it, and using his maturity and command presence — yeah, a 2nd john’s command presence — to talk the angry man down. He talked him into letting his mother go. Then he talked him into stopping threatening himself, which was what he did after releasing his mom. Then he talked him into putting the knife down. Finally, he talked him out of running away, and into sitting down and waiting for  the cops.

It was a bravura performance — and the firearm never left the holster, although it seems to have contributed greatly to Nelson’s command of the situation.

Nelson had nothing but good things to say about the way officers with the Del Rio Police Department handled the situation. He said the officers commended him for his handling of the situation — and because he never brandished or fired his weapon, officers said “no thanks” when he asked if they wanted to see his legal concealed carry permit.

Would a lot more stand-offs end like this, instead of the usual shooting, if they were met by armed, calm citizens rather than a police Steroids Weapons And Tantrum squad call-out? Hard to say. Every threatener is different, and so is every threat. Cops talk a lot of suspects into giving up and laying down weapons every day, and those cases seldom make the papers. Nelson might have wound up shooting the guy. And in some jurisdictions, cops and a district attorney would have jumped at the chance to “nail” Nelson. Fortunately, West Virginia is not New Jersey, so he didn’t get the Brian Aitken treatment.

“The number one reason I carry is to protect my family. It’s a God-given, constitutional right that I fully, 100 percent stand behind,” Nelson told TheBlaze. “Secondly, I love my fellow Americans, and if I’m in a position to help one of them, obviously, I want to do that.”

“I immediately felt responsible for that lady’s life,” he added. “If I’m in a position to help someone and I don’t, I would feel just as bad as the guy who does wrong.”

Apparently this guy is in flight training, heading for the ranks of pilots, which is where the Air Force tends to find its leaders. They’re lucky to have such a sensible and mature fellow. He’s also a delegate in the WV legislature, which seems like another good place to have a sensible and mature man.

What is bothersome, he explained, is the fact that there are tons of stories about responsible armed citizens that never get reported by most of the media. He may have a point — this incident has barely been reported and it occurred back in April.

“They never let us tell our side of the story,” Nelson said. “We hope that some good can come out of our story and let people know what is really going on.”

via National Guardsman’s Trip to Walmart With His Family Turns Into Potentially Deadly Nightmare — Then His Training Kicked In |

This is another reason we’re leery of the emphasis on the quick-draw in so much use of force and handgun training. Sometimes the best place for it is in the holster. When you need it, you are much, much more likely to have the time to draw it (and even prepare it) than you are to be assaulted out of a cold situation.

IPSC Hostage targetPolice training would have emphasized an early draw in this situation. The suspect has deployed deadly force (the knife), and cops are keenly aware of justr how deadly a knife is, and how quickly a knife-wielding bad guy can close normal distances. In addition to that, police policy is, generally, to meet force with overwhelming force to impress the suspect into immediate surrender, and it works great on rational suspects. But a force escalation produces unpredictable results with irrational suspects. The majority of them can be talked down (and this does seem to be what happens in most of these cases, policy notwithstanding). Those that resist often resist in a slow-motion, dare-you-to-shoot-me way. There is usually time for a less-kinetic approach to these less-kinetic threats.

So what should police training emphasize? In a perfect world, individualized judgment. Simple rules and mantras are probably necessary if you insist on deploying some 80-IQ blockheads among your cops, but you want to have pretty good liability coverage if that’s your plan. (In a lot of jurisdictions, some pretty bright cops have slipped into the force — heh).

It’s not like waving the gun does the cops much good. Movies notwithstanding, most shooters can not make the shot on a bobbing, weaving perp’s head as he crouches behind a hostage at a few meters. IPSC hostage targets just sit there, and nothing but points hang in the balance. Even “moving” targets usually have either limited, one-axis, or repetitive motion.  A real human head is a very hard thing to hit, especially one that’s wrapped around the idea that someone wants to shoot it.

Finally, we as a nation are scandalously overdue for doing something about the problem of mental illness. (Clayton Cramer made these points well in the University of Connecticut Law Review [HTML intro / .pdf article] this past May — for all of you who thought it was just a basketball school, they train lawyers too). We need to have new authorities for involuntary commitment, new authorities for involuntary outpatient treatment (“probation” and “parole” equivalents), and facilities to confine and treat the involuntarily committed. These will be expensive, but will remove a major drain on the economy. Our experiment with deinstitutionalization is forty years old, and it’s a sanguinary failure. It’s time to end it with humane reinstitutionalization for the dangerous mentally ill.

Empties back in pocket in gunfight? Urban Legend?

Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965.

Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965.

This is one of those stories that will never die, because every instructor (us, too, they said sheepishly) has found it useful as a way to hammer home the importance of training as you will fight. (We’ll quibble with some parts of that on another day: for instance, nobody should do 100% of range fires with hemmet and bodammoor, and any military unit that requires that is commanded by Simple Jack). Here’s the story, as recounted by one of our mo’ entertaining commenters:

But at a certain point, too much bad practice will get you killed.
There were always field reports of cops back in the day trained to shoot on square ranges, found dead after a gunfight as they were trying to put their ejected brass in their pockets, just like the penny-pinching departments had drilled into them at the range year after year.

It’s such a great story, that everybody who doesn’t know where it came from thinks it’s an urban legend. Massad Ayoob thought it came from cop talk about the Newhall Incident (multiple CHP killed in the 1970s). In this link Caleb mentions self-promoting assclown Dave Grossman, who is an Old Faithful of bad information, and Caleb, being a smart guy, discounts Grossman’s typically unsourced bullshit. Then, though, he paraphrases Mas citing Bill Jordan as a possible source of what he calls “anecdotal evidence from 2nd and 3rd hand parties”.

In his Handgunner article, Ayoob mentions that former Border Patrol officer Bill Jordan wrote in the 1960s of officers finding spent brass in their pockets after a gunfight with no recollection of picking it up. Unfortunately, that information is anecdotal at best, and as we’ve seen with the Newhall incident, anecdotal evidence from 2nd and 3rd hand parties isn’t reliable.

Apparently Caleb hasn’t checked the reference, which is easy enough to do. Jordan does indeed include the story in his book, No Second Place Winner, but it’s not, as Caleb seems to think, an apocryphal story. Jordan names a name and refers to a single, specific incident. So for Urban Legend hunters everywhere, here’s your chance to bag that trophy. I give you, Bill Jordan, US Border Patrol, circa 1965. We have added some paragraph breaks to introduce some desperately needed white space:

A question often asked of themselves by young officers is, “How will I comport myself in the face of fire? Will I stand up or will I break?” On the surface this would appear to be a question which can be answered only if it becomes an actuality. As a matter of fact the answer can be given with very little chance of error. Almost invariably a man, provided he does not have too much time to think, will automatically do what he has been trained to do. Again provided that his training has been thorough and intensive.

An example in support of this statement comes to my mind: A few years back a Border Patrol team became involved in a discussion with some contrabandistas in which they were considerably embarrassed by one of the smugglers holed up in some brush about 200 yards away. His presence unduly complicated the proceedings in that he was armed with a .30-30 rifle with which he was enthusiastically underscoring points in the argument made by the main group of his compatriots. The Border Patrolmen were armed only with .38 Special revolvers which put them at somewhat of a disadvantage under the circumstances. However, two of the three men applied themselves to the task of routing the nearby enemy while the senior officer, Sam McKone, took up the question of the rifleman in the brush.

They tell of a western epitaph which reads, “Here lies Tom Jones. Committed suicide by betting his pistol against a rifle at 200 yards.” This could be a normal result of such a contest, but Sam McKone is not one of the Jones boys. Among his other marksmanship awards is a gold medal declaring him to be a Distinguished Pistol Shot.

Additionally, being shot at was not a matter to distress Sam unduly, since it was not exactly a novel occurrence in his life. To make a long story short, by applying a little Kentucky windage and an educated trigger squeeze, Sam scored three hits which made the rifle shooter lose all interest in the fate of his companions and start thinking solely of his own welfare, here and hereafter.

What has all this to do with the statement that a man will do unconsciously as he was trained, provided the training was thorough and extensive? Well, after the fight someone noted that McKone’s pocket was bulging and politely inquired as to what might be spoiling the drape of his trousers. Puzzled, Sam thrust in an exploring hand. The pocket was full of fired cases. During the fight, without realizing he was doing so, McKone, an old reloader, had saved every empty!

And there you have it — the probable ur-instance of the story of the guy who saved his brass in a gunfight. And no, he didn’t wind up dead. Jordan’s book was a huge success for a shooting book, and generations of shooters have read it, and, as you can see by the excerpt, it’s entertaining to read. A lot of his ideas on revolvers and leather have fallen obsolete in the last 50 years, but a great deal of good info is in there, and it’s one of the classic books of pistol shooting.

You can find it online here, and download it in .epub (iBooks), .mobi (Kindle), or scanned, OCR’d .pdf file and a handful of other formats. The scan is of the 1977 printing of the 1965 original. It’s a very worthwhile book, even back in the seventies when we bought it for the first time.

Incidentally, in the Massad Ayoob article referenced by Caleb in the quote above, he references a “forthcoming book” on the Newhall murders by Mike Wood, which did indeed come forth, in 2013. The book is called Newhall Shooting – A Tactical Analysis: Survival Lessons from One of Law Enforcement’s Deadliest Shootings, and despite the cringe-inducing “tactical” in the title, it’s a fantastic book — and germane to this discussion.

On pages 56 and 57 of that book there is an extensive footnote about the facts of Officer Pence’s brass (which he ejected onto the ground, it was not in his pocket) and some informed speculation about how the brass-in-pocket story got started: at the same time as many Newhall-driven changes in training, CHP also changed training to eject empties onto the ground, not to save them. Here’s a tiny excerpt of a very long footnote:

In the wake of Newhall, the CHP made an intensive study of training practices and made many corrections to ensure that bad habits that would jeopardize officer safety on the street were not taught during training. One of these corrections was a requirement to eject brass onto the ground during training and to clean it up later, rather than eject it neatly into the hand and drop it into a can or a bucket, as has been the practice before. It is believed that instructors and cadets of the era may have mistakenly believed that this change in policy was due to a specific error made by Officer Pence during the fight. The myth began, and it was innocently perpetuated throughout generations of officers in the CHP and allied agencies.

Wood’s book, like Jordan’s, is outstanding, but we can’t give you a link to a free one — you’ll have to buy it like we did.

Zombie Headshots with Jerry Miculek

It’s amazing, but we can’t even keep up with all the gun stuff that’s coming out. So in order to get a post up that doesn’t require a ton of writing, we’re going to fob off another Jerry Miculek video on you. In this one, Jerry tries to reenact some of the script-driven trick shooting of the AMC series, The Walking Dead — using the same weapons some of the actors in the show use.

We have to confess, we watched The Walking Dead’s first two — or three? — seasons. The first season was fairly engaging, for a zombie flick, but the second season – or was it the third? – left us cold. The season that turned us off, whichever one it was, was one characterized by the former leader Rick spending all his time brooding, sighing, and generally acting morose. He looked like some escaped Royal Hospital for Overacting patient, emoting lugubriously amid his teethmarks on the scenery. The leader of a band of survivors in desperate times does not have the freedom to go moping about like the unwanted turkey-baster baby of Alanis Morissette and Sylvia Plath in a world without antidepressant meds. Who really cares about that? Not us, anyway.

We’re a little bemused by the whole zombie thing. Our best guess is, in the same way that Japanese monster movies of the 1950s were a distortion of the fear of nuclear war, that couldn’t  really be addressed by filmmakers at the time, the zombies are a decent proxy for Moslem terrorists, who Hollywood PC renders unusable as screen villains. It’s OK to whack zombies: they’re already dead, after all.

But we’re always in for some good killin’, or re-killin’ as the case may be.

And Jerry addresses a question that every shooter has to ask himself — are those running headshots even possible? Even Jerry, it seems can make a mistake, but when the Zombie Apocalypse strikes, he seems like a pretty good guy to have in your redoubt. He hits the walkers with AUG w/EoTech, “backwards-rotating” Colt Python, Mossberg 12-gauge pump, a Cold Steel Katana, and, naturally, a Barnett Crossbow. Laughing, naturally. Does he hit ‘em? Watch and see. (some good high-speed video, too).

It’s good to have him walk through the stage after shooting it, and explain what was going on.

Is it repeatable under stress? I dunno. They wasn’t attacking me. I was attacking them.

The coolest detail of all comes at the end: Jerry’s got a new reality show, Shootout Lane, in the works.  2nd Coolest detail? If you use the discount code JERRY10, you can save 10% on Zombie Industries targets (the ones in his zombie stage)., where the zombies are afraid of the humans – and that’s the way it should be.

(Hat tip: Guns Save Life. Thanks).

Don’t Take Our Word on Dry Fire. Take Keith’s.

Keith Sanderson, a reformed Marine, is a pretty good shot. Good enough to go to the Olympics. He doesn’t have any of the hooah tabs we got. He doesn’t have the hooah tab we haven’t got (Sapper). He’s got the tab that’s not so hooah, but that’s king of them all: the President’s Hundred tab. In these videos he doesn’t so much show you what he does, as he coaches you on how he got to be ranked #1 in the world, with minimal live fire (350-400 rounds total) in the 6 months prior to the two back-to-back World Cups he won.

There’s some good advice here. Do you know what you can get from dry-firing with your eyes closed? The first video will explain.

Shooting Practice at Home

This was shot on the range with a bunch of Marksmanship Unit students, so there’s a little wind noise, and an interruption when he busts a guy’s chops for having his cell phone out.

“I’m going to give you two drills that are the most important things youre ever going to do. One is dry fire…” The other is holding drills: one minute on, two minutes off, eight times a day, for seven days. (This cures the shakes from tiring holding up the pistol).

“Accept nothing but perfection.”

“Be intensely critical during dry fire; accept nothing but perfection. When you put bullets in your gun, you’re not critical any more: you’re just trying to do it as best you can.”

Dry Fire Practice

“Two types of drills I do for live fire: dry fire and holding drills.”

“My ratio of dry fire to live fire is 100 to 1. I cannot overemphasize the importance of dry fire.”

“You can never dry fire too much.”

“Never underestimate it. Never think that you’ve trained too much dry fire. And never think that you need to go out and shoot live rounds to get better. Because you don’t.”

Like we said, there’s a ton of wisdom here, and your tax dollars already paid for it (except for our overseas readers; our tax dollars paid for it, so you can have double the enjoyment).

M1 Thumb, Illustrated

“It takes all kinds to make a world,” is an aphorism left behind for the benefit of mankind by our sainted grandmother. The wisdom of this saying seems more profound with each passing year. Like — the guy who demonstrated M1 thumb for the benefit of all of us, whose complete (high-speed and regular-speed) videos are available at this interesting post on The Firearm Blog, along with pictures of the gruesome aftermath.

Ow. That’ll leave a mark (and it did).

In a world dealing with Ebolavirus and Enterovirus-68, the painful but non-life-threatening malady, M1 Thumb, might seem trivial. But a lot of people nowadays, 40 years after the rifle disappeared from its last vestiges of National Guard service, are now getting an M1 without the benefit of the boot camp training on the system that their grandfathers had.

Many people think that M1 Thumb is caused by being too slow on the, well, thumb when depressing the follower of the Garand’s integral magazine to close the bolt, but that’s not really it. The M1 has a bolt hold-open, on the left side of the receiver; what will make the bolt bite is if the bolt is held back not by the proper hold-open catch, but by the follower itself. With only the follower holding the stout operating parts and their stiff spring back, depressing the follower can lead to an instant thumb that gives you all the purple of an Iraqi voter, without any of the satisfaction of having voted for someone of your own sectarian bent.

Back in the antediluvian epoch, Granddad learned this so he could do Inspection Arms with the firearm, and he usually had one slow kid in the platoon to be an excellent Bad Example Training Aid™. Go to the TFB post to see how to do it right and how to do it wrong, with helpful icons of healthy thumbs-up, and bruised thumbs-down.

Maybe some time we should run a post about Degytaryev Eye, an occupational hazard of those that would dismantle an RPD without prior instruction.

Thank You for Carrying your Gun

bergeronsA Louisiana restaurant offering tasty Cajun food — that’s not terribly special; it’s the local cuisine (well, ½ of it; we can’t forget Creole), like steak in Texas, or lobster in Maine. But Bergeron’s Restaurant in Port Allen has a discount policy a WeaponsMan can get fat on: carry your gun to the joint, take 10% off your tab.

So far, it’s been a hit. Olivia Carambat stopped by for lunch on Thursday with her Smith and Wesson 38.

“There’s so many people who are trying to take our guns away and the government makes stricter gun laws. They forget that we really do, we’re given the right in the Constitution to keep and bear arms,” says Carambat.

Criminals beware: Cox says he gives out about 15 to 20 discounts each day.

“I think they would come in with a gun to rob me and just have lunch.”

Customers say Bergeron’s Restaurant is serving up some good cajun food, with a side of second amendment rights.

“If somebody walked in here with a gun and wanted to hurt us. We’re not defenseless,” says Carambat.

Owner Kevin Cox says that anyone carrying a legal weapon is eligible for the discount, but you must have the gun with you inside the restaurant to get it.

via Port Allen restaurant offers discount for carrying gun | WVLA NBC33 | Baton Rouge News, Weather and Sports.

According to the USA Carry concealed carry reciprocity maps, many states’ permits are honored in easy-goin’ Louisiana. So you can load up your 9mm or .45 and load up on jambalaya at Bergeron’s. You just have to be prepared to show Kevin Cox your firearm. Open carry of hand and long guns is also legal in the Pelican State, but the local open carry advocacy organization asks you not to OC a long gun at this time; while OC of both is legal, only handgun OC is borderline customary. One step at a time, mes amis, no?

So… Road trip?

Hat tip: good ol’ Bob Owens at Bearing Arms.

PA State Police Medevac Two Troopers

Pennsylvania_State_PoliceWe heard about this early last evening as it came over the scanner. At first we did not want to publish it as it provides a data point for any hostile feeding information to fugitive Eric Frein, but  it was in the media by midnight1, so we might as well.

For reasons known but to the injured men and the PSP officials who have interviewed them (neither has life-threatening injuries), the two of them climbed up a single deer stand, as part of the operation whose leaders still seem to think that they have encircled Frein. We don’t know what the two troopers weighed, but we do know that cumulatively, it was too much. Down came the stand, troopers and all.

The troopers did their Wile E. Coyote plunge at about 1645, and over three hours later, at 1955R, the call for medevac aircraft went out over the air. The State Police initially were uncooperative with the media:

State police Trooper First Class Connie Devens in an email confirmed the injuries, which she described as non-life-threatening, and said a Medevac helicopter was requested for assistance.

She declined to release further information.

A log of emergency broadcasts obtained by shows the call for the injuries came in at 7:55 p.m. in Barrett Township, Monroe County….

The log indicates two injured parties were being flown for treatment, one to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township and another via a federally owned aircraft.

The PA media are saying that the two troopers fell through the floor of the stand. Reportedly, they climbed it to see if Frein was in the blind, and that’s why two of them were up there. Assigned to the Harrisburg barracks, they may have been city boys unaware of any of the 1,000 lists of tree-stand safety dos and don’ts that are out there. They were treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital and released.

Presumably they were heli-lifted because the difficulty of the terrain precluded ground evacuation; a night medevac in the mountains is a hell of a risk to be taking, for injuries that don’t even require hospital admission.

Where’s Frein2?

That’s the question on our mind as the manhunt for the cop-killer enters its 19th day — or is it the 20th? The police have found weapons, cigarettes, some rudimentary caches, and two improvised grenades. But they haven’t found Frein. There have been numerous Frein “sightings,” but the woods are teeming with cops from a variety of agencies, as AP photos show. And they’re all dressed differently. For example, when a stop line “anvil” is established, it tends to be manned by uniformed State Troopers like these:

PA State troopers

But the mobile “hammer” supposedly driving him through the woods tends to comprise younger, fitter officers and agents, organized into “squads” by contributing agency. These men are dressed in several different camouflage patterns, like these ATF Agents in multicam:

ATF Agents

Tentative conclusion: Frein is over the river and through the woods, and the “sightings” are cops seeing each other. Presumably the guys in charge have considered this possibility, and are exercising extreme control measures to prevent blue-on-blue shootings. But the long delay between the cops’ tree-stand plunge last night and the call for evacuation seems to suggest that their control measures might be deficient.

So what’s going to happen with Frein? Our guess is that 2 months, or 2 years, or 2 decades from now he’ll get pulled over for a bad taillight in some faraway state, and some road cop will be astounded to learn he’s just bagged a wanted cop killer.

The only question is whether the PSP will still be beating up the rugged hills where they last think they saw him, 2 months, or 2 years, or 2 decades from now when some other agency stuffs him in a paddy wagon and packs him up for the trip home to court and prison.

However it shakes out, it’s been a hard year for the troopers of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Update on the Range Accident casualty, Trooper David Kedra

Flags at the State Capitol and in Montgomery County, PA, are flying at half-mast in memory of Kedra, who was fatally heart-shot, according to our information, with a negligent discharge by a PSP instructor in the course of transition training onto the agency’s new SIG pistols. (Ironically, the PSP moved to the SIGs because of its inability to stem a tide of negligent discharges with its previous two service pistols, which were Glocks). They were not stacking-up, training force-on-force, or doing anything but introducing the new pistol, which the PSP has been rolling out at a much faster rate than any of its previous acquisitions (the Pennsylvania State Police probably has more experience changing pistols than any two agencies nationwide). Kedra was DRT, but they medevaced him out of pure hope. As we predicted, the PSP is releasing minimal information about the mishap.

“Preliminary evidence indicates that Trooper (David) Kedra was struck by a bullet accidentally discharged by another member of the Pennsylvania State Police,” [spokesman Capt. James] Raykovitz said in a news release. “However, more specific information regarding the investigation will not be released at this time.”

Well, we’re getting the information anyway. PSP Troopers talk, and they have friends, and instructors talk to instructors, and the DA’s office might as well be equipped with the Giant Voice from some Iraqi airbase. The decision has already been made not to charge the instructor — it was made before the “investigation” began, but will not be released until a decent interval has passed. Once that is complete, the kabuki dance of negotiating a reprimand or suspension will begin between the PSP and the union representatives or lawyers; most likely outcome is an “exploding” reprimand that will be in the instructor’s file for X years, and then be removed; and the instructor will return to routine duties, probably milking speeders for the Travelers’ Tax on the interstate.

That article linked above has only a couple lines of official information (which we quoted above), but it contains a lot of reminisces of unlucky Kedra. Here’s a couple if you don’t Read The Whole Thing™:

“He was extremely proud to be a Pennsylvania state trooper and he showed it,” said Trooper Derik Frymire, who worked on Kedra’s squad. “He wanted to see everything, he wanted to be a part of everything, he wanted to learn everything and those kind of qualities make an outstanding patrol trooper.”

Joe Alkus, a criminal justice professor at Temple, said his former student had visited to speak at one of his introductory classes. Alkus recalled once asking Kedra what he thought was the best day of his career.

“He says, ‘Every day is my best day because I love being a trooper,'” Alkus said.

Well, he died doing what he loved. We often say that about folks, whether it was some ill-fated climbercicle on Everest, the skydivers who just bounced on Cape Cod, or our bros who go down with their face to the foe. We are not out of place saying it over the memory off a young cop who died in what should be the safest place in the world; the saying is no less true for being commonplace. Last year we went to the wake of a young cop who died of a massive coronary due to an unsuspected congenital defect, on the way home from training. Like Kedra, he died at the cusp of what might have been a great public service career, doing what he loved, full of plans and hopes.

Like Kedra, he will be remembered forever by those who knew him, and those who did not will look at his picture, in the black border, on the academy wall and try to. That’s all the immortality you get on this side of the Choir Invisible, friends.

You can’t dwell on what might have been, you can only see what actually was, and say, “It was enough. Rest ye now, in comfort that others have taken up your watch. The watchmen pass, but the watch abides.”


1. They have scanners, too, damn their eyes.
2. Incidentally, the media are pronouncing him “Freen” but a lot of the cops are calling him “Frain” in their internal communications. What’s his name, really? To slightly misquote Willie Nelson in a not altogether bad movie, Barbarossa, “He’s Mr. Shit!” (Which is an old Spanish/Mexican expression translated figuratively into English: “¡Esta mu don mierde!” This concludes your Special Forces Functional Language Program enrichment session for the day).

Probably not lawful self-defense

This Viral Brothers video may have been entirely staged for all we know, but it shows a guy, er, defending his property from vandalism:

“Pardon me, have you got any grey poop on?”

No, you can’t shoot, or even fire a nonlethal but disabling device at, someone who has vandalized your car. Can. Not. Do. In most jurisdictions you can’t even shoot them for stealing your car, and in some you can’t plug them for setting it on fire (there at least you have an argument that they were using lethally hazardous “force,” but we sure wouldn’t want to be in front of a jury with that as our lawyer’s best argument).

The irony is, of course, that poop can kill you. Ask the 37 people who died in the German e.coli outbreak a couple of years back. We vaguely remember that organic vegetables  — brussels sprouts? — were the pathogen’s path to the vulnerable upper end of human digestive tract, and that the most probable source of the e.coli in the sprouts was farm laborers doing you-know-what where the rest of us eat.

If this wasn’t a staged prank all along, with all on-screen talent in on the joke, Mr Angrypants may have committed a serious felony with his little gadget. If you want to tase people for $#!=s and grins, the only safe way to do it is to join the police.

Put a HRT on ‘em — 1985 style

This video, found on Soldier Systems Daily, is a 1985 briefing on the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. The HRT was riding high at the time, coordinating closely with military special operations forces assigned the hostage rescue mission (overseas; FBI had authority stateside), and years from its appalling 1990s performances that included a sniper team getting (deservedly) indicted for homicide and saved only by a legal maneuver that introduced a technicality preventing prosecution.

The video starts with some action video of live-fire training in tire houses, and then goes into individual section briefings on equipment, arms, snipers, etc.

As you can see from the video, their TTPs are really dated now, but at least in terms of HR assault this was the heat in the Reagan years. (So were the mustaches).

Unlike their military counterparts, the FBI HRT members are all very well compensated, sworn Special Agents, college graduates who must have already been selected into FBI and succeeded in training as SA’s before applying to HRT.

A significant minority of them were at the time military veterans, mostly former officers, and that’s probably even more true today. (The guy with the Randall on his belt is one who’s at least seen some ARSOF cross-pollination).

They’re obviously pretty tactically hopeless in the woods. This is one thing that hasn’t changed.

A wise old friend who had served his country as a combat soldier and as an intelligence officer once explained the mindset difference to us: “Soldiers suck as spies. Spies suck as soldiers.” He would illustrate this with many pungent examples from Army and CIA history, most of them unclassified now. But the whole thing extends into a nine-square matrix when you factor in cops (and the FBI are simply glorified cops), who suck at soldiering and spying. (Despite the fact that more FBI guys are doing spook stuff than chasing Mann Act violators these days).

And soldiers and spies? They suck at being cops, and we can quote further examples….