Category Archives: SF History and Lore

The Special Forces Ranger Regiment

SF1CRESTSay whaaat? To US Army ears, that rings false. But according to retired officer and author Alfred H. Paddock Jr., that is very nearly what the first SF unit was called.

The unit, however named, was a very hard sell to Big Green, and conventional officers’ confusion did not help. The conventional warriors were confused about what special operations planners saw as distinct differences between the Ranger/commando operation on one hand, and special forces operations on the other. Rangers (then) operated in the enemy’s rear, but near the front lines, on combat and reconnaissance patrols of short range and short duration. SF units were envisioned as operating deep in the enemy’s rear, mostly “by, with and through” indigenous forces or guerrillas, often covertly or clandestinely, and of, essentially, indefinite range and duration. Entirely different personnel and training were required for the different tasks of unilateral Ranger operations and joint/combined/interagency Special Forces ops.

For several years a small cadre of WWII-experienced guerrillas and spooks tried to sell the idea of a permanent SF organization to Big Green. These included Col. Aaron Bank, BG Robert McClure and primary planner Col. Russell Volckmann, Col. Wendell Fertig, and Lt. Col’s. Mel Blair and Marv Waters. These guys were a who’s who of long-range SOF operations: Bank had done OSS missions behind German and Japanese lines; Volckmann and Fertig led Filipino resistance forces, and Volckmann had gone on to run guerrillas and agents into North Korea; Blair and Waters had slogged through Burma with Merrill’s Marauders. McClure, for his part, was an early proponent of psychological warfare, a high-functioning staff and intelligence officer who held several positions working for General Dwight D. Eisenhower in WWII and became, by happenstance, a leader then a fervent proponent of psychological warfare. McClure was, in the early 1950s, the founding head of the Psychological Warfare Center, which would sponsor the creation of Special Forces.

The First Ranger Company (Airborne) graduates from Ranger School, 1950. After training a rough dozen of these companies, most of which went to Korea, the school stopped preparing units and became the leadership school it is today.

The First Ranger Company (Airborne) graduates from Ranger School, 1950. After training a rough dozen of these companies, most of which went to Korea, the school stopped preparing units and became the leadership school it is today. (Yes, it embiggens to legible size).

In 1952, the Ranger companies established for the Korean War had been squandered by the leadership of the divisions to which they were attached; thrown away in WWI-style frontal assaults, they were disbanded after suffering over 50% casualties. (Some companies, like the 8th, suffered over 100% casualties). The Ranger school still existed, but Big Green didn’t want to see special units of any kind come back. If they did they wanted divisional commando companies, Rangers for short attacks in a Division Commander’s area of influence. But by and large, their attitude towards special units was negative. The Commander in Chief, Europe complained that “Rangers, as a whole, drain first class soldiers from infantry organizations.” His counterpart, the commander of the Army Field Forces had a different objection: “Envisioned special forces will in all probability be involved in subversive activities.” He didn’t want Americans doing that, especially not Americans identified as part of his Army.

On the other hand, some leaders wanted to see the Ranger lineage preserved in the Army, even if it was in a unit with a different mission. So when one early plan — having companies or platoons, each made up of Lodge Act volunteers from one of the various enslaved satellite states, led by American volunteer NCOs and officers — fell flat, a subsequent overhaul envisioned a unit of up to 3,000 men led by a colonel. Its mission was clearly an SF unconventional warfare/guerrilla warfare mission, and its operational element was a recognizable ODA, although still called by its OSS name, “Operational Group.”

That unit was initially defined as the “Special Forces Ranger Regiment.” By the time Big Green was getting on board, the first draft Table of Organization and Equipment no longer used the R-word. The unit was the Special Forces Group. The Rangers contributed two things: the disbandment of the Ranger Companies left some personnel spaces up for grabs (but not 3,000, which is how we got the current size SF group). And later, the Army Institute of Heraldry would assign the lineage and honors of the World War II and Korea Ranger units to Special Forces, along with those of the Canadian-American First Special Service Force. After the Ranger Battalions were established starting in 1974, it took them over a decade to get their history back!

You might ask, why doesn’t the OSS-derived Special Forces simply use the lineage and honors of OSS? Well, as a joint interagency wartime agency, the OSS does not have any history, lineage and honors, at least as far as the heraldry geeks at the Army Institute of Heraldry are concerned. Not that it matters. SF knows whence we were begotten.

The Special Forces Memorial Statue -- Bronze Bruce -- memorializes our sacrifices in war and peace, and has done so since the 1970s. Image: SFC Jason Baker, US Army SF Command, 2010.

The Special Forces Memorial Statue — Bronze Bruce — memorializes our sacrifices in war and peace, and has done so since the 1970s. Image: SFC Jason Baker, US Army SF Command, 2010.

A careful reading of Paddock’s rather dry book illuminates some other doctrinal and terminological dark spots, as well. For instance, how did the Operational Detachment Alpha get its name? Early draft papers by Bank and Volckmann, as we’ve noted often referred to the small SF team as the “Special Forces Operational Group,” reusing OSS terminology. (Bank was an OSS vet; Volckmann, who was a guerrilla leader in the Philippines, worked closely with Bank and other OSS vets in developing the concept, which drew on the OSS and British (SOE) experience in Europe, Africa and the CBI, as well as on the more informal, even ad-hoc organizations and concepts used by Volckmann, Fertig and the other Pacific Theater guerrillas). But “Group” had a specific meaning in Army lingo: a unit formed of two or more battalions, like a Regiment, but less permanent and more flexible. (Originally, a Brigade was a Regiment-sized field formation with combined arms: infantry, artillery and cavalry). Very large Support and Service Support formations are often organized as Groups. Some of these heraldic and historical distinctions have become moot with time, but Volckmann was trying to sell a new capability to a suspicious Army, who saw any kind of Special Forces or Rangers as a way to peel away the regulars’ best-motivated NCOs.

It is interesting to contemplate what would have happened to the SF/UW concept if Bob McClure and Russ Volckmann hadn’t been extremely skilled at the knife fight that was (and is) advancing a project in the Pentagon. Certainly all McClure’s psychological warfare experience, and all Volckmann’s hard-won guerrilla savvy (not to mention that of their officer brain trust) got a workout in the period from approximately 1947-1952. A fictionalized (but much livelier than Paddock’s) version of some of this history is found in the WEB Griffin “Brothehood of War” novel series from the early 1980s.


Paddock, Alfred H. Jr. US Army Special Warfare: Its Origins. Washington: National Defense University Press, 1982.

“Where Do We Get Such Men?” Peter A. “Andrew” McKenna, ave atque vale.

mckenna_officialOne thing’s clear: you’d have liked this guy. The Army Times had a story, but we just pulled the bits his friends had to say about him.

MSG Paul Ross went through the SFQC with McKenna.

At this point it just hits everybody in waves. The truth is losing a guy sucks. Losing your best friend sucks. Losing your son sucks. The silver lining is he went out like a Green Beret should. He went out taking it to the enemy and shooting bad guys in the face.

He was phenomenal at his job, but I wish the world would see how genuine he was and how much of an American patriot he really was.

MSG Chris Corbin served with McKenna in 7th Group. A double amputee, Corbin is retired from the Army now.

Everything on paper doesn’t do him near enough justice, not just the kind of guy he was, but the kind of soldier, the kind of Green Beret he was.

He was doing what a special operator should. He heard a boom, he heard small arms, he kitted up, he grabbed his long gun, and he and another friend of ours, who was injured, they were side-by-side dealing death. That’s just Drew. There’s dozens of times he’s done stuff like that.

When I was injured, he stayed with me, for weeks, literally, up at Walter Reed. Every time I opened my eyes from whatever surgery or medication, Drew was right there. He’s that guy you can count on.

Even the… difficult… “Myke Hawke,” another SFQC contemporary of McKenna, was humbled to recall his late friend:

He was special. I remember him very specifically because he was so young. He looked like a kid. What really stood out to me was how motivated he was but how unassuming.

He was so likable, so friendly, so motivated, and you would never think of him as the barrel-chested freedom fighter that he was because he was very humble. Everybody’s got some jerk factor in them, it’s part of the A-type personality, but Drew was not one of those guys. He was so good. He’s the kind of guy we needed more of.

Tim Kennedy is a mixed martial arts fighter who served in 7th Group with McKenna. Kennedy was forced out of 7th Group and into the National Guard by a commander who hated the idea of a Special Forces soldier competing nationally in a sport, or he’d still be in. That may give you an idea of the sort of men McKenna served with, and who mourn him.


McKenna clowning around in Afghanistan. Weapon is an FN SCAR with Elcan Specter DR optic.

In Special Forces, you have to be good at a lot of things, and Drew really spent a lot of time being good at everything, but he never lost focus that we’re still dealing with people. He had amazing humor. He could make anybody laugh at any time.

He’s the Shughart and Gordon. He’s the guy in the helicopter that looks down in Mogadishu, sees a pilot alive and there’s 500 guys coming for him, and says “why don’t you go ahead and put us on the ground so we can protect him.”

He’s been in the military for 17 years, and there’s not a day of the war that he missed, and at every point of his career, he volunteered to go further into harm’s way. He’s that guy who raises his hand and says, “yeah, I’ll go.”

“Where do we get such men?” to quote the Admiral in The Bridges at Toko-ri. In the case of Peter Andrew McKenna, we get them from the town of Bristol, Rhode Island.

And we know where we lose them, as we lost McKenna in April August, defending against a complex attack on Camp Integrity that killed him and left another SF master sergeant seriously wounded.  In keeping with its current policy of “discounting” awards to SF soldiers, the Army has awarded McKenna a posthumous Silver Star. He had numerous Bronze Stars.

We didn’t know McKenna. We are poorer for that.


The original version of this article misstated Drew McKenna’s last action as occurring at Camp Integity in April. The attack took place on the night of 7 August 2015. Thanks to the friend of Drew’s and the wounded SF MSG who took the time to correct us.

Someone’s Flogging His Big Johnson

Of course, you can’t have it if you’re in Libya, North Korea, New York, New Jersey or Massachusetts because it’s a big assault Johnson, but what it is, is a rare Johnson LMG kit, restored onto a semi Johnson M1941 rifle receiver, producing a legal semi-auto Johnson LMG. And you can have it — if you win the auction.

big Johnson 13

Manufactured on the original Johnson 1941 semi auto receiver , using original US GI LMG parts , semi auto only . Excellent condition , park. military finish ,mint original barrel , beautiful wood furniture. Test fired only. The gun fires , extracts and reloads 100% , very accurate. The gun comes with bipod and 3 magazines. Shipping to an FFL or C&R holder. The gun will be shipped from FFL in PA.

big Johnson 02

via 1941 Johnson LMG light machine gun semi m1941 : Semi Auto Rifles at

There are a number of these around. By “a number,” though, we’re probably talking about a single digit number. The parts kits are rare, and the rifles are valuable enough to collectors that it’s hard to make the case for sacrificing one.

Johnson guns get their collector cachet from their rarity1 and their use in training and combat by elite elements including the Paramarines, the Marine Raiders, the Canadian-American First Special Service Force (all ephemeral, hostilities-only WWII units), the OSS, and Brigada 2506, the Bay of Pigs invaders. The Marines and Cubanos only used the rifles; the FSSF, only the machine guns. Any surviving Johnson has some part of this history.

Because the Johnsons were not standard arms with standard doctrinal spare parts and maintenance support, they were withdrawn and replaced with US standard rifles and auto rifles/LMGs. Carefully packed away, all of them except for probable OSS/CIA stocks were surplused after the war.

We don’t know what it will go for. The current bid in the $8k neighborhood has not met the reserve (the rifles sell for $4k and up). Some comments, and the rest of the photos, after the jump.


  1. 30,000 Johnson M1941 rifles were made, a large percentage of which survive, but only about 3,000 were machine guns according to ATF Form 2s filed by Johnson Automatics. The Johnson M1944 machine gun appears to have been produced only in prototype quantities.

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A Tale of Two Parachute Mishaps

Military static-line parachuting is, as near as we can figure out, substantially safer (in terms of loss of life) than civilian skydiving; and military HALO jumping is, as near as we can figure out, somewhat more hazardous than civilian skydiving.

This situation would be completely different if the military did not use mind-numbingly rigid procedures for everything from pre-jump planning to how to open the aircraft door or tailgate to assembly on the drop zone. Still, it’s an inherently dangerous act: to exit an aircraft in flight, and ride a piece of cloth and a bunch of strings (that were all made by the lowest bidders), to contact with terra firma.

We’ve been reminded of that this month by two horrifying acccidents.

2 Sep 15: Non-fatal Mishap, MT

In Hamilton, Montana a free-fall parachutist with a US Army Special Operations unit became badly entangled in his main chute, as this photograph by eyewitness Mike Daniels shows:

Mike Daniels photo of Hamilton MT accidentThe jumper landed in a residential area and was evacuated by Army helicopter.

The area is frequently used for rough-terrain jump training and deliberate tree landings (under the auspices of the Forest Service’s smoke jumpers, the undisputed experts at this technique), but the jumper does not appear to be equipped for a deliberate tree jump. He landed hard in a residential street. In the configuration shown in the photo, he was probably descending at about 70 miles per hour, but his chute snapped to full canopy just 100 feet and less than one second from a bone-jarring impact. Instead, he was able to reduce speed some before he hi.

The jump Blackhawk, an MH-60 of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, dived after him and landed in the street; the injured man, who was conscious and responsive,  was given first aid and flown to the trauma center in Missoula.

He was a very fortunate man, saved from probable death when the chute inflated, and he was out of the hospital and back with his unit in days.

11 Sep 15 Fatal Mishap, WA

A soldier assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was found dead late Friday, 11 September 15, after being missing for about ten hours. The Special Forces soldier was last seen trying to deploy his reserve parachute.

The case remains under investigation; 1st SFG(A) commander Otto K. Liller has made a statement of condolence to the dead man’s family. The name of the victim will not be released until family notification +24 hours under Army policy


Sources (Montana Accident)



Ravalli (MT) Republic:

Sources (Washington Accident)

Seattle Times:

NBC News:

KING-TV 5 Seattle:



The Best Traditions are Organic

CrestFrom time to time, someone imposes, or attempts to impose, a tradition on some military unit or other. Sometimes these traditions stick, especially when they connect to traditions from an earlier time, like the Stetson hat worn for ceremony by cavalry units.

Sometimes they don’t. Consider the frequent attempts by army Chiefs of Staff suffering acute USMC envy, to try to make a big stink about the, Army Birthday, which has been for most of the Army’s history just another date on the calendar. Making a big deal about the date the unit first stood up is a Marine thing; and we wish them well with it. And a few years from now, some politician of an Army general will be a guest a one of the Marines’ celebrated birthday balls, and the Good Idea Fairy will whisper, “We should be doing this,” in his too-receptive ear.

SF poster it says more about youNope, real traditions come from the bottom up, organically. The Green Beret of US Army Special Forces started not with a brainstorm in a corner office, but with the WWII veterans who first stood up the unit. To say the beret was merely opposed by Army officialdom is parallel to saying the United States was upset with the Empire of Japan after Pearl Harbor. They fought a bitter counterinsurgency for a decade, until an SF officer actually bearded, of all people, the President about it. And the President thought it was a great idea; as a result, the Green Beret is the one article of military clothing whose use stands not on Army traditions and regulations, but upon an Executive Order.

Many other units were inspired by the Green Beret (and the branch or regimental berets worn by most of our NATO allies) to seek their own headgear. Some of these traditions — red berets for the airborne, and original black berets for the Rangers — had an organic basis, and stood; others were the sort of imposed tradition that extinguishes itself when the open flame of command influence is removed.

Here’s a Green Beret tradition that one team holds, and that no one, as far as we know, has ever tried to emulate. A single ODA, ODA-111, from the defunct 11th Special Forces Group and its former members, including members of the predecessor teams (such as A-1, 1/11th SF) and successor teams (ODA-2034, C/1/20th SF), gets together one weekend every summer in the same place, Fort Pickering on Winter Island in Salem, Massachusetts.

SF poster join a minority groupOriginally it was a “team dive” for a scuba team, which involved recreationally (for a change) diving for the lobsters that inhabit the bay. In recent years, it’s become more a weekend camp-out with a lot of drinking and tale-telling.

The site is interesting, as it had military significance from the Revolution through the post-World War II era, hosting at different times cannon that commanded the bay, PBY patrol planes that scoured the Atlantic for German submarines, and Navy and later Coast Guard rescue seaplanes and helicopters. The fortifications were rebuilt for the War of 1812 and again in the time of the Civil War, but were never threatened. In the 20th Century, it was a base of Navy seaplanes that hunted subs and conducted Search and Rescue missions, and then it was handed off to the Coast Guard for the SAR mission. When the Coast Guard pulled out in the early 1970s, the site was abandoned to vandalism and decay, and was only restored as a park after nearly twenty years of neglect.

When the Team Dive began the area was in decay. Over the last quarter century, the site has become an important recreational area. Part of that is because team members have pitched in to beautify the area. They bush-hogged scrub and mowed grass; they placed a flagpole and two bronze plaques in memory of our SF dead, with the agreement of the town authorities that managed the park then. 

The tradition may end. The local non-profit that manages the park now, and takes a typically Massachusetts dim view of the military and veterans, has secured a “free money” Federal grant, and has a dream of restoring the fort to historic condition — whatever that is. (1780? 1814? 1942?). Their first idea is to tear down the flagpole the team erected. After all, it’s Massachusetts.

Maybe the team could run up the Rainbow Flag, but that’s not really the tradition we’ve celebrated for all these years.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Stormbringer

Stormbringer is the callsign of a former Special Forces NCO, who goes by the pseudonym Sean Linnane. (It’s a good choice of pseudonym; it suggests he’s of Irish ancestry, and you can’t throw a rock in a team house without hitting a couple such, so it doesn’t give much away). It’s also the name of his occasionally-updated, very high quality blog.

Linnane was a rough contemporary of ours, but stayed on active duty when we discovered the Reserve and Guard SF, and learned that it made far more sense as a hobby than it did as a living. Here’s what he says about himself:

Sean Linnane is the pseudonym of a retired Special Forces career NCO (1st SFG, 3d SFG, 10th SFG). I served with honor on five continents; I continue to serve in other capacities.

via Sean Linnane.

What we like about his blog is the same sort of reflective and even sentimental tales of SF lore and legend that we’ve been known to get up to ourselves. Linnane, of course, is intelligent and a clear writer — the first is mandatory, the second almost-so for an SF sergeant. (A few outstanding guys with abominable English skills have always been carried by the teams’ literati on grounds of their other contributions. In the very early days of SF, these non-English-speakers were often from SF areas of interest, like Hungary or the Sudetenland; today, they’re often from SF AOIs still, it’s just that the areas and languages are different. Plus, Hispanics have flocked to SF in throw-a-rock-you’ll-hit-one numbers, too).

His posts are interesting here, whether they’re on the curious history of Rolex POW watches (didn’t know there was a such thing before), or his own take on the warrior ethos:

Looking back, something drew me to it like a magnet, almost as if it was Fate. I was fortunate to make my way to America as an immigrant and to find my way into the greatest Army that ever marched across a battlefield. A series of good decisions and a lot of hard work got me into Special Forces where you don’t earn the Green Beret after graduation – you earn it every day, by deed and thought.

Now I’m no altruist – I’m not Mother Theresa and I’m no Boy Scout – and I know I was fortunate to fall into a profession that in many ways is a cause; I fight Evil. I got here almost by chance because growing up everybody I knew – to include my family – was against me joining the military. They made fun of my dreams and ambition to be a soldier, told me I was misguided and out of my mind.

It’s probably not for everybody, but then, neither is SF. Linnane, like many of us, was born just a little bit “off,” and when he finally “joined a minority group,” (an old SF recruiting slogan that is also a play on our fundamental theater-level organization, the Special Forces Group, about 1800 men that can overthrow a country in a month or less), he felt like he was finally at home.

We can relate.

Afghan SOPMOD I Update

Originally, when we got M4A1s and SOPMOD gear, the only documents that made it to us after Group HQ coonfingered the gear were these little 11x17 posters. All the manuals (and some of the gear) were gone.

Originally, when we got M4A1s and SOPMOD gear, the only documents that made it to us after Group HQ coonfingered the gear were these little 11×17 posters. All the manuals (and some of the gear) were gone. [Bear with us on the photos. It will take a while to get them into this post! It should be good now].

When we last left our attempted clone of our Afghanistan 2002-03 rifle, we had taken it to the range and zeroed it with M193 (our indoor range doesn’t permit M855 due to the steel penetrators), but only using the iron sights. We had made already the first small changes to tweak the rifle to ape its wartime predecessor, including:

  • A Colt 14.5″ M6920LE Short Barreled Rifle.
  • Replacing Colt’s factory Rogers Super-Stoc with the actual Colt stock from our wartime gun (the unit dumpstered them when SOPMOD stocks came in — and a friend still on duty dumpster-dove for us).
  • Replacing the front handguards with the correct vintage Knight’s rail system and VFG. Yes, we know VFGs are out of style in 2015, but they were still the cat’s ass in 2002, and that’s what we’re building. We’re going to do a few other things wrong before we’re done, to keep our SBR vintage correct.
Status quo ante. This is the carbine at the end of last effort, in December 2014.

Status quo ante. This is the carbine at the end of last effort, in December 2014.

Three things that we were still looking for were less common: a Knight’s Armament Company flash suppressor/mount for the Knight’s suppressor;IMG_1765 a vintage-correct ACOG TA01NSN;IMG_1764 and an AN/PEQ-2 laser target indicator/illuminator. IMG_1766Each of these posed certain problems; the KAC mounts were intermittent in availability at retail (although the company includes two with each suppressor); the ACOG has since been improved, upgraded, and (in military service) bowdlerized by a militant atheist driving Satan’s own horsemen, military lawyers, before him; and the PEQ-2 is subject to ownership and ITAR limitations; its infrared laser can be hazardous to human vision on some settings.

There is also a plague of counterfeit optics on the market.

Moreover, some significant percentage of the mil-spec ACOGs and the PEQs on the market are stolen government property. More than one buyer has found that stolen property was soon followed by a CID, NCIS or FBI agent who is looking to retrieve it as evidence in a criminal investigation; others have discovered that their purchases were stolen only when they sent the item for service, and discovered that it wasn’t coming back, but instead going back to its last legitimate owner.


It is possible, fortunately, to check by serial number, with a simple phone call. For example, Trijicon customer service will look up an ACOG for you if you simply dial them up at (800) 338-0563.

KAC suppressor mount/flash hider

(We received the mounts, but not the suppressors, before the deployment; it turns out that some of our remote company’s SOPMOD gear was diverted by Alabama boys better connected to Group HQ). The mount didn’t go on right away in 2001 when we got the guns, and it’s not going to go on this one right away, either. We thought we’d include it in this rundown but we’re out of space and time. So we’ll do that along with an overview of how to change out AR muzzle devices right, which is trickier than you think. There are two separate ways to time an A2-type flash suppressor: using shims or using a crush washer. The Knight’s unit uses shims, which is more fiddly for the armorer, but more predictable in outcome. The shims make up for the fact that different muzzles may be machined slightly differently with reference to where the threads start around the clock. Since it’s important that the two blank “slot” areas of the flash suppressor be underneath (there are some tricks with this we’ll mention when we do the install story) then there’s a trick to aligning and torquing the muzzle device.

The one we have was generously sent to us by frequent commenter Miles.

ACOG TA01NSN, 2003 vintage SN 0427xx

One thing we wanted was a correct (or close) vintage ACOG with the ACOG4X32JN8:12 marking on it. It is a reference to the Christian Bible, which in the King James Version says:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The inscription that threw the press into a tizzy. ACOG TA01NSN

The inscription that threw the press into a tizzy. ACOG TA01NSN

Fairly on point for an illuminated optic intended to save lives. Of course, an over-ten-year-old optic that depends on tritium for illumination is going to be dead, dead, dead. Fortunately we’re not planning on starting a war any time soon, and as it turns out, it’s possible (if expensive) to have the ACOG thoroughly overhauled at the factory. Before we’d do that, we’d want to know if JN8:12 could stay.

When this inscription was discovered, the media, atheists, and anti-Christian groups exploded into outrage. The company, which had put Bible verse references on every product since its founding by a Christian, Glyn Bindon, backed down. In the military, the inscriptions were removed pursuant to threats by a former military lawyer named Mikey Weinstein, a militant atheist of Jewish extraction and totalitarian inclinations, who is vocal in his hatred for Christians, and who seeks to impose atheism as the Established State Religion of the United States.

We called Trijicon to determine when the scope was made. Trijicon customer service heard the serial number and the pleasant lady said, “That doesn’t sound that old… wow, it is.” It was made in 2003, and we confirmed that it was not ever a military-owned optic.

Trijicon can make the scope new again, for $570, which provides, “a thorough overhaul, restored tritium illumination, and a new warranty.” And no, they won’t grind the inscription off, like the bible-haters make them do to military scopes. You can set it up right through the web site (although it’s a very good idea to ring them with the serial number first. If it’s stolen government property, they not only won’t overhaul it, you won’t get it back). The overhaul seems like a good deal, but apart from the dead illum, this scope is in nice shape and just flat doesn’t need it.

Mounting the scope is child’s play — the factory mount isn’t exactly QD, but is easy to set up and quite repeatable in terms of zero. If you’re grieved by the effort involved in spinning two thumbscrews, maybe SF is not for you.

Numbers on the rails can be used to replicate or repeat a scope-positioning situation.

Numbers on the rails can be used to replicate or repeat a scope-positioning situation.

Back in 2001-02, we sometimes had to put the ACOGs in suboptimal position to allow the carbines to rack in the modified M12 racks our unit had at the time. When we went downrange, we lost that garrison problem, and now that we lock guns in big, roomy safes, we don’t need to play scope-position games.

We initially positioned it here, based on memory. Checking eye relief, we discovered our memory was wrong.

We initially positioned it here, based on memory. Checking eye relief, we discovered our memory was wrong.

The ACOG finally wound up here, flush with the front of the receiver. This is the position it's in in period photos. Background: psyops posters we handed out to Afghans, explaining 9/11.

The ACOG finally wound up here, flush with the front of the receiver. This is the position it’s in in period photos. Background: a framed pair of the psyops posters we handed out to Afghans, explaining 9/11.

All that’s left is to zero it.


This was actually the first item we acquired, and the most expensive. (If someone offers you a cheap one, see comments above about stolen government property).

It actually comes with the bracket you need (called the ) attached to the PEQ itself. There are also other adapters available; we used to run these on pre-M4A1 guns with an adapter that attached right to the barrel.

It actually comes with the bracket you need (called the Rail Grabber) attached to the PEQ itself. There are also other adapters available; we used to run these on pre-M4A1 guns with an adapter that attached right to the barrel. By the mid-oughts, a lot of guys had replaced these factory mounts.

Since 2002 we’ve changed how we use this and similar devices and tend to deploy it on the top rail, but because we’re repopping the 2002 setup, on the right rail it goes.

As it turns out, according to the book, the right side where we ran it was not doctrinal -- top or left was. Lacking these books, then, we didn't know that.

As it turns out, according to the book, the right side where we ran it was not doctrinal — top or left was. Lacking these books, then, we didn’t know that. Picture on the left shows the pre-rail-era adapter.

What the AN/PEQ-2 is, is an infrared (only) laser pointer, aiming point, and floodlight. It does have to be zeroed which is done under NODs. You can start with a boresight.

WRONG. To install the PEQ, you have to remove one of the rail covers by pressing down on its center point. A screwdriver scratches the metal gratuitously....

WRONG. To install the PEQ, you have to remove one of the rail covers by pressing down on its center point. A screwdriver scratches the metal gratuitously….

A small block of wood, or any other non-marring tool, doesn't. With the center of the spring depressed, the rail cover slides off.

A small block of wood, or any other non-marring tool, doesn’t. With the center of the spring depressed, the rail cover slides off.

This was an extremely useful unit downrange, ub a variety of ways. And it will be useful if we ever contract over there again. It doesn’t really add much practical to this rifle, but it’s essential to its gestalt. 

The rail grabber snaps into place and then is tightened with the thumbscrew....

The rail grabber snaps into place and then is tightened with the thumbscrew….

Then the PEQ fits on. A single screw holds it in place; the mating angles of the Rail Grabber and the PEQ-2's molded case supposedly ensure alignment.

Then the PEQ fits on. A single screw holds it in place; the mating angles of the Rail Grabber and the PEQ-2’s molded case supposedly ensure alignment.

Because of the power of this illuminator, it’s extremely important to leave the blue training plug in place. It’s eye-safe with that in place; with it removed, it’s quite hazardous, and we only took those out downrange. Mission first, safety always.

Summing up

Apart from a general lack of damage, abuse and dust, the Colt 6921 now closely resembles its wartime granddaddy. If we knew where the Taliban cells around here were, we could start getting the damage, abuse and dust up to a more-authentic level.

There are still a couple more details to be done. The vane switch needs to be rigged and installed, batteries need to be put in the AN/PEQ-2 (kind of pointless if we’re not going to be using it in night combat! But we have been weighing everything) and the aforementioned flash suppressor/suppressor-mount be installed.

If we were actually running this gun today, we’d make it a little less Old Guy Gear™ by doing the following:

  1. Moving the PEQ to the top rail or replacing it with a dual-purpose visible/IR illuminator;
  2. Adding a sling. We were still all 80s Ragnar Skool, “slings are for the weak” in 2001. We’re less ‘tarded now.
  3. Replacing the vertical fore-grip with an angled fore-grip.

We’d probably stick with the TA01NSN, even after using the Elcan Spectre DR from the SOPMOD II kit.

The Colt M4A1 — one of the ones we got to replace older fixed-handle M16 Carbines and proto-M4s — was one of only two long guns we personally took out of the box new (a lot of sniper rifles came in but those guys kept the unboxing ritual to themselves).  And that’s in a 30-year career. And then we carried it, downrange, on strikes beyond enemy positions (it’s hard to call them “lines.”) We actually took these guns, our little bunch of guys, and we lived the slogan on our distinctive unit insignia, De Oppresso Liber. We did indeed liberate the oppressed.

For all these reasons and more, reproducing this firearm justified all the expense and time that went into it. We’ll probably be dragging it around the house and terrorizing Kid and Small Dog, mumbling phrases in Dari for weeks now.

Defoor Strikes Again

Needed: riser mount for an Aimpoint.
On hand: Aimpoint, no riser mount, odds and ends.
Input: A now old-guy’s memory of “how we did it back when this stuff was shiny and new”
Result: Aimpoint on a section of Yankee Hill Machine 5/8″ rail. Mission accomplished.

Defoor improv riser mount

If you’ve been around a while, you probably have junk like that in your junk box — sights and mounts and rails for stuff you’re never going to mount again, ’cause it’s as obsolete as a crank handle for a Model T. Also, before we move on, note that Mr Old School who cooked this up is not using a 90s-vintage Aimpoint, but a modern Micro T1. Optics are one of the fastest-moving areas of sooting technology, and if you stand still here you get left behind. Still, as the if-it’s-stupid-and-it-works-it-ain’t-stupid riser shows, the knowledge and cunning you developed 20 years ago (for some of us, 40 years ago?) can still be applied.

This Old Man was Kyle Defoor, who was around back when all this stuff was new and putting it together was hard. (Heck, 20 years before him, guys were doing it with electrical tape — green 100-mile-an-hour tape was still too hard to pry out of Supply — and/or radiator-hose clamps. Look at some of the Son Tay mounts for the Single Point red-dot, or some of the Armson OEG carrying handle mounts we used after that. They were stupid, but they worked. Sort of). Here it is in his own words:

In the mid 90’s when I was first issued an Aimpoint there were no mounts commercially available. ARMS and Wilcox were still a few months out. It was common practice to go to the armory and acquire one Badger Ordnance 30mm scope ring and a 5/8″ riser to use to attach the red dot to the then new flat top rail. The BO scope ring was of course from the snipes and the 5/8″ riser was a holdover from the MP5 days when using a gas mask and needing more height.

Here you see my modern version using the stock AP Micro mount and a Yankee Hill 5/8″ rail piece….not because I want to revisit my past but because it’s all I had available where I was at…..totally freaked some new guys out….and they lost money

And because it’s Defoor, there’s a few prime sarky hash tags:


And the primest of all:


It’s our observation that bagging on New Guys is a self-perpetuating tradition; when a former New Guy becomes an Old Guy he has a lot of pent-up hostility to vent on today’s innocent New Guys. It seems to us that this is more an aspect of SEAL than SF culture, from all the SEALs we’ve known over the years. In SF a New Guy is expected to be learning, sure, but so is an Old Guy, because the mission, situation, and technology is constantly changing. If a New Guy wasn’t a productive member of an ODA on arrival — even though he’s maybe six to ten years from his peak — we’re doing the SFQC wrong. (Especially true for officers, who don’t have six years on an ODA to improve. They’re good right out of the gate, or it’s going to be an unhappy, ineffective team).

To orient yourself in SOF gun history, Kyle’s talking about a time about five years after the MP5’s Waterloo in Grenada, when we had all learned to love the 5.56mm carbine (and had reached a modus vivendi with 14.5″ because it ran so much better than the old 10-11.5″ barrels). But the guns we had came from Colt in several models: M16A1 Carbine, M16A2 Carbine, then XM4. Sometime around 1993 or 4 we started getting guns with removable carrying handles and picatinny-rail flat-tops, to which, at first, we had nothing to attach but the carrying handle. How you got from A (flat top) to B (mounted optic) was on you, for a while. (By the way, at different times we received both “M16A2 Carbines” and “XM4 Carbines” with both flat tops and A2-style permanent carrying handles, direct from the factory. Only some of the M16A2 Carbines had the lousy three-round burst. All these oddball transitional guns were later turned in for standard SOCOM M4A1s).

In retrospect, getting the flattops months and years before optics was probably just the incompetence of the supply system, as it appeared to us at the time to be. But it could have been sheer brilliance: “Let’s put these out here and see what the SF, SEALs and direct action guys do with them, and when they’ve worked out the best way, we’ll adopt it.” Because that’s pretty much what happened. (True, some of the private-purchase mounts like Wilcox and, later, Larue, were a lot better than the issued ones, but the issued ones are OK).

Finally, if you’re interested in technique you ought to be paying some attention to Defoor. We have not personally attended his training but we believe Our Traveling Reporter has; he was, in fact, the one that turned us on to the guy.

Time to Stop Making fun of the SEALs’ “Warrior Princess”

 Our position on the current “transgendered” publicity campaign hasn’t changed: if you decide you’re Jesus, they put you in the room with Neoprene wallpaper, but if you decide you’re Janet,  they try to alter the world to comport to your delusion. Both of these reactions can’t be right, and it’s our opinion that this is just a phase the press and Hollywood are going through on the way to where they really want to be — call it the “full-NAMBLA.”

So we’ve been a bit dismissive and sarcastic towards the retired SEAL who’s going around selling himself (we hope, not literally, but there’s some weird stuff on as a “Warrior Princess.”

Well, we apologize abjectly to all our frogman brethren for ragging on their Warrior Princess, because we now have an outed 18 series Rent Boy. We do always say, “It takes all kinds to make a world” — but who knew it was happening in our own Regiment, and even, in two of the three Groups we served in?

A former Green Beret led a secret life as a gay prostitute named “Swedish Steele’’ who married his wife just to get a green card, his jilted ex says in new court papers. Roe Garrido, 48, of Manhattan was sued by her Army ex earlier this year for allegedly stalking him.

Now, she’s swinging back, claiming in court papers that her former husband, Iraq War vet Jacob Ivancev, told her he worked construction — when he was really peddling his body on the Web site and working at city strip clubs such as Splash and Gaiety.

We saw what they did there — “swinging” back. Nyuk nyuk nyuck.

“I was stringing her along lying to her, and I never loved her,” Ivancev, a native of Sweden, even admitted in an e-mail, according to the documents. “The truth is I was married to somebody just for the green card.”

This is pretty common, and, it’s one more facet of immigration law that the immigration cops are under pressure not to enforce or investigate. We live in interesting times. No too long ago, an admission like that might have gotten a guy bounced from the USA. (Our personal opinion is that, whether his initial green card was fraudulent or not, and no matter where he chooses to, uh, dance, the guy’s served at least one combat tour for the USA, so he’s earned his green card now).

Garrido’s $7 million suit against Ivancev comes seven months after her former husband accused her of being a violent stalker in his own $4 million lawsuit.

The couple met in 1999 at Yorkville’s Pumping Iron Gym and got married in 2003. They divorced in 2011.

In case you’re wondering why chicks like to have gay friends, here’s one reason: the gay friend can drop a dime on their husbands if hubby’s living a double life:

A mutual friend told Garrido about her husband’s bad-boy behavior before the pair split, her suit says.

The pal told The Post that while Ivancev was a hunk who shook his booty in construction boots at the strip clubs and had “the largest endowment I have ever seen,’’ he also “had no rhythm and was technically a terrible dancer.”

via Former Green Beret hid secret past as gay prostitute: ex | New York Post.

Now, of course, this is where the Equality police will tell us, Ivancev’s marital troubles and dancing difficulties aside — he and his ex both sound like a couple of drama queens to us — he’s living proof that gay guys make great soldiers.

Except that the former team sergeant who flagged me to this article and remembers Ivancev well doesn’t remember a gay guy or a great soldier. Ivancev’s personal life didn’t interfere with his soldiering, but his personal character did. He left active duty’s 10th Special Forces Group under a reputational cloud, having been bounced off of multiple ODAs for multiple reasons. Indeed, at one time they were considering revoking his SF qualification and Tab (a very, very serious and once-rare thing, although more widely used in recent years, especially for CM/FM law violations). His company sergeant major, who had run out of ODAs that would take Ivancev, did stick up for him enough that he was able to ETS (End Term of Service, i.e. leave with an honorable discharge when your time is up) with Tab intact.

That’s when he came to the Guard SF. Another company sergeant major picked Ivancev up off the waiver wire, even after hearing his old senior NCOs drop a dime on him. (More like a whole change drawer). He was bounced off his first ODA there, too, although the deck was probably stacked against him because the team sergeant did what team sergeants do when an unknown quantity New Guy shows up: shake the trees and see what his reputation is. So from the first day in the Guard, Ivancev started with a bad reputation.

“Was it because he was gay?”

“Nobody knew he was gay, that wasn’t his problem. He was incompetent. That was his problem.” The team sergeant was able to get rid of him after he demonstrated that incompetence — even the hard-headed sergeant major accepted it.

Here’s a thought for you: most SF teams are a little shorthanded most of the time. There’s often room for one or two more guys. And here’s a guy that at least four teams who tried him decided they would rather run shorthanded than take along.

One Downside of a Much Younger, Latina Wife

michael_j_brownThe upsides are many and glorious. The downsides? You can get whacked. Michael J. “Brownie” Brown was one of those guys — you know, the guy who spent a lot of time in Hondo or El Sal and kind of went native. He had married a much younger Salvadoran woman, and that was what brought about his end.

On 16 Feb 13, Brown and his wife Nuri (or Nuy) Aquino Brown were ambushed in San Isidro, El Sal:

On Saturday night, a U.S. citizen was shot and killed in El Salvador. Michael James Brown, aged 53 or 55 [53 was apparently correct –Ed.], was driving a rental car along with his Salvadoran wife on a coffee farm in San Isidro. San Isidro is located in the municipality of Izalco, Sonsonate.

They were attacked by a group of 8 to 10 men. According to authorities, Brown died after being shot at least five times in the head and shoulder. His wife, who was injured but was able to escape, is now being held as a witness.

As of today, Salvadoran authorities do not appear to have a motive for the crime. The attackers apparently hid among the coffee trees until their targets approached. They were waiting specifically for Brown and his wife. The couple frequently travel between the U.S and El Salvador. $1,500 remained behind at the scene of the crime which leads the police to believe that robbery was not a motive.

The instigator turned out to be, not an ex-boyfriend of Aquino’s as the Salvadoran cops first suspected, nor the irritated organized-crime group behind a strip club from which Brown was reputed to help rescue enslaved girls. (They were irritated, but probably not homicidal; they have to get new girls all the time anyway as the old ones wear out). Those groups might have wanted Brown dead, too, but it was Aquino herself (whose full name appears to be Nuri Liseth Aquino-Torres) that had him whacked. By the time the detectives had enough evidence, she was living comfortably in Utah.

In San Salvador, they applied to Interpol for a Red Notice.

On 15 August 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), particularly the unsung agents of ERO, Enforcement and Removal Operations, put the habeas grabbus on Aquino, 28, and gave her the only charter jet flight she’ll get in this life.


The story now comes to an end. On 11 July 15, a Salvadoran court, having found her guilty, sentenced her to 50 years in prison. See you in a half century, lady. If you can’t do 50 years… just do the best you can.

One thing that produced suspicion was an ambush that left Brownie with many mortal head and upper-body wounds, and Aquino without any serious injury. Suspicion leads to investigation, investigation leads to adjudication, adjudication leads to incarceration. Q.E.D.

Moral of story, don’t go organizing murder for hire, it can interfere with your life plans, and if revenge you must have, isn’t living well a better revenge?

Brownie was a member of the SF community who served in Active, Reserve and Guard SF groups, and one of his former team leaders was there to see justice done.

El Salvador is still a troubled, violent land (although less so than Honduras), but the warring factions of the 80s have evolved into political parties contesting elections, and something like the rule of law is emerging. Unfortunately a lot of the little G and counter-G bands have also evolved into whackers-for-hire and itinerant highwaymen. All of the nations of Latin America are much more violent than the US is, and it’s anyone’s guess whether the coups and civil wars are causes or consequences of crime and violence.


This post has been corrected. We originally wrote “Immigrations and Customs Enforcement,” but the correct name for one of America’s most frustrated bands of criminal investigators is, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” We regret the error, and (unlike, perhaps, some of their overhead) appreciate their service. – Ed.