Monthly Archives: September 2012

Book Thrown at Micturating Marines

The book being the Manual for Courts Martial, or its modern descendant, the Uniform Code of Miliytary Justice. We’ve covered the Case of the Micturating Marines before here, here and here. Three enlisted Marines, including the dumb cluck who videotaped the incident, have received nonjudicial punishment (under Article 15, UCMJ), and two staff NCOs are charged with whizzing on the enemy dead and posing for pictures with their corpses.

The charges are against Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin and Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola.

The two also were charged with other misconduct on the same day as the urination incident. That includes dereliction of duty by failing to properly supervise junior Marines and failing to stop and report misconduct of junior Marines.

Three other Marines were given administrative punishments last month for their role in the urination incident.

The disclosure in January of a video showing four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men led to a criminal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as well as a Marine investigation of the unit involved, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, which fought in the southern Afghan province of Helmand for seven months before returning to its home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., last September.

via 2 U.S. marines to be court-martialled in urinating video case – World – CBC News.

The charges were more or less directed by Secretary of Defense Panetta, in an attempt to appease angry Moslems, and Lt. Gen. Richard Mills eagerly complied. One gets the impression that Mills and Panetta would have rather seen a videotape of Talibs whizzing on our dead.

The same government that releases Al-Qaeda murderers with a pat on the head  –55 more are about to be released from Gitmo, with the Blind Sheik waiting in the wings — threw the book at these guys. Proof that the USMC is wery wery angwy: n top of the charges of whizzing on dead Talibs and letting the troops whiz on dead Talibs, the NCOs also face the charge of failing to supervise their troops. Because two of the whizzers had their helmets off. It’s the Marine Corps, gentlemen: even while pissing on the enemy, adherence to grooming standards is paramount.

Embassies and Espionage

The DIplomat — as the public sees him, and he sees himself.

The attacks on embassies and consulates in the Arab world, and the national command authority’s extremely feeble responses to them, have sunk American prestige in the region to an unprecedented low. Were the weak horse that can’t even keep our sovereign territory from being overrun.

But the disruption of the diplomatic facilities has also had a secondary effect that in the long run may be more important: it has blinded our intelligence collection, because the vast majority of our intelligence officers work under official cover from diplomatic stations. Run the dips out, and you just ran all the spies’ case officers out, too.

Ishmael Jones — pseudonym for an intelligence officer who worked under nonofficial cover for his entire career, which is a very close thing to career suicide in CIA — has some more details in a post at Power Line. Note that his post has been cleared by the Agency. In his post, he explains why embassies are hard to defend from those who are not impressed by their diplomatic status, and how they would be better defended if we had more NOCs and fewer officers pushing papers in embassies and HQ.

Embassies are fixed targets in a world where victory in almost any endeavor – from warfare to football – depends on speed, flexibility, and maneuverability. Saddam Hussein’s vast tank armies, dug in and unmoving, were sitting ducks for American air power. In pro football, those 300 pound players are not monoliths, they’re stunningly fast and agile.

A hostile intelligence service can shut down an embassy just by keeping track of who walks in and out. A hostile enemy can obliterate an embassy using obsolete military weapons. Once an embassy is neutralized, it can no longer gather information to protect itself, much less serve the needs of Americans and our allies.

The solution is to have people operating outside of those embassies. I did this continuously in foreign countries – including Libya – for more than 15 of my 18 years in the CIA. I had no security, no Marine guards, not even an alarm system in my house. Except for brief tours in war zones, I never carried a weapon. The enemy did not disrupt or attack me because they couldn’t identify and locate me. The enemy would never have been able to locate the safe houses I used because they were unconnected to any embassy. I never had diplomatic immunity, and it didn’t bother me a bit. Diplomatic immunity didn’t protect our ambassador in Libya.

via Ishmael Jones: After Benghazi | Power Line.

But there’s a lot of this going on at our embassies… and everyone else’s, too.

A thinking, learning, evolving service would take Jones’s criticisms on board and act on them. The CIA, on the other hand, will do absolutely nothing. It’s mammoth bureaucracy is unshakeable, not by the calamities produced by our enemies, nor by the calamities produced by its own incompetence.

Being a bureaucracy, the responsibility for every calamity is so thoroughly diffused that none of the many hands involved in enabling or even authoring the calamity leave behind a readable fingerprint. No one has been held responsible. No one will be held responsible. That’s just how they roll.

Not every service is like this, Jones says:

The Israelis, facing acute threats, figured out the disadvantages of embassies and in the 1990’s moved their information and intelligence gathering outside of embassies. According to Michael Ross, a former Mossad officer, an additional benefit of the Mossad’s work outside embassies is that it removes the stasis, the bureaucracy, of the diplomatic system. The Mossad can move quickly from country to country and carry out its missions without first clearing operations with layers of bureaucrats.

 

Of course, the Israelis have been in the region long enough to lose their illusions about how well loved they are. The US is no more so, but the key decision makers at CIA are bureaucrats who came up through the usual processes of in-headquarters knob polishing, and have either never been to the region, or have been only in a bubble that was sealed, isolated, and of short duration — as much so as the conditions at the point in a cyclotron under scientific observation.

 

Rare early AR turns up in Italy

Very early Colt AR, mostly original, ex-Malaysia. Click to embiggen.

An Italian collector is a proud owner of a very very early Colt AR-15. How early? The initial production of the Colt AR-15 Model 601 (the first model produced in quantity) began with Serial Number 000101. This is number 000115 — making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, 601s in existence. (Colt and Reed Knight may have earlier copies).

It has been altered to semiauto in accordance with Italian law (such an alteration is not legal in the USA, so this gun can never come back to the States under current law).

We’ll let the owner, Paolo, speak for himself. This is what he posted in the ARFCOM Retro Forum (lightly edited for punctuation and paragraph division):

My name is Paolo. I live in Italy and I am a guns collector.

I want to show you a rifle extremely rare, a rifle museum !  I own an original Colt Armalite model 01 (601) made in December 1959, S/N 115 and as you well know the production run started with S/N 101 so, is the rifle number 15, probably the first day of production.  In the month of December were produced the first 300 rifles, and Colt has decided to paint the furniture green after about the first 100 products, these are the original brown !

This rifle comes from the Malaysian army, where he was taken for evaluation test. In the book, THE M16 Jean Huon said that Malaysia had 25 of these Rifles, of those rifles survivors the Italian importer has recovered 7, but only a few were with charging handle, stock, grip and handguard original, the others had those of ‘M16A1. This rifle was the best preserved and the S / N, the lowest .

The guns arrived in Italy with the standard 30 rounds magazine and see the rifle without his waffle magazine was very bad! Fortunately I was able to find one original in the U.S., so now the gun is perfect !

Unfortunately the Italian law does not allow full auto guns, so it has been modified to fire only in semiautomatic mode.
The modifications concern :

  • bolt carrier is milled equal to the semiauto model
  • auto sear removed and enlarged the hole of the sear pin, filled with a steel block welted
  • Hammer milled like the semiauto
  • selector filled welted in position full auto
  • new drill hole to insert a roll pin to stop the selector in semiauto

In addition, different marks the Italian importer that has made the modifications (NuovaJager) and a new S / N , and obligatory for all guns, the proof marks.

Many will ask how much this rifle, well … 5000 € including taxes (21%) … without waffle magazine

I know that the rifle is partly ruined forever , but this is the law, would not have been more possible to re-import in the United States and in many European countries would have been deactived … would never even sung in semiauto !

I hope you understand what I wrote and forgive me for not’ll understand all the answers
now I leave the pictures speak.

We’ll give an answer Paolo will understand: mille grazie, signore.

Now, US law (and the force-of-law, unilateral regulations of the ATF) would not allow the importation of this weapon, even though it was made right here in Connecticut, or even of some of its major parts, so the best hope for its preservation is a European collector like Paolo.

The gun itself is almost completely original. (The ejection port dust cover is suspect). The original first-100 unpainted red-brown fiberglass stocks are correct. The “duckbill” flash suppressor is correct. The triangular charging handle grip area is correct. The bolt and carrier appear correct.

Were it in the USA and on the NFA, this weapon would be worth easily ten times the € 5,000 that Paolo says he spent. But of course, that is partly the function of a law enforcement agency that is militant against collectors, while actually supplying arms to violent criminal cartels, and of the bad lawmaking which produced the laws that distorted that agency.

You can see all the pictures, including detail shots, at the ARFCOM thread.

One of the Regiment’s less celebrated sons…

…is back in the news. Convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, a one-time SF doctor, continues to seek exoneration. Educated in an Ivy League environment that had a culture exactly opposite to the selfless service that exemplifies SF, MacDonald was convicted of murdering his wife and kids in 1970 to pursue a new romance. He has relentlessly pursued many possible angles that would release him from prison, with no success so far.

Now, helped by one of those sick women who are attracted to convicts, he’s pushing for DNA evidence in his case to be examined.

While MacDonald is always described as a “Green Beret doctor,” and some physicians assigned to Group over the years have either become SF qualified while in the position (prior to the 1980s) or been former SF soldiers or officers who subsequently went to med school, we’ve been able to confirm that MacDonald was not fully SF Qualified. So technically, he’s not a member of the regiment but a support guy. He was a doctor assigned to Group. But we get the credit (or blame) for him nonetheless.

The case has had many twists and turns. A writer MacDonald engaged to write a book about his innocence turned on him; the prosecutor in the case wound up in prison for unrelated misconduct; the performance of the MPs and CID who investigated the case was, in a word, abominable (although that’s really typical of CID and MP performance on serious crimes).

RALEIGH, N.C. — Jeffrey MacDonald, a clean-cut Green Beret and doctor convicted of killing of his pregnant wife and their two daughters, is getting another chance at trying to prove his innocence — more than four decades after the slayings terrified a nation gripped by his tales of Charles Manson-like hippies doped up on acid slaughtering his family in their own home.

The case now hinges on something that wasn’t available when he was first put on trial: DNA evidence. A federal judge will convene a hearing on Monday to consider new DNA evidence and witness testimony that MacDonald and his supporters say will finally clear him of a crime that became the basis of a best-selling novel and a made-for-TV drama.

Like we said, one of MacDonald’s current allies is one of those dim bimbos who fall for convicts, providing more proof if proof was needed for the adage that “chicks dig jerks”:

“This is Jeff’s opportunity to be back in court almost 33 years to the day of his conviction,” said Kathryn MacDonald, who married him a decade ago while he’s been in prison.

The elderly MacDonald will not get out of prison until 2020 at the earliest if this attempt fails. We’re actually agnostic on the subject of whether he did it: the initial investigation was so incompetent that we think it wasn’t well proven. Like most cons, MacDonald has always insisted he was innocent. Most cons are full of it; is MacDonald like most cons?

Even the guys who were in the unit at the time and knew him personally are divided on the question of his innocence or guilt. It seems profoundly out of character for him to have killed his kids, whatever disagreement he might have come to with his wife. But men ask the question — if intruders attacked my family, would my wife and kids be killed, and me only lightly wounded? and the answer they usually come to is, they’d have to kill me first. If intruders there were, they didn’t have to kill MacDonald first.

One thing is for sure, in all the focus on poor suffering MacDonald, no one seems to remember his murdered wife, Colette, and their 5 and 2 year old daughters (not to mention the unborn child that perished with Colette). Since Feb. 17, 1970, the drama’s been all about poor Jeffrey.

If he’s innocent, that pity was well placed. If not, bad luck for all concerned that there was no death penalty at the time of his first trial. May the truth, whatever it is, come out.

Block quotes from: Green Beret guilty of killing family in 1970 looks to DNA – US news – Crime & courts | NBC News.

Islamic Worship Attempt in Chicago 9/14

The Chicago Tribune’s Annie Sweeney is going with the defense attorney’s spin after his client, young Adel Daoud, tried to carry out the sixth pillar of Islam in downtown Chicago.

Unfortunately for Daoud and fortunately for the innocents that he wanted to murder in the bar that he wanted to blow up, his car bomb was a dummy, thoughtfully provided by the FBI agents who had him under surveillance.

You might say his terrorist attack… bombed.

Now the lawyer is saying, no fair: his terrorist had too much assistance from the FBI. And he was just a sweet, innocent, socially awkward teenager (look at his picture. This is not the picture the lawyer is handing out).

Daoud is a graduate of a segregated Islamic school in the Chicago area. According to the mouthpiece, terrorist defense lawyer Thomas Durkin, Daoud’s regular imam told him to refrain from violence (at least for the time being), and his father and other mentors tried to talk him back from the precipice of radicalism. Whether he was radicalized in the school (which has dummied uo) or on the internet is still an open question, but his online quest for jihad buddies brought him to the attention of the FBI, who made sure he had plenty of them, and they were wired for sound. While the FBI was egging him on, apparently his dad was urging him to relax.

Daoud didn’t, but Durkin is suggesting an entrapment defense. There’s only one problem with that: it doesn’t work. Sweeney interviewed a Northwestern law professor, and he didn’t give much hope for the entrapment defense:

[I]f there was evidence that Daoud was “predisposed” to any kind of terrorist act, it is not entrapment for undercover operatives to have approached him, said Ronald Allen, a law professor at Northwestern University.

It is difficult to articulate what predisposition means, Allen said.

“That’s the central problem with entrapment generally,” he said. “… If you wait until they commit the crime, you might wind up with a lot of people dead.”

Which does seem to have been the outcome that was on Daoud’s mind:

Much of the criminal complaint against Daoud lays out how he spent months online and in email exchanges trying to encourage at least six others to join him in supporting violent jihad.

The more you read, the less the attorney’s spin seems like it should have been the lede of the story.

Online and in email exchanges with undercover FBI operatives, Daoud talked of wanting to engage in terrorism here and abroad. He allegedly drew up a list of 29 targets for an undercover agent, including bars, malls and military recruiting centers before settling on the downtown location.

“I wanted something that’s … massive; I want something that’s gonna make it in the news like tonight,” he was alleged to say in one recorded conversation.

Later, Daoud provided the name of the targeted bar and conducted surveillance on it, snapping photographs of the scene, authorities said. The FBI placed a phony bomb in the back of a Jeep parked in a lot near the bar. Just before 8 p.m. Friday, Daoud allegedly parked the Jeep in front of the bar, walked to an alley about a block away and tried to detonate the device by pressing a triggering mechanism.

In his earlier emails, Daoud wrote about how he was ignoring warnings from two different sheiks at his mosque to stop his talk of violence, according to prosecutors.

“Lol I will be the opposite,” the teen allegedly wrote in one exchange about his meetings with one sheik

via Hillside teenager faces court hearing for alleged attempted terrorist attack – chicagotribune.com.

LOL you will be convicted and sentenced to a long stretch in prison. How’s that for the lulz?

The one you wind up feeling sorry for is the kid’s father, who seems to have been islamic without being islamist, and who even attended one of the imam meetings trying to dissuade young Adel from terrorism.

Updates

The Trib has been following up the case.

  • In an editorial, they note with alarm that dozens of scores of other Moslems he tried to recruit appear to have made no effort to turn him in. Those figures included many who tried to dissuade him, including his father and two sheikhs (imams). Hopefully the case will reveal that some of those would-be recruits were actually patriots who helped the FBI stop Daoud.

He was young but had a specific idea he had articulated over and over on the Internet: to wage violent jihad against American citizens, authorities say.

And when it came time to carry it out, Adel Daoud stood in an alley and pulled a trigger on what he believed was a 1,000-pound car bomb outside a Chicago bar, the charges allege.

No doubt more revelations are to come. But you haven’t heard about this case, if you don’t live in Chicago, have you? Any reason it hasn’t made the national news?

 

Forgotten Weapons’ Machine Gun Archive

Such a deal we have for you!

Go on over to Forgotten Weapons where they’ve got more vintage machine gun manuals than you can shake a stick at. All the manuals together (including many not yet posted on line) are available on DVD  for a reasonable price (for us it was about $45 including shipping). Yes, we eat our own dog food around here — if we tell you to buy it, we usually already bought it.

According to Ian, this contains “all the interesting machine gun manuals” from the FW Archive, which is large and multinational. There are 10 different BAR manuals, for example, including maintenance stuff and manuals for the FN Model D BAR as well as for the “common” American version. There are five Bren Gun manuals (not counting ZB manuals, which are there too). For us polyglots, there are manuals in a number of European languages, containing helpful illustrations even if, say, French is Greek to you. (Worth noting: the more technical most European languages are, the more words they borrow from English or vice versa. Also,

Here’s a complete list of the contents.

Best of all? This is Volume I, which means a plan for Volume II … and beyond… must be lurking under all that hair. (We’re just, shall we say, baldly envious, that’s all).

Sorry the AM post is up a bit late. Slight cold, fire in the kitchen, bit of smoke inhalation. Never a dull moment in the weapons shed.

A disjoint of short notes

From time to time we’ll clear out a backlog of browser tabs that we’re too busy to blog in depth about. Like this.

Daniel Defense takes a cue from Apple Inc

DD is one of the premium AR makers out there. Apple, of course, makes premium priced computers. You can pick up an Apple machine from your local Apple Store, but if you want the widest range of options, for the last several years you’ve been able to go to the Apple Store online and design your own Build To Order Mac from their interactive website. Well, why not premium ARs, too? And so DD has a configurator that lets you build, or at least spec out, a DD upper or a complete DD rifle online. Of course, unlike your MacBook Pro, a complete rifle has to go to your FFL. (An upper can come direct).

As befits DD’s reputation, a number of premium options are available, including Geissle triggers and a wide range of rails systems. (Call us old-fashioned, but we’re still happy enough with our original KAC SOPMOD I rails. The DD rails from  SOPMOD II are better, but the Knight’s rails were good enough). As an experiment, we “built” a mock-Mk18 CQB upper, and a complete .300 Blackout rifle. The latter was a mind-searing (and wife-unfriendly) $1,700 plus, but we’re not buying generic here. If we had one beef it was the muzzle device options, particularly in .300. Look, if you’re only going to give a choice of one device, and that one a crummy one, at least give us a delete option like we have for sights. Anyway, the configurator is here.

Brownells has had a similar configurator available for some time at ar15builder.com.

Engagement Dynamics: Cop vs. Cripple

The cop says he was cornered and terrified. By whom? Brian Claunch, a mentally ill double-amputee. In a wheelchair. So, he blew his head off. Now, we’ve seen some cops who’ve been hitting the donut shop pretty hard and would be easily run down by a cripple, but this case just doesn’t sound quite right. No report on the number of rounds fired yet. This cop, Matthew Jacob Martin, who has three names like any other serial killer, also shot a suspect to death in 2009, although that one sounds like a good shoot. Martin got three three uncharged vacation days, as a reward for killing Claunch. Spokesman for the Houston Police, Jodi Silva, manages to sound like her maiden name was Isuzu on this one. Too little information, but what there is looks bad. If we’re going to euthanize the mentally ill, that needs to be a national decision, not Patrolman Martin’s.

Top link was Fox News. Here’s the HuffPo version. Here’s a CNN version with slightly variant facts.

There’s a website out there that links every single HPD and Harris County cop misconduct story over the last eight or so years. We won’t link it — if you want to hear about the evidence custodians ebaying victims’ (!) goods, or various bad cops getting indicted, you can find it. Any big organization is going to have some disciplinary issues, particularly one with low prestige, low pay and low barriers to entry. Maybe Martin is completely in the right here and the media have just spun this to make him look dirty. Maybe HPD has a leadership problem. Needs more information to make a call.

Veterans’ Affairs: When your Association runs out of Veterans

The US Navy’s elite force of World War II was probably the submarine force. These men took risks greater than those in the surface fleet or in aviation — 52 boats and thousands of men remain on eternal patrol. After the war, the veterans banded together into a tight-knit group of survivors. But the association has disbanded: the youngest survivor is 86, and most of them are in their nineties. Their memorials will be maintained by other sub vets’ orgs that were open to later submariners. The silent service veterans might have slipped lines and sailed off into the sunset, but one reporter caught the story.

Soon enough, all the submariners will be on eternal patrol.

Gun Safety: Careless Cop breaks a round in PHL

This seems to be the month of cops behaving badly. A flight attendant forgot her handgun in her purse and when it turned up, the TSA called the cops. A Philadelphia police officer took the cop, and promptly fired it wildly in the airport. Here’s the rub: it wasn’t a trigger-safety Glock, but a double-action Smith & Wesson .38 revolver. Naturally they’re blaming the careless flight attendant, not the incompetent, negligent cop. (There are degrees of blame here, folks. Firing a gun is an order of magnitude more serious than forgetting you have one). In a well-led organization, a negligent discharge is a firing offense. An unpunished ND is a red star cluster fired to mark the location of an organization unqualified to certify men and women in gun handling.

Hat tip: PA Gun Blog.

Intelligence:  Spy and Ex-con Edwin Wilson dies, 84

This remarkable obit at MSNBC discusses a man who was the prototype of today’s multimillionaire “public servants.” Wilson got sentenced to decades in prison, and served over 20 years, before a court exonerated him on some of the charges: it turned out, he was guilty enough, but prosecutors were not confident of their case, so they “improved” it. As one of the authors the obit quotes notes, “they framed a guilty man.”

He was still trying to overturn the other judgments when he passed on to his final Judgment. May God have mercy on his soul.

Talk Like a Pirate Day: USS Ponce

Was last week, and we missed the chance to comment on the Navy’s “pirate mothership,” USS Ponce, which is in the Arabian Gulf (yes, we know it’s the Persian Gulf, we wrote it that way to irritate Iranians), working with French EOD divers on a counter-mine exercise. Ponce’s conversion to an amphib/SOF mothership and floating command post is something we wrote about before. Here’s an update on her current doings on the countermining exercise. The conversion included a state-of-the-art JOC and a fitting of new Mk38 guns, a weapon that has also graced our pages before, with a new electronic fire-control/surveillance suite.

Unfortunately, they still fly the US flag and the Navy jack… not the Jolly Roger. So much for nautical tradition.

Engagement Dynamics II: Crim is a no-go at Target Selection

They must have looked like easy marks to the would-be muggers. One waited in a car while the other approached the young couple, preoccupied with the baby stroller and car-seat drill. The black male “became belligerent and began issuing threats” to the young father, Joe Smith. The Buckeye Firearms Association has the story. (Hat tip: AmmoLand).

“He just kept coming, no matter what I said. Then he told me he had a gun and had no problem killing all of us,” said Joe. Joe instructed Amanda to call the police while he engaged the threat. “He kept saying he was going to kill us. He stopped short to answer his phone and told whoever it was where he was and to come help him get this ‘white honky.’”

But the mugger had picked the wrong honky. This one was the President of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, a group that’s trying to get licensees like him right to carry on college campuses, a right the citizens of only five states are free to exercise right now.While not on campus, Joe exercises his right, and this night it saved him, Amanda and their infant son Kyedin from robbery, assault or worse. When he produced the gun, the would-be race warrior changed his demeanor, and when the backup he’d called for arrived, the pair skedaddled.

Meanwhile, Amanda had called the cops, who were there in seven minutes. They didn’t catch the bad guys, but they didn’t have to call an ambulance for the Smiths, either. “This is exactly why law abiding citizens can carry firearms,” Deputy Zach Cooper, the responding officer, told Joe. “I’m a firm believer in it.”

So good luck to Joe on getting the Victim Disarmament Zone requirement lifted from Ohio’s college campuses.The BFA reports that there are over 300,000 law abiding licensees like Joe in Ohio. What a force multiplier for the law!

Note also in this note: a cop behaving well. That’s the default, which is why the alternative is so newsworthy.

 

Tim Haake on Green-on-Blue Attacks

AK-47 sights. ANA, ANP and ANLP members have been turning these on our guys. Tim Haake looks at why.

We told you that great stuff would be forthcoming from MG (R) Tim Haake, and Tim hasn’t disappointed us. This column is a tour-d’horizon of the green-on-blue issue, and it’s clear, concise, and contains all the publicly-released information in one shot. If you teach, train, write or opine on Afghanistan, you not only need to read this, but also to have its link close at hand — bookmarked, printed to PDF, nailed to the wall of your mud hut, in your Kindle. RTWT, of course, but then set it aside to refer to again until you have it fully internalized.

Proof positive of MG Haake’s genius (apart from his having done the Light Weapons Q Course back in the mists of time, like… er… certain bloggers) is the degree to which he agrees with us on this issue. The bad news is that it is a brilliant asymmetric operation by our enemy, reminding anyone who’s forgotten what the ancient pastimes of the Pathan are: goat-herding, horsemanship and treacherous warfare, and they’ve gone short on horses and let the boys watch the goats.

[T]he growing trend of green-on-blue murders is unmistakable and must be countered. In 2008 there were only two such attacks in all of Afghanistan. So far this year, there have been 31 attacks.

The latest attack occurred Sunday when an Afghan policeman turned his gun on NATO forces at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, killing at least four troops. On Saturday, a man dressed in an Afghan military uniform shot and killed two British troops. The deaths brought to 51 the number of ISAF forces killed this year by fellow Afghan soldiers and policemen.

No troops have been spared; even the elite special forces have been struck. In April, for the first time, an Afghan commando killed a U.S. Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar. Again in August, two Marine special operators were murdered by an Afghan police officer they were training.

Afghan sources say that all but one of these attacks were committed by Pashtuns. The sole green-on-blue attack committed by an ethnic Tajik occurred at Kabul Airport in April of last year when an Afghan pilot suffering from mental illness and drug addiction killed eight American soldiers and a NATO civilian contractor. A personal confrontation apparently preceded the slaughter.

via Sleeper cells embedded in Afghan Army prove deadly to Americans | WashingtonGuardian.

Personal resentment, culturally mediated?

As MG Haake points out, elements in Afghan culture make a man who feels slighted or insulted apt to act on his anger. (Regardless of cause, these attacks are always claimed by the Taliban). But this

He attributes the sudden growth to two causes: the Taliban’s discovering, perhaps fortuitously after an anger-based attack, that these killings are massively disruptive, and thereafter acting to ensure we’d have more of them; and our own self-inflicted press to introduce more Pashtuns to the ANA / ANP force over the last four or so years. (He doesn’t mention that  the militia-like Local Police are the source of many of these attacks, and they are disproportionately Pashtun also. He does point out that the Pashtuns are the plurality ethnic group in Afghanistan, and the ethnic core of the Taliban).

The Taliban’s ability to infiltrate throughout the Afghan National Police (ANP) and Army (ANA) may have been facilitated by efforts to “homogenize” those forces in 2007 and 2008. Initially, many units in both forces were organized along regional or ethnic lines. Existing regional and ethnic divides were thus institutionalized – hardly a way to create national unity and lessen tensions among groups that have been at war for three decades .

The new plan was to create units that were roughly proportional to the ethnic makeup of the country: Pashtun at 42 percent, Tajik at 27 percent, Hazara and Uzbek at 9 percent each, Turkmen at 3 percent, and several smaller groups, including nomads, making up the remaining 10 percent.

It is believed that it was at this time that the Taliban were able to insert sleeper agents into every major ANA and ANP unit throughout the country. These agents are now being awakened and given missions designed to demoralize ISAF forces and drive a wedge of mistrust between trainer and trainee.

American soldiers and Afghan police line up together. While Afghens are symbolically “green” forces, their cops have the bluish uniforms.

Here’s where it’s important to insert one small correction into MG Haake’s narrative. We weren’t there in 2008 but were there when the ANA was first standing up (indeed, rode along on its first combined — with US SF — offensive combat operation, Operation Roll Tide). The original intent of US and Afghan planners was for each Kandak (battalion) of the Afghan Army to have officers and men recruited in proportion to the ethnic groups of the land (the proportion of which was only estimated, thanks to the last reliable census having been made decades ago, in the time of the King or Daoud in the 1970s). The first two Kandaks were trained by USSF. The next few were trained by French trainers and wound up needing to be retrained from zero, thanks in part to turnover cause by desertion. And thereby hangs a tale.

The way the ANA wound up majority-minority was through, to coin a term, assortative desertion. Desertion was a massive problem with the early ANA battalions. Around 1000 men would be recruited — usually by putting the arm on the warlords loyal to the government to give up some of their troops. Put into a barracks and trained like western soldiers, the temptation to go over the hill was overwhelming for many of these proud men. (This was especially true of the French-trained units, but any units with conventional trainers, and even the SF-trained units, experienced this).

There was also great resistance of Tajik and especially Hazara leaders by the arrogant Pashtuns, who saw in this a violent breach in the natural order of things. Pashtuns always dominated the country and provided all its leaders except for one disastrous six-month regime in 1929, stories of which are known to every Afghan schoolboy and indeed, were known to every Afghan boy in 2002 when most of them had not been in school for a decade.

Tim Haake’s answer, and the command’s, is to double down on the social-engineering ideal of a national, ethnically representative, army and recruit new Pashtuns to replace the bugouts — just to vet them more carefully this time. Now, in a gun context we need to revisit the weakness of “background checks” in general some time, but in the Afghan war context we’d like to point out that the extremely thorough background checks including lifestyle polygraphing used by the FBI and CIA for intelligence officers have failed to catch numerous spies, and that’s in a wired society where everyone creates a paper trail from birth.

Exercise for the reader: you do background checks in a country where most people are illiterate, don’t know or care about their own birth date or year and so never write it down, have only one name — and the name is usually one of the 99 attributes of the prophet, meaning 15 million Afghan men and boys give you over a million possible true identities for any one name.

Yikes.

Thing is, we’ve been here before (“we” being Special Forces, and “before” being — among other places — Vietnam). What worked for us there was not imposing  multi-culti ethnic blending on the underlying culture (where a dominant culture hated ethnic/racial minorities and the minorities, from their weak position, reciprocated — a very similat human terrain to Afghanistan, that way). What we did was organize the minorities into like-ethnicity Strike Forces, Mobile Strike Forces, Mobile Guerrilla Force, and Mike Forces, and write those names in history.

For the love of Mike (Force?), we have built an army, at least some units of which will not fight from the promising raw material of the most warlike men in the world. Think about that for a minute. With the best of intentions and all the power our nation granted us. Seriously — American politicians of both parties, and the American people, have given the generals what they wanted on this one. By and large, we’ve given the Afghan leaders what they’ve asked from us (only to see most of it wind up in numbered accounts in Credit Suisse, but that’s another column).

But of course, a Special Forces solution has been dismissed by the US Army and US military since late 2001, when the first Marine and Army conventional forces flooded the country, after 200 Special Forces and CIA guys had won the strategic victory. This influx of troops who were less mature, less tested, and vastly less culturally adaptable than the initial SF guerilla fighters immediately created intercultural resentments (but that’s another, other column).

The use of ethnic regiments in this region is nothing new, and neither is the exploitation of the warlike code of Pashtunwali (which bears deep study for anyone trying to understand Afghanistan, because it morphed from an ethnic code to a largely national one during the Russian occupation). The British Army (and earlier, Indian Army) raised regiments of single ethnic groups, and some of that tradition continues in the Indian and Pakistani armies today. For their part, the Pakistani Army trains and promotes many talented, aggressive young Pashtuns, forming a disproportionately large percentage of their officer corps (the ethnic group is divided by the Afghan border, which is another big stressor in regional geopolitics). Think about it: the Pakistanis, who say what you will about them live in this part of the world, don’t seem to expend much effort trying to make their military a pollster’s adjusted ethnic sample of the whole nation. What do they know that we don’t know?

A Pashtun Mike Force  which was personally loyal to its SF leaders would have been a game changer in this war. (To a lesser extent, Tajik and Hazara and Uzbek formations would, also). Some things would have to be done very differently. The unit’s American leaders – not advisors — would need to be rotated more slowly and not all at once like a conventional unit, to maintain continuity of personal relationships. The relationships between Americans and Afghans are more important than the relationships between Americans that the unit-rotation policy has worked so well to maintain.

The CIA actually had such strike forces of Pashtuns and Hazaras (who were grateful for the recognition; traditionally, Pashtuns treat them with dismissive contempt) early in the war, and they were effective. What happened to them?

Well-meaning Americans with the same kind of ideas about modernizing and homogenizing Afghan culture that well-meaning Russians had had two and three decades earlier, that’s what. Chumps. Obviously to them a tribal-based unit would be inferior to a unit run like Sesame Street, where all ethnicities get along.

Afghanistan is a real place and Sesame Street a fictional one, but the reality is many Americans idealize the latter, and some of these pop-culture imperialists have been calling the shots.

To a tribal guy who’s never seen Sesame Street and would be a hard sell for its message of literacy, it’s a lot less obvious. So we keep pushing Afghans into uncomfortable multi-ethnic situations, and they react in a classically Afghan way.

They kill us.

(PS: Do read Tim’s column. And follow his other columns at the Washington Guardian. While we have expounded on a small point of disagreement, his is an important contribution to the national understanding of this issue).

How to get your comment binned

We’re generally pretty tolerant about comments here. We’ve been called traitors, and we let it go up.

So what doesn’t go up?

  • Nongermane comments. Nobody gives a crap what a good deal you have on fake designer boots. If you’re desperate enough to advertise in a weapons blog, you’re selling overpriced fake crap and we all know it. So spare us the trouble and just kill yourself.
  • Spam. See above. Most spam is deleted programmatically. If your bot beats our bot our humans bin your post.
  • Autogenerated crap from facebook. If your link is to facebook, the odds that we’re even going to read it before zapping it dwindle.
  • Anything where the URL is fake or a scam.

OK, what if you put a comment up and we let it through and you think better of it? (It does happen, usually with varying levels of -OH radicals in the bloodstream). Just make another post, asking us to bin it. We will — we don’t want to embarrass you.

Likewise, if you want to send a message to the blog authors, just make a comment and put some notice in there that it’s for information, not for publication.

Finally, using a fake name and a free email account raises our suspicion to 11. All you guys using free email (yahoo, gmail, etc.) do understand the essential rule of free stuff, right? “If you’re not paying for it, it’s because you’re the product.” Or your personally identifying information, other confidential information, or in Google’s case, the actual content of your email.

Gives you a warm fuzzy, don’t it?

Now go forth and comment, but comment wisely. (Most of you did not need this reminder. And it’s probably wasted on the 5% who did but we have to try. And we can keep our hatchets scoured for those guys).

The ‘Community Gun’

Law enforcement that targets the flow of guns rather than the minds of criminals is never crowned with success, but that never stops the failing authorities from trying the failed approach harder.

Welcome to Staten Island, NY, a mostly middle-class borough of the city that’s traditionally been home to Italian-Americans, a lot of whom work in public safety. But lately the island has some newer population elements, and some gang and violent crime they brought along. In traditional NYPD fashion, they’ve been targeting the gangbangers’ guns, while the courts and prosecutors deal lightly with the gangbangers. One of the more successful approaches has been stop and frisk.  Someone who’s up to no good is often very obvious to an experienced cop, even if the officer can’t articulate exactly what heuristics flag the skell. Under a controversial policy, the police have been stopping, frisking, and when they find guns or drugs, arresting folks.

A lot has been written about the civil liberties aspects of this, but what interests us is the way it works and does not work. (Whaaa? Hang on. We’ll explain).  It works, in that the gang members aren’t carrying guns. It does not work, in that they have found a work-around that means “not having a gun on the gangbangers’ bodies when NYPD stops them” does not equal “the gangbangers not having guns.” Their means is the “community gun.”

A community gun is a firearm stashed in a publicly accessible place, known to a number of people — i.e, everyone in a street, all members of a gang, etc. You’ve probably read reports that have said something like, “after the gang members argued, Doe left. But he armed himself with a Glock and returned.” Indeed. In many of these cases, Doe went and grabbed the community gun, stashed in a trash can, mailbox, dumpster, abandoned building, or abandoned car.

In a story about the community gun phenomenon resulting from a recent shooting that blew out a child’s eye, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan told John Annese of the Staten Island Advance, “Somebody yelled, ‘go get the gat.’ And everybody knew where it was.”  He defined a “community gun” as “A gun that’s in a mailbox … that everybody knows if you need it you can use it and somebody can go and get it. It’s garbage pails. It’s the trunk of the abandoned car. Everybody knows where it is.”

Criminals are not a static population, they are adaptable, and there are unintended consequences to all law enforcement tactics — especially effective ones like stop & frisk. Criminals have used this particular adaptation for at least five years. (If you look, there are a lot of stories from 2007 and 2009). In 2007, a youthful criminal wounded another child with wild fire from a “community gun” he’d gotten to settle an argument. Caught, he was given a light sentence and is almost certainly already back on the streets. Knowing where a gun is.

But it doesn’t seem to occur to the prosecutor to blame the young, amoral monsters he’s prosecuting, and so light sentences and the revolving door remain the norm. Instead, Donovan pursues the guns. Your ticket to a nice plea bargain: tell the man where you got the gun.

Donovan seems surprised that they lie to him.