Monthly Archives: December 2013

Here’s where the Year in Review was supposed to go.

The only problem with it is: it’s not done.

This morning, we discovered that the statistics we were depending on were, to put it gently, all jacked up, and we’ve been working to repair them, whilst enjoying some New Year’s revelry. One beer, anyway.

So we expect that Weaponsman’s 2013 Year in Review will appear tomorrow, or some time in the first week of the New Year.

In which, we wish all of you all the best.

The difference between People’s Daily reporters and NY Times reporters…

What’s the difference between a reporter in the state-controlled media in Red China and one in the New York Times of today? This headline from China has the answer:

Arrested reporter admits to taking bribes for false stories

via Arrested reporter admits to taking bribes for false stories – SPECIAL COVERAGE – Globaltimes.cn.

The Chinese reporter admits it.

That is all.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have porcelain rodents

squrrel

Representative photo of the perpetrator (likeness based on description)

Things you just couldn’t make up.

The Charleston County Sheriff’s office says in a report that deputies found a man covered with blood when they arrived at Helen Williams’ North Charleston home early Wednesday. She told investigators the man fell and cut himself, but couldn’t explain why her hands and clothes were also bloody.

Deputies say the man said Williams was so angry when he returned without beer because stores were closed on Christmas Eve that she grabbed a ceramic squirrel, beat him in the head, then stabbed him in the shoulder and chest.

via Police: No beer led to ceramic squirrel stabbing – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG.

Helen Williams mugshotThe 44-year-old Williams is in jail. (We’re sure that will shock you). Apparently she didn’t need a gun to flip out, and start acting out.

Of course, criminality is often correlated with poor impulse control and lack of even the most basic advance planning skills, i.e., lay in a supply of beer before the stores close for the holiday.

It’s going to be a while before she gets her beer. That might be one reason for the sour expression.

No word on the disposition of the ceramic squirrel; for all we know, it’s in jail, too. Call it DUSTWUN for now.

But the beating victim is expected to recover, demonstrating for all time that a ceramic squirrel is a substandard selection for a murder weapon. Any regular reader of this space knows that hammers, axes and baseball bats get the job done.

We do draw the line at wishing Ms Williams better luck next time.

Iranian Criminal threatens WeaponsMan

Shahrzad-Mir-Gholikhan

Smile for the mugshot, jailbird.

Sharzad Mir Gholikhan, a convicted felon and sometime Iranian government agent, has threatened us (from Iran, apparently, and from an electronic address associated with an Iranian government propaganda agency), for calling her a weapons trafficker. Her picture is to the right; we believe this is a passport photo from State Department files. Here’s what she says:

Shahrzad Mirgholikhan
[email on file — claims an Iranian official status]
[IP on file —  from the  91.133.128.0 – 91.133.191.255 block historically associated with Iranian terrorist and government agency use].
Submitted on 2013/12/23 at 15:32 | In reply to [a WeaponsMan commenter].
How dare you are to use my name and give me the title of weapon trafficer! Remove my name from your False News otherwise I will take legal actions. SHAHRZAD MIRGHOLIKHAN

She addressed the comment to one of our commenters, but since he didn’t call her a “weapons trafficker,” she probably means us. We did call her a weapons trafficker. Let us explain why.

Shahzad Mir Gholikhan and Mahmoud Seif

Shahzad Mir Gholikhan and Mahmoud Seif, Iranian agents and weapons traffickers.

Here are some facts. She was arrested in Austria in 2004, caught red-handed in the act of weapons trafficking. Specifically, she was acquiring night vision devices which she said were going to the Iranian military and Revolutionary Guards, and she boasted about her connections to Iranian officials.

Sharzad had used the cover name of Farideh Fahimi to set up the deal between American and Austrian agents (unknown to her and her IRGC bosses, who thought they were corrupt Western businessmen) and Iranian agents.

(If you have a cover name, You Just Might Be a Spook).

Another shot of the lovely, and criminal, couple. She now says it's all his fault. He vanished back into the IRGC.

Another shot of the lovely, and criminal, couple. She now says it’s all his fault. He vanished back into the IRGC terror network.

She and her co-conspirator, allegedly her then-husband but possibly another Iranian agent (it is common to cover agent pairs as husband and wife), pled guilty in Austria to “Trading Defense Articles without a License” and served a short sentence.

She then fled to Iran.

She was in Iran at the time an indictment was issued by an American court in September, 2005.

For reasons known only to Gholikan and her bosses, she returned to the United States in 2007 and faced charges of weapons trafficking in US Federal Court. She was convicted of weapons trafficking in April, 2008.

She, in fact, pled guilty to weapons trafficking, but withdrew that plea when she discovered it came with a prison sentence.

She, in fact, stood trial twice, one mistrial with an American defense attorney, and one spectacular failure of a conviction acting as her own lawyer. (One is reminded of the conventional joke about a party to proceedings who acts pro se).

She, in fact, was sentenced to five years.

She would still be in prison in the United States if she had not been released as part of the current administration’s policy of appeasing the terrorist-mullah state.

She is permanently banned from the United States as a convicted felon.

She and her then-husband were involved in a scheme to buy industrial quantities of night vision equipment and smuggle the materiel to Iran, where it would be used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (the parallel terrorist army modeled on the Nazi SS) or exported to Iran’s terrorist clients worldwide.

Iran, the government of which still employs Sharzad Mir Gholikan, is the world’s single most active worldwide terrorism-sponsoring state, and has been since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The mullahs and their various Charlies McCarthy  used to deny this, but now they don’t even bother any more.

Incidentally, on the Spiegel link above, it’s nice to see Ahmadinejad praising Columbia University, a place that university President Lee Bollinger made safe and welcoming for anti-semites of all kinds, including the vertically-challenged Iranian frontman.

This is not secret stuff. It’s easily found with a few minutes monkeying with a search engine.

  • The alternative Miami New Times tells her story — she’s just a Mom Who Learned 1 Weird Trick of smuggling arms. The story’s primary source appears to be jailhouse comms from Gholikhan herself, hardly a credible person, and it’s full of weird things: “Experts say the coveted Generation III model [of night-vision goggle, presumably the PVS-7D] — commonly called ‘the Pirate’ by U.S. infantrymen — is the second-most-wanted item on foreign spies’ wish lists.” Whaaat?
  • She first started turning up in Iranian PressTV (a state-controlled news agency, that also is a common cover-for-status for IRGC terrorists and terrorism managers) while still in the jug, retailing a story of torture (the only detail of which is that they — O the humanity! — put her in handcuffs). The story contains the laughable line, “contrary to the harsh treatment of Iranians in US custody, the detained US citizens were treated well….” It’s laughable because Iran doesn’t even treat detained Iranians humanely, for crying out loud. PressTV was waiting for her on her release in early 2012 as part of the Obama Administration’s appeasement offensive, and she now pings us from a PressTV address.
  • She didn’t like prison, she told (who else?) PressTV:

She gave several interviews to Press TV during her time in prison speaking of her terrifying ordeal and mistreatment at the hands of prison staff. She said that she had been harshly treated and tortured by the prison officials.

“I am disgusted… by these people and their treatment. I would rather die than being in this garbage can one more day,” she told Press TV in one of her telephone interviews from the prison.

You’re not supposed to like it, honey child. It’s prison. You go there because you were bad. We commend to you a wise old American saying: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

We’re real sorry you didn’t like American jail, Shahrzad. And we’re real intimidated by your legal threats. The last time Iranian agents came for us, they had guns (and were also trying to bribe our local nationals to do their dirty work for them). Nota bene that we’re still here. Sorry about that.

7 8 American “Firsts” from the M14 Rifle

This M1A is a civilian M14, a rifle whose development was deeper than it looks at a glance.

This M1A is a civilian-legal clone of the M14, a rifle whose development was deeper than it looks at a glance.

By the time we were on the ground and familiar enough with military weapons and the employment of same, the M14 Rifle was long obsolete. It persisted in some specialty uses: as the M21 Sniper System, an accurized National Match M14 with a ART II scope (or awkward PVS-2 image-intensifying night sight) was our primary sniper arm, at least until the development of the M24 Sniper Weapons System. The M24 had the M21 beat on everything but second-shot capability: it was more accurate, more durable, more dependable, and lighter. But when all we had was the M21, we thought it was pretty good. Other than that, the M14 was used as a makeweight in training courses, and as a way to give opposing forces a dissimilar weapon in force-on-force training with blanks.

It was easy to develop some contempt for the weapon that was even more short-lived than the .30-40 Krag, at least as a first-line service rifle. The reason we used them for opfor weapons and rebuilt them into barely adequate sniper guns was that we had them, and so the incremental cost was zero. Indeed, it would have cost the Army money to get rid of them; with full-auto capability, at least in theory, they couldn’t be sold to civilians, and no army in the world wanted them. So they became an extra weight to carry at SFQC instead of an M16, and were issued to “aggressor” role-players in Ranger School, along with obsolete khaki uniforms. After all, the M14 was a very mild refresh of the M1 Garand, a perfectly serviceable weapon, but one destined to be swept away by history. It was kind of like Raymond Loewy’s restyling of a 1950s Studebaker into the 1960s Hawk — too little, too late; it was still the old model underneath, and by 1964 you could get a modern-all-through Riviera or T-Bird, or its gun equivalent, an Armalite.

After all, the M14 was a 12-year government RDT&E circus that meant to do no more than give the old standby M1 a new NATO cartridge, a box magazine, and an improved gas system, and after 12 years, that’s all it really did.

But the M14 deserves a little more respect that that, we learned from Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Designer by Roy Rayle. The M14 might have been a kissin’ cousin of the M1 with some 29 interchangeable parts, but it broke new ground, and racked up an impressive list of firsts — some of them American firsts, and some worldwide.

  • 1. Chrome bore: While Russia and Japan were doing this as far back as WWII, the M14 was the first American service rifle to have the durability and maintainability benefit of a chrome-plated bore. The T44 prototypes that edged out the FN-FAL for the contract didn’t have this but the contract given to Springfield Arsenal in March, 1958 for a pilot run of 15,600 rifles specified a chrome bore. All subsequent M14s had it, too.
  • 2. Hammer-Forged Barrel: this German innovation, in which a barrel is compressed by automatic hammers over a mandrel imprinted with a negative image of the rifling and chamber, was first used in the USA by the aerospace and defense firm TRW (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge), which bid very low to secure a contract for M14s, and then applied the best aerospace, automotive, and gun-making technology available worldwide, to make a profit at that low price point. (Only TRW barrels were hammer-forged or as TRW called it, hammer-swaged).
  • 3. Precision Castings: The complicated flash suppressor of the M14, for example, was machined from a precision casting. The technology used varied from manufacturert to manufacturer (M14s were made by Springfield Armory, Winchester, Harrington & Richardson, and TRW).
  • 4. Synthetic Stocks: While the M16 is what people think of when they think of synthetic stocks, the Army used them as early as World War II on the BAR and M1919A6 (there was also a Garand stock, that was designed but never made in quantity). But the M14 was designed from the beginning to have a synthetic stock (the initial guns had wooden stocks and fiberglass handguards. While the WWII stocks were designed to be stronger than wood for the same weight, the designers’ objective on the M14 was to make a stock as strong as wood but much lighter. The M14 has the curious distinction, then, of being the first US service rifle designed to wear a synthetic stock, as well as being the last US service rifle to wear a wooden stock.
  • 5: Stock full of Cleaning Gear: The M14 stock was hollowed out, and the buttplate contained a trap door, for the storage of cleaning gear. The trap was designed exactly to fit specific M14 cleaning and maintenance equipment. This feature was common on other nations’ rifles, but the previous US service rifles (M1903 and M1) did not have it. Oops. As you can see from the comments, we laid an egg on this one.
  • 6: Sights in Meters: This too was an innovation not present in the protoypes, but applied to the 15,600 pilot program guns. One small change order for a production plant, one massive tectonic shift for the training base and culture.
  • 7: Advanced Mass Production Technology: H&R basically followed Springfield Armory’s plant layout and process sheets, but both Winchester and TRW used advanced technology to revolutionize the production of M14s. Winchester used two machines called Gorton lateral transfer machines to produce the receiver. Instead of passing the part from one single-set-up, single-operation machine to the next (mostly horizontal milling machines, but also broaches, etc.) these two machines performed 32 different cuts on the receivers. Winchester also had a 16-station duplicating inletter producing 16 stocks at a time, and a bank of eight six-spindle barrel-drilling machines. TRW rejected Springfield’s approach and processes, and essentially re-did the production engineering ab initio. They used advanced machinery for 11 different parts. Bolts went two-at-a-time through a Krueger lateral transfer machine that performed 30 operations. This machine replaced 15 separate machines and setups. Receivers were put on a Colonial continuous-chain broaching machine, which shaped each receiver at 15 different stations. The high-tech paid off, with the TRW guns in particular selling to the government for a little more than half what it cost Springfield to produce the same firearm. Contractors for Springfield Armory originally calculated the straight-up cost (no profit) of the M14 as likely to be 110% of the M1’s $75. Winchester and H&R sold their M14s for about $116, it cost Springfield $150 to make one, but TRW’s contracts came in with unit prices in the $70s and $80s.
  • 8: Electromagnetic Comparison Inspection: A problem with H&R receivers and bolts was traced to a bad batch of steel. But H&R hadn’t recorded which parts were made from which batch, and a large number of parts couldn’t, in good conscience, be assembled into guns without some kind of inspection. Rayle (p. 85):

The technique finally adopted for this purpose was an electromagnetic one. It had long been known that the magnetic properties of steel vary with the composition, heat treatment and metallurgical composition of the steel. A thorough study by the metallurgists at Springfield Armory, aided by metallurgists at Watertown Arsenal, refined the techniques of operation to establish a workable procedure.

A reference receiver known to be good was placed in the magnetic field of one coil, and the unknown receiver in the field of another coil. A circuit was arrange such that if both receivers were the same, no voltage output would be received, but if the magnetic properties were different, a voltage would be obtained roughly proportional to the difference in magnetic properties.

Sounds complicated, this device (which came to be labeled a Magnetic Analysis Comparator). The cut-off score was plus or minus 40 on the comparator. How did they know they were getting valid data? They tested the test.

A sufficient number of carefully prepared sample specimens were checked out to ensure the reliability of this convenient inspection technique.

A similar magnetic analysis comparator technique is taught today to nondestructive inspection technicians, but in 1960 it was one of the many “firsts” of the M14 program.

Summing up

Some of these eight seven advances were more revolutionary than others. Empires do not rise and fall on a buttstock cleaning-kit compartment. And the productivity that came from analog high production machining centers was a short-lived stage of technological development. In 1960, even visionaries couldn’t foresee digital readouts, CNC machining centers, and robotics. 

But these innovations large and small show that neither Army Ordnance nor industry was napping during the M14’s long gestation. The rifle had some teething troubles (the above-mentioned bolt and receiver problem involved them going kB!, for instance), but the rifle that had one of the shortest times in service as the standard infantry individual weapon has gone on to keep serving in specialist roles, mostly as a designated marksman’s rifle, today.

Thousands of stored M14s were rebuilt into the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle in the mid-oughts. So the old warhorse outlived its wooden stocks, and even its plastic ones, and is now rocking an aluminum chassis. Kind of makes you want one, doesn’t it?

“Boy, those idiots sure got a lot of things wrong!”

You don’t often see that sentiment expressed about a new TV show by the star of the show, but in a moment you’ll see Geoff Stults say that about his new military-themed show, Enlisted. We won’t be watching it here, becauase we’re not big TV people, but an interesting thing happened when the trailer for the new Fox TV comedy hit: actual soldiers tore it a new fourth point of contact.

Then an even more interesting thing happened: the producers put their principal actor on screen, admitting that, essentially, “we screwed up,” and offering a show challenge coin to anyone that catches them in a new “goof.” Here’s the mea culpa:

The show tells the story of three brothers who are in the Army, but not at war. The two younger brothers were left behind at the fictional “Fort McGee, FL” on the “rear detachment” when the unit deployed, and the older brother got sent back after losing his cool, and is now the platoon sergeant for one of two Rear Detachment platoons. The one his brothers are in. (This kind of family-all-together thing happens often in the Guard and Reserve, and occasionally on active duty). It has elements of Stripes (which made no pretense of military accuracy) or even, in its more surreal moments, Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. Here’s the original trailer (the one that got savaged in military forums):

We can feel Pete’s pain. Back in 2002, the principal author of this blog was stuck on Rear Detachment (“Rear D!”) of an SF unit after getting rather grimly crossthreaded with the unit commander. After the CO got sent to the showers, it was off to the war, so we’ve had the fictional Pete Hill’s experience, only in reverse.

In any event, vets and serving soldiers appear willing to give it a chance. The videos tell you when it’s coming on if you’d like to, er, join up.

The last time a show fumbled its natural military appeal was almost a decade ago, with the David Mamet-helmed, impressively-cast, and ultimately-crippled drama The Unit. Mamet is a genius (read this rocket he fired at his writers, note: salty language, or see this slobbering New York Times story from the first of four seasons) and it’s clear that the writers and directors worked their hearts out on the show, and the actors delivered. But by the 20-minute point in the first episode, most special operations veterans had clicked the show off, never to look at it again. It was the greatest lost opportunity ever, because you’ll never have a talent like Mamet trying to do a military-themed drama again. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen. But they started from a Hollywood place of disrespect, of unwitting contempt even, for the service, its culture, and the people in it. And they didn’t do what these guys are doing, which is try to fix it. (They thought their military advisor would close the yawning credibility gap for them; instead, the show injured his reputation in the community).

The show is also slightly reminiscent of the many military-themed TV comedies that filled the airwaves in the 1950s and 1960s. Forgotten today, shows like Sergeant Bilko, Gomer Pyle USMC, McHale’s Navy and Hogan’s Heroes gave us the lighter side of life in the Army, the Marines, the Navy (fighting the Japanese in a PT boat, no less) and, we are not making this up, that regular laff riot, a Nazi prison camp. A lot of families, including a lot of veteran dads, had a good laugh because, if the truth is told, life in the military is often well supplied with humor and absurdity.

So, for the cast and crew of Enlisted, an impressive catch, in trying to turn the negative of pissed-off soldiers into the positive of engaged viewers. We have to wish them success.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have cars

Before…

Before…

Hey, stoned, air-headed, and wobbling across the traffic lanes without a license is one way to go through life. Not a way we’d recommend, but there’s always that 5% that doesn’t get the word. Meet Darriean Hess, 2013 Miss Bad Driver for New Hampshire, and a contender for the national title. While the national media ties itself in knots over some asshat’s crime with a shotgun in a Colorado school, here on the Atlantic seaboard this PAR-tay animal outkilled him two-to-one, and put two others in the hospital with life-changing injuries. Outside of the local media, and a few brief blurbs in Boston media (the victims were all Massachusetts residents participating in a charity bicycle race), nobody cares about Darriean Hess, although she’s wishing she hadn’t done it, or at least did it in Massachusetts where the prison doors don’t clang shut for such long stretches of time:

HAMPTON — Darriean Hess, the unlicensed 19-year-old driver who allegedly struck four bicyclists with the car she was driving in September, killing two, could face more than 40 years in prison.

Hess, a Seabrook resident, was indicted on eight charges by a Rockingham County grand jury this month. The charges include allegations she was under the influence of three drugs while driving across the Underwood Bridge connecting Hampton and Seabrook on Sept. 21, crossing the center line and killing two women taking part in a charity bicycle ride.

Hess was indicted on two counts of negligent homicide-DWI, two counts of negligent homicide, two counts of manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault. The indictments, signed by Senior Assistant Attorney General James T. Boffetti, allege that Hess drove after taking fentanyl, Klonopin and Percocet.

The maximum penalty in the highest charge, manslaughter, is 15 to 30 years incarceration. Negligent homicide-DWI is a Class A felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The negligent homicide and second-degree assault charges are B-level felonies, with maximum penalties of three and a half to seven years in prison.

The charges are related to the deaths of Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, Mass., and Pamela Wells, 60 of South Hamilton, Mass. The other injured bicyclists were Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, Mass., and Margo Heigh, 54, of Danvers.

The victims were among about 1,500 bicyclists participating in the 40th annual Granite State Wheelmen Tri-State Seacoast Century ride, which starts and ends at Hampton Beach.

via Hess faces more than 40 years behind bars | SeacoastOnline.com.

After. Why the long face? She's where she needs to be.

After. Why the long face? She’s where she needs to be.

Guys, she’s cute now, but clearly bat-guano crazy. And she’s not going to be so cute if she gets out at age 69.

Anyway, she has a boyfriend, with whom she used to joke on Facebook about getting screwed up on drugs and driving at triple digit speeds. Same paper, earlier:

Hess, 19, appeared at the District Court in Seabrook on Wednesday, sitting silent and solemn as she was arraigned on two charges of negligent homicide and two charges of second-degree assault. Her image stood in stark contrast to photos posted on her Facebook page portraying a smiling teenager who often spent time hanging out with friends.

In those posts, Hess also talked about excessive speeding, drug possession and a disregard for the law. Her Facebook account was deactivated shortly after the fatal crash, but the Portsmouth Herald obtained screenshots of the page’s public content.

One status indicates she and her fiance, Scott Martin, 19, were pulled over for speeding and received a $150 fine in January.

The “before” picture at the top of this article is from her facebook page.

“The cop said he was doing 80 and we flew by him doing like 100 (laughing my a** off),” she wrote. In a comment, she adds, “did I mention the oz in the glovebox?”

Someone else commented, wondering whether “oz” referred to a 40-ounce beer.

“No, I meant like ounce lol and no not beer silly,” she wrote back.

She continues to say: “I am deff surprised that this didn’t happen sooner though it rediculouse (sic) Scotty will be flying down the highway doing 110 and I won’t realize until I look at the speed thing…;” At that point, she says, she’ll tell him to slow down, but “10 mins later will be going just as fast (shaking my head) lol.”

Martin chimes in, saying, “I like speed what can I say?” He continues: “I honestly think I’d be a good racer. I get up to 120 in my stock Civic with ease and drive with perfection at that speed. It’s all about being calm and staying in control.”

“I honestly think I’d be a good racer.” That’s this gal’s boyfriend, but we’re pretty confident when we say: “No, you wouldn’t.” It requires self-discipline.

Martin was charged by Hampton police on Thursday with a violation-level offense of allowing an improper person to drive a motor vehicle. The 2002 Honda Civic Hess had been driving is registered to Martin.

Hess was doubling the speed limit when she lost control of Martin’s Civic and rammed into a line of bicycle racers who were at that moment going in single file. Two, Pamela Wells and Elise Bouchard, were killed, and two others, Uwe Uhlmeyer and Margo Heigh, seriously injured.

She had been pulled over and ticketed in the exact same location that morning. Because she didn’t have a license, she needed someone else to pick her up… the person she called was apparently her drug dealer. She took drugs and then drove back to the same place, with the above results.

What happens to the MRAPs Officer Friendly doesn’t get?

department-of-homeland-security-mrap-dhs-ndaa-hb347-totalita-politics-1334409716Some people are up in arms that the military is transferring hundreds, maybe thousands, of enormous Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicles to local cops and sheriff’s offices.

Wait till you hear what happens to the ones the cops are not taking.

BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Faced with an epidemic of deadly roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military officials ordered up a fleet of V-hulled 16-ton armored behemoths in 2007 to help protect American soldiers and Marines.

At a cost of $1 million each, the ugly tan beasts known as MRAPS have saved countless lives and absorbed or deflected thousands of insurgent bomb blasts in teeming cities, desert flats and rutted mountain roadways. The lumbering vehicles are so beloved that soldiers have scrawled notes of thanks on their armor.

Er… call us doubtful about that claim, which is more likely to have originated in an MRAP maker’s PR shop than in the field. Still, troops who survive getting blow’d up in an MRAP are generally pretty thankful for the awkward, uncomfortable beast.

So why would the U.S. military suddenly start chopping up as many as 2,000 of the vehicles and selling them as scrap? After all, just six years have passed since high-tech MRAPs were developed and 27,000 of them cranked out and shipped in a $50-billion production blitz.

As they are “demilitarized,” many of the MRAPs are sold as scrap metal to eager Afghan buyers.

Afghan scrap workers, paid to cut up a $1m MRAP

Afghan scrap workers, paid to cut up a $1m MRAP

The military is as determined as it can be to forget the lessons of the GWOT, and that means the MRAPs are getting scrapped. But it’s not quite true that the $1 million trucks are “being sold.” In fact, we chump taxpayers are paying the Afghans again to have the remains of our vehicles hauled away.

It costs about $12,000 to crunch and dispose of a single MRAP here, said Mark E. Wright, a Defense Department spokesman.

The rationale for this waste? The Pentagon’s other means of disposing of the unwanted vehicles are even more wasteful. Which makes sense, in a brain-damaged, E-Ring, kind of a way.

To ship one back to the U.S. and rebuild it to current standards would cost $250,000 to $450,000, he said. Selling the vehicles as scrap instead of shipping them home and refitting them will consequently save about $500 million, Wright said.

via From MRAP to scrap: US military chops up $1-million vehicles – Middle East – Stripes.

Then, there's the diversion of American supplies into the black market.

Then, there’s the diversion of American supplies into the black market. But that’s another issue.

Yes, the million-dollar MRAP they gave your local Barney Fife (who is no more able to maintain it than the Afghan National Army’s illiterate mechanics are) got a quarter-to-half-million dollar rehab job. And at least $2 billion worth of serviceable MRAPs are going to be “sold for scrap” at a value of negative $2.4 million, at least. Meaning we’re paying that to get rid of the machines that were DOD’s “highest priority” in 2007.

Why is this man smug? Buying MRAPs, scrapping MRAPs, either way his pockets get lined.

Why is this man smug? Buying MRAPs, scrapping MRAPs, either way his pockets get lined. You’d smirk too if you just knew you were that much smarter than the chumps in the MRAPs.

 

The architect of the entire MRAP fiasco is Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter. Carter is one of those remarkable individuals who evaded military service himself, but treats soldiers as something like personal servants — while emanating the contempt of the slaveholder. Instead of suiting up for war, Carter managed to make himself staggeringly wealthy in “public service,” alternating like three-phase corruption between government desk jobs, academia, and such government-tit rent-seekers as Goldman Sachs. One wonders what his personal cut of the MRAP racket has been.

The military, sensitive to its reputation for costly waste and abuse, wouldn’t let the Stars and Stripes snap a picture of new MRAPs being cut up in Afghanistan — but they let war profiteer Carter take a snap for his personal use. After all, mere soldiers can’t contradict him — they’re the building blocks of his fortune. And they wouldn’t want him to sic the overseers on them. 

This picture is rumored to be of a fixture in Carter’s executive rest room in the E Ring:

Money toilet paper

 

Millions for the DC deskbound, but not one cent for the troops.

One, thousand, two, thousand… six thousand, THWACK!

Operation Enduring FreedomOf course, from the point of view of the Taliban, nobody knew anyone was counting down. It was just thwack! out of the blue, and their commander was instantly among 72 virgins, clean young boys, or, possibly, goats. (Hey, we’re non-judgmental about Taliban lifestyle choices around here).

His fellow Talibs didn’t know what or who killed him, or why. But his death was an instant, undeniable, and demoralizing fact.

The men who knew the answers were lying prone a mile and three-quarters away. They were Australian snipers from D Coy 2 Cdo, and they’d just shot him with a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle. Chris Masters in the Telegraph (AU):

Two marksmen using Barrett M82A1 50 calibre rifles simultaneously fired. The bullets were six seconds in the air. One killed the Taliban commander. It is not known for certain which sniper fired the fatal shot.

While there have been no triumphant press releases, in the tight global Special Forces sniper community the shot is much discussed, because it seems certain to be a world record.

As the bullet yawed through the thin air on a windless morning, GPS aids measured the distance at 2815m. That amounts to 2 1/2 times the length of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The targeted Taliban would not have heard the gunfire.

The previous world record achieved by British Corporal Craig Harrison occurred also in Helmand in November 2009. Firing from a distance of 2475m, Harrison killed two Taliban.

While British, American and Canadian sharpshooters are often celebrated the Australian Defence Force says nothing. When I sought to check this story I was politely told I could not be assisted. Fair enough. We are not talking about an Olympic event. An expert I did prise a few words from said that shooting at that distance beyond the weapons capability calls for luck, but it had still taken skill.

That’s a reasonable assessment of the shot. Even a smith-tuned Barrett with painstakingly crafted handloads isn’t going to shoot minute-of-hadji at a mile plus. Not consistently, anyway. A rack-grade Barrett with MG ammo is already off a man-sized target half the time at 1000m. Hence the redundant shooters.

This is not only the longest shot we’ve heard of, it’s the longest Barrett shot by far. (Most of the really long shots have been with bolt guns).

Of course, we don’t know how many unsuccessful shots have been taken at this range. This is really way out over the ragged edge of what is routine for elite snipers; it’s barely possible, with a little luck.

When Masters says, “The targeted Taliban would not have heard the gunfire,” he’s probably referring to the arrival of the lethal projectile well ahead of its trailing sonic shockwave or the atmospheric-limited muzzle blast, but depending on the atmospherics, there are good odds the surviving Talibs didn’t hear the gunshot at all. (It would reach them, if it did, several seconds after the sickening thwack! that announced their leader’s demise).

This kind of sniping is extremely stressful and strain-inducing to the element under fire. The conventional military countertactics don’t work when your assailant is “out there” somewhere. Your element’s deaths seem fruitless, pointless, and they go unavenged. And the point of the sniping is, not merely to slay enemy leaders but to sow just this sort of psychological corrosion.

Only accurate, effective sniping produces the full effect in the enemy’s mind.

The Commandos are among the last conventional Australians to redeploy to their home island/continent, but any relief the Taliban feel needs to be somewhat tempered — the OZ SOF are planning to stick around for four or so more years. And any one of the Talibs could be six seconds — or less — from thwack!

Sunday snow-tubing

That’s why we weren’t up most of today. Doing analog stuff, at least until rained out; then cooking a monster dinner and sleeping it off!

This post is backdated to this morning for consistency’s sake, but posted at nearly 11 PM. We still owe the TW3s for the last two weeks. We felt, under the circumstances, ’twas more important to get the Saturday Matinees up.

This week, we’re going to make some SHOT Show predictions (#1: WeaponsMan.com is not going to be attending. Sorry about that, plans changed).