Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Podcast with some Tradecraft

We’re not real capital-p Preppers here — when five pills a day keep you alive and mobile, TEOTWAWKI is quite literally Doomsday, or the gateway to it, so our maximum use-by date is maybe D+365 at best, But we do believe in small-p preparedness, You’re unlikely to see a New Ice Age, or Waterworld, or the desertification of the American breadbasket, or Nuclear World War, in your lifetime. Those are all calamitous events, but they’re very unlikely.

Don’t even start us on the zombies.

On the other hand you are very likely to experience several days without electric power, or potable water supplies; or undergo an extreme weather event: fire, flood, drought, blizzard. Each of these milder events can be calamitous in itself in not prepared for, and there is a near certainty of one or more of them coming to visit you in your lifetime.

Between the grim spectre of possibility on the one hand and the dead-certainty of mild disruption on the other, there are a number of intermediate events that may happen. These events happen rarely, have “always happened to other people” so far, and are rare enough that they make the news in some fashion when they do. The LA Rodney King riots, the collapse of the New Orleans PD during Hurricane Katrina, or the more recent Ferguson, MO riots come to mind.

It’s also at least possible that the engines of the government will turn on the people. There are strong tendencies inherent in government to do this; look at the various Federal law enforcement agencies that have been redefining mere political disagreement with the party in power as criminality. This doesn’t weaken the political opponents, paradoxically; they harden up and draw recruits. What it does weaken is public respect for the LE agencies. And this causes the agencies to know they were right about the opposition, and round and round it goes.

So it’s not inconceivable that you might find yourself alone, or with a few friends, in a hostile environment. To that end, it’s wise to study the techniques of intelligence operators and underground movements.

A lot of good, thoughtful, and generally doctrinally sound material that would help you in this direction is posted at Forward Observer Magazine. They’ve also just started a podcast, which covers a variety of things. The first podcast is mostly about source or agent handling,, and it’s accompanied by these notes, which on the real page link to documents, mostly:

Show Notes:

Radio Free Redoubt

IntelNews.org – How Mossad Recruits Palestinian Sources

Declassified CIA Report on Economic Espionage/American Personality Traits (PDF)

MICE/RC

via Forward Observer Podcast Episode #001 – Source Recruitment & Operations Security | Forward Observer Magazine.

Funny how things go. When we were taught these things, we were taught that the motivators of spies were MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Working these kinds of things we added R ourselves — Revenge — and it’s part of the official acronym now. (So what’s “E”? We’re not telling. Go to the link and read the podcast or download the document).

Here’s a relevant bite of tradecraft from open sources. The Soviet espionage organs used to always set a compromise hook into even the pre-motivated ideological and monetary spies that were their bread and butter (ideology spies early, money spies late in the Cold War). That’s a good and valuable technique, and they made it as simple as making the guy sign for his payments. Bingo, Mr Spy, now you’re compromised and they can expose you and destroy your life at any moment. In other words, they own your ass. Having this pocket blackmail material gave the agent handler a solid tool in case his agents ever got cold feet. He usually never had to do so. Just the knowledge that he could was enough for the agent to check his own behavior.

Culper covers a lot in the podcast, fast. (This is not one of those things where you’re waiting for the guy’s tortoise mind to catch up to his hare mouth). That means that it might be confusing if you haven’t been exposed to it. Maybe what we need is Khan Academy style tradecraft bites?

Small-time Crime in a Very Small Place

We live in a small place, the nation’s shortest coastline, and we have joined a bunch of minority groups (veterans, gun people, writers, defense contractors, musicians, bike riders, etc., etc.) further narrowing our social horizons. Therefore, ours is a small world, and there are not that many people, for example, active in our small gun club. (We’re not really “active.” Gun club politics don’t interest us, we’re just in it for a place to shoot). So imagine the shock here at Hog Manor South when we’re reading the hometown news and find a link that baits us to click it, thinking there’ll be a Don’t Be That Guy story in it. We’re not sure what we were expecting, but we were pretty shocked to learn that we knew that guy.

The headlines in a couple of the New Hampster papers were things like these:

We forget what the heads were in the Union Leader, but they were the same kind of thing. To the extent we understand the facts of the case:

  1. There was an alleged domestic assault with minor injury
  2. Followed by attempts to contact the victim against her wishes
  3. Followed by a suicide (not homicide) threat. The individual was known to own guns.
  4. The police called the emergency resource team out, the guys suited up and warmed up the Bearcat.
  5. The suspect surrendered with no further drama.
  6. The police asked the judge to give them a warrant to take the suspect’s guns.
  7. The suspect agreed to permit them to do that, the judge signed the warrant, the police took about 13 guns into safekeeping.

We don’t know George well but he’s been an officer of the small Seacoast club mentioned in the articles, and we once visited him in his small, crowded shop. We know the other people quoted in the article. (It was a surprise to hear that one had had a LTC denied in NH. That’s extremely rare. The guy in question is the most dedicated and hardest working volunteer the club has).

One thing that is clear is that the police didn’t overreact, and they resolved the issue with the least possible fuss, really. (Remember, a nearby town lost a police chief during an ordinary-police-work-nothin’-special arrest warrant for a no-account small time dealer, so the cops here would be understood if they were jumpy. But they weren’t jumpy, just professional). Likewise, the prosecutors don’t seem to have overcharged the case. It’s a domestic case, and if George is convicted of the charges, all misdemeanors, then his right to own firearms is gone for life, which is probably the severest penalty they can inflict, knowing him.

And really, it’s his own fault.

No guns seem to have been involved in his offense, the police just applied an abundance of caution because he was known to own guns (many people thought he owned more than he did because of his activism on the issue), and especially because he mouthed off with a threat.

A lot of the facts of the case have not been released, or have been munged by the media if so. Still, we can draw a few conclusions. It is very clear that Judgment Juice in extratherapeutic dosages were involved, and it’s equally clear that our acquaintance has made a horse’s ass of himself, and brought on a great deal of trouble. We won’t make excuses for the man. He screwed up and now has to face the court — that’s the way these things are supposed to go.

It’s very bizarre to see names of people you know in a criminal case article. Perhaps we were overdue for a reminder that these are real, three-dimensional people in these stories and that their lives go on, although they’re sometimes never the same after such an event.

And perhaps people need to bear in mind that there are great pleasures to be found in guns, booze, and significant others — but not all at the same time, and not all of the two-way combinations are a good idea.

Right about now, George could probably tell you that. 

Good-by, Lenin!

The monster of the 20th Century came tumbling down in Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city that was the scene of calamitous tank battles between two of world history’s most evil empires.

lenin statue in Kharkiv

It was the biggest Lenin left in Europe. Now it’s rubble, kind of like the Evil Empire that Lenin presided over, an empire built on lies and murder, an Empire that replaced the too-slow liberalization of the Romanovs with “a boot stepping on a human face, forever.”

But it wasn’t forever, Vladimir Ilych.

When the monster tumbled, he was found to be a classically Soviet production: shoddy.

Lenin's head showing shoddy Soviet construction

 

Free Ukrainians tore the statue apart with their bare hands, taking pieces of Lenin for souvenirs, as Berliners did with the evil Wall that was, ultimately, part of the empire of slaveholding that Lenin and Stalin built.

We kind of wish we’d gotten a Lenin bust for the war room (or maybe as a garden gnome) before they were all gone. But it was, and is, past time for Lenin to join his peer Hitler among the reviled and de-monumented.

Next summer, the kids will go to movies in which spandex-suited heroes fight supernatural monsters. But this ruins of a Lenin is a reminder that monsters are real, they are not supernatural, and they walk among us. But they can be toppled by men and women in street clothes — everyday heroes.

 

Air Strikes Astray — what did we tell you?

mq9 and JDAMs

PGMs on an MQ-9 Reaper. If it only had a brain.

Repeat after the WeaponsMan:

  1. PGMs, no SOF on ground, result misery.
  2. No PGMs, SOF on ground,  result misery.
  3. PGMS, SOF on ground, result happinesss.

You will recognize the first case as the Clinton pinprick Tomahawk raids of 1998, and the aerial operations of the Kosovo war of 1999. The second, of course, fits Operation Gothic Serpent to a T. (Mogadishu, 1993). The third is Afghanistan, 2001.

So given two proven failure pathways and one proven success pathway, what did Washington do? Pick Failure Door #1. Result, misery:

U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding militants, a group monitoring the war said on Monday.

The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an Islamic State base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate comment from Washington.

….

The strikes in Manbij appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory which gathers information from sources in Syria.

“These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” he said. He could not give a number of casualties and it was not immediately possible to verify the information.

via U.S-led raids hit grain silos in Syria, kill workers: monitor – Yahoo News.

We’re not really upset that some Syrian grain elevators did what grain elevators have occaisionally done entirely on their own, namely, blew up. That’s just collateral damage, and it’s not like any faction of Syrians are our friends these days. What’s upsetting is that this kind of warfare is ineffectual and does not damage the enemy’s centers of gravity or, really, just about anything about him.

We have chosen a mode of operations that is more or less guaranteed to fail.

But hey, we understand the Army is sending help to Iraq… a Division Headquarters. That’ll surely help. Hope they remembered the divisional band, because they might as well go under playing Autumn or Nearer My God to Thee.

This guy really screwed the pooch. No, really.

We like to have an illustration for every post. You will see presently why this one does not have an illustration. In other words, prepare for some eeeeew, yuck! Take it awaaay, Salt Lake County Tribune:

Melvin Parley Pace, 65, was charged in July in 4th District Court with five counts of lewdness with prior convictions, a third-degree felony, as well as five counts of bestiality and seven counts of criminal trespass, which are class B misdemeanors.

That’s 17 counts, if you’re, er, counting. But it’s not the first time he’s caught a case of canine copulation. The courts condemned the creep already this year, for taking “animal lover” in entirely the wrong direction.

This is the second time Pace has been charged with having sex with his neighbors’ Kangal, a large Turkish dog breed.

Maybe he watched Lawrence of Arabia too many times and has it in for Turks?

In the first case, the dog’s owners aimed a camera at the dog’s run after the gate was left open in December 2013. The footage showed Pace enter the dog run and have sex with the dog, according to American Fork police Lt. Sam Liddiard.

In that case, Pace was charged with two counts each of bestiality, lewdness and criminal trespass, all class B misdemeanors. Pace pleaded guilty in February to two counts of lewdness and the other counts were dismissed. He received a suspended jail sentence and was placed on probation for 12 months year.

Yes, this perv Pace was on probation for pooch penetration when he persisted in penetrating the pen — and the pooch — again:

This spring, the dog’s run was again left open, so the owners reactivated the camera, according to charging documents.

The footage allegedly showed Pace — who was still on probation in the first case — having sex with the dog on at least seven different occasions between May 20 and June 28, the charges add.

It gets worse. Perv Pace is not only a doggy-diddling d-bag, he’s also an exhibitionist: 

The dog run is in full view and hearing of two city streets, a business and neighboring homes, according to charges.

via Utah County man ordered to trial for allegedly having sex with dog | The Salt Lake Tribune.

There’s only one punishment that fits the crime here — coat him in lady dog pheromones and chain him down on an anthill, whilst turning loose 1,000 horny male toy poodles to have their way with him.

Why poodles? Why not Great Danes? Irish Wolfhounds? St. Bernards?

Well, we have to have some punishment in reserve for the next time this perv starts feeling amorous toward’s Man’s Best Friend.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have Mills Bombs

Mills Bomb Nº 36. Note that Bubba has been at the filling plug with a misfit screwdriver.

Mills Bomb Nº 36. Note that Bubba has been at the filling plug with a misfit screwdriver.

British Media called a Code Brown emergency over a “grenade” found in a safe in a business. (“Code Brown” refers to what happens in their trousers when the debased Eloi of today encounter the tools with which their more-robust grandfathers contested the future of Europe).

An unexploded grenade was found at a property in Beckenham Lane in Shortlands earlier today (September 22).

Officers were called to the scene at around 1pm.

Police said nobody was injured but the area was cordoned off and specialist officers attended.

Alex McFee,  who works at local estate agent Curran and Pinner said staff from The IT Crowd, a computer repair shop on Beckenham Lane, had found the grenade.

The 20-year-old, of Ravenscroft Road in Penge, said: “The police shouted to us to stay inside. Everything here came to a standstill. There was definitely a sense of confusion.

“The bomb disposal squad went in and brought it out. It was dealt with quite quickly really.”

Steve Hughes, who works at Kent Fireplace in Beckenham Lane, said he heard police had found a grenade in a safe above one of the shops.

via UPDATE: Hand grenade found at Shortlands property (From News Shopper).

Nothing seems to clarify whether the grenade was live, inert, or toy; not that that makes any difference to the way media and police react. At least in Britain, where guns (handguns anyway) are already outlawed, and crime is soaring. Unpossible!

The amazing thing about grenades as a criminal weapon is this: what earthly good are they? They are not a certain murder weapon, unlike the Islamic sacrament that’s been in the news lately. They are of no real utility in a robbery. Unless you have cover, they’re damn near as hazardous to the thrower as to the intended recipient. All in all, it’s a highly limited combat weapon, and a practically useless criminal one.

Just the thing for the media and senior police managers, to set their knickers atwist. But really. Anybody remember the last hand-grenade murder?

VA’s Top Priority — With Zero Urgency

VA-veterans-affairsLet’s begin with a guy whose message we picked up in an SF-centric communications medium. He’s the sort of guy that gets named a Distinguished Member of the Regiment, although he hasn’t been, yet.  (What’s a Distinguished Member? We don’t have a Hall of Fame, like déclassé mobs such as the Ragnars, OCS, pro sports leagues, and rock n’ rollers. We’re more… distinguished). Anyway, like many of a certain age, he alternates between a house in a cold place in the warm months, and a house in a warm place in the cold months. Arriving at his cold months warm place at summer’s end, he’s been unable to get a VA appointment, but he’s collected a lot of lip from various scheduling bureaucrats, soi-disant “Patient Advocates,” and all the other payroll patriots that make dealing with the VA a test of one’s patience. (We said we were distinguished… not patient).

One of the excuses they use to justify non-scheduling (the reason may be bitterness over lost bonuses) is the antiquated and creaky VA scheduling system.

So they’re going to fix it, stat. Are we right?

Er, no. NextGov explains (emphasis ours):

The Department of Veterans Affairs will not install a new patient scheduling system to all of its 153 hospitals and 50,000 users until 2020, according to contract documents released last week.

"Lucky us, we're dead. At least we were spared this!"

“Lucky us, we’re dead. At least we were spared this!”

The VA views a new patient scheduling system as key to resolving problems which have consigned veterans to a waiting list limbo for months or years.  In July, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told the House Veterans Affairs committee the new scheduling system would be deployed in 2016.

The new timeline for the patient scheduling system, released last week, said VA expects to deploy an “Alpha” version to the first 300 users at two hospitals in 2016. That would be followed by a beta version to 700 users at five hospitals in 2018 and installation at all 153 hospitals in 2020.

Last month VA said it would issue an RFP for the patient scheduling system by the end of this month, with bids due in 30 days.

VA said it intends to buy commercial software, so why, oh, why, will it take six years to field it?

via No New VA Patient Schedule System Until 2020 – Nextgov.com.

Got it? The service will continue crappy until the vets have all died, and the bureaucrats and contractors are using gold bars as doorstops.

The balky system being replaced — on a leisurely basis — is called VistA, and just last year VA’s out of touch managers were praising it to the rafters. (Hat tip, Weekly Standard).

I know I have already talked a lot about VistA, but I cannot in good [conscience] pass up an opportunity to brag about how it plays a role in providing the quality care Veterans receive at VA.

This June, the current acting Secretary said the new system was his “top priority” in so many words, in a VA press release.

“Our top priority is getting Veterans off waitlists and in to see their doctors,” said Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson. “….We need lasting, long-term reforms, including a complete overhaul to replace the outdated technology for our scheduling system.”

So “top priority” translated from the Bureaucratese is, “we’ll get to it by 2020, heh heh.”

Gibson, meanwhile, is on record to Congress that the system will be up in ’16. But he told the contractors not to sweat it until ’20.

Of course, the problem was never the computers. It was the apathy, greed and corruption of the VA managers. But there’s been no consideration given to replacing any of them. Instead, they scapegoat the computers, hit Congress for more money (which Congress, eager in an election year to display its love of veterans, will provide), and continue providing bottom-drawer service, as the distinguished combat veteran has experienced.

Put a HRT on ’em — 1985 style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scablands Sunday

OK, we’re actually in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the glittery end of the Atlantic Coast, but we just discovered the word “scablands,” which so aptly describes the areas where much of a long military career was whiled away, and we could not resist using it. Sure, there are scablands inland of us, but we’re in kind of anti-scablands. But there is no foul in unleashing one’s inner child sometimes.

Especially when one’s outer adult is up against unpleasant circumstances. The basic issue here is that a very good pair of parents, a blessing we’re keenly aware is far from universal, are at the stage of life where every day seems to bring a new hardship, a new limitation, and perhaps worst of all, a new indignity.

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of those guys who comes out of nowhere (well, not nowhere so much as a small cluster of eight private institutions of learning in the Northeast, who promise their graduates a sort of droit du seigneur over the serfs1), seems to think that a certain age is old enough, especially for the proles, and they ought to just be prepared to check out, optimally before Age 75. (Emanuel’s ideas are subtle and complex, often expressed in parables or thought experiments containing dilemmas requiring a physician or the public to balance or rank antagonistic and competing kinds of “good”. His ideas have been exaggerated by both supporters and opponents).

Life is harder for some people than for others, and it’s harder in some stages of life. There is no equality in suffering, no direct equivalency in consequences. Personal decisions (smoking is the classic example) can have consequences so deferred as to be intangible, and some may dodge the bullet entirely, which may be why people keep playing this chump’s lottery. But there’s no escape for the emphysema sufferer, even if there are treatments and medical devices available today that were unimaginable 10 years ago. Yet, today’s elderly grew up in an era where a doctor might advise a person to take up smoking. Far from the vilified criminal-class marker of today, it was thought to be a milepost to adulthood and a badge of sophistication.

One wonders what modern thing, that we now know and love, will turn out to be such a Judas as a simple cigarette was to the generations before us.

For the elderly, everything is an enemy. Your own physiology is no exception. Your lungs may fail, your skin break out in knobbly cancers, your kidneys give out after a lifetime of high blood pressure. Senses dim and fog. The earth itself turns on you; gravity becomes a deadly enemy for brittle bones. These things may not happen in isolation: you may indeed experience all of them. Life becomes a dreary routine of doctor visits and dialysis; medications and side effects; pain and effort.

And yet… and yet. And yet, joy springs from the light of the sun, the call of a nocturnal frog on the lawn (loud enough to penetrate the most elderly ocular system), the laugh of a child, a turn of phrase in a book.

As long as joy lights up a person’s world, even if there is only one part joy to ten parts suffering, who are we to do aught but support that person? As long as the thready beat of life exists, our parents are not helpless.

They have us.

May God be merciful with them.

 

Notes

  1. True, they can’t take the jus primae noctis (which doesn’t seem to have actually existed as a law anywhere; it seems to be an ancient version of an urban legend, given new life by revolutionaries looking to damn old systems; but we digress). Instead they just screw you metaphorically, all day every day.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have first dates

Have you ever had a bad date? Look at the bright side: it wasn’t as bad as this one.

When your number’s up, it’s up. Or to put it another way, anything you do can get you killed. Literally anything. Stacia Glenn at the Tacoma (WA) News-Herald:

Pierce County sheriff’s detectives on Monday were trying to sort out the details of a first date that ended early Sunday with a Gig Harbor man dead and his date hospitalized in critical condition.

Investigators believe the 47-year-old Port Orchard woman ran over her date, then crashed his truck 15 feet down a Lakebay embankment.

Because of her medical condition, she had not been interviewed, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Hang on. Wait till you see what “her medical condition” is.

The Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead man as Leon Shaw, 53. The News Tribune is not naming the woman because she has not been charged with a crime.

Shaw and his date, who hadn’t known each other more than a few hours, allegedly drank quite a bit Saturday night before visiting the home of one of Shaw’s friends.

While at the house in the 600 block of Cornwall Road, Key Peninsula North, the couple continued drinking.

The woman asked the friend, who was a tattoo artist, to tattoo her chest.

She and the tattoo artist became intimate while she was getting the tattoo, prompting an argument between her and Shaw, Troyer said. The woman allegedly punched Shaw; he reportedly slapped her.

The woman, wearing only a T-shirt, then fled from the house and started up Shaw’s truck, Troyer said. Shaw ran outside to see what his date was doing.

Moments later, Shaw’s friend came outside and found him dead in the driveway, Troyer said.

The woman crashed Shaw’s truck about one-quarter mile away from the home, Troyer said. She was trapped inside the vehicle when first responders arrived.

via Detectives: Gig Harbor man fatally run over by his date | Crime | The News Tribune.

We just don’t know what to say about this, except to note the unsurprising presence of Judgment Juice. And the miraculous presence of a dead guy, despite nobody having a firearm. Unpossible!