On the Departure of Byron T. Jones

ATF BadgeHe didn’t want to work with you, you know. He didn’t want to give you a fair shake. He wanted to put you in prison — and that was whether you were an industry executive, a firearms end user, or one of his own agents. Whoever you were, if you came under the scrutiny of the “in crowd” in his agency, Byron T. Jones hated you and wanted to destroy you, quite impersonally. Fortunately, he was as incompetent at that as he was at running the agency.

The outgoing ATF director, who so fancied himself a Second Coming of J. Edgar Hoover that he styled his name B. Todd Jones, slipped a brief notice of his resignation into Friday night’s press releases, after deadline for the nightly news.

He had been on the skids since he overreached with his attempt to ban 5.56mm M855 and SS109 ammunition. Pro-gun legislators wanted his scalp for trying, and anti-gun ones wanted his scalp for failing. After a quick canvass of the Dreaded Private Sector to figure out who-needs-a-favor-or-three-at-DOJ,  frightened managers at the NFL bought immunity from Federal investigation on several grounds — by offering him a bolt-hole. He leaped.

Jones’s Legacy: Broad-Based Failure.

On Jones’s watch the ATF failed to investigate systemic gunwalking by Bureau employees to violent Drug Trafficking Organizations, failed to punish the malefactors inside the agency who did this (instead, most were promoted or got other sweet deals), and failed to protect whistleblowers. Indeed, Jones redoubled agency retaliation. Jones turned the organization into partisan political police; everyone knows now that your voter registration is a factor in every ATF investigative and prosecution decision. Every ATF agent and operations inspector reports today to two masters, his supervisors and The Party; and if he will not report to The Party his supervisors cheerfully do it for him, while steering promotions and advancements to those who hold the right Party card.

Attorneys from the Chief Counsel’s Office and DOJ attorneys fed false information by ATF have produced a serious of decisions calling the credibility of the individual attorneys and their investigations into question. But even if these investigations produce indictments — something that the outgoing Attorney General has said will not happen on his watch — the real malefactors, the senior managers, are as immune as the heads of the Sinaloa Cartel are in their lair in Sinaloa.

Old ATF Hands Saw it Coming

Two of the most-retaliated-against agents in Bureau history called Jones’s departure mere days or weeks in advance.

Jay Dobyns, on 6 March, at Clean Up ATF:

Way to go Jones and Company. You’re legacy will be that instead of saving and rehabilitating a troubled agency you ended up tanking it. Taking bets that Jones leaves ATF in the next couple months and leaves everyone else holding the bag.

And Vince Cefalu, on 13 March.

Words starting to swirl that the B Todd is haulin ass soon. We told you his lack of investment in ATF would be apparent. Came in to tank the agency and leaves when Holder can’t protect him anymore. Can anyone name ONE significant policy with long term goals that this regime has contributed? He came in, threatened the agents and padded his resumé.

Jones’s exit announcement hit on the evening of 19 March. Jay and Vince called it, eh?

Holder (l.) and Jones (r.)

Holder (l.) and Jones (r.)

Whether the exit was driven by the abortive bullet ban, or by several cases in which judges have complained about dishonesty by ATF witnesses and attorneys, or simply, as Vince suggested, because Jones lost the “top cover” of his friend Eric Holder, he’s gone in a few days.

We’d like to say ATF would be in better hands, but Brandon isn’t “better hands.”


Last Century’s Navy

For years, this short segment of a longer film was unidentified. But painstaking scholarship identified the subject matter as the Woodrow Wilson era US Navy, thanks to a keen eye for weapons: the E-2  class submarine went out in 1915, and the 14-inch shell for American’s dreadnought main armament came in in 1915. Ergo, 1915. And the discoverer, Buckey Grimm, labeled the short segment as part of a lost 1915 documentary on the Navy.  In it, along with the subs that the show begins with and some frightening antics with the 14″ shells, you get to see a bunch of sailors splicing ropes and making fenders. This guy is splicing rope with a marlinspike.

You also see some physical training of sailors and Marines, and some good scenes of the battleship Wyoming’s boat crew — apparently open-boat races were a thing. They’re shown in the boats, and also aboard ship, training with pulleys and weights in something that looks like a near cousin of the modern Concept 2 rowing machine. Unfortunately, there’s not much about Wyoming herself in the surviving segment, which is a pity — when she was laid down, she was a world leader in armament and propulsion, and she survived into World War II, albeit as a training ship, only being scrapped after the war.

Everyone in the film, of course, is long gone today, as is most of the movie — there were once three reels of it, and now these eleven minutes are all. You’ll have to go to the link to see it.

We are indebted to independent scholar Charles “Buckey” Grimm for identifying this 11-minute piece of the celebrated “lost” three-reel documentary U.S. Navy of 1915, produced by the Lyman H. Howe Company. (The piece had formerly been known only as “U.S. Navy Fragment.”) The film was made with the full support of the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, who believed in the power of motion pictures to convince isolationists of the importance of building a strong American navy. A former newspaperman who knew the value of publicity, Daniels allowed Howe’s camera crew remarkable shipboard access. The results show sailors as they go about their day—doing repairs, cleaning the deck, exercising, as well as demonstrating naval might. The film drew praise as capturing “the pulse-beat of the complex life that throbs through our dreadnoughts from reveille to ‘taps.’”

The film, of course, is silent; a dozen years would pass before the Jazz Singer signaled the coming unemployment of theater organists.

We don’t know how to re-embed this film, so instead we’ll send you to see it at the National Film Preservation Foundation. Weapons guys will be particularly pleased to watch gun drills on the 14″ naval gun. Apparently one guy stood right behind it — the Navy had big guns, but not recoiling carriages, yet.

It’s not only the only surviving film from US Navy of 1915, it’s also the only scrap of the life’s work of Lyman Howe known to remain.

There was an even earlier set of Navy shorts, which are believed to be completely lost. Films of that era were stored on extremely volatile stock, and promotional films such as these were not considered to have any value at all once they were no longer up to date.

Soporific Sunday

First day home, although taking the early flight yesterday was supposed to get us into Never Washed International in the People’s Republic before 9 Ack Emma, as the British Expeditionary Force used to say, and home by 10:30 or so via bus (these are nice commuter buses, not graffiti-spackled and miserable city-run, or convict-and-addict-packed Greyhound buses). Of course, that was before JetBlue managed to JetBlew up their computer system. Those of us who’d printed our boarding passes at home were all set, but the vast majority of the full-plane of travelers expected to get theirs at the airport. Zug.

When they finally got the thing going, the whole schedule was so ate up that the snowstorm we landed in in Boston was no big deal. Looking out the plane window, it was an arctic wasteland of blowing snow, blind-driving ground support vehicles and shivering ramp personnel. This place doesn’t need us, we thought, it needs Sir Ernest Shackleton. But Shackleton’s dead. Lafayette Street1, we are here.

We had rather hoped we would have come home to spring. It’s nearly Easter, for crying out loud. But now, we’re fearing that if Jesus comes out of the tomb and sees His shadow, it’s six more more weeks of winter. We have no idea what shape the Manor’s grounds are in (although bad is a pretty good guess) as they’re still covered by up to five feet of white, crystalline Global Warming. Al Gore has a lot to answer for.

Today is bright, sunny, and, as we have been told by those who remained that it has been all month, bitterly cold.


  1. A running joke. Every city and town in New England has a Lafayette Street (or Road or Avenue), usually a main drag down which the former Marquis’s post-revolution tour proceeded. The New Hampshire stretch of neon-lit US Highway 1 is known locally as Lafayette Road, and without it you can’t get there from here.

No, SF is NOT preparing for civil war. Sheesh…. (long)

jh_logo This is the look of panic:

CIVIL WAR PREP: Pentagon To Conduct “Realistic Military Training” For War On American Soil Against “Insurgents”

The Pentagon looks like they’re gearing up for a civil war by releasing information about ‘realistic military training’

This is where we usually say, “Read The Whole Thing™” but that pretty much is the whole thing But if you’re disbelieving still, go thither yourself: CIVIL WAR PREP: Pentagon To Conduct “Realistic Military Training” For War On American Soil Against “Insurgents” | Doug Giles | #ClashDaily.

Here come the MC-130Js full of Rangers. Oh noes!

Here come the MC-130Js full of Rangers. Oh noes! “I said, ‘Don’t look, Ethel.’ But it was too late. She looked.”

There are other, even more partisan and more conspiratorial, sites that are even more wound up over this than Doug Giles is.

Which is really saying something. Because he’s wound up to the point where he renamed the briefing slides from their anodyne Army verbiage to: Jade-Helm-Martial-Law-WW3-Prep-Document. 

He’s aghast that The Iron Curtain of Fascism is Descending on America. (Harumph optional). That “Martial Law” title as much as anything shows that some guys have gone to 11 on the rheostat of outrage without understanding the thing that they’re so upset about. No, it’s not a preparation for Martial Law, although it may be a prep for WW3 — in somebody else’s country.

The evidence before us is a set of unclassified briefing slides for an SF and SOF unconventional warfare exercise — basically, guerilla and underground role-playing — that will take place across the southwestern United States. Jade Helm is a series of SOF and SOF-heavy exercises (in which conventional forces exercising their capabilities are also used as SOF training aids) that has been running for a while. For any veteran of Special Forces the slides will strongly recall other UW exercises, notably the culmination exercise of SF training, which has been coded Robin Sage for a very long time. (Previously it had other names, like Gobblers Woods).


Jade Helm differs from FTX Robin Sage in several ways:

  • It is not an initial training evolution, the main objective of which is to educate, train and evaluate individuals on the cusp of Special Forces qualification. Instead, it is a collective training exercise designed to improve, enhance and evaluate fully-qualified special operations units.
  • It is not contained in a small area where these exercises have been going on for years, such as the areas of Bavaria and the Palatinate where Exercise Schwarzes Pferd (Black Horse) took place during the Cold War, or the rural region of North Carolina where Robin Sage historically takes place.
  • It is not restricted to the participation of SF ODAs, the 12-man Operational Detachment Alpha that is the fundamental organic element of SF. (For SEALs, the equivalent is the platoon). ODAs are designed to split into two elements of roughly equal capability, to task-organize into even smaller elements with specialized capabilities where needed, and to assemble into larger units and efforts freely. They also can form the backbone of a large element of foreign irregular or regular forces, as leaders, advisors or trainers. Along with the ODAs, this exercise will shake down several ODBs (a task-organized element based on the HQ of an SF company supported by one or more ODAs and non-SF support personnel), and a Special Forces Operations Base (SFOB) based on a reinforced Group or Battalion headquarters.
  •  Jade Helm is not an SF exercise exclusively, but one that will also employ other ARSOF, joint SOF, including at least one MARSOC CSOT. The Marines were screwed in 2007 when they trained for Direct Action missions and were delivered into a theater that was expecting a UW-trained and culturally-preadapted element. We’re betting they will do much better in 2015, given the chance to prepare and train for the UW mission, and the record MARSOC has achieved in the interim.

Far from teaching SOF troops to operate the mechanism of a police state, exercises like Jade Helm give SOF troops critically needed experience operating against and inside the territory of a police state. Normally the “police” and “secret police” role players are selected from soldiers and real police. The “guerillas” can be conventional Army or Guard soldiers, or even ROTC cadets, friendly foreign troops, and in one case I’m aware of, were civilian volunteers. (The SJA put the kibosh on ever doing that again. Unfortunately).

These briefing slides were freely provided to local officials, in order to secure their cooperation in an exercise that will play out across their territory. In specific, these slides were for certain Texas authorities. Some genius at the command thought that that the slides were self-explanatory. As the current “martial law!!!1!!” hullaballoo shows, they’re not, unless you’re well steeped in Unconventional Warfare doctrine and fluent in its acronyms. As a public service, we’ll provide the slides here as a free download and explain what’s going on.

JADE HELM 15 Request to Conduct RMT.pdf

There are 12 slides. We will tell you for each slide what it means, OK? But in order to keep the stretch of this long post on the front page of the blog to a minimum, we’ll tell you after the jump.

Continue reading

How Far Will a Paper Go — to Make a Good Shoot Look Bad?

The answer was in yesterday’s Palm Beach Post, where a writer named Jorge Millan had to twist, wrestle, and even torture the story to give it The Narrative® spin that he, or his editors, wanted: that a self-defense shooting in Jensen Beach, FL, was a bad shoot. Millan’s helical reasoning is hidden behind the Post’s paywall, but we’ll gist it for you.

The slant begins with the headline. The online version is Woman: Veteran who shot boyfriend pulled trigger too soon,” but the tree-bark edition says, “Woman says veteran pulled trigger too soon.” Note that both versions are quick to frontload the Scary Veteran bit.

Millan’s sole source? A bum who lives underneath an overpass. Her boyfriend, another bum, was beating her when a third bum began to squabble with the boyfriend. They were all (by the female bum’s admission) royally drunk.

A citizen, Josh Anderson, who was fishing with his family, asked the bums to stop. Instead, one of them assaulted him. He warned them, drew his gun, warned them again, and when they pressed the assault fired two shots. This was all witnessed by multiple people. The bums have lengthy (if petty) criminal records, for property crimes, violent crimes, and drug crimes such as cooking meth in a hotel room.

But to learn this you have to follow the jump from the front page of the local section to deep in the middle of same (B5, to be precise), and then you see why the Sheriff and detectives working with State authorities were so quick to call it a good shoot.

Because Millan leads, and closes, his article with uncritically typed statements from a friend of the two perps who are suffering in hospital (from drug withdrawal as well as gunshot wounds, no doubt), who was actually a participant in the events, and whose story is contradicted by multiple independent witnesses, who all back up the shooter.

You can tease this out of his article, but only if you read the whole thing with a critical eye. If you just glance at it, which is probably more attention than one of this guy’s articles deserves, you get the pure, undiluted Palm Beach Post party line: crazed veteran hopped up on Stand Your Groundium popped two lovable drunks for no reason, except for pure bloodymindedness and the fact that they were attacking him, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we?

If you see a 550SL trolling around under the Jensen Beach causeway, it’s not the usual lawyer looking for relief from one of the women of easy virtue there: it’s a lawyer looking to find a woman of easy virtue and partner up on a lawsuit.

They’ll be assured of fawning press in the Palm Beach Post.

Paper’s Late and Insincere Apology for Slander

MARSOC-meltdown(Note: we wrote this and scheduled it, we thought, for the 18th. But many things are going on and so we’re hitting “publish” a couple of days later. Military Times has now published the third installment of its five part story, and is suggesting it will take two weeks or more to finish the two remaning installments — 20 Mar 15. Ed.).

Marine Corps Times, one of the military papers focused on personnel issues (who’s on the promotion list, etc.) that the relentlessly anti-military and anti-soldier Gannett Corporation acquired from Army Times Publishing Company, had great fun in 2008 with a story suggesting that the Marines of MARSOC lost control and massacred great numbers of civilians.

The title of the story was: “Meltdown at TF Violence: Uncovered — the hidden story of the MarSOC Marines who shamed the Corps.”

The story was “hidden” for a good reason: the tale of massacre flowed from fabrications and falsified evidence by, in part, JAG officers (gee, there’s a shock, not) that was then leaked to friendly reporters (another unsurprise). They didn’t even get the name of the MARSOC task force right, which shows you how deep and well-sourced their story wasn’t.  And now, the story has not exactly been retracted, or even apologized for, but Gannett’s peer paper Military Times is sloooowly running a five-part reported thumbsucker about what really happened. (This time, they’re going to pinky-swear, perhaps).

And guess what? There was no truth in the rush to judgment by the media, including Marine Corps Times, and bad leadership, including essentially all of the Army and Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and certain careerist officers, including Army MG Frank Kearney and Kearney’s rumpswab, Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Pihana, who were eager to throw the Marines under the bus. (This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Kearney, a man of immeasurably low character). Marine officers who were hostile to the idea of an elite within the Corps, far from standing up for their Marines, greased the skids under them. Pihana, assigned with a wink and a nod to “investigate” the incident, dismissed all Marine testimony, however independently taken, as “lies,” accepted all Afghan testimony, and made contrary evidence disappear.

In the civilian world, that’s obstruction of justice, a serious felony. For Pihana, it was the order he got from Kearney, and the two of them, far from being charged, were decorated and promoted. As were the Marine officers who were willing to see seven Marines framed for murder for, as they saw it, “the good of the Corps.”

As we said, the Gannett crapweasels never actually retract their original story. They get this close:

Marine Corps Times… published a cover story in February 2008 boasting of hidden details about the “meltdown” within Task Force Violent and the “cowboys” who shamed the Corps — a characterization that has proven unfair and untrue.

That’s better than nothing, just; they use a variety of passive constructions to weasel around the fact that they were some of the key clowns in the circus (many media stories cited the Marine Corps Times fabrications as authoritative). For example, “….an incomplete narrative would emerge.” Nobody created it, you see. This goose egg of a story was here and just hatched. 

It’s nice (well, it isn’t really; it’s actually depressing) to learn that the Marines can be as blockheadedly focused on intramural  score-settling and as as passive-aggressive as leaders as the Army can, but the question is, why should we trust this report from the same integrity-challenged guys who took great pleasure in starting the whole juggernaut rolling downhill in the first place? We probably shouldn’t. But it’s one more data point out there.

Task Force Violent: The unforgiven

Part 3 comes tomorrow. Two more parts are scheduled beyond that.

This first parts of the story are interesting in that they claim that the Marines prepared for a kinetic, direct-action mission profile for Iraq, and were told only at the last minute that they were going to Afghanistan, so they had no worthwhile cultural and linguistic preparation. All the leaders asked about this made like the famous Nast cartoon, “Who took the money?”

To retitle Nast: "Who's Accountable?"

To retitle Nast: “Who’s Accountable?”

We can’t say who betrayed MARSOC, although given Kearney’s history with Special Forces guys and wild, improbable accusations, we’ll never believe his protestations of innocence. But we don’t trust these Gannett media wallahs as far as we can throw the Hindu Kush.

That MARSOC did not debut in the Corps to spontaneous and sustained hosannas is, of course, old news.

When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Chef’s Knives

Deasia WatkinsBy every measure, Deasia Watkins was a known nut job. Bat-guano crazy. She heard voices and saw demons. She had a history of drug abuse, mental illness, violence, and threats of violence. And so, Great and Good Government did all it could to protect the person she’d most recently and credibly threatened — her own three-month-old baby.

Except, of course, lock Deasia up.

Silly baby. You trusted Government.

Sometime late Sunday or early Monday morning in a College Hill home, police say, Deasia Watkins broke Jayniah’s arm, stabbed her at least 15 times and cut off her head.

When she’d finished, prosecutors say, Watkins placed the large knife she’d used to kill Jayniah in the baby’s hand and went to bed.

Police found the baby on a kitchen counter Monday morning. They found Watkins in bed, covered in blood.

“This is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve ever seen,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Ah, yeah. Another victim of the easy availability of handguns (and chef’s knives), the craptacular welfare system, and our avert-eyes-until-homicide approach to mental illness, but mostly our approach to mental illness.

The injuries to the baby were so severe, they creeped out the medical examiner, and most of them are more cold-blooded than the killers who send them work projects.

Deters and others investigating the case blame Jayniah’s death on a lethal combination of severe mental illness, a difficult family situation and the inability of the social services system to provide around-the-clock supervision for every child with unstable or neglectful parents.

Watkins had been hospitalized, declared a danger to Jayniah and ordered to stay away from her. Hamilton County’s Job and Family Services took custody of the child and temporarily placed her with an aunt, on condition the mother not be allowed in the home.

Yeah, give a verbal order to a crazy person, and expect obedience. That sounds like the DMV rejects that populate state child-welfare bureaucracies across the nation.

Social workers saw the child at Job and Family Services’ Downtown office as recently as Friday.

Still, Jayniah is dead.

via Mom accused of baby’s beheading was ordered to stay away.

Read on for more mealy-mouthed sniveling from the prosecutor on behalf of his fellow payroll patriots:

When asked about the decision to place the child with the aunt, Deters said the investigation so far has found no red flags that would have warned social workers of a potential danger. “Whether this aunt was the right choice, obviously she wasn’t,” Deters said. “And this tragedy ensued.”

Ah, yes. “This tragedy ensued.” Make the tragedy the subject. Could it get any worse? Well, actually, it can.

Prosecutors say the body was discovered by a 5-year-old relative who had been dropped off at the house that morning before school.

Words fail.

Watkins, who remains under guard at Deaconess Hospital, has not spoken to investigators and appears to be suffering from severe mental illness. Deters said he is unlikely to seek the death penalty in the case because of her mental state.

All the more reason, if you ask us. Give Baby Momma of the Year® the needle, save the next victim from the next time some weak-as-water judge lets her go.

Court records show that Watkins was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after a Jan. 25 incident at her apartment. Police responded to a 911 call complaining that Watkins was screaming and Jayniah was crying loudly.

This was not this incident; this was a previous incident where she threatened the baby less than two months ago.

Watkins, who police said smelled of marijuana, initially refused to open the door and, once police were inside, refused to hand over the baby. When they took the child, court records say, Watkins passed out with her eyes open.

Hey, drug use harms nobody. Well, except for collateral damage like baby Jaynieh. But that’s not really a consequence of anything. It’s just “this tragedy” that “ensued.”

According to court records, Brown, the child’s father, told them Watkins had been “acting crazy lately, speaking of demons.”

Watkins was supposed to take medication for her mental problems, but Brown later told authorities he had never seen her do so.

Naw, she had weed for that. Who you gonna trust, some punk-as doctor in a clinic, or your local dope dealer? That doctor was such a dork he didn’t even drop out of school; what could he know?

Watkins was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center following the Jan. 25 incident and given a psychological evaluation. After being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, she was admitted to Deaconess Hospital for 72 hours.

Oddly enough, just about as long as Medicaid will pay Deaconess for “treating” this nut job. They probably just locked her in a room and ran out the clock — that’s “mental health treatment” these days.

At a March 6 juvenile court hearing, Magistrate Judge Elisa Murphy ordered Job and Family Services to take custody of the child because she could not be safely placed with the parents.

“Imminent risk of harm exists if the child returns to her surroundings,” Murphy wrote.

It’s great to be a judge and channel Yul Brynner as Ramses in Ben-Hur. “So let it be written; so let it be done!” The problem is, the Egyptian court was scared incontinent of Ramses. The careless, idle bums at child-services agencies know that they can’t be fired, and no matter what a crappy job they do — and in 50 states and 3 territories, they do a crappy job — no one will ever hold them to account.

“And this tragedy ensued.” The reporters won’t even have to write a new story; they’ll be able to reuse this one. Real soon now.

“New” Mission for Army SOF

Charles T ClevelandThe Fayetteville Observer has an interesting story on a public briefing at UNC-Chapel Hill on new missions for ARSOF. But they’re really not “new” so much as they’re “newly recognized;” under this new doctrine the military will be doing things it did during the Indian wars, the Philippine occupation and in many counter-insurgency operations and advisory deployments for the best part of a century.

The difference, perhaps, is that while in those wars remotely stationed officers were left to fly by the seat of their pants and improvise outside the framework of military doctrine, new unconventional warfare doctrine is going to give them something solid upon which their great-grandsons’ can base future improvisations.

[USACOM Commander LTG Charles T. Cleveland] said that for the first time in its 60-year history, Army special operations forces have written their own doctrine, better spelling out to other Army leaders how their unconventional warfare fits into the Army’s core competencies.
That could lead to better efforts in what Cleveland called the “messy middle” between conventional and special operations forces – counterinsurgency.

Iraq started with conventional forces during “Shock and Awe.” Afghanistan started with small teams of Special Forces soldiers working with the Northern Alliance.

But both wars “ended in the middle,” Cleveland said.

As we’ve always said, “We were winning when we left.”

“We’ve got to figure out these transitions. We weren’t able to capitalize on tactical success,” he said, emphasizing that the military can’t repeat past mistakes where they fought wars “one year at a time.”

New_USASOC__DUIThis may be one of the first shots in what will be a barrage of “who-lost-Iraq” finger-pointing by various vainglorious Beltway bloviators and policy panjandrums. But unlike most of those talking mouths (heads? Those just hold up a hairstyle), Cleveland actually fought these wars as a Special Forces and special operations commander.

It’s interesting to see that his focus is on the military, itself, internally. While there may well be political problems with the conduct of these wars (may be?), he sees plenty of things right within his own command that can be fixed or improved.

He goes on to suggest an idea that almost deserves its own capitals, as The Third Mission:

Historically, the Army had two missions, Cleveland said. The first, to fight and win the nation’s wars. The second, to respond to contingencies, including humanitarian disasters.

“There is what I would submit to you is a third mission,” he told students. “We have a requirement to build, maintain and then deploy a global network of land power capabilities.Not only ours but those of our allies, friendly nations and surrogate forces.”

That third mission is needed, he said, because the world is changing.

“We’re not fighting the way we did back then,” he said of earlier wars. “Waiting for large scale combat?  We can’t afford to wait that long.”

It’s a remarkable, sophisticated view of military operations that encompasses systematic force-, and, especially relationship-building with foreign allies.

Because “There’s nothing new under the sun,” a phrase that was probably old when first chiseled into a clay tablet, it turns out that the main message is a new take on an old one. What is Cleveland’s “human domain” but the latest restatement of Napoleon’s “In war, the moral is to the physical as three parts out of four?”  But he takes it in directions where the great general (and begetter of aphorisms) never did go.

Special operations forces are more than a different model of hammer, he said. They’re a different tool entirely.

“My strategy was change the fundamentals about how we talk about our form of warfare,” Cleveland said. “I think that what has emerged is a human domain.”

That human domain – in which Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers work – is no different from the “air domain” that was discovered amid the World Wars.

Please do Read The Whole Thing™. And you tell us if what emerges in the paragraphs after the last one quoted is not, without explicitly stating the case, a very near justification for an independent Special Operations Force, just as we established in 1947 an independent Air Force.

He never does make the call, and he probably would not. An independent SOF force may not be a good idea, and the route to an independent AF has sometimes been rocky and has seen the Air Force focus, at times, on internal, almost irrational mythologies at the expense of joint operations. Anybody aware of the relative efficiency of battlefield transport in the chaos of Vietnam compared to the bureaucratic quagmire that Air Force central Soviet-style management has made of the problem of moving men and matériel around Afghanistan or Iraq knows the answer is not one more staff, one more HQ, and one more bureaucracy stacked on a rickety stack of top-heavy bureaucracies.

What SOF does in wartime, it does in well-established symbiosis with conventional forces, to the benefit of both sorts of forces and the overall mission. But what it does in peacetime can extend those benefits, ideally preventing the need for combat employment of conventional forces, and if that is not possible, helping to lay the groundwork for their success.

Because that groundwork can be laid, years or even decades in advance, in the human terrain.

Napoleon I would approve.

Friday Tour d’Horizon

We’ll be back in our own digs and on our usual orderly schedule soon enough. In the meantime, here are some things that deserved coverage this week and didn’t get it.

Yeah, we’re clearing the tabs.


Spectres with Frickin’ Laser Beams

AFSOC sees cannons on their way out:

The technology is almost ready to be outfitted in the service’s special operations fleet. Later, upgraded versions of the new AC-130J Ghostrider could be outfitted with directed energy weapons for precision targeting.

The service is testing its first AC-130J, and is building its next model with a new 105mm gun. The later versions, possibly in the 2020s, could remove the 105mm gun and replace it with a laser.

The service is not requesting money to begin the process of adding the laser to the AC-130J, but AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold said he is hoping for more research and development funding to “flesh out the concept.”

The laser would be added to a gunship already packed with weaponry. The new version of the AC-130 will also have, in addition to the 105mm gun, a 30mm cannon, Hellfire missiles, Griffin missiles and small diameter bombs.

Beam my enemies down, Scotty.

Sometimes a Gun is Almost Too Beautiful

Some women are like that, too. This gun is a restoration of a Pieper (Liege) double-barrel. It’s available for about $2,500 on GunBroker.

pieper double


That’s so nice we ought to show another picture, no?

pieper double 2

Still available on GunBroker at press time.

Unconventional Warfare

MARSOC Story Update MIA

We ran a story on Military Times’s (Gannett’s) half-hearted rowback of a false story impugning the character of the officers and men of MARSOC in 2009. They were to have published Part III on 18 Mar 15, but it was very late to hit the site (circa the wee hours of this morning?). Part III is now available, it tells the story of the actual fight the Marines had along Route 1, plus hints at some of the problems MARSOC had with fitting in to the CJSOTF mission, which are perceived very differently by the Marines and the Army officers their unit reported to. You would think the Marines were past the days of being run on a shoestring, but the tale of F Company’s training, preparation and logistical support show the service is still a bust-out.

(Update: we just saw that we never ran our story, which was also supposed to go up on the 18th. So that’s why there aren’t any comments on it! It will go live at 1800 today. ¡Muchas apologiesus! -Ed.)

Prince Harry Hangs Up his Helmet

Two-tour Afghan vet Captain Harry Wales — Prince Harry to the royals-obsessed tabloids and social climbers everywhere — is leaving the British Army after an exchange tour with the Australian forces. No, he’s not joining the egalitarian, classless Aussies: he’s going to spend more time on family and on Prince Stuff, whatever that is. It’s the Army’s loss, apparently; he’s a decent Apache gunner, pilot and commander. We expect the cousins will muddle through this. They usually do..

It isn’t just American troops any more: JAGs claim some Polish scalps

Coat_of_arms_of_Poland-officialA half-dozen Polish NCOs and a junior officer, previously acquitted, are convicted and sentenced. (The Polish military justice system does not provide double-jeopardy protection.

The five-judge panel on Thursday found the four, ranking from lieutenant junior grade to sergeant, guilty of being lax about their orders when they aimed mortar and machine-gun fire on the village of Nangar Khel, while serving on a NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. They were given suspended prison terms of between two years and six months.

Welcome to NATO, guys. That’s just the way we roll.



Can Your Suppressed Pistol Beat This? 78 dB.

That’s the measured performance of this little beauty:


.32 ACP Welrod, from the collection of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

Vintage 1941 or so, developed by the SOE. The ASOM notes another detail, which explains the strange magazine-is-the-grip design of the Welrod (bold is ours):

A limited range, close-qurters head shot weapon, the Welrod’s main value was its level of discreetness when used. This weapon could be fired with the magazine/grip removed, in which case it did not look like a weapon at all. Using the weapon in this manner allowed operators a level of stealth necessary for operations behind enemy lines.

Internally, Welrod’s suppressor design features are typical of silencers of the time. It has a ported barrel which vents into an expansion chamber partly restricted by screen discs. Modern suppressor designers abjure these design features as archaic and backward: the ported barrel saps velocity, and the screen discs are thought to be much less effective than shaped K-baffles or other baffles.

Really? Show us the quiet, guys. Show us a centerfire single-shot suppressed pistol that can beat 78 dB. We’re not asking much in the way of accuracy — the original Welrod was intended for contact ranges, but was good for minute-of-Nazi-skull out to 20 yards or so — but let’s see more muzzle energy for less noise than the Welrod.

We’re guessing that, without going to a captive cartridge like the Tunnel Rat experimental revolver or certain Russian silent-pistol designs, you can’t get materially better than those 20th Century Britons did with the Welrod. (For all their efforts, we’ve had a hard time confirming behind-the-lines use of this system, even with so many formerly secret archives opening up lately. Anybody know different?).

True, Jesse James the motorcycle loudmouth is claiming something similar for his rifle suppressor, but when he delivers that you’ll be able to hang it up next to your jet pack in the garage where you park your flying car. He’s the Baghdad Bob of gun credibility with that one.

But you would think we would be able to excel something made before computers, finite element analysis, and 70 years of progress in understanding sound theory and in production and metallurgical technology. That we are not, generally, far beyond the status quo of 1941 speaks volumes for the ingenuity and application of those wartime engineers.