Quick Update on JADE HELM 15

jh_logoOn 24 March, no doubt in response to the hyperventilating around the more suspicious end of the libertarian blogosphere, the US Army Special Operations Command issued a press release about exercise JADE HELM 15.

The title of the release mentions that this is about preparing at home for threads abroad, and it goes on to say:

USASOC periodically conducts training exercises such as these to practice core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies. It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training, equipment and resources possible.

While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas.

The training exercise will be conducted on private and public land with the permission of the private landowners, and from state and local authorities. In essence, all exercise activity will be taking place on pre-coordinated public and private lands.

Do go Read The Whole Thing™, especially if someone has told you the sky is falling. It is not, Mr Little. Everything in that release is ex cathedra stuff that was approved by the boss or his representative for public release, not our informed speculation. (Although we can’t help boasting it tracks our informed spec pretty closely).

More informed speculation follows.

Why are these exercises spread out over such a large area? Because, in wartime, the operation of a Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) can cover a large, even continental area. (While the exact alignments of SF Groups, Theater Special Operations Commands, and other elements is classified, it’s not rocket surgery to figure out the general areas of responsibility).

Moreover, single SOF missions may involve long, intricate and arduous infiltration/exfiltration means using multiple services’ equipment and personnel. (For example, a flight of over 1,000 miles, with a parachute jump at the end, and the a/c having to fly 1,000 more miles to get home, is not out of the question).

A parachute infiltration is not just training for the jumpers, but it’s training for the aviators and mission planners, too. The skills involved in flying 600 miles to a blind (i.e. unlit, no radio beacon) dropzone you’ve never seen before at low level are completely different from the skills used to run six minute racetracks around Holland DZ at Fort Bragg, or to hold formation on a mass-tactical drop of the 82nd Falling Horde on the much larger Sicily DZ.

Infiltration means are not the only system that needs to be thoroughly shaken out in peacetime exercises, in order to be able to count on it in wartime contingencies. Communications systems also need distance to be tested, especially satellite and HF burst transmissions.

Compare to big combined-arms exercises: while the tankers think that they’re the ones being exercised, at higher HQs they’re sweating the logistics of drawing prepositioned armor or moving units on or off railheads. A well-developed exercise shakes down every echelon and every enabling support function in some way.

In addition to these enabling technologies, one would expect SOF elements in JADE HELM 15 to conduct strategic reconnaissance, direct action, and guerrilla warfare training.

Frankly, we’re pleased to see such a large and sophisticated exercise taking shape. It tells us that SOF is off the back-to-back-deployment treadmill and is able to hone its edge with realistic and effective training again.

That’s a good thing.

4 Men. 3 States. 2 Weeks. = 1 Rifle + 1 Good Deed of the Day

How a blogger, an FFL, a dad and a grand-dad ganged up across the nation to show a Boy Scout a Good Deed of the Day. Now, the Story Can Be Told, as a Hollywood narrator might say.

Ruger 10:22 Boy Scout of America Rifle01

It begins with a boy approaching a milestone in life and in scouting: Eagle Scout. The top level in Scouting, Eagle is achieved by a relatively small minority of Scouts. Kyle was proud of his accomplishment, and his dad wanted to do something for him. Knowing that Kyle was into guns, Dad heard about a Boy Scout commemorative that Ruger had made. Finding ads for it online, he called number after number only to find… nope, sorry. We forgot to take down the ad. He went to his local FFL, Moti Adika of MASA Firearms in Coral Springs, FL, a guy with a strong Israeli accent. Moti knew the gun, and knew the market — and he told the Dad, gently but unmistakably, that he was screwed.

boy scout 22 stock

You see, that commemorative was offered for one year only — five years ago, in 2010. Gun distributors and dealers buy guns to resell, not to keep, and if your inventory takes five years to turn over, you’re not going to make it as a dealer of guns or anything else. “I’ll keep my eye on the auctions,” is something like what Moti said, “but you better not count on it.”

So dejected Dad mentions it to Granddad Bill, his father-in-law. They get on like a house on fire anyway — Dad’s a line pilot, and Granddad Bill is a retired Army pilot, and they both like guy stuff, Mom, and the grandkids.

Enter Weaponsman

“Wait a minute,” says Granddad Bill. “I know a guy who knows guns.” and he sends an email to your humble blogger.

But the email crosses the wires as Weaponsman.com is relocating south to deal with family turbulence. It goes unread. But South turns out to be kind of diagonally a couple of streets over from Granddad Bill, and soon enough Weaponsman and the former Hook driver are at lunch with Weaponsdad and another buddy.

“Hey,” says Weaponsdad. “Did you ever answer Granddad Bill’s email?”

“Wha?” Weaponsman intelligently replies around a sandwich of some type.

And the facts about the Dad’s urgent need for a weapons intervention lest the Dad have to conceive a Plan B for an Eagle Scout gift.

“No problem. I’ve got this for action,” Weaponsman intones, his eyes smiling behind his WileyX’s. Because  this is going to be easy, right?  Most commemorative guns stay NIB for decades. Most of them have examples in the secondary market all the time. And none of these soi-disant collector’s items ever seem to appreciate much, compared with real collectors’ items.

We learn about the rifle.  It’s a nice looking thing, with a better than standard walnut stock, a schnabel forearm, and some Boy Scout markings. It’s quite the “attaboy,” and all we need to do now is find one.

We strike out. Our favorite FFL strikes out, and reaches out to his distributors.

They laugh at him. “We just had a guy from Florida asking.” Moti? “We laughed at him, too.”

Hey, anything to bring a smile to your face, you know? That leaves the auction sites. We hit the best and brightest, Gunbroker.

Nada.

The former Auction Arms, now GunAuction.com, the NRA’s preferred auction site.

Zip.

And so on down the list, with synonyms for zero piling up. We even thought about trying GunsAmerica, even though they’re assclowns and we don’t trust them as far as we could throw them, but decided that some principles are stronger than helping a Boy Scout.

So we set some snares on the auction sites and take out the 18F google-fu. Like the Dad before us, we find lots of ads. “Oh, crap, what’s the URL for that ad? We sold out of those in about a year.”

Then, the klaxon goes off.  One has been listed on GunBroker! Initial bid $550, open auction. It was a nice one, in apparently new condition, with all the paperwork and junk that comes with a new one:

Ruger 10:22 Boy Scout of America Rifle02

Some Strategic Bidding Tips

This is how we bid on that gun in order to buy it successfully, make a Scout and his Dad happy, and avoid any suggestion of a legal violation.

  • First, in a case like this where you’re bidding for friends, make sure they’re friends you trust. Your credibility on the auction site is at risk. If you win the auction and the actual buyer taps out, you’re left holding the bag (which you can only rescue by buying the gun yourself and having it delivered to you, or making an arrangement with the seller).
  • Second, when multiple guys know that someone is looking for a specific gun, coordinate lest you bid against one another. It didn’t take Moti any longer to find the BSA rifle auction than it took us; he advised The Dad to set up a GB account and bid himself. Three-way coordination was necessary to be sure than only one of us bid on the auction, so as not to drive the price artificially high for a single customer.
  • Third, in an interstate deal, take pains not to violate Federal and state law. This deal involved domiciliaries of three states: IL, FL, and NH. Rather than buy and take possession of and deliver the gun, we chose to simply bid on behalf of the buyer, who isn’t likely to use GunBroker enough to establish a login of his own. If you buy a gun for someone else, that’s potentially a straw purchase, even if the end user of the gun is definitely not a prohibited person. (ATF prefers to pursue cases like this than actual violent criminals; in one case, they put an FBI agent in prison for buying his father a Glock to get the LE discount). So in this case, we just bid for The Dad. He bought the gun himself, sending the check to the listing dealer, and receiving it from his own dealer, Moti. We never touched the money or the gun, and it did its interstate travel from IL FFL to FL FFL — it’s even more on the up-and-up than it needs to be. Do not count on your being an honest person to protect you… make it tough for a dishonest ATF agent to screw you.
  • Fourth, an early bid in a long auction just signals your interest and brings out competing bidders. It’s some bizarre group effect of human psychology that relatively few want to be the first penguin in the water, but great swathes of the public will happily dive in once the first one has taken the plunge. So bid late.
  • Fifth and Finally, don’t let an item you want slip away because you only made one bid, and don’t overpay because you got caught up in the heat of a bidding cycle. Decide what the gun is worth to you before you make the bid, and set a max bid of that amount. That both ensures you won’t lose it to a bid you’d have outbid if you could have, and just as importantly acts as a cold-blooded check on the tendency to bid in hot blood.  (This is just like setting abort criteria for a mission, or a pilot setting a missed approach point on an instrument approach — it has to be done in advance, in cold blood, fixed and briefed, and then adhered to rigidly).

As it happens, no one else bid on the Scout commemorative, and it was The Dad’s for the minimum bid of $550. With Fedex shipping, it came to $571. It’s enroute to him, per the Fedex tracking number.

And the Scout? He doesn’t even suspect it’s coming. Heh.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have A320s.

Anti-gun activists often argue that the “widespread availability of handguns,” is what is responsible for the nation’s suicide rate.

Funny thing: people intent on suicide seem to be able to do it, whether they have a handgun or not. So nations that have much higher suicide rates than the USA have very strict gun laws. And then, there’s this:

plane_suicide

This is not the first such case by any means. EgyptAir 990 (1999, 216 murdered), SilkAir 185 (1997, 103 murdered), LAM 470 (2013, 32 murdered), there are at least three others and nearly 700 dead just in the last couple decades.

At least some selfish poor fool shoots himself, he only kills himself. This fool killed 149 other people, too! But, he did it without a gun, and if you’re Michael Bloomberg, that’s probably a lot better.

Flashbang & Speedbump Went Shooting

On a range we know well, the two Boston Marathon bombers, the late and unlamented Tamerlan “Speedbump” Tsarnaev, and his brother Dzhokar “Flashbang” Tsarnaev, went shooting just two years ago, a few weeks before committing mass murder, according to evidence revealed in the trial of Flashbang. The Feds have posted a .pdf of their range sign-in sheets.

tamarlan_sign_card

 

They went to Manchester Firing Line on Brown Avenue in Manchester, NH on 20 March 2013, and rented two Glock pistols plus safety equipment (mandatory on the range, naturally). The two residents of militantly anti-gun, 2nd-amendment-abolitionist Massachusetts rated themselves “intermediate” skilled on handguns, although where they acquired that skill is anyone’s guess. (The following self-evaluation is Flashbang’s  Speedbump also rated himself intermediate on rifle. Note that Dzhokar lied about the “unlawful user, or addicted to,” question, according to all his friends.

dzhokar_expertise

Both brothers signed the sign-in sheets; the following is Dzhokar’s.

dzhokar_signature

They lived in Cambridge, a town that requires its own off-duty police to lock up their guns and that as a matter of policy does not issue Licenses to Carry to anyone not politically connected (an LTC is necessary to purchase, own or register a handgun in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts).

The one handgun they had was a 9mm Ruger P95, Serial Number 317-87693, which had had the numbers defaced. They probably acquired it from the Maine drug dealers ATF was able to trace it to as part of their ongoing drug business. Drug dealer Danny Sun bought the gun new from Cabela’s in Scarborough, Maine; jammed up on unrelated charges, he admitted transferring it to  Biniam “Icy” Tsegai, a fugitive from justice at the time, and one of the Somali/Ethiopian/Eritrean “refugees” that have swarmed Maine’s organized criminal activities. According to prosecutors in a related case, the gun came to Tamerlan Tsarnaev through a former classmate at Cambridge Rindge and Latin school (a school where anti-American cant is embedded in the curriculum), a career gun criminal (at 21!) named Stephen Silva.

A few months later, the demonic duo detonated two bombs built according to a plan published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. That night, they snuck up on a MIT campus cop car and shot officer Sean Collier dead from ambush, in an abortive attempt to steal his handgun. Later, they would be involved in a firefight with police in the Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan would fire some 54 rounds and the police several hundred (they were never properly accounted for, but there was mass contagious firing, almost all unaimed). Tamerlan was killed when he ran out of ammunition and threw the empty Ruger at the cops. He was being taken into custody when  Dzhokar ran him over with his own SUV (hence the nickname. “Speedbump.”). Dzhokar, for his part, was wounded in Watertown and then wounded again in a second case of contagious shooting when he was located after a long manhunt and a dragnet that paid only lip service to hundreds of years of requiring a warrant. There have been increasing incidents of criminals using public ranges. Smith & Wesson, still trying to navigate the treacherous waters of the People’s Republic, closed their pro shop range to the public after a records showed that a violent criminal had trained there.

1970s Rarity: .44 Auto Mag

Serial Number A00261, made in beautiful downtown Pasadena sometime around 1973, at a guess.

Auto Mag

This very early AutoMag is on the block at GunAuction.com. Here’s what the seller says:

AUTO-MAG, Original Pasadena model in 44 AMP caliber, all stainless with one mag. Serial number A 00261,this model is generally regard as having the most quality as all components were milled from Carpenter 455 steel stock. firearm probably has been fired but not recently due to rarity of ammo, 44 mag bullet in pictures are for size comparisons only . This firearms popularity rose from being in movies as the gun Clint Eastwood used as dirty Harry in ” Sudden Impact ” (1983)as well as Burt Reynolds in ” Malone ” in 1987.
6 1/2 ” with hard composite grips with no cracks or chips, stainless shows a few handling marks, good bore and one magazine. Must be sent to FFL,Money order preferred, shipping $ 30.00 USPS

via AUTO_MAG Original Pasadena , 44 AMP 44 AMP For Sale at GunAuction.com – 13310225.

This is a rare example of early production; most Auto Mags were probably made in the el Monte facility in the 1980s, although there were perhaps a dozen attempts to restart production. Some details look a little beat up, of the “neglected” rather than the “abused” strain of “beat up”:

Despite the description of the parts as all milled, the cocking piece there is obviously a casting.

But the muzzle crown looks good:

Many more pictures at the auction listing. It’s not a like new piece, but would probably take to a light polish well.

Several things killed the AutoMag, the first being that it was even more unwieldy and fiddly than the Smith Model 29, the second that it was far more expensive than the equivalent-capability Smith, and the last being that it used oddball ammunition that was only intermittently available. (You could, and most AutoMag shooters did, make it from .308, .30-06 or any early-20th-Century Mauser caliber rifle brass, like the 7×57 or 7.92). But the biggest limitation on a weapon like this is what we call the general problem of superlatives in weaponry.

It’s a theory we’ve been thinking about that deserves a post of its own, but we’ll start it off here:

The General Problem of Superlatives in Weaponry

Generally, the weight and size of weapons are distributed around certain imaginary centerpoints of size and of weight.. Rifles stick close to 10 pounds loaded, indeed, infantry arms do, all the way back to the Roman pilum or Macedonian sarissa. Service pistols are two to three pounds and have four to six inch barrels, whether they’re Colt 1851s, 1911s, or tomorrow’s Next Great Thing. (Smaller pistols are made for undercover use, but only so small: Compare the size and weight of the Remington 1878 .41 RF derringer, the Model 36 Chief’s Special, the Walther PPK, or today’s, say, Smith & Wesson Shield or the new Glock 43).

Yet pistols and rifles have been made much larger, and much smaller, in pursuit of superlatives. The thing is, having the biggest pistol — which the AutoMag was, when it was new — is not an unalloyed good. It’s great for Hollywood (it’s big, shiny and has attractive lines, like a lot of the impractical things, and people, in show biz). But the whole idea of a pistol is to be a handy weapon.

We’ve been thinking about this since reading the book on animal armament. Extreme weapons, whether they’re an AutoMag, a Liliput, an 18″-gun naval monitor, or the long canines of Smilodon (“saber-toothed tiger”), tend to be self-limiting for all the same reasons that a “normal” size, caliber, recoil, weight envelope of such weapons has evolved.

Developed by a rotating roster of California entrepreneurs, most of whom lost their shirts on the project, the AutoMag was an evolutionary extreme — like Smilodon, again. It came in .44 and .357 versions, both made from rifle cases, the .357 necked down. The design objective for the cartridges was to match the performance of the Model 29 in an autoloading pistol.

44ampand44magUnlike the later Desert Eagle, no attempt was made to cycle the rimmed .44 S&W Mag. round in the auto pistol. Instead, a rimless version of the cartridge was designed. The casing was a little longer, but the overall length of both cartridges was the same, meaning that the same bullet (.429″) would be seated a little more deeply in the casing. The image at right shows a .44 AMP (l). next to a .44 Magnum.

The most famous name associated with the AutoMag (apart from Clint Eastwood, who directed himself wasting corrupt cops with it as “Dirty” Harry Callahan in Magnum Force), was probably California pistolero Lee Jurras, a household name in the gun culture at the time. Probably half the Automags we’ve seen have had Jurras carved exotic-wood grips.

The AutoMag has a great trigger, and great sights (for a stainless gun; you need to soot them or something) and is a blast to shoot, and very interesting internally. The rotating bolt is lifted right out of Johnson/Stoner rifle practice, but the gun works by short recoil, the barrel and bolt housing group recoiling a bit. Takedown is with a lever à la Luger or Nambu — very easy. It is a single-action auto pistol with a right-handers’ only safety (sorry, Ian). Despite its size, the single-stack grip works for most hands — it’s easier to reach the controls than on a Beretta M9.

The barrels interchange, and that’s all required to change calibers from .44 AMP to .357 AMP or one of several wildcats developed for the gun.

The early models were reportedly more dodgy in function that later AutoMags — it’s not a GI 1911 or Glock, that’s for sure, but it’s reliable enough for the sort of non-critical tasks it gets (fun shooting and some hunting). It is difficult to scope compared to a .44 Mag revolver and shares that handgun’s problem of eating all but the sturdiest scopes; in fact, it might be worse, due to the cycling of the barrel and bolt housing group.

In some ways the AutoMag was a solution seeking a problem. It wasn’t the best for hunting, it was impractical for self-defense (unless you had the size and dress code of that other 70s product, Darth Vader), it wasn’t a target shooting gun. What it was, was a very photogenic but expensive plinker. It was a Ferrari, a BD-5J, a Donzi racing boat; if you were a teenager you were consumed with lust for it, and if you were an adult, and the lesson of your last Ferrari tuneup bill hadn’t chastened you, you bought it.

If you were a canny gun store owner, you put one in your case just for the traffic it brought in to buy Ruger Mk IIs or a box of shotshells. It’s not like it would sell quickly, but people would come just to see it, and then they’d buy what they really needed — the same role that Corvette had been playing in Chevrolet showrooms for about 30 years at the time.

Like Smilodon, the .44 AutoMag today is extinct as a product, and in both cases the cause is the same: they were maladapted for the environment of evolutionary competition. But if you’re the sort of person who would stake a Smilodon in your yard and toss it a daily goat to stay on its good side, the AutoMag just might be for you.

Breaking: Bergdahl to be Charged with Desertion

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlThe only surprise in this is not that the evidence supported charging the little crapweasel with desertion, but that anybody in the Administration, dedicated as it is to “different spanks for different ranks,” was willing to sign off on the charges.

You may recall that in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Hillary Clinton (during the initial Taliban negotiations, Secretary of State), said that desertion or not, honorable service or not, it didn’t matter.

CLINTON: [O]ne of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn’t matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.

SAWYER (in disbelief): It doesn’t matter?

CLINTON (dismissively): It doesn’t matter.

(Hat tip, Paul Bedard). Of course, given Hillary!’s long-standing disinterest in and contempt for military and foreign service personnel, that shouldn’t be a shocker. (“What difference does it make?”). Stumblebum National Security Advisor Susan Rice, fully briefed on Bergdahl’s betrayal of his mates, pronounced at the time of the swap that he, we are not making this up, “served the United States with honor and distinction.” (We admit, Rice may be using herself as a yardstick, which sets the bar limbo-low).  And the President, in words similar enough to Clinton’s to suggest deliberate messaging, said that he had “absolutely no apologies” for trading the Taliban bigs for the defector. “[W]e don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to get someone back,” on whether the individual was a hostage, a prisoner or, as in Bergdahl’s case, a deserter.

There’s a certain logic to this: their actions make clear that Obama, Clinton and Rice (not to mention junior player in this fiasco, former SecDef Chuck Hagel) don’t view a traitor any differently from any other soldier: even one like Bergdahl who got his buddies killed. In fact, they may prefer the turncoat.

Who Did We Lose for this Putz?

A former soldier who was there when Bergdahl went over the wall breaks it down at, of all places, the generally pro-Administration Daily Beast. Nathan Bethea remembers a friend’s desperate battle against insurgents who seemed to come from nowhere:

[T]he attack would not have happened had his company received its normal complement of intelligence aircraft: drones, planes, and the like. Instead, every intelligence aircraft available in theater had received new instructions: find Bergdahl. My friend blames Bergdahl for his soldiers’ deaths. I know that he is not alone, and that this was not the only instance of it. His soldiers’ names were Private First Class Aaron Fairbairn and Private First Class Justin Casillas.

Not all the casualties were so indirect. Bethea lists six more who actually died looking for the deserting crapweasel.

Though the 2009 Afghan presidential election slowed the search for Bergdahl, it did not stop it. Our battalion suffered six fatalities in a three-week period. On August 18, an IED killed Private First Class Morris Walker and Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen during a reconnaissance mission. On August 26, while conducting a search for a Taliban shadow sub-governor supposedly affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss was shot in the face and killed. On September 4, during a patrol to a village near the area in which Bergdahl vanished, an insurgent ambush killed Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews and gravely wounded Private First Class Matthew Martinek, who died of his wounds a week later. On September 5, while conducting a foot movement toward a village also thought affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey stepped on an improvised land mine. He died the next day.

Inside the Beltway, that list of names draws a shrug. Those names were mere enlisted swine and expendable junior officers, the sort of people who exist to serve, and to be disposed of, by the Beltway version of Burke’s Peerage.

Who Did We Swap for this Putz?

The five Taliban leaders released for Bergdahl have all returned to war against the USA, one way or another. They’re quite a rogue’s gallery of bad actors, the Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn called them “Five of the Most Dangerous,” which may be exaggeration, but not by much.  Several of them were wanted by the UN for war crimes, but this decision effectively amnestied them. They are:

kairkhwaKhair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa. Why do many Afghans have only one name? Is it because this weasel snapped up five? He’s not funny, though. This fine glowering face was the Ministry of the Interior for the Taliban, was a member since 1994, and was responsible for the secret police. He gave orders for the ethnic cleansing and massacres of Hazara people in central Bamiyan province, in part to get rid of the Hazaras, hated on religious and racial (the TB are Deobandi Sunni, mostly white, and the Hazaras Shia, mostly Asian).

mullah_mohammad_fazlMullah Mohammad Fazl. This scowl just shouts “gentle man of God,” doesn’t it? Well, maybe if your god is allah, and your sacraments are mass murder, slavery, and female genital mutilation, it does. He was a senior Taliban commander — some documents suggest Chief of Staff — and was responsible for integrating Al-Qaeda, Chechen, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other international terrorists into the Taliban fight against the Northern Alliance and, then, against the US-Afghan-led coalition. He also commanded mass murders of Uzbeks and other ethnic minorities before his capture in 2001.

mullah_norullah_nooriMullah Norullah Nori is another mass murderer, in his case of Uzbeks and Hazaras from his post as emir of north-central Balkh Province. There were few Pashtuns in Balkh, so Nori offered local Tajik leaders the Dari equivalent of plata o plomo; he got enough takers that he was able to use his mostly Tajik militia leaders and sub-mullahs to do the dirty work of exterminating entire villages, and driving others into exile (the Hazaras to Iran or to Bamian city where the local Hazara warlord, Khalili, was strong enough to protect them; the Uzbeks to Northern Alliance territory. Nori was taken alive by Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, and handed over to the SF team accompanying him in late 2011.

mohd_nabi_omariMohammad Nabi Omari ran the Taliban ratline through the Khyber Pass that funneled their top leaders out of harm’s way and into the safe hands of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, a Taliban sponsor from the movement’s earliest days. It is believed that he was instrumental in the escape of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden from Afghanistan into Pakistan, where both were able to plot further terrorism under the benevolent overwatch of the Pakistani service. Omari, though, waited too long to put himself through the ratline, and fell into American hands. Until his fortune fell into the hands of Americans who value the esteem of jihadis over the lives of their own servicemen — lucky for him.

abdul_haq_wasiqAbdul Haq Wasiq was one of the top men in the Taliban’s intelligence service, astride a Golgotha of torture and murder. He had a comprehensive knowledge of and involvement in  Taliban/Al-Qaeda relations. Like many Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, he was able to maintain communications with both organizations while in Guantanamo through his attorneys, supplied by the pseudo-pro-bono terrorist bar. (The attorneys are actually compensated indirectly by Gulf terror sponsors for wink-and-nod “legal work”).

Now we find ourselves waiting for a court-martial of a guy who gave his best shot at changing sides, only to find his best shot wasn’t good enough to do more than irritate anybody — except, of course, for the eight-plus men who died because of his betrayal. The whole clown circus will be assembling in the center ring soon. Look for the pro bono lawyers, driven by terror-financier cash under the table, or by simple self-aggrandizement. There will be camera-hounds, and cameras aplenty for them to hound. There will be TV “journalists,” blow-dried coifs over empty skulls, wondering If The Boy Hasn’t Suffered Enough. And worst of all, this craven bugout will not be facing the honest end that Eddie Slovik earned in WWII. They’ve already promised not to execute him, no matter what.

Gee, how humanitarian. 

There’s a probably bogus statistic rolling around, that says that 22 GWOT veterans kill themselves every day, week, fortnight, or some other interval. It’s probably a bogus statistic, derived by the usual media mathematic method of anal extraction, but there are some veterans who do off themselves.

What a crying shame that Bergdahl couldn’t be one.

No, this is not what police are for!

A frustrated Dad wanted his local cops to act like this towards his kid. The cops, sensibly, decided they wouldn't.

A frustrated Dad wanted his local cops to act like this towards his disobedient kid. The cops, sensibly, decided they wouldn’t. (The cartoon appears to be from a prison publication. No surprise that criminals have this view of cops).

The Norman Rockwell view of town cops apparently is in eclipse. Some people think they’re scary. Some people even think that makes them usefulwhen you need to intimidate someone. In fact, in rural NH, one father took the old, “Let government do it,” mantra to unheard-of heights:

The father showed up at the station Saturday afternoon with his son and explained how the boy doesn’t like to listen to him.

At one point, the man asked officer Donald Ross if he would “scare him straight.”
Ross refused to fulfill the request.

“I advised him I would not and that it was his job as a parent to scold and discipline his child for his actions,” Ross wrote in the police logs.

Epping Police Chief Michael Wallace said he’s concerned about the message parents are sending to their children, insisting that police aren’t in the business of intimidating kids.

“Although we can appreciate someone bringing their child to the police department to talk to them and we will always make the effort to talk to them, we’re not here to scare and intimidate the child,” he said.

Wallace said police will take every opportunity to “counsel them and guide them and make sure they make the correct decisions going forward.”

As bizarre as this case sounds, it wasn’t a one-off. It wasn’t even a one-off these last couple of weeks!

In fact, last week a mother came to the police department because she reported that her 10-year-old son was upset and out of control after she told him he couldn’t get an airsoft (pellet) gun.

In that case, the officer spoke with the boy and explained why his mother wouldn’t let him have the gun. The boy was receptive and left the station with his mother after he calmed down.

But Wallace said asking police to “scare” kids isn’t a good approach.

via Epping officer refuses to ‘scare’ boy brought into station by dad | New Hampshire.

We could sort of see doing something like this if the cop is your buddy… the kid is a real pain in the neck… and maybe if the cop’s the size of Mark Richardson, too. But there are 100 ways for this to end badly, and not that many ways for it to end well, except the way that Chief Wallace has his officers handling it: “Sorry, sir/ma’am, bringing up your kid is not our department.”

If you really screw up raising the kid, then the police will be there for him. And the courts, and the department of corrections. This is nothing new.

But parents asking for help from the authorities, probably is. Can you see Paternicus Romanicus taking his posterity, Punknius Junior, down to the slave galleys and asking them to give him a couple laps around the Aegean to see if he likes the criminal lifestyle after all?

Us neither.

The Instant that Ended a Police Career

In his entertaining narrative of the early US Space Program, The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe writes that, while The Right Stuff couldn’t be precisely defined, you knew who had it — and who lost it. “It could blow at any seam,” Wolfe wrote.

A career in the police or military is kind of like that. While some golden calves get more top cover from leadership than is good for the organization or the nation, for the average guy or gal, it approaches a zero-defects environment. One good screwup — the kind of thing that’s a Major Minus Spot Report in Ranger School, outside the school environment — and the effort you’ve put into your career to date is an irrecoverable sunk cost. This is the story of a patrolman whose single, understandable act of temper ended his and several other careers.

In the denouement of a case we discussed last year, a fired policeman who bounced a mouthy suspect off the wall a couple of times is sitting with a tough decision many who are not policemen face: take a plea and jail sentence, or risk a jury or bench trial and a longer sentence for something that you definitely did?

Nobody knows which way former Seabrook, NH officer Mark Richardson will decide, probably not even Richardson, at this point. It’s a true dilemma.

At first, Richardson got away with the Veteran’s Day, 2009, assault, but in 2014 the victim’s lawyer got hold of the police station surveillance video and the victim put it on YouTube. Reaction was swift: Richardson and an officer who pepper-sprayed the victim after he was down were fired by Chief Lee Bitomski, and two supervisors who falsified records to hide the assault rocketed back down to Patrolman. Here’s the video. Richardson is the big guy (he’s about 6’7″; the suspect weighs about 140 lb, IIRC, roughly half Richardson’s weight):

Anti-cop activists went wild with the video, making it a key scene in the refrain of a rap video, “This is what happens when you call the cops.” (Actually, what happens when you call the cops is that the cops come, which can be good or bad. At a minimum, it’s a good time to lock your poodle in the basement). Here’s that video, you’ll recognize the Seabrook footage when it comes up:

The court raised the stakes for Richardson by handing him the plea in the same session in which it passed sentence on another cop for an unrelated, and less violent, assault. That guy will spend a month in the jug and 11 more on an ankle bracelet, assuming good behavior.  The nine-month sentence Richardson has been offered is likely going to be served the same way, but he can’t know that before he makes his decision.

There’s scant sympathy here for the suspect/assault victim, a crumb who was spitting at cops, except for this: no one deserves to be beaten by police, and as a society you can’t let police get away with it. The officer was, at once, creative in using the wall as a weapon (remember, everything is a potential weapon if you let your imagination free), and tragically mistaken to lose his cool with a mouthy crumb of a suspect. Is that sphincter muscle worth losing a job over? Worth going to jail for?

We believe NH is the only state in the country that makes assault by police a specific crime. The legal theory is that it helps to hold Granite State police to a higher standard than mere citizens. The immediate fact is that it leaves Mr Richardson with a tough decision. But the dilemma was of his own making.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Strategika

strategikaStrategika is a new-ish policy magazine published by the center-right Hoover Institution on, well, strategy.

Now, writers on strategy come in many varieties, most of whom do not impress. There are the board-gaming nerds (Strategy Page); the born-on-third-base journalists who assume the Airport Marriott bar is the country (Foreign Policy, and anything where Tom Ricks appears); and the pointy-headed academics, veterans to a man of Operation Ivory Tower: The Battle for Tenure. None of them has any material hands-on where the foreign-policy theory meets the real-world practice.

There’s some of that in Strategika and at Hoover, too, of course; it’s a branch of Stanford, which is as firmly fixed within the borders of Ivorytowerstan as any place on Earth. But it is populated by a who’s who of right-leaning academics and pundits, including (unlike its center-left competitors at, say Brookings) many experienced military men. For example, in the 18th March issue, an interesting mix including: Max Boot, Angelo Codevilla, Paul Gregory, Victor Hanson, Fred Kagan, Pete Mansoor, Jim Mattis, and Ralph Peters, address the practical question:

What additional future steps should the United States and Europe take, if any at all, to counter Russian ambitions?

via Strategika | Hoover Institution.

Each of those men writes an essay of considerable size and weight on the subject.

It is a timely report. Foreign Policy writes of Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk begging for weapons in the USA (so far, he’s getting blown off). And in the Washinton Post’s Volokh Conspiracy law blog, Ilya Somin aggregates recent reports from the Crimea. The re-ethnic-cleansing of the Crimean Tatars, a renewal of a brutal and inhumane policy pioneered by Vlafimir Vladimorovich’s role model, Josef Vissarionovich, is grim news. Amnesty International and the Russian Presidential Council on Civil Society & Human Rights(!) have also reported on the human rights lapses in Russian-occupied Crimea. (The report mentioned in the Amnesty press release is here).

 

Now, as long as we have President Chamberlain on the case, none of these prescriptions will be taken. They do have potential, in that they will be read by foreign policy thinkers, who may or may not influence policy after the 2016 elections, but until then, Vladimir Vladimirovich and his little green men have a free hand.

Shooting Went Well, We Joined the Range

plastic_targets_fig_fmIt’s an hour drive (hey, you Westerners, before you start telling us how far away your range is, remember we’re in New Hampster, where everything is in everything else’s pocket, and the map usually has a call-out for the NH line, like all the other snack-sized states in the Northeast.

Anyway, the range is Granite State in Hudson. We could tell it’s near the end of the month from the sheer quantity of Staties out harvesting speeders on Highway 101. We like it better than our old indoor ranges, Bob’s (which is in MA, and therefore a non-starter with NFA stuff) and Manchester FIring Line (a similar set-up to Granite State, which is new). We were previously members at Manchester but very seldom saddled up and went. We have bought a life membership in Granite State, so we hope to shoot more in future winters. We also belong to a local fish and game club that has outdoor ranges.

Still, we have to doff our cap to Manchester Firing Line for this note-perfect FAQ entry:

20. May I shoot two guns at the same time, like I see in movies?

No. The gun-handling that you typically see in movies is unrealistic and unsafe, and we do not allow it here.

Amen.

And at the Firing Line, the owner’s impressive (really) Class 3 collection is on display.  But they can be standoffish sometimes. (Not always, mind; they can be great, too). Still, at Granite State, one of the staff, John, had a father who was in 10th Group when we were in that unit in the 1980s. Another staffer is a guy who hooked us up with some 416 mags when those were hard to find, years ago. And Granite State has the nice lounge where we can plan, brief, and later, debrief a shooting session. All in all, we liked Granite State better.

That’s the Where. But What did we shoot?

Our mission today was threefold, with a fourth “extra”:

  1. Do a little pistol shooting with the M9 (actually a commercial 92FS, but near as dammit to an M9);
  2. Check Kid’s first AR lower build for function (we attached it to a proven and zeroed 16″ upper with an M68 CCO on it);
  3. Check the M4 SBR (the Afghan build gun) for function and perhaps sight it in.
  4. Function check some Magpul PMags that had been sitting around in their wrappers for a couple of years.

Goal was to fire no more than 100 rounds of 9mm ball and 200 rounds of M193. (Granite State has a restriction on steel-penetrator rounds). We didn’t even fire all the 5.56. We shot till we were ready to move on and enjoyed the ride home.

Kid shot very well with the Beretta. (Why did we choose the Beretta, and not the CZ or the Glock? Spare mags. We knew the Beretta had its three factory mags in the case; and the other handgun mags are “God knows where.” We gotta get a Job Box or something like that for mag storage). In fact, he shot better than we did. And one of the range staff gave him some light coaching, and he shot better. (He’s the Ex’s kid, not ours. We wish he was ours — he’s that kind of young man).

The Beretta, though, put him through a number of malf drills. It has never jammed before but it is a relatively recent one with all the cheesy plastic and pot-metal MIM parts.

Conversely, both of the ARs ran like they’re supposed to. Zero malfunctions. Likewise, no squawks on the PMags. Kid enjoyed firing his own build. It wasn’t necessary to adjust the zero of the new Colt SBR; it seems to have been adjusted, if it needed to be, at the factory.

Bottom Line:

We had fun, we converted money into noise and small holes in paper, we learned what we went to learn, and did we mention we had plenty of fun?