AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 7 Comments

There are a lot of articles and discussion forum threads on barrel twist rate for AR-15s.  So why am I writing one?  Well, some of the information on the web is very wrong.  Additionally, this closes out comment threads we've had here touching on this topic, EMail exchanges I've had with readers, and personal conversations I've had with shooters and friends about this subject.  It's natural to put this down in case anyone else can benefit from the information.  Or you may not benefit at…… [read more]

The British Flight from Basra

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

In Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement, we pointed out that the British had essentially been militarily defeated in Basra.

Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of The Times of London recently returned from a visit to Basra, his first since 2003. He says in 2003, British soldiers were on foot patrol, drove through town in unarmored vehicles and fished in the waters of the Shaat al Arab on their days off. He says the changes he saw four years later are enormous.

“Nowadays all troop movement in and out of the city are conducted at night by helicopter because it’s been deemed too dangerous to go on the road and its dangerous to fly choppers during the day,

Iranians Proud to be Terrorists

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

The U.S. administration intends to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (or perhaps better known as the Quds force) as a specially designated global terrorist group.  “The designation of the Revolutionary Guard will be made under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to obstruct terrorist funding. It authorizes the United States to identify individuals, businesses, charities and extremist groups engaged in terrorist activities.”

Ralph Peters adds that “The real reason for the move is to set up a legal basis for airstrikes or special operations raids on the Guard’s bases in Iran.  Our policy is that we reserve the right to whack terrorists anywhere in the world. Now we have newly designated terrorists. And we know exactly where they are.”  Of course as Michael Ledeen points out, the Quds force is a terrorist organization simply because they are an arm of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terror.

The only real mystery is why anyone in the government felt that it was necessary to have a formal decision to declare the IRGC a bunch of terrorists. I guess that would be the lawyers, for whom it wasn’t sufficient to know that the entire Islamic Republic had been branded a sponsor of terrorism, and hence (a normal person would say) any part of it is ipso facto culpable of terrorist activity, and it’s particularly true of the IRGC, which directly kills people, both inside and outside Iran.

And indeed, the Iranians are proud of it.  A more preening, arrogant, self-important dance-strut is hard to imagine.  Think end-zone dance during a football game.  This is the picture of the “Holy Man” of Iran dancing to the sound that the U.S. declares his nation’s special forces to be a terrorist organization.

Provisional Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran said here Friday the US decision to include the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in the list of international terrorist organizations is another golden page in the IRGC’s history.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami added, “As in the nuclear case, the Iranian nation and government would never leave alone their revolutionary offsprings.”

Two leading US dailies, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported in their Wednesday edition about US officials intention to survey adding the name of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to the list of the international organs involved in terrorist acts.

According to IRNA Political Desk reporter, Ayatollah Khatami in his second sermon, addressed to thousands of Tehrani worshipers at central campus of Tehran University, congratulated the IRGC on blessed birth anniversary of the Third Shi’a Imam, Husain ibn Ali (PBUH), that is marked as the Islamic Guards Day.

He said, “The IRGC has truly shined well during the 28-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, both in confronting foreign enemies and foiling domestic plots.”

Khatami said, “Among the prides of the IRGC we can refer to the late founder of the Islamic Republic’s words about the Guard Corps, where he said he was pleased with the IRGC, and that he would never think negatively about them.

He added, “The late Imam also said that there would have been no Islamic Republic of Iran if there were no IRGC; I love the IRGC very dearly; My entire hope lies in IRGC’s conduct;” and “There is nothing in the records of the IRGC, save serving Islam.”

Ayatollah Khatami said, “Therefore, the US State Department’s decision to include IRGC in its list of world terror organs is merely another golden point in the records of IRGC pride.

A senior Iranian cleric also warns the U.S. not to pick on the Guards. ““Americans should know that in this field, as with nuclear energy, they are dealing with the whole nation. And the great nation of Iran will never abandon its revolutionary people,

Accolades for the Marines

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

The U.S. Navy Secretary recently had praise for the Marines and their efforts in Anbar.

U.S. Marines have achieved “very significant results” in restoring security in western Iraq by engaging with locals, U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter said Wednesday.

Winter, who also oversees the U.S. Marine Corps, said an example of success in Iraq was western Anbar province, where U.S. Marines have principal responsibility for security.

“I think that we’ve seen a great lessening of tension there, reduced attacks, and a general support of the coalition efforts to provide peace in the region,” Winter told reporters in the Australian capital, where he held discussions with local defense officials.

“And we just hope that that is replicated throughout the rest of Iraq,” he added.

Asked if the cited progress in Anbar was evidence that the deployment of more U.S. troops was working, Winter replied: “I think in Al Anbar, we’ve seen some very significant and positive results.

“I think it’s a positive indication. I’m not sure to what extent we can use that as totally exemplary of what’s occurring in all areas of Iraq, because I’m not sure it totally represents the situation elsewhere.”

Winter said Marines had been focussing in recent months on “engagement with the local population, and I think that that has helped very significantly.”

The only thing as tough as a Marine infantry company is another Marine infantry company.  Only the Marines could have done this in Anbar.  Consider the situation.  Al Anbar had a more dense activity of terrorism than any place on earth in 2004 when the Marines took over responsibility.  Further, the indigenous insurgency upon which the terrorism was superimposed made the fight more local and near to the hearts of the people of Anbar than it otherwise would have been if the fight had only been against foreign fighters.  Yet within three years Anbar is relatively safe compared to other parts of Iraq, and this might have been shorter if not for various political decisions that hampered the military effort.  In a professional military academic climate that claims that counterinsurgency is supposed to take ten years, the Marines have beaten that benchmark by seven.

As we have observed earlier:

The coup is not merely that the tribal chiefs and their people are cooperating with U.S. forces.  It is larger than that.  The coup is that the insurgency, properly defined as indigenous fighters rather than terrorists and foreign fighters – those who were previously pointing a gun towards U.S. troops – are now pointing them at the terrorists.  Not only have many of them made peace with the U.S., but in a development just as important, the U.S. forces have made peace with them.  This has been accomplished with the new difficulty introduced by globalization (foreign fighters), and the new difficulty introduced by religious fanaticism (suicide bombers), and the new difficulty introduced by technology (stand off weapons such as roadside bombs).  This is a counterinsurgency tour de force, and as time judges this victory it will take its rightful place in the great military campaigns of world history.

While the Marines have won a military victory in Anbar, there are always the political and bureaucratic problems that threaten to unravel the situation that the Marines have worked so hard to repair (see How to Lose in Iraq).

Secretary Winter concludes the discussion with welcome words for those of us who have covered rules of engagement.  Says Winter:

U.S. personnel could not be taken captive by Iranian forces if there was a repeat of a clash in the Arabian Gulf in March in which 15 British sailors and marines were held for almost two weeks for allegedly straying into Iranian waters.

“We think we’d be able to deal with any situation that would present itself,” Winter said without elaborating.

Just so.  No elaboration is necessary.  We know what you mean, and so do the Iranians.

How to Lose in Iraq: Inconsistent and Inequitable Policy

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

In Al Qaeda, Indigenous Sunnis and the Insurgency in Iraq, we discussed the two-step process by which the United States Marines have prevailed in the Anbar province.  First, they have substantially militarily defeated both the terrorists and the indigenous insurgency.  Second, upon recognition of this and settling with the enemy, U.S. forces have actually made military use of the erstwhile insurgents for both intelligence and kinetic operations against the remaining terrorist and insurgent elements.  It has been observed that  “Americans learned a basic lesson of warfare here: that Iraqis, bludgeoned for 24 years by Saddam’s terror, are wary of rising against any force, however brutal, until it is in retreat. In Anbar, Sunni extremists were the dominant force, with near-total popular support or acquiescence, until the offensive broke their power.”

Having militarily lost, and seeking a place in the new government, the tide has turned against the terrorists, as we observed in The Counterinsurgency Campaign in Anbar Expands.  ““This is much less about al-Qaeda overstepping than about them [Sunnis] realizing that they’ve lost,

Danger Signs in Shi’ite Country

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

Courtesy of John Robb’s Global Guerrillas, William Lind tells us why the U.S. forces should not replace a “war with the Iraqi Sunnis with a war against the Shi’ites.”

If we replace a war against Iraqis Sunnis with a war against the Shiites, we will not only have suffered a serious, self-inflicted operational defeat, we will endanger our whole position in Iraq, since our supply lines mostly run through Shiite country.

I say such a defeat would be self-inflicted because Shiite attacks on Americans in Baghdad seem to be responses to American actions. In dealing with the Shiites, we appear to be doing what spurred the growth of the Sunni insurgency, i.e., raids, air strikes and a “kill or capture” policy directed against local Shiite leaders. Not only does this lead to retaliation, it also fractures Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army as he tries to avoid fighting us. Such fracturing works against, not for, the potential re-creation of an Iraqi state.

Notwithstanding whatever contributions William Lind has made to this field of theory, these warnings are not only based on misconception, but they also betray a lack of clear thought on the matters at hand.

As my friend Michael Ledeen is quick to point out (and has so many times to me), air raids and “kill or capture” policy didn’t spur the growth of the insurgency.  Insurgencies are not born, and the Iraqi insurgency didn’t have a birthplace called Fallujah.  They are planned, and the Iraqi insurgency was planned and crafted before the war began in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran (and possibly Riyadh).

We have covered rules of engagement quite thoroughly at The Captain’s Journal, the most recent of which was an article entitled Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement (which bears re-studying at this point to remind the reader about the situation in Basra after three years of the presence of the British and their ‘soft’ rules of engagement).  For all of those ‘professionals’ who claim that the U.S. ROE have caused halting progress in the pacification of Iraq, it warrants serious, quiet and pensive reflection that Anbar is all but pacified and Basra is currently a calamity, having been utterly lost to the various factions of the Shia militia.

In Rise of the JAM, we covered the the current danger the Jaish al Mahdi pose to the security of Iraq, and cite Omar Fadhil on the danger Moqtada al Sadr poses to the political stability and infrastructure of the country.  This is a clear and present danger, not one that awaits heavy handed U.S. rules of engagement.

Contrary to Lind’s short-sighted and hand-wringing assessment, the U.S. will choose to deal a blow to the JAM and thereby allow reconciliation among the more peaceful of the population, or it will cower to the arrogant, undisciplined teenagers roaming the streets as thugs and criminals, taking and harming whatever and whomever they wish.  The first choice means stability and security for Iraq.  The second means a complete, chaotic disaster.

Danger Signs in Shi’ite Country

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

Courtesy of John Robb’s Global Guerrillas, William Lind tells us why the U.S. forces should not replace a “war with the Iraqi Sunnis with a war against the Shi’ites.”

If we replace a war against Iraqis Sunnis with a war against the Shiites, we will not only have suffered a serious, self-inflicted operational defeat, we will endanger our whole position in Iraq, since our supply lines mostly run through Shiite country.

I say such a defeat would be self-inflicted because Shiite attacks on Americans in Baghdad seem to be responses to American actions. In dealing with the Shiites, we appear to be doing what spurred the growth of the Sunni insurgency, i.e., raids, air strikes and a “kill or capture” policy directed against local Shiite leaders. Not only does this lead to retaliation, it also fractures Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army as he tries to avoid fighting us. Such fracturing works against, not for, the potential re-creation of an Iraqi state.

Notwithstanding whatever contributions William Lind has made to this field of theory, these warnings are not only based on misconception, but they also betray a lack of clear thought on the matters at hand.

As my friend Michael Ledeen is quick to point out (and has so many times to me), air raids and “kill or capture” policy didn’t spur the growth of the insurgency.  Insurgencies are not born, and the Iraqi insurgency didn’t have a birthplace called Fallujah.  They are planned, and the Iraqi insurgency was planned and crafted before the war began in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran (and possibly Riyadh).

We have covered rules of engagement quite thoroughly at The Captain’s Journal, the most recent of which was an article entitled Calamity in Basra and British Rules of Engagement (which bears re-studying at this point to remind the reader about the situation in Basra after three years of the presence of the British and their ‘soft’ rules of engagement).  For all of those ‘professionals’ who claim that the U.S. ROE have caused halting progress in the pacification of Iraq, it warrants serious, quiet and pensive reflection that Anbar is all but pacified and Basra is currently a calamity, having been utterly lost to the various factions of the Shia militia.

In Rise of the JAM, we covered the the current danger the Jaish al Mahdi pose to the security of Iraq, and cite Omar Fadhil on the danger Moqtada al Sadr poses to the political stability and infrastructure of the country.  This is a clear and present danger, not one that awaits heavy handed U.S. rules of engagement.

Contrary to Lind’s short-sighted and hand-wringing assessment, the U.S. will choose to deal a blow to the JAM and thereby allow reconciliation among the more peaceful of the population, or it will cower to the arrogant, undisciplined teenagers roaming the streets as thugs and criminals, taking and harming whatever and whomever they wish.  The first choice means stability and security for Iraq.  The second means a complete, chaotic disaster.

The Rise of the JAM

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

Jaish al Mahdi (JAM) essentially had its beginnings in June of 2003.  Since then, they have grown, developed and embedded themselves into Iraqi Shi’ite culture more efficiently than the mafiosi, and their thugery, control and violence is rivaled only by their analogue in Lebanon, the Hezbollah.

A Muslim imam dropped his cloak to the sidewalk. It was a signal for the gunmen to move.

They surrounded the top Iraqi security official in a north Baghdad district. Iraqi military vehicles – commandeered by other Shiite militiamen – screeched into a cordon, blocking his exit. A gun was put to his head.

Brig. Gen. Falah Hassan Kanbar, a fellow Shiite, managed to escape when his bodyguards pulled him into a vehicle that sped down an alley.

Details of the Aug. 5 ambush emerged this week in interviews with Kanbar, U.S. military and intelligence officials. It remains unclear whether the thugs sought to kill Kanbar or simply intimidate him, but suspicions over the source of the brazen assault pointed in just one direction: the powerful Shiite armed faction known as the Mahdi Army and its increasingly unpredictable trajectory.

The vast Mahdi network – ranging from hardcore fighting units to community aid groups – is emerging as perhaps the biggest wild card as Iraq’s U.S.-backed government stumbles and the Pentagon struggles to build a credible Iraqi security force to allow an eventual U.S. withdrawal.

Just a few months ago, the Mahdi Army and its leader, firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, were seen as reluctant – but critical – partners with Iraq’s leadership. Al-Sadr agreed to government appeals to lessen his anti-American fervor and not directly challenge the waves of U.S. soldiers trying to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

But now, the once-cohesive ranks of the Mahdi Army are splintering into rival factions with widely varying priorities.

Some breakaway guerrillas are accused by Washington of strengthening ties with Iranian patrons supplying parts for powerful roadside bombs – which accounted for nearly three-quarters of U.S. military deaths and injuries last month. The devices suggest that Shiite militias could replace Sunni insurgents as the top threat to American troops.

Other Mahdi loyalists are seeking to expand their footholds in the Iraqi military and police, frustrating U.S. attempts to bring more Sunni Muslims into the forces as part of national reconciliation goals.

And in many Shiite strongholds across Iraq, Mahdi crews are trying to shore up their power and influence. The pace has picked up with the sense that the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government could be irrevocably damaged after political mutinies by Sunni and Shiite Cabinet ministers.

The Mahdi Army, meanwhile, appears to be going through its own leadership crisis. Al-Sadr has been unable to rein in the renegade Mahdi factions. On Friday, a U.S. military commander said al-Sadr had returned to Iran, where he spent several months earlier this year. Al-Sadr’s top aides called the claim baseless.

But there is no dispute that Mahdi Army operatives are busy planning for the future.

The militia is working behind-the-scenes to solidify control of rent markets, fuel distribution and other services in Shiite neighborhoods – taking a page from other influential groups across the region, such as Hezbollah, that have mixed militia muscle and social outreach.

The JAM uses force to control the supply of ice in Baghdad, a non-trivial thing at this time of year.

Each day before the midsummer sun rises high enough to bake blood on concrete, Baghdad’s underclass lines up outside Dickensian ice factories.

With electricity reaching most homes for just a couple of hours each day, the poor hand over soiled brown dinars for what has become a symbol of Iraq’s steady descent into a more primitive era and its broken covenant with leaders, domestic and foreign. In a capital that was once the seat of the Islamic Caliphate and a center of Arab worldliness, ice is now a currency of last resort for the poor, subject to sectarian horrors and gangland rules.

In Shiite-majority Topci, icemakers say that Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army militia issued a diktat on the first day of summer ordering vendors to set a price ceiling of 4,000 dinars, or $3, per 25-kilogram, or 55-pound, block of ice – 30 percent less than they charge in areas outside Mahdi army control.

Everyone complied, delivering an instant subsidy to the veiled women and poor laborers who are the radical Shiite cleric’s natural constituency. The same price is enforced in his other power bases, like Sadr City.

We have discussed both the counterinsurgency victory by the Marines in the Anbar province, as well as the expansion of this model into other areas of Iraq (e.g., the Diyala province).  Some senior military officers are advocating the position that the Shi’ite militias have replaced al Qaeda as the most significant threat.  “The longer-term threat to Iraq is potentially the Shiite militias.”  In addition to Sadr’s army, there is another with which to contend, perhaps even more deeply embedded into Iraqi culture and with deeper roots and history.

The two largest militias, Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, are tied to prominent Iraqi families whose rivalries date back generations. Both militias have infiltrated the security forces.

Badr, which has never openly battled American forces, generally gets credit for being the more astute player of the two. “The Badr corps understood the game from the beginning and incorporated itself into the security forces,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.

A senior U.S. military official described American support for Badr — an Iranian-funded organization that many think still conducts targeted assassinations — as the only option since many of its members have been absorbed into the Iraqi security forces.

“Badr has decided to join the government, and they gave up their weapons and became part of the state,” the senior military official said.

Note the excuses and unwillingness to excise the Badr corp from the ISF.  But these main stream media reports about the JAM splintering, while having a kernel of truth, are probably exaggerated.  Omar Fadhil has noted the power of Moqtada al Sadr.  “While Al-Qaeda poses a serious security challenge in some provinces, Sadr threatens the future of the whole country. He can paralyze or disrupt the proper functioning of whole ministries and provinces.

Doraville ain’t what it used to be!

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

In 1974 the Atlanta Rhythm Section (known to fans as ARS) released a cut called “Doraville.”  Do you remember ARS — the sophisticated southern rock style, up tempo tunes and silky smooth vocals?  Do you remember Doraville?  “… touch o’ country in the city, Doraville, it ain’t much but its home.  Friends of mine, say I oughta move to New York.  Well New York’s fine, but it ain’t Doraville.”  If not, here is a teaser:

Doraville

It appears that Doraville ain’t New York, and it also ain’t what it used to be.

A small-town Georgia police chief who left to face enemy fire in Iraq only to return and be fired by town officials got his job back Wednesday, thanks to an angry mayor.

Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins deemed his council’s recent vote to oust Police Chief John King contrary to state and federal laws and put the chief back on the job.

“I support him 100 percent,” Jenkins told FOXNews.com. “The community is really upset and disturbed. I am trying to get it under control.”

King, a colonel with the Army National Guard, came under fire by council members who were upset after he was sent to Iraq, calling him a part-time police chief. Doraville is about 16 miles outside of Atlanta with about 15,000 residents, King said.

“Apparently they feel it takes away from my effectiveness as police chief,” King said. “I think my service to my country has made me a better chief.”

One of the three members who voted to fire King, Bob Spangler, said his vote was not personal. Ed Lowe and Tom Hart also voted against King.

“The City of Doraville must have a fair, honest and present Chief of Police. As a City Council Representative, it is my responsibility to ensure that happens. While some are attempting to spin our decision as personal, I assure you it was based on solid facts,

Doraville ain’t what it used to be!

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

In 1974 the Atlanta Rhythm Section (known to fans as ARS) released a cut called “Doraville.”  Do you remember ARS — the sophisticated southern rock style, up tempo tunes and silky smooth vocals?  Do you remember Doraville?  “… touch o’ country in the city, Doraville, it ain’t much but its home.  Friends of mine, say I oughta move to New York.  Well New York’s fine, but it ain’t Doraville.”  If not, here is a teaser:

Doraville

It appears that Doraville ain’t New York, and it also ain’t what it used to be.

A small-town Georgia police chief who left to face enemy fire in Iraq only to return and be fired by town officials got his job back Wednesday, thanks to an angry mayor.

Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins deemed his council’s recent vote to oust Police Chief John King contrary to state and federal laws and put the chief back on the job.

“I support him 100 percent,” Jenkins told FOXNews.com. “The community is really upset and disturbed. I am trying to get it under control.”

King, a colonel with the Army National Guard, came under fire by council members who were upset after he was sent to Iraq, calling him a part-time police chief. Doraville is about 16 miles outside of Atlanta with about 15,000 residents, King said.

“Apparently they feel it takes away from my effectiveness as police chief,” King said. “I think my service to my country has made me a better chief.”

One of the three members who voted to fire King, Bob Spangler, said his vote was not personal. Ed Lowe and Tom Hart also voted against King.

“The City of Doraville must have a fair, honest and present Chief of Police. As a City Council Representative, it is my responsibility to ensure that happens. While some are attempting to spin our decision as personal, I assure you it was based on solid facts,

The Counterinsurgency Campaign in Anbar Expands

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

In Al Qaeda, Indigenous Sunnis and the Insurgency in Iraq, we outlined a schema for the insurgency in the Anbar Province in which, in spite of the use of the term al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) or al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as a surrogate for the combination of the insurgency, terrorist elements, foreign fighters and criminals, we showed that the insurgency was primarily indigenous Sunnis.  To be sure, there are these other elements, and their presence has made the counterinsurgency more difficult.

The presence of terrorist elements and global and religiously motivated fighters – who do not wish to provide governance or welfare for the people – has caused the necessity to militarily defeat the terrorists while at the same time defeating the insurgents and providing for the security of the people.  It was ultimately and finally necessary to settle with the insurgency (not the terrorists), and so the twists and turns of this strategy involved hard and lengthy negotiations (over several deployments of Marines) with the insurgency to effect their reintegration into Iraqi culture and society.  This all constituted the greatest counterinsurgency campaign in history.  Surely, it is a victory that was fraught with problems and obstacles never seen before in history.  And while saying that a significant part of the battle was with fighters other than AQI carries heavy political baggage in the U.S., it doesn’t make the assertion false.  In fact, recognition of this fact only serves to fill out the almost incredible picture of the campaign the U.S. Marines have waged in Anbar.

The so-called “Anbar Awakening


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