AR-15 Ammunition And Barrel Twist Rate

Herschel Smith · 19 Feb 2017 · 5 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]

Reorganizations and Defections Within the Insurgency in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

In Iraq: al Qaeda’s Quagmire, we noted that al Qaeda in Iraq had lost one of its few remaining allies in Iraq, Asaeb al-Iraq al-Jihadiya, or “the Iraqi Jihad Union,” due to pointless violence perpetrated on them by elements affiliated with al Qaeda in the Diyala province.  These jihadists are similar in nature to Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia in that violence doesn’t have to be directed or meaningful, per se.  It only has to intimidate.  Those who suffer in its wake are fodder for a power grab.  But it always has unintended consequences, and has never won the long term struggle for the soul of a population.

There are reorganizations within both the indigenous insurgency and foreign terrorists, partly to avoid the appearance of affiliation with al Qaeda, and partly because the typical response to a losing strategy is usually to reorganize.

Six main Iraqi insurgent groups announced the formation of a “political council” aimed at “liberating” Iraq from U.S. occupation in a video aired Thursday on Al-Jazeera television.

The council appeared to be a new attempt to assert the leadership of the groups, which have moved to distance themselves from another coalition of insurgent factions led by al-Qaida in Iraq.

In the video aired on Al-Jazeera, a man identified as the council’s spokesman — wearing traditional Iraqi garb, with his face blacked out — announced the council’s formation and a “political program to liberate Iraq.”

He said the program was based on two principles.

“First, the occupation is an oppression and aggression, rejected by Islamic Sharia law and tradition. Resistance of occupation is a right guaranteed by all religions and laws,” he said. “Second, the armed resistance … is the legitimate representative of Iraq. It is the one that bears responsibility for the leadership of the people to achieve its legitimate hope.”

The groups forming the council include the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Mujahideen Army, Ansar al-Sunna, the Fatiheen Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (Jami) and the Islamic Movement of Hamas-Iraq.

The step could be a bid by the insurgents for a more cohesive political voice at a time of considerable rearrangement among Sunni insurgent groups and Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority.

Splinter factions of two insurgent groups, the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Mujahideen Army, have cooperated with U.S. forces in fighting insurgents allied to al-Qaida in Iraq.

Earlier this year, other groups — the Islamic Army of Iraq, the main faction of the Mujahideen Army, a branch of Ansar al-Sunna and the Fatiheen Army — formed a coalition called the Jihad and Reform Front opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq, though they have continued attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The context of this reorganization is complicated.  In Al Qaeda, Indigenous Sunnis and the Insurgency in Iraq, I argued that while foreign terrorists were a signficant force within Iraq, they didn’t constitute the majority of insurgents; rather indigenous Iraqis constituted the majority of the insurgency (albeit some of which was under the leadership of foreign elements).  I further argued that U.S. forces were waging a double war: (1) a war of counterterrorism against foreign elements (partly led by al Qaeda), and (2) a classical counterinsurgency.

Bill Ardolino was recently in Fallujah, and used the opportunity to interview a Fallujan translator for the U.S. forces.

INDC: When I speak to Fallujans, many say that it was all outsiders causing the insurgency, but a lot of it was certainly driven by locals. What portion of the insurgency was really local? Most of it?

Leo: Yes.

INDC: So why are people afraid to say, “Yeah, we used to fight the Americans?

The Logic of General Sanchez

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

Lt. Gen. Sanchez, the erstwhile commander of forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, has come out swinging at just about everyone concerning the campaign in Iraq.

Continuing changes to military strategy alone will not achieve victory, rather it will only “stave off defeat,

Marines or State Department: Who Does Afghanistan?

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

Could the Marines be headed to Afghanistan?

The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.

The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders. While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces.

As described by officials who had been briefed on the closed-door discussion, the idea represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge since the White House last month endorsed a plan to begin gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq, but also signals that American forces likely will be in Iraq for years to come.

At the moment, there are no major Marine units among the 26,000 or so American forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq there are about 25,000 marines among the 160,000 American troops there.

Let’s switch gears for a moment to discuss a strategy currently being considered for the Afghanistan campaign (h/t Uncle J at Blackfive).

After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said.

Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.

But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.

The issue has created sharp divisions within the Afghan government, among its Western allies and even American officials of different agencies. The matter is fraught with political danger for Mr. Karzai, whose hold on power is weak.

And why would they willingly choose to do something like this?

Many spraying advocates, including officials at the White House and the State Department, view herbicides as critical to curbing Afghanistan’s poppy crop, officials said. That crop and the opium and heroin it produces have become a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.

But officials said the skeptics — who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan — fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.

“There has always been a need to balance the obvious greater effectiveness of spray against the potential for losing hearts and minds,

Marine Team Wins Wilderness Challenge

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

My boys and I are fairly athletic.  I have been told that I need to include more pictures – my content is too “linear,” so this should break it up.  Below are pictures of (1) me and (2) a certain Marine (older brother taking the picture) before boot, SOI, fleet and then deployment to Iraq, somewhere near Mt. Mitchell, N.C., looking at the magnificent vista.

dad.jpg

marine.jpg

 A few months later we were rafting the Ocoee with challenging whitewater.  I have also rappelled, and there isn’t much in the outdoors we don’t feel fairly comfortable doing.  I might do fairly well at the Wilderness Challenge.  Then again, perhaps not.  U.S. and NATO Armed Forces teams did the Wilderness Challenge as an expedition race.

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The Marines are this year’s Wilderness Challenge champs.

A four-person team comprising leathernecks stationed all around the country ended the competition Saturday with a first-place showing in the two-day event’s final (and arguably most punishing) race: a 14-mile, largely uphill slog through West Virginia’s share of the Appalachian Mountains. They knocked it out in 2 hours and 26 minutes.

A team representing the Navy took second place overall, finishing less than two minutes behind the leaders’ total time. Last year’s champs, a Coast Guard crew, earned third place this year, more than 15 minutes off the Marines’ time.

Navy and Coast Guard teams also placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

The top Air Force team finished in seventh place; the best Army showing was good for 12th.

The Wilderness Challenge, now in its seventh year, is billed as a team outdoor adventure competition for all five branches of the armed forces.

Forty-six squads — including four representing NATO — participated. The top NATO team placed 14th.

The event is held each fall along the New and Gauley rivers in southern West Virginia, about an hour south of the state capital, Charleston. It consists of six races spanning nearly 54 miles overall: one on bikes, two on foot and three in the water.

Saturday’s competition began at 7:15 a.m., soon after sunrise, and ended with an awards presentation more than 12 hours later.

West Virginia claims some of the most beautiful mountains, forests and landscapes in the world.  This race should be a good one for some time into the future, until West Virginia destroys their beautiful state with mountaintop removal coal mining.  Then it might have to move to any one of a number of expedition race locations around the country.

Congratulations to the winners.  They set the standard, and I expect the same from the Marines in 2008.

Iraq: Al Qaeda’s Quagmire

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

After the turning of the tribes in Ramadi and the military defeat of the insurgents in Fallujah, coalition attention could be fully turned on al Qaeda with actionable intelligence.  The tempo of intelligence-driven operations is steady and effective.

  • On October 6, 2007,  Coalition forces killed two terrorists, captured one wanted individual and detained another six suspects during two coordinated operations near Samarra. The wanted individual is believed to be an associate of several Syrian-based network leaders that support the flow of foreign terrorists. As Coalition forces approached the target area, they observed one individual jump from the roof of a building, attempting to evade capture. The ground force engaged the fleeing terrorist, killing him. As the ground force entered the building, they discovered an armed terrorist and, responding in self-defense, killed the armed man. In addition to the wanted individual, Coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists on site. Also in Samarra, intelligence reports led Coalition forces to an area alleged to be a terrorist safe haven; one suspected terrorist was detained.  Coalition forces captured two wanted individuals and four suspected terrorists during coordinated operations in Kirkuk. During one operation, Coalition forces captured an al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader believed to be involved in foreign terrorist facilitation in the al-Tamim province and detained four additional suspects. Nearby, the ground force captured the alleged leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq media network in Kirkuk. The suspect is believed to have numerous ties to senior leaders operating in the province.
  • On October 6 & 7, 2007, operations against al Qaeda were conducted in the central and Northern parts of Iraq.  Coalition forces conducted an operation in Mosul targeting an associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq believed to be responsible for fuel distribution to the city’s terrorist network.  In Baghdad, Coalition forces captured a wanted individual reported to be involved in the planning and execution of numerous attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces. The individual also has close ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders operating a car-bombing network throughout Baghdad.  In an operation in Tikrit, Coalition forces targeted an associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq believed to be involved in kidnapping operations, weapons facilitation and the development of improvised explosive devices. The ground force detained five suspected terrorists on site without incident.  West of Samarra Saturday, Coalition forces conducted a precision operation targeting an associate of an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader involved in foreign terrorist facilitation in the Tigris River Valley. Time-sensitive intelligence led the ground force to a location where two suspected terrorists were detained.
  • On October 8, 2007, Iraqi Special Operations Forces conducted an early-morning raid to detain an al Qaeda in Iraq Amir for the Arab Jabour area who is suspected of being involved in small-arms fire, deeply buried and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks, as well as extra-judicial killings.

Groups of so-called security volunteers or concerned citizens are developing throughout central, Western and Northern Iraq, having significant successes against terrorist operations.

Iraq: Al Qaeda’s Quagmire

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

After the turning of the tribes in Ramadi and the military defeat of the insurgents in Fallujah, coalition attention could be fully turned on al Qaeda with actionable intelligence.  The tempo of intelligence-driven operations is steady and effective.

  • On October 6, 2007,  Coalition forces killed two terrorists, captured one wanted individual and detained another six suspects during two coordinated operations near Samarra. The wanted individual is believed to be an associate of several Syrian-based network leaders that support the flow of foreign terrorists. As Coalition forces approached the target area, they observed one individual jump from the roof of a building, attempting to evade capture. The ground force engaged the fleeing terrorist, killing him. As the ground force entered the building, they discovered an armed terrorist and, responding in self-defense, killed the armed man. In addition to the wanted individual, Coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists on site. Also in Samarra, intelligence reports led Coalition forces to an area alleged to be a terrorist safe haven; one suspected terrorist was detained.  Coalition forces captured two wanted individuals and four suspected terrorists during coordinated operations in Kirkuk. During one operation, Coalition forces captured an al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader believed to be involved in foreign terrorist facilitation in the al-Tamim province and detained four additional suspects. Nearby, the ground force captured the alleged leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq media network in Kirkuk. The suspect is believed to have numerous ties to senior leaders operating in the province.
  • On October 6 & 7, 2007, operations against al Qaeda were conducted in the central and Northern parts of Iraq.  Coalition forces conducted an operation in Mosul targeting an associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq believed to be responsible for fuel distribution to the city’s terrorist network.  In Baghdad, Coalition forces captured a wanted individual reported to be involved in the planning and execution of numerous attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces. The individual also has close ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders operating a car-bombing network throughout Baghdad.  In an operation in Tikrit, Coalition forces targeted an associate of al-Qaeda in Iraq believed to be involved in kidnapping operations, weapons facilitation and the development of improvised explosive devices. The ground force detained five suspected terrorists on site without incident.  West of Samarra Saturday, Coalition forces conducted a precision operation targeting an associate of an al-Qaeda in Iraq leader involved in foreign terrorist facilitation in the Tigris River Valley. Time-sensitive intelligence led the ground force to a location where two suspected terrorists were detained.
  • On October 8, 2007, Iraqi Special Operations Forces conducted an early-morning raid to detain an al Qaeda in Iraq Amir for the Arab Jabour area who is suspected of being involved in small-arms fire, deeply buried and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks, as well as extra-judicial killings.

Groups of so-called security volunteers or concerned citizens are developing throughout central, Western and Northern Iraq, having significant successes against terrorist operations.

What is a Warrior’s Life Worth?

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

The AP recently published an article on the subject of the cost of equipping U.S. soldiers and Marines (picked up later by Australia’s Herald Sun which printed a redacted version of the article).

As official Washington argues over the spiraling price of the war in Iraq, consider this: Outfitting a soldier for battle costs a hundred times more now than it did in World War II. It was $170 then, is about $17,500 now and could be an estimated $28,000 to $60,000 by the middle of the next decade.

“The ground soldier was perceived to be a relatively inexpensive instrument of war” in the past, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, head of the Army agency for developing and fielding soldier equipment.

Now, the Pentagon spends tens of billions of dollars annually to protect troops and make them more lethal on the battlefield.

In the 1940s, a GI went to war with little more than a uniform, weapon, helmet, bedroll and canteen. He carried some 35 pounds of gear that cost $170 in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Army figures.

That rose to about $1,100 by the 1970s as the military added a flak vest, new weapons and other equipment during the Vietnam War.

Today, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are outfitted with advanced armor and other protection, including high-tech vests, anti-ballistic eyewear, earplugs and fire-retardant gloves. Night-vision eyewear, thermal weapons sights and other gear makes them more deadly to the adversary.

In all, soldiers today are packing more than 80 items — weighing about 75 pounds — from socks to disposable handcuffs to a strap cutter for slashing open a seatbelt if they have to flee a burning vehicle.

Several items were added since 2002, when troops in Afghanistan complained that their equipment was outdated and not best suited to the new campaign.

I have not been able to recover the actual cost of an M1-Gerand which was predominantly in use in World War 2, but its predecessor Springfield had a cost of $42.50 in 1932.  Conservatively assuming no change in cost for the Gerand, this means that for approximately $130 the U.S. Army outfitted its troops with a backpack, helmet, shovel, ammunition belt, canteen, boots, socks, fatigues, cold weather gear, rain gear, overcoat, bayonet, etc. (the list above is gratuitously shortened).

This is a mistake, or at least, grossly exaggerated.  We prefer simply incorrect for whatever reason.  However, let’s stipulate the premise, i.e., that the costs associated with modern warfare have increased dramatically.  The corollary to this is that the lethality of modern warfare has increased nearly in proportion to its costs, as has the human costs of conducting that warfare decreased.  Equipment innovations (e.g., ceramic SAPI plates) and medical advances (among other things) have decreased both the battlefield dead and the ratio of dead to wounded.  As for battlefield weight, I have written extensively about the difficulty in movement added by 32 lbs of body armor (Body Armor Wars: The Way Forward), and also recommended that further technological advancements reduce that battlefield weight for the warrior (Body Armor Goes Political).  Ironically, the solution to heavy battlefield weight is the very thing that the author of the article seems to be arguing against – more spending and technological developments.

No Marine or Soldier wants to deploy to the theater with inferior body armor, as evidenced by Marines being adopted by veteran’s organizations to procure Spartan 2 body armor when it became apparent that the Modular Tacitical Vest would not become available in time for recent deployments.  Also, given the success of IEDs as a tactic of the enemy in Iraq, no Marine or Soldier wants to deploy in HMWVVs, even uparmored HMWVVs, in lieu of the MRAP, mine resistant ambush protected V-shape hull transport vehicle.

The Pentagon has argued for more funds to be transferred to the MRAP program (partly at the insistence of Secretary of Defense Gates), but even as this occurs, some Pentagon leadership wonders if the future of new weapons system is not being sold for better protection now.  It is also this thinking that caused the delay in the deployment of the program when it was learned that IEDs were so effective against U.S. forces.  More money spent now, so the thinking went, means less for the future.  Thus did Pentagon thinkers play the devil’s game, with the lives of American warriors hanging in the balance with roadside bombs and IEDs.

Rather than wonder about the morality of future weapons systems and the alleged high costs of outfitting Marines and Soldiers with body armor, ballistic goggles, night vision and tie wraps for detaining individuals, the author – as well as thinkers at the Pentagon – ought better to wonder about the morality of decision-making that sacrifices warrior’s lives for money that is easily raised and spent by the Department of Defense.  Where Congress is culpable, they ought to have the same watershed moral revelation.  When considering money for lives, the decision is simple, assuming that the decision-maker has a moral constitution to begin with.

As for the Marines who are soon to deploy?  The North County Times gives us their current perspective on equipment and preparedness.

When an estimated 11,000 Camp Pendleton troops head to Iraq soon, they’ll be taking a host of new equipment with them such as lighter helmets, better flak jackets and more heavily armored vehicles.

They’ll also be taking a wealth of experience from lessons learned during the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the multiple deployments in the nearly five years since.

That’s been evident at Camp Pendleton in recent weeks, where troops from private to major attend classes and train in the field as they prepare to replace the North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force in the Anbar province west of Baghdad.

The Pentagon announced in late July that three major Camp Pendleton units would be deployed beginning late this year and continuing into early 2008.

Class themes for the troops heading to the Middle East run the gamut, from how to spot roadside bombs to how to grasp parts of Iraqi culture and language.

In Counterinsurgency: Know Thine Enemy, I argued for just such language and culture training.  Continuing with the North County Times article:

The Camp Pendleton troops will be riding in some new hardware in Iraq, including the Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter, but it flies faster and like an airplane, using tilt-rotor propellers.

The first group of Ospreys, which can ferry troops to hot spots much faster than helicopters, reached Iraq last week. With a history of deadly crashes that has marred its development, the Osprey’s performance will be closely watched with keen attention paid to maintenance issues and how the lightly armed aircraft is able to respond to any ground attacks.

More important for the “ground pounders” is the latest generation of heavily armored vehicles, including the new “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected” or MRAP. The Pentagon is rushing as many of the V-shaped hulled vehicles as it can into Iraq in an attempt to reduce deaths and injuries from roadside bombs to older generation Humvees.

New flak jackets, with more protective gear around the head, neck and back, have also been issued, and the helmets are much lighter than the Marines wore in their first deployments (Editorial note: the flak that he refers to is the Modular Tactical Vest versus the Interceptor Body Armor).

“There’s no question the gear we’re going with is better,” Hughes said.

So agreed Cpl. Samuel Lott, a motor pool specialist heading to Iraq for the second time. He led an overview of the vehicles that will carry Marines around Iraq, pointing out that most have much better protection against small-arms and rocket fire as well as roadside bombs.

“I’m anxious to go back,” Lott said. “Very few of the Marines in my shop have combat experience, so I’m glad I’m going to be with them.”

Thankfully, those who would play “the devil’s game” have not successfully thwarted the expenditure of monies to outfit the Pendleton Marines soon to deploy.

There is no moral dilemma.  Here at The Captain’s Journal, we are in favor of spending now and spending later to equip the American warriors.  Those who are not are playing the devil’s game.

What is a Warrior’s Life Worth?

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

The AP recently published an article on the subject of the cost of equipping U.S. soldiers and Marines (picked up later by Australia’s Herald Sun which printed a redacted version of the article).

As official Washington argues over the spiraling price of the war in Iraq, consider this: Outfitting a soldier for battle costs a hundred times more now than it did in World War II. It was $170 then, is about $17,500 now and could be an estimated $28,000 to $60,000 by the middle of the next decade.

“The ground soldier was perceived to be a relatively inexpensive instrument of war” in the past, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, head of the Army agency for developing and fielding soldier equipment.

Now, the Pentagon spends tens of billions of dollars annually to protect troops and make them more lethal on the battlefield.

In the 1940s, a GI went to war with little more than a uniform, weapon, helmet, bedroll and canteen. He carried some 35 pounds of gear that cost $170 in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Army figures.

That rose to about $1,100 by the 1970s as the military added a flak vest, new weapons and other equipment during the Vietnam War.

Today, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are outfitted with advanced armor and other protection, including high-tech vests, anti-ballistic eyewear, earplugs and fire-retardant gloves. Night-vision eyewear, thermal weapons sights and other gear makes them more deadly to the adversary.

In all, soldiers today are packing more than 80 items — weighing about 75 pounds — from socks to disposable handcuffs to a strap cutter for slashing open a seatbelt if they have to flee a burning vehicle.

Several items were added since 2002, when troops in Afghanistan complained that their equipment was outdated and not best suited to the new campaign.

I have not been able to recover the actual cost of an M1-Gerand which was predominantly in use in World War 2, but its predecessor Springfield had a cost of $42.50 in 1932.  Conservatively assuming no change in cost for the Gerand, this means that for approximately $130 the U.S. Army outfitted its troops with a backpack, helmet, shovel, ammunition belt, canteen, boots, socks, fatigues, cold weather gear, rain gear, overcoat, bayonet, etc. (the list above is gratuitously shortened).

This is a mistake, or at least, grossly exaggerated.  We prefer simply incorrect for whatever reason.  However, let’s stipulate the premise, i.e., that the costs associated with modern warfare have increased dramatically.  The corollary to this is that the lethality of modern warfare has increased nearly in proportion to its costs, as has the human costs of conducting that warfare decreased.  Equipment innovations (e.g., ceramic SAPI plates) and medical advances (among other things) have decreased both the battlefield dead and the ratio of dead to wounded.  As for battlefield weight, I have written extensively about the difficulty in movement added by 32 lbs of body armor (Body Armor Wars: The Way Forward), and also recommended that further technological advancements reduce that battlefield weight for the warrior (Body Armor Goes Political).  Ironically, the solution to heavy battlefield weight is the very thing that the author of the article seems to be arguing against – more spending and technological developments.

No Marine or Soldier wants to deploy to the theater with inferior body armor, as evidenced by Marines being adopted by veteran’s organizations to procure Spartan 2 body armor when it became apparent that the Modular Tacitical Vest would not become available in time for recent deployments.  Also, given the success of IEDs as a tactic of the enemy in Iraq, no Marine or Soldier wants to deploy in HMWVVs, even uparmored HMWVVs, in lieu of the MRAP, mine resistant ambush protected V-shape hull transport vehicle.

The Pentagon has argued for more funds to be transferred to the MRAP program (partly at the insistence of Secretary of Defense Gates), but even as this occurs, some Pentagon leadership wonders if the future of new weapons system is not being sold for better protection now.  It is also this thinking that caused the delay in the deployment of the program when it was learned that IEDs were so effective against U.S. forces.  More money spent now, so the thinking went, means less for the future.  Thus did Pentagon thinkers play the devil’s game, with the lives of American warriors hanging in the balance with roadside bombs and IEDs.

Rather than wonder about the morality of future weapons systems and the alleged high costs of outfitting Marines and Soldiers with body armor, ballistic goggles, night vision and tie wraps for detaining individuals, the author – as well as thinkers at the Pentagon – ought better to wonder about the morality of decision-making that sacrifices warrior’s lives for money that is easily raised and spent by the Department of Defense.  Where Congress is culpable, they ought to have the same watershed moral revelation.  When considering money for lives, the decision is simple, assuming that the decision-maker has a moral constitution to begin with.

As for the Marines who are soon to deploy?  The North County Times gives us their current perspective on equipment and preparedness.

When an estimated 11,000 Camp Pendleton troops head to Iraq soon, they’ll be taking a host of new equipment with them such as lighter helmets, better flak jackets and more heavily armored vehicles.

They’ll also be taking a wealth of experience from lessons learned during the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the multiple deployments in the nearly five years since.

That’s been evident at Camp Pendleton in recent weeks, where troops from private to major attend classes and train in the field as they prepare to replace the North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force in the Anbar province west of Baghdad.

The Pentagon announced in late July that three major Camp Pendleton units would be deployed beginning late this year and continuing into early 2008.

Class themes for the troops heading to the Middle East run the gamut, from how to spot roadside bombs to how to grasp parts of Iraqi culture and language.

In Counterinsurgency: Know Thine Enemy, I argued for just such language and culture training.  Continuing with the North County Times article:

The Camp Pendleton troops will be riding in some new hardware in Iraq, including the Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter, but it flies faster and like an airplane, using tilt-rotor propellers.

The first group of Ospreys, which can ferry troops to hot spots much faster than helicopters, reached Iraq last week. With a history of deadly crashes that has marred its development, the Osprey’s performance will be closely watched with keen attention paid to maintenance issues and how the lightly armed aircraft is able to respond to any ground attacks.

More important for the “ground pounders” is the latest generation of heavily armored vehicles, including the new “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected” or MRAP. The Pentagon is rushing as many of the V-shaped hulled vehicles as it can into Iraq in an attempt to reduce deaths and injuries from roadside bombs to older generation Humvees.

New flak jackets, with more protective gear around the head, neck and back, have also been issued, and the helmets are much lighter than the Marines wore in their first deployments (Editorial note: the flak that he refers to is the Modular Tactical Vest versus the Interceptor Body Armor).

“There’s no question the gear we’re going with is better,” Hughes said.

So agreed Cpl. Samuel Lott, a motor pool specialist heading to Iraq for the second time. He led an overview of the vehicles that will carry Marines around Iraq, pointing out that most have much better protection against small-arms and rocket fire as well as roadside bombs.

“I’m anxious to go back,” Lott said. “Very few of the Marines in my shop have combat experience, so I’m glad I’m going to be with them.”

Thankfully, those who would play “the devil’s game” have not successfully thwarted the expenditure of monies to outfit the Pendleton Marines soon to deploy.

There is no moral dilemma.  Here at The Captain’s Journal, we are in favor of spending now and spending later to equip the American warriors.  Those who are not are playing the devil’s game.

Letters from Readers

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

In response to Marine Artillery Does Oakland and my plan for an amphibious assault on San Francisco, Arthur Kimes writes:

Oh sure you can conquer it. But holding it against the insurgents? What counter-measures do you have against the obvious threat of Road Side Mimes? What happens when the Starbucks barrista slips DECAF in a Marines cappucino? (I should have 4 or 5 more funny lines but my brain isn’t working now. Too early…)

In response to Warriors and the Oakland Airport: The Final Story, Daniel Jimenez sends a link, to which I responded:

Bull. The airport authorities know that weapons being on board the plane is no reason to bar the plane from entry. The weapons have their bolt removed and have no ammunition. This is done before they ever leave the theater. The airport authorities know this. I have covered this in my most recent post (followup to the one backtracked to Michelle’s site). Further, not having been screened by TSA is quite irrelevant, and the airport authorities know it. Customs does a more thorough job with them.

This story is crap. Sorry.

To which Mr. Jimenez then responded as follows:

So, the contractor who said he personally drove the troops waiting to meet family to the terminal? Also a liar? The Staff Sgt. who talks about the great reception he received at the airport? Also a liar? And the commanding officer who told the airport officials they didn’t need any other attention? Also a liar? The airport spokeswoman? Also a liar? (I’m CERTAIN you think she’s a liar, because, after all, she’s the one covering for the nefarious America- and troop-hating directors of the Oakland Airport.)

Never let the facts get in the way of a good “The Bay Area hates the troops” story, I suppose.

To which I responded:

I don’t mean to be rude, but you need to learn to stay on point and not get sidetracked by irrelevant things.  I never said anything about contractors trucking people around and such as that.  I stuck to a single point in both of my posts: weapons being on board causing a security concern, and this being the reason for stopping the aircraft.

Again, bull.  Period.  They have more muzzle discipline that an air marshal who also has a weapon, and besides, unlike air marshals, they have no ammunition.  There was and is no security concern.  Do they honestly believe that anyone would be stupid enough to allow the Marines to board the aircraft in the theater WITH ammunition?  No, they do not honestly believe that.  And that’s the point.

To which Mr. Jimenez responded:

I’ll go ahead and sidestep your faux courtesy and be rude.

Hey. A**hole. Spare me the smarm. The point about the contractor driving the 3 troops to see their loved ones, and the part about the commanding officer saying they didn’t need anything else, means that the entire incident was completely overblown. If the commanding officer says, (sic) we don’t need to go to the terminal, that’s fine. Then that’s it. End of story. But people like you and Ledeen and Malkin can’t resist the urge to bash the bay, even when the facts get in your way (go look up Tight Films’ statement on the Marine commercial in SF, schmuck).

The point about the Staff Sgt.’s comment about the 2005 arrival was that your assumptions about the Bay Area are, of course, wrong.

Your entire argument about weapons seems to come down to one crucial assumption: That the people who run the Oakland Airport openly hate the troops and, in fact, took this opportunity to stick it to them the only way the could. You understand why that’s ludicrous, right? Have you ever been to the Bay Area? Oh, wait, you would never come to the “Socialist Republic of San Francisco” without that amphibious assault squad, right? Read this:

“I have never had so many people in my 17 years of service stop and thank me for my service,” said Maj. Sean Pascoli, the officer in charge of recruiting for the Marine Corps in the Bay Area. Pascoli says he has exceeded his quota for Marine recruits in the Bay Area this year.

…and tell me the Bay still hates the Marines.

Well, frankly I had not considered the actual size of the assault team.  Mr. Jimenez recommends a squad (this is three fire teams and a squad leader, usually a Sergeant).  I think a fire team of four Marines might be sufficient, but based on Mr. Kimes’ concerns, the post-assault occupation might take a larger force size.  Or maybe not.

But while the first letter from Mr. Kimes brought a smile to my face, this last one brought a tear to my eye.  He favorably compared me to Ledeen and Malkin.  I am undeserving of such a compliment.  I expect a dinner invitation from Michael and Michelle soon.  I am in the club – I am one of you now. Thank you, Mr. Jimenez.

Al Qaeda’s Miscalculation

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 5 months ago

Michael Ledeen’s new book The Iranian Time Bomb contains some brief but stark words that, in a nutshell, wrap up the worldview of radical Shi’a Islam concerning nation-states and how this concept is not a part of their world view.  In the words of Khomeini:

“We do not worship Iran.  We worship Allah.  For patriotism is is another name for paganism.  I say let this land [Iran] burn.  I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.


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