Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 9 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

Supreme Court Declines To Hear Masciandaro Case

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

From CSM:

The US Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a potentially important gun rights case examining whether a federal regulation banning loaded firearms from vehicles in a government park violated the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Lawyers for a Virginia man had asked the justices to examine a question left largely unresolved in the high court’s two prior landmark rulings identifying the scope and substance of Second Amendment protections. The question is: Does the Second Amendment guarantee a right to bear arms in public for personal protection?

The court dismissed the case in a one-line order without comment. The action leaves lower court rulings intact and postpones the prospect of high court clarification on a key gun rights issue.

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The dismissed appeal, Masciandaro v. US (10-11212), had asked the court to examine whether Americans have a right to carry loaded weapons in public places for self defense.

How the justices answered that question would have established guideposts for future gun regulations at the local, state, and national levels of government.

In the 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, the court said that gun rights are not unlimited. The court said there is no right to “carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

The details of the case can be found here, here and here.  Fundamantally at issue is whether the Second Amendment carries the right to possess a weapon outside the home, and the lower courts are almost begging for the Supreme Court to answer this question in the wake of the half-hearted Heller ruling.

Heller and McDonald left open important questions regarding the scope of the self-defense right beyond the home and the appropriate method for evaluating government regulations affecting it. The lower courts have struggled mightily with these issues. See, e.g., Masciandaro, 638 F.3d at 467 (“But a considerable degree of uncertainty remains as to the scope of that right beyond the home and the standards for determining whether and how the right can be burdened by governmental regulation.”); United States v. Skoien, 614 F.3d 638, 640 (7th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (“Skoien II”) (Heller creates an individual right that includes keeping operable handguns at home for self-defense but “[w]hat other entitlements the Second Amendment creates, and what regulations legislatures may establish, were left open.”), cert. denied, 131 S. Ct. 1674 (2011).

The highest state courts that have considered the issue unanimously decided that the Second Amendment right is limited to the home. Maryland, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Kansas have all limited Heller to its holding. For example, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld Maryland’s firearm permitting statute, concluding that the right is unavailable outside the home. Williams v. State, 417 Md. 479, 496 (Md. 2011) (stating that “[i]f the Supreme Court, in this [Heller] dicta, meant its holding to extend beyond home possession, it will need to say so more plainly”), petition for cert. filed, 79 U.S.L.W. 3594 (Apr. 5, 2011). That court noted that Illinois, the District of Columbia, and California also limited the right in similar cases. Id. at 496-99. Given this trend, state courts that confront Second Amendment issues in the future will likely limit its protection to the home.

Other state and federal courts have held that even if the right might exist outside the home, it is substantially weaker than the right enjoyed in the home.

So in spite of the urgent need to sort out the lower court chaos concerning bearing arms, the Supreme Court declined to hear Sean Masciandaro’s case.

Supreme Court fail … big time.  This is just what Lanny Breuer asked them to do in his brief, and I’m sure that Dennis Henigan is popping the cork somewhere.

Legalization Of Drugs Won’t End The Border War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

This is why.

While the Obama White House and some of his disciple politicians disagree that Texas border counties may be in a growing “war zone,” the impact of drug cartel violence and power in Mexico could be affecting American households in more direct means than generally believed.

For instance, avocados and lime costs imported into the U.S. from Mexico are subject to a drug cartel tax, or “la cota,“ said a former cartel member, who talked with the Examiner,  provided we did not reveal his real name.

Carlos is a 28-year-old Mexican national moved to the San Antonio area to escape cartel torture, death and “before they killed the only family I have left.”

“They charge those farmers and packers ‘la cota’ for each truck they send out,” Carlos explained. “And before the trucks make it to the distribution, they might get stopped three or four times for la cota.”

Carlos described what happens to anyone that doesn’t pay the tax.

“They call it Mexican insurance,” he said. “They tell you they know who your wife is, or your mother, or your daughters and you better pay or we will rape and kill them.”

“They pay the cartels what they want, like a toll road,” Carlos observed. “We charged about 600 or 700 pesos for each truck about five years ago, but I don’t know any more what it is. It’s a common thing.”

“Americans think the drug gangs just make their money from the drugs, but they make money off of your food and imports that come from Mexico too,” claimed Carlos.

“Sometimes those terminals in Mexico and even here in Texas wait for the trucks to get there, but if the drug gangs don’t get paid, those trucks will not get there,” Carlos observed.  “You ask any of them (distributors or terminals) and they will tell you this is more common than people think.”

I advocated against the war on poppy in battling the Taliban; the Taliban make their money by various means, including (but not limited to) precious metal mines, pomegranates, timber, and extortion.  I advocated against the war on poppy for the same reason that I advocate seeing the war against the cartels and other insurgents as a border war.  Drugs isn’t the defining characteristic of the warlords and insurgents in Mexico (and increasingly North of the border), just as the Taliban won’t cease to exist if we destroy all of the poppy crops in the Helmand Province.

I have little vested interest in the final disposition of a war on drugs or whether drugs are legal, except as follows.  Drug users have hitched me to their wagon, just like 48% of the balance of the (non-tax paying) American public.  If the pro-legalization forces would simply unhitch the rest of the tax- and rate-payers from their wagon, we might be persuaded to side with them.  To do this, ensure that I don’t have to pay one cent of welfare for lost work time or support of out of work drug users, or one cent of medical costs associated with drug use, or any other cost not being discussed here but associated with drug use.  After pro-legalization advocates do this, then – and only then – will I consider supporting their cause.  Until then, I have a right and vested interest in the behavior of anyone and everyone whom my tax monies support.  If you don’t approve of my meddling, neither do I.  Remove my support and I won’t meddle.  It’s a win-win proposition.  You make the first move.

I will consider supporting their cause (and delaying my support until such time as my preconditions obtain), because drug legalization, or lack thereof, won’t significantly affect the insurgency to the South.  I can’t possibly lose in this deal.

See also Border War.

Border War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels.  After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I recommended that:

… we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border.  I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work.  All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow.  Every other option is mere window dressing.

We now know that gang members are being recruited by the cartels to do street-level jobs, and the loss of border security has wreaked ecological disaster.

“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.

He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.

Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.

“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”

Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.

The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.

The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.

The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.

That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-’em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.

If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.

A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters.  It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

Commenter Scott Wilson recommends the following:

They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.

Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.

This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work.  This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol.  Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.

But it will require more than that.  As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border.  Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency.  Prisons are a costly ruse.

Make no mistake about it.  This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border.  This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.

Law enforcement cannot do the job when people are afraid to call them for fear of retribution and are being told to wear body armor to work out in their own fields.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A border war.  Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms.  In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America.  Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.

If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost.  If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.

Prior on Border War: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Prior Featured: Analysis of Brief For The U.S. In Opposition to Sean Masciandaro

Thanksgiving 2011

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

My entire family is with me, including grandchildren.  I am thankful for that.  I am thankful for the sustenance and provisions that a sovereign God has provided to me and my family over the year.  I am thankful that I live in the freest nation on earth, and that I am free to own firearms for the defense of my family.

I am thankful that God has spared our nation from what it so richly deserves with our corrupt politicians.  Most of all, I am thankful for salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving is uniquely an American Christian holiday, perhaps my favorite time of the year.  This season remember your blessings, and have a happy Thanksgiving with your family.

Negligent Discharges

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

Concerning one of Tim Lynch’s posts, I commented on a picture that:

Tim, the dude to your right needs to have better muzzle discipline. Tell him to stop pointing that dead blame thing at you! At least his finger isn’t on the trigger.

To which Tim responded:

That was one of the Afridi Tribal fighters and none of them have a clue about gun handling, combat marksmanship, known distance marksmanship, cleaning their weapons etc…. So you end up getting muzzle flagged often which, as I recall, earned you a 5 minute room of pain session in Bravo 1/8 back in the day. You get muzzle flagged a lot from the Brit military too – their weapons handling is also atrocious.-

Yea, I know one Marine who, when he was a Private, had a ND from his SAW, and let’s just say this “room of pain” thing … well, we’ll leave it at that.  Room of pain.  Concentrate on the word pain.  And … no ND ever occurred again from his SAW.  Not even one more time.

Recall that Michael Yon discussed an ND from Canadian Brigadier General Menard, and was deeply criticized for it?  Well, this is apparently a pattern within the Canadian military.

Officers in the Canadian military were partly to blame for lax firearms safety in Afghanistan, a military judge said as he sentenced a former reservist to four years in jail for fatally shooting a fellow soldier.

Lieutenant-Colonel Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil said on Friday that Matthew Wilcox was well trained and “should have known better” than to point a loaded pistol at his best friend, Corporal Kevin Megeney, on March 6, 2007.

However, Col. d’Auteuil also said senior officers at Kandahar Airfield hadn’t done enough to crack down on improper handling of firearms before and during the deployment of Mr. Wilcox’s unit.

“No discipline was imposed other than warning soldiers,” the judge said, referring to incidents in which soldiers failed to unload the magazines from their pistols after leaving a shooting range on the base.

“All combined brought an atmosphere … where a human being forgot to unload his weapon, pointed and fired at somebody and killed somebody. He is responsible, but the Canadian Forces must be blamed for not having the proper leadership in the circumstances.”

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“Leaders, section leaders, the company commanders … created an atmosphere that let soldiers think if they forget to unload their weapons, it was not a big deal,” he said.

As a civilian shooter and firearms owner and holder of a concealed handgun permit, I have more discipline than this.  Much more.  This behavior is simply atrocious and should not be tolerated in any military anywhere in the world or by civilian shooters either.  The U.S. Marines make sure that its men know better with a … well, Tim called it a “room of pain.”

Advanced Hypersonic Weapons: Has a New Age of Remote Warfare Arrived?

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

News out today that the U.S. Army successfully tested what is being called, “the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.”   The reports are, at some points, conflicting, but the essence is captured by AFP in this report:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.

Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the “Advanced Hypersonic Weapon,” or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific “at hypersonic speed” before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.

Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.

Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour.

The test aimed to gather data on “aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies,” said Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Wired has additional details:

For a test of a hypersonic weapon flying at eight times the speed of sound and nailing a target thousands of miles away, this was a relatively simple demonstration. But it worked, and now the military is a small step closer to its dream of hitting a target anywhere on Earth in less than an hour.

The last time the Pentagon test-fired a hypersonic missile, back in August, it live-tweeted the event — until the thing crashed into the Pacific Ocean. This time around, it kept the test relatively quiet. The results were much better.

To be fair, this was also an easier test to pass. Darpa’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 — the one that splashed unsuccessfully in the Pacific — was supposed to fly 4,100 miles. The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon went about 60 percent as far, 2,400 miles from Hawaii to its target by the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. Darpa’s hypersonic glider had a radical, wedge-like shape: a Mach 20 slice of deep dish pizza, basically. The Army’s vehicle relies on a decades-old, conventionally conical design. It’s designed to fly 6,100 miles per hour, or a mere eight times the speed of sound.

But even though the test might have been relatively easy, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon effort could wind up playing a key role in the military’s so-called “Prompt Global Strike” effort to almost instantly whack targets half a world away. A glider like it would be strapped to a missile, and sent hurtling at rogue state’s nuclear silo or a terrorist’s biological weapon cache before it’s too late.

At first, the Prompt Global Strike involved retrofitting nuclear missiles with conventional warheads; the problem was, the new weapon could’ve easily been mistaken for a doomsday one. Which meant a Prompt Global Strike could’ve invited a nuclear retaliation. No wonder Congress refused to pay for the project.

So instead, the Pentagon focused on developing superfast weapons that would mostly scream through the air, instead of drop from space like a nuclear warhead. Those hypersonic gliders may cut down on the geopolitical difficulties, but introduced all sorts of technical ones. We don’t know much about the fluid dynamics involved when something shoots through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. And there really aren’t any wind tunnels capable of replicating those often-strange interactions.

And Digital Journal reports this interesting tidbit:

According to AP, Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, Pentagon spokeswoman, said the missile was launched at about 11:30 a.m. from Hawaii. Daily Mail reports the weapon glided westwards through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific and reached Kwajalein Atoll in Marshall Islands, about 2,500 miles away, in less than half an hour. The test follows U.S. Air Force announcement that it has taken delivery of eight 15-ton bombs called Massive Ordnance Penetrator “buster bombs” that can blow 200ft of concrete.

(Emphasis mine).

(What was Digital Journal trying to say here?  That AHW’s could be used in conjunction with MOP’s to take out nuclear silos or, perhaps, Iranian nuclear research facilities?  Hmmmmm.)

This development should stir our thinking in possibly profound ways.

First, there is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding this subject.    It is not entirely clear just what the Army launched.   Was it a missile that boosted some other type of craft into the upper atmosphere?  Is an AHW more of a missile itself or more of drone or craft of some kind that can carry munitions and deliver them to the target at incredible speeds?   There is some confusion about the actual speed of the AHW.    At the very least it can travel more than Mach 5 or 3,728 miles per hour.  According to the article in Wired, the AHW can travel over 8 times the speed of sound or more than 6,000 miles per hour.   And the Air Force’s HVT-2 apparently achieved speeds of an unbelievable 20 times the speed of sound which is roughly equivalent to over 14,000 miles per hour.   It is not clear from the articles what, exactly this particular AHW looks like.   How does it achieve such fantastic speeds.  All questions that the Chinese are no doubt studying (and spying on) very intensely.

Still, it seems to be  a bit of a misnomer to call this a “weapon” or as AFP refers to it as a “flying bomb.”  This is a delivery vehicle.   To call it a “flying bomb” seems almost a deliberate obfuscation designed to disguise its potential effects.  And those effects may very well be game-changing.

The article talks about the aim of the Army’s Global Strike Program as being the delivery of “conventional weapons” to any place on the globe, but presumably there is no technical limitation to conventional weapons.   A nuclear payload could be substituted just as easily.    And there is the rub.  According to the article in Wired, the design of the hypersonic platform had to be altered, for geopolitical reasons, so as not to be mistaken for a nuclear missile.   But this seems to beg the question.  Hypersonic delivery systems tipped with nuclear weapons, regardless of the shape or shell, breed the ultimate insecurity.   They do not travel into space but rather glide along the upper atmosphere, so the ability to intercept in the long, slow, initial boost phase is eliminated.   Does this raise the possibility that a first-strike nuclear attack could be unstoppable and, therefore, successful?

Consider, for example, that an AHW launched from Seoul, South Korea could travel the roughly 121 miles to Pyongyang, North Korea in a mere 108 seconds at Mach 5 and possibly as fast as 54 seconds at Mach 8.  At Mach 20, the strike time is virtually instantaneous.   There is simply no time for any defensive system to shoot down or intercept incoming AHW’s at these speeds.

What does a delivery system with this kind of fantastic speed and range portend?

One item to contemplate is the extent to which such a capability renders other weapon systems or platforms (or even branches) obsolete.  None of the various articles report the cost of a single AHW, but it appears that the platform is an unmanned drone of sorts that can be navigated remotely or pre-programmed to its target.   As such, assuming that the cost of an AHW is less than the various, manned bombers (and we must always include the cost of training, housing and paying the human pilots), is it possible that we are looking at the end (or at least the severe re-definition) of the U.S. Air Force?  Do we need a separate branch to preside over what seems at first blush to be the equivalent of hypersonic artillery?

There is no doubt that modern warfare is moving toward unmanned systems.   With the mass production of AHW’s, it is conceivable, at least, that entire bomber fleets and even missile systems could be discarded.   An AHW that can travel more than five times the speed of sound does not require any, expensive stealth technology.

Clearly one of the critical questions to be answered is whether there is any defense against attack by an AHW.   Are they traveling at such high speeds that there is simply too little time for either human or electronic systems to respond effectively?   If so, the entire concept of a Navy consisting of large ships of any kind becomes suspect.   Once the technology spreads to China, for instance, hypersonic weapons would seem to make an aircraft carrier a proverbial sitting duck.

Could it be that the Army and Navy (and, of course, Marines) simply have their own complement of AHW’s to use in lieu of piloted bombers?   If a Marine Captain in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for instance, could call in his own, devastating barrage with pinpoint accuracy from the Marine base at Okinawa, Japan (a distance of 3,423 miles) with 10 minute delivery time, the need for expensive bombers with expensive pilots with expensive logistics with limited fuel to stay on station may be nonexistent.

And speaking of bases, does the rise of hypersonic platforms render much of the thinking on military basing obsolete?   With the exception of bases that are designed to put American ground forces in place, much of the strategy for basing rights involves the requirement to have naval and air assets close enough to trouble spots to quickly deliver ships and planes.   With a bristling arsenal of AHW’s, it would seem possible to have overwhelming firepower without risk to a human pilot delivered with pinpoint accuracy to any location on the globe in less than one hour.   And, with the example of North Korea, a devastating barrage could be delivered in seconds.

Perhaps the most troubling question to ponder is whether this new technology renders the U.S. defenseless.   Not in the immediate future, of course, but eventually this technology will spread to other nations.  What possible doctrines could be developed to counter the threat of hypersonic attack by near peers such as China or the Russians?   Even third-rate countries like Iran and North Korea pose substantial risks with single-shot EMP attacks.

Finally, does an AHW system allow the U.S. to construct a more potent military capability on the cheap?  Assuming that AHW’s can be successfully developed and adapted to a variety of tasks, could the U.S. dramatically scale back its spending on expensive naval forces and air forces and re-direct spending to enhancing ground units that carry with them the tremendous punch of AHW’s?  Perhaps we are seeing the sunset of the age of large armies, navies and air forces.   The art of war may be changing yet again and it may be our fiscal salvation to adapt to this new world sooner than later.

Obama Administration’s New Push To Regulate Shooters

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

If Lanny Breuer isn’t arguing against gun possession outside the home, Obama’s Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior) is trying to promulgate new regulations on shooters.

Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.

Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.

“It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands.

If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.

So exactly how would such regulations be implemented?

This is the key paragraph foes say could lead to shooters being kicked off public lands:

“When the authorized officer determines that a site or area on BLM-managed lands used on a regular basis for recreational shooting is creating public disturbance, or is creating risk to other persons on public lands; is contributing to the defacement, removal or destruction of natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government and/or private property; is facilitating or creating a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property is violating existing use restrictions, closure and restriction orders, or supplementary rules notices, and reasonable attempts to reduce or eliminate the violations by the BLM have been unsuccessful, the authorized officer will close the affected area to recreational shooting.”

The new regulation may as well say that for any reason under the sun when an employee of the BLM wants to close down lands to shooting, he may do so at his discretion.  This has a potentially huge affect on shooters, and the most remarkable thing is its broad sweep (note that implementation of the regulation doesn’t require demonstrated safety issues), combined with the bypassing of the process for making law – you know, the Congress.  Congress has been left out because, you know, the Obama administration knows better than to have to wait on something silly like the law-making process.

Feels Like 1939 All Over Again: Painful Choices with Iran

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

The Washington Times runs a piece today that serves as a useful, historical lesson.

There are no, particularly surprising or revealing facts reported.   In this respect, the article is a bit of a re-hash of stories that emphasize the costs of taking direct, military action against the Iranian Regime:

Iran is contemplating violently shutting down shipping in the Persian Gulf as one of several counterattack options if Israel strikes its nuclear facilities, regional and intelligence analysts say.

Such attacks would present the Obama administration with the option of undertaking a limited war against Iran by striking its warships and shore-based anti-ship missiles to keep the Gulf open for business.

Former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson said Iran has enough firepower to effectively close the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of all the world’s oil moves.

“One of the things that Iran has exercised, has the capability to do, is shut down the Persian Gulf,” Mr. Johnson said. “The best-case scenario is they shut it down for a week. The worst case is they shut it down for three to four months.”

He said Iran could unleash small boats laden with explosives “that we don’t have adequate covers for. Add to that the ability to fire multiple missiles. Our naval force will try to stop it, and that’s the hope.”

Mr. Johnson, now a consultant on counterterrorism, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which has orchestrated attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, also likely would hit targets in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.

“I think we would be looking at a significant wave of terrorist retaliation by them,” he said.

What makes this article worthwhile is what it says about the point we find ourselves in at this juncture of our struggle against Islamofascism.   As all the news accounts indicate, stirred by the recent IAEA report, Iran is much closer to developing a nuclear arsenal.   There is a sudden panic among policymakers to head off Iran’s nuclear program.   We are, evidently, at the eleventh hour and The Washington Times article duly recites the serious consequences of any attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuke program by overt military action.

The sad fact is that the West is facing yet another instance of weakness in the face of tyranny.

As Winston Churchill noted in his brilliant history of World War II, The Gathering Storm, Vol. I, p. 218 (Mariner Books Ed.):

Mr. Chamberlain was imbued with a sense of a special and personal mission to come to friendly terms with the Dictators of Italy and Germany, and he conceived himself capable of achieving this relationship.  To Mussolini he wished to accord recognition of the Italian conquest of Abyssinia as a prelude to a general settlement of differences.  To Hitler he was prepared to offer colonial concessions.

Does Chamberlain remind you of any, current political figure who believes in their own, personal charm and powers of persuasion?  Someone who is willing to cede concessions to dictators in the hopes of currying their favor and cooperation?

Here is the heart of the matter.  The historical parallels are astounding.   Churchill summarizes the state of things as Adolph Hitler threatened Poland with invasion in 1939:

In this sad tale of wrong judgments formed by well-meaning and capable people we now reach our climax… Look back and see what we had successively accepted or thrown away: a Germany disarmed by solemn treaty; a Germany rearmed in violation of a solemn treaty; air superiority or even air parity cast away; the Rhineland forcibly occupied and the Siegfried Line built or building; the Berlin-Rome Axis established; Austria devoured and digested by the Reich; Czechoslovakia deserted and ruined by the Munich Pact, its fortress line in German hands, its mighty arsenal of Skoda henceforward making muitions for the German armies; President Roosevelt’s attempts to [intervene] waved aside with one hand, and Soviet Russia’s undoubted willingness to join the Western Powers and go all lengths to save Czechoslovakia ignored on the other; the services of thirty-five Czech divisions against the still unripened German Army cast away, when Great Britain could herself supply only two to strengthen the front in France; all gone with the wind.

***
… There was sense in fighting for Czechoslovakia in 1938 when the German Army could scarcely put half a dozen trained divisions on the Western Front, when the French  with nearly sixty or seventy divisions could most certainly have rollend forward across the Rhine or into the Ruhr.  But this had been judged unreasonable, rash, below the level of modern intellectual thought and morality…. History… may be scoured and ransacked to find a parallel to the sudden and complete reversal of five or six years’ policy of easy-going placatory appeasement, and its transformation almost overnight into a readiness to accept an obviously imminent war on far worse conditions and on the greatest scale.

This is the situation now facing us with Iran, but the indictment is far greater for us.    We have thrown away decades of advantage on “placatory appeasement” with Iran, refusing to confront their repeated attacks and declared ambitions to do us further harm.   “Death to the American Satan” was not just an idle slogans for the Regime in Tehran.

There were decades when the U.S. could have unseated the Regime.   From the very beginning in 1979 when the terror masters invaded our embassy and took our diplomats and Marines hostage, the U.S. had ample cause to take down the Regime.   But we had Jimmy Carter at the helm and he refused to act.   Reagan, George H. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush all failed to take down the Regime despite clear provocations and at a time when the power of the Regime to retaliate was far weaker.  During this time, “regime change” was the stated and official U.S. policy.

Now it falls to this pitiful Administration to make the hard choice.   We refused to take action when action would have been comparatively easy.   Churchill’s words echo:  this was judged unreasonable, rash, below the level of modern intellectual thought and morality.    Now we are forced to confront a Regime that is far better armed, with weapons and means to inflict serious injury to our economy and well-being.

Here again Churchill speaks directly to us:

Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.  There may even be a worse case.  You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.

The U.S. has certainly passed the first stage and the second stage.   Fighting now will certainly be costly, but hopefully not “precarious.”   Yet.  We dare not delay any longer.   If an Islamofascist Iran obtains a store of nuclear weapons  (assuming that they do not already have at least a few), things begin to look increasingly precarious.   May we never reach that stage.

Taliban Massing of Forces Part IV

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban fighters massing forces up to half a Battalion strong.  In More on Taliban Massing of Forces I detailed the seventh and eighth instances of such massing of fighters, and then finally we’ve discussed the ninth instance of this tacticThe Washington Post has given us another instance, mainly focused in RC East.

Scores of Taliban fighters were killed Tuesday evening as they attempted to storm a small U.S. outpost along the Pakistani border and were driven back by American soldiers, according to U.S. military officials in the province.

The insurgents launched the attack by firing rocket-propelled grenades and rifles from the grounds of two Islamic schools near Combat Outpost Margah, in eastern Afghanistan’s volatile Paktika province. The company of American soldiers stationed there fired back as large groups of fighters moved toward the base from a wadi, or valley, to the west, U.S. military officials said.

The fighting lasted less than two hours, ending by about 8:30 p.m. No U.S. troops were killed. A spokesman for the Paktika governor said that 50 to 60 insurgents were killed.

[ ... ]

“If they’re planning a massive attack, they may be able to muster a group of 100 around there,” Maj. Eric Butler, the brigade’s intelligence officer, said in an interview last week. For the Taliban, he said, “usually it ends very, very badly.”

Very badly indeed.  The battles at Wanat and Kamdesh in the Kunar and Nuristan Provinces, respectively, involved tragic and heavy losses compared to most instances of Taliban massing of forces, but even at Wanat the U.S. had a kill ratio of approximately 6:1.

Tim Lynch notes that “Rarely now will somebody shoot at the Marines in southern Helmand, and when they do, it is from so far away that it is hard to notice anybody is even shooting at you.”  The threat now is IEDs, and the Marines are suffering so many casualties that many of them, tragically, have issued standing orders to their Corpsman to let them die if they lose their gonads and are unable to reproduce.

The Taliban don’t fight conventionally – they fight asymmetrically.  In Helmand now after Garmsir in 2008 when the Marines killed more than 400 Taliban fighters, and the hard work of Marines in Now Zad and Sangin, the threat is IEDs.  In RC East it’s interesting that the Taliban see their position as so strong that outnumbering their opponent is still seen as asymmetric warfare, regardless of what the kill ratio actually shows.

Stupid Evangelical Tricks

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

The National Association of Evangelicals is calling for a reduction in the world’s nuclear weapons.

The group’s board of directors, which represents more than 45,000 local churches from over 40 different denominations, approved a resolution at its semiannual meeting in October encouraging the reductions as well as ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The treaty, adopted by the United Nations in 1996, calls for a ban of all nuclear explosions though it has yet to be fully ratified.

Oh my.  We evangelicals do beclown ourselves, don’t we?  Actually, the policy statement is a thing to behold.  First off, its appeal to Ronald Reagan is disingenuous, and is similar to the gun control lobby’s appeal to Reagan.  It’s dishonest and never works.  Reagan supported gun rights, and Reagan ran the Soviet Union bankrupt with an arms buildup.  Peace through strength is not the same thing as trust through unilateral disarmament, and we all know it.  No one ever buys this approach, so it’s an enigma why anyone uses it.

Next, the appeal to “restraining evil” and “promoting peace and reconciliation” is simply absurd, and the Biblical data cited has nothing whatsoever to do with the policy statement or their position on nuclear weapons.  And to assume that a treaty would have any affect at all on rogue nations such as Iran is puerile (Iran’s intentions have to do with apocalyptic eschatology, and no treaty that the U.S. signs will have any affect at all on their quest to usher in the eschaton with violence).  The only nation(s) that would honor such a resolution or treaty would be the very nations that didn’t need the constraints of the treaty in the first place.  It’s rather like the arguments preached by gun control advocates.

Next, regarding pastoral concerns, they cite the promotion of trust on God, and cite Psalm 33:16-17 (I’ll use my favorite, the NASB).

The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.

A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

And then they launch into gushing hand-wringing about cultivating love for our enemies and a concern for “dehumanizing” other people by targeting them with nuclear weapons.

Seriously.  You can’t make this up.  They use Biblical counsel regarding the state of the heart of individuals and their reliance on God as a justification for jettisoning nuclear weapons, obviously conflating that with the duty of governments to protect and secure the peace of its own people.

The authors of this tripe should have read Professor Darrell Cole’s paper on Good Wars, in which he uses Aquinas and Calvin to show how the Christian position on the state as the perpetrator of violence is not only not to be seen as an evil, or even a necessary evil, but a virtuous thing when done rightly.

The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches—contrary to today’s prevailing views—that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.

Sounds a bit different than the silly and shallow NAE position, no?  Then they drop this bit of insulting, moralistic hypocrisy into the policy statement.

The discovery of how to split the atom was a groundbreaking scientific and technological achievement involving large numbers of scientists, engineers and workers from many disciplines using their God-given talents. Today hundreds of thousands of Americans, both military and civilian, are directly or indirectly involved in the design, manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons. Many of these people are members of our churches. They seek to use their gifts and skills to serve their nation.  Some are troubled by the ethical ambiguities of participation in an enterprise that involves producing weapons of mass destruction. Chaplains and pastors should avoid simplistic answers, but should rather guide their members in prayerful reflection, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they wrestle with issues of profound moral consequence.

I doubt that the authors directly know even a single person who is involved with national laboratory work on nuclear weapons or even deploy them in the case of war.  But I do (on both accounts), and let me state that I know of no such “troubles” with “ethical ambiguities” with my friends.  And let me unequivocally state that the existence of nuclear weapons, far from promoting the diminution of world peace, is more responsible for world peace in the twentieth century than any other invention by mankind.  World War II was the last world war fought solely because of the existence of nuclear weapons.  And the authors of the policy have used the umbrella of peace that nuclear weapons have provided to craft their veiled and cowardly admonishments to nuclear workers and military servicemen.

I want to make one final point concerning the state of Christian scholarship and warfare.  I have thought more about war and warfare than 99.9999% of other Christians over the past five or so years, and I can honestly say that so-called just war theory is worthless in today’s world.

It was developed for a world that communicated by horse riders and signet rings, and archers lining up in fields against opposing lines from other countries, with border battles to see who would control nation-states.  It wasn’t developed for transnational insurgencies, large effect standoff weapons, terrorist bombings, fighters living and fighting among and from within their own people, real time intelligence, and targeted hits by UAVs.

In my 5+ years spent military blogging I have not referred to a single quote, citation, or word of any Christian scholar concerning just warfare – and it’s not because of the lack of trying.  It’s high time that the Christian community gathered serious scholars to tackle warfare in the twenty first century.  This NAE paper is neither serious nor scholarly.

And don’t come back with some claptrap about a pacifist Jesus.  Just go spend your time singing verses of John Lennon’s Imagine during your next worship service.  It would be ideologically similar to the paper, and artistically better than studying the policy statement.

UPDATE: The NAE’s Policy statement puts them squarely in line with Fidel Castro, who also believes that no country should have nuclear weapons.

Prior:

An Aging Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

Sounding the Nuclear Alarm


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