Archive for the 'Army' Category



Army Cancels Carbine Competition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

The Army has cancelled their competition to see which firearm will replace the Colt M4 series of rifles.  The Army has said that it was cancelled because all of the rifles failed the reliability standard of 3,592 mean rounds without malfunctioning.

After correction of the ammunition and other problems associated with the M-16 as it was initially deployed in Vietnam, this series of rifles has been effective and reliable.  To be sure, there are still detractors, the most recent problems concerning overheating of the barrel and failures associated with discharging a high number of rounds in a short time frame.

During the Battle of Wanat several M4′s had failures to feed (or failures to eject).  But the real problem with this battle wasn’t that several rifles experienced failures.  It was that the unit was placed in such a far-flung outpost without force protection or adequate troops to establish security and effect their mission.  No rifle can ameliorate bad strategy, and our war fought by the social planners and COIN experts was bad strategy.

Afghanistan has been called the war of the infantry half kilometer, as it involved longer distances than the urban warfare and CQB in Iraq.  Bob Owens mentions the cancellation of the carbine competition, and then launches into advocacy for a larger caliber, specifically the 6.5 Grendel.  This is old hat for Bob, as he has been advocating for a while now that the Army replace the 5.56 mm round, but continue to use the AR-15 platform.

But it should be remembered that with proper training, the AR-15 platform and 5.56 mm round are effective at long distances.  My son Daniel, a former Marine, routinely scored at the top of his Battalion, and they all had to qualify at 500 yards (using iron sights).  Travis Haley reminds us all how effective this gun and round can be.

Haley was shooting 5.56 mm ammunition from a Bushmaster (specifications can be found here, here and here – Haley was using a 20″ barrel, which is the major difference between the rifle he was using and the M4).  The comments to the video indicate that the targets may have been  closer than 800 meters (perhaps 600 meters), but this is far enough away to need high powered glass.

Even though the 5.56 yaws in flight (even with boat tail ammunition), it is a highly effective long distance round, while also being ideal for CQB (albeit designated marksmen and snipers may choose to carry different weapons and different calibers).  But Colt lost the contract to supply the M4, and sometimes manufacturers become complacent after so many years of sole sourcing.  In fact, my biggest problem with the competition isn’t that it’s over.  Rather, it’s that the best never participated.

And the winner of the U.S. Army competition to replace the M4 carbine is … the Army’s new and improved M4 carbine.

At least that’s the outcome gun makers attending Shot Show 2012 predict for the completion of the service’s improved carbine competition.

The Army is nearing the end of the first phase of the competition, now referred to as the IC. The service will soon announce which companies can advance to the second phase, when Army testers will start shooting hundreds of thousands of rounds through the prototype weapons.

Phase one has had nothing to do with evaluating test prototypes, but instead has focused on weeding out companies that may not have the production capacity to make thousands of weapons per month. This has become a bitter point of contention that has driven away some companies with credible names in the gun business.

“I’m not going to dump half a million to a million dollars for them never to review my rifle,” said Steve Mayer of Rock River Arms, standing amid his racks of M4-style carbines at Shot Show, the massive small-arms show here that draws gun makers from all over the world.

I have no dog in Bob’s fight over caliber, but my opinion is that the current platform and caliber are fine.  What’s needed is better training (even if not everyone can be Travis Haley), drills on shooting uphill (for those Marines and Soldiers who will deploy to terrain similar to what we saw in N2K), and lack of politics so that our men can get the best and most reliable rifles in their hands.  I have one.  It’s not so much to ask that Soldiers and Marines have them too.

If the Army chooses some other system than direct impingement, then so be it.  But it should be remembered that for everything you gain, you loose something.  I’ve held rifles that cycle ammunition from piston drive, and the front end is heavy.  It would affect CQB, and my son doesn’t even like the weight added from the quad rail on the front end of mine if it is used for CQB (my rifle is DI, not piston).

In the end, nothing can do everything, and the genius of Eugene Stoner is still with us today.

Developments Concerning Women In Combat

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

Women in combat, and in fact, in special operations.

The commander of U.S. special operations said Tuesday he expects to see women in the elite commando forces now that the Pentagon is allowing them to serve in combat.

Adm. William McRaven, head of the US special operations command, said he was “fully supportive” of the decision to lift the ban on women in combat.

I’ll tell you what.  Obama has himself some lackeys doesn’t he?  Adm. McRaven is remarkable.  But no more so than the current Commandant of the Marine Corps.

In his first interview since the Pentagon opened ground combat jobs to women, the commandant of the Marine Corps said some occupations may ultimately remain closed if only a small number qualify.

The Marines will not lower physical standards for certain specialties, Gen. James Amos told USA TODAY. “We can’t afford to lower standards,” he said. “We can’t make adjustments on what’s required on the battlefield.

“That’s not why America has a Marine Corps,” he said.

Sounds like he isn’t so much of a lackey, huh?  But wait.

The Pentagon last week ordered that the services provide the opportunity for women to enter all fields, including infantry, tanks, artillery and other combat arms.

The entire process could take years as the services develop and validate “gender neutral” standards. The secretary of Defense would have to approve any fields that remain closed to women.

“If the numbers are so small with regards to qualification, then there very may well be (job fields) that remain closed,” Amos said. “Those will be few and far between.”

Deploying only one or two female servicemembers in a unit, for example, would make it difficult for the women to succeed. “You want to have assimilation … so our females can mentor one another,” Amos said.

“Difficult for women to succeed.”  We wouldn’t want that.  After all, that’s what the military is there for – to allow women to succeed.

I’ve already discussed my own (and my son’s) view of women in combat.  I can’t add that much to it except to say that it’s the most stupid social project the American progressives have ever conceived.  But let someone else tell you that as well.

America has been creeping closer and closer to allowing women in combat, so Wednesday’s news that the decision has now been made is not a surprise. It appears that female soldiers will be allowed on the battlefield but not in the infantry. Yet it is a distinction without much difference: Infantry units serve side-by-side in combat with artillery, engineers, drivers, medics and others who will likely now include women. The Pentagon would do well to consider realities of life in combat as it pushes to mix men and women on the battlefield.

Many articles have been written regarding the relative strength of women and the possible effects on morale of introducing women into all-male units. Less attention has been paid to another aspect: the absolutely dreadful conditions under which grunts live during war.

Most people seem to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have merely involved driving out of a forward operating base, patrolling the streets, maybe getting in a quick firefight, and then returning to the forward operating base and its separate shower facilities and chow hall. The reality of modern infantry combat, at least the portion I saw, bore little resemblance to this sanitized view.I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other’s laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

And what sensible women wouldn’t want something like that?  So that women can experience the ultimate thrill of being shot at, going a month without a bath, getting their limbs blown off, and defecating near the faces of their colleagues, the evisceration of the U.S. military continues unabated so that the social engineers can have a legacy.

It’s a great country.

Colt Loses M4 Contract

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

Long-time suppliers tend to lose control over QA.  I don’t know if this has affected Colt’s proposals for the new M4s, but I do know that even though my former Marine son, Daniel, was a SAW gunner, of course he had to shoot and qualify on the M16 and M4.  After shooting my Rock River Arms rifle, he was very impressed at its quality.  I believe he had some complaints about the rifles with which he qualified.

So Colt has lost the contract for the next generation M4s, and here is the rest of the story.

Colt recently filed another complaint with the Government Accountability Office in further attempts to block competing vendors from supplying the US Army with new rifles. They do not want to lose their position as the primary M4 supplier to the Army, and they’re pulling out all the stops to prevent being undercut by the competition.

Shortly after signing Remington to the US Army’s $84 million M4 contract, Colt filed a complaint with the GAO, claiming that the contract did not properly calculate the royalties owed to Colt for each rifle. The GAO agreed, and the Army re-opened the bidding for the contract to supply them with much-needed M4A1 carbines.

Colt since filed a second complaint with the GAO, and while the details of their filing are unknown, it matters little as the GAO has denied their second claim.

Vendors will continue on with the current bidding schedule, and hopefully get back on track to supplying the military with the M4A1s they need to replace their aging M4s and M16s still in service starting in 2013. In order to keep things fair, all vendors have had to make their first bids public, acknowledging the fact that Remington’s bid was revealed by the GAO inquiry.

The plan to roll out new rifles dates back to 2008 when the Army started looking into ways to improve or possibly replace the M4. That could have been Colt’s intent all along, in order to be able to come in for less than all of the competing vendors.

The M4 Product Improvement Plan eventually settled on updating the M4A1 and fielding it to all troops. Although the M4A1 is more than a few years old it’s also extremely well-established in the military, and replacing existing rifles with it means no additional training requirements nor any teething issues rolling out a new main infantry small arm. Also, it’s very cost-effective. The cost per rifle Remington originally contracted for was just $673.

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The main advantage of the M4A1 is that it fires in full-auto rather than in a three-round burst. On AR-type firearms, the way the three-round burst mode works is with a ratchet that, on ever third shot, engages with the disconnector halting continued fire. This effectively gives the trigger two different pulls, one when the disconnector is in the stop notch and one when it isn’t. Even though a mil-spec trigger isn’t the best in the world, it’s still better than two different mil-spec trigger pulls.

Absurd.  The Marines are dumping the M249 in favor of the ridiculous IAR, about which my son said this.

This is sad. The reason we went with the SAW was because the BAR and its associated concept were inadequate.  At times in combat in Iraq, we had all nine SAW gunners firing during engagements, and I’m glad that we did.  We needed the fire power.  In the thousands of rounds I put down range stateside and Iraq, I never had a single problem … never … had … a … single … problem, with my SAW.  I kept it clean.  This change to the IAR is a testimony to laziness.  What do Marines want to do – take someone out on a date?  What else do they have to do when they’re deployed?  What’s the problem with cleaning weapons?  Mine worked because I maintained it right.  All this has done is make the Marines weaker.  It may be that this IAR could be used for select circumstances like room clearing, but the death of the SAW will bring nothing good.

So we’re dumping our only true stand-off area suppression fire system for the fire team and squad, adding full auto machine guns back to the fire team, and essentially returning to the days of Vietnam where everyone has a machine gun, the fire team is homogenous and the members don’t have different functions, and they waste ammunition.  Great.

And the complaint that Colt filed?  It rested on this charge.

The issue? Colt has a five percent royalty agreement with the Army for its rights to the M-4 rifle model. A royalty is a payment to the owner of the “intellectual property,” White said.

Colt argued in May its royalty wasn’t factored into the other manufacturers’ total prices and questioned the Army’s assessment of Remington’s past performance and production capability, according to a July decision issued by the Government Accountability Office.

While the decision dismissed the challenge of the assessment to Remington’s past performance and production capability, it was agreed the instructions on how the royalty was determined were not clear because the Army didn’t notify Colt or the competing manufacturers the royalty would be subject only to parts of the product.

And so Colt protested again in August, arguing this was inconsistent with the agreement, but in mid-November that was dismissed, and the accountability office determined it would not resolve a dispute involving the specifics of the agreement.
This is something that must be settled between the Army and Colt.

Seriously?  Royalty?  To Colt?  For the M4 design?  Seriously?  How about this.  Ditch royalties to Colt, find the surviving members of the Eugene Stoner family, and give the money to them.  Eugene Stoner was a genius.  Colt is being a bunch of snots.  And if the Army isn’t getting a Rock River Arms rifle, they aren’t getting the best.  Sorry. Story over.

Goodbye To The Army And Marines: Political Correctness Has Taken Over

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

As precursors to my analysis, take note of the following inconsistencies and contradictions.  First, Dr. Steve Metz, Professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in response to Sharia is coming, left this comment: “Should we worry about the creeping influence of the Boy Scout laws? More people follow that in the United States than sharia.” Note well.  Steve is comparing Boy Scout law with Sharia law.  This Boy Scout law – compared to this sharia law.

On the other hand, because of political correctness, in the Spring of this year, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley was condemned by the Joints Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and relieved of teaching duties at Joint Forces Staff College for teaching a course judged to be offensive to Islam.  The course he taught, Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism, was an elective course that Lt. Col. Dooley’s superiors judged as presenting Islam in a negative way. His superiors were persuaded to come to this conclusion after receiving an October 2011 letter in which 57 Muslim organizations claimed to be offended by the course.  The fact that Lt. Col. Dooley is a highly decorated combat veteran with  nearly 20 years of service under his belt apparently held little or no sway with the JCS.  As a matter of fact, JCS Chairman General Martin Dempsey “personally attacked” Lt. Col. Dooley on C-Span on May 10, 2012, during a Pentagon News Conference.

Next, take note of the fact that females are now matriculating at infantry officer training at Quantico.  This is certainly in line with Andrew Exum’s counsel concerning his own branch of the service: “I see no compelling reason why women should not be allowed to attend Ranger School. As far as I am concerned, if a woman really wants to run around a sawdust pit at two in the morning screaming “Ranger!” while periodically stopping to low-crawl for 50 meters, we have a constitutional — nay God-given — responsibility to allow her to do so.”

But now consider what Former Spook observes concerning women in combat MOS.

Almost 20 years ago, columnist Fred Reed published results of an Army study, comparing fitness levels among male and female soldiers. The data reaffirms that most women simply lack the upper body strength and endurance required by an Army infantryman, a Marine rifleman, or most special forces MOS’s.

The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

Finally, take note of the undercurrents in the suicide prevention department of the DoD.  We can trust our men with the most lethal weapons known to mankind, but the desire now is to give commanding officers authority over personally owned weapons.  As one commenter has noted, the concept of “at risk” is subjective, which is the same reason that such medical assessments cannot ever be allowed to preclude the right to own firearms in the civilian community.

My son routinely hauled 120 pound(+) kit off the line as a fleet Marine, including his time in Fallujah, Iraq, between body armor (including SAPI plates), backpack, weapon, SAW drums plus ammunition, hydration system, and so on and so forth.  Recall this picture from the assault into Helmand in the summer of 2009?

This Marine is carrying his kit plus a mortar plate.  He is probably crossing the line at greater than 150 pounds.

My son trained as a fleet Marine before the age of political correctness.  Strong, male Marines – not reserve Marines, but hard core regular duty infantry Marines – would need to take several shots of whiskey and 1000 mg of Ibuprofen to kill the pain prior to their twenty miles humps with full kit on 100 degree F (+) days at Camp Lejeune.  Negligent discharges brought a season in the so-called “room of pain.”  Laying back on the humps brought time in the room of pain.  Failing to qualify well on the range brought time in the room of pain.

Fun time involved laying down to sleep in the swamp overnight at Camp Lejeune (as ordered) and having to strip naked the next morning so that your buddies could burn the leeches off with cigarettes.  Or, how about that extended time at Fort A.P. Hill when the NCOs gradually removed everything the Marines had, from tent, to sleeping bag, to food, to winter clothing.  Then, it was time to sleep one winter night on that outing, and there was no way to stay alive unless Marines huddled, hugged, laid down together, shivered and threw leaves over themselves for the night.

You get the picture.  But my son left the U.S. Marine Corps because, in his own words, “the Corps is changing.”  He couldn’t train his boot Marines the same way he was trained.  He wasn’t allowed.  He had initially intended to extend so that he could go to Afghanistan with his boot Marines because he felt responsible for them.  But he believed that a lot of good men would perish in Afghanistan, and that he couldn’t make a difference in that.  So he left, along with all of the other Marines who had experience from Iraq.

If you have some sort of androgynous, genderless vision for the armed forces – if you believe that Navy Corpsmen should be able to treat the field diseases of both men and women and understand what mud and parasites in the various different cracks and crevasses and holes of men and women do, if you believe that men and women are on equal footing pertaining to physical abilities, if you believe that machines like the ridiculous Army future combat systems robotics and the silly machines like the big dog can ever replace mules and the backs of infantry Marines, if you believe that men and women will be able to interact socially as a cohesive fighting unit without the behavior that attends the opposite sexes – I think you’re weird and creepy.  Not that we can’t be friends, but just that you’re weird and creepy, at least to me.  Machines cannot replace strong men, and even the Russians found out in Afghanistan that women had a higher number of lower extremity injuries than men, causing severe under-manning of forces.  Exum believes that we have a constitutional and God-given duty to allow women in Ranger school.  I’m a constitutional aficionado with seminary training, and I don’t think Exum can prove either of those assertions.

As for Steve Metz, he isn’t stupid, he has just let his political and religious bigotry cloud his scholarship, leading to the stupid things he said about Sharia law.  But it’s okay to have Steve Metz saying those things as long as we don’t let contrary positions be taught.  We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

As for the personal possession of guns by Soldiers and Marines, how about this proposition.  We remove the ridiculous rules of engagement under which they operate and give them a coherent strategy, and see how our fighting men respond.  If not well, then I would be willing to spend some extra dollars to help assess PTSD.  But I’m betting I won’t have to spend a dime of that money.

As for the Army, I kind of expect this sort of thing.  But the Marines were supposed to be different.  They’re not, and political correctness proves it.  It’s a sad thing to watch the diminishing of the U.S. Marine Corps, once the greatest fighting and strike force on earth, to political hackery.  I hold the Commandant of the Marine Corps responsible, at least in part.  I also hold responsible a public who allows this kind of thing without pulling the plug on the absurdity of the use of our armed forces for every social engineering experiment that appeals to the self-professed intellectual elites.  And finally, it’s a shame that I have to mention the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the nations “intellectual elite” in the same breath.  How very sad is all of this?

Kamdesh Veteran Plays Football For Clemson

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

For some time now I have observed High School and College age kids to try to determine the degree to which they appreciate and understand the sacrifice that the men in uniform have made, especially combat veterans.  Frankly, it’s a disturbing practice that has led in no small part to a sort of loss of hope in this generation.  Many are consumed with video games, comfort, and their own well being.

Occasionally though, something like this comes along.  A combat veteran of the Battle of Kamdesh is going to play football for my alma mater, Clemson University.

It’s always been Daniel Rodriguez’s dream to play college football, but that dream had to be deferred when he decided to join the Army after high school.

Six years after the decision, Clemson is finally making Rodriguez’s dream come true.

On Wednesday, the school announced Rodriguez, a 24-year-old, 5-foot-8 receiver, was cleared by the ACC to join the Tigers.

“I am very happy for Daniel,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a release. “He is getting the opportunity to follow his dream. We are excited to have him join our program. I have no doubt that he will become a great leader for us. His background and story is an inspiration to us all.”

Rodriguez served as an Army infantryman in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006-10. In October 2009, Rodriguez was wounded in the battle of Kamdesh after more than 400 Taliban insurgents stormed a small American base. Rodriguez took shrapnel in his legs and neck, and a bullet fragment in his shoulder. He was awarded a Bronze Star of Valor and Purple Heart for his bravery in the fight.

Rodriguez was honorably discharged in 2010, and when he left the Army he did so intending on following through on a promise he made to his good friend Pfc. Kevin Thompson, who was killed in the battle. That promise was to find a way to play college football.

Rodriguez, who hasn’t played football since high school, first shared his story and his workouts on a YouTube video that ultimately went viral. He has since been featured on the cover of USA Today, and has been profiled on CNN and “Dan Rather Reports.”

Rodriguez understands that he’s not going to come into Clemson and be some sort of world-beater on the field, but he’s grateful for the opportunity and hopes his leadership will become an asset. Watch the above video, it will make you want to root for Rodriguez to do well.

“I’m not this high-scouted athlete expected to change this program,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just a cog on the wheel that’s going to play my role and better the team from an individual standpoint and give insight from what I’ve been through as a person. If I can help mold some of these guys in the locker room to have the same perspective on life I have, that’s a benefit.”

The video is remarkable, and Rodriguez gets the honor of competing for Clemson … and Clemson gets the honor of having him.  It’s a remarkable video that punctuates a remarkable story.

Posse Comitatus Hypocrisy

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

If this report is correct, the U.S. Army is preparing to do illegal things:

It’s not just the Department of Homeland Security that is gearing up for the prospect of civil unrest in America. The U.S. Army also recently purchased a stock of riot gear including batons, face masks and body shields.

As we reported last week, the DHS has put out an urgent solicitation for hundreds of items of “riot gear,” in preparation for expected unrest at the upcoming Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and next year’s presidential inauguration.

In a previous solicitation, the U.S. Army also put out a contract for riot gear to be delivered to the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

The contract, which was eventually awarded to A2Z Supply Corp, included requests to supply riot shields, face shields, batons and body protection.

Fears that the U.S. military would be used to quell domestic unrest in violation of Posse Comitatus have raged over recent years.

A recently leaked US Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” outlines how military assets are to be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.

On page 20 of the manual, rules regarding the use of “deadly force” in confronting “dissidents” are made disturbingly clear with the directive that a, “Warning shot will not be fired.”

The manual includes lists of weapons to be used against “rioters” or “demonstrators,” including “antiriot grenades.” It also advises troops to carry their guns in the “safe port arms” stance, a psychological tactic aimed at “making a show of force before rioters.” Non-lethal weapons and water cannons are also included.

Preparations for using troops to deal with mass civil unrest on U.S. soil have been in the works for years.

Back in 2008, U.S. troops returning from Iraq were earmarked for “homeland patrols” with one of their roles including helping with “civil unrest and crowd control”.

In December 2008, the Washington Post reported on plans to station 20,000 more U.S. troops inside America for purposes of “domestic security” from September 2011 onwards, an expansion of Northcom’s militarization of the country in preparation for potential civil unrest following a total economic collapse or a mass terror attack.

Again, if this report is true, these things are illegal for the U.S. military.  They simply cannot do them.  But that isn’t really my focus here.  Take note of the hypocrisy.

While illegal, preparations are being made for such activities.  The U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrols refuses to countenance any role for U.S. troops on the border except for filling out paperwork and doing mundane chores.  They aren’t under arming orders because of Posse Comitatus.

Actually, arming orders to secure the border against foreign invaders isn’t a violation of Posse Comitatus, but the activities described in the article above clearly are.  In the case of the U.S. border, it’s too important to garner new voters after they cross the border, supply U.S. farms and corporations with ostensibly cheap labor (the cost of insurance, medical bills, food stamps, welfare and so on are borne on the back of the U.S. taxpayers), enable transcontinental traffic and trade, and provide work for Mexican truckers than it is to secure the border.

Therefore, Posse Comitatus must be invoked in order to prevent true border security.  It has nothing to do with Posse Comitatus.  It has everything to do with the application and the desires of the ruling elite.  Again, note the hypocrisy.  This is American leadership in action.

Michael Yon Gets What’s Coming To Him

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

No, this isn’t another ridiculous pile-on-Michael-Yon post from some unstable Milblogger who is bored with the fact that he has nothing left to cover now that we have withdrawn from Iraq (and plan to withdraw from Afghanistan).  Some people just have to find others to hate in order to be important.

No, Michael Yon has gotten the attention to the MEDEVAC issue that he deserves.  You can follow his coverage here, here and here, here and here (just for starters).  I won’t recapitulate the reports since you can go and read them from Michael.  Here is a decent summary video.

But I will observe that my bullshit-o-meter pegged high when the Army began making claims that the Geneva Conventions required them to mark MEDEVAC helicopters and then also to require them not to be armed for self defense (thus requiring an armed escort and delaying the transit in some instances).

First of all, if the Geneva Conventions actually do require that we send medical evacuation into the field with no self defense, then we should not have ever been a signatory to such a document, and such signature should be forthwith rescinded.  But it doesn’t.  Take careful note.  The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way.

There.  Enough said.  Case Closed.  The U.S. Marine Corps isn’t violating the Geneva Conventions.  That the big-Army is wasting intellectual capital and moral authority on this is stupefying.

From the Front Lines in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
4 years ago

An important and recent account of combat action from a friend and patriot currently in Afghanistan.

How can you not love and admire the American fighting man. Men who are sent perform pointless, thankless tasks in the service of their nation. Poorly lead, poorly supported; they still manage to perform with patience and valor. It is unfortunate that there are no words to describe the thoughts and actions of such men. I try to explain to the privileged 99% of American citizens who do not serve, just what this means. And fail miserably. They just look at me, disbelief on their faces and I’m sure, disgust on mine.

So the platoon is vehicle mounted, MRAPS and Hmmwv’s with ANA in Ford Rangers. The platoon negotiates a defile with high ground all around and the ambush is sprung when the lead and then trail vehicles are disabled with IED and RPG fire. Its a good size linear ambush; PKM’s and RPG’s. The platoon takes causalities immediately and all vehicular maneuver is initially destroyed under intense fire. The soldiers dismount to fight for their lives. Even the gunners are forced off their turrets.The Taliban forces have RPG 9′s and are trying to take the vehicles apart even as the PKM fire is pinning the dismounts and killing and wounding. C2 is a mess and the some of the ANA forces are trying to run away.

One soldier, armed with an old iron sighted M14 he found in a Conex container in a small outpost, targets three PKM gunners who have the main element pinned down. The Taliban forces intend to reduce this force to the point that they can conduct a ground assault across the ambush site and secure equipment and prisoners. Platoon leadership is massing fires and calling for Medivac and CAS, but it’s not going too well.

The RPG men are at 200-350 meters, close to their max range. They are popping up and down over various rocky berms that define the surrounding high ground above the kill zone. They know their business; target the vehicles and masses of men, hold them in place so that the machinegun fire and ground assault forces can finish the job. As they pop up and down they make lousy targets for the ambushed forces pinned down below. The RPG’s are fast and loud and leave an evil, snaking, brown smoke trail in their wake.

Its the PKM fire that is the real issue. Cleverly and with sound tactical acumen, they are positioned within their max range on a berm above and behind the RPG gunners. It is very difficult for the U.S. Forces on the valley floor to see them and fix them with their own fires. Here the M4 is not really in its element. Firing up slope from exposed positions at machine gunners with cover and concealment, the little 5.56mm round is no match for the  7.62mm rounds delivered at a high rate of fire. The soldiers are off their trucks, away from their own machine guns and heavy weapons which again are very limited due to the steeply sloping terrain. They are difficult to elevate to the point that effective fire can be delivered. The Taliban RPG and PKM gunners suffer no limitations.

The platoon leadership struggles to maintain their fires and a fighting force. Despite all the chaos they begin to get vehicles moving and their remaining heavy weapons on target. The Taliban is tightening the noose on this ambush. The balance of the U.S. forces are still dismounted, returning fire and treating casualties. The Taliban now has 360 degree fire on this tiny force. U.S. Forces are surrounded and need to get the heck out of there.

The M14 gunner has watched fire from 3 specific PKM’s who have the front, back and sides of the ambushed forces pinned down. With some assistance spotting fire, he is able to silence or slow them down. He then takes the initiative and with a fire team in tow; maneuvers on a ridge line and kills the assault commander, his body guard and other PKM gunners. This breaks the back of the assault force and the platoon is now able to take charge of their Alamo Vally and recover their tactical loses from the ambush. CAS is now on site but no one cares. It’s F15′s and they rarely drop anything for fear of civilian collateral damage. Besides, the Platoon FAC is mired in ROE as opposed to mission, concerns. He is removed from the platoon COP within 24 hours of this fight.

The ambush is defeated but the remains of the platoon have very little time to recover and remove their own dead and wounded and to police the Taliban dead. The remains of the Taliban force are quickly scrutinized. The U.S Forces need to get the heck out of this ambush site before they are counter attacked by a larger Taliban force.

The Taliban assault force commander is well dressed and equipped. His pockets are rifled to reveal papers identifying him as a Pakistani Intelligence official. Its difficult to match his identification papers to his person because he was shot in the face and not much remains. He is also caring a small black book that has identifying and contact information for all the ANA and ANP officials in this area. The platoon interpreter is on site and he suggests that the information in this black book demonstrates the complicity of all local Afghan officials.

The Platoon consolidates vehicles and equipment for evacuation. Dustoff arrives for the wounded and though full of complaints, hauls the combat dead as well. Some equipment is destroyed on site with Thermite and direct fire and the Platoon returns to their COP to debrief, refit and turn-in their hard earned combat intelligence. Its really just another day in Afghanistan.

There are many themes from previous discussions, from Pakistani duplicity in this campaign, to micromanagement of the enlisted men, to ANA cowardice and lack of discipline, to the need for additional training in marksmanship and the need to arm members of fire teams and squads with various weapons that enable them to engage in more long range fire and maneuver tactics (in Marine Corps terms, this would mean relying heavily on the DM, or Designated Marksman, or Scout Sniper for long range targeting).  It also means arming squads with M14s or some equivalent weapon.  There are tens of thousands of M14s still in armories in the U.S. waiting to be utilized.

But without rehearsing too much detail on the main themes of heroism, megalomaniacal staff level officers, weapons training and selection, and poor performance of our allies, this account takes its place among the great ones in this campaign.  God bless the U.S. warrior.

Sustainable Defense Task Force

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 3 months ago

To be fair concerning the brief things I am about to say (and quote), you may go directly to the Sustainable Defense Task Force Report and read the analysis and recommendations yourself.  For now, the summary report at the Marine Corps Times will suffice.

An independent team has made a series of recommendations to Congress to reduce future Defense Department budgets, in light of the country’s growing deficit — including big cuts to the Corps.

The team, dubbed, The Sustainable Defense Task Force, was tapped for the project by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Their suggestions could reduce defense spending by $960 billion from 2011 to 2020.

Ideas include:

• Roll back the size of the Army and Marine Corps as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. The U.S. could save $147 billion over the next decade by reducing the Army’s end strength from 547,400 to 482,400 and the Corps’ from 202,000 to 175,000, the task force says.

• Reduce the number of maneuver units in the Army and Marine Corps. The task force suggests reducing the number of Army brigades from 45 to 42 and the number of Marine infantry battalions from 27 to 24. Doing so would contribute to the $147 billion in savings as the services reduce their end strengths.

• Delay or cancel development of Navy variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The U.S. could save $9.85 billion from 2011 to 2020 by canceling the purchase of JSF jets for the Navy and Marine Corps and buying more affordable F/A-18 jets instead. Doing so would leave the Corps without jump jets once the AV-8 Harrier leaves the service, but the task force argues that capability “has not proved critical to operations in recent wars.”

• End the fielding of new MV-22 Ospreys. The Corps could save $10 billion to $12 billion over the next 10 years by buying new MH-60S and CH-53K helicopters, analysts say. The K variant of the CH-53 is not expected to hit the fleet until at least 2015, but the Navy began replacing outdated CH-46 helicopters early this century with the MH-60 on amphibious assault ships.

• Kill the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program and field cheaper alternatives. The Corps could save at least $8 billion in the next decade by refurbishing cheaper, existing amphibious assault vehicles instead of continuing development of the yet-to-be-fielded EFV, the task force says.

• Reduce military recruiting budgets. The task force does not provide a service-specific breakdown, but says that with a military drawdown underway, the U.S. will not need to spend as much money finding new recruits. Recruiting budgets could be reduced by $5 billion over the next decade.

Some of the proposals — killing the EFV to save money, for example — are hardly new. But the report also includes a second set of proposals authored by Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble, analysts at the conservative Cato Institute in Washington.

In a five-page section at the back of the task force’s 56-page report, the two analysts propose a “strategy of restraint — one that reacts to danger rather than going out in search of it.” If adopted — a big “if” — it would result in deep cuts to the Army and Marine Corps, with the Army reduced from about 560,000 soldiers to 360,000, a 36 percent reduction, and the Corps reduced from 202,000 Marines to 145,000, a 28 percent decrease. The cuts would make the Corps smaller than it has been at any time since 1950, when there were about 74,300 Marines on active duty before the U.S. took an active role in the Korean War.

[ ... ]

“We are spending more on our military than we have at any point since World War II,” Preble said. “It’s absurd to think that the type of threats that we‘re dealing with today in 2010 are greater than what we dealt with in 1950 or 1960 or 1970. It’s absolutely absurd.”

No, here is what’s absurd.  Pretending that this has anything to do with saving any significant amount of money via defense cuts.  Recall that we have discussed this depiction of defense spending as a function of GDP (via Instapundit).

This graph also comes from the Cato Institute.  Maybe the analysts at the Cato Institute should talk to each other a little more.  You know, maybe some staff meetings or hallway discussions or something.  Maybe they should do lunch.  With the Obama administration having thrown several trillion dollars into toilet to be flushed away without doing any good whatsoever, the focus on defense spending is disingenuous and hypocritical.  Right before the executive summary, the following quote is strategically placed.

Conservatives needs to hearken back to the Eisenhower heritage, and develop a defense leadership that understands military power is fundamentally premised on the solvency of the American government and vibrancy of the U.S. economy,” Kori Schake, Hoover Institution Fellow and former McCain-Palin Foreign Policy Advisor.

Nice try.  Let’s cut billions out of defense spending in order to counterbalance the trillions we throw away on social engineering programs so that if we ever really do need defense again after we have managed to control ourselves and stay out of fights with the enemy, maybe we will have spent so much on non-defense we will have curtailed our drunken appetite for throwing money away and we can get down to business defending ourselves.

The problem is that the enemy gets the majority vote.  Say what you want about the expeditionary warfare concept, the 100 or so nations in which we currently have troops deployed and based, and the supposed meddling we do in the affairs of others.  It keeps the fight abroad instead of at home.  For those who wish to wait for the fight to come to our doorstep, be careful what you wish for and consider just what it would be like.

I have been as hard on the big plans for the Marine Corps as anyone.  I dominate Google rankings for expeditionary warfare and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  I oppose it (the EFV) in all its manifestations.  I have advocated a much lighter, and more air-mobile Corps, with reliance on forcible entry via air (a new helicopter fleet) rather than via sea, to allow the Navy to set up shop after the Marines have secured a beachhead.  Relying on the hugely expensive and very heavy EFV is profoundly unwise.  I have also opposed the money for the F-35 because it isn’t half the aircraft that the F-22 is, and it has had halting production efficiency.

But the authors have crossed the Rubicon.  They’re talking about massive reductions in infantry battalions.  Don’t be fooled.  Good Infantry Battalions can’t be stood up easy, cheap or fast.  We are left with our pants down if we follow the advice of this report sanctioned by this group of bipartisan lawmakers.  And for the record, while I like the generally libertarian approach to domestic lawmaking, Ron Paul’s views of national defense are naive and childish.  Any study co-sponsored by Barney Frank and Ron Paul should immediately raise your hackles.

In the future, I have a better idea for saving money.  Rather than pay these analysts to reiterate this same claptrap, next time pay me ten percent of what you would otherwise spend and I’ll cut through the crap in one tenth of the words.  One tenth the words for one tenth the cost.  If Congress doesn’t recognize that as a deal, they can’t be trusted with our money.

Prayers and Sympathies to Families at Foot Hood, Texas

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

I don’t have much wisdom to give at the moment, and I’m sure that details will come out in the future that will elicit more commentary from pundits across the blogosphere.  Right now, remember the families of the slain Soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in your prayers.


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