Thursday, December 30, 2004

Required Reading

Here. Via Lucianne's.

Will elections in Iraq change the region into a Little League/Rotarian/Saturday Night Boulevard Cruise paradise? No. Will they be painless, or even near perfect? No. Will the election generate an Iraqi George Washington, supported by men of vision and high wisdom, a giant who will shape the events of history and forge freedom for millions with his bare bands?

Probably not.

The Iraqis don't need a Washington right now. They don't even need a Lincoln; the issues facing the Iraqi population of Sunni, Shiite, and Kurds are old, old news to the groups involved. What they do need are maybe two hundred local men and women willing to leave the tribal past for a free future and are willing to bet their lives, honor, and fortunes on the effort to make it happen by serving true as elected officials.

I don't doubt that Zarqawi and his remaining allies are going to try to disrupt the elections. The Taliban made the same threats against the Afghani electorate that the terrorists in Iraq are making, even to equating the act of voting with apostasy. The Sunnis have been coerced into apparently declaring political suicide by non-participation; that's not going to happen. In the absence of ANY electoral participation on the part of the Tikrit/Mosul/Fallujah thugs they will find themselves bereft of any action beyond brigandage in the country that will arise after January. I don't think the tribal shieks of an entire region are willing to place their futures in the hands of foreign jihadis who are equal parts of psychopathic and suicidal. When the last foreign Islamokazi blows himself up there will still be tens of thousands of Sunnis who will have to deal with the central government. It's better to have a small part of a deal than none at all...and even if one has just a corner of the table today, who can tell what the next year will bring?

I think that with six month's time in hand, a new Iraqi security/army organization might just be ready to end that particular threat to stability and more importantly have the numbers and equipment to make it stick. Pretty? No. Perfect? No. Again, it will be just good enough.

Y'all have a good night. There's a mort of heavy lifting to be done in the next few months. I hope we are up to it.

The World Turns III

Oh no.

In World Turns II I asked if the islands were still there. Apparently not.

If you haven't given yet, please find a suitable charity and give now.


I just received an email from Sam, an expat Texan living and working in Shenzhen, China. Y'all check him out - he's in the running in the Asian Blog Awards.

The Purser's List gains another name. Welcome aboard, sir.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I should have expected it...

... but since I was at home and between chores, I fired up the TV for the first time in literally weeks and witnessed CNN's "Crossfire" in all its (lack of) glory.

Paul Begala is still counting the seconds until CNN realizes they could get better ratings and save a lot of money by stacking a hundred seventy pounds of manure in his chair. According to him, President Bush should have been out there shedding tears for the camera instead of organizing the federal response now underway.

I'm glad we've got a president and not the endless candidate. Glad, and grateful.

Mr. Begala, a big single- finger salute would be in order if you were worth the effort.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) is an embarassment. In her world, the U.S. is obligated to transfer wealth to the Third World because we CAN. She temporized her original ejaculation after Novak called her on it, but the honest answer was her first one. Just embarassing. I can't say anything more than that about her.

Robert Novak's expression as he talks with these goombas reminds me of all the times I explained the science of water flowing downhill to a client who just didn't have a clue. Less frequently I had similar conversations with contractors or clients who knew exactly what the score was and were just trying to set the stage for a fraudulent back charge to cover their own mistakes.

Always watch the eyes. They are indeed windows into the soul. Professional bass- like fish eyes like Begala semaphore dishonesty just as much as the wide- eyed earnestness of Ms. Norton.

Small people in very big times.

How long will it take the Democrats to rejoin our political process? If Crossfire is any indication, they are no closer to providing alternatives or constructive criticism now than they were before the election...

... which was the last time I paid any attention to what they were saying. I understand they are pissed off. I GET it, o.k.?

Is it too much to ask for them to articulate viable options? I guess so.

Update: 4:48PM - Added link to CNN transcript. If you go, get in and get out. I try not to give MSM any traffic if I can possibly help it.

Ding Ding Liberal Iraqi Arriving

Mr. Totten is a plank owner here at Three Rounds Brisk, and has been similarly honored by Ali of liberal Iraq.

Many contemporary political labels fail to accurately describe what they once did; what passes for "liberal" in the contemporary Western political lexicon seldom rises above hack populism at best or camouflaged socialism at worst.

I consider myself a quasi- Burkean (I'm weak on preordainment) and after reading Ali's explanation of his political goals-

Back to Iraq and the main topic of this post, I and many freedom-loving Iraqis see traditions whether Islamic or tribal in origin as the main obstacle towards our march for a free democratic Iraq. You can count Arab nationalism as another obstacle in this field. We, those who call ourselves liberal Iraqis, are totally against such traditions and rotten ideologies. We see ourselves as part of humanity and that's all. Some people in Iraq accuse us of being too liberal to the degree where we lack a real identity. This is not true, as we have one and it's called humanity.
So there's no sophisticated ideology that I endorse, I just support freedom of press, freedom of expression, women's freedom, separation of "Church from the state", freedom of religion and limited control by the government over economy. I do, however support strongly international aggressive interference in countries' internal policies to save others from oppression and humiliation.

- I see in Ali a kindred spirit.

I believe that freedom is a common dream of all men. I look forward to following Ali's commentary as the future unfolds for all of us. I encourage anyone who stops by to follow, and link to, his story.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The World Turns II

Whatever form our assistance takes, we need to ensure that this waste of resources is not included. (Via Drudge). I want the U.S. out of the U.N., and the U.N. off our soil. Their hypocrisy of mission is overshadowed only by their incompetence in execution. Enough is enough.

As this tragedy began to unfold I told my wife that if the casualty count came in under 50K I would be surprised. I fear the ultimate cost may be double my first guess. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of communities from village to moderate- city size in the area affected by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. You cannot begin to understand what "population density" really means unless you've been to South Asia. Many of these communities are on islands that rise no more than a few feet above the high tide line. Many of them haven't even been checked out because of the scope of the disaster.

Are they still there?

We haven't heard much from Bangladesh. They have the widest flood plain coastline in the world. A bad (heavy) monsoon year routinely inundates thousands of square miles of land and the already desperately impoverished villages that carpet the area. Bangledesh seems to be where the heel of the iron boot of fate always lands.

I'll be contributing to our local charities like the Red Cross and the LDS Relief Society but I'm always open to suggestions. Mercy Corps has a pretty good rep. Command Post is serving as a clearing house for charity/relief information as well as linking area blogs and communication links for people searching for relatives and friends in the area.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The World Turns

We are in the middle of shuttling our departing guests to the airport. Our Christmas this year was a special joy.

Now it's time to figure out how best to help our neighbors get through this.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas to all...

We had Christmas dinner early. My brother- in- law has to fly back east early tomorrow afternoon. I have just returned from the annual Santa's Christmas Eve Road Service Trip. The tradition began when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton back in 1984. Late Christmas Eve I stopped to help a lady with a flat tire on the state highway running through Spring Valley, California. In the twenty years since I've pulled cars out of ditches, changed tires, replaced belts and/or hoses, and once I even carried a family of four all the way to grandma's house. My oldest daughter and my two nieces came along for the ride this time. No breakdowns; the weather is fine, if cold, here tonight. We hit the truckstops from Point of the Mountain at the Salt Lake/Utah County line down south to Nephi, Utah, handing out candy canes to kids and the counter people. Saw a lady who remembered us from last year.

When I first put on the hat in 1984, I never saw myself growing the belly and a fair part of the white beard to go with it. Time fills, I guess.

The dining room WILL support eleven people and remain on the ground floor. Turkey, all the trimmings, sweet potato bake, bohnen, mashed taters, homemade apple sauce and cranberry sauce, biscuits and cookies and FOUR kinds of pie. And the cookies.

We are all as healthy as we can hope to be. We all have roofs over our heads. We are together and happy to be that way even after four days of elbow rubbing and sharing one and a half bathrooms. We've got a full- issue political rainbow , too, and I am here to tell you that there's a pot of gold at both ends.

We are a family come together from the ends of our great nation during this most special season and grateful that our blessings outnumber our trials. I hope and pray, dear reader, that your world is like ours is today. At least just this one day.

I have to go and wrap my last present, and then to bed. If you are reading this in the few hours left before Christmas dawn, you should hit the rack, too.

Merry Christmas, and may your New Year bring happiness in modest amounts and all the success you can bear.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. St. Luke 2:14.

I don't often quote scripture. Sometimes, however, the words just can't be said any better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

They're Here!

My sisters- and brother-in-law are here, along with two nieces and a nephew.

As expected, within four hours of their arrival every flat surface in the kitchen was covered with foil-covered plates of cookies. They regard that as a warmup for the real baking that will begin today.

We have one more guest inbound right now. Seems that former Marine spouses run in the family. Dean enlisted about the same time as I did, but went on to get a degree and ended up retiring as a LtCol (commanded a comm battalion based at Qauntico) two years back. He now works one of those evil Military Industrial Complex jobs that he can't talk about.

He also has a collector's license for firearms. I think he is putting more than one of SARCO's employees kids through college.

This is the last day of school for my goddesses. The visitors will be baking (of course) and doing last minute shopping. Slow cooked roast pork loin for supper tonight - one done Hawaii style, the other rubbed down with mesquite seasoning and lemon pepper. We trim the tree tonight and tomorrow will probably be sledding or skiing, capped off by a trip to the range for those that are willing.

Holy crap - we haven't picked out a turkey yet!

Merry Christmas, y'all. I'm off to the store.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Heartless Military/Industrial Complex

Via Instapundit comes this from Powerline:

The first point is that you'll recollect that one of the questions was the status of the 278 ACR; in other words, the date that we had the visit by the secretary of Defense, we had a question about their up-armoring status. When the question was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point. We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day. And so over 800 vehicles from the 278 ACR were up-armored, and they are a part now of their total force that is operating up in Iraq.

This story is a week old. The furor over the supposed ill-preparedness of the 278th RCT plus the selective reporting of Secretary Rumsfeld response has been fodder for an avalanche of negative press and occasioned several negative remarks from even Republican lawmakers.

Now it turns out that the real situation was that only twenty vehicles remained to be uparmored at the time the planted question was dropped on Rumsfeld. And those twenty vehicles were uparmored, per the pre-existing schedule, within twenty four hours of the news conference.

Where's the courageous journalist/agent provocateur Mr. Pitts now? Since he's embedded with the 278th, and in light of his high moral dudgeon over the seriousness of the situation, why hasn't he reported on this?

Fuck him. And the national media that glommed onto his sabotage.

Look, my traffic is modest, but there are indeed people who stop by. I will gladly continue to draw my pictures on the wall in the depths of the cave all by my lonesome with nary a comment on whether or not I can draw a water buffalo but I do ask that if you have a blog or email list, please pass the Powerline link above on to your friends.

This war will be ultimately won by ideas . We are swimming with anvils if we allow the media to continue to sabotage the war effort in their quest to bring down this administration.

Call them on their bullshit. Pass the word.

SPEED. Sort of.

UTA answered my email:

Dear Mr. Jones:

Thank you for taking the time to commend our operator for her attention to safety on Friday. She obviously does take safety seriously, and I am happy you were able to avoid an accident. Your email is the best written and most heartfelt letter of commendation I have ever seen for an operator. I am touched by your gratitude.

I have recognized her with a letter of commendation and a gift as a token of my appreciation. You will be happy to know it made coming to work early this morning just a little easier for us both. Thanks again and have a merry Christmas.

(name omitted)
Operations Supervisor
Timpanogos Division

Come Tuesday, our house will be filled with family from across the country. My wife and her two sisters are compelled by mighty forces to continuously cook when they are under the same roof. We'll be delivering a few platters of Mexican Wedding, chocolate chip, and peanut blossom cookies down to the bus barn on Geneva Road before Christmas eve.

God bless us, each and every one! Merry Christmas, everybody.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Mass Transit Saves My Life...

...or at least keeps me out of the hospital. The following is an email I sent to the Utah Transit Authority Customer Relations folks:


Quick action on the part of one of your drivers saved me from what would have been a serious accident this morning. I would appreciate your assistance in passing my thanks to the driver if at all possible.

I was returning home from dropping off my daughters and one of their friends at (name omitted) Junior High in south Orem. The time must have been a few minutes after seven a.m. (the kids wanted to go in early to watch the Jazz band rehearse) as I approached the intersection of Main and University Parkway, heading south on Main. Traffic on University was busy - typical for the morning rush. Your driver was first in the left turn lane waiting to turn east on University as I approached the intersection. There were no cars in my lane, the through lane across University, and the light/arrow changed to green when I was about two bus lengths behind your driver. I was probably doing around thirty miles per hour when I drew even with the bus which had just begun rolling across the stop bar into its turn when he tapped his brakes several times and I believe hit his horn. The turn lane on eastbound University had several large vehicles waiting and I saw nothing unusual in a glance that way.

Your driver came to full stop and honked again as I crossed the stop bar, still at speed. I immediately locked up my own brakes and the Mighty '87 Suburban caught enough road oil and gravel to slip into a mild right drift. I still saw no reason for your driver's action. Turning a little bit into the drift, I glanced in my rearview mirror at the cars that had been coming up behind me and saw that they were stopping safely clear. Still sliding I scanned from the right to fix how close I might come to the traffic waiting to turn (looked like it might be close but the skid was now straight enough to put me across in front of the rank) and left to see if the problem was over there.


I came to a full stop with my front bumper online with the hood ornament of the lifted Dodge pickup waiting in the eastbound University turn lane. Immediately, even before my truck had rocked back after the stop, a light-colored Jeep Cherokee-style vehicle flashed past in front of me in the eastbound number one lane of University at something between forty and fifty miles per hour. I was too close to see below the bottom of the Jeep's windows. The driver was a stocky, dark complected guy like me, and about my size. His attention was directly over the steering wheel. He raced through the red light without looking left or right.

I watched him go, then turned back to make eye contact with the two guys in the Dodge. I imagine I had the same slackjaw, pop-eyed expression they did. The passenger appeared to be using a cell phone. I hope he was sending a license plate number in. I waited a second to make sure there wasn't another vehicle (maybe a policeman in pursuit - the Jeep had been moving that fast) coming, then cleared the intersection and continued home.

We have spent the last month preparing our home to host uncles, aunts and cousins from the east coast who are coming to spend the Christmas holidays with us. With remodelling, rearranging, and frantic cleaning we have yet to even put up a tree. Tempers have sometimes grown short. There have been moments when the joy of the season has been lacking.

No more. I have driven the same route to and from Lakeridge for the past two years. This morning I was even wearing bedroom slippers and wasn't nearly as alert as I should have been. Without your driver's attention to safety and quick action I wouldn't be writing this letter. I would likely be in the hospital or worse. Probably worse.

The events I have just described happened between 0705 and 0710, Friday 17 December. Please locate this driver and transmit my heartfelt thanks for keeping our Christmas a time to celebrate with family and friends, and also a time to be thankful for the blessings we receive from good people we don't even know.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I saw him just today. He was driving a bus.

Y'all have a Merry Christmas, and many, many blessings,

A.R. Jones
Orem, Utah

Update: Corrected the spelling of "Claus".
Update: Edited to omit personal information.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

If the Bastille was stormed and CNN didn't cover it...

...would it have made the history books?

Col. Austin Bay has posted "The Coming Arab Revolt" over on the Strategy Page. It's important; read his bio on the first link, then read his essay.

A major component of the fog of this war has been selective media coverage. We get literally days of punditry on any unsourced criticism of the administration, video and photo avalanches whenever the horrors of war happen, and a total absence of substantive establishment media commentary framed in terms of the published threats and actions of Islamofascists.

America's reaction to 9-11 -- specifically, its strategic offensive reaction -- is taking the gun out of hands of tyrants and terrorists. Removing Saddam Hussein began the reconfiguration of the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East -- a dangerous, expensive process, but one that gives Middle Eastern moderates the chance to build states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted.

America's Liberal/Leftist demographic has chosen sides. No, they don't look forward to a golden age of sharia rule and the end of Western civilization. They don't look that far down the road. What is left of the Democrat party and their kindred spirits in media, academia, and pop intelligentsia have instead judged the world on their "how things should be" scale and decided that the global Islamofascist threat doesn't impact them nearly as immediately as does George W. Bush's presidency and the looming potential of the ownership society to drive a stake through what is left of contemporary elitist liberalism.

You can't have plantations without slaves.

Col. Bay cites several critical events that have occurred over the course of campaign against Islamist terror. He goes on to predict a coming wave of popular rejection of despotism across the Muslim world. When was the last time any high-profile correspondent laid down in a list what has been accomplished in this war?

Was there a first time?

The explosion of debate, critique, and commentary by individuals via the web has had an undeniable influence on the ability of MSM to define issues, yet institutional media still enjoys a wide cachet of credibility and more importantly remains the sole source of information for a substantial, if dwindling, client base.

We are fighting a world war. The stakes are every bit as high as in the three we had a hand in winning the last century. The nature of the battlefield has changed the moments of decision by which victory can be measured from climactic battles or territorial gains instead to a much more subtle standard. Today we must remove the cancers of the middle eastern body politic and then wait for the patient to recover and become a functional member of society.

Americans hate to wait for anything. See the problem, fix the problem, move on. Conservatives are especially susceptible to the reflex; liberals had half a century to deliver on their agendas and ended being rejected because they never got around to solving the problems they embraced in their platforms. Our predilection for demanding elegant solutions is a serious asset for our enemy. Media living inside its news cycles and politicians who mark epochs from one election to the next also recognise opportunities for themselves, too, arising from this reality. The job to be done is before us, but it will take time to change the inertia of literally thousands of years of tribalism, despotism, and hatred.

Blacks were lynched in our own south for a century following the Civil War. We still have troops stationed in Germany. We wrote Japan's constitution. Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate for coming on eight years with no hope of local elections in sight...yet the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the surrender of Libya's WMD programs, the absence of any reprise of 9/11 on our shores, and the recent elections in Afghanistan and the coming elections in Iraq are never reported as victories in their own rights but as mere timestamps in a presumptively failed strategy.

I believe that when we win this war it will come as a surprise to a huge number of people. Victories have occurred - victories every bit as momentous as Midway or the race across France - and the enemy is brutally aware of where the initiative lies. We will not win this war by killing the last terrorist with our last bullet. This war will be won when the freed populations of middle eastern nations are strong enough to pursue their own futures. Islamofascists were enraged by our influences on their barbaric regimes from a hemisphere away. Think of the effect of successful, free Muslim nations next door and their brutal tactics of suicide bombings and beheadings fail to surprise.

Those that limit themselves to what corporate media tells them or by their own blinkered political prejudices are incapable of understanding the changes our world is undergoing. They are opting out of participating in solutions and are instead embracing an almost clinical state of insularity that cannot help but make them more angry, depressed, and paranoid than they already are.

Update: h/t to Instapundit, LGF, Protein Wisdom, and Wichita Boy.

Update: Fixed the link to Col. Bay's article. *sigh*

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's Nice To Be Appreciated

Here is a Foreign Service guy who gets it.

h/t Kim Dutoit.

FRAG Order

I've been a pretty unproductive member of the blogosphere lately; oh, wait - there's no clock to punch, is there?

Still, I do apologize to anyone who's stopped by and seen nothing in the window. We are preparing to receive uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces and things are definitely all ahoo on the decks. The downstairs remodel went o.k. except that our choice of flooring makes finding a reasonable area rug a quest that makes the Holy Grail look like something you pick up at WalMart. I organized so well I managed to ship off my wife's heirloom Gund teddy bear to a local thrift store.

She still loves me. I am the luckiest guy in the world.

Anyway, sometime in the middle of January we may help a friend move his family to Florida by caravaning one of his cars to West Palm Beach. This is all tentative for now but I'm not employed and the wife has two weeks of vacation saved up, so why the hell not, anyway? I've driven the country North to South twice and West to East once. We only have to pay for one ticket back if we go.

It'd be kind of nice to boogieboard Ft. Lauderdale in January. It would sure beat shovelling snow in Happy Valley, ya think?

The preliminary map scout favors a southerly run. Moab, Santa Fe, Amarillo, Dallas, Jackson, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, then south to WPB. Yahoo's original suggested route was a great circle course across the great plains. No thanks - not in January. 2594 miles, and we only pick up a hundred miles going the southerly route. And what's a hundred miles when you cross a continent, when you get right down to it?

Now I have to find out what the concealed carry laws are for all those states.

I wonder how they'd feel about a ring mount on a Geo Metro?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

No Whining - Why to Bitch is An Honorable Thing.

I have a story about uncomfortable questions.

Way back when there was only one landmass on the planet (about 1981, as a I recall) I attempted to shoot my first Fleet rifle qual since leaving Marine Corps boot camp.

I had left Edson Range the year before wearing a Marksman shooting medal, which denotes the lowest level of qualification. It is known as the "Toilet Bowl" among Marines. I have been a shooter since I was six years old, and actually competed in junior rifle matches with good success as a teenager. I was on fire to correct my mistake and pick up that Expert medal.

My M16A1 issue rifle on Okinawa was produced by Colt in 1971. Whether or not it ever saw service in Vietnam is unknowable. What I do know is that it had been used by Marines for ten years. That means it fired possibly thousands of rounds, blank or ball, each year, and was cleaned with the vigor that only Marines bring to weapons maintenance. It had been dropped, bumped, immersed in water, mud, snow, or salt water countless times. It was dirty when it was issued to me (pretty unusual, actually, in my later experience) and I spent a good two hours getting the worst of the crud knocked out of it. The bore cleaned up amazingly well in spite of all the gunk elsewhere. Shiny, even for being chrome lined.

Range qual has three phases: snapping in, range days, then pre-qual and the qualification day. Snapping in is a rehash of basic marksmanship that covers safety, technique, positions, wind doping, etc. You head out bright and early on the following Monday to shoot half the day and run targets the other half. On Thursday you shoot prequal, which is scored in case qual day, Friday, is weathered out.

I hit the range at Camp Hansen on Monday relaxed and confident. I had zeroed my rifle the Friday before. The ideal for a good combat zero is to end up with a three shot group you can cover with a dime that centers exactly one and a half inches above the aiming point on the target, which you fire at from a prone position, using the sling for support. The range is twentyfive yards. I ended up with a nickel group centered on the bull itself, so the PMI (primary marksmanship instructor) had me crank DOWN the front sight post six clicks. A click equals 1" @ 100 yards - so six clicks at 25 yards should raise the point of impact an inch and a half - easy, right? This should give you effective dope (sight settings) to hit about six inches above an aiming point 200 yards away, in this case, the center of the round bullseye.

Monday was cool and breezy, with a low overcast. I fired my slow fire strings (sitting, kneeling, offhand (standing), and did alright. My calls, that is the record notes I made in my book where I "called" where I was aiming the moment the trigger broke and the rifle went off, were uniformly at the six o'clock edge of the round bullseye...but my actual scores were scattered in a swarm all around that point. Some bulls, more fours, and I even had a three. Normally, a vertical spread of shots indicates poor breathing control. A fog of shots scattered randomly around a purported good "call" point usually means the shooter isn't holding well - and hey, PFC Utah was just a Marksman, right?

I shot the rapid fire string at two hundred yards - two magazines, five rounds each, from the sitting position. Tragedy! Ten rounds on the paper...some bulls, but the group was sloppy big and some rounds almost fell off the bottom of the target. My coach chided me for rushing.

The longer Monday dragged on the worse things got. The breeze even went away but my calls more and more bore little relation to the marked scores on the target. Rapid fire at three hundred was flat horrible - I put a couple of rounds into the berm in front of the target and showered the scorers working the frames (the area is called the "butts") below it. Not a good thing to do - it pisses them off and cuts up the target. At five hundred yards I had to put the front sight post down so far (to raise the bullet impact to reflect the range) I was looking at the very nubbin top of the post between the protective wings on the front sight assembly. There should have been about an eighth of an inch showing - at least that's what was up on my fellow shooters' rifles. And I still put at least one more round into the butts. Left....right...and always freaking LOW.

The weather deteriorated as the week dragged on. I did well enough on Monday and Tuesday to have qualified, but barely Marksman. Wednesday was just shit from the first round to the last round. I asked for an armory inspection on my rifle but with the horizontal sheeting rain and all the armorer just tested the trigger, visually inspected the bore (after three days of shooting - and us standing in the rain), and declared it good. Desperate, I had by now started holding my aimpoint at the top of the target frame at five hundred yards just to get on the paper. I failed qualification on Thursday - with many others, the weather was horrible - and Friday was declared a washout.

From Toilet Bowl to Non-Shooting Fuck, all in four days. You cannot be considered for promotion in the FMF if you aren't rifle qualified. You get points plus for being a sharpshooter or expert, too.

A short month later I stood a personnel inspection (Alpha uniform and rifle)for the Commanding General's Inspection with my battery. The inspecting officer, a major from 3d Force Service Support Group (maintenance/logistics guys) was really sharp. He noted the absence of even a toilet bowl over my left breast pocket right off the bat. You don't offer up your troubles to an inspector - I just reported that I was indeed an unqualified shooter (nonshooting spastic fuck unfit for social contact)SIR...

...and then a wonderful thing happened. He was doing the rifle inspection routine and came to a full stop at the front sight assembly. "Why is the front sight post turned so far down on your rifle, Marine?" "Sir, because the only way I could hit the paper was to hold on the top of the target frame with my sight set there, SIR" says I.

He had his assistant make a note, and continued on down the line. After my platoon was dismissed, I was accompanied back to our armory by the Major's Sergeant, who was an armorer. He cracked my rifle open and put the upper part (with the barrel) on the bench and ran an inspection rod down the bore. It's a simple tool - it is cast to mimic the profile of the lands and grooves. It should rotate as it slides down the tube riding the spiral of the rifling.

It bounced to the bottom of my rifle like a coat hanger inside a pipe. Vindication!

But I still couldn't get a simple do-over. The Rules state that mechanical issues must be raised before qualifying. I was screwed for the year. Even after I shot a 235 out of 250 with my newly-barreled weapon a few months later but had to wear the hated bowl until the next time around. I shot expert the remaining years I was a Marine, too, rain or shine.

And what's the point? Between my CG inspection experience and requalifying I attended an enlisted all-hands presentation given by the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. I believe his name was Crawford. All the sergeants-and-below ranks attended at the base theater on Camp Foster. After his talk he opened the floor for questions. The first Marine asked about improving barracks conditions (we lived in open squad bays while the Air Force guys down the road were hosting Lives of the Rich and Famous episodes) and the second Marine asked if a phone center might be built closer to his unit.

Then I stood up and asked when the Marine Corps was going to be equipped with rifles that worked, and in a real rifle caliber that could like, you know, kill people?

About half a heartbeat after the last part of "?" passed my lips my brain froze. I do remember the SergeantMajorMC remarking that the "Butt behind the buttplate has more to do with how a rifle works..." but it gets hazy after that. That's o.k.. My platoon sergeant, battery gunny, first sergeant, and, later that evening, battalion sergeant major ALL made sure I understood the foolishness of my ways.

I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'd asked the same question of President Reagan in a Christmas card just a few weeks before. When I got a letter from an Undersecretary of the Navy a little while later, it was hand delivered by my first sergeant. In it, the undersecretary informed me that the A2 model was in the pipeline and an improved round (same poodle-shooter caliber) along with it. Also that the Marines were going to get new artillery (the M198) and enough trucks and jeeps to move it.

And he wished me a happy new year, too. The first shirt advised me to restrict military matters to chain-of-command channels and let me go.

The issue of troops asking questions of leadership is important. Of all the SecDefs of my lifetime, I believe that Rumsfeld is probably the best. That troop, even if the question he asked was planted, is going in harm's way and deserved an answer to his question. Rumsfeld gave him a good one that reflects the reality of the situation we live in. Good for the troop, and good for Rumsfeld.

And gee, the newsies get to spin for a few days. They, of all people, shouldn't complain about this at all.

There's The Opposition....

...then there's just the enemy. The following e-mail was sent by Edward Lee Pitts, an embedded reporter attached to the 278th RCT. Drudge reports that Mr. Pitts planted the question about the armor kit scarcity situation that was asked of Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday:

(note: unedited)

From: EDWARD LEE PITTS, Chattanooga Times Free Press military reporter
Sent: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 4:44 PM
To: Staffers

Subject: RE: Way to go

I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.

So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being "not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem." He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.

The great part was that after the event was over the throng of national media following Rumsfeld- The New York Times, AP, all the major networks -- swarmed to the two soldiers I brought from the unit I am embedded with. Out of the 1,000 or so troops at the event there were only a handful of guys from my unit b/c the rest were too busy prepping for our trip north. The national media asked if they were the guys with the armor problem and then stuck cameras in their faces. The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines. I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I foud out I would be on an unarmored truck- and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press. I believe lives are at stake with so many soldiers going across the border riding with scrap metal as protection. It may be to late for the unit I am with, but hopefully not for those who come after.

The press officer in charge of my regiment, the 278th, came up to me afterwords and asked if my story would be positive. I replied that I would write the truth. Then I pointed at the horde of national media pointing cameras and mics at the 278th guys and said he had bigger problems on his hands than the Chattanooga Times Free Press. This is what this job is all about - people need to know. The solider who asked the question said he felt good b/c he took his complaints to the top. When he got back to his unit most of the guys patted him on the back but a few of the officers were upset b/c they thought it would make them look bad. From what I understand this is all over the news back home.



Please read the stories linked within the Drudge story - and note that Rumsfeld's answer to the Army Specialist included the statement "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might wish or want to have". This has always been a truism of heading into harm's way; the enemy is going to do his best to kill you whether you show up in a loincloth or in a powered flying cybernetic armored suit complete with nuclear weapons.

I cannot attribute the quote, but many years ago I read that ..."in the race between armor and warhead, the warhead wins in the end".

Now we've had a two-day feeding frenzy over a non-story willfully created by a journalist who has crafted a media event to conform to his agenda of how the world ought to be, instead of covering it as it is.

There were probably thousands of GI's killed by shrapnel, mines, or small arms fire driving jeeps across Europe in WW2...but the GI's still loved the vehicle. Eisenhower rejected selecting the M26 Pershing tank over the M4 Sherman because he feared the delay in retooling the factories would leave him without adequate armor for D-Day and the invasion to follow.

When that decision was made, it was common knowledge that the Sherman had NO business on a battlefield where even the lightest German tanks - the MkIV's with the 75mm high velocity gun - might be encountered. The Sherman was underarmored, had a crappy suspension setup for anything but roads and hard ground, and the vast majority of them were armed with a low velocity 75mm gun that couldn't penetrate German frontal armor at all, and flank and rear armor only at pointblank range. The Sherman also looms on a battlefield; its silhouette is almost four feet higher than any other tank found on WW2 battlefields.

Eisenhower justified his decision on several assumptions. The spearhead assault units were envisioned as making contact with the enemy, then sliding left or right around them using the American advantage in mechanized mobility and leave the Germans to be pounded by artillery and air as they were encircled. The assault element would race on, sowing confusion and destruction in the rear. He also pointed out that the support echelons had become masterful at maintaining the M4 and would have to be completely reequipped with spares, specialty tools, and undergo retraining for the new tank. I read a fascinating book on this subject called Death Traps. I highly recommend it.

Eisenhower had the mission to carry the fight to the continent of Europe. He made a command decision that even he admitted cost more than he thought it would...but in the end we still won.

In combat you must accept that there is never going to be a bloodless battle, and that time is the greatest ally your enemy has in defense. The unit mentioned in the story did receive some uparmor production Hummvees - they were assigned based on the mission of the crews that would be operating them. Every unit I ever served with trained to prepare to make use of field expedients like bolt-on kits, sandbags, or plain boilerplate skirts...just like the units are doing right now in Iraq.

We can't put enough armor on any vehicle to make it totally safe as long as there is no upper limit on how big a bomb the enemy can plant alongside a road. There are even some Marine units stripping down their uparmor Hummvees in order to have enough top speed to run down enemy sport utes/pickups configured as weapons carriers. You make the best use of what you have to accomplish the mission before you.

Mr. Pitts should apply at CBS. I hear they are looking for people just like him for 60 Minutes.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Of Pearl Harbor and Current Events

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a punctuation mark in the historical narrative of America's journey to war against the Axis. The rhetoric of the Imperial militarists in Tokyo had long telegraphed their intent to turn the Far East and the Pacific Basin into a Japanese lake. Their campaigns in China gave ample evidence of their willingness to commit any brutality to further their aims, and provided justification for the 'yellow peril' faction above and beyond mere xenophobic/racist sentiments of the time. At a time when U.S. military line training aids depicted the Japanese soldiers as nearsighted,bucktoothed monkey men the halls of the almost-completed Pentagon were filled with Captains, Generals, and Admirals anxiously pondering the lessons of Tsushima and trying to envision just where airpower would fit in the order of battle that would obviously be dominated by battleships.

Years before the first Val tipped into its dive over above Battleship Row, we had already exchanged gunfire with German U-Boats and seen U.S. flagged ships sunk by enemy action in the Atlantic. We had embargoed deliveries of U.S. steel and petroleum to Japan over their atrocities in China. Our government had formulated sweeping plans to harness industry and manpower in spite of a prevailing isolationist sentiment across much of a depression-battered nation.

I have a lot of problems with FDR's social and economic legacy, but one thing I never fault him for is his leadership in preparing the country to fight and win a war we didn't want and didn't ask for.

The part of Texas I grew up in is dotted with old airfields. I knew old men who were shotgun-shack sheepherders living on canned beans and rabbit fritters on December 6th 1941 who became draft-protected Essential War Material Suppliers within a week of the attack - in one case one of those old boys tells the story that he didn't even know we were at war until a War Department man pulled up to his shack in a Packard to let him know that government engineers were coming to develop the oil resources under his range. America knew we had been attacked, knew we had to get into the fight...but without the foresight of FDR's diplomats and planners we'd have been restricted to drilling with wooden rifles and sending out convoys to Britain until 1943 or 44 - if we were allowed the grace to survive that long. We were in horrible shape, as continental powers go, in 1941 - make no mistake about it - but the military and industrial preparations made beginning around 1939 did make it possible for us to go on the offensive soon enough to win the fight.

John Podhoretz has a column in today's New York Post about the latest iteration of the Democratic effort to label President Bush. Today's effort is Evil Doofus. It's an excellent read, shifting from what the Democrats want to believe to what Bush is actually accomplishing and the personnel moves he's making to make it happen.

More Americans died on September 11th than at Pearl Harbor. We had three decades of storm warnings on the part of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists vice the one the Nazi/Italy/Japan axis gave us prior to attacking us on our own soil. A majority of Americans decided to fight.

Unlike in 1941, the minority political party has declined to participate this time around. I believe we can, and will, win without them. We must. Just like a billion dollars in one pile, very few people can comprehend the power we actually have at our disposal. All those carriers, airplanes, and troops we've paid for over the course of our lives represent the manifestation of adult appreciation of the world we live in...and the fact that we didn't entirely disarm after we won WW3 means that a slim majority of all our elected leaders knew deep down that we could not afford to not pay the price to maintain them.

The surreal, actually outrageous, reality about our strategy to eventually defeat the threat is that it pivots on the creation of democracies... And who howls loudest that we are wrong? Who equates beheading jihadis with Minutemen? That we are doomed to defeat? The same people who pride themselves on being caring, broad minded, progressives. The people that can find a victim to champion faster than a blogger can hit the enter key. What will they tell their kids when they ask "What did you do in the war?" while on the way to the airport to visit the ruins of Ur or visit Palestine and Israel for shopping? In their post-election flailing, they appear to seek oblivion over making any attempt to join in the battle to defeat the greatest threat to Western democracy since the Sov's were defeated.

I expect the next calendar year to see the face of the world changed in ways unimaginable. Bush is collecting a new cabinet of operators and staffing critical agencies and benches with street cops, successful businessmen, and constitutional jurists.

Afghanistan swore in a president yesterday. Iraq will elect their first in January.

I believe that the Iranians will do the same within eighteen months, and Syria not long after.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Hump Day

Wheeeeeeeeee. It's been a busy few days here at the Team.

The downstairs remodel is at that stage where what was on the paint chip becomes a slightly different color on the wall.

My goodness. That base coat - it's a bit more ...purple... than we thought it would be. Not "Trading Spaces" purple, but not quite the subtle pastel shade Wife of TM was shooting for, or so she says. I like it. I'll think that after sponging on the contrasting darker shade the effect will be stunning, especially against the dark trim we are using for baseboards and to demark the shelf that runs around the exterior walls of the room. The ceiling texture rolled on nicely and we painted it the next day. The recessed lighting shells (six fifty watt halogens on a dimmer) are semigloss white and contrast nicely with the subtle dusty yellow semi-gloss we chose.

I think I'm going to have to break down and post some photos.

The remaining work is finish carpentry to frame in the two basement windows, paint and install casing and baseboards, and plan and execute a closet insert. Then the wife can hang curtains and determine where the furniture lives. Whoot!

We have accumulated a modest suite of home entertainment components over the years. Last spring we stumbled on a going-out-of business sale at a local Oak Warehouse and replaced our apartment grade couch/loveseat and living room shelf system with a sectional sleeper sofa and monstrous oak entertainment center. Yesterday marked the first time that the DVD/VCR/TV/Digital Cable/home theater system was ever cabled properly. That took about two hours and a hundred dollars worth of cables. I finally figured out that the confusion in wiring the mess stemmed from the different technologies spread between a five year old VCR, two year old amp, state of the art DVD, and the Cable Box that was documented with manuals written in french.

Gone are the days when somebody had to wield a remote in each hand to check the weather channel. The cats no longer bolt from the living room when they hear the loud 'snap' that means the system is powering up with the home theater volume set to 'stun'. And the video and sound quality has gone warp since I replaced the seventyfive ohm hookup cables (Sansui - 1980) with Monster coax and fiberoptic cables (where they belong).

I'm off. Big day of clearing the decks in the rest of the basement ahead, then back to the finish work tomorrow.

Have a fine day, all.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Not For Hire

I'm not Mississippi pilot, but I do shoot a bit. I have never charged for coaching - I get more than enough value for my time by passing on the skill and seeing new shooters join the ranks of armed citizens.

I shoot pistol and small bore rifle at The Shooting Academy (no link; neanderthals) in Lindon, Utah, once or twice a month. I have coached Marines, single moms, Boy Scouts, minors, senior citizens, and family friends over the last twenty years or so. I also reload for a grundle of different rifle and pistol calibers and am always ready to exchange opinions or advice on that subject, too.

The second thing I saw the first time I met my wife-to-be was a 'no nukes' sticker on the neck of her guitar case. East coast liberal. She has since (long since) learned to shoot paper targets better than I do. We've mellowed each other out over the years.

My sidearm of choice is a slightly-customized Springfield Armory M1911A1 in .45ACP. There's nothing faster for double-taps nor mechanically safer for ready carry, even if it is a heavy beast. It rides in either a Kydex or Galco holster, depending on what level of concealment I want.

If you live in the Utah county area and are interested in meeting up for an introduction to safe shooting or just a nice day punching paper, feel free to drop me an email at tmjutah at Questions or opinions on shooting/reloading/2d Amendment issues are always welcome, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Here at the home of Team Jones we are washing and sweeping and digging out the centerpiece.

We give thanks today for our freedom, good fortune, and the men and women who are giving so much that we may continue to enjoy both. Freedom is never free.

May next year see more of those heroes safe and at home.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Zarqawi Sends a Nastygram


Hitler was bummed too, shithead. He didn't understand why the Germans up and quit on him in 1945, either.

Clue: They were tired of getting killed for the delusions of a maniac. The grandsons of the men who defeated Hitler are working hard to add you to the list of dead losers, too.

Mr. Zarqawi, it would make my Thanksgiving day if I found out you were already dead as I wrote this.

Do your part, bud. Do it for the raisins.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ding Ding Dan Darling Arriving

Mr. Dan Darling, author of Regnum Crucis and frequent contributor to Winds of Change has been added to the Purser's List.

Mr. Darling's ceaseless investigation of terror organizations and the genealogy of the Islamic fundamentalist threat is awe inspiring in its scope and depth.

He spent last summer as an intern with the American Enterprise Institute. Link goes to the "about us" page.

I read his blog on a daily basis.

Monday, November 22, 2004


I am taping with an eight inch knife. That means I have one more knife and two rounds of sanding before I paint.

My next home will be constructed from blocks of sod hewn out of the prairie or mud bricks. Or concrete slabs coated with a spray-applied self-levelling precolored plastic foam.

But I will do the rest of this basement first.

Have a fine day.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

Matthew Heidt's Froggy Ruminations has been entered on the Purser's List. He writes very well on a wide range of topics. His resume includes over a decade as a U.S. Navy SEAL operator and time with the U.S. Customs Service.

Welcome aboard, sir.

One Riot One Ranger

Blue State people: There's a reason Bush won the election.

Someday you will figure it out. I'm sure. Mostly sure, anyway.


h/t: LGF


to commenters on a Froggy Ruminations thread:

Eric -

"It is a sad day when the possibility of a nuclear detonation on American territory is not a fantasy but a pragmatic reality."

Eric...I'm fortythree years old. The possibility of any random day ending up as Armageddon was accepted conventional wisdom until 1989.

I remember "duck and cover", too.

We equated the end of the Soviet Union as the end of nuclear conflict; why, I haven't a clue. Even our nuclear freeze folks seemed to forget about our nuclear arsenal and delivery systems. Want to know a secret?

We have had as high as something like seven thousand deliverable weapons at one point. Nobody on the planet ever lost a night's sleep about our weapons. Not us, not even our enemies. The reason for that is because even if we are the only nation that ever used a nuclear weapon in war, it is not in our nature (since the Mexican War, and to a weaker point of evidence, the Spanish-American War, to fight wars of aggression.

We have acted to protect our interests, yes...but the last time the Empire itch surfaced in 1898 it rapidly turned into a festering wound on our politics. We haven't been back since.

The enemy thinks that somehow the possession or employment of a nuclear weapon will become their magic bullet. The men and women who created the bomb technology in the forties remembered earlier iterations of the weapons that would make future war impossible like the Gatling gun, machine guns, gas, airplanes, and tanks...and so did the pioneers of SAC and the government leaders that kept our ability to retaliate to a nuclear attack at a high enough level that we never were attacked.

There is no moral difference between a knife or a nuke, Eric. None. They are tools. The men that would use those tools are what need watching.

T Leo -

"It is also a fantasy that the nations of the world will be willing to write the US a blak (sic) check to "just fix the problem".

You sound like you think anybody is going to be asked for help.

Can you name the third largest air force in the world?

It's a trick question. The answer is any one of our aircraft carriers and their associated task forces. That's measured by conventional strike capability alone, by the way. If you add the throw weight of the associated surface and SSN attachments to a carrier, you have the second most powerful national nuclear arsenal on the planet.

Again, for every carrier attack group. We drew down our deployed/deliverable weapons during the nineties. That mistake has been remedied since then.

GW Bush is on record that Iran will not be allowed to become a nuclear power. I don't think his character will permit an out along the lines of "Sorry, Koffi, we were cleaning our Israelis and they went off" (not my line - I read it on Roger L. Simon's forum but can't remember the author's name).

france seeks some ludicrously artificial construct of 'multipolarity' of world powers. Since old europe is in melt down the only realistic avenue they have is to stab us in the back and ally with regimes that oppose us.

france is not an ally. Their actions [we'll ignore Iraq for now - ed.] in giving Iran diplomatic capital to continue their weapons and delivery system development is moving them firmly into the opposition column, too.

Terry -

Everything you said - I agree. You didn't explicitly make the point that I made in my original post but your proposed response makes it clear that the enemy will broaden from simply 'terror' up to 'Islam'.

Old Coot -

"I'm no wuss about striking back with devastating force, but would like to know we hit at least close to those responsible."

That's a rational sentiment.

We know that Iran wants to be a nuclear power and is corporate (plant) for worldwide Islamic terror.

We know that the spiritual mainspring of the movement is Wahabbist Islam which is based in Saudi - call them corporate (executive).

The existing strategy to drain the swamp in the mideast makes non-democratic Arab regimes all objectives for eventual regime change. Syria is WMD capable and is a home to Hamas and various other terror groups. Egypt is a dynastic dictatorship who we pay billions of dollars to every year, which subsidizes their state-run Islamic organizations that damn us every Friday in Cairo.

Pre-WMD attack we might have afforded to wait for functioning democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan to win the fight by osmosis. That option will be gone post-attack.

Yields or casualty counts achieved by a terrorist nuclear detonation are irrelevant in the calculus here. We'll demand no repeats and we have the power to make it stick. One way or another.

Amy -

I saved you for last for a reason.

"We have, can and will wage total war and come out the other side as the same people who went in." I'm sorry, Chris, I don't believe this is true. I'm not arguing against "total war"--I'm simply saying that we don't need to pretend that we can nuke, firebomb, whatever, and when it's over just calmly go back to whatever we were doing.

Why do you say that? That's exactly what happened to Americans after every war we have fought since the Revolution. Once we won, the men went home, went to school, went to work, and raised their families.

That's why they went to war in the first place, Amy. Fighting the Germans wasn't about getting our slice of their colonies or their territory. Ditto the second world war, ditto the nether twilight of the thirty years of the third world war (we are in four now, if you are counting).

Did the wars change us? In some ways, yes. We certainly became a little more cosmopolitan about the world we live in. If you are looking at societal changes that are the direct result of the horrors of war I think you are out of luck.

The automobile changed our daily lives more than DResden or Auschwitz ever did.

What I told Eric about weapons holds true, ma'am. The conflict we find ourselves in is one of philosophies and agendas. We submit or die, or we beat them.

The tools used by the parties to the conflict are just that - tools.

What of Dresden....

What of Coventry? What of Prague falling to the Huns? Why did Xerxes kill any Greek male captured in combat?

Because there was a war going and the enemy was still on the field, and the tools at hand dictated each sides ability to influence the outcome.

It's been decades since I read S5. I enjoyed Vonnegut's writing a lot when I was younger and I have the highest regard for his wartime service and sacrifice. I cannot remember which division he served in and was subsquently captured from during the Battle of the Bulge. I once got to share a table, a bottle, and a snowy VFW December 16th evening in Texas with some survivors of the 106th ID who were captured at that same time. Brutal memories mixed with the names of dead buddies, those who escaped, and the experiences they all shared.

Powerful stuff. Why did Vonnegut end up in Dresden to witness such a horrific event? Because the Nazis still fought, that's why.

The same reason we are still killing jihadis in Fallujah and bleeding in Baghdad, too. The same reason we get to take our shoes off at the airport and the same reason we look twice when we see a man in Arab or Muslim dress on the sidewalk of our hometown.

We aren't the same people - the same nation - we were on September 10 2001. We can't be until we destroy the enemy that has attacked us. Until that happens, the only upper limit on waste, violence, and barbarism is what the enemy is able to buy, build, or steal.

We don't get our world back unless we win. I think we will...but I'm not even going to guess at the bottom line it will take to get us there.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Communication Protocols

Wife of Utah and me shared a nice Chinese buffet dinner a few hours back. We have an unspoken 'no politics at the table' rule but since it was just the two of us conversation did brush up against current events.

It occurred to us that if the United States chooses the Marines to deliver a message there shouldn't be an RSVP number attached.

And that's exactly how it should be.

We also talked about this. As late as a decade ago I used to bust rabbits and other small game with reckless abandon as practice between hunting seasons. I stopped that right around the time my girls became old enough to accompany me on shooting outings. I don't kill anything anymore unless it's for table or to prevent predation. The idea of a virtual visit to the shooting range is kind of novel but not something I'd pony up for; there are four indoor ranges within a half hour of my house. If I want to shoot on my computer there is a whole universe of arcade style or first-person-shooter platforms out there.

On a related note, did you know that our Hellfire missile-armed Predator drones operating around the world are controlled from stateside facilities - probably Special Operations Command down in Florida? I wonder what kind of response DoD would get if they conducted an internet lottery to "push the button" on terrorist targets and sold live-cam access for the surveillance?

I don't support that shooting idea any more than I do the internet varmint schtick.

I'd pay to watch, though. I surely would.

Mail Call II

Alex responded:

Of course, this assumes the Iraqis will in fact take what we are doing as being what we say it is. However much any of us disagrees with these assertions, what ultimately matters is whether the Iraqi people believe them. The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary. Something must be wrong when the military and police melts at almost every

On the subject of the soldier who shot the wounded Iraqi (insurgent? terrorist? rebel? fighter?) I can understand why he did this. I do not pretend for even a moment that war is a fair, humane thing. It is an expression of extreme brutality. However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in
fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people. An Iraqi watching that footage will on average sympathize with the Iraqi, just as we on
average put ourselves in the shoes of the soldier. If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US. They will declare "look at what the Americans do to the wounded, surely they are a barbaric people". War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side. How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?



Those who oppose us in Iraq say we're being imperialist, that we are part of a wider oppression of Moslems, that we're only there for the oil, etc.

Those are talking points unsupported by any interpetation of history. They appeal to westerners who cling to cherished mulitcultural tenets or to Muslim populations that have lived for centuries encouraged to believe that they are victims of foreign oppression, not domestic despotism. The mystics recognise that our inherently more competitive culture will extinguish their brand of barbaric mysticism within a few generations if assimiliation of ideas takes place in an intellectual environment. They have been attacking us because we aren't like them, or in the cases of the more secular Arab dictators because they recognised us as a useful, slothful target they could attack for domestic political points with relative impunity.

The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary.

Where did you get that idea? Endemic poverty and unemployment in Islamic societies is the prime recruiting tool for the movement, far and above videos or sermons. That and the fact that the only professional occupation available to most serfs under Islamist rule is the clergy. It's a given that Saddam salted away grundles of cash expressly intended to fund post-war insurgency and that Saudi and Iran are both providing material , personnel, and financial support for the Iraqi theater.

Syria is assisting passage for foreign fighters and funding them with Saddam's own money. Five hundred dollars was only the last bounty I've seen mentioned in our press; scan al Jazeera's morass and you can find more references, too.

Are you one of the 'minuteman' crowd? If that is the case let me know and we can end this conversation. The driving forces behind the Iraqi insurgency are not noble goals of national identity or cultural pride. They are last ditch effort to regain
despotic political power via murder and intimidation on the part of the Baathists. The Wahabbists and remaining secular dictatorships in the region see their end in the event of democratization, so they are fighting as hard as they can to prevent it from happening.

However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people.

I'm not sure I understand your implication. What case do you refer to? As far as moral judgement in the eyes of the opposition is concerned, we're already condemned for being infidel - a capital offense they publicize without end. We will submit, or be killed. If defending ourselves from that threat is somehow immoral I fail to see why. Our elected government authorized the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and the plan to reconstruct the infrastructure and politics of the country after regime change. There was nothing nefarious or dissembling about our published intentions for the nation of Iraq...unless your political power depended on the continued acceptance of the United States for 'acceptable strongmen' - the 'realist' school of foreign policy/security thought.

That's over. Say goodbye to all of that.

I contend that the question of whether or not the actions of this Marine can be reasonably extended as some sort of proforma indictment of our entire effort is ludicrous on its face. One, the brutality of the incident has NOTHING to do with the question of whether or not it was justified. An investigation is underway and there will be a finding one way or the other, with which both of us and the rest of the world will be free to support or condemn. We watched a terrorist get popped during clearing operations. Where was the video of Theo Van Gogh's slaughter? I don't remember the last published statement from any Islamic clergy condemning kidnappings, beheadings, suicide bombings, or street corner murders. Maybe they don't run on Fox. Or CNN.

Or even al Jazeera. Maybe they were afraid that this routine display of Muslim activity might serve as a recruiting tool for all those Baptists that have been slaughtering innocent Muslims at work and play for the last fifty years? Maybe not, eh? The reflexive disgust we feel when witnessing the Marine video comes from our unconscious rejection of physical violence as accepted behaviour...but we've come to accept that any random day will provide more footage of Muslim terrorists just being who they are. Where's the outrage there?

Funny thing about the Imperialist intent America has had for the Muslim world; for over fifty years it manifested itself primarily by US force ensuring the territorial security of the Middle East against the Soviet Union (to include the sea lanes by which the only useful commodity exportable from the Mid East had to transit) and us paying their price for their oil. We routinely surrender individual freedoms and customs when doing business inside their countries. Along the way we also stopped Israel from occupying (or possibly nuking?) Cairo and Damascus the last time the Arabs failed to exterminate the Jews, too. Go figure. I mark that decision as a probable mistake here from the Monday quarterback slot.

If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a
powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US.

They'll get more mileage out of this in the west than they ever will on the Arab street. If we determine that the Marine acted in accordance with the Law of Land Warfare in the context of that situation, publish the result, and get back to the business of killing the enemy any genuine outrage (hard to imagine how that is even possible, to me) on the part of the 'street' will be more than outweighed by the despair of the terrorists as they realize one more example of us refusing to allow them to establish the rules of engagement for this war.

If you are wondering about strategic implications on our ability to continue to conduct the ground war, please consider that what happened on that video is not exceptional to any dozen incidents happening every day over the last week in Fallujah except that it was taped, and that the aggressor was an American serviceman. Our people are trained exactly as referenced by Froggy in his original post. Each time a door goes down an entirely unique deadly universe opens up for the troops charged with clearing the objective. There are thousands of rooms cleared every day. We conduct these clearing operations on foot using hand weapons because we have refused to ignore the plight of non-combatants as our enemy does. We are risking our troops lives in order to minimze non-combatant casualties. Given the lethality and complexity of the battlefield, there must be an acknowledgement that mistakes will happen despite our best efforts.

This tape wasn't My Lai 2004, despite the most fervent wishes of the enemy, and our domestic activists who wish it was so. Not even close.

Just a window into one shitty day on the road to victory.

War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side.

It doesn't involve operating under rules of engagement that arbitrarily disregard the lives of our troops in the hope of not offending editorial observers. We are the side in this fight that observes considerations beyond winning the fight, not the enemy. The second the men and women we are asking to win this fight stop believing that authority places the value of their lives behind political expediency, we will have lost this war and justifiably so.

Our enemy understands this. So does a large segment of the international and domestic political opposition to this war. I will leave it to you to ponder where I stand on this congruence of objectives. The line between loyal opposition and enemy is become thin...very, very thin, in this war, and in more than one place.

How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?

I don't understand your last question.

UPDATE: Did a bit of editing to clean up the format.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Mail Call

The following is an email reply to a commenter on the Froggy Ruminations thread linked in my last blog entry. It was too lengthy to incorporate into the thread:

The question was: "From a strategic standpoint, does it benefit our soldiers to convince the Iraqi people that we are extremely brutal?"


Resist the urge to analyze the Iraqi people through the frame of reference of your own cultural experience.

How many of your immediate family were murdered by arbitrary actions of your own government last year? Coworkers? Friends? How about the year before that? I'd bet that you have both your hands and ears and don't carry a badly healed fracture or scar inflicted by a bored FBI interrogator, either.

You have a voice. You have rights. You live in a society where violence is an abberation. In fact, it's such an abberation that we even incorporate graphic fictionalizations into our most popular entertainment. It's a vicarious novelty to the vast majority of our population because excepting criminals and their victims ,physical violence is unconsciously ruled out as an option among civilized western culture. It happens,yes, but in a democratic republic where the rule of law is based on individual sovereignty and unalienable rights we police, judge, and incarcerate evil doers as much as we can.

What of the Iraqi people? They've never been citizens - maybe subjects. I think they are more accurately described as victims of their own birth, culture, and situation.

We fight the implacable barbarian elements of Ba'athist holdouts and their Islamofascist terrorist cocombatants on one hand while on the other attempting to restore enough security and basic infrastructure for the former serfs to experience the rewards of democracy that we take for granted.

The Iraqis know exactly how the old regime conducted business. They know that in their neighboring countries the same paradigm holds, too, with the exception of Turkey. They also understand more clearly than more than a slim minority (as evidenced in our last election) of our own citizenry that there are some opponents that are immune to anything but brute, naked force.

My stock analogy for the nature of the threat in rebuilding Iraq is this: It only takes one angry drunk uncle with a shotgun to fuck up a wedding reception. Expand that to a community or a nation, and you have Iraq.

The Iraqis are rightfully appalled at what is happening right now. They have no community social memory of peace or security. My own opinion is that they remain unconvinced we won't finish the job, and that scares them worse than any contemporary violence does. The behavior of our occupation forces and the associated reconstruction element has been aimed at organizing them to lead their own country as soon as humanly possible. That effort has been going on for two years, across the entire nation, at the expense of blood and treasure on our coalition's part NEVER seen before in an Arab nation.

I believe there has to be a positive effect to that. Once again, an opinion...but I think it reasonable.

And last but not least, your question was "From a strategic standpoint, does it benefit our soldiers to convince the Iraqi people that we are extremely brutal?"

From a strategic standpoint it is vital that the Iraqis know we will do what is necessary to allow their transition from serfdom to citizenry. That goes for the innocents as much as for the insurgents. To decline conflict with the insurgency would be a declaration that other peoples' freedom are secondary to our comfort and security.

That's not what the Bush Doctrine is about. We aren't going to perform a righteous beatdown on a random group of thugs and walk out of the ring to our own applause like some cheesy WWF stage production. We aren't doing the 'realist' foreign policy anymore. It is in OUR interest that we don't ever go back to Iraq...or Afghanistan...or anywhere else that shits out terrorist movements, leaders, and regimes as a result of despotism or dictatorship. No more pet dictators.

The Bush Doctrine is the most visionary liberal foreign policy initiative ever attempted by a western democracy, just in case you were wondering. That's not opinion, that's a fact. Chirac and Schroeder are conducting their policies on a plane that wouldn't be out of place originating in Liege, Belgium, in the late 1800's. They stand behind the old dogma of masters and slaves.

We want neighbors, thanks.

We face a known breathtakingly dangerous foe with a very vague mailing address. We have at our disposal the most lethal weapons ever fielded by a nation at war...and instead of annihilation of the population from where the threat springs, our goal is liberation.

Liberation of nations and tribes, possibly an entire culture and even a great religion. Only time will tell.

It is in our vital strategic interest that all the peoples of the Muslim arc know and believe that we are committed to protecting ourselves. In all honesty, the last three decades showed the serfs little evidence that we did. Even a shepherd on a hill in Syria understands that aggression unchecked invites more aggression.

You used the word "brutal" to describe our conduct. I agree. I just remind you that that is the nature of war and that brutal, naked force and nothing else is the tool that will bring decision to this conflict. Ignoring the escalation of Islamic violence that began in the seventies - THAT was a terrible mistake on our part.

We beat the terrorists on their ground or we fight them here. It's an easy call for me to make.

With Respect,

A.R. Jones
aka TmjUtah

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Required Reading

Go here. Read it all. Please.

UPDATE: 4:00PM MST 17 Nov -

Froggy Ruminations has the best post on the Marine in the mosque situation. My comment is far down his thread.

h/t: Roger L. Simon

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Fox news is reporting on the incident where a Marine allegedly shot and killed a wounded terrorist in a mosque in Fallujah.

If our problem with Islamic fundamentalism is ultimately, truly, rooted in even just one percent of all the Muslims on the planet, that still works out to over a million jihadis to be taken out. Suiciders, decapitators, car swarmers, and shahids in general aren't going to be lining up to register to vote no matter how badly we beat them in the course of any war short of killing them. The foot troops of Allah have to be wiped out and whether we do it retail by rifle or wholesale by B-52 makes little difference. Draining the swamp by hot-boxing democratic governments is a strategy for addressing the true root causes of terror: despotism, hopelessness, and ignorance. The alumni of the old regimes aren't going to be swayed by political change, just like the SS at Malmedy or the Japanese in the Pacific theater. They have chosen their path. Note that those opponents were state agents, uniformed military formations operating under the aegis of a national command authority.

The jihadi are free agents; the closest historical parallel we can make concerning them might well be the pirates of the Caribbean or Barbary Coast. No nation, no rules, no mercy. There are going to be very few - if any - from this class of foes becoming good neighbors after the political decision of this war. Not from the ranks of the mulhajedeen.

We have battalions of SpecOps/Marines combing the Afghan border looking for more than one Guantanomo alumni right now.

What will be the outcome of this incident? The troop who pulled the trigger and his immediate chain of command will certainly be run through the UCMJ process. There may be convictions, reassignments, or reliefs depending on how far removed from the actual incident each individual was. That's the System, and the form will be followed.

What lessons will be learned? One, that we do operate under rule of law, even on the battlefield. Two, there will be orders reemphasizing correct PW procedures passed down the line. Three, troops will watch and learn and make sure they know where journos are before they get on with the business of making sure they stay alive another day on the battlefield.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Fresh Blood

I have added 2Slick's blog to the Purser's list. He is a serving Army officer who flies Blackhawks and is currently stationed in Kuwait.

I've appreciated his posts (primarily on Michael J. Totten; sorry for no direct link to an example) and today I saw him mentioned on Instapundit.

Welcome aboard, sir.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

On Fallujah

I've been trying to work up the enthusiasm to post on the operations underway in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere but every time I get close to ready I click on Belmont Club and decide that Wretchard has it covered... as usual.

The fight in Fallujah isn't about Fallujah. We (those on the end of the media information pipe) see images of destruction and are provided with dozens if not scores of eight hundred word essays written for the most part by untrained observers. The journalistic community persists in reminding us of the technological edge we have via brilliant weapons, comms, night vision, and other gadgets and what effect that edge has in isolated combat but seems to run into a Luddite wall when it comes time to extend the effects of our technological expertise beyond mere hardware and into philosophy, theory, and analysis. We've been in combat inside Iraq for almost two years and the media still breaks into scheduled broadcasts to report one 82mm mortar shell being fired in the general direction of the Green Zone while ignoring the fact that a routine call for fire for mortars in a firefight will generate tens of rounds on target on our behalf in a minor skirmish. One or two mortar rounds or a daisy chain of IED's or another beheading video won't win the war in Iraq for the opposition. Those tactis failed to sway our election and that event has probably had even more calamitous effect on the insurgency's rank and file than even the investment of Fallujah. The indigenous resistance has two months to establish themselves politically or they lose any chance at participating in government at all.

The broader strategy of which Fallujah is only a manpower-intensive part is intended to force the opposition, especially their leadership, to move or communicate. By observing communication patterns and changing specific variables such as land access routes and physical redoubts in Fallujah, Mosul, Sadr City, and elsewhere we can add to all the intelligence sources developed over our time in theater, collate the new data, and develop specific strategies aimed directly at the command and control structure that the enemy must have if they are to exert any influence at all on the January elections.

Stacking up bodies in the 'Strong Horse' column of local politics is important, too. The men in black with AK's and RPG's need to be dealt with whenever we find them, regardless of their origin being Sunni holdouts or foreign fighters from Syria, Iran, or elsewhere. They aren't going to be lining up for Get Out The Vote efforts, ever, whether we kill them or not. Eyewitness evidence of coalition forces, to include ING troops, agressively rooting out the insurgency will serve to sway the Iraqi's that we aren't near walking away from them.

I don't know if it will all work. Nobody does. That's what war is all about - uncertainty until the issue is decided. There will be victories and defeats and mistakes and lost opportunities but none of them will fit accurately inside a TV news story or even a multi-part news article.

God bless our troops, and our leaders.

High Point of My Weekend

I've got a wonderful treat in store in about half an hour.

We have to wash one of our cats.

This is akin to honing the blades of a tree chipper/shredder while it runs...while holding the whetstone in your teeth.

I hope your weekend is less eventful than mine. Lots less.

UPDATE 12:00: Ouch.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month.

The guns of the war to end all wars fell silent on this day in 1918.

Well, all the wars except for the Spartacist revolt in Germany, the Russian Revolution, twenty years of JV struggles and interventions across central and south America, intercine communist/nationalist struggles across China, the second war to end all wars which ushered in the third world war that included just about every armed conflict between Korea 1950 to Vietnam to about three quarters of every post-colonial transition during the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The last decade has seen the rise of Islamic fundametalism as a strategic threat to Western civilization and the arrival of narcoinsurgency as a political movement in Colombia and portions of other South American countries, along with the Golden Triangle in SE Asia.

What drives wars of aggression? Conventional wisdom long held that economic differences, post colonial envy, religious intolerance, population pressure, or Tribalism/Nationalism/Fascism/Communism/Capitalism all contributed to conflict.

I don't know. I have witnessed the history of the past forty years as a spectator and sometimes as a participant. My reading and interaction with older folks from around the world has provided windows into the past that are either too cloudy to buy at face value or are too maddeningly large to comprehend at even the third or fourth look. Will there always be wars, or rumours of wars?

I caught a news item about a new paper published by a researcher (a Fellow?) of the JFK School of Government that suggests that terror occurs most often on the cusp between autocratic and democratic forms of government. Read the article, please.

I buy his conclusions. My country finds itself leading a coalition fighting the fourth world war...and my country is the only nation on the planet that puts the freedom of individuals on a higher plane than the powers of government. We are called a violent nation by some of our self-declared 'enlightened' neighbors, but I would point out that what violence we do execute on each other is almost exclusively the product of abberant social behaviour and not the result of political friction. On the larger stage where the actors are nations, the cast memembers of conflicts since the end of the first world war have almost always represented despotism on one side and various levels of democracy on the other.

Freedom is not being dependent on government for subsistence or even more importantly, opportunity. Freedom is pursuing your hopes and dreams free of unreasonable government interference. Freedom is operating on the baseline assumption that the individual is the prime ingredient behind success in life and the corollary to that is a inherent respect for other individuals - the Golden Rule as a given. The moment an individual submits to external authority as the arbiter of his beliefs and actions the stage is set for violent conflict.

In spite of the worst waking nightmares of western Leftists infesting America and other western democracies, our government is controlled by our electorate and backstopped by our constitution. We prosper as we do not because our multinationals are more ruthless than their multinationals but because the combined results of millions of personal rewards for personal risks manifest themsselves as individual wealth and high standards of living. We maintain a paltry military when viewed as a component of our population, and it's a volunteer organization to boot. Yet we are by no honest measure an empire, and only by stretching definitions can you label us a hegemon.

We work. We aren't perfect. We aren't annointed - not by any stretch of the imagination. We have used the precepts of individual liberty, coupled with a healthy distrust of the potential for tyranny in ANY form of government, and arrived here in 2004 as the undisputed 'last' (titles are so fleeting) superpower. Why is that?

I propose that we are unconcious of any upper limit to what we may achieve as individuals and that that subliminal acceptance tends to discourage the kind of nationalism or tribalism that lends itself to state aggression. Our military exists to keep others from trespassing on our pursuits not to enforce our government's agendas. Our people serve based on contracts with clearly defined obligations, not under coercion. And again, it works well enough.

I believe that victory over Islamic fundamentalism will take decades and must of necessity be marked by more military preemption - Iran at the very least. I also believe that at some point the war will have to widen (either by diplomacy, economic maneuvers, or naked force) to address nations or any other transnational terror movements that still embrace forms of communism if we are to ever have a hope of declaring victory at all.

Yeah, China looms large in my mullings on the future.

This brings us back to wars, and rumours of war, doesn't it? We'll see where we are next year and speak of this again.

I'm off - time to put the Colors up.

UPDATE: 4:00 p.m.: And thanks, Vets, for all that you've given in the past and what you are doing today.

This Just In:

Yassir Arafat is dead. In bed, in a french hospital.

I guess they finally got the account numbers and passwords.

I'm off to clean out my cats' litterbox. It seems like the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rum Punch And Pink Gin For All Hands...

...or two warm beers per man.

The United States Marine Corps celebrates 229 years of being there first today.

I am honored and grateful to have served my time in the Corps. I spent a considerable portion of my tour with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, to include two WesPac deployments. We were the Beastmasters, and operated best on San Miguel beer in a driving rain;or maybe it was warm Bud in the Mojave in August? Time fills...

In eight years I managed to see most of the world worth seeing (and quite a few places not worth seeing at all) and even learned a thing or two about being an American while I was at it.

I will never serve with a finer group of men and women again.

Special thanks to SDI GySgt Westenberger, DI Sgt Presas, DI Sgt Roberts, DI Cpl De La Rosa,Top Niskala, GySgt Kelley, GySgt Seright,GySgt Nurse, MGyst Pierson, SgtMaj Campbell, Gunner Trexler, Lt McKinney, Capt Voneida, Maj Lennnnnny Supko (later Colonel in charge of 12th Marines, and I pray he stayed around long enough to run a Division)...and more names pop up the longer I sit here...

Rincon, Knobjob, Langlois, Lee (Don't fucking call me WENDELL), Westy, Big House, Glassman, Doc Holiday, DK, Stewbo, Att, Big Bird, Gopher, Sweetness, Sugar Time, Rammer, Tonee (aka T, buddyro...), Baltimore, Haggard, Vork, Smooth Sam, Tex (there's always one), Paz, Hayseed, Churo, Lute, OddJob, Wicketman, Pinche'P, AaaaaHern, Gardella...

The Professor hopes you are well wherever you are.

Semper Fi, gents.