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I've been banging away on my keyboard. Here's some new articles. In The Armed Citizen, we have: Soldier, Officer, CitizenAccoutrements for training, and What’s your Tueller Distance? In the book reviews there's Prepared: Surviving Worst Case Scenarios. Enjoy!

Blood and Treasure

This came to me while I was thinking about what to say for Memorial Day.

The term “Blood and Treasure” is in reference to the money of the United States being spent to put our young men and women into harm’s way on foreign shores. The decision to spend this Blood and Treasure should never be made lightly or for frivolous reasons.

Truthfully, no price can be placed on a simple flag-draped coffin.

I’m talking about this because a simple test can be made to see if the cause is just. One simple question to ask, and the answer to it will answer the question, “Should the United States spend its’ Blood and Treasure there?”

The real question is, “If we laid our war dead in the soil of where we are going, would they be honored?”

normandy us cemetary

Memorial Day

Out of all the days to thank a Veteran for their service, Memorial Day is not the one.

Today is not about the living veteran, rather those who did not come home. Today is not "National BBQ Day" or just a day off from work. It is a day to remember and honor those who are no longer with us who surrendered their lives to give us this opportunity.

Please, visit a Veterans' Cemetery today. Walk softly, heroes lie sleeping there. We also pause today to remember our POW/MIA.

If you have ever seen a POW/MIA table, let me explain what is symbolizes:

pow mia table

Memorial Day

Today, if you don't already know it, today is Memorial Day, where we remember those Citizens who left home to become Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen and never made it back home again.

Don't thank a veteran for their service today, this is not our day. If you want to thank someone, go to a Veterans cemetery and gaze upon the rows of simple white markers. Tread softly, heroes lie sleeping there. Thank these men and women. From the Concord Green to the desolation of Afghanistan, passing through places like Bunker Hill, New Orleans, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, the Alamo, Belleau Wood, Normandy, Anzio, Bastonge, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sahn, and a thousand more places. You might not be able to find these places on a map, but just the words should bring tears to your eyes because of the sacrifices made for you. If you feel nothing, then I pity you. I suggest you read about them.

This Day is not for car sales, or just a day off work. While you're outdoor grilling or enjoying time with your friends and family, stop for a moment. Come together, hold hands, bow your heads and say "Thank You" to those who surrendered their lives and futures for you. Say a prayer for the families of those who never came back that they heal from their loss.

Veterans Day

"And so it was, on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month in the Year of Our Lord 1918, that the guns fell silent and the Great War came to an end."

Depending on where you live, today is either Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. In the US, it is Veterans Day and we honor all who have served and are still with us. I thought about putting up a meme to show how stupid the cause of the Great War was (World War I described as a bar fight if you must), but I decided to go with this instead. I am proud that I can be counted in this group.

Doorkickers

 

 

Patriot's Day Part 2

Yesterday evening, I was reminded of Representative Omar’s remarks, “Some people did something” on 9/11/01.

That’s when I realized… she was right.

“Some people DID do something.”

Hundreds of first responders in New York rushed into WTC 1 and 2, to get as many people out before the buildings collapsed, all while knowing they probably wouldn’t be one of those who escaped.

A couple dozen Marines, after extracting children from the daycare center in the Pentagon, set up a defensive perimeter around those children and were ready to lay down their lives for those children.

An F-16 pilot, flying her unarmed aircraft, prepared herself to take down Flight 93 by ramming it to prevent it from reaching its target.

And a dozen ordinary Americans, armed with nothing more than a beverage cart and the resolute courage of Americans that can be traced back to the Concord Green in 1775, charged the cockpit of Flight 93.

So, YES, “Some people did something.” The something they did was to stand for civilization, for their fellow man and to draw that line that means, “Hate and terror shall not pass this point.”

Patriot's Day

While debating on even writing this post, it occurred to me that the children who were born on this date, who were the first to be born in a world forever changed, who could really never have a "happy birthday," are now adults.

I remember that day, those moments, watching the second plane suicide into the WTC and thinking about all who died horrible deaths as I watched, just like my parents remembered hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. I cried when the towers fell.

I mourn for all of those we lost that day, and I sincerely hope the 72 virgins each of those hijackers were promised all turned out to be well-armed Catholic Nuns like Sister Mary Stigmata.

I am proud of all of the young men and women who joined the Armed Forces in the days and years following. Who knowingly went into harm's way again, and again, and again. You have my love, my respect and my support.

Doorkickers

Patriot's Day 2018

It has been seventeen years since a group of radical Islamists hijacked four commercial passenger aircraft. Two found their way to the World Trade Center, one to the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth, supposedly bound for the White House, crashed in a Pennsylvania field when the passengers tried to retake the aircraft.

In the days after, the world separated into two groups, civilized and uncivilized. The civilized people of this world reacted with horror, anger, empathy, concern and sympathy. The French newspaper LeMonde's headline for September 12th, 2001 read simply, “Nous sommes tous Américains.” We are all Americans.

911WTC

The uncivilized people of the world danced and celebrated in the streets, giving candy to children. Now, just so you know I’m not talking just about the Middle East, we had (and still have) plenty of uncivilized people here. This person is a prime example. Please notice how brave this person is, hiding behind their sign.

ihateny

Since then, we invaded two countries, overthrew their governments and tried to give them freedom, with less-than-ideal results. Thousands of our best and brightest served and died in these two countries. A lot of American blood and sweat was expended in this fight. Thousands of our veterans who made it through but never really came home are still suffering. All I can say is we made the best decision we could at the time.

A Hero Who Never Came Home

Looking back, I understand the purpose of invading Iraq. We wanted to change Islamic society at the root level by installing a freedom-based government in Iraq, hoping the countries around them would see Iraq prosper and think to themselves, "I want some of that" and the idea of Freedom would spread and fundamentally change the Muslim world. What we ended up with is millions of Stockholm Syndrome sufferers who not only didn't want freedom of choice and action to the degree Americans enjoy it, but actively fought against it. We also did find those chemical weapons stockpiles, however the chemicals were "expired," meaning they were still fatally toxic but not in their designed way. While the MSM touched on the subject, it never received a hundredth of the coverage of "Bush lied, people died."

To all who died on this say, to all who took up arms to defend this country, from on old, grizzled, ex-sailor I salute you.

Todays Color Alert

Trust issues

The other day, Bowe Bergdahl received his sentence for his crime, a Bad Conduct Discharge and time served. I have spent the days since the publication of his fate searching for best how to describe why the name Bergdahl will be held in contempt, derision and revilement for as long as the United States has a military force.

Before I begin, I need you to review the story of Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter in my post, Six seconds to live. WARNING: Keep tissues handy while reading.

When you are tasked with standing a watch, a great responsibility is placed on your shoulders. Not only for the protection of "all government property in my view," but for the very lives of the battle brothers and sisters under your protection.

Veterans will generally back other veterans to the hilt in any situation, simply because of the fact that in battle, your life and the lives of all around you depend on you doing what needs to be done. This is why the trust runs so deep. One sailor on a ship in a moment of inattentiveness can sink that ship as shown in this Navy training film, Seven Sailors. One soldier or Marine likewise failing to properly attend their duties can lead to the loss of a platoon, a company, a division. We do not go into battle because we hate who stands against us. We go into battle to protect those we left behind and those who stand with us. The trust we have in each other gives us the courage to go on.

When Bergdahl walked off his post, he broke that trust. His reasons were noble, however by abandoning his post in a war zone, he placed the lives of every man and woman on that base in extremely grave jeopardy. Enemies could have breached the base perimeter and Bergdahl would not have been there to sound the alarm. Or any of a hundred more disasters could have happened and Bergdahl was not there to sound the alarm in time. Trust broken like that can never be regained.

Bergdahl will be paying a heavy price for the rest of his life. He will receive no benefits from the VA or other governmental related veteran agencies, he will not be able to get a job of any great importance. If he does, it will be to exploit his situation and condition to advance the agenda of others. He is also one of the thousands of "walking wounded" with emotional issues from serving in a combat zone and his captivity. No government agency will help him. His former brothers-in-arms will reject and shun him at best.

His punishment was deserved, and I think worse than life imprisonment, because he has to face his community and he will run into veterans. He has a life sentence of being ostracized and suffering contempt and derision from the community. He will stand as an example on how decisions can have serious life-long consequences.

 

North Korea Update

As a follow up to my North Korea Brief, did you notice in the past two days that the prospect of North Korea launching missiles at Guam very suddenly evaporated? Kim Jong Un Backs Down In Nuclear Showdown With Trump.

This is what I consider to be a rather wonderful application of B. H. Liddel Hart’s indirect approach to diplomacy. Remember, if the US had to actually invade North Korea, China was going to intervene on the side of NK.

All Trump had to do was talk about opening an investigation into China’s trade practices concerning Intellectual Property and Patent thefts from US companies doing business in China to China’s President Xi Jinping. That happened on Friday, August 11th. Mind you, nothing as of this moment that I write this has actually started beyond a memorandum to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look into the matter.

On Tuesday, August 15th, Dear Leader Kim Jong-un decided to not fire missiles at Guam, reserving the right to change his mind, if “blah, blah, blah.”

Let me spell this out. The US market is China’s biggest customer. If we suddenly start “finding discrepancies” if how China deals with our companies, we might have to do something about it, like halting Chinese imports. This would be a bad thing for China.

The best visual I can use to describe how economics works is, imagine a person walking back and forth on a gymnastics balance beam, which is only 4” wide. This beam is suspended above a pit of hungry crocodiles. While walking back and forth on this balance beam and trying not to become crocodile lunch, this person has to juggle 15 running chainsaws. That are on fire. Any mistake, slip or mis-timed move and things rapidly go from bad to horrific.

There would be no winners in this. If we halt Chinese imports, their economy would quickly collapse. Which by consequence seriously hurt the US as well, since China is using the profits from what they sell to us to buy our Treasury bonds and keep our government overspending. Our government would then crash like Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne trading paint and causing a twenty-six car pileup at Daytona in 2014. No one wants this to happen. Not the Chinese and certainly not us.

So I can only conclude that between when Trump spoke with Xi on Friday and Kim trying to back down gracefully on Tuesday, I can only infer that there were a lot of talking between Xi and Kim, along the lines of Xi saying, “Listen to me very carefully, you short, fat, petulant child, if you launch your missiles, after Trump bombs your sorry ass back to before the stone age I will send my troops into North Korea. My troops will find you and they will drag you face down behind a truck all the way to Beijing where I will personally drill a hole in your sorry bowl-cut forehead and I will scramble your grey matter with an egg beater to solve this problem I have with you. HAVE I MADE MYSELF ABUNDANTLY CLEAR!!!?!?!?!” (Not a direct quote. Probably.)

So by using the indirect method of threatening the entire Chinese economy, Trump forced China’s hand to do Trumps dirty work and bring Kim to heel. I fully anticipate that if this trade investigation gets anywhere, it might find a few minor violations which will be swiftly dealt with and it will be quickly back to business between the US and China. Was this Trump's idea, or did this come from one of his economic advisors? Don't know, don't care. I still don't like him, nor trust him. But I have to admit, this is an elegant solution to this crisis.

Look for China to retaliate in some way, probably in 6 months to a year. They do not like being made fools of, nor to do the work of their enemy. They are also patient. Let's hope Trump will be prepared and can apply a deft Judo move and thwart whatever the Chinese try.

North Korea Brief

This post is going to have a lot of information in it to give you a good context of what is going on, what could happen and what is likely to happen with the current situation with North Korea.

First, we are still at war with North Korea. A cease-fire was signed in 1953, but no cease of hostilities has ever been given. We currently have about 35,000 troops in South Korea.

Why would North Korea, Iran or any of these less powerful states be so eager to join the Nuclear Club? Because they realize that no nation can resist the conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) force the United States can bring to bear on them militarily. Properly unleashed, we would roll over them like a truck running over a squirrel. Now, if a nation had the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead into the middle of our conventional forces or on top of our command and control structure in theatre, that drastically changes how we would do things.

Let’s talk about what a nuclear weapon really is. It is a device using nuclear fission or fission-fusion (in the case of a thermonuclear or “H-bomb”) to create a really big explosion. A nuclear weapon can be used in two ways: property damage in the case of a ground or air burst, or an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) at high altitudes to destroy electronic and electric grid equipment. I’m not going to get into the "how that happens" of that here. Suffice it to say an EMP over say, Salt Lake City will destroy most if not all computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. from about the Colorado/Kansas border back to the West Coast. This would also destroy most of the electrical transmission in that area. The long term effects of that is no power to anyone for months, if not years because just about every transformer and other major component of the electrical grid would have to be replaced.

North Korea’s biggest nuclear test to date was about 20 kt, (kilotons, or 20,000 tons of dynamite). This was the size of the Nagasaki blast. This will be a fission blast. By contrast, one of our Minuteman III missiles has either 3 W78 warheads of about 330 kt or a single W87 475 kt warhead.

North Korea has just claimed (without outside verification) that it has “miniaturized” a physics package (that’s what a nuclear device is referred to as) to a weight and dimensions to make it feasible to launch it on a missile.

For the missile itself, just because you send something up, there is no guarantee it will land where you want it to. We don't know, and the NK’s probably don't either, what the CEP of their missiles are. The CEP, or Circular Error of Probability, means if you have a CEP of one mile and you launch 10 warheads at the same spot, 5 of them will land within that one mile circle, the other 5 outside.

I gave you all of that so you can understand why I am saying this:

If NK actually launches a weapon at Guam, (210 square miles in a sparse area of the Pacific Ocean, 2,100 miles from NK) the missile has to actually survive the boost phase (a 50/50 shot at best with NK’s hardware), then have an untested physics package survive a re-entry (which NK has never even tried, let alone succeeded with this) and it has to actually go off correctly (i.e. initiate an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction) within 1 mile of Guam to actually do damage. In my estimation, when I give a 10% chance of a successful strike, I am being generous.

I stated a 1 mile accuracy because with a 30 kt device, anyone within 1.75 miles of the bomb will receive 3rd degree burns. You can check it out here, put “.03” in the yield area, because a 30 kt weapon is .03 mt.

NK has promised to “bracket” Guam with four missiles. Given their ability to aim, they might actually hit when they were trying to miss. I highly doubt, given their probable stockpiles of nuclear weapons, that these missiles will be armed. But then again we are talking about a spoiled man-child who executed an uncle by mortar fire.

What is going to drop that 10% chance to zero is the US military. Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arliegh Burke-class destroyers carry several Standard Missile-3 weapons, which are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles and even satellites in low Earth orbit. I would be shocked if there were not 1-2 of these ships already on station off Korea, Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast, ready to intercept any missiles that are launched against us. Guam also has a THAAD battery, which is a land-based anti-ballistic missile system. If we have three ships and the THAAD on the path the missile must take, North Korea would have to simultaneously launch at least 10 missiles to even have a chance of one getting through.

Now let's talk about our man-child, Kim Jong-Un. We used the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) against the Soviets during the Cold War. We made it public that if the Soviets launched even 1 missile at us, we would launch everything in retaliation. With the Soviet Politburo being comprised of reasonable men who wanted to survive, they never intentionally brought us to that brink.

Our short buddy Kim, well he’s looking to become a god and he won't hesitate to sacrifice his entire country to obtain that godhood. Think Emperor Cartagia from Babylon 5.

By the way, thanks to Obama and his conciliatory attitude toward Iran and their nuclear program, we are going to be in this situation in about 15 years again with them. Except they will use their nukes against Israel because they have the blessing of Allah to do so. But I digress.

There is a major player I have not mentioned yet: China. During the Korean War, when UN forces made it to the NK-China border, China intervened and pushed UN forces back to the 38th parallel. China has an interest to keep the current power structure in NK active, if only to act as a thorn in the side of the US. NK is China’s barking dog, growling and snapping at anyone nearby.

China has an “official unofficial” news site, Global Times, which released this “editorial” on August 10th. Here’s the important part:

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China's interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.

This boils down to “if NK launches, it’s okay with Beijing if the US spanks NK. If we send troops, to actually solve the situation, China will get involved.”

From the “Official Official” Chinese website Xinhuanet comes this relation of a conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Trump, where Xi urges cool heads on both sides of this issue.

Now, if NK actually launches at US territory, this is where multiple scenarios can happen.

Scenario A:

The most likely is NK launches one or multiple missiles at Guam. I am 99% sure they will be successfully engaged and destroyed before they become a threat to Guam.

This will be a conventional, not nuclear response.

We already have most of those coordinates and will be doing satellite intelligence that day for final coordinates. Ships will already have their orders and be waiting for the final targeting data and the execute order.

US cruise missiles will be launched from US ships which will be stationed off strategic areas of NK, under the cover of darkness targeting radar installations first to limit NK’s ability to respond to threats. A second wave of missiles would then destroy any set missile launch points and/or known portable missile launchers. A good punch to disrupt the NK Command and Control structure will probably be the end of the US retaliation.

Scenario B:

NK actually launches a nuclear weapon which is not shot down and by accident or on purpose (on the part of NK), explodes over or near Guam.

See conventional response above, on steroids. I hope and pray no nuclear devices are used in response.

In this scenario, I can see an erasure of the NK military. Every ship and sub bigger than a rowboat will be engaged and sunk, in port or on the open seas. Any NK aircraft within weapons rage of a US combat unit will be shot down. Every known base, munitions stockpile and rally point will be rendered unusable.

I have no insight on NK’s coordinated actions with their missile launch or their plans for retaliation for US response. I would trust Charles Manson before I trust Kim Jong-Un.

I do know that Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, and there are probably 100+ “tubes” (military speak for pieces of artillery or mortars) in place already. They can be firing within 5 minutes of getting the order and each tube can get out 4-6 shots a minute until they run out of ammunition or are destroyed.

I can see 1-2 ships in international waters not too far away from where the artillery is probably located, who will close and provide counter-battery fire against that artillery if necessary.

As in the aftermath of any armed conflict, there are no winners, only survivors. I hope above all that no conflict breaks out.

That being said, in 1986 President Reagan bombed the crap out of Libya and we did not hear a peep of trouble from him for seventeen years. The only reason we heard from Gadhafi then was because Bush 43 was looking for WMD, and Gadhafi surrendered his so fast it was almost comical.

Thank President Clinton for starting this mess and Bush 43 for cocking things up worse. The base fact is that NK was never sincere in agreeing to the “framework.” Which leads to the fact that if you negotiate with someone who is not sincere, you don’t negotiate with them, you spank them appropriately when and how.

 

Flag Day

Today is the anniversary of when the Second Continental Congress in 1777 adopted the flag that is the ancestor of the one that flies all over this country today.

This flag has been through lots of revisions over the years. It was a flag of fifteen stars and fifteen stripes that flew over Fort McHenry (representing the addition of Vermont and Kentucky) during the bombardment it endured during the War of 1812 that led to the phrase “Star-Spangled Banner” in the poem "Defense of Fort M'Henry" which became our national anthem.

This flag, to me, does not represent the government of this country, rather it represents the People, where the true power of our government comes from. Many people have served under this flag in one or another of its iterations in defense of the concepts of Freedom and Liberty.

Every day, men and women in our armed forces come home in coffins draped in this flag.

I WILL NOT IDLY STAND BY
AND SEE THIS SYMBOL DESECRATED.

Do not let me see you stepping on, burning, or disrespecting this flag in any way. I will stop and give you a beat down so severe that your grandchildren will feel it.

flag day

Thank you for your time and attention. Have a wonderful Flag Day!

 

Benghazi

Every now and then a meme pops up featuring the images of several prominent Republicans with the line, “OH MY GHERD! REPUBLICANS ARE CONTINUING TO INVESTIGATE BENGHAZI WHILE THEY ARE CUTTING EMBASSY SECURITY 50%!”

For those of you who have never served in the military, you are probably not aware about particular military facts and military tenets and how they are relevant to this. I will be all to glad to explain them to you. Military Fact: The shell will always beat the armor. This means that an attacking force will always beat a defensive force. The only question is the time frame for the attacker to beat the defender.

A Battleship, meant to deliver (and receive) 16” shells can take a single hit to the armor by such a shell and survive. It may even take two hits to approximately the same spot and remain capable of fighting. The bad news is no armor of any size can withstand multiple hits in the same spot.

Before an attack, the attacking force will know approximately the strengths and capabilities of the defensive force. The attackers will then amass a force superior to the defensive force before they attack. The more superior the attacking force, the shorter time it will take to crush the defenses. This is why defensive forces like Embassy Marines and other security staff are given one basic order if they are attacked: Hold until relieved.

Which brings us to the Military Tenet of leave no man behind.

This passage from Robert Heinlien’s book Starship Troopers lays this tenet out succinctly:

"Mr. Rico!”Now I was the victim. “Yes, sir.”“Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed.”I didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir! More than enough reason.”” ‘More than enough.’ Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?”I hesitated. I knew the M. I. [Mobile Infantry] answer, but I didn’t think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, “Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can’t pay a promissory note which reads ‘somewhere between one and one thousand pounds’ and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money. Wouldn’t it be criminal to endanger a country, two countries in fact, to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents ... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no, you’re holding up the class.”He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper’s answer. “Yes, sir!”” ‘Yes’ what?”“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a thousand, or just one, sir. You fight.”“Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer.”I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn’t know why. He kept hounding me. “Speak up, Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematical statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as one thousand potatoes. No?”“No, sir!”“Why not? Prove it.”“Men are not potatoes."“Good, good, Mr. Rico!”

If you have ever wondered about the reasoning about why our military is so intelligent, aggressive, tenacious and victorious on the battlefield, it is because every man and woman who armors up knows without question that every other American soldier, Sailor and Marine have their backs and will not stop, not rest until they return home.

When you’re far from home and up to your chin in shit you need that reassurance. When you wonder if you will live to see the sunset, let alone the sunrise, these are the sweetest words you will ever hear:

“I am an American soldier. I’m here to rescue you. I’m here to take you home.”

I am not upset about the funding levels for Embassy defensive staff. Those decisions are made dependent on available budget and risk assessments by bean counters. I hate bean counters.

What got me upset about Benghazi is the civilian leadership told our fighting forces, “Stand down. Do not attempt rescue.” I don’t give a rat’s ass, when American soldiers are under fire, you send every unit you have as soon as it is armed and capable of moving. The Obama administration gave the line of, “Our forces would not have gotten there in time.” Until you actually get there, you won’t know if it will be “in time” or not. Those defending forces might hold out longer than anybody realizes.

A rapidly-dispatched American F-16 flying over the battle, armed or not, will give the enemy pause and give hope to those under attack. It lets both sides know, “We’re thinking about you.” Air-to-ground ordinance on that F-16 would add an exclamation point to that statement.

You don’t ever leave troops that you send into harms’ way without knowing how you’re going to get them home when it turns to shit.

This is the major issue with political control over tactical decisions. That prior statement is a 5,000 word major article by itself which I am not going to get into. Right now.

The military has contingency plans for just about everything. We even had a plan on what to do if Canada tries to invade the Continental US. It involved pulling all forces back to the southern border of Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota to give our forces time to regroup and counterattack.

The plans may not always be good, but we are always going to use maximum effort to bring our troops home. The civilian leadership might leave our troops hung out to dry, but the troops won’t. You can take that to the bank.

 

Memorial Day

I wrote the following for a message board I visit some years ago. I have occasionally posted it here. I will start posting this every Memorial Day.

Fair warning: If you decide to step on, wipe your ass with, burn or otherwise desecrate the Flag of this country, do it out of my sight. If I see you doing so, I will visit a beat-down upon you so hard your descendants for three generations will feel it. Too many of my brothers and sisters-in-arms have come home under it for you to step on it.

There are two holidays on that which we celebrate those who have fought for our country. Veterans Day, which celebrates those who still live, and today, Memorial Day, to remember and honor those who never came home.

You need to visit a war memorial today. Be it a Veterans cemetery, or something put up by the local VFW or American Legion. Read the names there on the gravestones, or on the brass plaque there under the waving American Flag.

When visiting that cemetery, tread gently; heroes lie sleeping under that peaceful lawn.

From the Concord Green, to the streets of Baghdad and the caves of Afghanistan, men and women have willingly paid the ultimate price for their service.

Blood was spilled at places like Bunker Hill, Cold Harbor, Bastonge, Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir. Hill 535, Firebase Charlie, Da Nang. Fallujah, Bahgdad, Tora Bora and too many others to count. American blood was spilled, to protect the ideals that gave birth to a nation that the world had never seen before or since. Ideals like Freedom, Liberty and Self-determination. Magic words that mean a lot to every American.

As you walk amongst those fallen heroes, remember those who died at sea, for that is their grave.

All gave some, some gave all. Some are still giving. POW-MIA.

 

Chemical Weapons FAQ

With the recent chemical attacks in Syria and Trump's response, I wanted to explain in plain terms why chemical weapons are considered extremely heinous by the world community. I'm going to say up front, if you need a safe space, you don't need to be reading this post.

As far as my qualifications to talk about this, I have handled "war gasses." I can't tell you when, where or why, but I've been up close and personal with "The Big Stuff." First of all, CW's are not "gasses" like Oxygen and the like. They are really liquid chemicals atomized into a mist. For military forces, this stuff is considered a "harassing agent," as the enemy will sustain some casualties, however they have the equipment (MOPP gear, gas masks, etc.) to continue on with their mission. The forces will stop and don their gear, then continue on at a slower pace. To civilians who lack MOPP gear, chemical weapons are deadly.

Just to differentiate and give you some context, Pepper spray, tear gas and the like are non-lethal chemical agents. They won't kill you, but you will wish you could die. These work by irritating your eyes and sinuses.

There are three families of "war gas" chemical weapons, Blister, Blood and Nerve agents.

Blister agents work by causing internal and external blisters. Mustard Gas, which was used in WWI is an example of this agent. These droplets upon contact with open skin or inhaled, cause the affected tissue to blister up to 24 hours after exposure. These blisters are painful and are your classic first- and second degree chemical burns. When inhaled, the alveoli in your lungs develop blisters and you develop Pulmonary Edema. Your air passages swell shut and your lungs fill with fluid, preventing you from absorbing oxygen and you drown slowly over a day or two in your own fluids. Saddam Hussein likely used Mustard Gas against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war.

Blood agents are next up on the list. These are usually derived from either cyanide or arsenic. Phosgene Gas was used in WWI as a blood agent. The best known chemical of this in the civilian world is Hydrogen Cyanide. If a truck carrying this stuff ruptures on the highway, the police rope off an area about a mile wide so no one gets close enough to receive a fatal dose. This has to be inhaled because when blood agents come in contact with your red blood cells (which transport oxygen from your lungs throughout your body to the cells, then carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be exhaled) it saturates the red blood cells, preventing the blood cells from carrying out their function. You die within minutes, your body dying because it can't get oxygen. A gas mask can protect you, however civilians likely won't have the right kind of filter, and the right kind of filter have a very short time frame of use before they become saturated and ineffective.

Nerve agents are the big, evil, nasty bastards of this group. The well-known names of this class are Tabun, Sarin (used in Syria), VG and VX. These chemicals interrupt the transmission of signals going from nerve to nerve by disrupting the neurochemical process. Your muscles, which are no longer receiving control signals, activate all at once. Imagine a muscle spasm, occurring in every muscle in your body simultaneously. You collapse, every muscle hysterically tight (think trying to hold onto something that if you let go, you'll fall to your death and you know it). Oh, yeah, this includes your diaphragm, the muscle that makes your lungs inhale and exhale air. You inhale... and you can't exhale. You suffocate because you can't exhale (and then inhale again). Civilians have zero defense against this, because it can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It only takes minutes, if not seconds from initial exposure to death. The extra nasty thing about VG and VX-type chemical weapons is they have persistence. It's more of an oily gel that doesn't evaporate. When sprayed over an area, the contaminated surfaces can be fatal to the unprotected touch for days after it has been deployed.

CW's are evil, mean and nasty. While you can take some kind of cover from an artillery or air strike and have a fair chance of survival, these weapons will find you. You will most likely die quickly and relatively painlessly in an artillery or air strike. CW's let you know you're going to die and will deliver great pain and terror to you while you wait for the process to conclude.

When the leader of a country uses these kind of agents, especially against their own people, there is a special circle of Hell reserved for them, the one below child molesters. I will take months of screamingly painful torture before I deliver him there.

 

 

The reason why

A warship has many functions and purposes. Purposes like showing the flag, force projection, area denial and battlegroup defense are a few of what they do. In the end, it accomplishes all of these purposes by executing (or threatening to execute) its main function, that of delivering ordinance on target.

Every action the ship and crew do enable those weapon systems to be in the proper place at the proper time to accurately deliver that ordinance on target. Outside of the personal effects of the crew, every item on that ship is meant to operate the ship so the mission can be carried out, either undamaged or damaged. Every item on those ships has a function and purpose, as well as a place to stand ready until needed. They are maintained and inspected on a regular basis. The attention-to-detail sailors have to provide on a daily basis would make someone with severe OCD feel inadequate.

Every item and where it is stored on a ship have reasons written in blood from earlier ships taking damage.

Since I enlisted in 1979, six US Navy ships have been seriously damaged, five by enemy action and one by a "TFOA" (Things Falling Off Aircraft). Each of these ships, by their design, their redundant systems and the courage and training of their crew made it back to port to be repaired and return to the fleet.

The film below, Seven Sailors was filmed on the USS Lawrence (DDG-4), a Charles F. Addams Guided-Missile Destroyer. It was filmed in 1968 on 16mm film, which was probably later recorded on videotape and finally to digital format. This is why it is out of focus a bit.

This film illustrates the necessary attention-to-detail that every sailor needs to have in order to properly carry out their job. No job is too small or menial. When sailors don't do the proper thing, bad things do happen. A person who has never served on a ship will probably think these seven sailors made minor mistakes. As the film progresses you will see how those "minor mistakes" seriously hurt the ability of the ship to survive, let alone carry out its needed mission.

 

Memorial Day

This weekend is not meant for you to have a day off, an excuse to grill out, or to participate in various sales to buy things.

It is to honor the men and women who have given their lives for this country and the concept of freedom. From the Concord Green to the Middle East, the citizen soldiers who have answered the call of duty and fallen in battle in foreign lands.

Please choose a day this weekend to visit your local veterans cemetery. Tread lightly, for heroes sleep there. Never forget those who died at sea, for the ocean is their grave.

If you have attended a veterans function, you may have seen a display like the one below. This table honors our POW/MIA's. For those of you who do not know the symbolism of each item, let me tell you:

pow mia table

This symbolizes that our Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action are with us, here in spirit.  

The Table is round, to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.  
This small table is set for One, to symbolize the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors. 
The Tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.  
The single Red Rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and their loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.  
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting for our missing.  
A slice of Lemon, on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.  
A pinch of Salt, symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who need answers.  
The Bible, represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. 
The Glass is inverted, to symbolize their inability to share this day's toast. 
The Chair is empty, they are missing.

Freedom is not free. It must be paid for by the blood of Patriots and Tyrants who seek to oppress us.

We are never more than one generation away from losing all we hold dear.

 

One of my earlier writings

As I said in my previous post, I was moving some papers around in my personal safe when I found this essay I wrote back in 1990. It was for a contest of some sort, I don't remember. Once I found it, I scanned it to PDF so I can never lose it, then ran that file through an OCR reader so I wouldn't have to type the whole ten pages again.

I want to take note that the OCR software handled ship names like Musashi, Derfflinger, Kirishima and Glamorgan without a glitch, but totally hosed New Jersey.

You can find the article in the Other Stuff category at the top of the page, or click here to go to it directly.

 

An enjoyable find

I had to open my personal safe tonight to store some papers and I happened to make an amazing discovery: A paper I wrote in 1990 for the US Navy regarding the refitting of the Iowa-Class Battleships. It was printed on a daisy-wheel printer, that's how old this is. I have it scanned and as soon as I convert it to text I will upload it here.

Women in Combat

I served in the US Navy when women were introduced on-board auxiliary ships. My second ship, the USS Jason (AR-8) was one of those ships. I could tell stories about the goings on aboard that ship, but those are not germain to the issue that has cropped up with the opening of all combat roles to females. The notion of "equality" extended to its illogical and absurd extreme as exemplified by this recent socio-political mandate from the progressive power structure currently in charge could catastrophically damage morale and combat readiness, as I am sure those in power want to do.

I personally regard the US Marines as the absolute best conventional military ground force in the world. They are our shock troops who will engage you in order with air and artillery strikes, precision rifle fire and then hand-to-hand combat with only their K-Bar, the Marines always get the job done. The last place I want to be anywhere on this world is on the bad side of a Marine.

Don't take just my word for it. This article, Sergeant Major Speaks Out On Women In Combat, is from a 27 year veteran of the US Marines. A Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank that you can attain. The term "Sustained superior performer" would fall short of the worst Sergeant Majors evaluation.

In the article, he talks about spearheading a Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, a unit developed to evaluate the abilities and capabilities of women as combat troops. Every leader selected for the command staff wanted this to succeed. The women selected were the best of the best of female marines.

This is what the Sergeant Major said about the results:

The best women in The GCEITF as a group in regard to infantry operations were equal or below in most all cases to the lowest 5 percent of men as a group in this test study.

The best female Marine at her absolute best was at most equal to the lowest 5 percent of male Marines. 19 out of 20 male Marines physically outperform every female Marine. Think about that. Do we want an entire fighting force (this includes all branches) to suffer severe structural weakening by forcing women who are by-and-large physically incapable of being effective fighters to serve as combat troops? This has 'catastrophe' written all over it.

 

22 A Day

The US Military is fantastic for programming our soldiers be effective in killing the enemies of the United States.

The deprogramming and reintegration back into society part they haven't figured out yet.

As a consequence, twenty-two veterans a day complete suicide. I suspect what they go through is very similar to this short. I know what it's like to be mentally tortured by yourself. In my case, the particulars weren't the same, but the end result almost was. Watch this to the end.

If you know a veteran who is struggling, help them reach out to get the help they need.

Because of the Machismo of the military, it is very difficult for them to ask for help. Phrase it to them like this:

"Okay, you're in a firefight. You are pinned down, outnumbered and outgunned. What do you do?"

"Call for the QRF [Quick Reaction Force] and air support. I call for reinforcements."

"Great. Right now, that fight you are having within yourself, you are pinned down, outnumbered and outgunned. Let me call in some reinforcements for you to help you win this battle."

 

To all my battle brothers and sisters

So it came to pass, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of the Year of Our Lord 1918, the guns fell silent and the Great War ended.

The Great War was not called World War I until World War II came about. It was meant to be "the war to end all wars."

Veterans day started as Remembrance Day, and is still called such in Canada and other countries.

Memorial Day is when we pay homage to those who have fought for our country and have gone on before us. Veterans Day is for those who have done so and still walk among us.

I just found this, "So God Made A Patriot" narrated by Fred Thompson. Please watch and enjoy.

The bond of veterans

I have said for years, a veteran will give another veteran several steps more benefit of the doubt more than they will a civilian, even on their first meeting.

This TED talk by Sebastian Junger codifies and describes plainly how my statement above is an immutable fact.

There is no other place on this world or in this life than you will know 104% who is with you and who is against you than on the field of battle. Combat veterans have trust issues upon their return from war because most of the people they interact with do not have the same level of commitment to the group. These are men and women who would not hesitate to surrender their lives to save their team. You do not find that level of interpersonal commitment anywhere else other than on the battlefield.

In the words of General George S. Patton, "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

To be truthful, I have never answered a real General Quarters alarm. I have never been in combat. I served in a time of relative peace. I am humbled that those who have gone through combat consider me a brother.

An era has ended

On September 29th, 2015, the USS Simpson (FFG-56) was retired after 30 years of service. Only she and one other active duty US Navy warship could claim the honor of engaging an enemy ship in combat on the high seas and being victorious.

The other ship? The USS Constitution. The same USS Constitution which was built under the Naval Act of 1794 and is one of the original 6 ships of the United States Navy. The Constitution sank a total of five ships in the War of 1812.

The USS Simpson earned her title during Operation Praying Mantis in 1988. The USS Samuel B. Roberts had struck an Iranian mine while protecting civilian shipping in the Gulf of Hormuz. The US Navy was in the process of destroying several oil platforms which were being used to gather intelligence and document ship movements. The Iranian fast attack craft Joshan fired a missile at SAG (Surface Action Group) Charlie, consisting of the USS Wainwright (CG-28), USS Bagley (FF-1069) and USS Simpson (FFG-56). The Iranian missile missed, the four missiles fired by the Simpson did not. The Wainwright also hit with a missile, then all three ships closed and proceeded to sink the Joshan by gunfire.

It seems odd that with all of the Naval history the US Navy has, the only battle-proven ship we have is a wind powered ship capable of a battle speed of 13 knots. On the other hand, it shows that we are unchallenged in recent years because the men and women who sail into harms way every day demonstrate the fact that all who attempt to challenge us will find themselves wanting of their goal.

 

navy poster

I Raised My Hand

I was a little busy yesterday, so I didn't get to post this in timely manner.

36 years ago yesterday I started my time in the Navy. It was actually the third time I raised my hand and swore to protect the Constitution. The first time was in January when I entered the DEP (Delayed Entry Program). The second time was the real one, and took place earlier in the week. Saturday July 21st, 1979 was when my clock started.

I was one of 80 young men, members of the "Cleveland Indians Naval Recruit Company." All of us were from Northern Ohio. My parents took me up to the Stadium and we were marched out onto the field during the 7th inning stretch and we were given a "sounds good" oath. We were then loaded onto two buses and made our way to Great Lakes Recruit Training Center.

Dad and I 2

This was me and all I had when I left home. The clothes on my back, a small gym bag with extra stuff that wouldn't fit wrapped in a paper grocery sack, taped to the bottom of the bag. That's my Dad next to me. My Mom took the picture, and she never was very good with cameras, she almost always was off in one direction or another.

And I still have that belt buckle.

Six Seconds To Live

I found this speech this morning, fitting for Memorial Day. This was given by USMC General Paul Kelly, in November of 2010, four days after losing one of his sons in Afghanistan.

I am quoting the entirety of the speech because I don’t want you to miss a word.

Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.

They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.

Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event—just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.

All survived. Many were injured … some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”

What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”

“No sane man.”

“They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “ … let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have know they were safe … because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.

Six seconds.

Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.

I want to emphasize that last sentence: That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight – for you.

When most people hear the phrase, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” they think of Gandalf. From this point forward, I will be reminded of Corporal Yale and Lance Corporal Haerter.

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