Showing posts with label taliban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taliban. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Various Things

Part of me wants to get in a fight on a crowded dance floor with techno music going and kick butt while somehow staying generally in time with the music.

Tam brings up the excellent point that you can't lose a fight you do not get in. Discretion is the better part of valor folks.

Weapons Man's original quote:
These odds of survival are improved by training to hone your skills and survive an armed encounter, but they’re improved more by using your superior judgment so as not to have to make a vulgar display of your superior skills. Too few people do the former, and far too few people do the latter. (A lot of cops who are involved in shootings are just unlucky. But there are others, where none of their cop friends are surprised they were in a shooting. Why do you think that is?)
Most of us are not cops, and not soldiers (any more), and therefore, do need to saddle up and go into places where you’re likely to be engaged by gunfire. So here’s our version of some guidelines for fight avoidance:
  1. If you must go where the sharks feed — you may have reasons; we had a friend whose elderly mother would not leave her house in South Central LA until the Rodney King riots burned it down and settled the question for her — don’t look like bait. Don’t act timid, walk boldly with your head up, like you belong there — and are the baddest mother in the valley. Also, don’t flash stuff that is irresistibly attractive to the sort of people who have been listening to TV and therefore think they’re entitled to take it from you.
  2. When you have to go into the badlands, take a lesson from the cops and don’t walk alone. If you can’t help looking like prey (maybe you’re small, or elderly person), bring a buddy who looks intimidating if you can.
  3. Don’t get distracted. This is the wrong time to be facebooking, texting or reading WeaponsMan.com on your jeezly phone. In fact, it’s the wrong time to be taking calls. You need to be 100% in the analog world. We don’t know what the percentage of mugging victims in NYFC and San Francisco is, who had their ear buds in, but we’d take a guess it’s fairly high.
  4. Be conscious of concealment. Don’t give anyone the chance to ambush you.
  5. Manage the Clock. Most criminals stay up late and sleep late, too. If you have unavoidable business in their precincts, do it at seven o’clock in the morning when they’re down for the count, not at midnight when they’re just warming up.
  6. Be conscious of the fact that you may have to be ready, and always be ready to deliver a violent counterstrike.
  7. Work on avoidance, but once avoidance fails you should immediately execute a drilled, conscious plan. Strike hard and decisively. (George Z. got this bit exactly right, and every day’s life he has now, he only has because he did).
  8. If you err, and are attacked, act. Save regrets and recriminations for later.
FerFal shows the contents of various refugees bags. Interesting stuff. If they could have had (or retained) compact handguns, secure rugged USB storage devices and rolls of Krugerrand's I bet those would have made the cut for their small bags.

The Taliban have taken Kunduz. I knew they would do well when we left but they are exceeding my expectations. I figured the government would at least hold on for the most part until we stopped giving them enough money to fund their Army and buy off warlords. In light of this the already low odds the 'legitimate GIROA' could somehow keep violence below the (admittedly pretty high) accepted cultural boiling point and not have the kettle spill over while they eventually shrink the massive Army and Police forces to levels they can actually afford to fund seem pretty low.

Anyway that is what seemed worth mentioning today. Tomorrow I'll get you a real post.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reader Question: Rucking Weights, Fighting vs Approach March Loads, Afghanistan, etc

Rucking 101 Part 2 Training Plans got a comment that I thought was worth replying to on the main page:
I question the sense, even the rationality of trying to train up to the military 65 lb load. Training should have a purpose. What is the purpose of the 65 lb load? The military does it? So effing what. The military is losing in Afghanistan to poorly trained, poorly equipped light infantry in part because those heavy loads give the Taliban the choice of when to engage. And then when they do engage our troops carrying 65 pounds of gear cannot catch them when they disengage. The bulk and weight of the loads, to a great extent, limits our troops to roads and trails where they can be ambushed or hit with ieds. So why would you want to copy the military when what the military does doesn't work?

Ryan here: I am going to ignore the slightly condescending tone of the reply  so we will just stick to the issue at hand. First I have to say the plan I pretty blatantly stole is the brainchild of John Mosby. I am not going to try putting words into his mouth; all thoughts that follow are my own. In no particular order here we go:

-Let's talk about system levels first.

Level 1 is your survival load. I everyday carry mine.

Level 2 is a fighting load. A way you carry plenty of ammo, some water, a bit of food and medical stuff, etc. Level 2 can vary widely in weight depending on whether or not you choose to wear body armor. Even a stripped down set of plates with a plate carrier weights in the fifteen to seventeen pound range. Add side plates and it will be more. Choose a full on vest with class IIIA soft armor, side plates and front/ back plates and it's going to be more like 30 pounds.This is also called a fighting load.

Level 3 is a subsistence load. This will have food, shelter, water, spare clothes, ammo, etc all. This is a rucksack or something similar. It is also called an approach march load.

-Where you confuse things is by arbitrarily linking 65 pounds being the end weight of this program with what you perceive to be soldiers fighting loads in Afghanistan. These two things are entirely unrelated in my mind.

-As to taking lessons from our combat forces. Who else would you propose taking them from?

-To the single point issue of whether soldiers loads in our current operational environment, particularly high altitude mountainous Afghanistan are too heavy. One can make a legitimate argument, as I noted a couple years back in Thoughts on Insurgencies #1 that the current focus on wearing heavy protective equipment no matter what decreases mobility. Years and a trip to Afghanistan later I would argue in particular that it greatly limits our ability to do the long multi day presence/ movement to contact type patrols and SKT/ ambushes that would really deny the Taliban safe haven everywhere an MRAP/ Cougar can't drive. This means the Taliban have functional control of these areas only needing to worry about SOF types occasionally popping out of the sky to hit an HVT. Day to day that terrain and it's populace are theirs. You just can't haul enough stuff to survive for 3-4 days and wear full on body armor.

If I were El Supremo General Ryan I would delegate authority to forgo protective gear in order to increase mobility to the Company Commander, with review by the first 0-5 in the chain of command which is typically the Battalion Commander. Moving on.

-Beyond that to the larger question of whether our overall success, or very arguable lack thereof in Afghanistan can be attributed to our troops efforts (or even more arbitrarily the weight of their fighting loads).  One could argue that seperating military and political objectives is arbitrary. After all as Clausewitz said "War is a continuation of politics by other means".

The conditions determined to be success and by implication failure, as well as the limits of troops and force allowed being defined by civil leadership largely put success in a venture such as Afghanistan into the political spectrum. For example, our soldiers could stop the Taliban in a couple weeks simply by killing the known bad guys and their major supporters without waiting to catch them in the act with evidence that can convict them and subsequently gathering intel to go kill their buddies but it would not be pretty. In fact it would probably remind one of The Battle of Algiers.

Of course any legitimate effort to route the Taliban would need to include significant incursions if not outright occupation of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal areas. Taking it a step further our military would be quite capable of killing every human being in Afghanistan to end the problem that way. However we are not as a society willing to accept those costs; which is probably a good thing.

In closing on this point I'd argue our soldiers are doing a decent, though inherently less than perfect, job in pursuit of what could be argued to be an inadequately resourced, poorly defined and unrealistic, out right fantasy based often changing end state.

-You mentioned training having a purpose. So let us work backwards in terms of how much weight one might want to train up to carrying.

My fighting load including M4agery weights in around 20 pounds. Toss in body armor and it is closer to 35-40.

My sustainment load AKA BOB weights about 42 pounds (wet).

Carrying a light (sans armor) fighting load and my BOB puts me right around the 65 pound weight hack. I don't worry to much about a full on load out of fighting kit, armor and ruck. The reason is I can't see myself realistically carrying that for a prolonged period.  Where I can see myself sucking under a ruck is in some situation trying to get home. Often for long trips I toss my BOB and a rifle into our vehicle. Walking home a long distance would suck but it is my realistic walking worst case scenario.

The point I am trying to get at here is that 65 pounds is not out a crazy weight for a multi day sustainment load and some fighting gear. Instead of being an arguably bloated fighting load it is a lean fighting load and enough stuff to somewhat comfortably live for 3-4 days in realistic field conditions. Really add up the stuff and if your weights come across drastically different I'd recheck the packing list.

While not intentionally planned 65 pounds is just about right for me. Knowing John Mosby that probably isn't a happy coincidence. If you do the same math as I just did and come up with a drastically different weight then adjust accordingly.

That being said as one wise commenter noted "If you can carry 65 you can definitely carry 35" so maybe training hard even if you do not plan to haul a heavy pack has some wisdom after all.

Anyway that's my thinking on that. Hope it helps or entertains somebody.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts on Insurgencies 7: How They Happen, Advantages and Disadvantages

An insurgency could be defined as an armed competition for the heart of the people and thus power. Almost without exception insurgencies involve at least one non state actor otherwise they would just be a war.

Insurgencies develop when a group of people feels they are facing injustice (real or perceived) and either cannot or do not want to participate in the main stream political process. That they do not have the numbers/ influence to achieve their goals through normal political channels leads these groups to take up arms. I do not find ethics or value judgements to be particularly useful here. Many groups in the middle east as well as Africa had really legitimate cases to pick up arms but happened to be Islamic and or Communist a holes.

Folks like to talk about the white Afrikaners and Rhodesia's.  A small minority holding all of the power and most of the wealth in a system with very limited mobility is a good way to make the other people angry. That the small minority happen to be a different color than the poor majority is a real problem. Also it makes for a very good case as to why that system should be changed through violence. Of course sooner or later the many will question why they are so blatantly and brutally held down by the few. That the commie's would give these disenchanted groups indoctrination, training and weapons was just icing on the cake.

I cannot say it is a 1-1 thing but for insurgencies to really have a chance to take roots a lot of people need to be pretty unhappy as happy people do not fight their own government. The government needs to be incapable or unwilling to address their real or perceived issues that are making people so unhappy. Governments that are healthy have the right combination of being aware and able to address, if just in a token way peoples needs and having a viable security apparatus to keep the lid on things. So we have a couple conditions. We need a fairly large group of people that are really unhappy with their government and a government that cannot or will not address their needs and or shut them down with the security apparatus.

Now we have these two (or more but let's stick with two right now) opposing groups with a bunch of normal folks stuck in the middle. The government wants to maintain the status quo and the insurgents/ guerrillas want to be in charge or have some freedom or see land distribution in their favor or whatever. The government could be broken down into foreign or local. Foreign being the classic usually European Empire (say the Brit's in Malaysia, Kenya or whatever) and local (Rhodesia back in the day or Syria right now are fine examples). The difference is notable in that foreign or predominantly foreign (there is always a proxy force) forces have far less of a stomach for a long fight. It is pretty natural that folks will eventually give up on keeping/ taking over Nowhereistan and go back home. On the other hand and equally naturally people will fight tooth and nail to stay in power at home. This is why you see a lot more 10, 20 or 30 year conflicts between the local (national or state) regime and people who do not like them than with foreigners from far away. It is like a semi sporting fight between casual acquaintances and a brawl in a dark alley with a stranger. One ends when somebody gets hurt and the other ends when somebody is crippled or dead.

Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. Rather obviously the government has men, money, weapons, technology and pretty much every conventional warfare advantage you could name. On the other hand the insurgents/ guerrillas have some advantages also. One is low expectations. That they do not have to win but just have to convince people they are not losing is obviously an advantage. It is kind of like a handicap in golf. 

Another advantage is adaptability. It takes a conventional force like the Russians or the Americans forever to adopt a new weapons system. If we started now I would probably retire before a genuinely new weapon was widely fielded. On the other hand if a group of guerrillas finds that they need say a .50 caliber rifle they just need to get their hands on a few and train some dudes to use them. It could potentially be done in weeks. The same for new explosive charges or uniforms, radios or tactics.

Rather obviously guerrillas need weapons, ammunition, stuff and money. Money is probably the most important as it can readily be turned into the other stuff. We could break guerrilla funding sources into three basic streams. 1) Donations typically large foreign donations by sympathetic groups/ nations is pretty simple. A country such as both the US and USSR during the cold war or group such as Gulf State extremists supporting the Mujaheddin and then Taliban in Afghanistan and sympathetic Americans funding the IRA comes in with big bucks. Smaller donations can also be a consideration. 2) Various illegal or semi legal dealings such as drugs in the case of the Taliban and many South American Groups, the IRA selling guns and all manner of jerks and thugs robbing banks, printing fake money and running various scams. 3) Illegal taxes and forced donations from businesses and everyday folks. Either they are taking stuff without paying for it or making people make 'donations' or whatever. Unless people are sympathetic or they are providing some services in return this tends to make people unhappy though just about all insurgent and guerrilla groups do it.

Obviously it is a lot easier to conduct an insurgency if you are flush with cash. Groups with cash can get whatever sort of weapons they want, explosives, pay bribes and all sorts of fun stuff. This means that groups are hitting funding techniques 2 and 3 pretty hard. The difference between an insurgent group that is actively participating in the global gun/ drug/ smuggling/ etc trade and a big nasty gang like the Russian Mafia or MS-13 can get blurry. To me it comes back to the groups primary purpose. MS-13 are scary international gangsters to make money and get respect while the Taliban sell opium to fund their fight against the US and goals to regain regional domination or whatever.

As to equipment unless a group is getting  regular resupply via a friendly force or purchases they will by necessity use the same weapons systems as the government they are fighting. Having your own weapons, set up how you like and zeroed, in those calibers/ systems just makes sense. Even if you hate a system having one set up and put away for a rainy day is smart.

Well I am bored of writing now so it is time to wrap this up.









 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This and That

The Governor of Maine says the court decision [on the new health care law] has "made America less free." "We the people have been told there is no choice," he said. "You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo -- the IRS." I really think he should stop holding back and tell us what is really on his mind.

The Patient Option Act, a practical alternative to the current mess we are getting into.

Will your internet connection go black tomorrow?

Instead of bothering to link to all of them just go to Claire Wolfe's tab clearing page.

The Sovereign Man: Offshore Business, Global Opportunities, Freedom and Expat News.

If you are looking for a used vehicle I strongly suggest consulting The best used vehicles for under $20,000 by consumer reports. We are probably going to be in the market for either Hyundai Accent with 50-60k miles or a Toyota Corolla with 70-90k on it once we get to the states. Hyunai's were a great deal 8-10 years ago but their prices have gone up a lot which ironically raised the price of the older used ones also. The Toyota is a lot more money but they last forever. Then again for 50% more money you can usually get a lot more car. We have some thinking to do on this one.

If you haven't seen it yet I recommend Western Rifle Shooters Backgrounder on First Aid Kits and Blow-Out Kits. It is complete with links and you could use it as a shopping list if so desired.

I got an email from the folks at Full Spectrum Dominance saying they are linking to us. They are a News Aggregator who pull in some really obscure stuff. Pretty cool if you've got the time. I will probably add it to my weekly news rotation.

I stumbled onto a topic floating around that concerns me called The Orkin Man. I wish people could finally realize that this plan doesn't work. It has repeated and failed way more times than Communism. Here is what happens: A bloodbath ensues, killing a bunch of elite's as well as a whole lot more of the wrong folks and just plain folks caught in the crossfire. This bloodbath is almost immediately followed by the people who did the killing becoming the new elite's. [Hint: the folks you want as leaders aren't the ones running around executing people wholesale or leading the mass murdering bloodbath executions.] With boring repetitiveness those new elite's are even worse than the old elite's. Those first folks may or may not not hold power but the ones who come next aren't much better. Reference the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, Mao's disaster in China, The Khimer Rouge and pretty much every revolution I can recall except the American one.

To end on a lighter note I stumbled into a site for Infantrymen called 11series.com. Got some half funny half motivational quotes off their FB page:

"Not saying your a whore, but baby if you were a range target you would be the 25m one."

"It's too hot to train said no taliban fighter ever in the history of the world."

"How many vets does it take to screw in a light bulb? You don't know man, you weren't there."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pic Post- Cleaning Out My Desktop










Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies Four

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Something
1) Occupiers or liberators (depending on which side you are on) can only have limited success when they willingly ceede terrain to the freedom fighters/ guerillas. If the Cong or Taliban are able to come into the village at night the occupiers will never be able to keep the populace safe or deny access to them to the guerillas.
2) If you are a guerilla or a partisan or really have picked any kind of side then keep it to yourself for a long time. In WWII parts of Europe (Holland and most of Russia come to mind) changed hands repeatedly. It would be very bad to have been loudly bragging about all the Germans you killed and how much stuff you broke to then have the tanks roll back in. If I was in a situation where some partisan shenannigans seemed appropriate I would certainly conduct them alone or in a very small group of people I trust deepy and would probably take them to my grave.
3) If you are anything except an occupier or a strait up hiding in the woods Red Dawn style partisan then be as grey as you can be. Grey will keep you alive.
4) American forces and to a lesser degree our allies that have been involved in the GWOT have learned some interesting skills. They have gotten really good at searching houses and structures. They are also using some very interesting technology in terms of biometrics. Getting a big enough database makes population and resource control very easy.
5) UAV's are suprisingly ineffective in weather that is less than ideal. In particular low level cloud cover and wind are issues for them.
Well that is all for now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies (3?): Myths, Night Letters and Cost to Benefit Ratio

I have enjoyed writing this series (1, 2) and hope you have gotten something out of it. I was quite proud of the overwhelmingly positive response the first chapter got. I hope to keep a bit of that spark in every chapter. Anyway it is time for another chapter. I imagine it will continue periodically for the foreseeable future.

The first thing I am going to talk about today is what I think is the biggest myth about insurgents/ guerillas/ partisans in certain preparedness/ liberterian and pro gun circles. For lack of a better word lets call this myth the noble insurgent. In America the term Noble Patriot would fit better. The idea is that these noble insurgents are operating within an acceptable moral framework and level of violence against a clearly targeting a definite enemy and moving towards pure and worthy goals. This myth is so presumptuous and morally superior I cannot find the words to accurately describe it. It is to many men with an assault rifle and a copy of the Constitution what the nice college girl trying to earn her degree is to a guy in a strip club.

Lets disect it real quick. The Noble Patriot is absolutely sure that a) his cause is riteous or possibly holy, b) that the violence he commits against c) whomever is an evil supporter of tyranny (or otherwise disagrees with him) is just and noble for the end cause. We will go point by point.

A) My real concern here is that typically the crazier someone and their cause are the more riteous and possibly holy they believe it to be. Just because an individual or a group believe in a cause doesn't make it just. Also for heavens sake please don't find 3 pieces of scripture that, taken completely out of context, seem to support your cause and say it has sacred underpinnings. I am not going to say that all true believers are crazy. Some are decent sane folks who just believe really strongly about this or that. However some are completely off their rocker. There is nothing scarier than a true believer.

B) I don't have a real issue with this one. When you start hurting or killing folks I just can't see morally, ethically or otherwise how it matters much how you do it. To say that shooting them is OK but stabbing then is wrong, dropping mortars on them is OK but an IED is wrong, etc doesn't have much standing with me. Maybe a certain way is slow or cruel but at the end of the day the only person to whom that matters is the one it is inflicted upon. I don't think God differentiates between dudes you just shot in the face vs dudes you killed in another manner.

C) This is where the whole Noble Insurgent thing really breaks down. The Noble Insurgent ideal works only if we think in absolutes. People are absolutely good in the context of whatever your value system is or against it an absolutely bad. Anybody with experience in a chaotic area suffering a serious breakdown of law and order, let alone an insurgency or civil war can say that absolutes are a hard thing to find. Most people have some good elements and some bad elements. We are talking about a whole lot of shades of grey between a little bit of black and white on the perimiters. A and C come together to create some real issues.

I get reminded of a quote from The Goodfellas. "For most of the guys, killings got to be accepted. Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line. You got out of line, you got whacked. Everybody knew the rules. But sometimes, even if people didn't get out of line, they got whacked. I mean, hits just became a habit for some of the guys. Guys would get into arguments over nothing and before you knew it, one of them was dead. And they were shooting each other all the time. Shooting people was a normal thing. It was no big deal." Another notable quote is "when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail." Basically once you get into the habit of killing folks to solve problems it is disturbingly easy to start killing all sorts of folks to solve all sorts of problems.

The honest truth is that despite the purity of their goals insurgents/ whatever are going to have to do a lot of bad things. More significantly they are inevitably going to have to intimidate/ coherce/ conscript (at least in a limited way for limited tasks) and steal. The last Matthew Bracken book had a good portrayal of this. It is fine and dandy to think about killing enemy soldiers or traitors but what about a shop keeper, small business owner or average joe trying to get by in a crazy situation? This is where those shades of grey continue to be problematic. Sure capping a dude who you estimate to be 90% evil is an easy decision but what if you think he is  52% evil?

The blunt and honest situation, if you look at accurate real life examples, is that insurgents are eventually going to have to force some sort of goods, services or information out of people who are not willing to give it. It is truly unavoidable. The 'cause' is going to bump into some decent normal people who just want to live their lives. Shooting enemy soldiers is pretty clear cut but what about some average joe so you can get some food or fuel?

Before flaming this please realize that I am not saying all insurgents or insurgencies or 'patriots' are inherantly bad. Nor am I saying that some causes they could stand for are not entirely just. Personally I can say there are some situations where I would start collecting information, sabotaging and destroying infrastructure and killing enemy personnel. It would be like a more boring but also more effective Red Dawn. I am a pragmatist and thus believe that the ends can justify the means. My main point is that folks need to get off of a high, morally superior horse and come to terms with the fact that being a successful insurgen is going to mean doing some bad things. It is also going to mean doing some bad things to people who probably don't really deserve it.

Maybe it is easy for Americans to have a nice sanitized 60's Western PG view of this sort of thing because our Revolution was a really long time ago and our civil war is also beyond real authentic memory. We can say that in America these things are fine, clean and noble. We can also use cultural, ethnic and racial steriotypes to think that revolutions and civil war's in other parts of the world are not dirty, nasty and violent because of their inherant nature but because these people are somehow inferior to us. Anyway onto the next point.

Insurgents are successful largely (or at least in part) because they can effectively intimidate the populace. To burst your bubble even further they don't intimidate people because they are tough, virtuous and have neato rifles; but instead because they prove very willing to cripple, main or kill those who do not bend to their will. Night letters are a great example of the power insurgents can have. A night letter is just a letter, posted at night and attributed to a given group that gives a warning/ threat. For example lets talk about Afghanistan. Here is a story that isn't exactly true but is very like a lot of true stories. Those crazy Americans think it would be nice to teach girls (oh their wacky western ideas) to read, do basic math and stuff like that. Lets say they go to months of effort and great expense to build and set up a nice school for these girls to learn some stuff. They hire a teacher and all that too. The night before the scheduled big opening of the school the teacher gets a letter stuck to his door. It says "If you teach those girls, we will cut your head off" and is signed by the local insurgent group. No way the teacher is going to deal with that. He may or may not do a lot of things the next day but sure as hell isn't going to that school! The reason this letter is effective is not because the insurgents are pure of heart or have nice rifles; but because the insurgents have a track record of cutting people's heads off. They have probably cut the head off of a  couple people from the teachers village for whatever reason.


While I am diametrically opposed to the Taliban's perspective on educating young girls I cannot say their methods aren't awesomely effective. An insurgent in another place, provided they were willing to do what it takes to establish the kind of credibility required to get this sort of reputation, could accomplish a lot of things with night letters. Maybe the evil occupiers have a base in your area. On that base they have toilets and since they are exceeding the capacity of that system they have plumbing issues. They hire a plumber who then gets a night letter. Either the insurgents have already earned through blood some credibility and he quits or it takes till plumber #3 for them to get that credit. Night letters flow well into my next point.

Insurgents are never on an even playing field with the government/ occupiers. If they go life for life and dollar for dollar they will quickly lose. However if they can find a way to negate or otherwise tie up a significant amount of personnel, energy and money for a modest investment they are in business. Back to that night letter I talked about before. Lets say the occupiers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as lots of time and energy on a project and that project can be nullified by the insurgents posting a single letter. Even a force with lots of men, money and resources can quickly be worn down when the their large investments are countered by the 25 cents it costs to write a letter.

IED's are another great example. A fairly smart Iraqi bomb maker (specialized insurgent skill) with some electrical skills and a flair for creativity makes a new type of bomb. It costs $500 in components and a couple days of his time. Call it $750 just to have a number. That bomb blows up, messes up a vehicle and kills a few people. The Americans send numerous experienced specialists to study this bomb. Then the Army Center for Lessons Learned, EOD and numerous other groups and contractors spend a ton of money figuring out how to defeat this new threat. Millions of dollars are spent which then creates a new system or product. That product is created and fielded to as many groups as possible as quickly as possible. It costs tens of millions of dollars on the low end. So for an investment of $750 the insurgents killed 3 guys, wrecked a truck, tied up countless thousands of man hours and MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Insurgents can do well with this sort of techniques. Not flashy like direct action missions and that stuff but far more useful. Even if the enemy is 20x stronger and 20x better funded by using techniques that tie up vastly disproportionate amounts of their money and time they can be worn down into defeat.

I guess in closing being an insurgent is not a nice business. They do really bad things, sometimes to pretty decent people. If you don't believe that the ends justify the means then I suggest another hobby. If you do choose to be an insurgent then use the fear your group envokes to your full advantage. Also plan and conduct operations that will tie up disproportionate amounts of the enemies time, money and resources.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time To Earn My Pay

In the near future I will be deploying to Afghanistan.  Wifey will be headed home to hang out with family for the duration. I am not going to talk about specifically about it beyond that, at least right now. What does this mean for the blog? Well my schedule, living conditions and internet access remain to be entirely determined.  Obviously if I have the choice between sleeping, having a bit if workout or relaxing time and writing posts then posts will be very infrequent. However I plan to, baring unlikely completely spartan isolated conditions and a horrible schedule, keep it going while I am gone. I do however have a variety of plans to continue communication with Wifey and also keep the lights on here. Especially if I cut out reading ( and I am definitely not getting onto evil domestic terrorist sites on .mil computers) then normal writing doesn't take  that long.Wifey has graciously offered to take over as webmaster and manage the micro business side so we should be able to keep the lights on here. We have done a watered down version of this in the past so it won't be totally new. Between now and then we will go over everything but as she so nicely put it 'if I can do it then it can't be that hard'. All of that will figure itself out in time and to be honest I have bigger stuff on my mind anyway.

While I will continue to write about whatever I feel like the content of this blog should stay more or less the same. I do not have a 'mil blog' 'for a reason and don't plan to go that route. Since I won't be reading blogs that influence will taper off over time. No biggie though as I will stay up on the news, current events and all that stuff plus the thoughts in my crazy head should keep things going.

Exactly how things will work is something I can't totally figure out till I have boots on the ground. Hopefully I have good access to phones and the internet as well as a decent workout area and good chow. I hope that readers are patient during this period; especially the beginning when we are going through big transitions and trying to figure out all sorts of stuff.

I don't want to make a big deal of this. I am only saying something now because it is starting to overlap into my life and blog content. Also bad news doesn't get better with time. I am pretty set on gear though if you happen to have a lucky roll of  Krugerrand's that might be helpful. Also if you are short on rolls of lucky gold coins but want to help out writing a guest post would help keep the lights on here during the transitional period.

Take care of each other,
Ryan

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Real American Heroes #2 Epitome of a warrior

On Jan. 22, 2002, as Pryor and the other Special Forces soldiers prepared to helicopter into the mountains north of Kandahar, they paused for a prayer at base camp. Sgt. 1st Class James Hogg asked God to fill their hearts with courage. Pryor wore a medallion of St. Michael, the patron saint of soldiers, duct-taped to his dog tag.

The men were "direct action" A-Team members, also known as assaulters, door-kickers or "five-minute wonders." They are the first to enter buildings, and they use SWAT team-like tactics. Close-in combat skills are crucial.

Pryor, the senior enlisted officer that night, is a bull of a man. Only 5-foot-11, he weighs 235 pounds. At the time, he could bench-press almost twice that. Team members call him a ferocious competitor, the epitome of a warrior.

"He makes you a better soldier just being around him," says Sgt. 1st Class Steve Ourada, a team member. "He built that assault force into what it was. We were on top of our game."

From aerial photos, their target looked like a U-shaped building within a walled compound. But on the ground that night, they found it was actually three buildings separated by covered breezeways.

The team charged into one breezeway and lobbed a flash-bang grenade, designed to disorient enemy troops, into the central courtyard. The area was filled with shiny new Toyota pickups and a trailer carrying a dual-barreled anti-aircraft weapon. Al-Qaeda fighters fired back, and the bullets raised clouds of stone from walls of the alleyway.

The troops had to push through the gunfire and cut left and right to clear rooms. Pryor, whose healthy-size cranium has earned him the nickname "Bucket," led the way. He stepped around a corner and shot a man coming at him with an AK-47 a few feet away.

Night-vision goggles cast everything in a greenish hue and gave the Special Forces troops an advantage. Al-Qaeda fighters, most of them bearded men wearing long dishdashas, floor-length shirts, had only the starlight.

Even so, the al-Qaeda men appeared well-trained and disciplined. Twenty-one of them would fight to the death.

Close-quarters battle

As Pryor entered the first room to his right, he came face-to-face with a second fighter emerging from the doorway. Unable to see a weapon in that split-second, Pryor slugged the man and knocked him down, blowing past him into the room. But the fighter rose with an AK-47. Hogg, still in the courtyard, fired a single round from his M-4 carbine and killed the man.

Other team members had gone on to clear the rest of the buildings, and Pryor faced the fighters in the room alone. If any got past him — or worse, killed Pryor — they could shoot other GIs in the back.

It was Pryor's fight now to win. As he entered the 25-by-25-foot room, his eyes swept from left to right. Bedrolls littered the floor, and two fighters at the rear of the room took aim through windows at other Americans entering the compound. Both swung toward Pryor, Kalashnikovs in their hands. Pryor fired, the rounds striking so dead-center that the men's beards fluttered.

As he reloaded, Pryor felt a foot brush up against his boot. At first, he thought it was another American. It wasn't. An al-Qaeda fighter struck Pryor hard from behind. The blow, possibly from a wooden board, dislocated Pryor's shoulder and broke his collarbone.

The fighter, bearded with his hair in a ponytail, jumped on Pryor's back and clawed at his face, tearing off his night-vision goggles.

"He started sticking his stinking little fingers into my eyeballs," Pryor remembers.

His left shoulder felt like it was on fire. He was winded and weary from fighting at an altitude of 8,000 feet. Without night vision, everything was black.

The battle outside raged on, punctuated by AK-47 and rifle fire and the steady boom of a 40mm grenade launcher from a Special Forces Humvee. The air reeked of gunpowder and the copper scent of blood. Inside that first room, the two fighters — al-Qaeda and American — were fighting to the death.

Pryor had only a single thought: You're not going to kill me.

"That's how I attack things," he says later.

With one good arm, Pryor grabbed his enemy by the hair. But the man's weight, combined with the 80 pounds of Army gear that Pryor wore, caused the two to fall. They landed on Pryor's left elbow, and the impact jammed his shoulder back into its socket.

Now he could fight with both hands. In a few desperate seconds, Pryor broke the man's neck and finished him with a 9mm pistol.

Miraculously, not another American was injured that night.

"There aren't any widows or orphans because of him," Ourada says of Pryor.

'They'd aged about 10 years'

In his 14 years in the Special Forces, Pryor has killed before, but never in hand-to-hand fighting. That night, he worried first, however, about his soldiers, who had shot it out with al-Qaeda inside other rooms.

Jack Gruber, USA TODAY
Master Sgt. Anthony S. Pryor holds his Silver Star.

Around a wood fire at base camp hours later, Pryor offered solace. "I went around and touched every one of those guys," he says. "Everybody looked like they'd aged about 10 years."

For him, sleepless nights followed.

He dispelled demons with cathartic heart-to-heart talks with his tentmate Hogg, replaying details of the fighting and dying. "A little bit of defragging of your hard drive," Pryor calls it.

Three articles of faith got him through, he says.

First was pride in a successful mission: Training had paid off.

Second was seeing the war as righteous. "We didn't start it," Pryor says. "They started this fight. We're in the right."

Third was his children and the future. "I remember him saying," Hogg recalls, " 'You know, it's an ugly business, it's a terrible thing for us to do. But hopefully our kids won't have to cope with it.' "

In addition to Pryor's Silver Star, seven Green Berets in the unit received Bronze Stars for valor in that fight. Pryor sent letters to their fathers. "I would like to thank you for raising a fine young man," he wrote. Many of the letters wound up framed and hung in living rooms.

Including Pryor, 19 soldiers have received the nation's third-highest decoration for fighting in Afghanistan. One soldier received the second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross.

This year, 86 additional Silver Stars were awarded by the Army for fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And one Army engineer, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, made a last stand with a .50-caliber machinegun against dozens of attacking Iraqi soldiers during fighting in April at the international airport outside Baghdad. He is being considered posthumously for the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration.

'No idea of the toll it takes'

"The thing that kind of boggles my mind," says James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers, the story of the fighting and flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II, "is that (the nation is) sending out these guys who would rather be whittling and spending time with their kids. And they're sending them out to kill. They have no idea of the toll it takes on humans to do something like that."

Maj. Gen. Geoff Lambert, a former Special Forces commander, agrees.

"In all wars, there are certain circumstances like this that happen to good men," Lambert says. "We try to train them the best we can to have them ready for these moments. We hope that they are few."

To cope with killing, Pryor says he lives two lives: one consumed with training for and fighting war, the other immersed in family.

"Two different lifestyles, two different on-and-off switches," he says. "If you're Johnny on the spot, focused on destruction, destruction, destruction all the time, where do you have time for compassion in a relationship with your wife? We're dedicated to our job. But there has to be a time to turn that off."

It is not easy for him to explain how he flips this switch, though he says that one way is to simply not discuss work and war when he leaves the base.

It bothers him that civilians might see him and his troops as Rambo-like soldiers.

"People look at people who do this stuff and it's always, 'They're killers, and that's what they live for,' " Pryor says. "That is so far from the reality."

Certainly, they don't shrink from the task of taking life if necessary. Pryor is a student of Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War, and a favorite topic is the legend of the Mongoday, the elite warriors of Genghis Khan. He and his troops train exhaustively in spotting the enemy and withholding fire.

The night of the assault, members of a farming family armed with a rifle in a building that was searched nearby were left untouched because they offered no resistance. And at the height of action, with adrenaline raging, an al-Qaeda fighter chose to surrender and was taken unharmed.

The control seems as ingrained as the reaction.

The other GIs tell of a firefight weeks earlier during which Pryor entered a room that was ablaze and spotted movement under a blanket. He didn't shoot. Pausing to search, he found a baby girl, pulled her free and passed her to a team member.

Off the battlefield, Pryor has a gentle reputation. For security reasons, he declines to discuss immediate family, but he says he forbids toy guns in his home.

Ourada remembers finding "Bucket" in his garage once nursing a newborn raccoon with an eye dropper. "The wives just think he's a big old teddy bear," Hogg says.

'It never goes away'

Raised in the logging town of Toledo, Ore., Pryor grew up admiring perseverance and hard work. A strong influence was his father, Jerry Pryor, who started out as a timber man and became the town chief of police.

The first movie Pryor saw in a theater was The Green Berets with John Wayne. He says the image of these soldiers stayed with him when he enlisted in the Army out of high school in 1981.

Though he was earning straight A's by the end of high school, college held no appeal. Like other young men from rural towns, he longed to escape. In 1988, he was accepted into the Green Berets, one of 79 chosen from an entry class of 429.

He has been on missions in Haiti, Somalia, Kuwait and other locations that remain classified. Early this year, he led a team in Iraq. Next year, he attends the Army's Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, on track to attain the highest enlisted rank.

He has also started working toward a business degree. After retiring from the Army, perhaps in three years, he hopes one day to manage a sawmill.

He has had two reconstructive surgeries to repair damage from that battle in Afghanistan. A chunk of his collarbone, removed during an operation, is kept in a jar as a souvenir. That, and the violent images, are what he has left.

"It never goes away," Pryor says. "It just gets put further back in your mind."

Hogg, the teammate who helped Pryor exorcise his demons from that night, says these are the prices they pay for lethal work.

"I wouldn't wish it on anybody," Hogg says. "But there are a few of us who are called to it. So that's what we do. Maybe people should at least keep us in their prayers."

TOR here: A couple real quick thoughts. First I am really glad we have men like this in our Army. It is honestly difficult to comprehend the bad assery of these men. Second I think this goes to show that no matter how well trained you are things can all go to hell in a hand basket.

Also this is a reminder to all the people that say if you learn this system or obscure ancient art strength and fitness don't matter that they are totally wrong. Sure skill matters a ton but if you can have skill AND STRENGTH that is best. Had MSG Pryor been 5'4" and 130 pounds of sinewy ultra marathoner (instead of a huge bear of a man) I fear this could have been a very different story. Remember there is no such thing as too strong, just too slow.

Lastly in closing I want to thank MSG Anthony Pryor for his service to America.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Real American Heroes #1

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- A modest NCO received the Army's third-highest award for valor July 22 during the welcome-home ceremony for 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Staff Sgt. Jarrett D. Brown of 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment 'Buffaloes,' received a Silver Star on Watkins Field at the beginning of a busy ceremony that included the brigade's redesignation and change of command. The acting commanding general of I Corps, Maj. Gen. John D. Johnson paused the proceedings to pin the medal on Jarrett's chest and congratulate him for his conspicuous bravery on Aug. 24, 2009.

On that day, Brown was serving as assistant M-240 machine gunner during a patrol in the Arghandab River Valley, a hotbed of Taliban resistance at that time. The patrol was ambushed and hit by a combination of fires from machine guns, small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Brown exposed himself to enemy fire to direct his machine gunner to cover a fire team caught in the open, while also firing his rifle. He then directed suppressive fire on the enemy's heaviest weapons.

As the platoon consolidated, Brown's gunner collapsed in the 100-degree heat. He grabbed the machine gun and dragged the gunner to a concealed position, from which he delivered accurate support by fire.

When it became clear the platoon's situation was untenable, the platoon sergeant ordered the squads to break contact. Brown alternately provided covering fire and moved, dragging his gunner with him. When he saw an enemy fire team creeping to within 30 meters of the platoon, he threw his gunner behind the last concealment available, abandoned his own cover and engaged them, killing one and wounding a second enemy fighter.

Brown set up the M-240 and provided suppressive fire as the rest of the platoon covered about 100 meters to better cover and began a faster, bounding egress. He followed them, still carrying his gunner. The platoon came under heavy fire once more before making it back to the Joint District Coordination Center. Brown returned fire and identified multiple targets for other platoon members. His response created space for close-coordination aircraft to be called in to neutralize the enemy and allow the platoon to finally return to safety.

Brown's first action once the platoon was safe was to find medical assistance for his gunner.

Brigade Commander Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV attributed the success of the Destroyer Brigade during its deployment to the countless unselfish acts of individual Soldiers in dangerous situations -- as Brown did.

"The success of the brigade has been due to the willingness of individual Soldiers to be so untiring as they got ready for war and so staunch in their desire to do their duty in harm's way," Tunnell said.

TOR here real quick. Anybody who has ever carried a machine gun or dragged a man wearing 50 pounds of kit knows how physically tasking it is. This hero did both of those things at once. Also the was this citation reads it is like one of those action movie scenes we think is so unrealistic, except this was real life.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Once Upon A Time In Afghanistan

An Afghani talks about how his country used to be. Lots of interesting pictures. Very worth reading.

Interestingly enough my Great Grandfather spent some time in Afghanistan in (I think) the 1950's building roads. My inner cynic does however note that the photographs and information from the article are of a sort of brief renaissance period for the country. Also probably more significant the pictures and information only involve the major cities. By far the majority of the population of Afghanistan is rural and I am not convinced that their lifestyle has ever changed that much. Of course some minor technology has been introduced but the fundamental patterns of life seem to be more or less the same as they have forever.

Take away a bunch of rifles, a truck or two, some radios and maybe a generator or a small scale hydro and I tend to think that a little Afghan village is probably about the same as it was 100, 200 or 500 years ago.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts On Insurgencies Two

The first one was well received and I really enjoyed writing it. I've been thinking on the topic again recently. In no particular order.

One thing I find incredibility amusing is that so many folks who could be called wanna be insurgents (lets face it the difference between a freedom fighter/ patriot and and terrorist is if they are on or against your side) completely ignore fitness. I like the term insurgent largely because it is relatively judgment neutral. You see the old school videos of the Michigan militia or whatever and it is usually a bunch of fat old guys standing there shooting rifles. Seriously insurgents do not fight static fights. They initiate an ambush or blow a bomb or conduct a raid and get away really fast before a large group of better armed and supported individuals comes to kill them. This usually means being able to move on foot quickly for some distance. If you are 40 pounds overweight you will not be able to get away and you will die. Insurgency is a very Darwinian business and that doesn't go well for fatties and idiots.

Onto the topic of idiots. A man, or I guess a woman, has got to know his limitations. This means being careful and choosy about the kind of fight they get into. They need to pick a fight with the right group of individuals or in a place that suits their capabilities, ideally some combination of both. They also need to pick a fight that they can get away from. Unless you're down with the whole suicide thing you need a real solid exit plan.

In terms of numbers and weapons insurgents always face bad odds. However if 3 insurgents with knives find an occupier in a dark alley it doesn't matter that his side has the overall odds in their favor. The same could be said if a section or platoon sized element of insurgents hits a squad sized patrol and gets away fast enough to miss the QRF.

As some folks mention to me not everybody is in their 20's or 30's and physically fit. I would submit to you that there are a lot of lot of 40 and 50 often with numerous poorly treated wounds from decades of almost constant warfare. Those 40-50 something year old insurgents are giving our boys in Afghanistan hell but they are in shape. Saying that you are older and thus in horrible shape is an excuse, sorry but it's true. For a person with a truly (not you are obese and go figure your joints aren't handling the weight well) destroyed knee or back, some kind of other medical problem, etc the idea of being an active rifleman in an insurgency while it has a certain mystique just isn't realistic. That is OK though.....

Why is that OK? Well the first reason is that it's life. If you have MS then running all over the place doing direct action stuff just isn't realistic. If you have a destroyed knee then hiking 20k through the night to get to a perfect point to mortar a small outpost isn't realistic either. However unlike the "every man is a rifleman and we will fight together" propaganda reality is that only part of an insurgencies total participants are active combatants in the traditional sense. So there is still a role for people who can't go running and gunning, in fact there are many roles. How are there many roles you ask?

Think of our modern conventional forces. They are not composed entirely of Infantrymen and Armor guys but in fact there are numerous other units and jobs, some of which have almost nothing to do with killing people, blowing stuff up and holding territory.

Insurgencies would need explosives efforts, logistics people, medical folks, intelligence and many other types of skills. A 55 year old ER doctor with a huge gut and bad knees is more valuable than a squad or even a section of fit 20 year old guys who can carry a rifle. A boringly average 40 year old woman who had a mediocre job in local government and was able to remember stuff from work, write it down at home and pass it to the right people could be a huge intel asset. A guy who is able to discretely bring continuous if modest donations (from his buddies at the country club or the shooting range or church or whatever) coming in could keep the shooters in the field.

Even the most boring guy with no real skills could help by offering to run an occasional short term safe house. Meeting them at a good bland place and pulling into the garage before the people get out and them staying out of the front room with the open window would be all the security that is needed.  All that would be needed is a bed or a cot, a stocked fridge/ pantry and some form of entertainment. Cable TV or a good stash of books and games would be sufficient. Most likely they would just sleep a lot and sit around. This would be a bad one for somebody with kids because even if coached they have no mental filters. Your 6 year old daughter talking about the strangers who come over for a few nights occasionally would cause real problems. This one would be best left to those without kids in the home.

Even a grandma who was willing to let somebody stash stuff in a false wall in the spare bedroom could be of a real help. Maybe she is just helping out or maybe she gets a few bucks now and then. Lots of inner city drug people keep their stash in the home of a seemingly innocent and unconnected family. The rent is paid and they let people drop off and pick up packages.

Insurgents need continued sources of revenues to operate. They have got to eat, purchase arms and ammunition and do all sorts of stuff that costs money. Typically this money comes from either outside donations (from a foreign power or well funded friends like the Saudi's) or coercing the local populace. Robbery, kidnapping and other general criminal behavior is also often employed to get funds to continue the fight. There is a reason that now and then you hear about some extremist group getting arrested for robbing a bank. It isn't that they want to rob banks parse but that they need money to fund future operations. That doesn't mean those are the only options. A small part time operation could require minimal funding because the participants have normal jobs support themselves that way. They would also have the advantage of good cover. Instead of being the 4 guys who live in an apartment, don't seem to have jobs and come and go at odd hours it would be Jim the accountant and his wife Sally the home maker, members of the Elks lodge and solid members of the community. Of course their OP Tempo would be a lot slower because no matter how motivated you are a normal job and life would greatly limit time to fight those darn occupiers. Also these folks would not be the backbone of a successful insurgency but that doesn't mean they couldn't be valuable members, particularly if they had access to Intel, useful skills or deep pockets.

As a final thought it might not be a bad idea to keep some stuff stashed though for survivalists that is old hat. Of course it is all but impossible to stockpile enough stuff to sustain an insurgency forever but it wouldn't be too hard to get a good start. Pretty hard to spend a couple days doing a recon without chow and if there is a way to shoot people without bullets I don't know what it is. Ammo that you can get now with the only limiting factor being your ability to pay might be next to impossible to get if through normal channels if supplies were interrupted due to restrictions because of a conflict. A couple hundred bucks worth of ammo now could be enough to do a lot of damage later.

Well I could talk on this topic for some time but I've got to go to bed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

This week I was pretty busy with some other stuff. For once it wasn't work which was real nice. Did however get some stuff done. We have like 60 Euro's worth of coins to change into bills and put into the fund. Yeah the euro is going through some rough times but seeing as it is the currency in the area I live in keeping some around is just something smart people do. I don't keep a whole lot of money in euro's but a few hundred bucks is just smart.

Also I read a couple of books on Afghanistan which was cool. Kill Bin Laden was good. It talked a lot about the challenges of fighting in rugged mountainous terrain and working with indigenous Afghan forces. Charlie Wilson's War was very interesting.

I read part of a book on money stuff but it sucked.

Also I got a pair of 3 d cell mag lights with some batteries to feed them.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Read This-Massoud's Letter To The People Of America

A Message to the People of the United States of America

Date: 1998

I send this message to you today on behalf of the freedom and peace-loving people of Afghanistan, the Mujahedeen freedom fighters who resisted and defeated Soviet communism, the men and women who are still resisting oppression and foreign hegemony and, in the name of more than one and a half million Afghan martyrs who sacrificed their lives to uphold some of the same values and ideals shared by most Americans and Afghans alike. This is a crucial and unique moment in the history of Afghanistan and the world, a time when Afghanistan has crossed yet another threshold and is entering a new stage of struggle and resistance for its survival as a free nation and independent state.

I have spent the past 20 years, most of my youth and adult life, alongside my compatriots, at the service of the Afghan nation, fighting an uphill battle to preserve our freedom, independence, right to self-determination and dignity. Afghans fought for God and country, sometime alone, at other times with the support of the international community. Against all odds, we, meaning the free world and Afghans, halted and checkmated Soviet expansionism a decade ago. But the embattled people of my country did not savor the fruits of victory. Instead they were thrust in a whirlwind of foreign intrigue, deception, great-gamesmanship and internal strife. Our country and our noble people were brutalized, the victims of misplaced greed, hegemonic designs and ignorance. We Afghans erred too. Our shortcomings were as a result of political innocence, inexperience, vulnerability, victimization, bickering and inflated egos. But by no means does this justify what some of our so-called Cold War allies did to undermine this just victory and unleash their diabolical plans to destroy and subjugate Afghanistan.

Today, the world clearly sees and feels the results of such misguided and evil deeds. South-Central Asia is in turmoil, some countries on the brink of war. Illegal drug production, terrorist activities and planning are on the rise. Ethnic and religiously-motivated mass murders and forced displacements are taking place, and the most basic human and women's rights are shamelessly violated. The country has gradually been occupied by fanatics, extremists, terrorists, mercenaries, drug Mafias and professional murderers. One faction, the Taliban, which by no means rightly represents Islam, Afghanistan or our centuries-old cultural heritage, has with direct foreign assistance exacerbated this explosive situation. They are unyielding and unwilling to talk or reach a compromise with any other Afghan side.

Unfortunately, this dark accomplishment could not have materialized without the direct support and involvement of influential governmental and non-governmental circles in Pakistan. Aside from receiving military logistics, fuel and arms from Pakistan, our intelligence reports indicate that more than 28,000 Pakistani citizens, including paramilitary personnel and military advisers are part of the Taliban occupation forces in various parts of Afghanistan. We currently hold more than 500 Pakistani citizens including military personnel in our POW camps. Three major concerns - namely terrorism, drugs and human rights - originate from Taliban-held areas but areinstigated from Pakistan, thus forming the inter-connecting angles of an evil triangle. For many Afghans, regardless of ethnicity or religion, Afghanistan, for the second time in one decade, is once again an occupied country.

Let me correct a few fallacies that are propagated by Taliban backers and their lobbies around the world. This situation over the short and long-run, even in case of total control by the Taliban, will not be to anyone's interest. It will not result in stability, peace and prosperity in the region. The people of Afghanistan will not accept such a repressive regime. Regional countries will never feel secure and safe. Resistance will not end in Afghanistan, but will take on a new national dimension, encompassing all Afghan ethnic and social strata.
The goal is clear. Afghans want to regain their right to self-determination through a democratic or traditional mechanism acceptable to our people. No one group, faction or individual has the right to dictate or impose its will by force or proxy on others. But first, the obstacles have to be overcome, the war has to end, just peace established and a transitional administration set up to move us toward a representative government.
We are willing to move toward this noble goal. We consider this as part of our duty to defend humanity against the scourge of intolerance, violence and fanaticism. But the international community and the democracies of the world should not waste any valuable time, and instead play their critical role to assist in any way possible the valiant people of Afghanistan overcome the obstacles that exist on the path to freedom, peace, stability and prosperity.

Effective pressure should be exerted on those countries who stand against the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan. I urge you to engage in constructive and substantive discussions with our representatives and all Afghans who can and want to be part of a broad consensus for peace and freedom for Afghanistan.
With all due respect and my best wishes for the government and people of the United States,
Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts On Insurgencies....

Last week I got to talking with a co worker about insurgencies. Also I prioritized watching and really enjoyed a recent episode of FRONTLINE where a reporter spent 10 days with the Taliban. Based on these two things I have some thoughts on insurgencies in Iraq (more a couple years ago than now) and Afghanistan as well as elsewhere.

-First insurgents need to blend in with the population be it in a rural or urban setting. Of course their neighbors know what is up but they will not tell the occupiers. Insurgents out in a non typical for the area heavily armed compound never have a happy ending. However just another house or farm which has the normal comings and goings (versus say 30 military aged males) is not going to get noticed.

-Secondly insurgents have the ability to choose where and when they fight. To be blunt if they are on the defensive as anything but a delaying action before retreating from superior forces they get massacred. However if they choose a time and place that suits their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses they can do some real damage with a rifle and 4 mags a piece. Considering that US Infantry are likely carrying close to half their weight in stuff it isn't suprising that they can't catch the Taliban when they retreat. (There is a very interesting article called Bring Back The Light Infantry Projecting Combat Power More Effectively that you may get something out of ) .

While I do have a stark differences with the Taliban and their Al Queda friends (I want to kill them and they want to kill me) I can honestly say that they are very effective Light Infantry. They are very physically fit, highly motivated and adept at fighting in their environment. They know how to use their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They attack at times of their choosing with IED's and complex heavy weapons ambushes from outside of the engagement range of most of our organic platoon weapons. I hate pretty much everything they stand for but darn it I can't say they are not very good Infantrymen.

-I think a modern insurgency needs the ability to get at least a mobility kill against moving armored tracked vehicles. Without this the other side is able to move with impunity which is not a good thing for said insurgents. If the insurgents can't find an answer to this issue it is going to just massacre them. Insurgents can't win in stand up fights so if they also can't engage mobile forces they are pretty much done for. The way they are successful is by making the cost of conducting everyday operations (movement, log pacs, transport, combat ops, etc) high and eventually outlasting them.

Being able to (at least mobility) kill an armored vehicle means more than punching a hole in the side of it with a .50 cal. It requires anti tank mines, some sort of heavy IED's or genuine modern anti tank weapons. Usually manufacturing IED's is the most practical option as all it takes is some decent explosives and a bit of ingenuity. A reasonably motivated fellow with a bit of initiative and access to some sort of explosives could make an IED but making a home made Javaline missile is at best a difficult prospect.

- Insurgents have a hard time with communication. Particularly when facing a major modern military their attempts at any form of discrete radio or electric or electronic communication are futile. A modern highly skilled force that has almost limitless (at least relative to the insurgents) resources can break any form of electronic or radio communication insurgents are capable of fielding widely enough to be tactically useful. A few authors and bloggers talk about how various forms of COMSEC (namely digital encryption) which can be downloaded for free and used by anyone with half a brain can easily defeat group of dozens of PHD holding geniuses who have nothing but time and the most powerful computers in the world. If you didn't pick it up from the last sentence; to be very blunt I do not think the kind of COMSEC available to average normal citizens is good for much but keeping Barney Fife from the local PD from knowing what you are doing.

One technique which has been used with moderate success is pre paid anonymous cell phones. In some places they are really the only kind available anyway. The theory is that if someone on one anonymous cell phone calls someone on another one it is totally discrete. Easy wireless secure communications for prices any insurgent can afford.

Here is reality. People are lazy and stupid and modern methods of tracking/ snooping on cell phones are very good. This is how laziness and modern snooping collide. Lets say a dozen insurgents all have anonymous pre paid cell phones. Someones gets lazy and uses theirs to call their Moms house or their buddy at the local Mosque to ask what time the potluck is. Being as the people who are looking for them have done a good job in targeting they were snooping on Momma and the Mosques phone lines. They electronically snoop on the pre paid cell  phone now, really recording and searching for key words (bomb, Allah, US, soldier, rifle, Israel, whatever). Pretty darn quickly they realize this phone is of interest. Lazy Insurgent calls one of his co conspirators to talk about the big soccer game or planting some IED's. Now they got Co Conspirators number from Lazy Insurgent. Of course being smart they wait awhile and Co Conspirator calls a couple more Insurgent buddies and so does Lazy Insurgent. More likely than not the whole network gets taken down.

Insurgents have realized this to a certain degree. They realize that if nothing else due to sheer dumb luck (it is hard to track all the cell phone conversations in a decent sized town but they will sure listen to some)  that sooner or later their network is going to get infiltrated. Their answer to this is that it is easy enough to just toss a cheap anonymous cell phone and get another one. Seriously for $20 or so even your average small farmer/ insurgent can afford a new one, particularly with some help from their Saudi friend at the Mosque. However they can never seem to all ditch them at the same time. As we noted above with the way that these phones are tracked it does no good for one person to ditch theirs unless everyone they call and everyone who calls them does also, at the exact same time. Insurgents have a real hard time with this one for some reason.

The answer that Al Qaeda and the Taliban eventually came to is based on admitting that they will never be able to reliably use modern communication (radio, the internet, phones, etc all) securely. They went stone age simple and primarily rely on runners. The most sophisticated surveillance can't tell you what a scrap of paper in some guys pocket says or what the message he memorized means. This stone age method of communication combined with a a structure of cells which means the capture of any one person doesn't take everyone down is pretty effective.

Insurgents by and large just can't come up with a way to cancel out the problem of their enemy controlling the air. Not even Hamas has an air force. Without lots of money and great (from this perspective) connections getting your hands on decent man portable surface to air weapons is not realistic. The large occupying force controls the skies. Insurgents can mitigate this by blending into the population and doing things to not obviously look like insurgents. Having someone who watches the airfield the helicopters operate out of that tells them when they take off and in which direction would help a lot also. Drone aircraft are an interesting development but they don't fundamentally change the situation. Large well funded forces always controlled the skies.

Finally to close the biggest thing that benefits insurgents is taking a long view. As the Taliban say "you've got the watches but we have the time." Sort of like George Washington (a real old school insurgent;) and the Continental Army they do not have to win any battles, they just have to not get totally wiped out. Most insurgencies do not develop into full scale conflict where insurgents openly battle occupiers. If insurgents were capable of openly battling the occupiers and winning they would not be insurgents, it would be a conventional fight. It is more realistic that insurgents annoy the heck out of (yeah it is far more than annoying if it is your patrol/ convoy that gets shot to pieces but we are looking at the big strategic picture here) the occupiers until they decide the cost isn't worth it and leave. Insurgents want to make the cost of occupying their area higher than the occupiers are willing to bear.

I hope you found this somewhat informative and maybe even interesting as I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Increasing Small Arms Lethality In Afghanistan-Taking Back The Infantry Half Kilometer

 
First of all hat tip to Western Rifle Shooters Blog for finding this very interesting article.  I saw it last night and did some reading then plus a bit more at lunch and finished up when we got home tonight. Between calamity (we are off tomorrow and the last day of the week is always nuts) and actual work most of my time was spent thinking about this article. It is a touch redundant and I did not get much if anything out of the last 10-15 pages. 

It is 76 pages long but only 60 or so are the article, the rest is pics and stuff at the end. It talks a lot about the modern (pre-WWI to present) development of modern US military (particularly Army) weapons and training and also that of the world at large. Very interesting stuff. There is also great detail spent on the history and development of the M16 series of rifles right up through the contemporary M4 configuration. Some time was spent discussing rounds and optics for the M16/M4 family which was interesting to me. The discussion of other cartridges and to a lesser degree rifle platforms is interesting too.

I got some useful stuff out of it both for work and personal consideration. 

Here are my work thoughts. 
1. We need to seriously look at either changing rifle calibers (new rifle or upper) or moving to a more effective bullet. If we stick with .223 the Black Hills MK 262 Mod 1 has proven to be quite effective. Of course some people will always believe that anything less than 7.62x51 is useless but lets not go there. 

2. Widely issuing some kind of magnified optic (ACOG's rock my socks off) for service members in wide open spaces.

3. Most important is that it seems we need to regularly shoot past 300 meters and at moving targets. Training matters most. Even with the exact same weapons, optics and ammunition they currently carry if people were used to shooting at 400-500 meters it would be a whole different fight. Maybe current ammunition is wanting at these ranges but if Ahmed the Terrorist takes a few rounds to the torso eventually he will die. Of course with magnified optics and heavier, more accurate rounds it might take 1-2 bullets instead of a few and that would be a good thing.

Here are my personal thoughts on the matter.

As for how much this really matters. Admittedly the odds of defending your self or home with a rifle at all, let alone from distance are low.  However if I lived on a wide open cattle ranch I might pay more attention that one in the deep primordial woods of Georgia would need to. In any case it is what it is and I read this whole thing (got a lot out of it and enjoyed it too) so I a surely going to write about it.

I need to explore different .223 bullets and purchase different types for different potential needs. One huge advantage civilians have is that they can use ammunition that is not fully metal jacketed like soft point, ballistic tip and hollow points. These open up a range of different opportunities. Planned to get some SS109 this year and still do. It does some stuff I rather like. I do need to look into getting some 75-80 grain match ammunition, probably made by Black Hills. That sort of load has proven to be very effective out to 600 meters. Not cheap but having a couple hundred rounds of it could be very useful if I need to fight off invading Canadians.


The benefits of having a rifle that can really reach out and touch someone are pretty obvious. Not necessarily the first thing one might look for in a rifle but a useful tool to have in any well rounded collection. Hermit talked about this recently. Without mucking about in talk of different cartridges (wait a few lines) to me the biggest thing except of course skill when it comes to long distance shooting is probably an optic. I have never met a person who does not shoot significantly better at distance when doing so through a decent optic. Spending at least as much if not more money on an optic is the norm for equipping a decent distance and is definitely not the place to go cheap.

Now comes the talk about cartridges. As noted above with the proper bullet .223 can be very effective both in terms of hitting Ahmed the Terrorist and killing them at great distances. If you just plain like the AR platform shell out some cash for an optic and some good heavier match grade ammunition, do some training and call it good. However if you have been hankering for an M1A anyway then one of them could fill this nitche. Maybe if you are in the market for a deer rifle anyway so picking up a .308 bolt action Remington or 30.06 Savage or maybe even a .270 Winchester would be a solidly reasonable choice. Assuming a rifle has relatively decent inherent mechanical accuracy and the cartridge has ballistics capable of going for distance (with the right round) then choice of cartridge and rifle is far less important than putting a decent optic on it and, finally learning to shoot the darn thing at stuff that is far away.

THE END

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

quote of the day

"You Have the Watches, We Have the Time."
-The Taliban.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Morning Funnies

Saw this at Wolfeblog and it was too funny not to post. It makes fun of my favorite woman in politics these days but amuses me all the same.

Islamist Militants Attack Pakistani Army Headquarters

I thought I didn't hear this one right yesterday until the second time it came up on the TV. Those Islamist Militants are sure ballsy. I think this might be enough to knock the defacto truce these militants have had with the Pakistani government (and especially the Army which is highly involved in politics) out of whack. For awhile they have both been fighting with rather limited objectives, enough so that it was just maintaining the status quo. I could be mistaken but that might be over for awhile.

A big part of our problems in Afghanistan are the Islamist Militants having a safe haven in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan which is tacitly supported by the Pakistani government. Yeah we shoot a missile from a predator here and send in an ODA there but those are just not enough to deny them that territory. Our sort of cooperative ally Pakistan might become a bit more cooperative.
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