Showing posts with label war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label war. Show all posts

Monday, September 1, 2014

75 Years Ago Germany Invaded Poland

On September 1, 1939, the German army under Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II (though by 1939 Japan and China were already at war). The battle for Poland only lasted about a month before a Nazi victory. But the invasion plunged the world into a war that would continue for almost six years and claim the lives of tens of millions of people.

As of the last time I checked the news Russia had openly invaded the Eastern Ukraine, not the Crimea but generally just marching west from the border. I'm talking columns of tanks and such. Putin vaguely mentioned that he could take Kiev pretty soon in the news. Honestly Russia is looking to reassert influence in their 'near abroad' specifically the western buffer states that give them time when some Euro's get frisky again. One could argue the western powers caused this by pushing NATO and the EU further east.

Pretty much the entire middle east is in a complete state of chaos. The old strong man states are barely hanging on, Iraq is over all but in name and Turkey is quietly hanging on, for now. Those ISIS/ ISIL folks are doing their best to set up the new Caliphate. Seriously I cannot think of a time the Middle East was a bigger mess.

I am not trying to belabor the point but things are looking bad.  Honestly to me it feels like the beginning of the 20th century when old tired powers were trying to hold on while the world order was being questioned by new up and comers. We all know how well that war went for everyone and that after it's brief interlude it was continued in the form of WWII. Arguably WWII (and the British) caused every war from Korea to the Gulf War.

Like the Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Obligatory 9/11 Post

I am still angry. Not so much angry about the attack on 9/11 anymore. We pretty much squared that up by killing Osama Bin Laden, numerous Al Qaeda leaders and more foot soldiers than we could shake a stick at. We also invaded Afghanistan the divided chaotic country that harbored this network. Along the way we  got drunk then stomped some annoying but unrelated individual in a bar liberated Iraq.

Where does the world stand now? Some bad people are dead but in reality new bad people came up in the ranks to largely replace them. Iraq is a moderately functional psuedo democracy that could in time grow into a fairly functional one albeit by local standards; or degenerate into a Shia dictatorship maybe with a civil war. Afghanistan is still playing out but I suspect this history's rhyme will replay itself. Lots of Americans and people from various other countries have died. Billions or trillions of dollars were borrowed and spent. However I'm not angry about any of that.

I am angry because we did not learn the fundamental lesson of 9/11 which is that ignoring legitimate threats until they successfully attack us is foolish. Far better to do something to disrupt enemy networks before they hurt you than after. We have not learned this lesson. I fear the same sort of lawless terrorist chaos is happening in Yemen and a large part of northern Africa plus of course the whole Pastunistan problem has yet to be solved (if it can be). Even worse we may be aiding slightly better spoken front men to control nation states. The saying 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me' comes to mind here.

How are you feeling today?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Ghost Wars took a long time for me to read. Somewhere around 5 years actually. Some time at Ft Benning, it seems like a lifetime ago, I purchased this book then started reading it. Got about a third of the way through then lost interest. Put the book aside on the shelf.

Not too long ago I picked the book back up. This time I had a much better understanding of Afghanistan from reading various books and such as well as real life experience. Also I am a touch older and just maybe more patient. Anyway I finished the book yesterday.

This book starts in the end of the Soviet Afghan War. It goes into great lengths discussing the intertwined, hypocritical and generally dysfunctional relationships between the CIA, their Afghan "Warlord" partners, Pakistan, Pakistani Intelligence, the Arab gulf states particularly Saudi Arabia and Osama Bin Laden. It goes through how this combination of more or less cooperative forces ultimately defeated the Afghan Communists (though one could argue what defeated them was Russian aid ending but I digress) then created a coalition government then fell into civil war and total chaos. Ultimately this lead to the rise of the Taliban then Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda element arrived. It also touches on the rise of modern fundamentalist terrorism as it related to the rest of the story. To the usual format.

The Good: Very informative. It also covers a period in Afghanistan's recent history that is easy to gloss over. The period after the Soviet Afghan war is admittedly easy to miss but it lead to the rise of the Taliban then 9/11 which lead to our misadventures in Afghanistan. I got a ton out of this book. A real understanding of how many things came to be. Through understanding it really cleared up a lot about the period after 9/11.

The Bad: While it would be difficult to talk about all of these topics separately and I suppose the generally chronological method of the book makes sense but it left the reader jumping from Washington DC on one page to Saudi Arabia on the next then back to an Afghan hovel. It got a bit hard to follow at times. Also this is not a book for a beginner on the topic. To read this book you need a pretty decent understanding of Afghan history in general and the Soviet Afghan War to make much sense out of this book.

The Ugly: This book is long and dry, really long and really dry. The book (not notes) was just under 500 pages. It is a fairly large book with small font so it probably reads like closer to 600.

While it is informative the book is pretty darn dry. Even being interested in the topic I had a hard time digging through the book. There were parts where it picked up but it probably averaged slightly more interesting than a college Algebra text.

Overall Assessment: If you can manage to slog through it this book does offer value. It would probably be the 4th or 5th book I would recommend a person read about Afghanistan if they were sufficiently interested. However you definitely have to work to get it. Most people would probably be better off putting their time and money into a book that is easier to read.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies #9 North Ireland AKA The Troubles

Today I want to talk about The Troubles. I previously talked about Operation Banner An Analysis of British Operations in North Ireland.That is worth reading though it is a bit dry. So here we go.

For a brief recap the problems between England and Ireland probably go back 900 years or so. We will focus a bit more on current history. The Anglo- Irish war from roughly (start and stop points are hard for guerrilla wars) 1919 to 1922 ended up partitioning Ireland into 2 entities. The 26 counties that make up the majority of Ireland were granted Dominion status and the 6 counties that became Northern Ireland stayed part of the Empire. The 26 counties formally dissolved their last formal ties with Great Britain in 1949.

Northern Ireland makes up roughly 1/6th of the island of Ireland and is approximately 80 miles North to South and 120 miles East to West.

(Real quick Loyalists wished to stay part of the United Kingdom and were almost exclusively Protestant. Republicans wanted a united Ireland and were almost exclusively Catholic. Some folks may use Loyalist/ Protestant or Republican/ Catholic interchangeably.)

In Northern Ireland there was a slim Protestant majority and Catholics were narrowly outnumbered. The Protestants were generally loyal to England and the Catholics generally wanted a united Ireland. Protestants held all political power and filled the vast majority of the police and security forces. A slew of complicated voting laws kept power in Protestant hands.

Now we can fast forward to the 1960's. Protestant Loyalists have used their total grasp on power to discriminate against Catholics in terms of employment and housing. The narrow Catholic minority lived in cramped outdated housing and had massive unemployment.

This brings us to our first key point. People with nothing to lose are often willing to use physical force to change the established order that is the (real or perceived) reason for their undesirable situation.

The Irish Catholics were largely inspired by the American Civil rights struggle. They started organizing into groups to protest. In 1968 peaceful Catholic protests were suppressed by the Protestant government and Protestant Paramilitaries. Think Birmingham PD vs NAACP but the climate is cooler, everyone is white and the suppression is even more brutal.

I have heard the theory that the peaceful protestors were useful idiots put in place to get the RUC and Protestant Paramilitaries to overreact and let the IRA come back onto the scene. There is probably at least a shred of truth to this idea. 

In 1969 the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary AKA police force) and Protestant paramilitaries were brutally cracking down on Catholic Neighborhoods. A guy who lived in West Belfast at the time described them as "burning down streets and murdering people". After the Battle of the Bogside the British Army came in to stabilize the situation. Initially the Catholic community was happy to see the Army arrive to establish order. That honeymoon period ended pretty quickly. The early 70's were pretty messy with the notable Bloody Sunday On July 21 1972 where British Para's killed 14 unarmed protestors.

The British adopted a policy of open ended internment that some could argue was extralegal. Basically they rounded up all the IRA boys, tossed them in jail and threw away the key. It damn near worked except it was a massive IO (information operations) nightmare. They went back and forth on keeping these guys incarcerated. Hunger strikes by IRA prisoners were an IO nightmare for the Brits.

In any case during the late 60's and early 70's the IRA saw a resurgence that is difficult to believe. Coming into these events they were largely a group of old men just hanging out. Sort of like herpes the IRA never really goes away, they just go underground and wait till the right time to pop back up.

The Provincial IRA split off from the original IRA at this time. The IRA wanted to largely stand by while the PIRA wanted to act. This scenario of a more cautious group accepting peace and it's more aggressive branch forming a new group would repeat itself multiple times. These splits do not matter much at the big picture we are looking at but this one is notable as the PIRA had a much more local look than the overall IRA.

Historically the IRA was organized along roughly military lines. Recruiting was done through long term friends, neighbors and along blood lines. This made for an organization that was difficult to penetrate. It is important for us Americans to note that Europeans tend to stay in their neighborhoods/ villages/ communities much more than we do. Several generations of the same family living in a county is not at all uncommon. Penetrating an organization where members recruit folks they have known their whole lives is impossible.

During the mid 70's the IRA didn't need to recruit. The British Armies heavy handed tactics did it for them. As we discussed a couple paragraphs back their organization exploded. Like any rapid increase it had some growing pains. In particular their traditionally excellent OPSEC went to hell. They were seriously compromised which lead to a lot of arrests.

By the mid 70's the IRA had reorganized into the type of cellular structure we are used to seeing with Insurgent organizations.

Since the IRA typically recruited people they individually knew well it was a fairly casual process. Bobby who grew up a block over (and you knew was IRA) would ask if you were interested. If you were they would slowly bring you in. Maybe a potential recruit would do a few simple jobs (sit in a cafe and watch patrols, be a courier for innocuous items, etc) then maybe they get brought into an operation. The point is it might be a year or so before they were really into the mix of things.

As a general rule the IRA did not coerce recruits. This is a bad idea in general. People who do not genuinely want to be part of the organization are a significant security threat.

In Catholic communities everyone was involved in some part of the insurgency. Part of the reason was the IRA was part of the community.  Asking your life long neighbor to hold onto something, for the neighborhood  hardware store owner to sell you some stuff off the books, a nice old neighbor lady to occasionally host her 'nephews' for a few days, etc is an easy proposition. It helps that these community members were unhappy with the situation they were in but that probably wasn't necessary.

Many people were affiliated with the IRA to some degree. They fought to protect their communities against the Protestant Paramilitaries in times of need. However some were unwilling to go beyond protecting their community to acts of (real or perceived) terrorism. 

Occasionally the IRA would leak false information around potential informants. If that (false) information was acted on the informant would be questioned then killed.

In Northern Ireland people generally stay to their neighborhoods, or at least neighborhoods of the same group. Flags hanging on light poles or pained on street corners mark which group the area belongs to. Catholics stay out of Protestant neighborhoods and visa versa.

Initially training was conducted in rural areas. Quickly that became impossible. Training moved across the border into the Republic of Ireland and to international terrorist facilities, largely in North Africa.

Some members of the IRA joined the British Army. A good way to learn weapons, tactics, intelligence and exactly how their enemies fought. Others ended up in the US Army and Marines. These folks did their 3 year hitch then went back home well trained. The IRA got an excellent sniper or two this way.

In the 80's Libya was a huge supporter of the IRA. As AM noted conducting an insurgency that does not have outside support is almost impossible. It wasn't so much that Col Goddafi liked the IRA as that he hated the British. Libya gave the IRA TONS of Semtex, a whole lot of weapons (including shoulder fired AA weapons, RPG's and Dishka's) and tons of ammo.

The IRA provided local security in their neighborhoods (as the Protestant groups did in theirs). Interestingly despite the Troubles crime in general and murder rates were lower in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK. The reason for this is that people didn't call the cops, they called the IRA. The IRA did not screw around. Beatings, kneecapping, tar and feathering and of course good old fashioned murder were common punishments. While arguably hypocritical (a guy might get punished for selling drugs outside of IRA sanction, while the IRA was also selling drugs) and harsh they definitely kept crime down.

Aside from security the IRA provided a variety of basic services to their neighborhoods. They built community centers, funded local programs, etc. Basically a shadow government. It has been said everything Hamas did in Palestine was stolen from the IRA's book.

Funding- Hate alone does not make an insurgency go around. The need money. Funding started with collections and raffles. Pubs in Ireland and the US having a donation box for 'the cause' was quite common for a long time.The IRA robbed a lot of banks but that got dangerous. Eventually like the mob they used funds to purchase legitimate businesses which would make a profit. Guys who never had 2 dimes to rub together opening million dollar Irish Pubs in major US cities was one way that funds were washed and used to make a legitimate profit.

Compartmentalization- IRA operations were compartmentalized to the utmost extent. First and foremost this minimized the damage any individual could cause. Second it insulated the operations cell from incriminating weapons/ equipment/ clothing to the largest extent possible.

The community largely aided in this. A sniper would not have the rifle until a few minutes before the OP. 30 seconds after taking the shot he would be out of the building. 5 minutes later he would be in new clothes (including gloves). 15 minutes later he would have showered then changed clothes again and be in a safe neighborhood.  That guy is now impossible to find, at least in the context of this OP, though they might get him later on other intel.

The IRA had female members. Some ran the classic honey pot. Others formed a direct action cell. They principally smuggled small incendiary devices into British economic targets in an attempt to disrupt their economy.

Caches- There is no 4th Amendment in the UK. Catholic neighborhoods (as well as Protestant ones) were semi regularly searched for weapons and explosives. Consequently the IRA perfected caching. Weapons/ explosives and special equipment were dropped in one cache to be picked up by the DA cell then after the OP immediately dropped into another cache. Some support folks would grab the guns, clean them and store them till they were needed again. These operational caches were used extensively to get weapons where the DA (direct action) folks needed them. In addition to operational caches deep caches were used. These were generally along the Survivalist "bury a bunch of guns in case we need them some day" sort of lines but on a much larger scale. Individual cells kept their own caches to minimize the chance of one senior logistics guy being nabbed and half the PIRA's guns getting captured.

The fusion and cooperation between international terrorist groups is worth noting. The IRA/ Libya link has been discussed already. In 2001 3 IRA hard cases who happened to be explosives experts were caught leaving Columbia where the had been training the FARC in exchange for drugs/ drug money. These two lovely groups were introduced by the Basque Separatists ETA.

Ultimately the conflict between the IRA and the government ended in a truce. Neither side of the conflict was winning and they were both tired. Along the way many of the legitimate grievances about housing and employment discrimination against Catholics were addressed which helped to improve their collective situation and thus temper separatist tendencies.

I have been writing for 2 hours now. May have some more thoughts but I cannot recall them. Am tired of writing so this post is done. May have more on the topic later.

Hope you enjoy the little lesson and just maybe can gleam some useful stuff out of it.



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Liberal/ MSM Stupidity: Womens Rights in Afghanistan

Afghan lawmakers block law on women's rights

This article has been in the yahoo news you see when  checking your email for a few days. Honestly it baffles me. Clearly the person who wrote has either never been to Afghanistan or has been brainwashed and is borderline mentally retarded. 

 Women's rights in Afghanistan isn't going to happen. My odds out lifting Jim Wendler in the morning, beating George St Pierre in an MMA match before lunch, out shooting Gerry Miculek in the afternoon then making a better dinner than Rachel Ray are higher than the odds of women in rural Afghanistan having anything that resembled rights or freedom.  It's just not going to happen.

 Major cities may differ slightly, and are historically more western/ liberal, however in the majority of Afghanistan women have no rights and are essentially properly. Women can be raped, beaten, killed, sold or married (same difference in that culture) as the male head of the family wants with no repercussions. That is the culture and it is not going to change.  I do not say that happily but it is absolutely true. Changing rural Afghanistan, and do not be confused the majority of the population, as well as the real axis of power in Afghanistan is rural, is next to impossible. The Soviets tried for 20 years, spending untold billions and killing millions of people. If there is a way to more brutally attack a way of life than the Ruskies did in Afghanistan I don't know what it would be. Heck, We've been there for more than a decade trying the soft and nice approach. The Afghan and in particular Pastun culture is not going to change. 

 Without getting further into Islam or Afghanistan lets get back to what this article shows us. Liberals seem to believe they are capable of imposing their beliefs on anyone. They seem to believe they know what is right for everyone, everywhere. They are confused when their agenda's simply do not appeal to people. They are even more confused when legal statutes and the implicit threat of force fails to make people comply. The idea that people are willing to ignore laws, face risk or ultimately fight/ die for their viewpoints is something they do not understand.  

 

 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Whatever Targeting by CARVER

CARVER is an accronym used for targeting. In this post I am going to go through it in plain language laymen will understand. If you want more formal stuff as well as the scoring matrix click here. Use this method of targeting to look at potential options from your pattern and link analysis.

CRITICALITY- Obviously the point of attacking a target is to hurt the group whose personnel or equipment (infrastructure, etc) you are targeting. No point in going to all the risk and hassle to conduct an attack that will hardly impact the enemy. Lets say you destroy the enemies resupply of underwear, so what. On the other hand if you blow up their fuel it will hurt. This is one significant problem with the 'Shoot the enemy Joey's in the face' plan. Joey is a fine upstanding young man but he is not critical to the mission. 

ACCESSIBILITY- Sure it would be nice to kill the enemy President while he has dinner with all the top military leaders and the head of their intelligence agency but that event is probably very secure. No point in planning a mission where you can't reach the target, execute the mission and successfully exfiltrate. To me this is the reality check question.

RECUPERABILITY- How quickly can the enemy recover, repair or bypass the damage? No point in damaging a city road if they can take 2nd instead of 1st. On the other hand knocking out a bridge might take them months to fix, making a 20 mile trip to mess with your safe area into an 80 mile trip and giving you freedom of maneuver for awhile. Recuperability is another reason the shoot Joey in the face plan sucks. Sure folks will get bummed, they will have a ceremony for him, etc but there is a negligible impact on the big picture. 

[If you haven't picked it up I do not think much of shooting the enemies junior soldiers as a plan for success. Insurgents cannot risk their lives for a stupid goal of killing some 20 year old kid who only matters to his family and buddies. I am not saying there isn't a reason to engage the enemy in combat, just do it towards a goal. Attack to deny the enemy freedom of movement, harass them and push them out of an area or to capture supplies, for propaganda purposes, knife them in dark allies to put fear in their hearts or whatever. Sort of like exercising if you can't clearly state the reason for doing something it's probably good to question it.]

VULNERABILITY- Can you destroy the target with skills or weapons the team possesses? Not much of a point targeting things you cannot destroy or damage enough to meet your goals. Any redneck could knock a cell phone/ radio tower offline. On the other hand a steel and concrete bridge is a bit harder and the right equipment (explosives, det cord and detonators) really help. 

EFFECT- What will the impact of this target be on the political, military, social, economy and in particular the civilian populace? This relates to criticality; how I separate them (maybe wrongly so) is that criticality is the effect on the enemy while effect is on the larger situation. Example, You knock out a bridge that limits regime movement within the AO so it is an obvious criticality win. However this also prevents farmers from getting their crops to market easily and the flow of normal goods/ services are adversely effected. The end result is the economy being seriously hurt which makes lots of otherwise sympathetic people angry with your group. 

AND RECOGNIZABILITY- In realistic combat conditions or bad weather can the folks executing the mission quickly and accurately identify the target? Grabbing a 6'3" skinny teenager with short hair and an earring wearing a baggy t shirt, shorts and sneakers at a high school basketball tournament is going to be problematic at best. 

Well I hope this gives you something to think about. Use
pattern and link analysis then CARVER and, assuming a decent foundation in small unit tactics, there is reasonable chance of success.

I hope you enjoy this post and have a wonderful Friday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Targeting Families

AM wrote an interesting post that talked about this. He hits on the rather important point that it just doesn't work. This is not how folks win wars.

AM's post was about cause and effect. If you hurt somebody's family they will have a serious vendetta against you and might not value the lives of people around you very highly. Even in pretty ruthless criminal organizations they generally leave families off limits. This is largely for functional reasons that even scumbags have people who they love and nobody wants to go down that road. Think about it for a minute. If somebody hurt my family I wouldn't have much to lose and the life expectancies of people around them would be low. Lots of folks probably think the same way.

Something Matthew Bracken touched on is death squads formed by cops or various paramilitary types. Basically it goes like this. Some cops or whatever are doing their jack booted thing. They face some effective reprisals by some guerrilla types. Instead of waiting to get shot up by some rednecks with deer rifles the cops decide to get pro active off the books. They know more or less who the people they are up against, especially in a small town or a place with good proactive intelligence gathering. These cops get together off work and do the old snatch and drag to the woods to kill in a ditch routine. Maybe it is unofficially sanctioned by their bosses in an "I know you know, you know I know but we don't talk about it" sort of way or maybe it's just that no cops look very hard when a rabidly pro freedom gun shop owner vanishes. Also it isn't exactly too hard for a group of cops to make sure an investigation doesn't go anywhere.

Of course the G types are doing the same thing more or less; it might have developed on it's own or as a response to the regime death squads but it doesn't really matter.. They quickly realized that instead of waiting for a bunch of guys with body armor and automatic weapons to stack outside the door at 2 am it's better to get their own group of guys and hit some houses of their own, snag a guy coming out of a bar or whatever.

This is bad but it happens with almost predictable regularity. Look at the various dirty wars in South America throughout the 70's and 80's or Iraq circa 2006-2008ish. Like they say history doesn't repeat itself but sure rhymes.

I do not think that lethally targeting families is a good idea first because of the slippery ethical slope it puts you on (pretty quick you're bombing random civilians Bagdad 2008 style to destabilize the security situation) secondly because of reprisals and third because it doesn't gain the desired effects. I just think it is a bad idea.

That does not mean you should not target families (non lethally). Shunning is very powerful in isolated insular communities which a lot of small towns sort of resemble. Imagine a guys morale if his wife can't get her hair cut, the family has to drive 90 miles to find a doctor or dentist, the grocery store stacks the canned stuff on top of the bread every time, the son can't make a friend to save his life, the daughter isn't asked to the dance despite being a beautiful and charming girl, the bank messes up their account causing overdraws or freezing their money almost weekly, the mechanic won't look at the family car, you get the idea. Pretty quickly that guy is going to move or find another job.Shunning takes a high percentage of the community.

However there are still things a smaller group can do. Not much says you aren't welcome like burning someones house down. Also that has the benefit that you can find a time when it is unoccupied and not harm anybody. A group that has a reputation for action gets to the point where they don't even have to do these things. They just need to drop a night letter saying to leave or they will do whatever. Worst case if the night letter is accompanied by a Godfather style animal head it will probably be taken seriously.

Anyway those are my .02 cents on that.




Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Pages and Formatting Changes

I gave the blog a bit of long overdue attention. Also I did something that has been in my head for a couple weeks. I put together pages for the Thoughts on Insurgencies Series and Guerrilla War stuff and another for fitness (a link to my other blog). While the Thoughts on Insurgencies Series already existed this will make it easier to find them. Hopefully you enjoy the new changes. Please let me know if you are having issues with seeing things on different platforms, with dead links or whatever.

Have a nice day,
Ryan

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shooting Book Read, Garand Sale, Potential Training

After a good nights sleep and an easy morning run things are looking up in the world. Also Friday is a plus for sure. Today was a weird day at work. I had to be there and occasionally do stuff but the rest of the time doing whatever was cool. So I read Your Competition Handgun Training Program: A complete training program designed for the practical shooter by Michael Seekerland. Definitely got a ton out of it. Way too much to digest it today. Very good stuff. Working some new stuff in my dry fire practice. Among other things doing mag changes the right way was part of today's fun.I am planning to implement the exact program from the book stretched out to my timeline for dry fire practice and shooting. A full review will likely follow after I have gotten to implementing the program.

 After that I started The Irish War. Picked it up at a (or maybe the, I'm not sure) Army Museum in London and have been meaning to get to it. The importance of public relations and managing the media are made clear. Very interesting stuff.

The M1 Garand sale is a go. I am not replacing it with another gun parse though this sale is more or less concurrent with Project AR Upgrade. The collection is looking a lot more functional these days. On the plus side this frees up a decent amount of resources for reallocation. Got to look at some things and see what cracks out. It's probably going to be a light of some sort.

I have also been looking at some potential training opportunities. It is too easy to just buy guns and gun stuff and not work on the skills to run said guns. While I have some solid skills there are also some areas I need to work on. Thankfully right now I am in a place to (hopefully/ potentially) do some of that. There is potential for a Defensive Pistol class next month and maybe an Appleseed in December. If things go well I would like to take another course in the spring. 

 Anyway that is what's going on today. Tomorrow I will talk about something other than gun junk. Hope you are all having a great Friday.

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

News and Posts Worth Reading

On the news front:

 Iran threatens to attack US bases in the event of war. This is just ridiculous in so many ways.

Posts worth reading:

The New Renaissance by Paratis Familia. Something to consider for your own personal development and for raising kids.

Pre crisis contracts in Argentina by Surviving in Argentina aka FerFal's blog. My .02 cents on the matter. Timing things to make out better with debt is problematic and a big bet. Also it is clear to me that the trend is clearly to take care of banks and big business at the expense of normal folks, not the opposite. In other words it is far more likely that you would get bent over somehow than that you will be able to stick it to big banks or businesses.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Putting on my Nostradamos Cap

On Economics/ Politics:

Well QE 3 is finally getting launched so we will see a fast meaningful recovery the lost decade will continue.

Unfortunately I do not think our economy is going to get better until we are really honest about our situation and take the steps to get back to an honest and stable place. This requires facing the pain of unraveling all the bad "assets" floating around and the massive empty inventory in the housing market gets unloaded at realistic prices. As this is not happening any time soon the pain will continue.

I saw an interesting article over at James Dakin's place (original Lew Rockwell article here) that basically says we will not have hyperinflation because it is not in the best interest of big banks and their whole crony network. I cannot say that I understand it fully but, not necessarily for any quantifiable reason, I agree that hyperinflation is not likely.

We do need to get onto the same page as to exactly what is considered hyperinflation. Let's pick the definition of hyperinflation as greater than 50% inflation in a month. It is as good as any. I do not see this happening. Yes we have a huge debt but we are too big and powerful with too many huge productive businesses for it to be likely IMO. (Also I think Arctic Patriot noted that huge powerful countries do not go broke, they go to war) I don't intend to argue this point, it is just my take on things.

Now I do think a period of painfully high inflation is quite possible. Maybe somebody gets some sense and cuts off the free money that has been subsidizing big businesses and poor decisions like dollar shot night at the local bar. Maybe our creditors start to get wise and demand an actual return on their money. Maybe the big banksters aim their destructive market powers at US. I don't know.

We could see 10-13% inflation which would probably leave the fed rate around 16%, prime mortgages around 20% and consumer debt in the area of 30%. This would drag down our economy like a guy trying to swim with an anvil tied to his waist. Several consecutive years of this would essentially destroy those on fixed incomes. Folks holding adjustable rate debt's would probably face default or ruin.

We may see rioting and disorder as welfare/ food aid/ etc that are chained to the ever more manipulated to give a happy story CPI get left behind. [Briefly touching on Matthew Bracken's When the Music Stops I do not see our government failing to send out welfare/ food stamps (now on cards)/ etc. I respect Matthew Bracken immensely but IMO this article misses the simple point that our government via it's cronies the Federal Reserve has a darn license to print money. It is like saying that Jack Daniels will run out of Whiskey or Tula will run out of .45 caliber bullets.

Seniors and moochers will get what they are "entitled" down to the exact penny. However that doesn't mean it will be worth the same as it is today. Somebody on food stamps or whatever will get the same dollars worth of hand out's but if a pound of rice costs $5 and a Digorno frozen pizza costs $10 it won't go very far. Not quite as sudden or whatever as envisioned in the scenario. It would more likely cause a slow upswing in problems than a sudden burst of angst. That is of course unless some sort of response was coordinated to meet a specific purpose in support of some agenda.]

I see this arguably intentionally orchestrated series of events potentially diminishing our status on the world stage with a wimper, not a bang. Think of the way Britain's role and power have changed from WWI to now. They went from being the biggest and arguably most powerful nation in the world to being publicly dissed by Argentina stealing their island (yeah they later took it back, barely).

On War:

The madness between Israel and Iran is out of control. All I hear in the media is war drum's. At this point I really would not mind if they get it over with and fight, at least that way it would get done and we could have  the news back. Except of course it would cause a lot of problems, likely embroil us in a nasty conflict, maybe cause nuclear war, blah, blah, blah.

On Gun Control:

I do not see a reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban or whatnot. The balance of public opinion is clearly against it. Unless the Dem's sweep the house and senate plus keep the presidency which is probably not likely I am not concerned. Even then I am not so sure for heavens sake Walmart sells AR-15's.

That being said ATF fiat and possibly executive orders might pop up with some fun new stuff. The play of the ATF arbitrarily usurping more of our rights changing some regulations which FFL's (and individuals) will then follow or face their lives being ruined and livelihoods destroyed is already in the playbook. Remember that your shotgun is a shotgun unless it is suddenly a pistol or maybe an evil assault weapon.

On Crime and Disorder:

In general I think crime is getting worse with the signs showing the trend is likely to continue. Maybe it is the economy. With everybody (well a lot of folks anyway) taking a step down the proverbial economic ladder some folks look to crime as the easy way out. Some of it is cultural/ environmental but that doesn't really matter. For reasons I am not entirely clear on criminals seem to be getting more and more violent. Home invasions seem to be becoming more and more prominent.

As discussed above there is a potential scenario (amongst others) where things could just go nuts like LA Riots times 1,000 all over the place.

Anyway that is what I think may be coming. Now to what we might be able to do about it:

Economics:

Some folks argue that having a lot of debt is fine because hyperinflation or at least inflation will let them pay it back in cheaper (or basically free) dollars. The first issue with that plan is that if you haven't figured it out yet banks are going to get taken care of at the expense of common folks, not the other way around. The second issue is that you it will be hard to pay back cheaper dollars if you lose your income/ job because the economy tanks.

If you listen to nothing else that I say get out of any debts that have an adjustable interest rate. The only exception would be if you have the cash to pay the debt off immediately (like in the next payment) but choose to keep it at a low adjustable rate so you can stay a bit more liquid. Rates are very low right now with almost a guarantee that they will go up. As we saw with various European countries a bad auction or two can jack up rates in a hurry.

The basics still apply here. Minimize debt and live below your means. Save in various forms against an uncertain future.

Gun Control:

In this quadrennial 'OMG the evil gun haters might ban everything' period I have spent a bit of money but that was just bumping up some purchases I planned to make anyway by a bit. Sort of hedging my bets if you will. That being said I have been getting squared away in this area for awhile and while things aren't perfect (are they ever?) most of our bases are covered. If you do not own something, especially if it is likely to be targeted in a ban, that you want and can afford then consider getting it.

Crime and Disorder:

Things are getting more and more dangerous. Carry a weapon if it is legal and practical for your lifestyle. Get the training to know what you are doing. Make yourself a hard target. If you live someplace that is sucky and dangerous with a high percentage of unhappy urban folks and welfare types consider moving if you can figure out how to afford it.

Note that most of the things I have recommended are the same things I have been talking about for awhile. Preparing for every situation is not the same. You do not need a dozen assault rifles to survive an economic collapse. Having half your net worth in PM's will not be ideal if things go all mad max. That being said a whole lot of the commonalities are the same. Live below your means saving (in various forms) for emergencies and the future. Store food, fuel and other various things you will need. Have the skills and weapons to protect yourself and your stuff.

Anyway that is what I have been thinking about. Thoughts or input are of course welcome. 








Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What If?

I started reading a book on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and it started something like this. "The saddest situations occur when both sides have a legitimate claim to being the good guys." Truly the situation that has occured and been perpetuated by various power players is a sad one for both sides.
What if we stopped giving the Israeli's, Egyptians, Palestinians and pretty much every other nation in that hotbed money and weapons? Aside from buying influence does making sure both sides are better armed really serve to help create a lasting peace? If you come outside to your tween boys fighting in the back yard do you give them each a stout stick? If your buddies get a bit rowdy at the bar do you give one a whiskey bottle and the other a knife? I don't think so.

Are we really helping Israel or are we enabling them to continue a dysfunctional conflict and not seriously search for a realistic solution? If we really care about the right of oppressed people to have an independent nation to call a homeland what about the Kurds or the Pastun's or the Tibetans?

Maybe one could argue that it is good for Israel that we back them with weapons, money and the implicit threat of force. However more to the point is it a good thing for America? Are we serving our independent needs and goals with these actions?

Even asking these questions could get me labeled an anti semite. That might concern me more than any position folks could take on the issue. Whipping out an "ist" every time you get questioned is the adult sociapolitical equivalent of a little  kid yelling "LALALALALALALALAL" or "I can't hear you" when they know their argument is losing.

I don't know what the answers are but asking questions might just be worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interesting Reading

I read a Operation Banner An Analysis of British Operations in North Ireland. It is dry, and one sided but interesting all the same. Probably a pretty good overview of the topic and it is hard to argue with the price. If anybody has read some other good stuff on the IRA or the Troubles please drop it in the comments section for me to check out. Extra bonus points for PDF's because I am cheap.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”


-Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale
 
I believe this was a quote of the day some time back but I stumbled into it again and thought it worthy of the repost. Think about it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life Update Redeployment

Wifey and Walker are back in Germany after spending the deployment home with her folks. Walker misses Amma (maternal Grandmother; no it isn't one of those weird family names it is how he pronounces Grandma) a lot and keeps asking for her. As he lived with her for a year and she was a big part of his life that makes sense. Wifey is getting settled back into our place. Apparantly I left us with no toiletpaper and forgot to take a block of cheese out of the fridge. Woopsy.

Well I am on my way out of Afghanistan. I have been done working for a couple days and have been finishing up little things, packing and getting some time to relax. Yesterday I got to sleep past 0620 for the first time since leave so that was pretty nice. Depending on weather and transportation I should be back in Germany between the next few days and a week and a half. I am looking forward to getting back to Wifey and Walker a lot. We will be taking leave shortly after I get back. Got some traveling planned but since dates are up in the air nothing is locked in yet.

I am going to resume administrative blog functions shortly. Please give Wifey some thanks because without her hard work and dedication this place would have shut down over the last year. She did a great job taking care of things even though she isn't the blogs biggest fan. I think she may have called it my mistress at least once. In any case she kept things going because it is important to me which really shows how awesome she is.

Along those lines I am pleased to say the blog faired pretty well over the last year. Aside from missing my family and the possibility of death or serious injury this place collapsing was one of my biggest worries. Things probably slipped a little in terms of readership and such but things are still going pretty well so I can't complain. I have some plans for the blog over the next couple months but will talk more about that later.

Anyway I just wanted to let you all know what is going on.

Take care of each other
Ryan

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reality Bites

It is interesting to me that I have never met an anarchist or a libertarian who is basically an anarchist that has actually been to a failed state. Talking about anarchy from a dorm room or college party house or a nice quiet farm out in the middle of nowhere is very different from actually seeing it. I am not saying there isn’t a person like that out there it is just that I haven’t interacted with one yet.

First of all anarchy is a very relative term. It is sort of like socialism in that it never truly happens, and when it does it is only for a short period of time. There is going to be some form of government clinging at the greased string of power until the last possible moment. Either that or some sort of  a thug stepping up to try and carve out his own little princely state, most likely a lot of thugs trying to carve out their own princely states. You can have bad government or ineffective government or illegitimate government but some sort of system will at least be trying to keep or take power.

Secondly it is really not something you want to be involved in. Between crime, general lawlessness and assorted thugs and former government entities vying for power there is often a lot of fighting. Basic rights such as property and relative (there is always some crime) safety which we take for granted would be gone overnight. Now granted there hasn’t been a civil war or riot or massive disaster of Katrina proportions in Idaho or Minnesota but ever indicator we have is that these events bring about the worst in people. Sure there are a few neighbors helping each other out and some good Samaritan will save somebody’s grandma but those are few and far between. My observation is that folks will typically do about whatever they think they can get away with in these situations. Also these situations are more likely to lead to another, even worse government, not a better government or a long term lack of government.

Look at how the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan. After the Soviets left the Afghan commies fought on for a few years (till the money dried out with the fall of the Soviet Union if I recall) and then a transitional type government was set up for about a week followed by the big players like Heychmar and Massoud and other smaller regional guys fighting it out for power. The Taliban came to power because they could do a few things. They made roads safe to travel (a relative term in tribal central Asia). They had a court system that, while very harsh, was quick to deal with problems and most people found it to be fair. In short they offered the basic securities of rule of law.

The honest truth is that a pretty bad government is, by any functional measure, better than this sort of situation or the government which stems from it. It is not nice to say and goes against a lot of American ideals but if you look at history it is true. Our revolution is probably the only time in history that a revolution led to citizen’s lives getting better in the long run.

I file Anarchy under a “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bringing Yourself Back Up

Not so long ago I wrote about mentally dealing with deployments. I happened to be in a good mood then so it was a pretty up beat post. Right now I am kind of down. No particularly valid reason. I had to deal with a lot of those little things we put off because they are irritating to get done. I didn’t have my usual appetite and probably consumed 2/3rds of my normal intake. It is test week for my workout routine and I may have pushed myself a bit hard yesterday so I am sort. Also for no particular reason I have been tired since the afternoon though I slept fine last night. I think what’s going on is that I let myself think about leave (which is getting closer but still a long way off,) and redeployment. Thinking about good things made me bummed out to be here. It all kind of combined into blah.

In survival situations people will definitely have to deal with emotions, particularly if there is significant loss of property or lives or some sort of great suffering. Someone who is 55 and watching their hard earned 401k sink like the Titanic or a person who is involved in a violent situation have different, but very heavy stuff to deal with. Now that we have covered that life is hard and sometimes I am a whiny emo kid let us move onto how to deal with it.

In the short term I am a big fan of distractions or treats. A dvd and a snack will go a long way toward boosting your mood. A cold beer or two might help you relax also but be careful with that one. The line between a couple before dinner and a case alone in the basement is thin and grey.

In the midterm avoiding things that bum you out to the maximum extent possible is good. Getting some good endorphins going by working out is another solid one also. I also think finding things to look forward to can help considerably. Most situations do come to an end and looking at the end of whatever is bothering you will typically help. Beyond that the good old, fake it till you make it saying applies.

On a broader scale try to build a life that makes you as happy as possible. Eliminate toxic people, relationships and situations when you can. Don’t put yourself in a situation where money problems are likely by living beyond your means or borrowing excessively. Our outlooks on life help considerably here. I truly do believe that over the long run we do choose to be happy or unhappy.

Now please excuse me, I am going to have some snacks and watch the Soprano’s.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review Shatter by TC Sherry

This is book two of the deep winter series. To recap the last book began in the winter with a massive earthquake and ended with some other problems. This book sort of skims over the tail end of winter and covers the spring and summer. During this book bad turns into worse. It becomes apparent that the Spokane region and the PNW in general are not going to receive help from the outside and things are not going to return to any sort of old normal.

The Good: This book, as well as the previous book, lays out a compelling vision for a very bad future.
To me it is sort of a “and then what” kind of book. So things went to heck in a hand basket, you get stuff set up initially and after a couple months most of the looters have been naturally selected AND THEN WHAT. Folks start figuring out how to feed themselves in the long term, trade, reorganize society and move forward. That is what this book is about.

MILD SPOILER ALERT FOR THE NEXT COUPLE LINES.
Basically in the first book after the earthquake things internationally then nationally go to hell in a hand basket. The dollar collapses and there is war.  In this book things get even worse, and then worse again, like dealing with all that had happened in the first one wouldn’t be enough.
END SPOILER ALERT

The book brought up some interesting stuff when it comes to property rights, scavenging and ethics. What has been bothering me in a couple books I have read recently, and to some degree the first book in this series is hypocrisy. In this book the main characters actions on the whole were IMO were pretty close to what they expected from others. I won’t say that I agreed with every thing that happened but on the whole it wasn’t offensive and was very thought provoking so that was good.

I think this issue gets complicated if there is a significant die off or long term population shift. There are definitely more questions than easy answers as far as I am concerned. If folks are dead or gone and heirs are not able to be located who does the property belong to? If your neighbor was visiting his cousin in Maine and the balloon goes up at what point do you decide he isn’t coming back? What happens to his stuff?
I think it is pretty clear that stuff which belongs to people who are present or realistically may be present is theirs. However if things get nuts enough that big companies fall apart and such who do their buildings, stores and equipment belong to? Some level of nationalization albeit at a city or county level is likely, at least with this sort of stuff and is probably fairly ethical.

I liked that government didn’t magically go away. It is really a pipe dream to think that some sort of government won’t exist, especially at the local level of city and county. It will hopefully change and help set the conditions for people to take care of their selves, or at least not cause any real problems in a new world though it could get nasty and totalitarian.

In this book there was a sort of barter network that morphed into a sort of general store. For somebody with a knack for that sort of thing, access to a suitable space and some stuff to sort of seed the effort it might not be a bad idea to take some notes about that part. That people were more interactive vs just staying at their homes alone was good I think. People have a tendency to be social animals and it is difficult if not impossible to produce everything you could need or want. It definitely reinforced the desirability of being able to produce, above and beyond your own needs, something which people want.

Personally I do not stock things specifically for barter. However that is at least in part because I am not quite there yet. If one was so inclined they could probably do pretty well with a few hundred dollars of the right stuff. Stuff like kerosene, lamps, .22 LR and small game shotgun loads, sewing stuff, matches, booze, etc.
This book is a good reminder that in many ways local government is more important than at a higher level. To paraphrase Ragnar Benson the county zoning or agricultural commission is far more likely to cause problems in your life than men dressed in black carrying MP-5’s from an alphabet soup agency. This is probably far truer in a long term serious situation as they will have a lot more freedom to maneuver. Bad local governments could turn into little fiefdom’s or Stalinist collective experiments very easily.  It was also illustrated in the book that if people don’t stand up to these things as a group they will inevitably get dealt with piece mill and picked off accordingly.

The Bad:
There was a distinct flavor of population and resource control. Think checkpoints and fuel usage restrictions, curfews, etc. I think these would likely be reality in this sort of situation but it isn’t something I particularly like.
Checkpoints I think would be a fine idea, probably a necessity so long as they didn’t hamper the free movement of individuals in the area and allowed some sort of through passage through for those who need to get someplace. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that there were passes for people who were deemed special which of course included the main characters. Personally in that situation I would be awful curious about who the heck decided which people were special and what the heck they thought gave them the right to say they could move around freely but I could not. They really didn’t go into detail on exactly what these restrictions were or how they affected people who, unlike the main characters, were not deemed to be special, so I can’t say if I really have an issue parse.

Fuel restrictions I have a hard time with. Now if the local government has fuel and is distributing it then some prioritization to EMS, food production, etc makes sense. However telling someone what they can do with fuel they have is another thing. If someone has a 300 gallon fuel tank in the barn and a 74 stingray and wants to go drag racing down their driveway it really isn’t anybodies business but theirs and their neighbors.
A few things happened that were just a little bit too convenient. The main characters stumbled into some stuff in a way that was awful darn lucky. Not so much as to really mess up the book but enough not to show the benefits of having some things squared away beforehand or the downsides of not having them squared away.
The author talks badly about politicians and government officials who are anything other than perfect public servants and folks who said public positions carry privilege. However the main character definitely uses his position to his advantage a few times getting favoritism or special treatment that Joe down the block wouldn’t. It was government choosing winners and losers at a small local scale. Nothing nasty parse, more like good old boy stuff.

The Ugly:
Not really anything ugly about the book in the usual sense that something is worse than the bad. However the book did expose (which is a good thing and thus doesn’t really belong in the bad part) a couple of ugly and very real possibilities. The first is that a default on our debt would cause all sorts of international problems. It is the kind of thing that starts wars. Even if our country fell apart we have a huge and awesome military. Somebody who thought we were weakened and that they could take advantage or attack our allies might be making a very serious mistake. Even if we were pretty tired and confused we could wipe the floor with most countries.

The next is that some places would try to continue suckling from the teat of government. Big, blue rustbelt and New England cities come to mind.

Lastly the balance of government would go all out of whack. Everyone more or less marches to the same drum in normal times and any pull from individual organizations or departments is canceled out by checks and balances or equaled out by pull from other organizations. However as people and agencies had competing visions, conflict over resources and such things might get crazy. The usually boring game of whose budget and staffing will go up by 3%, whose will stay the same and who might (though it rarely happens) face cuts could turn into serious infighting, like 3rd world stuff. Also in a die off scenario the whole line of succession thing could fall apart pretty easily leaving the US without a clear leader.

The vision of massive cascade failures laid out in this series is compelling, disturbing and seemingly plausible. I was familiar with that concept but had never heard the phrase before.

In closing I enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers. It is definitely worth paying $5 for the electronic edition.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Great individual warriors will be utterly destroyed by mediocre warriors with good teamwork."
-American Mercenary

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary-Ted Nugent said it better than I could

Here is a teaser-
"America must continue to identify and eradicate these terrorist vermin. We must never surrender to complacency or apathy as we did before Sept. 11, as they are the weakest link in our chain of security. We must remain vigilant and on the offense. Where two or more of these terror cultists gather, they should expect us to drill a hole in their foreheads." Read the rest here.
 

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