RANGER AGAINST WAR: August 2011 <

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Gospel According to Paul

Lisa and Paul (8.26.11)

[RangerAgainstWar is back from holiday. We're just gaining our traction, kind of like Wile E. Coyote, so we will begin at the end, with one of our final visits in Georgia to Ranger's friend and associate, Col. Paul Longgrear (ret'd).]

___________________

We have written about Paul before as he was recently inducted into the Ranger hall of Fame, no small peanuts there. Paul is a humble man, and during our chat wondered aloud why he was chosen for this honor.

Col. Longgrear's name has popped up throughout our travels. Ranger's cousin John mentioned a History Channel program he'd just viewed on Lang Vei, the action in which Paul earned his Silver Star. "I don't see how those guys survived", said Cousin John, a former Marine. Paul's name also surfaced organic to a recent post @
Milpub. Lisa has a mad crush on him (and holds his straight-shooting wife Patty in equally high regard; it is always a pleasure to meet a couple who hold each other in such high esteem), so it just seems appropriate.

Paul is a representative of his generation, as iconic as LT. Dick Winters in the film Band of Brothers. He was just that kind of soldier and leader, representing another generation that answered the call to arms. Paul is well-chosen as our symbolic representative.


We discussed how we've now passed into history, and how Vietnam is now become a "big thing". Paul shared that he had delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Lang Vei combat medic James Leslie Moreland earlier this month. (Moreland's remains were positively identified in Vietnam 43 years after the action in which Longgrear had commanded him.)

How to describe an era which still cannot be adequately summated? Ranger has known Vietnam Medal of Honor winners Bob Howard, drunk with Franklin "Doug" Miller and associated with Jon Caviani, and in his estimation, Paul walks as tall as any of those heroes.


Heroism is a trait which runs through the thread of a man, and Paul has demonstrated it repeatedly and characteristically throughout his life, both as a soldier and as a man of God. He is an inspiration. For all the men we as a nation have left behind in our forced march of life, it is a good thing that men like Paul have led the way.


Paul and his family will return to Vietnam after Christmas holidays to participate in a documentary which will cover the spiritual effects of that conflict upon those involved. Honorable soldiering, humanity and genuine humility -- these traits describe Paul Longgrear, and can even affect a cynical friend like Ranger.

The day we came through his neck of the woods he had just returned from celebrating his mother's 90th birthday with her. Ranger raises his cup to you, Paul, and wishes you many happy returns,


Humbly signed,


Not-a-snowball's-chance-in-hell Ranger Hall of Famer,


--RAW


--Something you don't see every day

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Last Stop Willoughby


The weekend at the college
Didn't turn out like you planned

The things that pass for knowledge

I can't understand

--Reeling in the Years
, Steely Dan

Kicking around on a piece of ground

in your home town

Waiting for someone or something

to show you the way

--Time
, Pink Floyd

A place called Willoughby,

a little town I manufactured in a dream

--"A Stop at Willoughby" (1960)
_________________

Ranger recently roamed back to his old college stomping grounds of Bowling Green, Ohio, hoping to get a feel for a time past. He attended a grade school reunion while there . . . grade school! Who has heard of such a thing, yet here it was, 50 years on.

Sitting in Willoughby now is like being in the eponymous Twilight Zone. It is 50 years hence, and memories of the not-so-distant past intrude: A younger self walking the main street with friends, shotguns in tow, heading for the wilds of Kirtland to slay the wild rabbits.


Sitting in a coffee shop gazing out on the now-"101st Airborne Division Highway" honoring the local lads killed in the ill-fated 1985 Gander, Newfoundland crash, it appears yet another tragedy in a long line we vow we'll never forget. Though an airborne soldier, Ranger doesn't remember why these troops were deployed or why they died in a freak event. What is clear is that Willoughby was their last stop, too.


All of this has put Ranger in a sci-fi mindset. The old Twilight Zones seem mild and good-natured in comparison to the realities of daily life today.
In remembrance of those simpler times, Ranger offers a Serling-inspired flight of fancy:

Imagine powerful extraterrestrials are collecting human examples to study for characteristics of our species, beaming them up like Billy Pilgrim in
Slaughterhouse 5; their goal: To see how and if mankind should be integrated into the fraternity of intergalactic life. The decision whether to destroy earth or to allow it to continue on its path will be based upon these samples.

Following are the samples gathered:


[1] A fervent Christian returning from Texas Governor Perry's church group meet up in Texas.

[2] Rapper 50 Cent (An effort is made to decipher the earthling's language via his music, to no avail -- the language is deemed unintelligible.)

[3] Anders Behring Breivik is pulled from a Norwegian jail, leading the ET's to feel that while some of earth's residents suffer from insanity, this may not indicate endemic violent tendencies (using the principle of charity -- something the ET's possess by nature, but a quality considered callow among earthlings.)

[4] A Taliban member. The ET's find him dangerous but decide to go for a few more examples in the name of fairness; destroying interplanetary life violates the 10 Axioms and is to be avoided unless totally justified.

[5] The 5th and final member of the sample is a member of SEAL team 6, snatched just after completing the Osama bin Laden kill mission.

The conclusion can be guessed. The outcome will save the world because man will no longer exist to continue his destructive and impulsive behavior.

"No moral, no message, no prophetic tract: Just a simple statement of fact. For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic, from the Twilight Zone (fr.
The Shelter episode)."

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

How I Lost the War

I'm a loser
I'm a loser

And I'm not what I appear to be

--I'm a Loser
, The Beatles

Some day, yeah

We'll put it together and we'll get it all done

Some day

When your head is much lighter

Some day, yeah

--Ooh, Child
, Nina Simone

Maybe I, I tried too hard

to find someone to blame
And maybe it's me who changed
And now I'm left with nothing again
--Failure, Unloco
_________________

[*This is a true story. No sh*t.]


There are some things to which a man cannot admit. We cannot countenance the thought that our peckers are small and short-fused, nor admit that we have reluctant bladders, or that we really were not heroes.


The following admission goes way beyond these foolish psychosexual fripparies. It has been Ranger's secret cross to bear for decades. You see, he is the reason the U.S. lost the Vietnam War.


Forget all of the armchair quarterbacking you've heard over the years, blaming everything from hippies to the U.S. running like scalded dog. I'm here to tell you the real deal: The weight of the nation rested upon the fitness of U.S. Army personnel, and Ranger let the sacred honor of the nation down on this front

He knows because CPT Willoughby told him so. It was OH Dark Thirty and the universe was clipping through the month of September in the year 1968. Tet '68 had just delivered a humbling, and Ranger was a young shave-tail wearing infantry brass on collar if not in his heart.

The revelation occurred during Physical Training, specifically, the jumping jacks portion. Ranger was dogging it because he was tired, hungover and just did not give a flip about the exercise regimen of the Army at that moment. His mien was dour; Richard Simmons he was not (nor is he.) He needed some serious tightening up.


My bad attitude was infecting the Army, or so said Captain Frank
"Fucking" Willoughby, our class training monitor. Frank called me all sorts of sorry motherfucker and said in no uncertain terms that it was guys like me that were losing the war. Incidentally, it was Ranger's first exposure to motherfucker as non-hyphenated noun versus verb -- Motherfucker as an entity in and of itself, and not the description of an unsavory action.

That encounter started my thinking about alternate recompense for being a soldier. If the Army paid a quarter for every time someone called me a motherfucker, I would be a rich motherfucker. Sadly, this initiative was never adopted.
(I'd like to kick the ass of the motherfucker who nixed my proposition.)

In retrospect it is clear the National Liberation Front and VC had a rarefied intel apparatus to be able to divine my dogging it during PT and learn that all they need do is wait for me and my ilk to make our way forward.


After a lifetime of forced denial, I bare my soul and individual culpability in this colossal failure. This is why I shun most fraternal military gatherings: I know we lost before I even got on station, and that the loss was my doing.
My crossed rifles may as well be scarlet.

This is my most important confession.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Century of Progress


My heart burns with feeling, but,

My mind, it's cold and reeling

--Love or Confusion
, Jimi Hendrix

I maintain that

Chaos is the future

And beyond it is freedom

Confusion is next and next

after that is the truth

You gotta cultivate what you need

to need

--Confusion is Next,
Sonic Youth
______________________

Ranger recently purchased a 1911 A1 pistol and a 1909 Argentine Mauser in an absolute auction. While playing with his new toys, the little label on the case, "Not Legal in California" hit him like a hole in the head.

[As an aside, several of the largest gun shops in the Panhandle of Florida are going belly up, a telling trend. When gun shops die in Bible Belt, Redneck Heaven, U.S.A., you know things are bad.]

The pistol is a century old design, in continual production and in use in every dust up the U.S. Army enters. The 1911 A1 is iconic as the Colt Peacemaker and just as popular with today's shooters. It has a 7-round magazine with one up the snout, so why is it illegal in California? ?

In fact, if it had a 50-round mag, why would it be illegal? Before calling me a dumb-ass, I conceded the arguments against hi-cap magazines are valid, but we are not talking reason. We are talking 2nd Amendment, and we either believe gun ownership is an inalienable right, or we do not. There are no restrictions to sporting use or restrictions on capacity or auto mode in the Constitution.


It is illogical to concede that we have gun rights that can't be infringed, then say that a century-old pistol design is illegal in any state of the Union. Ditto the waiting period strictures.

Ranger currently owns several 1911 A1's (to include two WW II wartime production Colts.) In order to get my hands on the latest acquisition he had to fill out an ATF form indicating that he is everything a good, gun-loving American should be.
Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms & Florida require a 5-day waiting period called a "cooling period", which is odd since I have a loaded Smith & Wesson .357 magnum in my car right outside the gun shop door -- how much cooler can I get? That's downright frosty.

[Since the gun was purchased Saturday, the waiting period starts Monday when the paperwork was filed, so it becomes a 7-day waiting period, depending upon circumstance.
]

The gun shop would not allow Ranger to take possession of the 100-yr-old Mauser rifle because he had a handgun in the cooling off phase, even though there is no waiting period for long arms. Where is the consistency?
Is it not reasonable to contend that the transaction took place when the gavel fell? So why didn't the waiting period start at that time?
Answer-because we all fear ATF and their arbitrary rulings.

The Supreme Court recently slapped down Arizona for its immigration laws using the logic that no state can have a law which is harsher than Federal law. If true for U.S. Code, then should it not be exponentially true for a Bill of Rights freedom? Why can California have such a draconian gun law? Would I, as a Floridian, be arrested if the California Highway Patrol found the weapon/1911A1 in my vehicle? Why is the same gun both legal and illegal, depending upon geography?
Are we not one country?

Gun laws amount to harassment, and fail to address the real issues facing society.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birds of Prey

Link--fr. "Secrets of the Navy Seals",
Popular Mechanics (Aug. '11)


No person is as sick as a person

who is sick on bad religion

--USAToday, 8.8.11

That's no way to treat

an expensive musical instrument!

--Wasted Youth
, Meatloaf
_________________

[This was written before the shoot down of the Chinook and the loss of 22 Navy SEALs]

Ranger assumes Popular Mechanics "Secrets of the Navy Seals" is a feel-good piece aimed at increasing Navy funding and recruitment. It is yet another example of the legitimate press being used to propagandize for the Special Operation Forces community and the Department of Defense, desensitizing an already numb public.

But the article still doesn't look or sound that good. Look at the trigger finger: The tip of the glove has been cut off! We did the same thing back in 1970, except we weren't the most poshly outfitted troops in the world. Imagine the Navy bought you Nomex fire protection gloves, and some dude cuts off the finger -- this is destruction of government property! Why didn't the contractor build a trigger-finger into the glove?


Next, see the HK416 in the stripped trigger finger: Why is there $1,000+ worth of sights and laser apparatuses for a 10" barreled weapon? If the weapon is for killing in close quarters, why not just rudimentary sights? The gun lacks long-distance accuracy even with a scope, but it, along with the stripped-finger glove, sure does look fierce.


"Hughes Tool Co. knew rotor noise could be hushed by decreasing blade-vortex interaction, caused when a rotor slices through the small whirls of air created by the preceding blade. The Quiet One diminished this noise by adding an extra rotor blade so a pilot could slow the rotors, making less noise while remaining aloft."

While the craft may have been silent, but it obviously could not maintain the hovering function of a helo.

The article states that since 9-11-01, "Navy Seals have become elite man-hunters. They find, identify and track individuals . . . What the Pentagon once called the "Global War on Terror" is a personal business." However, the
man-hunter role is more appropriately associated with counterterrorism (CT) than with counterinsurgency (CI). Manhunting does not win hearts and minds.

"The SEALs have experienced this kind of fight before, in the Vietnam War. There, SEALs recruited by the CIA advised reconnaissance units that sometimes executed supporters of Viet Cong geurillas -- but the effort was plagued by misidentification. Winning hearts and minds is difficult when detaining innocent bystanders."

Today, detaining often becomes "killing", and innocent bystanders are easily re-labeled "terrorists" once killed.

The SEAL's mission to take Osama bin Laden
dead or alive "could not have been clearer" according to the piece. "When their helicopter crashed inside the compound, the SEALs in it simply disembarked and swept the building to find their prey and finish the job."

When did humans -- even enemies -- become PREY? This is not American Sportsman, and the military is not deer hunting.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where Are You, Dale Dye?


Damn contractors!

--Col. Trautman

(Rambo: First Blood II)


You tell 'em I'm coming...

and hell's coming with me

--Tombstone (2003)


Murdock... I'm coming to get you!

--Rambo: First Blood Part II
(1985)
________________

Sometimes real life seems as unreal as the movies, or is it that the spin is as fantastic as a trailer for a Spielberg film?


The regrettable recent deaths of 30 servicemen -- 22 of whom were SEALs -- and the speedy subsequent dispatch of the supposed bomber would make for a delectable silver screen meal. The only problem is, if this were a movie Ranger would say, "NO WAY!"
As with much of the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), the plot line is hackneyed at best, improbable at worst. No basic Infantryman would use a Chinook to assault an unsecured LZ, and surely never without aerial rocket artillery supplying suppressing fire.

However, if the recent shoot down of the Army National Guard Chinook in Afghanistan were to become a film, former Marine Captain and consultant to the stars Dale Dye would probably enter the picture, for it is Dye's job to make movies realistic from a military perspective. As mentioned, this would be a tall order, as the action doesn't exactly ring true to military standard operating procedures.

But if Mr. Dye applied his military eye for the Hollywood guy to this action
, Ranger would predict the following amendments to the script:

  • The fact that the purported RPG shooter who brought down the copter was killed so quickly is a scene out of Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), and should be deleted in the name of redundancy.
  • Ditto the scene in which the SEALs are killed rescuing pinned down Rangers, as that was done in Black Hawk Down (2001).

Using a Chinook for a combat assault needs to be deleted because no basic Infantryman would expose such a bird to fire on an unsecured LZ, and surely never without aerial rocket artillery supplying suppressing fire. This scene needs to go both in the interest of redundancy and military realities.

As the press develops this story, there will be more inconsistencies, but since we so easily suspend our disbelief for films like Saving Private Ryan, Jarhead, Windtalkers, Platoon, Apocalypse Now! and Hurt Locker, it is a small step to believe without question the soundness of the scenarios flowing out of Hollywood East, which is another name for the Department of Defense briefing room.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Like Lambs to Slaughter


Because Hell
Hell Is For Children

And you know that their little lives

can become such a mess

--Hell is for Children
, Pat Benatar

A little sacrifice for your foe

Got your sticks, your stones

A place all your own

So much for unholy war

--Not in My Name
, KMFDM

Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"

Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?"

--Highway 61
, Bob Dylan

The wrath of Almighty God

is now undoubtedly hanging

over a great part of this congregation

--Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,

Jonathan Edwards

__________________

President Obama spoke Saturday to the "sacrifice" of the 30 troops killed in Afghanistan.


Sacrifice is really an Old Testament issue going back to Abraham, but
upon whose altar and for whose god were these troops sacrificed? What good comes from this burnt offering? What do we expect the gods of war to offer unto us from the acceptance of this sacrifice?

Why do we accept the sacrifice of our troops? Does this make us more godlike? Have we failed to learn that sacrifice is an outmoded religious, if not military, concept? We have accepted Jesus (or so I am told) so that sacrifices are no longer needed to appease a loving God. Is our Commander-in-Chief now a god-substitute -- have we made of him a graven image?


We would like to do a Ranger analysis, but how to deconstruct an action that is already being sold as an event motivated by the desire to save Rangers? SEALs to the rescue! Except, it did not happen that way.


If one believed in sacrifices and appeasing angry gods, it would be easy to say that the SEALs, part of the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, paid the price for the hubris of that killing. One could say that anyone breaking into any man's bedroom to kill him in the presence of his wife (wives) is treading shaky moral ground.


One could say that one insurgent -- just another Afghani with a $200 RPG -- inflicted vengeance upon the 22 SEALs. One could say that the 37 people who died when one RPG took down a multi-million dollar Special Operations aircraft were really a sacrifice to atone for a multitude of sins.


One could say that if one were a fundamentalist Christian asshole, but this Ranger
would not say that. These men died because of military hubris. This is not the first time for Special Ops at this rodeo; they lost birds at Roberts Ridge early on in this fiasco.


How can a nation sacrifice the best that we have to offer in such a blithe manner? We saw a billboard on I-65 outside Nashville today: "HELL IS REAL".


Do we need to look any further?

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Invasive Exotics

Southern man better keep your head
Don't forget what your good book said

--Southern Man
, Neil Young

Look at it,

it grows like a cold sore from the lip

--Little Shop of Horrors
(1960)

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice

--Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
__________________

[Ranger is on the road for the next couple of weeks. We will strive for Mon-Wed-Fri posting.]


Today, it is Alabama, and the thought occurred to us that the world will not end in either fire or ice, but rather, grown over with Kudzu as the states could not hire maintenance workers to fight back the invasive menace, another gift from China that keeps on giving.

A billboard along I-65 outside of Montgomery sports a red devil, replete with pitchfork and pointy tail and asks, "Where will you spend eternity?" It suggests the helpful website,
Avoidsatan.com.

In answer to the question: We hope it is not Alabama.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

--Bigger is Badder

What the hell?

--
Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

And anger of the Lord will blaze against you,

and he will close the heavens and there will not be rain,

and the earth will not give you its fullness

--fr. Shema
, Jewish Prayer

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Long way from my home

Sometimes I wish I could fly

Like a bird up in the sky

--Motherless Child
, Van Morrison
______________________

This is a moment in a day in the life this week of Ranger, out on the range in the hinterlands of Northwest Florida, Solar System. It is hard to tell if he is the Cowboy or the Alien. He is inclined towards "alien" as he was the only one not "strapped" in this little episode.

The scene:
A local mechanic's shop, right wing radio blaring its inanity, National Rifle Association mag on the table. The men talked of guns, one vociferously bad-mouthing a gun control advocate called "Shuma". This caused Ranger some consternation as 2nd Amendment issues are near and dear to him, and he had not heard of this Shuma. The wildly vilified Black Bart turned out to be Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY).


At the point of recognition, Ranger said, "Let's be real here [first wrong assumption] -- the first assault weapons ban occurred by Executive Order from the pen of George H.W. Walker." Came the invective: "I don't talk to liberals!", he said disgustedly, after he pulled his shirt aside to display the 9 mm pistol stashed in his belt line.


Now Ranger has always been against gun control, and this exchange should have made his little Red, White and Blue heart flutter, except . . . it did not. It's 2011 and we will not even talk to one another, and some of us are so threatened here in The Homeland ™ that they spend their days with pistols in their belts. Where do we meet?


This is not the sign of a healthy society.


Last week we sighted a police officer in a black outfit and a shirt imprinted, "Drug Task Force". He was carrying a high-cap Glock in a gunfighter, low-slung holster with enough gear to fight Tet '68. What's that all about?


Have we gone insane?
Ranger likes guns and oppose gun control, but does not carry because it is not wise. When you carry, you are less likely to leave a confrontation -- the weapon heightens the chance of a dangerous or lethal interaction.


Was the gunslinger flashing his hide-out gun threatening me? Could I kill him before he pulls his weapon? Was it a thumbing of the nose? A show of solidarity with the shop's owner (who also sports a gun in his belt), or something else?


Ranger's advice: Don't let someone within striking distance even if you've got a handgun rubbing your dick, 'cause that could be the last thing it ever touches.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Static Display of Impotence


--Dollar Operation, Arend van Dam

How can I bear unaided the trouble of you,

and the burden, and the bickering!

--Deuteronomy 1:12


And the Governors agree to say:

"He's a lovely man!"
He makes it easier for

Them to screw

All of you...

Yes, that's true!

--Heavenly Bank Account, Frank Zappa


There can be economy
only where there is efficiency
--Benjamin Disraeli
___________________


The recent debt ceiling debate and budget cut proposals led Ranger to think about the Principles of War and how they were violated in the last several weeks (The Nine Principles can be viewed HERE.) The Principles are the foundation for planning and executing a successful military exercise, and the rules are readily applicable to ensure the success of most undertakings.

Ticking off the list:

MASS:
This fight could not place the combat power at the decisive place and time; it was an exercise in futility. The decisive battle should not be about caps and cuts but rather, how do we stem the economic assault on our defensive position? We are re-acting when we should be acting. The entire debt limit discussion was an admission of defeat.

OBJECTIVE:
There was not a clearly-defined, decisive or attainable objective. Just as with the present U.S. Counterinsurgency (COIN) policy, the negotiation gave more credence to politics than to attainable objectives. The objective was not reached because it was obscured by smoke.

OFFENSIVE:
Neither political party maintained or achieved the initiative.

SURPRISE:
Both parties put all their assets forward, leaving them with nothing in reserve (which also affected their maneuver plan.)

ECONOMY OF FORCE:
Ditto above regarding surprise. Additionally secondary efforts were ignored and never prioritized. Not discussed were balance of trade, loss of jobs, balance of dollars leaving our shores, loss of industry and weak economic white papers. Nope -- we just focused on borrowing more, slashing and burning more.

MANEUVER
:
Both sides were totally dug-in defending in zone with no demonstrable mobile warfare. Neither side possessed the combat power essential to overrun the opposing side. It was a static display of impotence.

UNITY OF COMMAND:
One would assume the President would be the responsible commander, but this oversimplifies the situation. Obama should have stated his commander's guidance, but allowed the maneuver commanders to formulate their respective Operations orders. By placing himself on the battlefield he ignored the subordinate chain of command. In addition, his presence stiffened the opposition to an unacceptable intransigence.


SECURITY:
There can be no unexpected advantages in this altercation because we had already lost our freedom of movement and would win or lose with the forces committed. This hardly describes the concept of security.

SIMPLICITY:
Simplicity was violated because the principle of objective was ignored. The leaders preferred to ignore this principle to the detriment of the goals of the operation.

In a recent Time essay, "How Today's Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality
," Fareed Zakaria bemoans the intransigence of today's conservatives, saying they have lost their touchstone of "reality" in exchange for reactive policies which ignore the truths on the ground. For instance, they failed to recognize that, "(t)axes — federal and state combined — as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level since 1950":

"The U.S. is among the lowest taxed of the big industrial economies. So the case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts but is simply a theoretical assertion. The rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and low unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark, neither one characterized by low taxes."

So the can has been kicked down the road; Ranger hasn't any faith that the next group of mutton-heads will apply the simple and infallible Principles to their effort.

Everyone says they love the military, yet they cannot apply some simple procedures to their policy-making processes.


[cross-posted @ milpub]

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Talk to the Hand


Every game has a distinctive fire-and-dodge action
that you will gradually master.

In Defender it is a fast two-finger action

on Fire and Thrust,

in Asteroids a spray action on Fire and Rotate.

In Space Invaders it is a continuous co-ordination

of Fire and retreat, Fire and retreat ...."

--Invasion of the Space Invaders
, Martin Amis

We were as men who through a fen

Of filthy darkness grope:

We did not dare to breathe a prayer,

Or give our anguish scope:

Something was dead in each of us,

And what was dead was Hope

--The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde


--I thought you spies knew everything.

--Only God knows everything.
He works for Mossad
--The Constant Gardner
(2005)

____________________

Max Boot in the L.A. Times argues that the U.S. not only stop al Qaeda, but also stop it from "regenerating itself as it has in the past" (Staying the Course in Afghanistan.) That means preventing the Taliban from returning to prominence and projecting power into Pakistan.

While the suggestion that the U.S. operate as constant gardener of evil weeds has a nice ring of closure, how can anyone or anything stop anyone or anything from regenerating itself? One can spray Ortho Weed Control, but sure as hell those weeds will be back in a few weeks, usually hardier than ever.


We do not control the future. We control only now, and that just barely. How can anyone say that we are trying to keep the Taliban from returning to prominence and projecting their power into Pakistan? This seems ass backwards since the problem with the Taliban began, matured and to date is the result of Pakistan's projection of power into Afghanistan rather than vice versa, as Max Boot and crew would assert.


How many decades, or centuries, should the U.S. allocate to giving the surge time to work? When did the U.S. begin championing its failures? The ill-fated Challenger mission made its way onto a license plate, as did the seriously dead Nascar hero Dale Earnhardt. Keeping people from joining groups which are their pleasure is a losing proposition -- why does the U.S. want to be a loser?


We could say, "Home by Christmas", but what year?

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Irrational Numbers

Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify
oppression of free speech and assembly.
Men feared witches and burnt women.
It is the function of speech to free men
from the bondage of irrational fears
--Louis Brandeis


Here we go

Don't go away mad

I don't want you to stay

--Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),

Motley Crue


When a man with .45 meets a man with a rifle,

you said, the man with a pistol's a dead man.

Let's see if that's true.

Go ahead, load up and shoot

--A Fistful of Dollars
(1964)
___________________

Counterinsurgency (CI) theory is based upon unverifiable numbers implying ratios for success.


The CI crowd says a successful ratio of counter-insurgent (CI) troops to targets is between 1:20 to 1:50, depending upon population density. It's all theory, but let's play the game.


There are 100,000 swinging dicks in the Afghan National Army, 97,000 police (or paramilitaries), 38,000 NATO troops and 99,000+ U.S. mercenaries and contract types bumbling around Afghanistan. This wall of personnel faces around 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan, according to latest CIA estimates (Panetta: 50-100 al-Qaeda Remain in Afghanistan). The quality of these remnants is unknown.

It's Ranger's belief that most of the survivors are low-level types that couldn't properly cross the street at a school crossing with a school guard, let alone conduct a sophisticated attack of any kind on the U.S. Homeland. Remember: their AK-47's have a limited effective range of 460 meters.


Some will protest that we are not including the Taliban and the other suspects we lump under the rubric "insurgent". In fact, we never clearly define what constitutes an "insurgent", allowing a scatter gun approach to look like precision. However, al Qaeda is the threat to the U.S. -- the Taliban is merely their active and passive support, and all the other motley crew have their own bones to pick.


All told, the tally of all protective personnel versus al Qeada in Afghanistan is approximately 344,000:100, or 3,440 to 1, well exceeding the figures for success espoused by the COINISTA crowd. So to squelch these 100 al Qaeda personnel the U.S. is expending anywhere from $2 Billion per week to $12 Billion per month. Using the charitable figure of $8 Billion per month:
That is 8 Thousand Million dollars. That is 18,400 pounds of $100 bills every month. ($1 Million = 22.3 lbs. of $100 bills.) Stop just a moment in your busy life and try to digest that fact. Breaking it down, the U.S. is paying a monthly tab of:
  • $8,000,000,000 : 100, OR
  • $80,000,000 : 1
That is $80 Million dollars expended upon tracking each al Qaeda member each month in Afghanistan. Now think about any other need in this nation -- all the service programs funded with niggardly sums which are constantly being shaved, yet the wars drag on without end.

Compare that to the $2,700/month earned by a 100% service compensible disabled veteran being compensated for injuries sustained while on active duty -- a long shot from $80 Million per month! Think about the 2012 U.S. Department of Veterans Administration budget of $132 Billion that is dedicated to the health and welfare of all surviving U.S. veterans from all wars. $132 Billion to cover the needs of ALL U.S. veterans, compared to ~$100 Billion per year chasing 100 ne'er-do-wells a world away. (The backlog of disability claims waiting to be processed by the Department of Veterans Affairs ballooned from 500,000 to 800,000 this year.)


As of 2009, there were 21.9 million veterans in the U.S. Using the DAV budget figure of $132 Billion, that = $6,000 per vet per year. Compare that to the $80 million spent monthly tracking down (but not necessarily finding) one al Qaeda member.


What do you think is the better use of your money?

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Monday, August 01, 2011

A Fine Kessel of Fish

--American Economy, Osama Hajjaj

It's a tragedy

It's a strategy

To prey on contrast

To not indulge fact

Divide, conquer, subcontract

--Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.,

Anti-Flag


Strange days have found us

Strange days have tracked us down

They're going to destroy

Our casual joys

We shall go on playing

Or find a new town

--Strange Days
, The Doors

Everybody's talking

and no one says a word

Everybody's making love

and no one really cares

--Nobody Told M
e, John Lennon
________________

In World War II, the German Army fought battles called kessels, or "cauldron battles" -- not the greatest fighting position.


Kessels were characterized by a loss of movement and maneuver after decisive commitment, Stalingrad being a prime example: The troops would fight to the last round, then fix bayonets for the final, glorious, assault. We all know how that worked out -- heckuva job, Heinie!


But lo, it looks like our Executive and Legislative branches in Washington are fighting their own cauldron battle after being bypassed and surrounded by economic forces that are whipping them and us just as badly as the Russians whipped the Nazis in 1943-45.


The Battle of the Cauldron 2011
will not solve any of our problems or add to our ability to maneuver back to a position within a secure battle line. Our leaders are aiming friendly fire at divergent elements within the
kessel. The enemy is romping and stomping past them in columns of hordes, yet they prefer to direct their fire inwards, a stance so contrary to soldierly behavior as to defy the imagination.

The kessel that we call the budget cap talks is as irrelevant to the daily lives of Americans as is the memory of Stalingrad. It doesn't matter if we raised the debt cap; that is collateral to the primary issue. It doesn't matter if we tax the rich to the benefit
of the lower classes or vice versa. The U.S. debt ceiling does not limit debt.

The budget cap does not address that which affects our daily lives, which is the diminution of our freedoms and our economic well-being. Leaving the debt ceiling in place does not get us out of the cauldron -- it just pushes the day of reckoning down the line. The debt has risen exponentially since the George Bush administration; it will still balloon, simply at a slower pace . . . to a time past the 2012 elections, when another
"cast of characters is sent back to Sodom to do the people’s business." (The Debt Deal: Disaster Averted, Decline Straight Ahead).

The issues are so immense that we ignore them while entertaining ourselves with meaningless diversions. The U.S. is like the German Army of 1943 on the Russian Front: We are about to be forced on the strategic defensive, while our leaders prefer to fight battles that cannot be won or stem the tide.

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