Friday, June 18, 2010

Better Than The World Cup

There's a place in sports for guys who use blow-dryers, don't like contact sports, and enjoy running (even though running, as we all know, breeds cowardice).
But while the blow-dryer hair gel set is all agog at the World Cup, a far more manly contest is on.
Fuerzas Comando 2010 is on! (note: the link will show up in Spanish, if you don't hable, you can switch it to English on the Google translator widget at the bottom of the page)
Basically, commandos/Special Operators from around the Western Hemisphere gather to compete against each other in sniping, CQB, and other Special Operations skills. This year, 18 countries are competing for the cup, including the US. The competition is usually held in a different country every year. This year's venue is the Dominican Republic. Good stuff, check it out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Quick Round-Up

Posting has been and will probably continue to be pretty light. Work is busy, family stuff is busy, and thus blogging necessarily frequently falls by the wayside. Though it's a beautiful weekend, and the sun is out, it's not quite time to start drinking yet, so here's a quick round-up:
My lovely commute: frequently, on my long (ass-ripping) commute home from the greater Miami area to the Keys, I'll take Card Sound Road instead of the Overseas Highway; especially on the approach to weekends. Traffic is considerably lighter, the scenery is much more bucolic, and one doesn't have to worry about the general mayhem caused by the eternal and infernal construction. The drive is about 8-miles longer on Card Sound, but you don't have to contend with alcohol-fueled, drug-crazed partiholics that think that they can make it to Key West in under two hours.En route, one passes Alabama Jack's, a famed way point for Keys-bound travelers that is sort of a covered but un-walled eatery/bar. Good food. Cold beer. Mmmm. Earlier this week, though, there was an added attraction: apparently a Customs and Border Patrol bird had had to make an emergency landing when it experienced a "land-this-sucker-now!" maintenance problem. As someone who has cut, blown, and chopped a couple of landing zones, the parking lot of which the pilots availed themselves is itty-bitty, in terms of LZs. I guess the choices were put it in the drink (bad), put it in the mangroves (worse), or shoot for the postage-stamp sized parking lot. All in all, a pretty good piece of flying. I didn't stop and talk to the crew, as I figured, were it me, after a sphincter tightening landing I would not appreciate some goober coming up to observe, "so, looks like you had a mechanical issue, eh?" I didn't want to get punched in the eye, and plus there were cigars and cold beer waiting at home. Of course, there were cigars and cold beer in the truck with me, but consumption rates being what they are, I had to get home most ricki-tick.
Gaming: I've never been a huge gamer. The kids enjoy their various games/systems, but I've never really gotten into it. I did rack up about a million dead Nazi bastards on the first Call of Duty, but that's because sometimes you get home from work and absolutely have to kill somebody, and a virtual kill is a little more socially acceptable than other options. Once I wore out the PS2 and it gave up the ghost, though, I never really looked real hard for a replacement. I guess one of the big games out there now is Counter Strike, and a whole lot of people take it seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that cheating has some severe repercussions.

The Arizona border control law has a lot of people up in arms. Basically, I'm a control the border first type of guy. In fact, I kind of think the border should be controlled by a barrier that can be seen from space ("virtual fences" are like the "virtual kills" mentioned above. They might make you feel better, but achieve no real-world results). I also think that, once the borders are controlled, we can have a debate about how best to "reform" our system--especially on the legal immigrant side. Every couple years, we matriculate quantum leaps forward with our information technology, but these seem to have impacted our legal immigration timelines not at all.
I understand that there are varying opinions over this. And I try not to get too agitated by the rank hypocrisy of the Mexican government. But this type of thing makes me lean toward being a very, very Ugly American. Oh, reeeally? You feeling lucky, pendejo?

One of life's great questions has been answered. But it begs more, zen-like questions: Does it not smell, or can you just not smell it? Thought provoking. Sort of a vegetable-based koan.

Trusting our troops: I posited after the official (piece of shit) report on the Fort Hood shootings came out that our troops should be armed in order to protect themselves, but that it would never happen because commanders don't trust their troops enough to have them walking around home station locked and loaded. Herschel Smith* from the Captain's Journal alerts us to the fact that the same thing may be happening in theater.
Some soldiers are being ordered to conduct patrols without a round chambered in their weapons, The US Report has learned from an anonymous source at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Our source was unsure if the order came from his unit or if it affected other units.
I agree with Mr. Smith that such orders aren't only negligent, they are criminal. But the real problem is that commanders who give such orders do not trust their troops. Personally, I'm of the mind that anytime you issue a troop a weapon, it should come with ammo and the weapon should be loaded. At least with sidearms and carbines. Sniper and crew served weapons should have ammo to hand, but keeping them loaded could be deleterious either to the ammo or to the proper functioning of the weapon.
So the mental calculus needed to reach this type of order is: "we are in a COIN fight, less violence is better. My troops need to minimize the level of violence they employ in their problem solving techniques, but still need to be able to defend themselves. I cannot trust them not to react precipitously in an ambiguous situation, so I am going to slow down their ability to employ lethal force by telling them to patrol without a round locked into the chamber."
This is, if reported accurately, green tab cowardice.

Speaking of snipers, this is a good article. My only beef with most sniper articles is that they under-report the role played by the spotter. At the distances discussed by the articled, there is a good chance that the sniper can not even see the target once he adjusts his optics for windage and elevation. It is the spotter, for once accurately described as observing the round strike and doing the calcs to bring the sniper a hit.

*Herschel Smith is a doughty, imminently readable blogger who provides a great perspective on all things military and especially all things related to the USMC. I feel compelled to clarify, though, that he is not the Herschel mentioned here. That Herschel was my grandfather, about whom a family member wrote, after reading the blog post
Sounds like the Uncle Herschel I remember. He was my hero too, and a classic cowboy. I'll never forget him waving goodbye to YYY and ZZZ after a Christmas dinner, then turning around saying, "Hot damn, the Baptists have left. Break out the booze." He proceeded to open the trunk where there was at least one case of whiskey. Daddy used to tell us about Uncle Herschel riding the wild mustangs from Kilgore where they brought them in on trains. He said by the time Herschel got them home, they were all bucked out and made good horses.
Some things just make you proud.