Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is Nothing Sacred?

There are certain symbols, icons and archetypes with which one should not fuck. I'm not talking about cry-baby muslims who feel the need to run amok at the mere hint of a whiff of a rumor of some sort of "insult" to Islam. No, I'm talking serious shit, here.
True Grit is one of the best movies ever made. And John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn is probably the most iconic role that the Duke ever played.
You don't fuck with it...
Except.
Except the Coen brothers are outstanding film makers. And Jeff Bridges is probably the best of our current (sorry) generation of film stars. And the Coen brothers make really good films.
So something that never should have been, out of respect, out of homage, out of consideration for a work of art that can only be described as complete, is made and now looming over the holiday season horizon.
And I gotta say: I'm going to watch it, and I think it's going to be pretty good.
The Dude playing The Duke. Who'd've thought?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Holy Schnikes

Okay, saw this post from Starbuck, but at the time I didn't have the pipes (or the inclination) to download it. Now that I'm back in the world of broad band, though...
Holy shit.
All I can say is, if I'd been in the crew compartment during this particular adventure, someone would've gotten an ass-whoopin at mission complete. 'T's all I'm saying.
In the meantime...Holy shit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great Concept, Killer Trailer

Behold a trailer not for a soon-to-be-released cinematic extravaganza or for the ABC Movie of the Week. Nope, it's a movie trailer for a book. How awesome and original is that? Of course, awesome and original marketing techniques are required for the nexus of Star Trek and the Zombie Apocalypse. Double click to bring up der youtube; I can't seem to get the sizing right, dammit.

Meditations on Shooting

Just got off the road. Sorry, for technical reasons, no pict-o-graphic travelogue this time. Just a couple of observations.
One thing that continually chaps my ass is Uncle Sam's insistence that when traveling, you only get 75% of your per diem on travel days. Now, this makes sense if you're driving to a conference 138 miles up the road. But if you're travel requires a dedicated day and the inclusion of planes, trains, and automobiles, you're screwed. So, the day I'm pulling down only 75% of what the Army says I need in order to feed myself, I either pay airport extortionist prices or opt for no chow. Great. Yuh, it's not like I'm breaking the bank if I get a personal (cardboard tasting) pizza and a coke for $16, it's just the cognitive dissonance built into the system that makes me nuts.
Anyway, enough sniveling.
On this last trip, I was reminded of this article from SSG Wall in the Small Wars Journal. It's a great look at training requirements for the production of a real shooter, vice a soldier who has been trained to the minimum standard, and is therefor vulnerable to the vagaries of the long-shot engagements that are prevalent in Afghanistan. One thing the article doesn't cover, though, is the fact that the little .223 varmint round we use is going to be a limiting factor on long range engagements regardless of the training and proficiency of the shooter. I hear the SCAR rifle from FN has 7.62 variants for the average rifleman, which would greatly increase the efficacy of long range engagements.
But above and beyond training shortcomings for individual riflemen in Afghanistan faced with long range engagements, how about training shortcomings for the M2? The M2 training troops get now is weak, to say the least. The "Ma Duece" .50 calibre machine gun is arguably the best crew-served weapon ever fielded by our or any other army. Since it went into production in 1932, no significant design changes in the gun have been introduced. It's kind of like the Great White shark: why evolve if you're badass enough? However, the training and range work paradigm for the M2 sucks. The outstanding advantage it gives our troops in long range engagements is attenuated by the crap training we give M2 gunners (I won't go into detail here; take my word for it. If you disagree, let me know and I'll disabuse you of any notion that we spend the appropriate amount of time and effort training our M2 gunners).
Also, though, we've kinda sorta ignored improving optics that will maximize the effects this great weapon system generates. Different story for tankers and aviators, but infantryman (and those using the M2 for ground combat, like loggies in a convoy) fire the M2 using iron sights, thusly
For limited visibility engagements, the AN/TVS-5 is used
The M2 is a remarkably accurate weapon. Max effective range (the range at which the average well-trained gunner will hit the target 50% of the time) is 1800 meters, which is just over tracer burn-out. However, max range (the distance the round will travel with lethal effects) is a whopping 4.2 miles. So, do you think ergonomic optics would be a bonus in the long-range engagements of Afghanistan?
When using the iron sights, the gunner lines up the target, guesstimates the range, and depresses the butterfly trigger with his thumbs. He uses the tracer and the impact splash signature to figure out his round strike, and then walks it in from there. At night, he uses the AN/TVS-5 night scope, but the scope 1) suffers a "white out" effect due to the gun's prodigious muzzle flash and 2) knocks the snot out of the gunner, not quite leaving him with a blackened eye, but close.
So, I can guarantee that wherever we're using it, the capabilities of this magnificent weapon are not being leveraged for Joe. On the Mungadai, both Max Lumber and 19 Kilo Joe were M2 black belts, able to hit whatever they could see. But that was due to experience, talent, and determination--not to any range work the Army provided for them.
And, whatever shortcomings with regard to optics the M2 has, I'm more than sure that the Mark 19 has the same issues. Note that the young Marine gunner has a big ass white light attached to the weapon system so that he can shoot over iron sights at night. C'mon, we can do better.
On the topic of doing better, I ran into this article (sorry, I should give some attribution to whomever first linked to it, but I was a wee bit inebriated last night and have no idea) debunking firearms myths. Well worth a read. The only thing I would add to it is that weapons proficiency is a perishable skill. As great a gunfighter as you may have been at some point, if you're not on the range every day, you're not a great shooter. Period.
There are a bunch of bad habits which seem natural when one picks up a weapon that one needs to unlearn to be a decent shooter (let alone gunfighter). James Rummel points out one: the languid lean. I agree with everything he says--per usual--but would add that the same phenomenon is prevalent amongst fistfighters, too. Most boxers or strike-based martial artists will have to fight the inclination to lean so that the shoulders are behind the hips. Most MMA guys will fire off their punches from an upright position, most boxers (with their fists festooned with tape, padding and leather) take care to put their shoulders well forward of the hips. But the natural inclination of the novice fighter is to lean back, away from the bad man trying to punch one in the face.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's a Two-fer Kind of Day

First, today is Bruce Springsteen's 61st birthday, so happy birthday to The Boss.

Second, the Colombians bagged Mono Jojoy, leader of the FARC.
Burn in hell, you murderous son of a bitch.