Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Marine

Here is a young man that would make any parent proud.

His name is Justin, he is one of my grandkids and he just graduated from Marine bootcamp. He came home one day and announced to his parents that he had enlisted, it was a done deed. He had taken a look at his future and decided he could make it much better by serving his country then taking advantage of the benefits that derived from that service.

My hat is off to Justin, a fine young man and one that would make any parent proud. The country needs many more like him, young men that take control of their lives and attempt to make something of themselves.

He'll soon be in traing for his speciality as a combat engineer. I wish him well and admire his courage. God bless.


Okay, so Thanksgiving was last week and I am just now posting on the subject.

Margie and I had a simply wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, it was the perfect family day. Even though we're hundreds of miles from the rest of our family, we were in touch with nearly everyone. I swear we spent most of the day (that didn't involve eating) talking to family, thank God for the telephone. The meal was great, as usual, sharing it even better.

The day after, that would be Friday, we woke up reasonably early and headed out for Christmas (NOT WINTER HOLIDAY!!!) shopping. We did our shopping at a high-end outlet mall that had a huge array of shops, terific prices and a good selection. The bottom line is that we did all our shopping in 8 hours flat. Good thing we have an SUV sorta vehicle.

Islamic link

This is a URL that I came across. It is a link to an Islamic scientific site[^] - I offer it with little comment. Oh crap, I am actually posting it because a Muslim posted a link to an article that "proved" the Quran supposedly posited an important bit of scientific information some 1,400 years ago. You have to dig around for that particular article since I have posted the link to the home page. If you dig around you'll find some interesting Islamic views. No, no one there is calling for your death (or mine for that matter), but it is interesting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Marine's report from Iraq

Iraq report from a Marine home on leave. Really interesting.

This came to me via email from a friend in Dallas. It is a father's debriefing of his son.

A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early '06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq.

He spent 7 months at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he had to say about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view.

1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Kid says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it is lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts รข€˜em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. Ma deuce is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the old body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefires, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. He carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:
1) Mostly AK47's . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again)

Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in his area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated shaped charges (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor.

Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of his NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage inside the wire. His base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and Google earth for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?:
Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly foreigners, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then travel down the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in sacrifice squads. Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.).

These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt's, the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing Aka's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time. ( see the M2 and M240 above).

His base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeos (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet.

Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to him, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted.

They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

Anyway, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Memory deficit Democrats - Iraq

The drum beat of left-wing Democrats and a handful of weak kneed Republicans has built to a crescendo over the last month or so, and finally President Bush is calling their hand. The Kerry, Durbin, Kennedy, Boxer (too many list so I kept the list of mouths short) have been going on and on repeating the "Bush lied" mantra at every opportunity.

These and others should be brought up on charges for treason or a lesser charge of aiding and abetting an enemy during a time of war.

The favorite theme is, "no weapons of mass destruction" - so President Bush must have lied. They all forget they were on board while it was popular to be on board but once the press (aka, 5th column) decided to try to weaken the spines of our citizens, aligning with the cowards in Europe, the left could no longer contain themselves. After all, the press is against the war and the press and mass media now attempts to form public opinion instead of reporting news - so it is convenient for the Democrats to forget they once took a principled position. That is rare so it is easy to see why they forgot.

By the way, the commentary above does not include Senator Liebermann. Now that Zell Miller has left the Senate, Liebermann is the one remaining Kennedy Democrat (Ted is no doubt an embarrassment to his two brother's memories).

With all the harping, pissing and moaning do you think any of these Democrats remember the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 - U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 114[^] or even better, the The Iraq Liberation Act - enacted under President Clinton[^]. I bet not because it wouldn't be convenient and political convenience is a way of life for these professional whiners and liars.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Giving back

In March of this year ( 3-2005 ) Margie and I turned our 15 year long love affair into something more officially sanctioned by the world at large. In short, we were married. The decision was a derivative of many things not the least of which being that after 15 years it was obvious we had something long lasting. Other contributibing factors were no doubt the attacks of 9-11 that caused most right thinking folk to reinspect their lives to determine what is really important and what is not. We had also gone through a personal struggle that lasted around two years or so, the result had brough us even closer than we had been.

The effect formalizing our relationship has been profound and not limited to day to day living.

Shortly after we were married the Pope passed on and that drew us back to our common roots, we were both "cradle Catholics" - born and rasied as Roman Catholics, although we hadn't been to church in years (20 plus for me) the death of the Pope and the dignity of his final days drew us back. It wasn't long after we started attending mass again (and it felt good, like coming home) that we felt drawn to do more.

So now Margie is a member of the Woman's Club and We're both involved with the Society of St. Vincent DePaul[^]. We contribute a couple of hours each week and work in a food pantry. Margie bags groceries for the folks who make use of the pantry and I help them load their vehicles, then run the carts back into the building. I also contribute time every 6th Saturday at the local distribution center where the needy can pick up donated furniture, clothing and other houshold goods.

So in the course of the last 9 months have been a sea change for the two of us: marriage, a calling back to the Roman Catholic Church and an active participation in some of the works of the faith.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hillary gets one right!

Geez does this ever cause me pain. Here I am just waiting for the 2008 campaign to start, just frothing at the mouth to see the debates, surely Hillary will get mashed because of her well known (socialist) liberal tendencies. I have heard for some time now about how she's going to move to the right, landing in the middle, so she'll be acceptable to folks outside of the Socialist Republic of New York. Like most conservatives, I am skeptical that she can pull it off. Wasn't I amazed when she landed on the correct side of a controversy involving South Korea.[^]