Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Paratrooper’s 10 Commandments

As carried into combat by the men of General Kurt Student’s 7th Luftlandivision in Crete in 1942.  English translation of a copy taken from a prisoner of war and presented in a wartime intelligence bulletin. Another translation, and the original German text, is available here. Note that the division of these sentiments into commandments varies in the German and English renditions.

The Parachutist’s Ten Commandments

  1. You are the elite of the German Army. For you, combat shall be fulfillment. You shall seek it out and train yourself to stand any test.
  2. Cultivate true comradeship, for together with your comrades you will triumph or die.
  3. Be shy of speech and incorruptible. Men act, women chatter; chatter will bring you to the grave.
  4. Calm and caution, vigor and determination, valor and a fanatical offensive spirit will make you superior in attack.
  5. In facing the foe, ammunition is the most precious thing. He who shoots uselessly, merely to reassure himself, is a man without guts. He is a weakling and does not deserve the title of parachutist.
  6. Never surrender. Your honor lies in Victory or Death.
  7. Only with good weapons can you have success. So look after them on the principle—First my weapons, then myself.
  8. You must grasp the full meaning of an operation so that, should your leader fall by the way, you can carry it out with coolness and caution.
  9. Fight chivalrously against an honest foe; armed irregulars deserve no quarter.
  10. With your eyes open, keyed up to top pitch, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel, you will be the embodiment of a German warrior.

There are a few departures here from standard elite-unit practice (we can’t see Americans or Brits buying #9 these days, at least not officially). And there are a few examples of German bombast (example: Commandment 4. Is it just us, or does it give so many examples of the traits you need in combat that just about anything except cowering under a truck is covered?). “Agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel” is actually a pretty good slogan. But what are the odds that young German paratroopers found some sarcastic way to make fun of it? We’re guessing, about 100%.

Patton’s Pistol and Patton’s First Battle

Cimarron says this laser-engraved version of their Model P single action is a replica of Patton’s flashy Mexican War Colt. Later, he added a Smith & Wesson .357 to his gunbelt.

One of the great gunwriters of the second half of the 20th Century was Skeeter Skelton. Skelton wrote mostly in short form: magazine columns, almost exclusively, although we remember a book that was a collection of his columns. At his best, as in the December, 1971 article from which these excerpts have been taken, he could at once educate and entertain. You can find the whole article, unfortunately minus its original magazine illustrations, online at DarkCanyon.net.

On March 4, 1916, an ivory-stocked, silver-plated Model P action bearing serial No. 332088 was carefully packed for shipping at the Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut, and left that quiet community on the first of many long trips it would make. Its first journey ended at the  Shelton Payne Arms Co. in El Paso, Texas. Payne Arms had work to do on the 4 3/4-inch .45 Colt sixgun before delivery could be made to a discriminating, and sometimes irascible, second lieutenant of cavalry named George S. Patton, Jr.

The best sources hold that this, the famous Patton gun of World War II, is the sidearm he carried when he left El Paso later that month to serve as a special aide to General John “Black Jack” Pershing.

By the time Patton and his new single action arrived in Mexico two months later, the showy sixshooter had acquired a tasteful robe of engraving, the initials GSP intertwined on the smooth right grip to complement the raised American eagle on the left and a lanyard swivel.

You know we’re going to tell you to Read the Whole Thing.

We’ll digress from Skelton’s story here to remind you that Patton wasn’t entirely an ordinary 2nd Lieutenant. He came from a wealthy family with a tradition of military service, and at this point had already represented his nation in the 1912 Olympics, competing in the Modern Pentathlon. (He didn’t win). He’d made himself a force in the Cavalry branch. He rewrote the swordsmanship manual, and redesigned the saber, little changed since 1860, in line with the latest European thought about the primacy of thrusting (which killed) over slashing (which wounded). The resulting weapon was the M1913 Cavalry Sword or Enlisted Cavalry Saber (references vary), but collectors know it as the Patton Saber. So, even at this early stage of his career, the young officer was marked for greatness. (At the time of the Punitive Expedition, the single John Pershing was stepping out with Patton’s sister, but which way the arrow of causality points between that and Patton’s selection as Pershing’s aide on the operation is anyone’s guess).

Skelton goes on to tell the background of the Mexican civil war of 1916-18 and the US Army’s, and Patton’s, role in it. After telling the story of the Battle of Columbus, and the pursuit of Pancho Villa, and after calling out many of the Punitive Expedition’s heroes, he tells the story of the blooding of young Lieutenant Patton:

What has often been called the “prettiest” fight of the expedition was carried off by 2nd Lieutenant George Patton, in a style that was to characterize his actions for the rest of his carrer.

As aide to the gruff Pershing, the young wardog was eight years out of West Point and spoiling for action. Weary of dividing his time between acrounging corn for the expedition’s starving horses and carrying dispatches relating Carranza’s latest activities, Patton was delighted when the general detailed him to look into reports that one of Villa’s most trusted confederates, Colonel Júlio Cárdenas, occasionally visited his wife at a ranch called San Miguelito.

After several days of detective work, during which Patton studied the layout of San Miguelito through binoculars, he became convinced on May 14 that Cárdenas had slipped onto the premises.

With about 15 men, including civilian guide E.L. Holmdahl, the fiesty young shavetail approached the fortress-like ranch complex in the lead of three open-topped Dodge touring cars. Then he executed the maneuver that was to characterize his actions for the remainder of his career.

He attacked!

Waving his ivory-stocked Peacemaker, Lieutenant Patton roared into position near the main gate of the ranch and leaped from his car.

Three horsemen clattered from the ranch at breakneck speed. Patton shouted for them to halt. The three armed riders wheeled and charged him, the leader yanking a rifle from his saddle scabbard, opening fire. At 60 feet, Patton calmly held and squeezed five rounds from his .45. His arms flapping from a hit, the leading bandit fell from his saddle, recovered, and ran through a doorway as Patton reloaded.

The second horseman, desperate to escape, spurred his horse toward freedom, passing in front of the officer’s sixshooter. Patton later said that he then recalled the advice of a salty old Texas Ranger – the best way to stop a horseman is to stop his horse, which he did with one shot. When the rider arose, firing rapidly, Patton joined the other troopers in bring him down. The third rider was felled by rifle fire.

At this point Cárdenas broke from his cover, shooting, and was killed by one shot through the head from Holmdahl’s revolver.

The dead Villistas were later identified as Colonel Cárdenas, Private Juan Garza, and Captain Isadór Lopez. the body of the bandit colonel bore five wounds, and his bandoliers held 35 empty cartridge loops.

George Patton was promoted to 1st lieutenant as a result of this action, and it remained one of his favorite reminiscences. The two notches on the left ivory grip of the Patton Peacemaker are believed to have been placed there by him to represent the killings of Cárdenas and Garza.

In the final photo, showing Patton’s actual guns and holster rig, the two notches are clearly visible (assuming you click to embiggen). One wonders what George S. Patton would think of today’s Army, where every shooting in the war zone leads to an Article 15-6 or Article 32 investigation. Our guess is that he’d want to slap somebody.

Uniform Standards Focus is an Indicator of Incomptence

One thing we’ve always liked about the Marine Corps is their tendency to think beyond shouting and slogans (although they’re very good at that stuff, too). They actually expect not just their commissioned officers but also their enlisted Marines and NCOs to read something other than comic books and details of regulations — or at least, they used to.

The loud, stupid, regulation-happy Marine sergeant major in HBO’s generally dreadful series Generation Kill is a caricature and a stereotype, but stereotypes are often based on some grainy germ of truth, and Marine Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Michael Grice explores the causes and consequences of this particularly insidious form of bad leadership in a thoughtful opinion piece in the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional magazine of the Marine Corps Association. If ever there was a time to go Read The Whole Thing, this is that time.   But we’ll give you a taste:

Blind adherence to regulation and rule without the temper of maturity is not leadership; it is autocracy. When common sense and situational awareness are pitched out the porthole and replaced with the narrowly focused dogma of domination the result can be unsettling, if not frankly outrageous. Sadly, there are many examples of such “leadership” in action overseas.

Outside the dining facility, a young Marine is accosted by his seniors because he has no cover and there are no nametags sewn onto his utility uniform. The junior Marine, after being excoriated for his unprofessional appearance, explains that he is fresh from the camp hospital. He details that after being delivered to the surgical team via the medevac helicopter his bloody combat uniform was cut from his body by the triage corpsmen. It is only then, after the wounded Marine explains what has happened, that those “leaders” come to understand that perhaps they should ask the Marine why he lacks a cover and name-tags instead of immediately condemning him for his seeming unprofessionalism.

Perception is not always reality. It is the duty of a leader to be able to tell the difference.

While Grice is a Marine and writes what he knows, the problem is more serious in the Army, where characters like the cartoon in Generation Kill actually do become sergeants major, and where the Army’s current top NCO is open in his bias towards ticket-punchers and away from men who, unlike him, sought out combat leadership opportunities over the last decade.

In our experience, with the exception of a few remarkable and diamond-rare individuals who could exceed and excel on every standard imaginable, focus on uniform wear and grooming is in inverse proportion to the field and combat utility of the individual. The Army’s current focus is on leadership metrics, particularly NCO leadership ones, that will inexorably leach the strengthening nutrients of combat experience out of the organizational body, leaving a parade-ground simulacrum of soldiers.

In other words, Grice’s plea for common sense in leadership might be heard in the USMC, but the Army has already rejected it, and chosen the route of what, in his seminal but sadly out-of-print On the Psychology of Military IncompetenceSandhurst-trained officer turned clinical psychologist Dr Norman Dixon dismisses as “bull.” It’s worth noting that Dixon’s book is not On the Psychology of Military Excellence. Psychologist Dixon provides evidence for his conclusion that this type of martinet is, literally, anal-retentive, and that Army service tends to attract and reinforce persons with this psychological tendency.

Grice’s example above, of martinet “corrections” to medevac patients is one that we’ve both witnessed and, unfortunately, experienced, so it’s not just incompetent Marine leaders doing this. And his next example is one with some interesting parallels:

In another corner of the area of operations, senior leaders have unilaterally determined that the flame resistant overgarment uniform is not authorized for use aboard the forward operating base or outside the wire. Instead of offering their Marines the enhanced protection offered by the specially designed and organizationally provided combat uniform, those uniforms sit in a conex box, unissued, despite the real danger that flaming improvised explosive devices pose to each and every Marine who ventures out on patrol.

In the Army, there’s also been resistance to Nomex clothing, on appearance grounds.  Indeed, the Army has replaced aviators’ flight suits with less protective two-piece uniforms, which mean they suffer more crippling and life-threatening burns, but to the pavement-pounding “leaders” who don’t take the risk alongside the junior officers and NCOs, their lives and health are small prices to pay for some retarded idea of parade-ground prettiness and their great golden calf, “uniformity”.

There was also a single Brigade Combat Team leader who didn’t like the AOR uniform (essentially, a Multicam version of the dreadful ACU) and so kept his men in day-glo ACU “camouflage” in Afghanistan, risking unnecessary casualties because his vision of what a pretty soldier was overrode his nonexistent level of concern for the welfare of his men. Here’s a snippet from the Kit Up article that pointed out Colonel Viet Luong’s purblind policy:

We spoke with a dozen Soldiers  in Task Force Rakkasan and the 3rd Battalion of the 187th Infantry Regiment who were told they could not wear a single thread of MultiCam on their combat operations since the Army hadn’t fielded it unit-wide, and several officers we spoke with were actually reprimanded for wearing plate carriers, hydration bladders, pouches and other uniform items in MultiCam during operations. One senior NCO we spoke with admitted he’d purchased his own MultiCam ensemble for $1,600 which was now gathering dust in his bunk.

The order came straight from the top, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s commander, Col. Viet Luong. In his old-school Army way, he ordered that all Soldiers look the same, regardless of what camo testers back at Belvoir deemed most effective for the region 3rd BCT is fighting in.

“No one is supposed to have MultiCam items or wear them on missions. The purpose of the uniform is just that: to be uniform,” said 3rd BCT spokesman, Maj. Justin Platt. ”In this case, all Rakkasan soldiers have been issued the necessary ACU print uniforms and equipment to accomplish any mission.”

The face of a buffoon. COL Viet Luong in the day-glo ACU, arguably the most ineffective camouflage ever fielded in combat.

Luong’s response was not to change his mind and let his troops dress in the gear that millions of dollars’ worth of Army testing had determined would save lives; it was to accuse the reporter of supporting the Taliban, and accuse him of making the Army look like it was “led by buffoons.” He also claimed that, since most of his losses were to IEDs anyway, who cares how the troops were dressed? It wasn’t lack of camouflage that did him in. He cited, of course, those bugbears that Dr Dixon would recognize: uniformity and standards.

The whole Army may not have been led by buffoons, but in Luong’s brigade they were trying hard not to be like the rest of that Army. You can read the original story about Luong holding TF Rakkasan in the inferior ACU here, Luong’s response here, and the reporter’s counter-response here; but the bottom line is that Luong’s eyewash-oriented leadership is just the sort of thing that’s alarming LTC Grice over in the Corps.

Grice’s article is worth reading, but of course, the ones who would benefit from it don’t believe in reading anything but comic books and regulations. You, however, should RTWT.

Britain’s Unarmed Police

Left, Fiona Bone; right, Nicola Hughes. RIP.

In search of information on an attack in Afghanistan, which is being very thinly reported by the US Press lest it tarnish the Nobel Prize medallion of their hero, we visited the usually less monolithic Fleet Street to see what the cousins were saying. And while we’ll be talking about that attack soon enough, we wandered into a debate on Britain’s unarmed police. The British police have never been armed, or even trained in firearms, apart from ahttp://weaponsman.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4862&action=edit very few “Firearms officers” (less than 5% of the national total). Some units with a strong British cultural inheritance, like Ireland and New Zealand, follow suit. (Norway only selectively arms police, but our understanding is that all cops receive weapons training in the academy, so it’s not quite the British model).

The British public seems to be moving towards having the rozzers gun-up: sentiment, the BBC reports, is about 50-50. In the same article, the Beeb reports that the coppers themselves are not enthusiastic at all: they believe that being unarmed makes them more approachable than, for instance, their increasingly armed and militarized American counterparts. In their view, to paraphrase them, they’ve always been “community policing” since long before it was cool; Sir Robert Peel’s initial vision of a police force was, in fact, quite congruent with the latest community policing models, given the technology of his day. Older Americans remember this style of policing here, even by lightly-armed cops (if you missed it, you can see it in lighthearted reruns on the Andy Griffith Show. The actor plays a cop who keeps things on an even keel in his small town without running up a Van Damme movie body count).

The discussion is driven by — this is not a surprise coming at you — a horrible crime. A routine call of a burglary brought two young, unarmed officers to an address in Abbey Gardens in Mottram, an urban satellite of the post-industrial city of Manchester. Once they entered the building — an abandoned, derelict home — there were noises, and they didn’t come out. No one saw what happened inside except the cops, who can’t tell their story, and the criminal, a wanted fugitive whose credibility would be questionable even if he were talking. But there was an ear-witness:

A witness at the scene in Tameside reported hearing 13 gunshots and an explosion shortly before 11:00 BST.

The two police were both killed instantly by gunfire and a grenade. They were both young women: PC Fiona Bone was 32, and PC Nicola Hughes, although a 3-year veteran of the force, only 23, and still lived at home with her mother. The fugitive, already wanted for two other murders, fled the scene and the police were left guessing who had murdered their comrades until, for whatever reason or whimsy motivates these creatures, he walked into a Greater Manchester police substation and gave himself up peacefully.He’s 29 with a long and violent record. Naturally.

The killing appears to have been a deliberate ambush, something once favored by American radicals. Why the late-night report of a burglary of an abandoned property didn’t have the cops on edge, we have no idea. Maybe it did, just not enough. They were apparently familiar with the area.

Criminals are not taking the unarmed bobbies seriously, it seems.

The details of the crime are here. A story on the cop-arming debate, which assumes you are familiar with the murders, is here. Initial biographical information on the two murdered cops is here. There doesn’t seem to be much information on the other two people murdered by this same creep. One detail also missing from that story: the killer was out on bail when he committed, apparently, both sets of murders, the first two in May and the police ambush this week. Gotta love that revolving courthouse door — if you’re a murderer.

The British once had an extremely safe island nation with little violent and a RITZ (round it to zero) level of gun crime. Out of concern for Communist agitation (remember that!) in the early 20th Century, a variety of strict firearms laws were promulgated, and they have gotten much stricter, ending in 1996 with a complete ban on handguns. Even the British olympic pistol-shooting team must practice in France, although an exception was made to allow the pistol competitions at the 2012 Summer Olympics, under great scrutiny. But after the gun ban, the number of armed criminals and gun crimes exploded. That the low-rent thug in this case had a powerful pistol, and a grenade for crying out loud, shows that the black market in firearms is thriving even as the police obsess about cracking down on target shooters and collectors, as if the gun and not the man was the problem.

British law also criminalizes self-defense, while the nation’s laws treat violent crime very mildly. A typical sentence for a murderer is 14 years. The guy who whacked two citizens and two on-duty policewomen will likely get more than that, but it won’t be a life sentence, and he’ll be out with plenty of years of mayhem left in him. They’ve had no death penalty for an extremely long time.

Of course, it’s their country and their right to police it as ineptly as they choose. The sheer number of Americans commenting on the Beeb site is curious; we do think we have a better way, but lecturing them on it while the bodies of two police officers are still cooling seems as gauche as it is counterproductive.

One parting thought: being armed might not have saved PCs Bone and Hughes. They were lured into a place by someone planning it out to his advantage. Well-armed American cops have died in similar circumstances. While we can always have an opinion about foreign laws, we have to recognize that foreign criminals appear to be the same dregs of mankind so well known to the authorities everywhere, and the officers who confront these criminals do so at considerable personal risk.

Good Deal for H&K Drumsight Fanboys

We’ve never understood the love folks have for the H&K drum sight. To us it’s a throwback to the silly 19th Century volley sights found on Mausers and Mosins. It’s a better strategy, in our humble if experienced opinion, to select a good battlesight range somewhere in the second half of your weapon’s effective range, and know that range. Then all you have to know is range estimation — getting the feel for what a human target looks like vis-a-vis your front sight works for that — and the drop of your load at various ranges. Instant center of mass hit.

Of course, if you’re Howard Wasdin, you can blow your range estimation and and your center-of-mass shot can turn fortuitously into a near-900-meter headshot, convincing everyone you’re Long Range God His Ownself. (A thing we only know because Howard wryly admits it in his book). But Howard would agree that Providential intervention, or blind luck, while certainly welcome, should not be factored in to your planning.

Nevertheless, some people love the H&K range compensating drum sight. It’s easy to figure out and use and the factory front sight is a good square-cornered post (something the M16 was missing until the A2). So a popular addition to these guys’ ARs isa set of HK416 sights. Which, like all things H und K, are priced like they’re machined by union gnomes from unicorn horn, when they actually look to us like investment or die castings with a bare minimum of machining operations.

A few intrepid (or ill-informed) souls have tried to put the identical-looking MR556 sights on their weapons, only to find that, whether due to the “HK. Because you suck and we hate you.” philosophy or the bizarre tangles of the German Kriegswaffenkontrollgesetz, the 556 sights don’t match anybody else’s sights or optics. They can’t cowitness with an Aimpoint or Eotech (a very common setup for iron sights these days) and you can’t mix and match H&K and Brand X fronts and rears. But if you have to have H&K style sights:

416/417 Sight Set Complete for Picatinny

Brand new German 416/417 Sight Set $129. Price includes front and rear sight assemblies complete. Fits all standard picatinny rail systems. Comes with an HK multiple weapon rear drum sight which is combat effective to 400 yards with 5.56 or 7.62.

These are not MMR223 sights for barrel specific rifles. But rather a sight that can be installed on all NATO 5.56/7.62 rifles. We also offer just the bases so you can add a more specific HK drum sight of your choosing: MP5, 33/93, G3, HK21/MSG90 1200M, Etc.

via 416 Front Rear Sight Picatinny for HK 416, HK 417, MMR416, MMR417, P416, AR15, AR10, RTG Gun Parts.

This does somewhat understate the complexity of H&K drum sights. There are not only different drums for each caliber, but for short and long barrel length in that caliber, reflecting the fact that a 10.5″ barrel produces less velocity than a 14.5″ (standard 416) or 16″ (MR556) barrel, and therefore a different trajectory. And you need a sight adjustment tool ($50-60… cha-chingg!) to adjust the sights (the rear sight, actually; the front is fixed and only the rear adjusts for both elevation and windage). You can make your own tool or use the H&K factory tool. Beware of clone H&K tools — they look all right and work all wrong.

In any event, if you want iron sights only, and like H&K style sights (or simply want a conversation piece on one of your ARs) the link will take you to the best deal we’ve seen on these sights (the set would cost you over $300 from HKParts.net).

Stolen Valor Act of 2012 Advances, Hits Wall. Who was against?

After the Supreme Court sided with phony war hero Xavier Alvarez and against actual veterans, it showed how the Congress could write a bill that it would not overturn. Congress — the House at least — is back with that bill, which passed the lower house with an overwhelming, near-consensus bipartisan majority, but now faces an uncertain future in the wannabe-rich Senate. GovTrack.us reports:

House Vote #575 [primary source: house.gov] Sep 13, 2012 (112th Congress)

Introduced by Rep. Joe Heck [R-NV3] on May 5, 2011

Current Status: Passed House

This vote was taken under a procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority.

via H.R. 1775: Stolen Valor Act of 2012 (On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended) — GovTrack.us.

Who Was Against This?

There are two ways someone could oppose the bill: the man’s way, voting against it; and the coward’s way, issuing a no vote or letting the vote go blank. The bill passed with 3 against and 22 cowards’ no-votes, although since then the leadership has apparently allowed two double cowards to amend their no-votes to yeas. There remain 16 no-vote cowards.

Ron Paul (R-TX) is the most prominent name on the list of nays. His voting record is somewhat idiosyncratic as he is a libertarian and opposes many Republican policies, particularly if they lead to more Federal intrusion or cost more money. He votes with his party about 70-odd percent of the time (which is a very low percentage, for Congress). His reasons for opposing this particular bill are unknown but can be inferred from his history.

Freshman representative Justin Amash (R-MI) is a small-l libertarian in the Ron Paul mold. Like Paul, he crosses his party a good quarter of his votes (this is one more). He generally opposes military spending and has praised Obama’s military budget cuts. While a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, he explained every vote on his facebook page, but he has ceased doing that since joining the US House.

The lone Democrat in direct opposition was George Miller (D-CA). Miller is one of the furthest-left Democrats and normally opposes both defense and veterans’ issues, but his vote on this issue went against almost all his caucus, and his party leaders, and so is surprising. Miller seldom deviates from the party line. While the some party leaders took the coward’s way out, the bulk of the Democrat leadership supported the bipartisan bill.

All three of the nay voters are in safe seats and are certain to be reelected.

That wraps up the direct oppostion, now for the cowardly opposition. There were 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats at this writing.

  1. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
  2. Jesse Jackson(R-IL)
  3. Michael Michaud (D-ME)
  4. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
  5. Richard Neal (D-MA)
  6. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  7. Mike Ross (D-AR)
  8. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
  1. Todd Akin (R-MO)
  2. Rick Berg (R-ND)
  3. Paul Broun (R-GA)
  4. Wally Herger (R-CA)
  5. Peter King (R-NY)
  6. Sue Myrick (R-NC)
  7. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
  8. Adrian Smith (R-NE)

A couple of these clowns have an excuse, flimsy perhaps, for blowing off the vote. Jackson was under lock and key in an asylum (which makes us ask, do they have 434 more rubber rooms?) due to mental illness induced by decades of drug abuse. Ryan was off campaigning for Vice President. Neal, who’s from an unshakeable seat in a one-party state, skips three times as many votes as the average Representative. (Still, the adjacent district’s Barney Frank has no reelection worries (he’s retiring), and the ultra-liberal representative showed up and voted for the Stolen Valor act. Why couldn’t Neal? Ask him… if you can find him).  It’s amazing to see Todd Akin on this list. You would think he had had enough bad publicity for one lifetime. Then again, he seems as intelligent as he is modest, which is to say, not very.

If one of these lily-livered pansies is yours, you might want to ask why no support for the integrity of military awards and decorations. Not that you’re likely to get an honest answer. They will likely argue that a “no vote” is not the same as a “no” vote. Apart from having exactly the same effect. Apart from sending a loud and clear signal of what they think is unimportant. There is that.

Future in the Senate

Unfortunately, this is probably the high-water mark for HR 1775. It now has to go to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid controls the calendar and brings bills up or not by his own personal and political calculus. While Reid has supported some veterans’ issues in the past, two of his loyal lieutenants bitterly oppose Stolen Valor legislation — because they’re phony heroes themselves, and got their Senate seats in part by claiming heroism in Vietnam, a country neither even visited for a day during the confict. (Tom Harkin, D-IA, and Dick Blumenthal, D-CT). Unless Reid can afford to tick off two guys who vote with him 100% when he needs them, the bill isn’t going any further.

(What does the Senate do? Nothing, lately. At least Caligula sent the whole horse).

A Weakness of the Bill

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s preference of phony over real veterans, the bill can only criminalize conduct that leads to direct, cash, gain. So guys like Alvarez (and Blumenthal and Harkin for that matter) who merely use phony valor tales to advance themselves to positions where they then enrich themselves are off the hook.

But it’s all we’re likely to get out of a Congress where veteran representation — the real kind, not the Blumenthal variety — is at an all-time low, and declining. (Say what you will about Akin, he at least has sons in the service, which is more than almost all of his fellow Representatives can say).

We said no politics but…

…we were referring to the gun politics that animates many (most?) gun blogs. We will continue to keep a weather eye on stolen valor legislation. We knew guys who died earning some of the junk that’s on Alvarez’s uniform in the picture above, and … well, let’s not talk about it, and we won’t have to break something.

Japanese Rifle Production 1890-1945

Sorry for the graininess of this graphic, whose original source we do not know. We found it here on an interesting site about Japanese weapons and militaria.

It tells the story of Japanese military rifle production to 1945. All Japanese rifles were made at state arsenals. Despite being unable to read all of the graphic (due to blurriness), we’ve figured out that the horizontal axis is time, the vertical is production, and the color shading depicts the different models and calibers of guns made for Imperial  soldiers and naval landing forces.

The first two bars on the left depict the 8mm, single-shot Murata rifle, a smokeless-powder derivative of an 11mm blackpowder gun. In 1897, Japan swept into the 20th century with the strong bolt-action 6.5mm Arisaka rifle (this is the lavender colored area) and production began ramping up in the Tokyo-based arsenals. These weapons and the stocks of Muratas were used in the 1905 Russo-Japanese war, which saw prodigious losses of men and materiel at, for example, Port Arthur. In 1905-6 the original M30 Arisaka was replaced on the production lines by the improved M38, designed by Kijiro Nambu (but still called, by collectors, an Arisaka). This is the tan shaded area on the chart.

Arisaka production grew rapidly, and an increasingly militaristic Japan needed more rifles to arm more troops. But in 1923, disaster struck — a natural cataclysm still remembered as the Great Earthquake. Japan had to rebuild all of Tokyo — including the destroyed arsenals. Small arms production was latgely shifted to new arsenals, and it took time to build them (particularly as precision machine tools were still largely imported in 1920s Japan). When rifle production resumed, it did so at a much slower rate.

Type 38 (1905) rifle and carbine, 6.5mm. Standard Japanese weapons through early WWII.

What kicked production into high gear again was war, this time with China. In 1936-37 the Japanese went to war on the mainland, and as this drove the island nation towards a reckoning with the world’s maritime superpowers, rifle production soared. Even as this happened the Japanese forces were grumbling about the performance of their 6.5mm cartridge, vis-a-vis the 7.92 x 57mm Mauser round used by the Chinese. The M38 was quickly scaled up to be the new Type 99 using a new 7.7 x 58mm round, a good equivalent for any of the world’s rifle cartridges. An added benefit of the new round was that it was rimless (compared to the semi-rimmed 6.5), and functioned better in machine guns. Transitioning small arms calibers for an army of millions, scattered across not only the home islands but a galaxy of island redoubts in the South Pacific and countless outposts in the areas of Manchuria, was a logistical challenge even for a peacetime army. For a wartime service with its arsenals coming under aerial bombardment and its supply lines subject to a choking submarine blockade, it was more like a logistical nightmare. But a legion of forgotten Japanese supply and ordnance officers pulled it off, somehow.

After the war, the US Army Air Forces congratulated themselves on having destroyed Japanese war production as well as the Japanese will to resist. While the atomic bombs certainly did the latter, the former is debatable. The chart shows us that rifle production peaked in 1944, as Curtis LeMay’s B-29 offensive geared up. The Japanese were adept at scattering production among many cottage industries and “hibachi forges,” where individual parts were handmade for centralized assembly. While production did suffer in 1945, and quality of small arms declined steadily throughout the war, the principal reasons turned out not to be direct attacks on the arsenals (nothing the US did, short of actually occupying Japan, seemed to slow the plants). The decline in production quantities and the even greater collapse of production quality,  were primarily due to the sub blockade’s impact on a nation which had to import almost all raw materials, and every BTU of energy used to process them.

You can learn a lot from carefully looking at a chart.

Blind Sheikh to go free? YGBSM.

The Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood government has demanded, and the US State Department is considering, the release of “Blind Sheiklh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, according to the conservative news site The Blaze. The Telegraph, miles ahead of the supine US press as usual, confirms that  Brotherhood strongman Mohammed Morsi has demanded Rahman’s release.

Supposedly, talks are underway, although one hopes this is either a trial balloon (if so, let’s pop it) or an error by The Blaze, which is owned by talk show host Glenn Beck.

Squinty Omar was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six innocents, but failed to bring the building down, thanks in part to the Arab engineering of the bomb. From his cell, Omar continued to lead his terror network, and inspire other terrorists including Osama bin Laden. His method of passing traffic was simplicity itself: his attorneys carried the reports and directives for him, disguising them as legal documents to courier the information to and from terrorists worldwide.  (One of his lawyers, Lynne Stewart, was convicted for this, but the courts have been loath to actually impose punishment for something they know all the defense attorneys do).

Lynne Stewart Seeing-eye Pig. (Honest, understandable mistake).

If we were king around here, Omar’d be sharing his cell with a seeing-eye pig, and the courier lawyers would be in adjacent cells. (Let it never be said we denied convicted terrorists accommodations for their handicaps, or legal representation).

In any event, it’s uncertain what’s in it for us to spring the terrorist imam. But since the Moslem Brotherhood has gotten us to give them $1.4 billion (with a B) and stand by while they sacked our embassy in the last couple weeks alone, perhaps its understandable that they expect us to just give up their terrorist daddy figure, notwithstanding the fact he’s supposed to be doing life in one of our prisons.

And given the management of the State Department and the Executive in general, he can probably start packing his stuff. Can somebody at least make sure to get his forwarding address? We need to know where to send the seeing-eye pig.

what Zumbo said

In the post earlier today about anti-gun gun-writer Jerry Tsai and anti-gun gun magazine (? Hey, it’s their business model, not ours), we mentioned the 2007 incident of Jim Zumbo, another anti-gun gunwriter who’s often cited as the archetypal “Fudd.” (Or as they used to be called, “Quisling.”)  But it turns out, a lot of our readers have forgotten Zumbo. (He’s still on TV, where celebrity trumps integrity).

In February 2007, the popular hunting columnist and TV hunting-show celebrity posted a call for an AR and AK ban on his blog:

I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms. I call them “assault” rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I’ll go so far as to call them “terrorist” rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are “tackdrivers.” Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles. We’ve always been proud of our “sporting firearms.” This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don’t need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.

As he got hit by a tidal wave of disapproval, he backpedaled furiously and tried to disappear the blog post. (Good luck with that. The Internet is eternal). But it was too late. Within days, Outdoor Life had sacked him — no demand for anti-gun gun writers. Remington had fired him as spokesman, a decision made at CEO level. (This was back B.C. — Before Cerberus — when Remington executives could make a decision on something bigger than the lunchroom menu). Remington felt particularly betrayed, as they’d sponsored the hunt Zumbo was on when he came out anti-gun, and he mentioned their sponsorship in the same post that called AR’s “terrorist rifles” and called for them to be banned. By the time Remington cut him loose, they had 6,000 emails from teed-off customers.

A cascade of other bad news sprang from Zumbo’s honest statement, some of which is recounted in this Washington Post story. But even as his old friends ran for cover, he found new ones. That Post writer, whose worshipful tones reach near-Obama paroxysms; the New York Tmes editorial board; gun-banning Senator Carl Levin (D-IL).

The Outdoor Network stood by him: after all, TV people consider Kardashians role models. Zumbo, with the help of other Fudds at the NRA, executed a carefully planned reputation-recovery strategy including fulsome apologies, getting “educated” about Evil Black Rifles by Ted Nugent, and even signing a name to a letter NRA wrote for him, opposing a ban on the very rifles he’d demanded be banned… it was too little, too late, and too transparently insincere. Nobody believes that Zumbo changed his mind, he just changed his tune when his mind collided with his money.

Hey, maybe now he can reach out to Jerry Tsai. They can form a he-man gun haters’ club.

A man like Zumbo or Tsai was important once. Consumers needed an intermediary to tell manufacturers what they want, and manufacturers needed an intermediary to act as a proxy for consumers. But the watchword of the 21st Century is disintermediation. You can tell Remington, say, or Larue, what you think. And they can reach you through the web, Facebook, Twitter, industry forums on Arfcom, whatever. (That’s the theory, anyway. It doesn’t explain why Cerberus corporate communications still moves at the speed of Marco Polo’s camel caravan). In 1962 you could fake it: you could pretend to be a gun guy while actually believing that most of your fellow men were too base to be trusted with them, and no one outside your social circle would ever know. Today, your social circle is the world.