Monthly Archives: February 2016

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Russo-German Archives

german_docs_in_russiaРоссийско-германский проект по оцифровке германских документов в архивах Российской Федерации. Trips right off the tongue, doen’t it? Well, it does if you’re Russian, and you’ll need to read Russian, German, or (best of all) both, to get the maximum benefit of this remarkable collaboration to publish declassified German archives.

Until recently, the German military and state archives were divisa in partes tres at the end of World War II: Some stayed in Germany, many went to the United States, and another massive batch went to Russia.

So far two collections have been published, one of Gestapo documents (most of which are about Comintern agents and other Commies in the occupied nations of Europe) and one of World War I information.

There are some challenges to reading this information. The documents are old and weary; some show signs of burning or other attempts at records-destruction by the defeated Nazis. Many are printed in the difficult German Fraktur blackletter script; many more are written in any of a variety of obsolete German penmanship styles, mostly Sütterlin.

We found the Comintern-agent Gestapo files a bit of a snore. We haven’t read them all, but didn’t see much in terms of resistance activity by these guys.

The World War I documents are a lot more interesting, in our opinion. These include ultra-rare war diaries, including one we really enjoyed, that covered a stint at the front by one of the Kaiser’s observation-balloon unit. The stories of the airplane pilots who went out to attack these well-defended balloons has been well and often told, but the balloon troops themselves have been relatively silent in the histories. Thanks to some long-dead Russian archivists who squirreled these enemy documents away, we now can read their experiences, a century later.

But chances are good that if you have any World War I era interest, and can read German, you will find something to enjoy here.

This Week’s Special Forces Casualties in SEA: 21 – 29 Feb (1960-73).

5th SFG VN flashHere’s this week’s (slightly delayed) installment of the late Command Sergeant Major Reg Manning’s labor of love: his list of the Special Forces casualties in the Vietnam War. This list may not be complete. Note that not all men on this list are SF qualified team guys — those will usually be indicated by an “S” suffix on the enlisted alphanumeric MOS or a “3” prefix on an officer numeric MOS. For example, a light weapons man MOS might be 11B4S, a typical officer MOS 31542 (SF Qualified Infantry Officer). But also support soldiers serving with SF (76Y, supply sergeant) may show up, or former SF enlisted or officer personnel serving in non-SF positions, especially officer positions.

Order of data points is: Date Y/M/D, First. Last, MOS, cause/circumstances, nation/unit/location.

Year Month Day Grade Rank First & MI Last MOS Circumstances Country Unit Location
1967 2 21 E-7 SFC Domingo R. S. Borja 11C4S KIA, BNR, DSC Laos CCN, w/ RT?? YD188011, 20k west of A Luoi
1967 2 21 E-7 SFC Billy E. Carrow 12B4S DNH, accident w/ weapon Thailand 46th SF Co, A-4634 Trang (Camp Carrow near Trang named for him.)
1968 2 21 E-7 SFC Robert N. Baker 11C4S KIA SVN CCN, FOB1 Quang Nam Prov.
1968 2 21 E-6 SSG Paul M. Douglas 11B4S KIA SVN CCN, FOB3, RT Hawaii Quang Tri Prov., killed by mortar round at Khe Sanh
1965 2 22 E-5 SP5 Gerald B. Rose 12B2S KIA SVN A5/214 Soui Doi, Pleiku Prov., at Mang Yang Pass
1967 2 22 E-7 SFC George W. Ovsak 11C4S KIA SVN A-302, Mike Force at A-301 Trang Sup, XT177554, unloading boobytrapped truck
1969 2 24 E-7 SFC Charles E. Carpenter 11C4S KIA SVN 2 MSFC, B-20, 261 MSF Co. just outside A-244, Ben Het, Kontum Prov.
1968 2 25 E-7 SFC Lawrence F. Beals 11F4S KIA SVN 1 MSFC, A-111 Quang Nam Prov., convoy between Da Nang and A-109, w/ Tomkins
1969 2 25 E-7 SFC James K. Sutton 11B4S KIA, DOW SVN C Co, 5th SFG, w/ ??, radio relay site w/ USMC at FSB Neville near DMZ, Quang Tri Prov.
1970 2 25 E-7 SFC Bobbie R. Baxter 12B4S DNH, vehicle crash SVN B-53 Bien Hoa Prov., S-4 NCOIC
1968 2 27 E-7 SFC Duane H. Snyder 11B4S KIA, DOW SVN 5 MSFC, A-503 Khanh Hoa Prov. WIA Jan ’67 on OPN Nashville
1968 2 27 O-4 MAJ William W. Roush 31542 KIA, DSC w/ cluster SVN w/ 25th ID Gia Dinh Province, had been in SF as a CPT
1963 2 28 E-5 SP5 Odes W. Jeffers 12B4S DNH, vehicle crash SVN A-731 Van Canh (old), BR841078, later became A-223 & camp moved 1.5 km SW
1970 2 28 E-7 SFC William Boyle 91Z4S KIA, BNR, helicopter shotdown Laos CCC, FOB2 YB586188, Chase Medic, CH-34 shootdown, 16k south of Leghorn
1968 2 29 E-6 SSG Harold C. Whittaker 11F4S DNH, vehicle crash SVN B-50 Darlac Prov.

An interesting batch here: it’s heavy on casualties from SOG and the Mike Force. There’s one gun accident, two vehicle accidents, one BNR from a chopper shootdown (as an H-34 it was probably an RVNAF 219th Squadron “King Bee”), a couple of DSCs, an SF officer killed later on with an infantry unit. The real randomness of a real war. Nobody (in SF) got whacked on the 23rd or 26th of February.

Note that we are not Vietnam Vets here, we didn’t know any of these men personally, and so we can’t answer some questions about these guys. But we’ll try to answer what we can in the comments.

For those of you who want to comment about a friend and the circumstances of his loss, please remember two things.

  1. Every one of these guys left somebody behind in The World, and many of them have kids and grandkids that will google them someday.
  2. The Internet is forever.

So, don’t write anything here you wouldn’t want somebody’s widow or kids to read.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Meteorites

kaboomWe’re disappointed to find out that our Sergeant was wrong. He used to say, “Only two things fall from the sky: bird$#!+ and idiots. And Hognose, you didn’t come out of a bird.” But at least one more thing does fall from the sky.

Indian scientists are trying to figure out what it is, but they’ve already excluded bird$#!+ and idiots.

They will probably come up with a salable explanation — current thinking is, “meteorite” — but it’s too late to do any good for one poor bastard of a bus driver: the thing seems to have killed him on impact.

Scientists are analyzing a small blue object that plummeted from the sky and killed a man in southern India, after authorities said it was a meteorite.

The object slammed into the ground at an engineering college over the weekend, shattering a water cooler and sending splinters and shards flying. Police say a bus driver standing nearby was hit by the debris and died while being taken to a hospital.

College officials said window panes of the building shattered with the impact of the loud explosion. Several buses parked nearby were also damaged and bits of glass from broken windows were scattered in the buses.

The hard, jagged object is dark blue and small enough to be held in a closed hand. The scientists used metal detectors to check the crater for the presence of metals and dug up the soil.

via News from The Associated Press.

Live every day like your number’s about to be up. Because, like that unlucky bus jockey, one of these days you’re going to be right.

Littoral Combat Ship Live-Fire Defense Test

First, the good: one of the embattled ships, USS Coronado, successfully defended itself against single and “swarm” attacks by inflatable boats using its only working onboard weapons, 57mm and 30mm guns. LCS is also supposed to mount defensive AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, of Apache helo and Predator drone fame, but as with almost all LCS capabilities, the Navy’s years behind schedule and millions over budget, with no schedule beyond “real soon now.”

Next, some early tests of the navalized Hellfire Longbow system, from last summer. Long way to go to integrate with LCS, but the missiles did hit and kill moving (but nonmaneuvering) speedboat targets.

Now comes the analysis. This post by Syd Freedberg should bring you up to speed on the Navy’s and Director of Test and Evaluation’s conflicting claims about a critical report on the nearly-defenseless ship’s ability to defend itself.

The largest “raid” that has been presented to LCS to date is three boats, of which one got through.

Of course, this is apart from the ship’s deficiencies in sensors and propulsion.

Of course, focusing on the US Navy as we do, we sometimes lose track of the fact that this stuff is hard to do and that our allies and competitors sometimes struggle with live fires, too. As this Russian ship demonstrated last Navy Day near the historic fortress of Sevastopol:

The ship is, despite her attractive lines, at the opposite end of her life cycle than the LCS. She is the Burvestnik (NATO: Krivak)-class frigate, Ladnyy.

More on the Federov Automatic

V.G. Federov as a Guards Colonel in the Imperial Russian Army.

V.G. Federov as a Guards Colonel in the Imperial Russian Army. Great mustache! (He kept it as a Red Army Lt. General, too).

Gun writer extraordinaire and friend of the blog Max Popenker has a good run-down on the famous granddaddy of all assault rifles, the Federov Avtomat of 1916, over at The Firearm Blog. We recently had a post on this firearm, and either in the comments there or via email Max gave us a heads-up his TFB piece was coming. Not long ago Ian at Forgotten Weapons had an excellent video and photo post with images (including disassembly) of several of these rare birds.

Vladimir Grigoryevich Federov (Fyodorov, depending on how you transliterate his name; “Federov” seems most common, so we’re going to give up on typing it the hard way) was an interesting character. He was originally a Tsarist officer, well-trained as an engineer and a weapons designer, and worked on automatic weapons design very early.

He kept working on it very late — it was widely issued to Red units in  the Russian Civil War — and developed it into a range of weapons, including air- and water-cooled LMGs. In some of these he partnered with Degtyaryev, who would succeed him in the leadership of the arsenal.

Considering all the trauma involved in the Russian Revolution and the Civil War, the Russians maintained a remarkable consistency in their firearms development and engineering, with many of the Tsarist leaders staying on and becoming Communist leaders. Most of the arsenals stayed in Red hands, and Izhevsk was only briefly held by the Whites, and was not very productive for them while they held it. The Whites wound up in lifelong or generational exile (those who accepted Stalin-era invitations to return only regretted that error briefly), and while that deprived Russia of such aeronautical engineering talent as Sikorsky and de Seversky, Russia’s gun designers, mostly, stayed put.

The Avtomat was a short-Recoil operated firearm; two pivoting lugs on the barrel locked the bolt. The firing mechanism had an internal hammer.

One of the two pivoting locking lugs or blocks in the AF-16. Image from Forgotten Weapons.

One of the two pivoting locking lugs or blocks in the AF-16. Image from Forgotten Weapons.

It fed 6.5mm ammunition — originally, its own proprietary cartridge, but later, 6.5mm Japanese ammunition which was available in quantity — from a 25-round double-row box magazine.

Federov "Avtomat," 1916.

Federov “Avtomat,” 1916.

Rather than simply quote large sections of Max’s article, which is really excellent, we’d just as soon send you there. Instead, we’re going to give you some supplementary background on things he covers in his outstanding piece. For instance, its designer wasn’t the one who gave it its famous name. Historian Yuri Alexandrovich Natzvaladze, then Senior Curator of the St. Petersburg Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Sapper and Signal Troops wrote this:

In Russian, this sort of weaponry is generally called avtomat, the word having been derived from the Greek automatos (self-propelled). Assault rifles have automatic reloading, cocking, firing, extraction and ejection of spent shells based on the usage of powder gases’ energy.

The new weapon had originally been designated in documents and military literature as “machine rifle” or “light machine rifle.” In 1919, N. M. Filatov, the prominent Russian expert in the field, called the model an avtomat. This was how the automatic carbine designed by V. G. Federov forever acquired its short, descriptive Russian name, thus beginning a whole new class of individual infantry weapons.1

By that time, of course, the exotic, novel rifle had already been used in combat, by the so-called Special Company of the 189th (Ismailsky) Infantry Regiment on the Romanian front in January 1917. It would later see much more combat with Red units in the Civil War. (Max goes into how then-Guards Colonel Federov sided with the Bolsheviks and helped convert a gun plant in Kovrov — which had been making Madsen LMGs — to make Avtomats. 

Max’s article has some very rarely seen photographs of some of the later Avtomat successors, some of which are also found in Natzvaladze’s and Daniel Naumovich Bolotin’s works.


  1. Natzvaladze, Yuri A. The Trophies of the Red Army During the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945: Volume 1, Antitank Weapons — Aircraft Machine Guns — Assault Rifles. Mesa, Arizona: Champlin Fighter Museum, 1996. pp. 166-167.

Poly-Ticks: Running on Guns

Poly, adj., from Classical Greek, many Ticks, small bloodsucking arthropods, plural.

Inexplicably popular New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan is giving up that job to run for the US Senate and her signature issue is — we are not making this up — gun control.

Hassan, a trust-fund 1%er, is the wife of the earl or duke or whatever he is of the Phillips Exeter prep school, which has been turning out ill-mannered, narcissistic, and spoiled man-sized boys for centuries. She has seen the future of New Hampshire, and it’s Massachusetts. Here’s a typical Hassan pitch:


Note that at the time this screenshot was taken, this pitch had attracted 62 comments. Of those 62 comments, 59 were negative. (The “action against gun violence” Hassan wants to take is the usual array of “common sense” frog-boiling, starting with backdoor registration masquerading as “background checks,” leading to outright bans, which she now only supports for such “common-sense ban” targets as semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, all magazines that hold over 10 rounds, and all pistols and revolvers.

She’ll ban the other guns later.

Is “gun violence” a serious problem in New Hampshire? The state generally has the lowest homicide rate in the United States.

Of course, the Fox Butterfield wannabes of the local Democratic Party papers, like Hassan partisan and Nashua Telegraph writer Patrick Meighan, can’t understand why the state’s crime rate is so low, what with all the folks we have in prison. (A real puzzler, that). Here’s his real headline:

N.H. has low crime rate, but high rate for incarcerating minorities

Things that puzzle journalists for $500, Alex.

Contrary to what that reporter seems to believe, the police here don’t run around looking for minorities and throw them in durance vile without so much as a by-your-leave. We know, because minorities visit here from time-to-time, and we have yet to have to bail one out. (If they see a cop, it’s usually in the next lane at the Fudd River Fish & Game range, and the cop usually is only interested if we’re shooting an NFA thing — then he or she wants to have a go). We’re all the same minority around here, individuals. 

What the cops do do, because we’ve been watching them do it, is investigate crimes and incarcerate (via prosecutors, judges, etc.) criminals. A disproportionate number of them may well be minorities, which is a puzzle for the criminologists and sociologists (who have reached opposite conclusions on this issue, by the way), but not really material to day-to-day police work which is about what people do, not what people are.

maggies_fanWell, Maggie Hassan-ben-Sober seems also to believe that large numbers of innocents, the proverbial Dindu Nuffins, are penned in the razor wire of NH prisons (about which monumental injustice she did what, as governor? Campaigned, mostly). But perhaps she can get some of those poor minorities released, who undoubtedly are only in the can for “‘Shire While Black,” and maybe get the crime rate more in line with the People’s Republic to the south.

Getting back to those 62 comments, Maggie didn’t take an entirely one-sided beating. After all there were three comments in favor of her extreme anti-gun position. All three comments, though, came from this one guy (name and faces deleted for his privacy. But there’s a reason we’re posting his profile page).

Maybe you missed it. Here’s where the one supporter the anti-gun candidate has on that issue lives. (not that he won’t be voting in NH; Hassan and her AG have done all they can to encourage every college layabout in Boston to vote up here).


So, to recap, she’s running in New Hampshire, her signature issue is a New York or MA style gun ban, and… her only vocal supporter on the issue is a carpetbagger, if he has the energy to put down the bong and Doritos and saddle up his carpetbag on Election Day.

Book Review: Unintended Consequences by John Ross (1996)

Unintended Consequences John RossA book that is freighted with the weight of many misunderstandings is Unintended Consequences, the first, and to date only, novel by St. Louis financial advisor John Ross.

Some in law enforcement consider it an anti-cop violent fantasy, but that’s not what it is.

Some in the gun culture consider it a great work of art, but that’s not what it is, either.

It was an inspiration for at least one other author: former SEAL Matt Bracken, whose novels have sold well.

It is a rarity: a didactic novel, an entertainment intended to instruct or teach, that is, at the same time, entertaining. Most such didactic tracts fall far short of entertainment. Unintended Consequences doesn’t. It leads you on a character’s journey beginning with his ancestors and leading to a dystopian “present” that is a mere logical continuation of the Clinton Administration and the ATF of the 1990s.

Who’s Who

Henry Bowman is a late Baby Boomer kid who, for whatever reason, gets fascinated by guns in boyhood. His father owns guns, but isn’t into it in the same way. Still he encourages Henry as Henry combines inspiration from the Guinness Book of Records with his own unique, stubborn personality and we watch as he grows up, a kid familiar to many of us, and yet, his own man. Along the way every experience shapes him: the people he meets, the things he does, a humorless gun salesman, an inspiring economics professor, a bunch of townie kids who hate college punks

Family and home also shape Bowman. Granddad was a World War I veteran who passed away during the Bonus March. Dad was a Navy instructor pilot during the war. It was Uncle Max who was the big hero, a paratrooper on D-Day. Max is a commercial illustrator who lives larger-than-life: fast cars; fast women; fast money from trap tournaments.

His in-laws include Irwin Mann, a German who managed to wind up in the Warsaw Ghetto by marrying into a Jewish family, oblivious to the rise of national socialism.

All of these people shape Henry, and shape the story.

There are antagonists, as well, and we see them from their first fundaments: a boy who trades his moral center for anything he can get is highly likely to become a politician. We see Federal agents of two kinds: the crime fighters and the power trippers.

The Events in the Story

There are many, many events that are simply stage setting, but most of them do have a payoff. The only gun John Ross may never have heard of is “Chekhov’s gun,” but he employs the concept well. After identifying with Henry, his Dad, Max, Irwin, and many others, we find that elsewhere in the world, someone has decided to Make Examples.

At the time, rogue ATF agents were a controversial idea, even in the aftermath of Ruby Ridge and Waco (which took place while the book was being written). In the aftermath of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of human lives lost to the rogue ATF agents Billy Hoover, Mark Chait, Bill Newell, David Voth, Hope McAllister of the various Gunwalker programs of the early 2000s, it doesn’t seem as far-fetched. In the book, the ATF plans to frame and murder three high-profile Class III dealers in order to get their wish-list from Congress. The plans go wrong, and from then on, everyone has to pick a side.

As we wrote, this is considerably less far-fetched than it was in 1995-96, knowing that the above-named ATF agents would have totally been down with some murdering and framing — after all, they accepted the death of hundreds, until some of the dead were fellow Feds. That the forces of good are able to mount a significant defense against the rogue state, though — that bit requires some suspension of disbelief.

The Gun Culture

The “gun culture” is a very important concept when looking at this book. Unintended Consequences has been tagged, by Ross among others, as “a novel of the gun culture,” to the point where we thought it actually was the book’s subtitle; we had to pull out our copy to correct that mistake.

The gun culture, what is that? Who is that? It’s you, and us, and John Ross. It’s the rich collectors who buy the six-figure lots at Rock Island’s and Julia’s auction houses. It’s Justice Scalia and his quail-hunting pals. It’s every father in the world who braces a son (or daughter) that’s finally ready, and says… “steady, now, let your breath half way out… and squeeze” and virally transmits the gun culture to a new generation.

It’s the gun shops, the gun books, the gun magazines. It’s the Fudds sneering at drum magazines and the Tactical Tommies sneering at Fudds. It’s blogs, and YouTubers, and gunsmiths tramming a mill so that they can confidently make just the right cut to turn steel into art.

It’s a subset of everybody in Law Enforcement. A subset of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and a few of the weak swimmers in the Coast Guard (just kidding, Coasties. We love you guys, too).

Unintended Consequences


You will learn something about the gun culture and its history from Unintended Consequences. You will probably enjoy it (although, probably not as much as the original readers in the 1990s, who could see events in the book happening all around them). Some ATF agents did not enjoy the book; after its 1996 publication, there were a number of incidents of ATF agents threatening vendors displaying the book, and ATF agents tried to get John’s ex-wife to help entrap him.

So where do you get this book? That, unfortunately, has been a bit of a problem ever since the last of many printings of the First (hardcover) Edition sold out. For some time, it was passed hand to hand and even mailed around in the fine tradition of Soviet-era Samizdat.

Availability now is less bad than it has been.

It’s only carried on in out-of-print mode:

But the publisher still has some stock of the paperback edition, $30 + $10 shipping:

People report mixed results in trying to get it by inter-library loan.

There are bootleg .pdfs out there, but we believe that an author like Ross ought to get paid for his efforts, and so we will not link to them.

John’s occasionally updated website went radio silent last year, but he reportedly maintains a facebook presence.

Pedophilia is an Army Value

Army LogoThe generally left-of-center and anti-military Foreign Policy has an interesting article on a tale of two investigations: a CYA shamvestigation by Pentagon in-house “investigator,” politically appointed IG Kenneth P. Moorefield, and an actual investigation by John Sopko’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, the scourge of low-ranking small-buck corruption. The threat of the SIGAR investigation has forced Moorefield to widen the scope of his pre-emptive whitewash.

What are they investigation (or pretending to investigate, in Moorefield’s case)? Whether and why the Army is doing to Army Special Forces soldiers what some Afghan security forces leaders typically do to young boys — because the SFers tried to stop the child abuse.

In the fabulously-decorated pink-tinged E Ring of the Pentagon, up is down. NAMBLA is seen as one more “sexual minority” that deserves “equal rights;” the only war worth fighting is the Social Justice War; and criticism of the Great Buggernaut that’s rolling through military personnel offices is a sign of someone that’s not with the program, and that needs to feel the wrath of RuPaul or something.

The U.S. Defense Department has significantly expanded its investigation into what U.S. military commanders knew about the alleged sexual abuse of young boys by members of the Afghan security forces. The new inquiry was in part spurred by increased pressure from Capitol Hill and an aggressive government watchdog group, which had launched its own investigation.

The issue first exploded last fall, when reports emerged that U.S. service members were being punished for confronting Afghan officers they accused of kidnapping and raping young boys on bases shared with U.S. troops, who were allegedly discouraged from reporting the abuse to their commanders.

Those reports of soldiers punished for interfering with Afghan buggery are absolutely true, and these political punishments have taken place, to our great shame, in the Special Forces Regiment. One officer, team leader CPT Dan Quinn,  has already been thrown out unceremoniously; an experienced NCO, SFC Charles Martland, is also being discarded. These personnel actions have been and are taking place because of a top-down determination that opposition to what the Fabulous Secretary of the Army delicately calls “man-boy love” conflicts with capitalized “Army Values.”

Yes, Virginia, child buggery is now an “Army Value,” and we’ll explain the mechanism that is being used to dispose of SFC Charles Martland regardless of what any investigation determines below a couple of quotes from the article. Do Read The Whole Thing™, but remember its written by someone — FP’s Paul McLeary — who’s a “made guy” as an inside-Beltway reporter, but who has no first-hand experience of Army culture or processes. (A reportorial embed? A solid effort, but it doesn’t really count).

Some in Congress were unhappy with the limited scope of the Pentagon’s initial efforts to investigate. By launching a preliminary research project in October, the Defense Department inspector general set out primarily to determine if there was any guidance given to U.S. troops to ignore the abuse. Since the results of the research project would not necessarily be made public, lawmakers were worried that the Pentagon’s findings could quickly be brushed under the rug.

Hmmm. Embarrassing facts, indefensible policy that is politically untouchable, in-house investigation, led by a political appointee. What do you think? We think this: any “findings” such a willfully blind investigator stumbled, Clouseau-like, upon, would never come out from under the rug in the first place.

Led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a bipartisan group of 93 members of Congress asked the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, to launch its own wide-ranging probe, which was announced in its quarterly report in January. The watchdog has already started work on the project, and has staffers on the ground in Afghanistan.

Spurred by the new investigation, Kenneth P. Moorefield, the Pentagon’s deputy inspector general for special plans and operations, released a letter on Feb. 19 saying his team is now “conducting a full assessment” of the allegations. A spokesperson for the inspector general’s office told Foreign Policy that parts of the assessment will likely be released publicly, possibly as early as this spring, and investigators will coordinate efforts with SIGAR.

Let’s translate from Beltway into English, shall we? The political investigator’s “Investigators will coordinate efforts with SIGAR,” translates to, “Investigators will stay close to SIGAR so that they can undermine SIGAR’s investigation.”

The new inquiry raises questions over whether the Pentagon can effectively police itself. From the unsettled investigation into the deadly Oct. 3, 2015, strike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed as many as 42 civilians, to the yearslong history of unpunished sexual assaults, military leaders have an uneven track record in holding themselves accountable.

“The new inquiry raises questions over whether the Pentagon can effectively police itself. ” This guy’s been a Pentagon reporter since Christ was a corporal, and he wrote that line with a straight face?

Ah well, Straight Face is not an Army Value. Straight anything is not an Army Value any more.

Lawmakers felt that SIGAR “provides an extra degree of independence” outside of the Pentagon and will take a wider view of the issue than merely looking at the Department of Defense, said a congressional aide.

The aide — familiar with the discussions over the two investigations — said lawmakers were convinced that calling in SIGAR was the right move after viewing the original document outlining the Pentagon’s research project, which was “focused entirely on the DoD. It was very limited in scope, and the conclusions would not necessarily be made public. We felt a more expansive inquiry by SIGAR was warranted, whose conclusions would be made public.”

Those are just excerpts. We highly recommend you  AfterRead The Whole Thing™ (you knew we were going to say that, right?), but read it with our cynical take in mind. Paul McLeary may be kind of socialized to the Beltway culture and too “inside” for his own good, but he’s done a decent job of reporting here.

Cynicism speaking, translating the two paragraphs of the excerpt above: It was a whitewash from the word go, and now facing a more-independent investigation, the Pentagon’s CYA honcho, Moorefield, responds with an expanded whitewash.

What Will Happen with Martland

SF1CRESTUnfortunately for Martland, the fix is already in. His chain of command was directed, back when he first was accused of breaking up the man-boy love nest (by, appropriately enough, beating the snot out of the “man” in question). The Pentagon, where precious, polite, thin and neat generals obsess about whether lilac or mauve interior paint goes better with their new aide’s eyes,  is far, far removed from the coal face of military operations. Someone in the Pentagon sent a rocket down the chain of command directing the Rater and Senior Rater that do Martland’s NCO Evaluation Report to make a single alteration of the report. The Rater, the Team Sergant, obeyed that direct order, and the Senior Rater, the encourager’d replacement for the defenestrated Quinn, obeyed it as well, and a small change was made in the report.

It was changed from “yes” to “no” in the block: Supports Army Values.

Because, under NAMBLA-friendly Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, buggery is an Army Value.

What does this mean for Martland? Career-wise, “Game Over, man.” And it’s not because he beat up an Afghan buggerer to try to save the buggeree. No, it’s because he doesn’t support Army Values, which is an automatic selection for a Qualitative Management Program board-out (like, say, getting an SS tattoo on your face, burning a cross at the CO’s wife’s workplace, or being sixty pounds overweight). It’s the perfect passive-aggressive way for the Pentagon SJWs to get the Army to spit out a combat soldier, and they can make pious facial expressions and say it’s got nothing to do with him beating on an Afghan scumbag for whom beating-on is at the very low end of what he deserves, and everything to do with that bad NCOER. Why he got the bad NCOER? That doesn’t matter, from here on the machine just operates automatically. Rossum’s Universal Robots, at your service.

Just a personnel matter. We can’t comment on it. Nothing to see here, move along.

And the fix is in, and Martland is as good as out, despite the concern expressed for him by Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who’s been fighting the good fight in this matter.

Speaking of personnel matters, we’ve noticed that leadership performance is inversely proportional to time spent inside the Beltway, for instance, at the Pentagon, CIA HQ, Congressional staff jobs, Congress itself, Main Justice, you name it. Why ever is that?

Visualizing World Arms Exports: 1926-1936

So, whilst working on the Czech firearms book project, we came across a table of world arms exports by percentage in an old Czech book and thought of some ways to visualize the data. First, here’s the table. We reordered the nations in order of their 1926 rank order in share of world arms sales:

Percent of Global Arms Trade (Exports) 1926-1936
Nation 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936
Britain 27.9 31.9 33.7 33.6 30.5 38.2 29.1 27 20.6 22.3 19.5
USA 20.1 19.6 18.1 16.6 11.6 11.2 8.7 8.6 9.0 7.9 8.6
Czechoslovakia 15.0 7.9 3.6 4.9 9.4 11.2 4.1 8.5 21.1 24.5 15.4
France 11.6 9.6 14.1 14.5 12.8 7.8 27.7 22.8 19.4 15.3 21.2
Sweden 4.1 6.1 4.6 4.6 7.7 10.6 10.7 9.1 9.0 7.7 5.8
Italy 2.8 1.1 5.5 5.7 6.7 6.4 1.7 3.9 3.9 1.6 1.4
Belgium 2.3 4.0 2.8 4.7 4.4 4.3 4.4 3.7 5.0 5.8 4.8
Denmark 1.3 3.3 3.9 2.4 1.9 1.5 0.2 1.7 1.0 0.7 2.0
Germany 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 5.7 10.6
All others 14.9 16.5 13.7 13.0 15.0 8.8 13.4 14.7 11.0 8.5 10.7
© 2016

Remember, these aren’t absolute numbers, so they say nothing about the growth (or shrinkage) of the market in the interwar period, or the effects of the depression, etc. They are simply who gets what share of the market, without addressing the dynamic size of the market. So let’s express this data as a stacked area chart, with the nations ordered, again, in their 1926 market-share order, and the “all others” catch-all added at the top to bring us up to 100%.

world_arms_sales_1926-1936-2It might seem drily numeric, but there are some interesting facts here. One of the world’s largest gun exporters after World War II isn’t even on the chart; if the Soviet Union was exporting weapons, they weren’t showing up in this data. (Indeed, that might be why they chose to use a cut-off of 1936, just before the Soviets flushed the Spanish Republican (Loyalist) forces with weapons to offset the weaponry cornucopia that Hitler and Mussolini extended to Franco’s Nationalist (Fascist) armies. Another is that Germany is not on the chart until Hitler shook of the restraints of the Treaty of Versailles, then it’s suddenly seizing a share of the market (at, mostly, England’s expense).

Well, since we’re talking market share, why not use a pie chart. That kind of chart, for all its failings, is explicitly designed to show shares of things, after all. Better still, let;s use a time series of pie charts to show who’s who in selling modern arms in the 1926-36 era. To begin with, here’s 1926.


Fast forward five years, and we have some new numbers.


And finally, the 1936 numbers look like this:


Washington, The General

Washington as a GeneralGeorge Washington wears many hats in American history and mythology, but on this anniversary of his birth, let’s consider the bicorn and tricorn hats he wore as a general officer. Rather, let us consider the man whose head held up those hats. Washington set an American leadership model that is still worthy of respect and emulation today, centuries after he — and the remarkable generation that surrounded him — passed into that history and mythology.

Washington was a servant leader. He shared the risks and burdens of his men; indeed, the colonial practice, inherited in part from British noblesse oblige, was for Colonial officers to take still greater burdens. To this day, no American leader eats but what his men eat, and only once they have been fed: a small signifier of this servant leadership. (To be sure, this practice is extremely widespread in the world’s armies today).

Washington was bold and decisive. When he could not win, he refused battle, to seek a more advantaged fight; when the enemy was ready for him, his men vanished and reappeared where the enemy wasn’t (the classic example being the battles of Princeton and Trenton).

Washington used intelligence. It’s a general consensus that he thoroughly bested his British opponents in the intelligence war, by deliberately using intelligence, including tasking spies for particular collection requirements, rather than waiting for the random bounty of walk-ins. He also had a more effective counter-intelligence effort than his enemy.

Washington had an eye for talent. It was rather obvious where the British Army got its officers: from the second and subsequent sons of the nobility and landed gentry, men who would be disinherited by the English practice of primogeniture, and accordingly went to the Navy, Army or Church. There was no such parallel in the New World, and no more was there a professional military class. Still, Washington found men of honor and talent. (Sometimes, too much honor, as  his colonels and generals tended to fight amongst themselves over matters of preferment). Britain would never have commissioned Boston bookseller Henry Knox; putting the stuff he’d learned in all those books into practice, Knox ultimately leveraged the British Army and the Royal Navy out of Boston entirely.

Washington understood unity of command. And he practiced it. His British opponents may have been his masters in ability, certainly some of them were his masters in military education. But they were ever divided by absence of unity, by the lack of an accepted single commander with a single commander’s vision, and by petty jealousies and rivalries. Washington was the proverbial “single belly button to push” on the Colonial side; the British had at different times and in different positions Amherst, Carleton, Clinton, Cornwallis, Gage, and Howe; any one of them might have been a good Supeme Commander if he was given the role by King George. But none ever was (the Commander in Chief position to which Amherst was appointed, late in the war, badly lacked command authority). Instead they were more like a committee — a committee scattered continentally in a world characterized by extremely low-bandwidth, extremely high-latency, blind communications.

Washington personified and promoted integrity. The argument has been made that the British lost as much for logistical reasons as operational ones; and, further, that endemic, accepted corruption in the British quartermaster system was a factor in British logistical deficiencies. Washington had no truck with this sort of thing, and, unlike his British opposite numbers, he had command authority over his quartermaster and force-generation officials.

Washington was burdened by unsupportive politicians. Not all Continental politicians were very interested in supporting the Continental Army with more than words. The New England states, especially Massachusetts, lost interest in supporting the war once the center of operational gravity had moved south. (Or, perhaps, once the Redcoats occupying Boston had done the same in 1776).

Washington remained vigilant. George Washington put up his swords at the end of the war, and on his passing, they went to his nephews with stern instructions not to unsheathe them: 

…for the purposes of shedding blood, except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof.

Gee, he sounds like a self-defense absolutist.

In the End, Washington Stands Out

We’ve been on a War of Independence reading jag for several years now, and one thing that stands out is the remarkable character of those men in general. But even in that galaxy of brilliance, Washington stands out further, the pole star in all Colonial constellations.

Nowadays, universities don’t teach this much, any more, since they’re obsessed with grubby cod-marxian questions of race and sex and class, and committed to an ideology in which no one individual matters, only the amorphous “masses.” That is silly; no one matters but the individual, and no individual matters more than George Washington. Without Washington, there is no United States. Take away any of the others and you can argue that there’s a different United States, but take away Washington and the rebellions of the 1770s become inconsequential, because the United States never forms.

That’s why we used to celebrate the anniversary of his birth, until he was consolidated with Lincoln to make room for a holiday for a more recently popular cultural figure.

Without Washington: no United States. The world, and even Patrick Ferguson’s beloved Kingdom, is better off today because Ferguson forbore to take the apocryphal shot.