Special Forces Gear Logo
Monthly Newsletter
October 2013  
In This Issue
Dave's Message
Voice of the Soldier
Videos
Word of Truth
Combat Survival
Leading Concepts
Warrior's Wisdom
Featured T-Shirts
Aesop's Fables
Embroidered Items
Special Product Coupon
Quotes & Jokes
Off Duty Apparel
Featured Watches
What Has Really Changed?
Special Product Coupon
What Has Really Changed?
Articles

Newsletter Archive
September 2013 August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013

January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012

Customer Comments
I am a Cpl. in the Army and just returned from Iraq. I carried my shotgun all year on my back in your shotgun scabbard, and it worked great! I was glad to have it around several times, and it proved to be an easy way to keep the shotgun handy for the squad. Thanks for your great product, and for your support of our troops!!

Cpl. C.R. [omitted]
36th Infantry Div.



Got the T-shirt....IT ROCKS!!!!

Thanks guys
kelly [omitted]



Dear Sir, The Falcon Chest Harness finally arrived to me at Camp Taji, Iraq. Thank You! It is now set up for fitting over my IOTV and Battle Ready!!!

Thanks!!!
[name omitted]

(already the guys are asking who to order one from, so you might be getting a few more requests!!!).



Dear SF company.

Thank-you for sending another t-shirt it looks great the boys in the unit will want one when they see it. I'll be sending them right to you.

Thanks again.

Another happy customer
Bob Miller



When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton I was in Weapons Company 3/5. The unit made us t-shirts with the 3/5 logo/emblem/crest, "Consumate Professionals". I was honorable discharged in 1999 and the t-shirt has been long-gone. I searched a couple of web site to find a shirt with the logo/emblem/crest but there was no luck. It didn't take me long to search this site before I found what I was looking for. When the shirt arrived it was better than what I expected. I love the t-shirt and wear it with pride and often. Thank you SpecialForces.com

Most Sincerely,
Bryan P.



Thank you!!!

Your Shirts are the best.

Andreas



Dear SFG,

Thank you for being so prompt with my order, and the refund as well.

I thought a little constructive thoughts were in order.

The "HRT" boot knife is well constructed. I had to "hone" the edge though, both sides,to get it up to spec.

As for the "GI USMC Combat Knife"......Well, it wasn't really a K-Bar, at least not one that I've ever seen. It read "US", and above that it read "Ontario". No worries though, after I used a ceramic sharpening stone on both the small back edge and the full length edge, I'm quite pleased with them both. Oh, I almost forgot, both were very pretty well balanced.

I'll be purchasing again from you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Ed Whiteside



Dear Special Forces

I received my order i have to say that is better than i expected! Thank you and you'll hear fom me soon.

PARASCHOS



They turned out GREAT!!!!!! Thanks. I will be back for other things.

Rick



Thanks Folks. As always you have been most polite and professional. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Jack And Melanie Edgar



Steve,

OMG! That looks awesome! Is there any logo on the front? Can I buy these off the website? I'm sure a lot of SWCC guys are going to want these!

Thank you,

Amanda Van Every



Dave,

We love the art work. They are awesome. I'll be ordering mine right after this. Thanks for all the work. I am recommending you guys to all the other battalions and ODA's.

David



Hello,

Just to let you know all items have been recieved, fantastic quality as all ways.

Cheers Andrew and best wishes for the New Year.

Greetings!

Welcome to the new Special Forces Gear News Letter! Each month we send out a lot of information and great deals, and to make it easier to read, we've written a summary of the longer articles in this email.
Dave's Message

 GENERAL GRANT AND THE VICKSBURG CAMPAIGN

 
     What flag is this you carry
      Along the sea and shore?
     The same our grandsires lifted up-
      The same our fathers bore.
     In many a battle's tempest
      It shed the crimson rain-
     What God has woven in his loom
      Let no man rend in twain.
     To Canaan, to Canaan,
      The Lord has led us forth,
     To plant upon the rebel towers
      The banners of the North.
                            -Holmes.


On January 29, 1863, General Grant took command of the army intended to operate against Vicksburg, the last place held by the rebels on the Mississippi, and the only point at which they could cross the river and keep up communication with their armies and territory in the southwest. It was the first high ground below Memphis, was very strongly fortified, and was held by a large army under General Pemberton. The complete possession of the Mississippi was absolutely essential to the National Government, because the control of that great river would cut the Confederacy in two, and do more, probably, than anything else, to make the overthrow of the Rebellion both speedy and certain.

The natural way to invest and capture so strong a place, defended and fortified as Vicksburg was, would have been, if the axioms of the art of war had been adhered to, by a system of gradual approaches. A strong base should have been established at Memphis, and then the army and the fleet moved gradually forward, building storehouses and taking strong positions as they went. To do this, however, it first would have been necessary to withdraw the army from the positions it then held not far above Vicksburg, on the western bank of the river. But such a movement, at that time, would not have been understood by the country, and would have had a discouraging effect on the public mind, which it was most essential to avoid. The elections of 1862 had gone against the government, and there was great discouragement throughout the North. Voluntary enlistments had fallen off, a draft had been ordered, and the peace party was apparently gaining rapidly in strength. General Grant, looking at this grave political situation with the eye of a statesman, decided, as a soldier, that under no circumstances would he withdraw the army, but that, whatever happened, he would "press forward to a decisive victory." In this determination he never faltered, but drove straight at his object until, five months later, the great Mississippi stronghold fell before him.
 
Efforts were made through the winter to reach Vicksburg from the north by cutting canals, and by attempts to get in through the bayous and tributary streams of the great river. All these expedients failed, however, one after another, as Grant, from the beginning, had feared that they would. He, therefore, took another and widely different line, and determined to cross the river from the western to the eastern bank below Vicksburg, to the south. With the aid of the fleet, which ran the batteries successfully, he moved his army down the west bank until he reached a point beyond the possibility of attack, while a diversion by Sherman at Haines' Bluff, above Vicksburg, kept Pemberton in his fortifications. On April 26, Grant began to move his men over the river and landed them at Bruinsburg. "When this was effected," he writes, "I felt a degree of relief scarcely ever equaled since. Vicksburg was not yet taken, it is true, nor were its defenders demoralized by any of our previous movements. I was now in the enemy's country, with a vast river and the stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies, but I was on dry ground, on the same side of the river with the enemy."

The situation was this: The enemy had about sixty thousand men at Vicksburg, Haines' Bluff, and at Jackson, Mississippi, about fifty miles east of Vicksburg. Grant, when he started, had about thirty-three thousand men. It was absolutely necessary for success that Grant, with inferior numbers, should succeed in destroying the smaller forces to the eastward, and thus prevent their union with Pemberton and the main army at Vicksburg. His plan, in brief; was to fight and defeat a superior enemy separately and in detail. He lost no time in putting his plan into action, and pressing forward quickly, met a detachment of the enemy at Port Gibson and defeated them. Thence he marched to Grand Gulf, on the Mississippi, which he took, and which he had planned to make a base of supply. When he reached Grand Gulf, however, he found that he would be obliged to wait a month, in order to obtain the reinforcements which he expected from General Banks at Port Hudson. He, therefore, gave up the idea of making Grand Gulf a base, and Sherman having now joined him with his corps, Grant struck at once into the interior. He took nothing with him except ammunition, and his army was in the lightest marching order. This enabled him to move with great rapidity, but deprived him of his wagon trains, and of all munitions of war except cartridges. Everything, however, in this campaign, depended on quickness, and Grant's decision, as well as all his movements, marked the genius of the great soldier, which consists very largely in knowing just when to abandon the accepted military axioms.

Pressing forward, Grant met the enemy, numbering between seven and eight thousand, at Raymond, and readily defeated them. He then marched on toward Jackson, fighting another action at Clinton, and at Jackson he struck General Joseph Johnston, who had arrived at that point to take command of all the rebel forces. Johnston had with him, at the moment, about eleven thousand men, and stood his ground. There was a sharp fight, but Grant easily defeated the enemy, and took possession of the town. This was an important point, for Jackson was the capital of the State of Mississippi, and was a base of military supplies. Grant destroyed the factories and the munitions of war which were gathered there, and also came into possession of the line of railroad which ran from Jackson to Vicksburg. While he was thus engaged, an intercepted message revealed to him the fact that Pemberton, in accordance with Johnston's orders, had come out of Vicksburg with twenty-five thousand men, and was moving eastward against him. Pemberton, however, instead of holding a straight line against Grant, turned at first to the south, with the view of breaking the latter's line of communication. This was not a success, for, as Grant says, with grim humor, "I had no line of communication to break"; and, moreover, it delayed Pemberton when delay was of value to Grant in finishing Johnston. After this useless turn to the southward Pemberton resumed his march to the east, as he should have done in the beginning, in accordance with Johnston's orders; but Grant was now more than ready. He did not wait the coming of Pemberton. Leaving Jackson as soon as he heard of the enemy's advance from Vicksburg, he marched rapidly westward and struck Pemberton at Champion Hills. The forces were at this time very nearly matched, and the severest battle of the campaign ensued, lasting four hours. Grant, however, defeated Pemberton completely, and came very near capturing his entire force. With a broken army, Pemberton fell back on Vicksburg. Grant pursued without a moment's delay, and came up with the rear guard at Big Black River. A sharp engagement followed, and the Confederates were again defeated. Grant then crossed the Big Black and the next day was before Vicksburg, with his enemy inside the works.

When Grant crossed the Mississippi at Bruinsburg and struck into the interior, he, of course, passed out of communication with Washington, and he did not hear from there again until May 11, when, just as his troops were engaging in the battle of Black River Bridge, an officer appeared from Port Hudson with an order from General Halleck to return to Grand Gulf and thence cooperate with Banks against Port Hudson. Grant replied that the order came too late. "The bearer of the despatch insisted that I ought to obey the order, and was giving arguments to support the position, when I heard a great cheering to the right of our line, and looking in that direction, saw Lawler, in his shirt-sleeves, leading a charge on the enemy. I immediately mounted my horse and rode in the direction of the charge, and saw no more of the officer who had delivered the message; I think not even to this day." When Grant reached Vicksburg, there was no further talk of recalling him to Grand Gulf or Port Hudson. The authorities at Washington then saw plainly enough what had been done in the interior of Mississippi, far from the reach of telegraphs or mail.

As soon as the National troops reached Vicksburg an assault was attempted, but the place was too strong, and the attack was repulsed, with heavy loss. Grant then settled down to a siege, and Lincoln and Halleck now sent him ample reinforcements. He no longer needed to ask for them. His campaign had explained itself, and in a short time he had seventy thousand men under his command. His lines were soon made so strong that it was impossible for the defenders of Vicksburg to break through them, and although Johnston had gathered troops again to the eastward, an assault from that quarter on the National army, now so largely reinforced, was practically out of the question. Tighter and tighter Grant drew his lines about the city, where, every day, the suffering became more intense. It is not necessary to give the details of the siege. On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg surrendered, the Mississippi was in control of the National forces from its source to its mouth, and the Confederacy was rent in twain. On the same day Lee was beaten at Gettysburg, and these two great victories really crushed the Rebellion, although much hard fighting remained to be done before the end was reached.

Grant's campaign against Vicksburg deserves to be compared with that of Napoleon which resulted in the fall of Ulm. It was the most brilliant single campaign of the war. With an inferior force, and abandoning his lines of communication, moving with a marvelous rapidity through a difficult country, Grant struck the superior forces of the enemy on the line from Jackson to Vicksburg. He crushed Johnston before Pemberton could get to him, and he flung Pemberton back into Vicksburg before Johnston could rally from the defeat which had been inflicted. With an inferior force, Grant was superior at every point of contest, and he won every fight. Measured by the skill displayed and the result achieved, there is no campaign in our history which better deserves study and admiration.

By Henry Cabot Lodge, and Theodore Roosevelt


HOOAH,
Dave  

 

Click here to send Dave a private message. 

 

Voice of the Soldier
This section is designed to give you a voice where you can express opinions or give messages. We encourage you to speak out! Send us your commentary, stories, articles, etc...



Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Special Forces Gear is now hosting
a special section for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) provides college scholarship grants, along with financial aid and educational counseling, to the children of Special Operations personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

All profits from these items go to the
Special Operations Warrior Foundation

 

Learn More about the 

Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) >>   



Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club

  311 iran ship 

The Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club is a not-for-profit (501c3) fraternal organization. It was formed to provide a fraternal organization for qualified military veterans who have served, or are currently serving, in the Armed Forces of the United States or US Allied Nations.  They support Veterans and Active Duty Members in many different ways.  A few of the many causes projects they support are: mailing over 900lbs of care packages to Active Duty Service Members Monthly to Visiting Veterans Homes to put a smile on a Veterans Face.  Please visit them at  www.warriorbrotherhood.com

 

All profits from these items are donated to

Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club 

 

Learn More about the Warrior Brotherhood Veterans
Motorcycle Club >>



Caring for America's Quiet 311 iran shipProfessionals 

 

The Green Beret Foundation provides unconventional resources to facilitate the special needs of our wounded, ill and injured and imparts unique support to the Special Forces community in order to strengthen readiness and uphold Green Beret traditions and values.

 

Learn more about Green Beret Foundation>> 


PRESS RELEASE: Three SOF soldiers die in Afghanistan

USASFC Public Affairs

 

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 24, 2013) - Three U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers died Sept. 21, 2013, from wounds received during a small-arms attack  in Gardez, Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

 

The Soldiers were: Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colo., assigned to 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Watkins, Colo.; Staff Sgt. Timothy R. McGill, 30, of Ramsey, N.J., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 19th SFG (A), Middletown, R.I.; and Spc. Joshua J. Strickland, 23, of Woodstock, Ga., assigned to Group Support Battalion, 1st SFG (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

 

Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins

 

Nevins was born on Sept. 11, 1981, in Middlebury, Vt.  Nevins enlisted in the U.S. Army under the delayed entry program prior to his graduation from Bristol Borough High School.  

 

Upon entering active duty, he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C.  Shortly after being promoted to the rank of sergeant, he deployed with the 504th in 2003 as a rifle team leader in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.  He completed two more deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005.

 

Nevins attended Metropolitan State College of Denver from Aug. 2006 to May 2009, after leaving active duty service.

 

In May of 2009, he enlisted into the Colorado Army National Guard. Nevins attended the Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, N.C. from Jan. 2010 to Aug. 2011.  He was assigned to Co. B, 5th Bn., 19th SFG (A) in Fort Carson, Colo.

 

His military education includes the United States Army Infantry School, Airborne School, Primary Leadership Development Course, Advanced Leaders Course, Static Line Jumpmaster Course, Reconnaissance Surveillance Leaders Course, Ranger School, Special Operations Language Training Arabic Course, the Special Forces Qualification Course as a communications sergeant, and the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course.

 

His Awards include a Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd Award), Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters (3rd Award), Army Achievement Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd Award), Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Bronze Numeral Two, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Colorado Meritorious Service Medal, and the Colorado Active Service Medal.

 

Nevins is survived by his mother, his father, two sisters, and his fiancé.

 

Staff Sgt. Timothy R. McGill

 

McGill joined the Marines in Hawaii in 2001 as a machine gunner and was assigned to the 3 rd Marine Division. He deployed with the 3rd Marine Div. in 2005. He joined the Rhode Island National Guard in 2008, and was assigned to 1st Bn., 200th Infantry Battalion as an anti-armor specialist. In 2011, McGill graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course as a weapons sergeant and was assigned to Co. A, 2nd Bn., 19th SFG (A).

 

His military education includes U.S. Army Airborne School, Combat Lifesaver Course, Combatives Level I Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, French Special Operations Language Training, Level I, the Special Forces Qualification Course and Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course.

 

McGill's awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Parachutist Badge, Naval Unit Citation, the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4th award), the Non-commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon (numeral 2) and the Special Forces Tab.

He is survived by his parents and two sisters.

 

Spc. Joshua J. Strickland

   

Strickland enlisted in the Army in June, 2008, as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.

 

Upon completion of basic training and advanced individual training, Strickland was assigned to Group Service Support Company, Group Support Battalion, 1st SFG (A).

 

Strickland's military education includes the Basic Airborne Course.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the Parachutist Badge.

 

He is survived by his wife, his son and two daughters.

 

For further information, media should contact the Special Forces Command Public Affairs Office during duty hours at 910-908-3947 or after duty hours at 910-689-6187.

 

A photo is not available for McGill at this time.




New! Direct to Garment Printing.
DTG Printing on Performance Apparel

We are excited to announce our newest advance in Direct to Garment printing on Performance Apparel. We are now able to print direct to moisture-wicking Polyester Garments. You can now personalize and print your favorite design to Athletic Apparel, running shorts, under armor and dry release apparel.


The quality of this printing is unmatched able to hold fine details and shading screen printing can't.



 

Direct to Garment Printing - SpecialForces.com
Direct to Garment Printing - SpecialForces.com

VIDEOS
Vietnam POW 40th Reunion News Coverage
Vietnam POW 40th Reunion News Coverage

GOD'S OWN LUNATICS by Joe Galloway
GOD'S OWN LUNATICS by Joe Galloway
The History of Gun Control
The History of Gun Control

    
Word of Truth

Peaceful Coexistence    

The Word Of Truth - Alive and PowerfulBy Rev G.J. Rako
LTC (Ret)
IN USAR

Can Christianity coexist with Islam?  Biblical Christianity has always, and will always coexist with any religion, non-religion or anti-religion.  Unfortunately the converse is not true.  Islam will not peacefully coexist with any of the aforementioned categories.  All peoples (infidels) of the earth must convert to the slavery of Islam. This conversion to their only true god is, has, and will be brought about by the sword.  This is the attitude of the Islamo-fascist.  We see the results of their thinking everyday on the news; homicide bombers, snipers, flying airplanes into tall buildings...  Islam is the religion of peace.  There will be peace on earth when all of its inhabitants have bowed a knee to Islam.  Only then will there be peace and this peace may be brought about by tyranny, brutality, murder, and intimidation.  Convert to Islam or die!  

 

Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, holds the freedom of the individual to do and believe as he wishes to be a mandate from God, as long as that expression of freedom does not interfere with the freedom, privacy, or property of others.  God does not force us to accept His great plan of salvation.  However, He uses us to spread the good news of our so great salvation to the world.  At the moment we become believers in Jesus Christ, God gives us forty things.  One of these forty things is our unique position as ambassadors for Christ.  As ambassadors for Christ we represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.  We are commanded by the living God to tell others about this free gift of eternal salvation that God has provided to all mankind. Whether they accept the gift or not is their business.  It is a matter between them and God.

 

One must ask who is Jesus Christ.  Is He a liar, a lunatic, or was He who He said He was?  To answer this question you have to know what the Scripture says about Him and what He said about Himself.  He is the great "I am"!  When Moses came face to face with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God commanded him to tell Pharaoh to let His people go.  Moses said "they will ask me your name, what shall I say to them"?  God answered, "tell them that I am, that I am" (Ex 3:13-14).

The Jews, for thousands of year's referred to God as "I am".  Jesus Himself also said He was the great "I am" (John 8:24, 58). Indeed Jesus Christ is eternal God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and with God the Holy Spirit.  He became a man, perfect humanity, born without sin as Adam was created without sin, so He could fulfill the Fathers plan of salvation (Heb 10:5-7).  He is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He accomplished this when He became our substitute and died spiritually on the cross for every sin that was, or ever would be committed (Rom 5:8, I Pet 2:24).  That is why the scripture says, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, whereby we must be saved, (Acts 4:12).   Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts16:31). There are so many verses that describe to us who and what Jesus Christ is, and how through Him we can have a relationship with the living God.  Know the Scripture and you will know Him.

Ambassadors for Christ present this glorious information to those who are without hope,   and without eternal life.  This is a privilege given to us by God.  God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). No where in Scripture are we told to force our faith on others.  God has provided volition (free will), to all members of the human race. This means that each of us is free to choose for or against Christ, never under compulsion or fear of reprisal.  The decision must come from a position of freedom, and privacy (please click on my friend's web-site and take the test yourself, www.eph289.com).  

We have enjoyed personal freedom in this nation since its inception. The converts of Islam know nothing of freedom.  To them the freedom itself is evil and sinful and must be destroyed.  This is why they hate us and the west.  The only hope for the Muslim is faith alone in Christ alone.  But we can never force this faith by the sword.  It is simply not God's way of grace.

The question is not can Christianity coexist with Islam but, can Islam coexist with Christianity?  I think not.

 


Survival and Disaster Preparedness

Knife Options

 

One tool that everyone has an opinion about is knives. There are so many options available by so many makers, that choosing your perfect knife can take years of fine tuning, trial and error. First, you must think of the size knife you want to carry and the primary tasks it will be used for. The idea of a one tool option, or knife that can do it all, is a hotly contested debate among knife enthusiasts. When it comes to survival, "the best knife to have is the knife you have on you at the time" according to Steve Davis, common sense with which I agree; always have a knife on you- regardless of what it is because a knife is better than no knife. That said; how should you really go about shopping for a good blade that will last a lifetime? Well, my buddy Dave Canterbury says quite often "Buy once, cry once" and by that he means if you buy a good knife and spend the money once, you won't have to do so again.

 

Knives are an area that some people skimp on because they invest their money in other gear such as cook stoves, boots, sleeping bags and tents all of which are in the $100+ dollar range for decent equipment. Then for a knife, they drop $30 at the local Wal-Mart think that's good enough... The knife is the most important survival tool you will carry and has many use options beyond simply cutting rope and processing game. It's also one of the most difficult items to reproduce in the wild, so keep that in mind when you're carrying around your $30 China knives which are known for breaking and bending under stress! You must remember that production knives in big box stores are offered for weekend warriors and not those interested in survival or bushcraft- regardless of what the packaging says. You need a good, hard use knife you can depend on, and yes, you'll probably need to save up for it.

 

 

Now, there are excellent production knives available that are made of good steel, hold a nice edge and can endure whatever you throw at them. Some of my favorite production knives come from Becker made by Kabar. The Becker Companion (BK2) is a workhorse of a knife, suitable for camp tasks, trail blazing and fighting- but it's limited as to how well you can do fine carving tasks and small game processing. But, with an average cost of around $70, it's a great blade. The same could be said of the Becker Combat Utility (BK7), also with an average price of $70, its 1095 Cro-van Steel blade is easy to maintain and it too makes an excellent fighter and all around multi-purpose knife; but there again are limitations due to its size and design. In addition, production knives often come with sheaths no one likes. The Becker knives come with a hard plastic sheath with polyester webbing, which basically means they're uncomfortable and not the best choice for long term woods use. Additionally, Becker knives have a coating on the blades which is there to prevent rust and make them easier to maintain. For the novice knife user, these elements are fine and well, but for someone experienced, that coating will be scratched off in no time and then it gets into your food, etc. So there's another thing you have to change once you buy it. The plastic scales (handle) on the Beckers are also notorious for being slippery, coming loose and breaking when struck, so yet another modification. Then, let's say you want to get a leather sheath for it instead- you'll have to shop for one and I mean shop well. You can get a custom scout carry sheath from Augie Gomez in Delano, CA for around $150 on the low side or a right handed carry sheath with a firesteel loop and pocket on the sheath which will run you $300 from hedgehogletherworks.com- which is pure insanity in my opinion.

The Author's BK2 with sheath by Augie Gomez and oak scales by Ben King

 

Next, we have production knives that are still hand tooled, such as blind horse knives. Blind Horse offers quality products in a variety of options and they come with nice leather sheaths. Each knife it handled by a person early on in their process and they offer a variety of grinds, which are sharpening styles, to suit people's needs. All in all, a Blind Horse Knifes is going to be a good knife, although they're pretty expensive. Then if you get into their logo models, they're even more so. I have used and carried several Blind Horse knives over the last few years and was always happy with them for the most part...

 

I however am a guy that likes hand-made knives. I want a soul in my steel, knowing that someone invested blood, sweat and at times tears into making my knife imparts a greater significance to its feel. This is what led me to design my own knife and start looking for people capable of making it for a price that would be tough to beat. I went through several people and while I liked their end result design wise, their tools always failed in the woods, that is until I met up with RBC Knife & Leatherworks. RBC Knife & Leatherworks partnered with me and my schools to produce a line of knives that would be semi-customizable without custom prices and insane leather work costs. The first knife we came up with we call the KLW1 and it addressed the issues of hard use and camp life- this blade has processed game, hammered in tent stakes, carved new tent stakes, busted rocks, cut down saplings and processed what seems like a rick of wood for fires and tool use. Its 1095 high carbon steel blade has no coating, it has a saber grind with secondary bevel, which means it's easy to sharpen and it removes wood without getting stuck part way through a cut. This grind also gives it a nice look. The scales are micarta, which will endure years of abuse and the spine is at a 90 degree angle, which makes it an excellent fire-steel scraper. The knife also comes with a hand-molded and sewn leather sheath that's oiled before shipment. For the sheath alone you'd typically pay at around $100... Additionally, this knife makes a good fighting knife, which is important if you are considering a bug out or other SHTF scenario. Lastly, it won't break under abnormal use; it's got a Rockwell hardness of 57-58 and is 3/16th thick and 10 ¼ overall inches. If you're looking for an excellent knife that will survive the times right along with you, this is my go to blade, oh, and at a price of only $159.99, it's a bargain when compared to other similar models out there. 100% USA made, hand crafted and guaranteed, you break it, RBC will replace it.

 

 

The Author's KLW1

 

I've been completely satisfied carrying this knife thus far and it's why we've partnered with RBC Knife & Leatherworks as their exclusive product distributor. Check out my youtube review on the knife here: http://youtu.be/SnvqduSuPYk

 

 

About the author:
Jason Hunt is the President of Frontier Christian University a school that equips people in Biblical survival and preparedness ministries and he's the Chief Instructor at Hunt Survival, Inc. a survival & preparedness training company. He's also the author of The Tribulation Survival Guide.

 

Leading Concepts
Key to Success
Ranger TLC - 
Teamwork, Leadership 
and Communication
 
Chapter 8  
When to Manage, When to Lead 

 

According to the dictionary, managemeans "to direct or control the affairs or interest of." How excited can you possibly be about going to work for someone who does that? Does the thought of someone directing or controlling your affairs really make you jump out of bed in the morning?

             Had our predecessors in corporate America considered employee motivation and how it impacts employee productivity, I doubt they would have selected the title of manager for anyone who interacts with people. The unfortunate reality is that many people who are managers never had the opportunity to learn the difference between leadership and management, so they do, indeed, manage, when they need to lead.

             The common scenario is that an employee with a good work record receives a promotion and, suddenly, she's in charge of coworkers. She thinks that doing her job means exercising authority to influence outcomes. When things don't go smoothly, she exercises authority more assertively, and management becomes micromanagement. After that, it doesn't take long for everyone in the department to gripe about how petty and picky the boss is. Employees express their resentment by doing the bare minimum: "She wants me to fill the box, so I'll fill the box. But no more."

             Management such as this follows an outmoded model, promoting a do-as-you're-told-and-keep-your-input-to-yourself environment. Businesses learned the hard way that this autocratic approach restrains the kind of creative thinking that solve problems, shapes innovation, and boosts productivity. Today's employees who have the ability to contribute substantially to a company's health do not respond to yesterday's supervisory techniques.

             If American businesses are going to be competitive, corporate managers are going to have to step up to the challenge of being leaders and knowing when to manage and when to lead.

             The Ranger viewpoint is "Lead people. Manage tasks." You manage a process that's done routinely: accounting for dollars spent, issuing uniforms, scheduling people for different shifts in the plant. As Rangers, one of the first things you do after you assault an objective is you construct an ACE report: ammo, casualties, and equipment. How much ammo does every man have? How many casualties? Do all people have their equipment? It's not a matter of leadership. You take inventory and redistribute the ammo so everyone has an equal amount; then you move on to your next objective.

             If you're in charge of a pizzeria, your process is making pizzas. You manage how many toppings you put on it, the weight of the pie, and how long it cooks. You don't want to limit the contributions your wait staff makes to the quality of customer service or the input your kitchen staff can give about efficient food preparation, but you do want to limit the amount of pepperoni you put on a pizza.

             Leadership means getting as much as you can get out of the human resources on your team-you influence, motivate, and inspire. You lead the P in PET (people, equipment, and time) and you manage the headcount needed for the mission. Management means you get as much as you can out of the physical resources available to you; you manage the ET in PET. I think of it as managing what's in the box and leading what's outside the box.

             When Watch Guard Technologies was a company of seventeen people, the executive team would go off for one day the first week of every year to create yearly goals, and one day the first week of each quarter to develop more specific goals for the quarter. They would dive into the details about how they were going to achieve those goals, and that included producing a list of "hits and misses." That is, they would compare how the company actually did against the goals of the previous quarter, by line item, and where that progress put them in relation to the yearly goals. They also generated action plans with no-later-than dates for completion. By the time the company tripled in size, that process no longer worked. At that point, a robust middle-management staff was in place. They were people with the kind of skills and experience that made them capable of generating their own action plans. However, the executive team, thinking they were being inspirational and helpful, continued to do things as they had before, excluding the input of the middle management. They returned from their first couple of planning meetings and handed the mid level managers the goals and plans as if to say, "Aren't you excited? We've done all this for the company." The mid level managers found every reason that the plans wouldn't work. They came back to the senior executives and, whenever something didn't work out well, they would challenge the bosses to come up with something new. (These classic reactions to change of denial and resistance are covered in Chapter 9.)

             It only took a few months for the top executives to revisit their approach. The next time they hunkered down to do goal setting, they kept their work on a strategic level and left the implementation completely to the managers and their staffs. Once the plans simply told employees which way they were headed and didn't attempt to manage how to get there, they had ownership of the program. As I mentioned in Chapter 4, this company went from zero to a $1.6 billion market cap in three years. Much of the success came from this keen sense the executives developed-notice they weren't born with it-of when to manage and when to lead. Remember: Lead people. Manage tasks.

             In the context of a particular project, management may be more necessary than leadership; that is, the project requires directing or controlling events. That certainly isn't always the case, though. Sometimes the route to mission success means that you must lead: exercise initiative, be resourceful, take advantage of opportunities that will lead to success.

Knowing when to manage and when to lead begins by answering two questions: Whom do you see? and What do you see?

 

Whom Do You See?

Envision a person in your life who has been 100 percent effective at leading you. Get a strong mental image. What are the physical characteristics of the person?

 

  • Male or female?
  • How does this person typically dress?
  • Color of hair? Eyes?
  • Height and weight?

             When I think of someone who is 100 percent effective at leading me-someone who motivated me to become the person I have become so far-I see a man who is about five feet eight, red hair, fair skin, and freckles.

             How does my image of a leader compare to yours? It really doesn't matter how that person looks; there are no physical requirements to be a leader. The important thing is what that person does to be effective in leading you.

             My image is of Captain Raymond Thomas, the company commander [ED-See above remark.] I talked about in previous chapters who made sure he was up front on the rainy, all-night march and showed us how a gentleman behaves by leaving money to pay for the food we ate at the Panamanian jailhouse. I think he's worth emulating. Because of the character he demonstrates, he is the kind of leader I aspire to be. Captain Thomas never sat me down and said, "Ranger Hohl, here's how you lead." He cultivated my ability to lead mainly by being a leader, as well as managing when the job called for it.

             Now consider these questions:

 

  1. When you think of this person leading you, what are you doing together?
  2. Why do you want to follow this person and achieve the goals he or she sets with or for you?

 

             Your answers and mine most likely differ. Not only do all leaders not look the same, they don't act the same. They have different ways of revealing their character, conducting themselves in various situations, and living their life.

             As a Ranger, I learned the "how" of leading by observing COs like Captain Thomas. One action deliberately taken by COs to promote leadership is sharing information. Unlike many companies, which use information as a management tool to control people, Rangers use it as a tool to pass on leadership. In fact, one of the first notes in the Ranger Handbook, in the section on "Principles of Leadership," addresses the obligation that leaders have to share information:

 

Keep your subordinates informed. Keeping your subordinates informed helps them make decisions and exercise plans within your intent, encourage initiative, improve teamwork, and enhance morale.

             If a Ranger didn't have correct and complete information on the battlefield, he'd be dead. Because Rangers receive thorough briefings about the friendly and enemy situations and the mission, they are a formidable force. A West Point graduate once told me that his class studied the reasons the Soviet Union was worried about fighting the United States during the Cold War. Fundamentally, it was not because of our generals and our tanks, but because we had privates on the front line who could solve problems and make decisions better than their privates. Information from people in the chain of command who were above them genuinely empowered the privates, and they sent information up the chain of command that made their leaders more effective.

             Now go back to your answer to the question, "Whom do you see?" Think about specific moments and events that shaped your admiration for that person. Consider what kind of information she or he imparted to you that made you feel more powerful. Explore what kind of information you can pass on to someone else that cultivates his or her ability to lead.

 

What Do You See?

In the last phase of Ranger school, we got fourteen meals, one for each day. My stomach said, "I want to eat them all right now." But I had to manage them, and management means direct and control (in this case, over my food supply and appetite). In the Ranger environment, countless tasks like this require management, from conserving water and rations to treating wounds. The Ranger Handbook addresses these kinds of tasks as well as leadership, by providing exhaustive lists of supplies for certain battle activities and first-aid instructions for bites, stings, and a variety of injuries. It also makes specific statements about task management such as this description of one of the platoon sergeant's duties: "Ensures that ammunition, supplies and loads are properly and evenly distributed (a critical task during consolidation and reorganization.)" This is part of the ACE I described earlier in the chapter. The handbook also makes it clear that it isn't leadership that helps you grip a snake or form a locking snare loop to trap game.

             In the business world, the confusion between when to manage and when to lead often comes from a well-meaning supervisor trying to lead her troops into gripping snakes when they don't know how and they don't want to know how.

             When Maryann's administrative assistant moved away, Maryann recruited a woman who had been her assistant in a different company. Barbara had performed with excellence in the previous job, and Maryann assumed that she would do the same in her new role. She did-except in one area. Handling department invoices and authorizing payments consistent with the budget had not been tasks that Barbara had handled before. One day, the office accountant asked Maryann if she was ever going to spend any money.

             "What's going on, Barbara?" Maryann asked "Why haven't we paid any bills lately?" Barbara froze. She had a stack of unopened bills in her bottom drawer.

             Maryann, a good natural leader but a lousy manager, immediately thought the solution was to teach Barbara how to handle the bills. She asked the accountant to spend some time with her, and get her familiar with the budgeting and payables processes. The accountant, a sharp twenty-two-year-old manager, realized within minutes that Barbara didn't need to be led toward an understanding of bill paying. She had a serious aversion to it and admitted that she handled the department's bills the way she handled her own. The accountant concluded that the only efficient solution was to give that tiny part of Barbara's job to someone else. He solved the problem instantly; he managed the task.

             In some situations, management can mean life or death. On December 19, 1989, all the Ranger battalions were assembled at the airfield getting ready to invade Panama. We had already received the brief, so all we had to do is load our equipment and go. The platoon sergeants brought us into the hangar by platoon and said, "See that pile of ammo? Have at it." A lot of people went over and just jammed their rucksack full. Some of them made room for more by leaving their toothbrush behind. After we were done, the platoon sergeant came by and, one at a time, picked up everyone's rucksack. As needed, he'd say, "Ranger, that's too heavy. Take some out." When we jumped into Panama about eight hours later, and many of us had to hump more than a mile to get to our rally point, we understood why the platoon sergeant had made that decision for us and managed that task. In short, not only did I learn the "how" of leading from great COs like Captain Thomas, I also learned the "when" of both leading and managing by watching them in action.

            

Manager or Leader?

According to the dictionary, lead means "to go with or ahead of, as to show the way, guide, conduct; to influence or determine the ideas, conduct, or actions of; induce; motivate." Would you jump out of bed in the morning to work with someone who will motivate you? Someone who guides you to achieving higher levels of performance, which in turn, increases your productivity and the value you add to the organization? Someone who makes it possible for you to make a difference? Someone who listens when you make a contribution? Whether you call her a manager, a supervisor, or just "boss," this is a person who ideally knows when to manage and when to lead.

             Whether your job title includes the word manager, think about how much of your job actually is management-control, regulation, or administration-and how much is leadership. Let's say you're the head personal trainer at a health club. What things, or tasks, do you see as part of your job? You schedule clients, teach classes, choose weight training and aerobic equipment for the gym and make sure it's maintained, and hire and fire other personal trainers.

             You might conclude from that list that your job involves no leadership at all. No, it's a matter of how you look at your job. By considering only the tasks you do, you focus on what part of your job involves management.

             If you now answer the question, "Who is part of your job?" you see a somewhat different picture emerge. You have students and instructors who look to you for information, motivation, and guidance. You have club owners who count on you to understand your customer base well enough to develop a successful aerobics program. These people-related parts of your job are where either leadership skills shine through or a lack of them shows up. The bottom line is, you can only be excellent as the head aerobics instructor if you are both a good manager and a good leader.

             Evaluate how your job breaks down in terms of management and leadership. Pull out your daily planner, or open it on your computer, and select a day that has a big to-do list and several meetings. What do you have to manage?

 

  • Time-The length of meetings, the preparation time for them, the time is takes to get from one meeting to the next
  • The meeting process-Media requirements for your presentation, formation of task groups, the structure for discussions
  • Budget-Keeping track of capital resources, spotting the need for cash flow adjustments
  • Other tasks-Scheduling employees for shifts or scheduling the use of equipment on projects

 

             When do you have to lead?

 

  • Input during the meeting-Ensuring that people understand each other, which may mean that you paraphrase what people say, asking questions to open people to discussion, rather than blasting through an agenda and shutting them down (unless the meeting is really a briefing)
  • Interaction with employees and peers you know are competent, committed and trustworthy-Develop your people
  • Interaction with superiors who know you are competent, committed, and trustworthy-Seek guidance for personal and professional self-development
  • Interaction with clients or students who need a sense of direction, not an order filled or a paper graded

 

             In the leadership part of your job, you knock down barriers so the others on your team can do what they're good at. You support them in excelling, open doors for them, and, if necessary, take the heat. In terms of your customers, you share information with them openly and remain receptive to their input. You show respect for them as individuals.

             Let's say you're a corporate president with a typical business challenge: To stay competitive in your market space, you have to achieve higher goals-the ones you didn't think you could hit even before the cutback-with less of what you need in terms of personnel, funds, and equipment. There is only one way in a brutal business environment that anyone who is responsible for the output of others is going to make that happen. You need to exercise leadership, the process of influencing others to accomplish their mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.

 

  • Purpose-Tell your employees why they're doing what they're doing. Convey why the mission is important and what the mission priorities are.
  • Direction-Provide an orientation of tasks to be accomplished. Let them know what the starting point is, how they know they're moving toward the goal, and how they know when the job is done. Explain your intent.
  • Motivation-This gives your team the drive to use their talents and skills completely whenever possible. Listen to them when they offer ideas and make the most of their input. Make sure they feel that initiative is expected and that their names are on the finished product or project, with success and failure.

 

             Alternatively, you have people who look at the job ahead and think only, "Okay, he wants it done exactly this way and he's telling me only as much as I need to know in order to do it. So how much will this take out of me?" If the given task only requires 50 percent of the person's skills, gifts, and energies, you can bet that employee won't give it 100 percent.

             A survey of 1,000 workers and their supervisors conducted by the American Society of Training and Development in the early 1990s indicated the ten main factors that motivate workers. The top three were:

 

  1. Interesting work
  2. Full appreciation for work done
  3. A feeling of being in on things; being involved

 

             There is no guarantee that your leadership will make the work interesting, but it certainly will support the presence of the other two factors. On the other hand, managing when you should lead will not.

             After Rangers experience leadership by observing their leaders, they get practice integrating leadership functions into their job because of how the commanding officers, platoon sergeants, and platoon and squad leaders delegate authority. To many people, delegation of authority seems like an oxymoron. When someone delegates in the corporate world, it often translates into "This job is now yours, and by the way, be sure to do it my way." Not so in the Rangers. Our leaders gave us three things:

 

  1. The task to be accomplished
  2. The conditions with which we had to work (our available resources)
  3. The minimum standards that had to be met (Oh, by the way, it was clear that the standards were only minimums.)

 

             A Ranger would say to himself, "I know what I have to do. I know what's in my toolbox. And as long as, at a minimum, I've met these standards, I know I've done the mission successfully." Every private, every sergeant, could then go help solve the problem using his initiative. The result was some of the best innovation and problem solving you could ever imagine; and over time, experiences like that helped fine-tune each Ranger's sense of when and howto manage, lead, and follow.

             It was also not "the Ranger way" to knock someone for how he handled the task-only if he didn't meet the standard. Afterward, a leader might recommend a more efficient way, but it was done as a matter of coaching and development, not correction or punishment. A natural outcome is that Rangers aimed to exceed the standard 100 percent of the time!


 

Lead the way!

 

About the author: Dean Hohl has been leading teams and coaching individuals professionally since 1993. From '88 - '92 Dean served with 3rd Ranger Battalion during which he helped in the removal of Manuel Noriega in 1989 when he parachuted onto a hostile Panamanian airstrip.

He graduated Ranger School with honors earning one of two distinguished "Merrill's Marauders" awards; an award earned only by two each class and chosen by his peer group for demonstrating exceptional teamwork, leadership, and communication under long periods of stress and pressure - often the result of days without food or sleep - throughout the entire 72 day course. Dean completed his Ranger service with honor at the rank of Sergeant.

 

http://www.leadingconcepts.com 

 


Warrior's Wisdom

Warrior's Wisdom

 A general in chief should ask himself several times a day, What if the enemy were to appear now in my front, or on my right, or on my left?    -Napoleon
 
 
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Quotes & Jokes

    
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limitations.

I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one


"There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness."
George Washington

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."
Thomas Paine,
The Crisis,
No. 1, 1776

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
Thomas Jefferson

"The crisis we are facing today ... [requires] ... our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us."
Ronald Reagan

"It really is difficult to imagine how people who have entirely given up managing their own affairs could make a wise choice of those who are to do that for them. One should never expect a liberal, energetic, and wise government to originate in the votes of a people of servants."
French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

"We appear to have lost -- at every level of the command structure, starting with the commander-in-chief -- the ability to think strategically, with a clear objective in sight. We enter conflicts insouciantly, while already pondering an exit strategy, when the only exit strategy should be and must be the total defeat and unconditional surrender of the foe."
Columnist Michael Walsh

"What I'm saying to you this morning, my friends: Even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures! Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well!' If you can't be a pine on the top of a hill, be a scrub in the valley, but be the best little scrub on the side of the rill. Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. It isn't by size that you win or you fail; be the best at whatever that you are!"
Martin Luther King Jr.

"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired."
Alexander Hamilton

  "What does it mean whether you hold the deed ... or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? ... Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment."
Ronald Reagan

"There is the issue of U.S. credibility. We speak of this constantly and in public, which has the effect of reducing its power. If we bomb Syria, will the world say, 'Oh, how credible America is!' or will they say, 'They just bombed people because they think they have to prove they're credible'?"
Columnist Peggy Noonan

"Speak seldom, but to important subjects, except such as particularly relate to your constituents, and, in the former case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject."
George Washington

"It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that the nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it, nay that absolute monarchs, will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and objects merely personal."
John Jay,
Federalist No. 4, 1787

 
"A constitution defines and limits the powers of the government it creates. It therefore follows, as a natural and also a logical result, that the governmental exercise of any power not authorized by the constitution is an assumed power, and therefore illegal."
Thomas Paine,
Constitutions, Governments, and Charters, 1805


"We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right."
Thomas Jefferson

"Nothing just happens in politics. If something happens you can be sure it was planned that way."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt

    
"If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people ... must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify."
Federalist No. 33 (1787)

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson provided the words that should form the rallying cry for every conservative candidate on the 2014 ballot: "We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude."

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each. So, if a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty. If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply."
John Marshall,
Marbury v. Madison, 1803


"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel."
Patrick Henry

"[T]he Marxist vision of man without God must eventually be seen as an empty and a false faith -- the second-oldest in the world -- first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with whispered words of temptations: 'Ye shall be as gods.' ... This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men."
Ronald Reagan

"Only in Washington is it considered abnormal and obstructionist for a member of Congress to ring the alarm about the loss of freedom in America, to take a stand to restore it, and suggest that Americans, particularly low-income Americans, should be able to decide what kind of school they send their child to and to keep and save more of their hard-earned income."
Columnist Star Parker
      
"It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each. So, if a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty. If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply."
John Marshall,
Marbury v. Madison, 1803


"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel."
Patrick Henry

"[T]he Marxist vision of man without God must eventually be seen as an empty and a false faith -- the second-oldest in the world -- first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with whispered words of temptations: 'Ye shall be as gods.' ... This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men."
Ronald Reagan

"Only in Washington is it considered abnormal and obstructionist for a member of Congress to ring the alarm about the loss of freedom in America, to take a stand to restore it, and suggest that Americans, particularly low-income Americans, should be able to decide what kind of school they send their child to and to keep and save more of their hard-earned income."
Columnist Star Parker

"If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people ... must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify."
Federalist No. 33 (1787)

"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."
Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

"Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people -- most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant. A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway."
Economist Thomas Sowell

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What Has Really Changed?
What has really changed?
October 1968
 
Wonderful things happen when you let Americans alone Read some good things for a change.
     Hundreds of jobs created where there were none before . . . a more attractive product for millions of Americans, at one-half the price . . . and not one cent from Government - No aid, no bureaus, no directives - just Americans hard at work making a profit.
     It's the tufted textile industry - American free enterprise at its best.
     Not so many years ago a Georgia woman made a bedspread in which the design was tufts of the thread.  It was new and appealing. Mountain women began to make the spreads to eke out meager income. Then  someone adapted the idea to carpeting, with machines doing the tufting. One-half the cost of the best former variety, this made attractive carpeting available to countless American homes which had never been able to enjoy before.
     The Georgia town, Dalton, where it all started wisely encouraged the new industry, and didn't tax it to death. Impoverished farm families moved to town for the newly - created jobs.
     Today this is a billion-and-a-half dollar industry employing 27,500 people at good wages. It is the privilege of Warner & Swasey to have a modest part in this growth with our Servo Yarn System machines which process the fiber for carpet and upholstery yarns, and make it of more uniform quality than is possible in any other way.
     As we said, wonderful things happen to everyone when you let Americans alone.

Articles
Navy SEAL: US Special Ops Are Starting To Look A Lot Less Special

"Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it."
-Steve Jobs

It's clear to me that very few people in academia and the main stream media understand the current issues facing the Special Operations community. The recent Council on Foreign Relations report on the future of SOF written by civilian Linda Robinson is a good document, but is missing some key elements, for example, how back-to-back combat deployments are affecting morale, family life, and readiness of force. The report includes some very valid data and conclusions however, but you can't expect someone to complete the full puzzle if they don't have the required experiential background to know what the overall picture looks like.

I do share the report's observation that the demand put on US SOF since 2001 has outpaced the strategic vision, and this is no doubt a major issue in itself.

US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) has become very large, and when large organizations experience fast growth they are at risk of becoming marginalized by smaller and more innovative competition. In SOCOM's case, their competition is violent extremists who promote terror and a radical religious ideology that does not tolerate freedom of choice.

The terrorists only rules? That there are no rules, and this gives them a major advantage.

A Look at US SOCOM

US Special Operations Command has become a massive organization, 60,000+ strong, with a budget that has grown from $2.3B to $10.4  since 2001. There's an inherent inflexibility and bureaucracy that comes with an organization of this size. The question that begs to be asked is, "Are we moving towards conventionalizing SOF Forces?" I believe that this is the elephant in the room nobody is talking about.

US SOCOM was established in 1987 out of a necessity (e.g. failed Iran hostage rescue) to create a central node of communication and cooperation among the different SOF service branches of armed forces. It didn't come without regular military pushback, which was understandable. Up to this point, Special Operations had largely served as the bastard child of the military, but all this was about to change, especially after 9-11-01. SOCOM initially included the Army, Navy, and Air Force - USMC initially declined but later realized the error in that decision (read more here), and now have a seat at the table.




 As I've stated previously, there's going to be growing pains and inconvenient inherent traits that come with being so big. The biggest setbacks to most large organizations (see The Innovator's Dilemma) are lack of innovation and losing the ability to act quickly in the market place, and SOCOM has a global market to think about. These are the biggest challenges I see facing US SOCOM in its current form.

McRaven has done a great job managing DC politics, but has the Admiral set up the necessary framework, and culture within SOCOM to ensure that innovation and the ability to act fast are not being marginalized?  Are core SOF values around, unconventional thinking, and innovation instilled in the soul of SOCOM? Everything I've seen so far does not indicate that this is the case. I'll only point to the current Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan to make my point. Conventional rules puts SOF in a very vulnerable position when fighting an enemy with no borders or play book. I can't help but think that it's very similar to how the American revolutionaries defeated a much larger British force who expected "civilized" warfare, and got unconventional instead.

On the larger scale, we've become good at winning battles but terrible at winning wars in the 21st Century. One of the reasons for this, and what SOFREP contributor Peter Nealen has pointed out, is that we've adopted the philosophy of "Limited War," and its a fools strategy at best.
Issues facing SOCOM

A. Becoming conventional by size, structure, and nature.

The main advantage of the SOF unit of the past was that it could act with autonomy. This methodology has been slowly eroded since 2001, and replaced with a large command structure and slow-moving decision tree.  Hell, a few of my friends had JAG lawyers waiting to interrogate them after actions on the objective.

"Risk aversion was the greatest trend I saw. SOF, especially Army SF, were originally started to be able to be small, fluid, flexible, and able to make serious international diplomatic decisions on their feet. I had one instance in Iraq where a CONOP for a counter-mortar LP/OP was disapproved because we "didn't have enough team leadership on the operation," even though it was two E-6s with four Iraqi Scouts.

The risk averse leadership is promoted from within because their OER looks better, and the free-thinking, daring officers and NCOs tend to leave the force for the civilian world... sometimes for no other reason than getting away from the insanity."  -Former Army Special Forces/Green Beret Blake Miles

B. Psychological issues that come with sustained combat operations and promoting a culture of "anything goes" at certain Tier 1 SOF units.

Broken families, PTSD, domestic violence, NDA violations, and illicit drug addiction, to name a few. These are major issues, and something nobody wants to talk about outside of closed doors. SOFREP isn't naming names but we're calling it like we see it, and left unchecked by current leadership, this current culture will not end well when these violations come to light in the main stream press. It's a bad case of exemplary leadership that many should be ashamed of. To the men I know who've stood up and said something, and been punished for it, at least you can sleep with yourself at night knowing you were on the right side of things.

C. Lack of clear overarching strategic objective for the organization as a whole.

What is SOCOM's Mission statement in two sentences? Most people I know in SOF cannot recite it. If it's not clear from the bottom up, then it's a problem. In football terms, you have players on the field who don't know what it takes to win, or what direction to run in order to score a touchdown. This was also addressed in the current Council of Foreign Relations report on the future of SOF.

D. Tier One unit infrastructure and cultural issues.

 

CAG (Delta) vs. DEVGRU (ST-6). Delta is composed primarily of active duty support personnel, making it move faster but with some continuity issues. In comparison, DEV is mostly comprised of GS (General Schedule contractor) support, slower moving but this maintains continuity. Most I've talked to prefer an active duty organization that rotates ideas, energy, and morale over a long-term GS organization. Culturally, Delta has always been more of "the quiet professionals" when compared to my own community and that of SEAL Team 6. SEAL Team 6 has done a better job at the politics of war, and has traditionally been given more high-profile missions because of it. CAG could take a lesson in politics from the Navy, and on the flip side, NSWDG could do a better job being the "quiet professionals." Many in my community will disagree with this, but I only have to point to the book No Easy Day, active DEV guys consulting for the video game Medal of Honor (TTPs?), and the recent Esquire article featuring one of the UBL team members to make this point.

"..you need a massive intelligence and logistics infrastructure to accomplish complicated and technical Special Operations missions, but it also leads to a bloated bureaucracy filled with staff officers who have no real job other than to interject white noise into the decision making process.  However, I see the real problem in SOCOM being careerism and CYA risk aversion before the real obstacle  and not a simple matter of the numbers involved.  SOCOM is still way too top-heavy with officers, though.  It is so bad that it is to the point that entire new bureaucracies were created overseas just so that officers could have jobs.  One is the CJSOTF which is not a doctrinal part of Special Forces operations.  ODAs do JCETs all over the world without a CJSOTF and seem to do just fine.  The CJSOTF may be required for some logistical resupply operations and unit deconfliction, but it has grown into a monster over time which has created this inverse relationship in which Officers now see the CJSOTF as the maneuver element, and ODAs as the supporting mechanism for this bureaucracy." -Former Special Forces/75th Ranger Jack Murphy

What Next

McRaven should look to ensure that US SOCOM gets off the path to conventionalization that is all about conventional rules, shiny boots, starched uniforms, online sensitivity training, and loss of cultural innovation. It's ok to break the right rules every now and then but the wrong rules are being broken (failed drug tests, broken NDAs, and violent crime etc.).  Unconventional warfare needs to remain the heart and soul of US Special Operations Command, and component commands. Small unit autonomy, breaking the right rules, cultural influence, and relationship building has always been the heart Special Operations. Something must be done to ensure these are not lost to the big machine of SOCOM.

A clear mission plan written by operators (not consultants) needs to be implemented to get everyone on the same map. If we are going to engage in warfare in the modern century, then we should do it with clear, achievable, and measurable strategic goals that everyone can understand. We don't have this now in Washington or Afghanistan; we have Warfighters busying themselves in a game of war with rules and objectives that are unclear. They are lions led by the lambs of political elites in Washington.

Lastly, we must include an important component that is missing in today's modern Special Operations warfare: the strategy of prevention. We can't kill our way to peace. How do we address, and reduce, not increase, the evil and hate in the world. Right now we are minting radical extremists and feeding the hate machine at a record pace.

One thing is clear: Special Operations and unconventional warfare is the way future wars will be fought on any scale. I only hope that the core values of SOF are not lost, and that US SOCOM takes a hard look in the mirror at what it's become, and to steal a quote from Churchill, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." Both at home, and abroad.

 


SOCOM Soldier honored by 75th Ranger RegimentI

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Billy Frazier Jr. and his wife, Katina, pose for a photo after the ceremony where he was named a distinguished member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Frederick Zimmerman
U.S. SOCOM Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 20, 2013) - An active-duty member of U.S. Special Operations Command's logistics directorate was recently honored by his previous command by naming him to an elite group of members who have helped carve the unit's prestigious history.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Billy Frazier Jr., the USSOCOM property management officer, was named a distinguished member of the 75th Ranger Regiment during a July 23 ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., which was part of the Ranger Rendezvous.

Soldiers are named as distinguished members of the 75th Ranger Regiment for their outstanding accomplishments while assigned to the unit.

Frazier first served with the Regiment in 1994 as a company supply sergeant with Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, after completing initial Ranger training. While there, he deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of operation Uphold Democracy. Frazier stayed in the regiment, serving with headquarters, headquarters company, as the company supply sergeant from 1996 to 1997, until his selection to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School.

Fast forward to 2008, and Frazier was back on his old stomping grounds with the regiment, this time serving as the regimental property book officer as a chief warrant officer 4. He served there until February 2013, and it was during that time he played a key role in shaping the logistics future of the unit, earning him the distinguished member honors.

Frazier and his team changed the way supply kept the logistics train moving, ensuring the warfighters of the regiment had the proper equipment and were always ready for the next mission.

"We looked at a lot of things from an operational perspective - made sure logistics tied into the operational picture," Frazier said. "Back in the day we were more in a training environment, where now we are in an operational environment. We have to make sure the systems are able to support that, but are just as flexible and efficient so when we get guys back, we get them through the reset process, training process, op-alert and then back into the fight."

Frazier said one way they did that was by building three Ranger Issue Facilities (RIFs) - supply warehouses designed for Rangers and stocked with all the gear needed for their training and deployments. The facilities replaced an old way of doing business - issuing gear out of shipping containers in the elements, whether raining or cold. The new facilities keep the Rangers from the elements, and give them a comfortable place to receive gear, which can often take hours.

"What we found is that we needed to build a facility Rangers could go to and be comfortable, because there's a long wait time, but more importantly make sure they know that facility is there for them," said Frazier, a soldier of 25 years. "It's not a [Central Issue Facility], it's shaped in particular for them and their mission, not only in garrison but also forward.

"The RIFs are a collaborative effort among all the logisticians in the regiment," Frazier added. "I see that facility as one of the fundamental pieces of the regiment because it's a cornerstone ... because it actually ensures that the individual Ranger, when he gets in that aircraft, he has all the necessary kit he needs to do his mission set."

In addition to building the facilities, Frazier and his fellow logisticians took a look at the property books and ensured they were updated to reflect the gear Rangers currently need and use. He said that by doing so, it took pressure off of the company commanders who sign for the gear.

"We needed to figure out if we're being efficient, if we were providing relief of pressure on the force," Frazier said. "If you have a company commander coming off deployment that's spending all his reset time doing inventories - are we really efficient? Is he counting widgets just to count widgets, or is he counting widgets that he actually needs?"

The solution Frazier and his staff came up with was taking items off the inventory that weren't being used operationally. This took the responsibility of accounting for gear that wasn't being used downrange off of commanders, whose property books now only included the gear they actually needed, as well as helping to mitigate losses. Frazier said this helped align P-11 assets - Special Operations Forces Equipment - and made authorizations visible in the service system, allowing commanders to see all the gear they are authorized to have.

By reducing the table of organization and equipment, Frazier and his staff were able to take approximately 300 pieces of "rolling stock" off the books within a two-year period.

"Now company commanders, supply sergeants, platoon sergeants aren't out there inventorying Humvees that they'll never use in combat, just for the sake of inventorying," Frazier said. "We shrunk the books down to the right size."

While Frazier was honored by the recognition, he's also very humble, and repeatedly said this recognition wasn't about him.

"I only did my job as a Ranger, but more importantly our logistical success over the past four-and-a-half years is due to the 75th Ranger Regiment's leadership throughout, from the team leaders and above," he said. "It was the support of the regimental commander, regimental [command sergeant major], the regimental staff, battalion leadership, logisticians, and Rangers at all levels ... as well as our exceptional civilian counterparts within the team. Success also is directly tied to the superb support from higher such as the USASOC Headquarters, as well as the USSOCOM staff.

"It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the regiment, because every day I was able to go to work and look my heroes directly in the face. Those guys are doing a tremendous amount of work in the [area of responsibility], and they are modern-day heroes ... guys that have written our history in a lot of ways. Just to be a part of that was an honor and privilege."

And while Frazier was honored to work with his heroes, he was even more honored for the respect shown to him when he was honored in his job as a logistician.

"Just to be on stage with [the fellow honorees at this year's ceremony] was eye-watering to me because you have proven combat veterans that haven't just done it once, twice or three times, they've done it 10, 11 or 12 times," Frazier said. "So to be acknowledged in that forum and be part of that family ... it was very overwhelming."



SOCOM Extends TALOS Technology Timeline Vision

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) representatives are extending their vision timelines for technologies to support its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) program.

This effort is a follow-on to recent demonstrations and is "focused on longer-term solutions with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 or less."

In the aftermath of recent Science and Technology planning sessions and program experimentation/demonstrations, the command has released a new RFI "to solicit technology demonstration candidates from Research and Development (R&D) organizations, private industry, and academia for inclusion in future experimentation events" coordinated by USSOCOM.

According to the Sept. 12 announcement, USSOCOM is inviting "industry, academia, individuals, and government labs to submit revolutionary low [emphasis added] Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technology demonstration nominations addressing revolutionary/novel technologies/developmental approaches leading to possible government/industry collaboration for development of USSOCOM technology capabilities supporting a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)."

 

Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)
Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)
SOCOM Extends TALOS Technology Timeline Vision

By Scott R. Gourley - September 23, 2013

USSOCOM is asking for a range of capabilities for their Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), including powered exoskeletons. Lockheed Martin photo

  • Advanced Armor: Materials to support next generation full-body ballistic protection. Full body ballistic protection shall be to the NIJ-IV level and include the head. Blast pressure wave mitigation technologies will be considered.
  • Mobility/Agility: Enhancement platforms such as powered exoskeletons that improves/augments warfighter's endurance and agility.
  • Situational Awareness (SA): Body worn and remote sensor integration, fusion, and display to enhance a warfighter's understanding of the tactical environment.
  • Light/noise discipline
  • Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4): Such as conformable & wearable antennae, wearable computers, and advanced wave forms/software programmable radios allowing for a reduction in soldier load
  • Individual soldier combat ready displays: Including non-visual means of information display, and potentially utilization of cognitive thoughts and the surrounding environment to display personalized information
  • Power generation and management
  • Thermal management of suit occupant
  • Medical: Embedded monitoring, oxygen systems, wound stasis, electromechanical compensation

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) representatives are extending their vision timelines for technologies to support its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) program.

This effort is a follow-on to recent demonstrations and is "focused on longer-term solutions with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 or less."

In the aftermath of recent Science and Technology planning sessions and program experimentation/demonstrations, the command has released a new RFI "to solicit technology demonstration candidates from Research and Development (R&D) organizations, private industry, and academia for inclusion in future experimentation events" coordinated by USSOCOM.

According to the Sept. 12 announcement, USSOCOM is inviting "industry, academia, individuals, and government labs to submit revolutionary low [emphasis added] Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technology demonstration nominations addressing revolutionary/novel technologies/developmental approaches leading to possible government/industry collaboration for development of USSOCOM technology capabilities supporting a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)."

It adds that that this effort is a follow-on to recent demonstrations and is "focused on longer-term solutions with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 or less."

Companies with longer-term TALOS technology solutions are invited to submit their own demonstration nominations, which will be reviewed by USSOCOM representatives. Subsequent to that review, the government "may invite select candidates to demonstrate their technologies or innovative developmental approaches at the USSOCOM sponsored S&T demonstration event."

"Any TALOS technology demonstration conducted at this event must provide a clear understanding of how the technology or developmental approach is unique to the direct assaulter mission capability needs," it states, identifying those technologies as including but not limited to:

  • Advanced Armor: Materials to support next generation full-body ballistic protection. Full body ballistic protection shall be to the NIJ-IV level and include the head. Blast pressure wave mitigation technologies will be considered.
  • Mobility/Agility: Enhancement platforms such as powered exoskeletons that improves/augments warfighter's endurance and agility.
  • Situational Awareness (SA): Body worn and remote sensor integration, fusion, and display to enhance a warfighter's understanding of the tactical environment.
  • Light/noise discipline
  • Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4): Such as conformable & wearable antennae, wearable computers, and advanced wave forms/software programmable radios allowing for a reduction in soldier load
  • Individual soldier combat ready displays: Including non-visual means of information display, and potentially utilization of cognitive thoughts and the surrounding environment to display personalized information
  • Power generation and management
  • Thermal management of suit occupant
  • Medical: Embedded monitoring, oxygen systems, wound stasis, electromechanical compensation

In addition, it adds that proposed solutions "should take into consideration 'lightening the load' of the operator, mentally and/or physically while providing maximum protection, agility, and tactical dominance."

Demonstrations may be between an hour and half a day in duration and may be conducted in unimproved expeditionary-like conditions. The demonstrations will be conducted from Nov. 19-20, 2013, at or near MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.



 

Navy Yard Shootings: Are We Seeking the Right Answers?

 He had mental and emotional issues that were important enough to require occasional help from a psychiatrist.

He owned guns, but friends and neighbors said he would never shoot another human being.

 

He often carried a Thompson .45-caliber submachine gun which, even when viewed close-up, could not readily be recognized as a replica unequipped to use ammunition.

 

He served on active duty in the armed forces, later worked as a government civilian, and had identity cards that enabled him to enter government facilities.

 

Aaron Alexis, who allegedly murdered 12 people at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard September 10, isn't the person I'm referring to.

I'm writing about me.

 

I'm a U.S. Air Force veteran (1957-60) and a retired Foreign Service officer, the government's term for a career diplomat (1964-89). In both of those jobs, I had assignments in intelligence work. I held security clearances. None was ever lower than top secret, and some were far beyond that, so esoteric that only a few people know about them.

The government has every right to be interested in me after I commit a crime - although I may claim it was somebody else's dog - but it is not the government's business to snoop on people who have medical issues, own guns, or own a replica of a gun, all for the purpose of guessing whether they'll commit a crime in the future.

The biggest crime I've committed recently is allowing my Labrador retriever, Autumn, to leave a DNA sample on a neighbor's lawn.

What's my point? The government has every right to be interested in me after I commit a crime - although I may claim it was somebody else's dog - but it is not the government's business to snoop on people who have medical issues, own guns, or own a replica of a gun, all for the purpose of guessing whether they'll commit a crime in the future. And, no, the canine reference doesn't mean that this isn't a grave and sobering subject.

 

The government should make certain that only the right people get security clearances. Oddly, although polygraph ("lie detector") tests are usually a part of this process, I completed my entire career without ever undergoing one.

 

In the wake of the terrible Navy Yard shootings, the government and our society are, as usual, seeking to solve a problem with the exact opposite of the real solution.

 

The 9/11 attack by 19 airliner hijackers - who used identity documents issued in their real names - proved that airport screening doesn't work. So did we scrap airport screening, as we should have done? No, we increased it and created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

 

Looking southwest at the main gate of the Washington Navy Yard the day after the Washington Navy Yard shootings on Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Tim Evanson

 The 9/11 attackers may have done to us what we did to the Soviet Union - forced us to spend ourselves into oblivion. We're nearly there. We created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), led recently by a respected official described as "indispensable." But was she? After she stepped down, she wasn't immediately replaced. That's the meaning of "indispensable"? Maybe we should dispense with DHS, including its best-known component the TSA, move some of its components like the Coast Guard back where they belong, and reduce our nineteen intelligence agencies to a manageable number. (In 1947, Congress wanted one intelligence agency that would be central).

 

The Navy Yard attack proved that checking IDs and conducting searches at the main gate doesn't work. So did we scrap these practices, as we should have done? No, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review that appears certain to increase the number of gate guards and ID checks. Oh, and you can count on those guards being contractors.

To be sure, some of what you've just read is exaggerated. Although I've never had a serious run-in with the law, alleged shooter Alexis apparently did - and his troubled history apparently didn't show up in his personnel file or come to the attention of supervisors.

 

Although I've never been a government contractor, Alexis was.

Although many Americans favor gun control, we need to live in the real world. In the real America in which we live, there's no prospect that Americans will ever have difficulty acquiring and using guns. In my opinion, we'll never see an end to the occasional, tragic mass shooting.

But the Navy Yard slaughter raises questions and may teach us some lessons.

 

Why do we have so many government contractors? Their numbers skyrocketed after 9/11. At a time when there has been a slight decrease in direct government employees, we've vastly increased the size of government by puffing up contractor rolls.

My buddy Joe Fives used to walk aboard an airliner with a .45 automatic pistol tucked in his waistband, back in the days when we still had most of the civil liberties that have been taken from us, and 9/11 might have turned out differently if Joe had been aboard one of the hijacked planes.

Does any form of photo ID make us safer? Most states now issue driver's licenses to a federal standard, ninth and tenth amendments be damned, because it's the only way to get federal grant money. But when you look at my driver's license, or Alexis's common access card, what do you learn? Not much.

 

Does any form of screening, whether at a civilian airport or a military main gate, make us more secure? I believe with all my heart that we would be safer without these measures. We lived for decades without them. Any citizen should be able to walk into any government building. I should be able to board a jetliner to visit my aunt in Peoria without having to identify myself to my government. This is a civil liberties issue with me, but it's also simple common sense.

 

If we shrink government, reduce the number of contractors, get rid of the "photo ID" concept and eliminate screening, will we see fewer mass shootings? Of course not. My argument, and it's an important one, is that we won't see more. Other measures, including proper checks by employers, may help. Checking IDs won't. My buddy Joe Fives used to walk aboard an airliner with a .45 automatic pistol tucked in his waistband, back in the days when we still had most of the civil liberties that have been taken from us, and 9/11 might have turned out differently if Joe had been aboard one of the hijacked planes.

 

Eliminating useless screening is one way to do something we must do - avoid investigating or judging people who haven't committed a crime even if we think they might commit one in the future. Exceptions can continue to be made for applications for employment or for a security clearance - although we need to reduce the number of the latter.

 

An F.B.I. evidence response team collects evidence at Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard, Sept. 18, 2013. A gunman killed 12 people at the base Sept. 16, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pedro A. Rodriguez
Being a veteran, having a medical issue, carrying a gun, or even walking your dog do not make you more likely to violate the law. I don't want to live in a country where the government studies you not to learn what you did yesterday, but to guess what you might do tomorrow. I don't want to be accountable to my government. I want it accountable to me. And I want it smaller.

 

I feel terrible sorrow over the loss of life at the Navy Yard, which I think of as part of my neighborhood. I wish, in no way, to appear anything but dead serious about this tragedy. We lost wonderful Americans who had bright futures to look ahead to. But tampering with our civil liberties and instituting false security measures won't assuage the terrible loss we've suffered and they're not solutions.

 


The Five Worst Light Machine Guns (LMGs)

 

5. Browning M1919A6

There was nothing inherently wrong with the Browning M1919A4 .30-caliber medium machine gun. It was effective, reliable, and popular with the troops, but it was slow to set up and, mounted on its tripod, had a high profile that endangered its crew. The .30-caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was much handier, but more of a heavy assault rifle, with an inadequate 20-round magazine and incapable of sustained high-volume fire.

 


 

What the Army and Marine Corps needed was a true light machine gun that could be carried by one man.

At 32 ½-pounds unloaded, calling the M1919A6 a light machine gun was a cruel joke to the poor grunt who had to carry it.

What the Army and Marine Corps got was the Infantry Board's bright idea of simply scabbing a butt stock, pistol grip, carrying handle, flash suppressor, and bipod on to the M1919, giving it a slightly lighter barrel, and declaring it a light machine gun (LMG).

 

Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division armed with an M1919A6 LMG hold a position north of the Chongchon River during the Korean War in November 1950. The M19191A6 continued in service until replacement by the M60 LMG. National Archives photo by Pfc. James Cox, U.S. Army
 

The M1919A4 was a crew-served weapon, with two or more soldiers or Marines dividing the chore of carrying the 14-pound tripod and 31-pound gun. At 32 ½-pounds unloaded, calling the M1919A6 a light machine gun was a cruel joke to the poor grunt who had to carry it. The M1919A6 gunner was on his own, lugging around a weapon that weighed more than the M1919A4. While the Germans and British had LMGs 10 pounds lighter and five to 10 inches shorter, the poor G.I. was stuck with the Browning, mainly because the Army had failed to see the shortcomings of the BAR until it was too late to procure a true, effective LMG for service in World War II.

At least it was reliable.

 

Browning M1919A6

 

Type: Light machine gun
Operating System: Short recoil
Weight: 32.5 pounds
Length: 53 inches
Barrel length: 24 inches
Cartridge: .30-06 Springfield
Muzzle velocity: 2800 fps
Cyclic rate: 400-500 rpm
Feed system: 250-round belt

 

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Bachem Ba 349 Natter
Bachem's cheap and simple vertical launch, rocket-powered fighter
 

Erich Bachem had a brilliant idea.

 

Bachem was a creative and persistent aircraft designer in wartime Nazi Germany. His idea, the Bachem Ba 349 Natter (Adder) was a manned, vertical takeoff interceptor; a semi-disposable aircraft intended to wield 24 nose-mounted Henschel Hs 217 73 mm air-to-air rockets or 33 of the smaller 55 mm R4M rockets against Allied bombers. Today, the Natter might be called a surface-to-air missile with a cockpit. Today, as well, because we know how things turned out, Bachem's Natter might be called a brilliant mistake.

 

After Luftwaffe officials looked at his blueprints and dismissed Bachem's concept, he bravely sought an appointment with Reichsführer-SS (Schutzstaffel, or "Protection Squadron") Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was a man who had a temper and who could have anyone killed on a whim. One of the most powerful men in the Reich, an architect of the Holocaust, the deceptively bookish Himmler was a man to be feared. You did not get an audience with Himmler easily, and you did not want to make a mistake in his presence.

Fighting the Natter would have been difficult for P-51 Mustang pilots and near impossible for gunners aboard B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers. The Natter was designed to hit and run. With stubby little wings spanning less than a dozen feet, it was a very small target, and pushed through the sky by rocket power, it was exceedingly fast. Bachem's rocket-armed aircraft was in many ways more like an artillery shell than a fighter plane.

But Bachem was desperate. He had a military solution to what he saw as the Reich's military problems and military men, including key leaders of the Luftwaffe, had rejected him. He believed his aircraft could defeat the four-engined Allied heavy bombers that were increasingly plentiful in Germany's skies.

 

Dumb Rockets

The idea of mounting an air-to-air defense using an aircraft carrying "dumb" rocket projectiles has recurred throughout air warfare history. Allied "balloon busters," for example, had used primitive Le Prieur rockets to down German observation balloons during World War I. Long after Bachem had the idea, the U.S. heartland was defended in the 1950s by fighter interceptors that carried only 2.75 mm air-to-air rocket projectiles, twenty-four in the case of the F-86D Sabre, no fewer than 104 in the F-89D Scorpion and 48 in the F-94C Starfire. But the Sabre, Scorpion and Starfire were costly, complicated warplanes designed to return from a mission to fight another day. The aircraft taking shape in Bachem's engineering drawings was cheap and expendable. The aircraft did not need to survive a mission, and it appears little concern was directed toward whether the pilot did, either.

 

This article about the Bachem Ba 349 Natter is adapted from the book "Fighting Hitler's Jets" by Robert F. Dorr, to be published in September by Zenith Press.

Thirty-four years old, credited with being a co-designer of the Feiesler Fi 156 Storch (Stork) light plane, Bachem was told Himmler would see him on a certain day in early 1944. Himmler had expanded the SS, which had begun merely as a bodyguard, to become a separate military service branch - thinking ahead to the day when he would replace Hitler and rule the Reich. Spurned by the Air Ministry and the Luftwaffe, Bachem had been led to believe that the SS chief would be receptive to becoming involved in military aviation.

 

Bachem was thinking that if Germany's air force wouldn't field his extraordinary aircraft, the SS would! No record survives of the Bachem-Himmler meeting. but afterward the Natter, which had been stalled, received a go-ahead, with Himmler becoming its champion. Shortly afterwards the RLM informed Bachem that it had reconsidered and was also affording high priority to development of the aircraft it now officially designated Ba 349.

With stubby little wings spanning less than a dozen feet, it was a very small target, and pushed through the sky by rocket power it was exceedingly fast. Bachem's rocket-armed aircraft was in many ways more like an artillery shell than a fighter plane.

Fighting the Natter would have been difficult for P-51 Mustang pilots and near impossible for gunners aboard B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers. The Natter was designed to hit and run. With stubby little wings spanning less than a dozen feet, it was a very small target, and pushed through the sky by rocket power, it was exceedingly fast. Bachem's rocket-armed aircraft was in many ways more like an artillery shell than a fighter plane.

 

Simple and Strategic

In September 1944 the Technical Office of the Waffen-SS issued an order for Bachem to build the Natter at his Waldsee factory.

 

The Natter had strengths, including the advantages of being cheap and simple. Bachem must have wondered why others were slow to grasp the beauty of it - a sky full of Natters, blasting B-17s right and left.

 

The concept was an accountant's dream in a nation worried about a shortage of strategic materials. The Ba 349 was a crude airframe, intended for ease of manufacture by unskilled woodworkers.

U.S. Army soldiers inspect captured German Bachem Ba 349 Natters at the end of World War II. U.S. Army photo

The design of the wings was too simple for words: they were plain rectangular slabs of wood devoid of ailerons, flaps or control devices. The control surfaces to make the Ba 349 roll, pitch and yaw were installed on the four fins of its asymmetrical cruciform tail. The four control surfaces in the tail were also connected to guide vanes directing the rocket exhaust that augmented aerodynamic control.

 

The nearly cylindrical fuselage was wrapped around a Walter 109-509A-2 sustainer rocket capable of putting out thrust for 70 seconds at full power, and dependent upon volatile liquid fuel. The aircraft was to be aided in its vertical launch by what would later be called boosters - four Schmidding 109-533 solid-fuel rockets, two on each side, able to generate thrust for 10 seconds, necessary because fully loaded the aircraft weighed too much for the Walter rocket to lift on its own. As Allied bombers passed overhead, the Natter would be blasted vertically off the ground, climbing almost vertically on its internal rocket. Nearing the bombers, the pilot would sight on one and fire his battery of rocket projectiles. He would then use his remaining kinetic energy to climb higher than the bombers and swoop back for a ramming attack. Just before impact the pilot was to trigger a mechanism to separate his forward fuselage and let him bail out. The idea of a ramming attack was short-lived, abandoned with the early scheme of a separate forward fuselage section, but the remainder of the scenario remained unchanged: the Natter would go straight up, attack, and recover.

Lest there be any doubt of Himmler's influence, the SS openly took charge of Natter development and of unpowered, manned flights in which the Natter flew as a glider.

The Natter had no landing gear, which saved weight, expense and construction time. The pilot and aircraft were meant to be recovered safely but separately. After intercepting bombers and discharging its weapons, the Ba 349 was to dive to a lower altitude and flatten out into level flight. The pilot would then open the cockpit canopy, be thrown clear, and open his parachute. A separate chute would bring the relatively lightweight Natter safely to the ground, ready to fight another day.

 

SS Scrutiny

Lest there be any doubt of Himmler's influence, the SS openly took charge of Natter development and of unpowered, manned flights in which the Natter flew as a glider. In December 1944 the project came largely under the control of the SS and Gen. Dr. Ing. Hans Kammler, a longtime Himmler loyalist who'd razed the Warsaw Ghetto and who employed domestic prisoners to create an underground V-2 rocket assembly facility at the Mittelwerk, one of a complex of underground factories employing slave labor near Nordhausen in central Germany.

A U.S. Army soldier listens to a description of how the Bachem Ba 349 Natter worked from an unknown German. U.S. Army photo

The first of just 15 Natters that were completed became available in October 1944, and was used for four unpowered handling trials, towed aloft behind a Heinkel He 111 twin-engine bomber. Erich Klöckner piloted the Natter. Three times, it performed as predicted.

On the fourth flight, something went wrong. Klöckner abandoned the first Ba 349, known as aircraft M1, in mid-air and parachuted to safety.

To clear doubts about the Natter in the glider mode, Hans Zübert made a daring free flight in M8 on February 14, and showed that once it was aloft and level, the Natter was a stable and comfortable aerodynamic platform.

 

The problem was getting there.

Bachem comforted the pilot as they talked moments before the launch. If the Natter should veer off course, Bachem told Sieber, he should execute a half roll to stabilize the ship and attempt a recovery. Sieber's Natter was equipped with an FM transmitter for the purpose of transmitting data from monitoring sensors in the machine, and Sieber also had an interphone that connected him to engineers in the launch bunker.

The first vertical launch with booster and sustainer rockets firing, but without a pilot in the cockpit, took place Feb. 23, 1945. Bachem was now under pressure from authorities in Berlin, who were telling him to achieve a manned vertical takeoff by the end of February.

 

March Mission

In fact, it was March 1, 1945 when test pilot Lothar Sieber briefly became the bravest man in the world.

 

The location was Heuberg near Stetten am kalten Markt, Würtemberg on an artificial plateau at a Truppenübungsplatz (military training area). Just short of his twenty-third birthday, seasoned pilot Sieber strapped into the fully fueled, camouflaged Natter vehicle No. M-23 for history's first manned vertical takeoff of a rocket.

 

Bachem comforted the pilot as they talked moments before the launch. If the Natter should veer off course, Bachem told Sieber, he should execute a half roll to stabilize the ship and attempt a recovery. Sieber's Natter was equipped with an FM transmitter for the purpose of transmitting data from monitoring sensors in the machine, and Sieber also had an interphone that connected him to engineers in the launch bunker.

 

 

A closer view of the German Bachem Ba 349 Natter experimental vertical take-off fighter-interceptor, captured by the U.S. Army in Austria 1945. U.S. Army photo
 

The launch began as planned. On cue, the Walter main rocket motor built up to full thrust. Sieber depressed the switch to ignite the four rocket boosters.

 

The sound was shattering. The Natter lifted aloft in a cloud of steam and rocket smoke. It climbed rapidly to 500 feet, where it abruptly pitched back into a near upside-down attitude. Now, instead of climbing at 90 degrees it was climbing at 30, but in an inverted curve. Onlookers thought they saw the four boosters detach and fall to earth as they were supposed to, but in fact one failed to break loose.

 

Sieber executed a roll maneuver but could not make the aircraft recover. Engineers on the ground saw the cockpit canopy fly loose at 1,500 feet, suggesting that Sieber considered the aircraft out of control and had begun the escape sequence.

 

To the frustration of observers, low hanging stratus clouds swallowed up the Natter. The Walter motor was heard to cut out. The Natter soared to about 5,000 feet and then came straight down. It blasted a 15-foot crater into the earth about five miles from the launch pad. Altogether, the Natter had been in the air for about 50 seconds.

 

Anxious onlookers searched the sky for Sieber to come descending out of the clouds beneath a parachute canopy. He did not. At the impact site, rescuers found a grisly assortment of body parts, including half of a left arm. Before the main motor cut out, Sieber may have unintentionally become the first human to fly faster than sound (763 miles per hour at sea level. While there are conflicting theories of what led to the pilot's death, most agree that something went wrong with the canopy.

 

Because an experienced test pilot had lost his life, Himmler's SS canceled the Natter project, and wrote finis to what can only be viewed, with hindsight, as a brilliant mistake.

 

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Dave Thomas

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