cerebrumilleurselli

The dispatches of a geek Christian living in the forbidden-lands of the sophists.

The Pandemic’s Cost

This website, if accurate, is way more frightening than the virus.

http://pandemiccosts.com/?modtag=djemBestOfTheWeb

TL;DR:
Direct economic costs as of Apr 24: $750+ billion total/$6000+ per household (this does not include the economic damage we’re doing with the various relief/dollar-printing legislation passed by congress)
Drop in daily GDP compared to February: 42%
Daily economic cost of the pandemic per household: $250+ PER DAY
Number of Americans working: 165 million in February, 112 million as of Apr 24
Aggregate reduction in hours worked in America: 50%

What’s the cost in lives lost if, after less than two months of lockdown, the economy has contracted 42% (as measured by daily GDP) and Americans are working only half the hours they were in February?

To give a hint, after the fall of the USSR, from 1991 to 1998, Russia lost 30% to 50% of its GDP. The mortality rate, deaths per 1000 people per year, spiked after the collapse with one estimate saying that over 2 million extra deaths occurred over the decade of the 90’s because of the economic situation.

The Wuhan-Virus is bad. It’s killed a lot of people. It will kill a lot more. We have just passed the 50,000 deaths mark and what many believe is the peak mortality rate. If the curve is symmetrical, then we have another 50,000 deaths ahead of us for this outbreak.

A hundred thousand people killed is a huge tragedy. But our attempts to stop this disease are leading us down a road that will end in greater tragedy.

When you can’t afford to buy ventilators because you’re broke, you have to get in line with the other third world countries for Chinese handouts.

The Fate of Nations

Sunday is usually a minimum news-consumption day for me. If it weren’t for a text from a friend, the significance of this day would have gone by un-noticed for me.

On this day, eighty years ago, Germany invaded Poland. All throughout the 1930’s, there were invasions and other examples of military mayhem taking place around the world, but historians have agreed to call this the beginning of the Second World War.

It was after the invasion of Poland by Germany that Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Many think of WWII as the last “good” war.

A war where we all agree on who the good guys and bad guys are.

The Allies versus The Axis. Yep, all cut and dry there. Good guys on one side, bad guys on the other.

But not really. Not from Poland’s view point, for sure. Not from Finland’s either.

Most everyone will put Germany into the “bad” category.

But what about the USSR? They were part of the Allies, right?

The truth is that the Soviet Union invaded Poland sixteen days after Germany did the heavy-lifting part of the invasion. The USSR invaded the Baltic states and Finland all on its own. The USSR offered up flimsy excuses for its actions, but unknown to the rest of the world, except Germany of course, was the fact that the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the supposed non-aggression pact between the USSR and Germany, was actually a plan to divvy-up Europe between the two powers. The USSR was just gobbling up its share of the booty.

Just acknowledging the truth in the above paragraph will cost you a fine in the Soviet Union… er, I mean Russia.

Back to Poland.

After September 1, Poland would go on to suffer at the hands of its German invaders, and then its Soviet invaders. The Katyn Forrest Massacre, carried out by Stalin’s forces, was just a down-payment on what Poland would suffer during the war.
So the Soviets were not the good guys. Not even close as far as Poland was concerned.
But Poland should have seen at least Britain and America as good guys, right?

Well…

If you haven’t read this article by Pat Buchanan, you should.

Yes, we sold out the Poles.

Look, war is exhausting. A lot of people had died; a lot of treasure had been spent. America just wanted to get back to life within the safety of its continental fortress. So what if a lot of little countries were going to have to spend the next half-century under the heel of communist jack-boots? We totally defeated the fascist jack-boots, so why are you harshing our mellow?

May a thousand alternate histories bloom: if only we had truly liberated Poland after the fall of Hitler…

There is a sad dynamic that small nations must contend with. One of the arguments of the Federalists for why there should be a unified federal government for the thirteen colonies was that smaller nations tend to have sand kicked in their face by larger nations. See the last paragraph of Federalist #3.

Reading the history of Poland, Finland, and the Baltic states during the 20th century is a cruel lesson in this dynamic.

Job 12:23 is instructive. God controls the fate of nations. He builds them up; He tears them down. America has enjoyed a time as one of those large nations that has done its share of sand kicking back in the day. America will not continue forever. We are headed for a societal singularity. The defining characteristic of a singularity is that you cannot predict what will be on the other side of it. I don’t know what lies on the other side of America’s singularity, but I have a feeling we’re going to find out what it feels like to have sand kicked in our face.

Finally, back to Poland once more.

So, if WWII started on September 1, 1939, when did it end?
If you are Polish, you might say September 19, 1993, the day the last Russian troops left the country.

Post Script:

In researching this essay, I was disgusted by the amount of Soviet/Russian revisionist history propaganda out there.

I expected it from Russia, but it’s absolutely cringe-worthy coming from sources outside Russia.

It’s good to know the old Soviet propagandists have been kept employed, both in the old Soviet Union and in the colluding media of the west. Note the headline.

My Tin Foil Hat Needs a Sweat-Band

For the record:
Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon?  Yes.
Was 9/11 a false-flag operation?  No.
Are aliens being held in Area 51?  Trick question; there’s only one alien there.

What makes something a conspiracy?

There are generally two definitions of conspiracy. The first is the legal definition. When two or more people come together to plan and carry out some bad deed, they have formed a conspiracy; they are conspirators.

The second definition is trickier. This is the definition of conspiracy that keeps the original definition (two or more people up to no-good) but adds an element to it that challenges commonly accepted truths.

Thinking about some of the well-known conspiracy theories out there, you can see how they involve views on subjects that go against the prevailing wisdom. These challenged views have included:

The accuracy of historical events
The integrity of institutions and individuals
The dynamics of society
The existence of aliens and other beings
The nature of reality itself

This is the essence of the conspiracy theory. It is the societal dissonance displayed when a subset of people sees the world differently from the group as a whole.

In other words, a conspiracy theory is an argument over worldview.

Bear with me for a moment.

Over the last few weeks there have been two notable prison incidents involving high profile prisoners.

In Russia, opposition leader Alexei Navalny suffered a “severe allergic reaction”.
In America, Jeffery Epstein was found dead in his prison cell. He “committed suicide”.

Outside of Russia, it is acknowledged that what happened to Navalny was not an allergic reaction, but a poisoning. This kind of thing happens often to people who oppose Putin. This happens so often, in fact, that saying that Putin was responsible for it does not rise to the level of conspiracy theory, at least outside of Russia. We all share the worldview, the presumption as fact, that Russia’s government will do mean and nasty things and then lie about it. It is a worldview that doesn’t need much in the way of blind faith, since it is supported by numerous pieces of evidence. The poisoning of Navalny isn’t a conspiracy, its business as usual in Russia.

What about the second incident? What really happened to Epstein?

Your answer to that is a product of your worldview.

Is it possible that powerful people will go to extreme lengths, even to the point of committing murder, to protect or expand their power?

Most people will say yes.

Ask again if this is possible in modern America, and the answers will start to diverge.

Some will adamantly say no, it’s not possible here.

Some will say yes, but only in regards to the opposite political party. Their side would never be that corrupt.

My worldview says that power, money, and base desires will tempt and corrupt people. If America has more of these things (and is flaunting more of these things) than other countries, then her ability to corrupt is that much greater.

Why are you shocked when you see someone, someone who had the ability to ruin so many powerful people, die in suspicious circumstances? As Joe Scarborough has alluded to, this happens in Russia all the time.

And that is why this is shocking to so many. This is one more data point to show that what we once thought of America, of American society, American institutions, is not true. We are a society where things like this happen. Instances of the powerful silencing people, by various means, happen all the time here.

We are one of those countries.

If this realization is new for you, then hopefully your paradigm shift won’t be too harsh. My shift involved a lot of gear grinding. It started in 2013 with the IRS targeting scandal and culminated with the Trump-Russia hoax. I fought it the whole way. It is not what I wanted to believe about America.

If you remain skeptical about this, let me leave you with a quote from someone who is an expert of sorts on this topic:

“…I would not cross these – these people for fear of my life…” -Monica Lewinsky

Post Script:

This post was originally going to be much longer. When the original essay was well past the thousand-word point and hadn’t even amounted to a brief introduction of the points being aimed at, I had to call it quits.

That essay was different in theme and tone. It was going to cover a lot of history and have, as an overall theme, the mainstream media’s collusion in the conspiracies that have occurred over the last decade. Anyone who doubts their collusion must realize that, although you may have heard about Epstein for the first time this July, certain right-wing media have been talking about him and his fellow travelers for years.

That theme, and many others related to conspiracy theories, deserves to have a book written about it, but not by me. My writing time is precious as it is, and besides, I could not do it justice.

Finally, if you want to see a good take on this issue, watch this.

SBC Gone Wobbly. Again.

The SBC is returning to its dog’s breakfast.

I not quite ready to stick a fork in the Southern Baptist Convention, but they need to clean house again.

They came back to their senses in 1979 when they started a process to boot the liberals out of their seminaries and agencies.

It’s way past time to do it again.

They seem to forget that it took over 10 years to fully regain control of the SBC, and it was never (except in the plans of God) a foregone conclusion that the conservatives would pull it back from the brink. Some of the votes were won by conservatives by only a 1% margin.

I don’t know if they have the stomach for it again.

Back in the 70’s the issue was the Bible.  Today it is the embrace of elements of the secular worldview.  But I guess I repeat myself.

There is another issue in the SBC that will make cleaning house difficult.

This is the SBC’s trend on racial virtue-signaling.

The liberal view of whites in America is that they fall into one of two categories: woke, self-loathing, progressive good-thinkers, and National Socialist, white supremacist, Hand-Maid Tale aspiring bad-thinkers.  If this is your view of the condition of white America, that all whites occupy one of these two camps or, at best, lie on a spectrum between them, then you haven’t been paying attention.

The SBC leadership has adopted this view.  They are paying attention to the wrong things.

From the Pastor of a large Fort Worth church slamming white men during the 2019 Baylor university commencement prayer, to the 2017 convention condemning a political category that they couldn’t even define, but had been assured by the liberal media was anti-Gospel, the SBC has allowed the culture around them to set its agenda.

They are allowing them to set not just their agenda.  They are allowing the to culture to tell them what is good and bad, right and wrong.

But back to the virtue signaling.

The SBC has a race problem.  That problem is not an infestation of white supremacists or unregenerate neo-Confederates.  The problem is that the SBC is cowing before the perpetual racism accusers, the race hustlers, the cultural Marxists.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out, Satan loves making Christians chase the wrong problem.  When the ship’s hull is breached and filling with seawater, Satan will convince you that you need to spray water on the non-existent fire.  It has the two-fold advantage of keeping you from effectively fixing your real problem and also of potentially making it worse.

The SBC has been convinced it needs to constantly apologize for the racism of its past.  Which they are OK with, because seeking forgiveness for the sins of those long dead is easier than seeking forgiveness for your actual sins.  It’s impossible for there to be repentance with the former, but the later, you see, would involve actual repentance.  Difficult stuff, that.

The SBC’s problems, along with those of the American church in general, are many.  One of the SBC’s problems is the cultural Marxists within its ranks that are driving this virtue signaling.

And this is why it will be difficult for the SBC to clean house.

If the SBC comes to its collective senses, it will have to purge itself of these characters like it started doing with the liberals forty years ago.

That’s when the cries of racism will get even louder.  It will come in a two pronged attack.

The first will be accusations that the SBC is giving into racists factions by getting rid of the cultural Marxists because the cultural Marxists are the ones keeping the racism charge alive.  Without their brave speaking-truth-to-power witness the SBC will go back to holding their conventions around burning crosses in lynch-tree groves.

The second will hit the hardest.  Some of those that need to be booted off their positions of power will be black.  The 2019 SBC Resolution Committee chair mentioned in the top linked article appears to be one such individual.  The purging of these individuals will of course be accompanied by accusations that they were fired for being black.  The accusation of racism will be that much stronger when a face and name can added to the propaganda.

Will the SBC have the back-bone to stand up for its doctrine under these conditions?

Only God can determine this.

Pro-tip for Christians:

There is such a thing as original sin.  It is the sin that we are born into, that we cannot help but be afflicted with because of our birth.  If your church comes to insist, just as the current American culture does, that the only original sin is whiteness, then they are not  preaching the Gospel.

Along these lines, don’t be fooled by the nice sounding statements of faith on your church’s website. For many churches there is a worldview of difference between what their faith-statement says and the reality of what the church is preaching and acting on.

Ask yourself: What gets my church mad?  What do they get indignant about?  What do they claim is an injustice in society that must be addressed?  What do they think are the problems facing the church?  Facing society as a whole?

This is not an exhaustive list, but answering these questions is a start on figuring out what your church is really all about.

A more complete examination of this topic is coming in the future, God willing.

 

Radios, Rifles, and RPG’s: The Three R’s of Modern Combat

I originally wrote this essay in 2011.  It is still relevant.  A recent article about issues with military radios reminded me of it.  Updates are at the bottom of the page.

 

In the last few months I’ve read 3 memoirs dealing with modern military actions. These ranged from Mogadishu in 1992 to Afghanistan in 2005.

The first was Joker One. It was written by a Marine lieutenant, Donovan Campbell, who led his platoon during their deployment to Ramadi, Iraq in 2004. This is by far the best of the three memoirs and I recommend it highly.

The second was Seal Team Six. This was written by a member of ST6 who was part of the “Blackhawk Down” battle in Somalia in 1992.

The third was Lone Survivor written by Marcus Luttrell. This book is awful. Marcus was part of a reconnaissance team that was compromised when goat herders (2 grown men and a boy) discovered them. The 4-man SEAL team held a vote on whether or not to kill the goat herders. Marcus cast the deciding vote to let them live. In the book he says he regrets that decision.

I’ve gathered that the Just War Theory classes at BUDS are not well attended.

The book has many issues which I will not get into here. I will say that I think the publisher and the ghost writer, who writes military fiction and should have known better, did Marcus wrong.

So after reading these three books I’ve noted three things that run almost as themes through them.

The first is the poor quality of military radios and military communication systems in general. No one would know Marcus Luttrell’s name if his team’s radio had worked and they had been able to call in air support. His commanding officer would not have had to sit, exposed, on top of a hill to use a satellite cell phone. He was mortally wounded making that call. He was eventually awarded the MOH.

In Ramadi the Marines’ radios were constantly malfunctioning. A former Marine who was working for a Blackwater-type outfit in Ramadi saw their plight and gave them some civilian Motorola radios to use. Marines were wounded and killed because of their inability to communicate with each other, with their base, and with supporting units. When there was trouble they would often find each other in the city by running toward the sound of the gunfire.

I did not read of any radio malfunctions during the battle of Mogadishu. What did happen was that men on the ground were unable to talk directly to aircraft overhead. The aircraft were trying to direct the convoy of Rangers back to base. Directions had to be relayed through several different radio operators. Since they couldn’t directly communicate with the convoy, by the time word reached the lead Humvee to “turn left at the next intersection” the lead Humvee was already several streets past it. What should have been a quick drive back to base turned into a do-loop through a gauntlet of AK-47 bullets and RPG’s. With adequate communications the convoy would have gotten back to base quickly, its casualties would have been minimal. The Blackhawks would have had no reason to linger at low altitude above the city, therefore they wouldn’t have been shot down. Even if they had been shot down, elements could have been directed to assist them. Part of the confusion of the lost convoy was that some of the directions it received were meant to send it back to base, while others were directing it towards the downed helicopters.

The military use of radio has been around for almost a century now. Its use at the company and platoon level has been around for the 70 years since WWII. And yet we still haven’t nailed this technology down to where fire teams can reliably communicate with each other and with their commanders. If the three books are in any way representative of what our troops are going through, then with the exception of defeating IEDs, improving communications would be the single greatest lifesaver out there.

The second theme is the limited effectiveness of the individual rifle. Studies performed after WWII on rifle use in combat showed many interesting things. After the shocking stat that two thirds of all riflemen never fired their weapons, there were some other jaw droppers. One was that those wonderfully built, accurate out to a thousand yard, match-grade rifles were rarely used to inflict an enemy casualty beyond a hundred yards. Most casualties were a lot closer than that. Another jaw dropper was that firing accurately was not important. What mattered was the number of bullets fired. The nature of firefights is such that once combatants are firing at each other while maneuvering or while behind cover, the bullet hit probability trends to a very low number. It is just plain hard to hit a target that is either moving in a random pattern or is positioned in such a way that it is presenting only a small exposed area to aim at. Add to this the difficulty of aiming while you yourself are trying to randomly move, or you are situated awkwardly behind cover. Then throw in some excitement-panic (some “Baghdaddy buck fever”) and it’s a wonder anyone manages to hit the enemy. When the odds of an aimed shot go this low, they approach the odds of getting hit by a stray bullet or a ricochet. This is when quantity outstrips quality.

It’s not like accuracy doesn’t matter. The situation is very different when the soldier has cover and his enemy is exposed and not actively avoiding fire. This is the sniper’s setup. Now the shooter has time and opportunity to aim and fire. The dynamics of sniping and skirmishing are almost totally opposite. The sniper maintains cover at all costs. He will move only when he absolutely has to. His volume of fire is minimal; he’ll expend a max of two or three rounds for each target engaged.

For the skirmisher, maneuver is everything. If he becomes pinned down behind cover, he may remain unhurt, but he is useless to his team-mates and will not push toward his team’s objectives. Cover is only a temporary stop to allow him to provide “overwatch” fire while his team-mates run past and take up cover positions so he can do the same. The volume of fire he lays down is limited only by the mechanics of his rifle and his need to husband his supply of magazines for the duration of the firefight.

All 3 books have both situations of sniping and skirmishing. During the sniping episodes the men’s rifles are lethal. Their marksmanship skills shine. During the skirmishing episodes it’s a different matter. When the combat is just rifle against rifle the situation bogs down into a miniature war of attrition. The give and take of rifle fire continues until one side decides to cut its loses and disengages from the battle. Lots of bullets are exchanged but few hits are taken or given. When both sides are firing from cover there are only a few choices a team leader can make.

One choice is to keep his team where it’s at (assuming the cover is decent) and hope that all of the following are true: 1. the enemy gets tired of the fun and games before his team runs out of ammo and functional fighters, 2. the enemy doesn’t employ a tactic that changes the balance of fire and cover, and 3. that the enemy doesn’t bring a weapon to bear that does the same.

Another choice is for the team leader to move his men despite the risk of getting hit. Movement is done through what the army calls a “bounding overwatch”. This is the classic technique where half the team is stationary and provides covering fire while the other half runs to its next position. Once there, that half fires, while the other runs, and so on. Movement can be to the sides or back to disengage from the fight (retreating), or it can be to the front or sides to attack the enemy. Coming at your enemy from the side is called flanking. The idea being that while your enemy’s cover may protect him from fire from one particular direction, you will start firing at him from a direction where his cover doesn’t provide him protection. Usually some sneakiness is involved. If you leave part of your team at the original position to keep your enemy occupied while the other part performs the flanking maneuver, you will manage to put your enemy into a crossfire. It is a checkmate of sorts where he can’t get adequate cover to protect himself from fire from both directions.

Attacking your enemy by charging directly at him goes by many different names. Some call it gutsy (especially when it succeeds), some call it stupid, (especially when it fails), while others call it being a Marine.

Sometimes it’s the only choice left. I love the story of the seven British Highlanders who were ambushed by 35 Iraqi insurgents. They had taken cover behind their vehicles and were trading fire with the insurgents. As their ammunition ran low, they saw they were on the losing side of this battle of attrition. With no other choice, they fixed bayonets and charged. In the end they killed or captured all 35 insurgents and didn’t lose a single Highlander. Sometimes being a hero means doing the obvious.

This is the dilemma of the rifle-armed participants of a firefight. Rifle fire is dangerous enough to keep soldiers behind cover, but not dangerous enough to quickly resolve a standoff. Rifle fire is also not dangerous enough to totally prevent movement; it just makes it costly.

The MILES training gear accurately portrays this condition. Laser hits on the receiver sensors worn by the participants are never considered a definitive hit or miss. Instead a probability is assigned based on how accurate the shot was made. The system will make the participant a casualty based on the frequency of shots and the probability of each of those shots causing a wound. Each soldier finds himself in a military version of the Schrödinger’s cat experiment.

In all three books the combatants fall into this firefight situation. Men who are deadly accurate with their weapons wind up playing ballistic whack-a-mole with an enemy who merely has to lay prone behind a head sized stone to negate a million dollars’ worth of training (Wasdin was part of Seal Team 6 which fired more rounds per year in training its approximately one hundred members than the entire Marine Corps did to train all its members).

I wrote earlier of the choices a team leader has when in a firefight. There is one more option.

Metaphorically (and to quote President Obama), it’s to bring a gun to a knife fight. Or in this case, to bring an RPG to a gun fight.

Which brings me to the third observation.

If your headed into a firefight, bring some RPG’s. Where rifle fire was not as effective as I had supposed, RPG’s are devastating; more so than I had imagined before reading these books.

RPG’s are game changers. They are one of those weapons that negate cover.
In Afghanistan, Luttrell and his team were pinned down on a ridge, taking cover behind rocks. It wasn’t great cover, but sufficient to prevent them from being immediately over run. They continued like this for a while, both sides exchanging rifle fire from behind cover, when the Taliban “brought the gun to the knife fight”. They launched several RPG’s at the SEALs’ positions. RPG’s can act as direct and indirect weapons. As direct weapons (weapons that are fired at a target that is in the shooters line of sight) the rocket propelled grenades simply blow up the opponents’ source of cover. The rock or wall you’re hiding behind shatters. If the explosion hasn’t taken you out of action, your now exposed condition will. As an indirect weapon (one that hits targets hidden behind cover) the RPG hits to the side or back of a position and the poor soul is hit by shrapnel from either the grenade itself or whatever the grenade blewup.

When Luttrell’s team was hit by RPG’s they immediately abandoned their position in the only way they could: they jumped off the cliff they had been backed up against. Later, on a lower ridge, the Taliban again had the SEALs pinned down. This time Marcus was taking cover behind a tree stump when it was hit by an RPG. That is what saved him. The explosion knocked him off the ridge and out of the Talibans’ sight. He spends the rest of his book hiding from them.

It’s is notable that it is only the SEAL ops that go horribly wrong that are interesting. The ones that go well are incredibly boring. Wasdin did several ops during Desert Storm. And they are snoozers. “Yep, I infiltrated a hundred miles behind enemy lines, aimed a laser at a compound until the JDAM’s hit, then I ex-filtrated. I never fired my rifle the entire op.” Or words to that effect. I don’t remember exactly since my eyes glazed over. When a SEAL gets into a firefight it means things have gone horribly wrong.

SEALs go on ops to snipe, perform reconnaissance, blow things up, or capture people. The only time they actually attack or assault is in close quarter combat situations. Those are a different kind of animal. Taking over Iranian oil rig platforms in the Persian Gulf or attacking Bin Laden’s compound would fall in this category. SEAL’s never intentionally get into protracted firefights and if they do, their reaction is not to attack the opposing force but to get away as quickly as possible.

But back to RPG’s.

All three books highlight their devastating effectiveness. In Jocker One, Campbell’s platoon is shot up so many times it’s not possible to keep count. By the end of their deployment over half of the men have been wounded in some fashion. Many more than once. Few of the hits actually take guys out of the action. While Campbell loses about 20% of his men to battlefield injury, with one exception, none are permanently or seriously disabled. The one exception is a fatality. The man is hit by shrapnel from an RPG. In Luttrell’s book, not only are the RPG’s devastating in firefights, they also are effective against helicopters. The Quick Reaction Force that comes to rescue Marcus and his buddies is wiped out when an RPG is fired directly into the open ramp of their helicopter. And of course during the Blackhawk Down incident, two helicopters are brought down by RPG’s. The more I learn about it, the more the battle of Mogadishu comes across as a proxy battle between Al Queda and the US. According to Wasdin, the Somali’s learn how to use RPG’s in the anti-helicoptor role from Al Queda advisors. Prior to their help, both the Americans and Somalis assumed that pointing an RPG upward would be suicide to the user due to the rocket’s back-blast against the ground. Wasdin doesn’t elaborate on how this is overcome (I assume they just launch from spots where the back-blast won’t affect them, such as at the edge of roofs.

It is interesting to consider why the RPG is such a game changer. Why is it like “bringing a gun to a knife fight”? Why isn’t the modern assault rifle in the hands of a well-trained soldier equally as devastating? Part of the answer goes back to the difficulty in actually hitting your target in a firefight situation. Another part of the answer lies in how effective assault rifle rounds are in taking a man out of the fight: that infamous measure of “stopping power”.

At this point the “great taste-less filling” arguments begin between the 7.62 vs 5.56, and the 9 mm vs 45 caliber advocates. I am not picking a side in this debate. Everyone acknowledges that the bigger the bullet, the greater the stopping power. They also acknowledge that the smaller the bullet, the more rounds a soldier can carry into battle and therefore the more he can fire and therefore have the better potential to hit the enemy. There should be a perfect caliber that gives optimum effectiveness by balancing bullet stopping power with the number of bullets it’s possible to carry in a combat load. For all I know, 5.56 mm may be that caliber. But I don’t know and I think it’s immaterial. To push the analogy: arguing about assault rifle caliber is like two guys arguing about optimum blade length for a fighting knife while their enemy shows up with a pistol.

Both 7.62 and 5.62 require that to immediately incapacitate a person a hit has to be made to the head, spinal cord or major organ. All three books have dramatic examples of guys taking multiple shots and continuing to effectively fight, at least temporarily. It doesn’t mean all is rosy for them. Bleeding out is a concern: long term disability as well. One of Luttrell’s team had his thumb shot off early in their engagement. He continued to fight back hard, but if he had survived that would have meant the end of his SEAL career.

Of course, individual mileage may vary. Wasdin described a scene in Mogadishu where the Humvee they were in had wounded Rangers in the back. One of the wounded only had a flesh wound to his hand. He spent the rest of the battle in a state of shock, staring at his wounded hand. Another Ranger had been shot in the back but was still passing ammo up to the front of the truck for the shooters. He was shot two more times while doing this, but never stopped. I probably would have been the first guy.

An RPG changes things. It doesn’t have to have MOA accuracy to be effective. It doesn’t have to hit a vital organ to take a soldier out of the fight. Add to that its ability to take out helicopters and thin skinned vehicles (plus its cheapness and minimal learning curve) and you have a modern wonder weapon.

Speaking of modern wonder weapons, did I mention that it is almost an exact copy of the Panzerfaust RPG the Germans developed in WWII? There aren’t too many things in the modern arsenal that weren’t first seen in WWII (e.g. assault rifles, RPG’s, jets, guided weapons, and atomic bombs).

This brings me to the issue of what US infantry troops do to bring the “gun to a knife fight”.

From what I’ve read, not just in these three books but many others, our troops rely heavily on air power to break the firefight stalemate when movement is not possible. When things go bad, you make it rain steel from the sky with a phone call.
But our squads and fire teams go into battle with little more than their rifles.

Luttrell’s team was armed only with 5.56 rifles and 9 mm pistols. Wasdin’s 4-man SEAL team that accompanied the Ranger’s in Mogadishu was armed with 2 CAR-15’s, two M-14’s and their 9 mm sidearms. The two operators armed with M-14’s were not happy about their choice. They quickly ran out of ammo for their rifles and spent a good part of the battle using their pistols.

In Ramadi, the Marine squads carried M4’s. Each squad also carried SAW’s (Squad Automatic Weapon’s, 5.56 M249 machine guns), M203 grenade launcher attachments for their M4’s, and hand grenades. I don’t have a complete picture of how many of each was carried, but the bottom line was: not enough. The way Donovan describes their fire fights I would guess they had one SAW and one M203 per squad (a 13 man group), at most they had two of each per squad (that would make it one SAW and M203 per six man fire team). They also carried hand grenades, but again, not enough. Always, marines with weapons heavier than rifles have to be located and brought up to meet a situation, instead of just being there. When five out of six of your guys are armed with rifles, that’s mainly what you’re fighting with. Even the M203 seemed to be used only sparingly; only when Donovan, as Platoon leader, called for it.

What Donovan and his Marines excelled in, however, was maneuver. Leaving the protection of cover and running into a storm of bullets is apparently easy when you have a total disregard for your own safety. Either that or the “USMC” patch on the chest makes one bulletproof.

There is a concept in the military called “combined arms”. It usually refers to the bigger picture, to the match-up of battalion sized units and larger. It means the integration of ground units of different types, such as infantry and armor, along with air units. The advantage of combined arms is simple. Different weapon systems are brought together on the battlefield against an enemy. Each weapon system has different advantages. By combining them on the battlefield, their advantages overlap and negate any strengths the enemy may have.

A good example of this was used by the Marines when they re-took Fallujah. The Marines fought house to house throughout the city. The house clearing went as follows. A squad of Marines would advance on a house compound. They would break the lock on the compound gate with either a sledge hammer or by firing a breaching round from a 12 gauge shotgun. While waiting in a stack along the wall by the gate, they would toss a hand grenade over the wall and charge through the gate when it went off. They would stack against the house wall this time. If no one had fired at them from the house by this time they would try to draw fire by firing their rifles through a window. If they received no fire by now, they would go through the house room by room. If they were fired on they would attempt to clear with a combination of grenades and rifle fire. If the insurgents were barricaded well, they would simply pull out of the house and call an M1 Abrahms tank to level the house with its main gun. Alternately, they could call for an AC130 gunship, a Cobra gunship, a GBU dropped from a Harrier jet, or artillery rounds.

Choices, choices.

A group of insurgents well barricaded in a house can hold off a squad of Marines with ease (surprisingly, even though they had plenty of time to do so, not that many houses were well prepared as redoubts; it was as though the insurgents didn’t realize till the last minute that the Marines really would attack). Notice that even before the crew served weapon systems are brought to bear, the individual squad has a selection of weapons to choose from to accomplish different tasks: shot gun to breach a door, grenades to clear space for entry, rifles to engage targets to kill or keep them under cover. A small number of SMAW’s (shoulder fired bunker buster rockets, i.e., expensive RPG’s) were carried and used when a bigger boom was required than what a hand grenade could provide.

The Marine squads in Fallujah were ready for the fight. They carried a mix of weapons that matched the task.

It may seem logical to just drive Abram tanks through the city and not expose infantry to these hazards. After all, there isn’t much that an insurgent can do against an Abrams. There isn’t much that can withstand the main gun of an Abrams. But you can’t clear a house with a tank (flatten, yes, clear, no). Nor can you flatten every house. There aren’t enough tanks or tank rounds. You need tanks working with infantry to clear a city.
The combined arms concept has been pushed down to smaller units but basically stops at the company level. A company of infantry will have three platoons of riflemen (40 men per platoon) with a weapon selection similar to what I referred to earlier with Donovan’s platoon. It will also have a “weapons” platoon that is responsible for mortars, anti-tank weapons, and other crew-served weapons.

In a combined arms type campaign, a company of infantry will work with a company of armor or vehicle-borne crew-served weapons. But generally you don’t see squads practicing the combined arms philosophy within the squad. Either they carry nothing but rifles, or they carry so few other types of weapons that their impact on the fight is not significant.

The combined arms idea for small units is not a new idea. Roman legionnaires each carried a javelin for hurling at infantry formations, and a short sword for melee work.

There are some signs that infantry squads will be better armed in the future. One of the best things to happen was the fielding of the XM25 by some select units. This weapon is what’s left over from the OICW program that was cancelled a few years ago. That weapon combined a 5.56 assault rifle with a 25 mm grenade launcher. This grenade shell is special. It’s equipped with electronics that communicates with the sighting device on the weapon.

The shooter puts the crosshairs of the sight on the target and the device determines its distance with a laser. It then sends that info to the grenade. The shooter can also add or subtract a meter at a time to this distance. He then fires the round and the grenade detonates when it has reached the predetermined distance. If the target is behind cover, the shooter can aim just above or to the side of the target’s location (depending on whether the target is just below a wall or around a corner), add a meter to the target distance, and fire the round. Now the grenade will travel past the target and detonate behind him where he is unprotected.

The XM25 is the OICW without the assault rifle portion of the weapon. It has none of the disadvantages of the M203 or M320 grenade launchers. It fires from a four round magazine instead of the awkward single shot sliding barrel. It has a range of over half a kilometer and is highly accurate. The current grenade launchers have a range of only about 100 meters and are not accurate at all. This weapon is definitely a game changer. It can negate the effectiveness of cover, thereby breaking the firefight stalemate.
It will be interesting to see if it sees enough use in Afghanistan to provide good data on its usefulness and if it changes how fire teams are armed.

Update:

Yes, radios are still a problem:

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/04/26/us-and-nato-radios-cant-talk-each-other-air-force-wants-change.html?ESRC=eb_190429.nl

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/28/green-berets-cleared-in-afghanistan-friendly-fire-/

 

This excellent article at the link below, highlighting the effectiveness of various rifle cartridges, is worth reading. It brings up an obvious issue: a cartridge may be optimal for urban warfare, while totally useless in open countryside. I wish I had read this article before writing this essay.

Click to access a512331.pdf


As for the XM25, I’m not sure about all the reasons, but this weapon is no longer being used. I read reports from initial users in Afghanistan that it was liked by the troops, but ultimately the program was cancelled.

A Response From One of the Mike Pence’s

Pete Buttigieg, along with half the U.S. population, is laying some ground work for running for president in 2020. As part of that effort he gave a speech at a fundraiser run by a group called the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

I have blissfully ignored most of what these perspective Democratic nominees have said, other than chuckling at a few headlines.

But this one caught my eye because, to get right to it, it’s addressed to me.
Here’s the quote:

“If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade…and that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pence’s of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

This last sentence has grown some legs and has moved about internets. It is a fine example of rhetoric and I think he has the oratorical skills to be a contender in this crowded race.

His most impressive ability is to sound absolutely normal while advocating for the most horrific things.

His rhetoric is fine-tuned; his theology is a mess.

In debate it’s considered a mistake to argue dialectically against someone who is using rhetoric. Nothing looks more peevish than fisking someone’s meme.

There is Biblical guidance for situations like this. Proverbs, chapter 26, says to answer a fool according to his folly…right after it says not to answer a fool according to his folly. To those of you who think this is just one more example of the Bible contradicting itself – pay attention.

I don’t know the fine details of Mike Pence’s theology, but it is reasonable to assume that we would share the same worldview, the same idea of the Gospel, the same idea of the nature of God and humanity. This is why Mr. Buttigieg is speaking to me; I am one of the Mike Pence’s of the world. Although I prefer the term Christian.

Those ideas about God include the fact that God is Pete Buttigieg’s Creator. How Mr. Buttigieg has turned out is exactly how God planned for him to turn out before the creation of the world. But planned is a loaded word. There is a gap between God’s will, and His desire. Learning the difference is learning about the heart-break of God.

Mr. Buttigieg implies in other quotes that, earlier in his life, he was not happy with the fact that he is gay.

“If you could have offered me a pill that could make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you could give me a swig of water.”

You can hear the pain, the heart break, in his voice when he relates this. I believe he is sincere here and not just playing to the crowd.

If Pete Buttigieg could have stayed at that point a little longer perhaps, or return to it even now, he might find the heart-break of God. He would discover that God shares our heart-break over what we have become.

Because part of the crazy ideas Mike Pence and I share is that we are all broken, that we, all of us, may be what God planned, but not what He desired.

There was a brief time when humanity was not this way. But we rebelled. We rebelled against our Creator and threw our lot in with the father of lies.

In a grotesque twist of how God desired the world to be, we chose Satan to be our father.
Our first parents have passed this condition down to all of us. Now we are all broken.

This brokenness manifests itself in various ways, including sexual desires that are grotesque twists of what God desired. What all this brokenness has in common is that it tries to drive us away from God. The worst symptom of our disease is that it makes us despise the Cure.

But…there was at least a time when Mr. Buttigieg knew he needed curing.

At some point, Mr. Buttigieg decided to stop fighting.

For some forms of brokenness, it is easier to embrace it. To pretend that this is the way it’s supposed to be. If you believe there is a God, then it’s easier to think that this is both God’s plan and desire for you.

God has done enough revealing of Himself, both in special revelation (the Bible) and general revelation (natural law) that it is obvious that this is delusion.

But we are not rational creatures; we are rationalizing creatures.

So, Mr. Buttigieg, I do understand your brokenness, and so do the rest of the Mike Pence’s. Because you see, we’re broken too. If there had been a pill that would take my brokenness away, I would have swallowed it too.

I don’t have the same brokenness you do. For all of us it manifests differently, and there is no “special” kind of broken. But rest assured, I know what guilt, shame, and utter failure feel like.

There was no pill, but there was water.

Living Water, in fact.

Jesus makes an offer for healing, but it’s a crazy offer. It’s the ultimate in chemotherapy.

He will kill our disease – by having us die.

And not just once, either.

No, you have to die every day. Every day you have to get out of bed and immediately start mortifying all those broken parts of you.

The worst part is knowing that the healing isn’t complete until this body is dead. Some wag in the past said that to live is Christ and to die is gain, and I feel it in my bones that he was telling the truth.

This is not for the faint of heart. Do you know that in the same written sentence, Jesus passes the same judgement sentence on both cowards and the sexually immoral? Both types wind up in the lake of fire.

You served in the military in war time. You know what is asked of soldiers and sailors. This kind of commitment is the same: it is sacrifice to the point of death.

It is the most difficult thing you will ever do. And it will also bring you the most joy, the most hope.

To directly answer your challenge: no, our quarrel is not with your Creator, it’s with your father. Turn from him and become an adopted son of the good Father who desires you to be a brother to His Son.

Sorry grunts, the Air Force is just not that into you.

Interesting article on the status of the F-35 fighter.

The F-35 Lightning, along with the Littoral Combat Ship, are my two favorite military programs to hate on.

Behold one reason for my hate of the F-35:

“The F-35 is supposed to meet or exceed the combat performance of the aircraft it is slated to replace. The F-35A is intended to eventually replace the A-10 in the close air support role. Until engineers can make the F-35A’s gun shoot straight, and demonstrate this conclusively in testing, it is unlikely that many ground troops will be willing to trust the F-35 as they do the A-10 to fire safely at enemy targets close to their positions. And likely fewer still would be willing to entrust their lives to the F-35’s 182 25 mm rounds instead of the 1,350 30 mm rounds the A-10 can carry.”

Remember, outside of Jesus Christ’s atoning death, there are no solutions to anything, only tradeoffs.

You cannot build a single airframe that is optimized to do everything.  That’s not how physics works.

The Air Force had it’s fingers crossed behind it’s back when it said the F-35 could replace the A-10 and be just as, or more, capable for close air support of soldiers and Marines on the ground.

The Air Force has hated the close air support role from it’s inception.  The A-10 is the exception that not so much proves the rule, but demonstrates what good ground support can look like.

The fighter jock mentality prevails in both the Air Force and Naval Air.  Hot-shots going fast in sleek air-frames wins every time against dutiful yeoman going slow in effective and economic airframes.

Why else the lack of a fighter drone?

Why else has the Air Force not purchased an essentially off the shelf light attack plane, more than 10 years after deciding it needed one?

Why else the ludicrous use of the B-1 bomber, a supersonic nuclear weapon delivery vehicle, as close air support?

The Air Force’s budget is not big enough to buy and maintain dedicated airframes to do all of it’s assigned tasks, so some airframes have to do double and triple duty.  Guess which function the Air Force decided was far less important than purchasing more F-35’s?

When money is tight, you have to make sacrifices.  Unfortunately, when it comes to close air support, those sacrifices have names.

Curse You, Cube-Law!

A meme riffing off of last week’s post.

For info on the R-14, its sister ships and how a submarine found itself under sail, check here.

Curse U CubeLaw

Frigate Math, Battleshort, and CDR Salamander

A Mathematical Interlude:

The Royal Navy is considering the purchase of a light frigate, the “Leander”.
It’s diesel powered and advertised to have the following performance:

It will travel 8100 Nautical Miles at 12 knots, and 7600 NM at 16 kts.

This is the article that has the brochure listing the Leander and some other light frigates.

Problem:
How far can the Leander travel at 8 kts?
How far at 4 kts?
Bonus problem:
What speed will give the greatest range for the Leander?

Assumptions:
1. The ship has a constant hotel power load independent of ship speed.
2. The relationship of ship speed to propulsion power load will follow the pump laws: Power is proportional to speed cubed.
3. The ship holds a fixed amount of fuel that corresponds to a fixed amount of energy it can use for hotel and propulsion power. This amount of energy is represented by “E”.
4. The only use of the fuel is to supply hotel and propulsion power.
5. The effect of fuel weight being depleted and other real-life, maritime engineering-type effects on the ship will be disregarded.

Let:
H=hotel power (everything required to keep the ship running except the power going to the shaft)
P = propulsion, or shaft power
E = energy of the ships fuel
t = time the ship can travel on its fuel at a particular speed (units of hrs)
X = range, or distance the ship can travel on its fuel at a particular speed (units of nautical miles-NM)
N = ship’s speed in knots (kts)

(BTW, the rest follows in jpeg’s because, despite this demonstration of extreme geekianty, I’ve not mastered how to do formula formats in WordPress.)

Frigate math 1

Frigate math 3

Frigate math 4Frigate math 5

The fact that the range for 12 knots appeared in the flyer for the Leander would tend to validate the assumptions used to come up with these numbers, since the shipbuilder would want to advertise its best range.

The two extremes of speed are also interesting.
At all stop, the ship spinning on its anchor, it can maintain its hotel load for 974.4 hrs, or 40.6 days, a little longer than its advertised “endurance” of 35 days.
At its advertised full speed of 25 kts, it can travel for 4861.6 NM and last only 8.1 days. At this speed, its hotel loads make up only about 20% of the total power produced by the ship.

_________

I have heard stories of destroyers during WWII who gagged their boiler/steam system reliefs shut so they could operate at higher steam pressures and squeeze a few more knots out of their ships.  I quickly looked for some internet verification but my 5 minute search turned up empty.

The ship I was on had a “battleshort” switch that would bypass normal safety features that would render propulsion in-operative in case certain parameters were exceeded.  Think of it as an electrical way of gagging boiler reliefs shut.

It was a common midwatch practice to contemplate the “what-if’s”, and one of them was guessing how many extra knots could be had by going to battleshort and cranking power into the red zone.

The math was always disappointing.  More than one awesome fantasy has fallen victim to the dreaded cube-law.

__________

I can’t recommend CDR Salamander highly enough.  If you are interested in global politics, naval/maritime affairs, or the general state of our nation, he’s invaluable.

His tirades against the abomination that is LCS are the usual highlights of my weekly/monthly binge reading of his posts.

LCS is our nation’s naval train-wreck that you can’t turn away from…but I’m drifting into a different blog post.

American Theocracy, The Supreme Court, and Post-Roe

February 17, 2019

Laura Barcella wrote this article that includes an interview with the author of “Handbook for a Post-Roe America”, Robin Marty.

Some things to note:

1. How Barcella views “rights”.

This is a major problem in America now. Most people have no idea what “rights” are. They espouse positive rights, instead of negative rights, and put them in the same category. The rights found in the constitution are negative rights: they all relate to what the federal government cannot do to you. The federal government can’t stifle free speech, establish a federal religion, or take your guns away. Most Americans now think of rights in terms of only positive rights. The government must provide me with food, shelter, basic income, and health care, because these are all “rights” as they have come to understand them.

Rhetorically, they state that these are “basic human rights” and anyone who says otherwise is heartless. Note how, in the sliding liberal Overton window, abortion went from being a constitutional right (extracted tortuously from the “right to privacy” which itself was tortuously extracted from the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure in the bill of rights) where the government could not prevent you from having an abortion (therefore a negative right), to where the government must provide you an abortion on demand (positive right).

The move to positive vice negative rights is a continued move towards statism where the government takes the place of not just God, but family and all other aspects of community as well.

2. Terminology

Always look at the words used to describe things. Many Christian thinkers have pointed out that the culture war is a war over the dictionary (what is a boy? what is a girl? what is marriage? what is right? what is wrong? what is racist? what is justification?).

Note how she labels the two sides of the argument “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion”, vice the more typical pro-choice/pro-life.

Abortion is not a procedure that ends the life of a fetus, it is a “straightforward medical procedure”.

A new term I’d not heard before was “self-managed abortion” as a euphemism for an abortion performed by the mother on her own baby. I found this part of the article very interesting. Part of the book referenced in the article is a DIY at home abortion manual. Maybe they’ll come out with a second edition that includes a manual on self-managed infanticide (I am sure they could get Virginia Governor Northam to write the introduction, and since he’s a pediatrician, he could even give pointers in the manual itself).

What will Planned Parenthood and the other Kermit Gosnell’s of the world do when abortions are open-sourced? More importantly, as far as I am concerned, what will the pro-life movement do?

3. The makeup of the Supreme Court.

This is really what all the brouhaha is all about. For the past 20 plus years the court has had a split of 4 reliably liberal justices, 4 reliably conservative justices, and 1 Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy was sort-of libertarian, with a jurisprudence based on the fuzzy-headed logic of typical libertarians. He usually voted in favor of government non-intervention (which is why most think he was pro-abortion). It was typical for him to vote in ways and with reasoning’s that were unpredictable (but again, he was reliably pro-abortion). I think he actually enjoyed being the odd guy out. The night before big decisions of the court were to be announced, pundits didn’t ask “how’s the Supreme Court going to decide?” they asked “how is Kennedy going to decide?”

The current makeup of the court is not as conservative as liberals fear, or conservatives hope. On some important cases Roberts has gone left. The first was on Obama care’s constitutionality. Roberts sided with the liberals and gave them the 5 to 4 they needed (Kennedy decided to play the libertarian that day) to keep the law. More recently, in December of 2018 he voted, along with five other judges, to hear the case of two states that were trying to defund Planned Parenthood. Remember that the decisions about which cases the supreme court hears are as important as the cases they actually make decisions on. This left a lower court ruling in place that stopped the states from defunding planned parenthood.

BTW, Bret Kavanaugh was the justice who joined the four liberal ones and Roberts in declining to hear this case.

So much for our conservative supreme court. I cringe to think what a completely liberal one would do.

4. Finally, I don’t know what to make of all the “post-Roe” noise.

On both the left and right it’s hard to distinguish true concerns with the daily doses of outrage meant to drum up click-through’s from the respective sides’ bases.

If you follow left-wing or mainstream media (but I repeat myself), you would think America was about to institute a theocracy with the Mike Pence-rule written into the constitution and Karen Pence presiding over the Supreme Court in between teaching art classes at Immanuel Christian School. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound too shabby.

It comes down to your definition of “theocracy”. For many liberals, a “theocracy” is a government that holds the same positions on abortion and gay marriage that the democrats did in 2008.

Remember, it was just in 2008 that Hillary Clinton said “abortion should be safe, legal and rare, and by rare, I mean rare.” By 2016 all three rare’s were gone.

As for gay marriage, Obama said this in 2008: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Seven years later he was lighting up the White House in rainbow colors to celebrate the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision making gay marriage the law of the land.

Conclusion:

I am not encouraged that pro-choice advocates feel that Roe may be overturned. It’s not because I don’t want the ruling overturned. I do want and pray for this. But overturning Roe will be as effective in ending abortion as Prohibition was in eliminating alcoholism. Laura Barcella will write articles on where to find all the abortion speak-easy’s and Robin Marty is already writing manuals on how to make your own abortion moonshine.

Ending Roe will save some lives, but as some Christian thinkers have pointed out, ending Roe isn’t the real goal. The real goal is not to make abortion illegal (but it is a good start), it is to make abortion unthinkable. Only then can the number of abortions be dramatically reduced.

This will not be done with the winning of an election but by changing hearts (remember politics is downstream of where the people’s hearts are). Hearts will not be changed until God decides to bring revival to a people.

I have it on good authority that prayer is instrumental in bringing such things about.