Archive for the 'Iraq War' Category



05
Oct
08

Army considering replacing M-4 carbine

Colt’s M-4 carbine contract with the US Army is near expiration. Since 1994 Colt has been contracted with the Army, supplying our troops in Iraq with the M-4, a cut-down version of the M-16. The M-4 also provides modular capabilities.

Recently though, as a result of some troops experiences in the dusty conditions of Iraq, the weapon’s performance has come under fire in its own right. The Army has conducted testing at its laboratory in Maryland, pitting the M-4 against newer weapons systems. All of the weapons were sprinkled with talcum powder in an attempt to simulate conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Things didn’t work out well for Colt.

The M-4 finished last in weapons jams. Its competitors were the FN Herstal SCAR, H+K 416 and the H+K XM8. The M-4 experienced more jams than all of the other weapons combined. The other weapons are comparable–or even slightly cheaper–than the M-4: About $1,500 a piece.

Brig. General Mark Brown defended Colt’s system by stating that the testing was not an exact replica of the conditions in Iraq and that soldiers need to clean their weapons regardless of the system; muzzle-loader or assault rifle.

At the risk of destroying my new career in the army, I think General Brown is ignoring an obvious problem. While 89% of polled troops in Iraq stated that the M-4 performed adequately, 19% percent of 2600 troops that were veterans of firefights said that their M-4 jammed during the shooting. This is a horrible ratio of good performance to weapon’s failure. Nearly 1 in 5 of troops involved in shooting their weapon at enemy forces can expect their weapon to fail them, if only until they can conduct clearing measures.

Anecdotally, I can say that the M-16’s performance is far below what I would expect from my weapon in combat. Even in training, I’ve experienced numerous stoppages, as has every soldier I work with. Some can only fire one or two rounds at a time before clearing a jam and continuing, only to have to repeat the process a few rounds later. This is from weapons right out of the armory–not new–but nonetheless very clean.

One of the problems that I see is the weapon’s breach. It’s called a “star chamber.” It is shaped like a star and is designed to funnel a 5.56 round up and into the barrel. The star chamber has grooves that, when slightly dirty, can grab rounds before they are seated in the barrel. Not good. More reliable assault rifles, such as the AK-47, merely have a polished chrome ramp that rides the bullet to its home.

The M-4 does have some excellent qualities. It’s super light, compact and accurate. It’s modular rail system allow soldiers and operators to modify the weapon to their immediate preferences and needs. The Army wants a rifle with an effective range of about 600 meters. The M-4 is about 500.

With all of the good qualities noted, it’s a shame that none of them matter if the weapon doesn’t work when it’s most needed. The Army has already been through this in Vietnam, when the first generation M-16 cost American lives by repeatedly failing in the muddy, wet conditions of Indo-China.

The Army has changed a lot in the years since the Iraq War began. New body armor, up-armored HMVVs, new tactics and technology for defeating IEDs and insurgents. It would be a shame if we deny our warriors their most important asset: a reliable personal weapon.

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06
Sep
08

Anbar Province

Anbar Province, the most violent province in Iraq before David Patraeus took over the job as lead commander in Iraq, has now been handed back to the people of Iraq. American blood shed in Fallujah and Ramadi washed defeat away from victory– and revealed too that Barak Obama cannot lead this country–because he denies that blood the honor it deserves.

And where are the headlines? Instead, we hear about Sarah Palin’s personal issues, if they can even be called that.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have already made astoundingly bad choices for America and the world, not to mention for millions of Iraqis, and the Democratic ticket hasn’t even reached the President’s office yet.

They both wanted out of Iraq when Patraeus spoke to Congress not too long ago. Hillary Clinton too. They’re all afraid of Iraq, because they know nothing of war’s purpose, so they just want to avoid things they know little of. It’s only human nature. And reading the polls told them they could get votes by avoiding tough choices.

 Biden and Obama, against all perceivable evidence, continued to deny that the surge would and did work. The event took place right in front of their eyes, and yet they could not cast aside they’re own beliefs, beliefs they got from their own adoring media-that success was not an option.

Why in the world should I vote for them? Say what you will about George Bush. Say he is clueless, dumb, a cowboy, incompetent, say all of it. But Obama’s conclusions on Iraq are even more stupid. He had the advantage of having Iraq develop right in front of him, where Bush had to make decisions as things developed from 9/11 on.

And still, Obama, Biden and virtually all of the pandering Democrats couldn’t make the right choice. And as long as their party lives and dies by the failures of George Bush, they will never understand. They took the unpopularity of Iraq and ran with it for purely political reasons. They selfishly placed the lives of millions at risk, so they could have power, and even now they deny their own spoken conclusions, uttered mere months ago.

Yet, Obama still maintains his image as a different kind of politician.

He simply doesn’t understand. He’s out of his league on force options. It doesn’t fit what he was taught at his liberal colleges, what he discussed with unshaven dissidents in Political Science class.

If only he knew that the child’s playground is as edifying as the classroom when it comes to dealing with bullies and tyrants alike.

02
Sep
08

War’s Future

Despite our hopes and efforts, we are epochs away from hammering swords into plowshares.

Pax Americana is real, though. Industrial war is but a romantic memory, resolved for the time being,  to lurk amongst the pages of high school history books and hour-long Discovery Channel shows. Millions of lives are saved for that.

Instead of the classic “couldron battles” of yesteryear, war is reduced to the simmer of a slow-cooker. No more massive tank clashes. No more dashing field marshalls with tactical brilliance. The true king of the battlefield will have to master cultural and mass psychology. How to control groups of people who are willing to kill and die over thousand year blood-feuds.

Under the leadership of men like Gen. David Patraeus, we’ve come a long way in learning to deal with insurgencies. But I’m not sure some future politicians will get it. In an article that I recently posted about Patraeus, one Democrat criticizes the surge, not for it’s effectiveness but because of its effectiveness. He states that because there was a huge reduction in violence after the surge, future administartions may be more apt to believe that problems can be solved with violence.  

And he’s right. But it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

The myth that violence solves nothing has been smashed, its death celebrated in a hundred wars of ideology, land grabs and blood feuds. We can never afford though, to allow our enemies to know the truth–that violence works–while ourselves denying that same truth. Millions around the world, and throughout history have died or suffered the most horrible tortures because evil men knew that violence was an option, while the premise was denied by hopeful or just plain cowardly leaders and populace.

We must not elect men to office who tell us, that through policy, we can make the world an easy place to be. Easier, yes. But we can never avoid choosing. Not once.

Those that want isolationism seek to gain a moral high-ground with their rhetoric. They believe that America has done more damage than good in its foreign wars, especially recently. They misconstrue losing the wars, or those wars having no easily defined outcome, with the morality of fighting in the first place. I will grant, that states should always consider whether a war in winnable before entering into it. And obviously it is not right to throw away the lives of a nation’s soldiers in un-winnable wars.

But many of those arguments are made behind the veil of time, through which the evils of Soviet power remain blurred. Not only ideological evil, resulting in millions of executions and persecutions, but stupid economic evil too. Communism just doesn’t make money. So people starve and become slow, dumb, uncreative and in the end–unloving. Ask the women of old Soviet Russia what their men were like. Barbarians, that’s what. Lazy, drunkards whose wages were the same if they scrubbed toilets or performed bypasses. So corruption became the order of the day. It was the only way to get ahead, and it’s doomed modern Russia to be its slave.

I digress, as I’m prone.

We can not claim though, a moral high ground, when millions die and something can be done about it. Neither are we right when our own people face danger in the form of jihadists, zealots and cataclysmic madmen, but we choose to ignore them in hopes they’ll go away.

They won’t.

When governments ignore terrorism, at least the larger acts of it, it encourages the terrorist. As much as many of them claim to want martydom, the biological impulse to live remains. The idea of laser-guided bombs and efficient American troops raiding their layers, is frightening.

And yes, we must kill them.

We will have to deal with their propaganda and recruiting efforts after. But remember that for one who wants to hate, for one who feels empowered by his hate, there is always a reason to hate. Combining that hatred with a slight twist to the tenets of Islam will always bring armies of more haters.

So America must protect the populace in which the terrorist grows. We must show the people that we are not only using military force to protect America, but to protect them. In doing so, we again protect ourselves. We segregate the suicide bomber from his own people. Instead of the populace believing that the violence will stop if America just leaves, they must know that the violence will stop when the terroists are gone. When there are no more terror-schools.

In the end we must choose where we stand on American intervention abroad. This Iraq war did indeed carry on for far too long. But confusing it’s length with its rightness is a mistake.

02
Sep
08

Davis Patraeus

Here’s an article which illustrates why I admire David Patraeus so much. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/09/08/080908fa_fact_coll?currentPage=1

Not a bad article, considering it’s written by The New Yorker….

22
Jul
08

McCain’s rejected op-ed; Obama’s ignorance of matters military

I wonder what would have happened if McCain’s recent write-up, sent to the op-ed grave yard by New York Times editors, along with hundreds of high school student’s essay submissions about world peace, would have been about the horrors of Gitmo, or unstable and murderous soldiers returning from Iraq. Pretty sure it would have made the cut.

Check out his article, submitted to CNN by McCain’s campaign: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/21/mccain.op.ed/index.html

He’s dead on in his analysis. And nothing that Barak Obama sees in Baghdad will change his mind about America’s near-future role there. The left will go on for decades about what the current administration has done wrong, and to them, any answer that involves the military is wrong. Mr. Obama and his wife have been nicely insulated from every form of reality. This is not really a slam so much as a fact. Big, liberal colleges are the perfect place to find refuge from reality. Theory, theory, theory. Theory is so much fun. Reality hurts, and it hurts more when you’re not accustomed to it.

Obama spouts the same Democrat line. How is he different? He’s Jimmy Carter in boxer shorts.

The Democratic candidate does have a skill, though it’s a cheap skill, easily honed, or at least too easily appreciated. He has the ability to make people believe that there are easy answers, and that things can get done without any pain at all. And people so want to hear that. Anyone can fall victim to the “take a pill and make it go away” syndrome. Certainly no one wants to hear that sometimes you may have to bludgeon entire cultures into pulp and rubble in order to make them stop attacking your own culture. But sometimes you do.

Fortunately, most of the NCOs in the military are closely associated with reality. Maybe a little too so–I wish they’d relax a little. But better that, than an entire country dance away to Byzantium, only to watch thousands of innocents perish in a flash.

Sorry, but Obama’s way is the lazy and easy way. The way to get cheap votes from those people who are outraged by the terrorist’s only friend: The TV camera.

There’s no cheap way out of this. We should learn from our war in 1993 with Iraq: Pay now and up front, or pay later and in spades.

13
Jul
08

Considerations on relationships

Yesterday I was at the mall and stopped into the bookstore. One of the new releases is a book by Oliver North documenting the Iraq War and his visits there. It’s a hard-cover book with many high-quality photos.

As I flipped through the pages, one photo struck me, reminding me of others like it that I’ve seen. It showed a soldier sitting on his couch with his beautiful wife. The soldier had suffered severe burns from an explosion while on deployment. His mouth appeared stretched to a permanent smile and his skin was pink and mottled. His arms too had suffered severe damage; scaly and reddened.

At first I felt sad for the soldier. I thought of the numerous times that he must have heard how dangerous his tour would be, all of the stories he’d heard about other soldiers being killed or maimed. What did he think of his chances when he was deployed? When the heat and force of that explosion rocked his convoy or foot patrol, what went though his mind as the dust settled and the screams of his comrades slowly gathered into coherant voices.

But that sadness was replaced by a greater one. As I stared at the photo, the juxtaposition of the burned soldier and the very pretty wife hit me. She was smiling an unforced smile and she sat very close to her husband, holding his arm and looking very comfortable.

She loved her husband despite his viscious injuries and freightening appearance.

It saddened me, because it now seems second nature for me to assume people won’t stay together. People will split apart because of the slightest problems, or because they think they can do better–their own vanities grabbing them and carrying them down terrible roads.

But here was a couple who had stayed together, through an ordeal which would shake anyone. Yes, they may split in the future, but as I said, the woman’s body language showed nothing but love for her husband.

14
Apr
08

Woman problems

As I sit writing this, I’m congratulating myself for an excellent choice of beer: Highland Brewing Co.’s, Gaelic Ale. I’m sitting at Chicora Alley in downtown, Greenville. Chicora is a hip little restaurant/pub situated on Main St. Their Chicora Burger rules the Known Food Universe.

 

But I don’t feel that great right now. I’m worried about my girl–America. I love my country, so I worry about her. She’s having menstrual cramps, she’s grumpy and doesn’t seem to care about her man’s needs.  It’s all because she’s thinking about that other guy–Iraq.

 

I want to smooth her beautiful hair back, kiss her, but she won’t even let me touch her.

 

“Just calm down, Honey. It’ll all work out in the end, because we’re in love, right?” I say. Just a scowl.

 

It isn’t just this other guy, Iraq, that’s the problem. It’s all of her “friends”. They’ve been talking to her on the side, telling her to leave, forget about who made her great–me, the working, semi-anarchistic American. She used to love the bad-boy in me. No more. She wants an NPR listening, pipe-smoking, vegan. She used to dig my tattoos and the fact that I did what I wanted, when I wanted. But this Iraq dude has her all teary eyed and longing for better days. She may even vote for a guy for president just because he has a deep voice and a great haircut…

 

I’ve tried everything. She thinks these are the worst of times. I try to tell her about the good ‘ol days, make her remember the tough times we’ve been through and how we came out all smiles in the end. She says I don’t love her anymore, because I put underwear on a guy’s head when I was at Abu-Ghraib and took a liking to water-boarding. I remind her how she wanted to tear my clothes off, do it right there in the parking lot, when I burned Dresden to the ground and razed Nagasaki with a nuclear fire-storm.

 

But she’s having none of it. She’s infatuated with this new guy. I know I’ve made mistakes. I admit that. No one’s perfect. But does she think she’ll find love again, a love like mine? No–this new thing she has is cheap and something to cover up the depression she’s fallen into. She’s been under so much stress lately. I’d like to say that medication would help her, but I’m not so sure that hasn’t contributed to the problems we’re having.

 

No one loves a warrior; no one gets it. I’m a steetfighter at heart .She’s forgotten how my rough-and-tumble ways got her everything she has. How she appreciated my strength when I knocked the crap out of the Mexican Empire. California’s nice, right? Texas? Way back when I first began to court her, America sat daintily, sipping tea, as I shattered the British Imperium (twice). She rubbed the soreness out of my shoulders after that bloody affair. “Poor boy,” she said. “Work and fight so hard. Poor boy.”

 

Then there was that time when I got really drunk. Started having black folk do all the hard work for me. I messed up, and I knew I’d pay a price eventually. I just didn’t know how to get out of my situation without a lot of pain and suffering–and lots and lots of blood. More blood than you’ve ever seen in your life. I still walk with a limp from that fight. But I won the war with myself, and that is the toughest war anyone will ever fight. And the greatest thing is that my lady still loved me.

 

I’ve been in so many fights. I have so many scars. Scars used to be a symbol of manhood. No more. She wants the tender skin of the effete, now. Doesn’t she see how hard I’ve tried to do the right thing? Does she think it’s easy to be as self-critical as I am, to always be questioning your own motives and actions? That’s what I do, too.

 

I mess up. Everyone else messes up more. She wants me to change. She wants me to be more like that catamite, France. But like someone said, “We can never cease to be ourselves.”

 

Come back, Sweetheart. I know I’m a little rough around the edges, but if you look into my heart, you’ll see I’m a lot better than all the others. If you’d understood that when I fight, I have to break some bones, it would have been over by now. But I tried to make you happy, and win a fight at the same time. That was wrong of me, and it was wrong of you to expect no blood.

 

This Iraq guy will be gone soon. I’ll be waiting, America. You know I’m always here for you, no matter where your fluttering heart wanders.

 

Come back. I’ll try to do better.




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