06/Aug/2012 · 14:32
The Army is big on mandatory briefings. Generals want briefings of everything under the sun, demanding more information than he and his entire staff can even process. Some briefs are somewhat useful for new soldiers such as annual briefings on the Geneva Convention and Laws of Land Warfare. Others such as the Equal Opportunity brief are worthy of an eye roll but relatively painless.
With the Army developing AKO and pushing it out Army wide on the internet in the early 2000′s, these briefings have not been replaced with, but rather supplemented with, dozens of redundant safety certification forms and surveys.
There is the information awareness certification, the motor vehicle safety certification, various safety surveys, anti-terrorism awareness certification, sexual harassment certificates, and many others. I was even recently told about an online SERE re-qualification course in which students roam around a virtual forest looking for sticks to rub together in order to start a virtual fire with computer pixels. The internet is a great tool but also allows busybody staff officers up and down the entire Army chain of command to reach all the way through the command structure and burden soldiers with their “great” ideas.
It gets even more ridicules when you realize that it is all about making quotas. Each unit has to get a certain percentage of their soldiers “qualified” through this type of online training. Each survey is considered to be critical mandatory training until you get to 70% of the company through it, then you won’t hear about it again for a couple months when it becomes time to re-qualify.
Even the best Sergeant Majors run around the company harassing their boys to get them to complete the surveys. Whether they are great leaders or not, the metric used to judge whether Senior NCO’s have been successful is not how combat effective their unit is, but whether or not they met their quotas on spread sheets and internet safety surveys. No one cares how many High Value Targets you captured and killed if MEDPROS is out of date.
Combined with Risk Mitigation worksheets and other risk adverse safety measures, these briefings and online workshops represent the Army’s pathetic attempt to replace real leadership with a bureaucratic Cover Your Ass technique that ensures that Officers don’t lose their jobs even as their units fall apart under the weight of suicides, drug abuse, vehicle accidents, and even losses in combat.
23/May/2011 · 20:57
Click the picture to buy on Amazon.com
My non-fiction article about Special Operations weapons and employment is now live for the Amazon Kindle.
For years a highly dubious “Weapons Report Card” allegedly written by an American soldier serving overseas has been making the rounds on the internet. Unfortunately, this report card is highly inaccurate and full of misconceptions. In this 3,700 word article written by a former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, the weapons used by American Special Operations forces are examined and reported upon. Rather than an all inclusive, comprehensive report, this article gives a good thumb nail sketch of the wide variety of weapons currently used by US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a special focus on exotic weapons and cutting edge systems in the process of being integrated into service. Contains seven photographs from the author’s collection, including the bizarre “Chimera Gun” that an Iraqi soldier built in his home from spare parts!
An invaluable resource for researchers, enthusiasts, and those with an interest in the military.
M4: The M4 rifle is a shortened M16 carbine and is by far the most common weapon found in the hands of US forces today. Special Forces troops carry the M4 and utilize the new SOPMOD 2 package which includes the EO Tech 553 holographic reflex site, LA-5 infrared laser, foregrip, the M3X visible bright light (tactical light) and associated accessories. Also included is the Elcan Spector telescopic sight which is adjustable from 1 power to 5 power via a throw lever on the side of the optic. While this is an interesting idea, nearly all Special Forces troops leave these sights in their card board boxes to collect dust and simply use to EO Tech 553. We felt that the Elcan was a little bit too much and perhaps over engineered. Now, if we had been facing long range engagements in Afghanistan, rather than precision raids in Iraq, maybe we would have felt differently. Along with the EO Tech, the LA-5 is much smaller than the PEQ-2 and together these are the most valued items in the SOPMOD kit.
M9: The M9 Beretta pistol is essentially the military version of the civilian 92F. I never cared for the pistol due to the double action trigger and poor placement of the decocking lever. Another failing of this weapon is that it is chambered for the 9mm round. Most of us would have preferred a .45 caliber hand gun. The manner in which this pistol is carried may be unfamiliar to some so I will explain here. To load the pistol, the slide is locked to the rear, a loaded magazine is inserted, and the slide is released to chamber the first round. The decocking lever is then depressed to safely drop the hammer. Next, the decocking lever is switched back up into the fire position. Special Forces do not consider the decocking lever to be a safety and do not use it as such. The weapon is considered to be safe while on fire with a round in the chamber due to the fact that it has a double action trigger. At this point, the pistol is safely holstered.
As I mentioned above, I never cared for the double action trigger, it makes sight alignment difficult with such a long squeeze needed before the hammer drops. Rumor has it that some Special Forces soldiers have taken apart the trigger mechanism and cut the springs to make for a shorter trigger pull. I never did this myself, but one hears things. Of course, it is highly illegal under military law for an operator to go inside and make modifications to his weapon in this way.
Filed under Action Adventure, Afghanistan, Gear, Iraq, Special Forces
Tagged as non-fiction, OEF, OIF, research, Special Forces, Special Operations weapons, writing
03/Apr/2011 · 16:20
More pockmarks from decades of warfare.
This place was like crawling around an MC Estcher sketch.
The approach up to the entrance.
The edge of the compound.
This should give you an idea of the kind of terrain you encounter in this part of the world. Off road driving skills are a must.
Team picture. Myself on the far left with the SR-25 and spotting scope at my feet. Next to me is a sniper buddy with the .300 WinMag and two other team members with suppressed M4 rifles.
01/Apr/2011 · 17:25
When I first saw this castle I thought it must have been built by Alexander the Great’s troops when he fought his way through Afghanistan thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed to learn that it was built sometime in the 1960’s.
The dirt ramp up to the castle entrance wrapped all the way around the hill. Up on the parapets was a DShK heavy machine gun. Needless to say, it was a very defendable position and as you will see it had been fought over several times over the decades.
Myself on the ramp up to the entrance. We were invited up to take a look around by the guards who occupied the fort.
Note all the bullet holes…
Another view (with team mate’s head in the foreground!) of the interior of the castle. The design was kind of haphazard, a sort of labyrinth, probably from having been rebuilt so many times.
Me and a team mate with a few of the guards. I’ll have some more of these pictures up this weekend.
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