Monthly Archives: September 2008

>Vanderboegh: M14 – The Three Hundred Meter War

>M14: The Three Hundred Meter War
A Chapter of ‘Absolved’
by Mike Vanderboegh

Written to the tune of The Connaughtman’s Rambles by the Irish Descendants

It is said that God is always on the side of the big battalions. This is not so. God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of the best shots. — Voltaire, Notebooks

“One-Shot Paddy”: 25 years before the Battle of Sipsey Street

In Ireland many years ago or so the legend says
Saint Patrick roamed the hills and glens to drive the snakes away,
But now we have another saint that’s bad news for the crown
His name is “One Shot Paddy” and it’s Brits that he will hound!

In the Wild Irish Rose pub on Long Street in Columbus, Ohio, the band was off tempo and the lead singer off key, but they mor e than made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in musical skill. The pub crowd didn’t mind. The drunks howled along with the band, making electronic surveillance impossible, so Sean McGrory didn’t mind in the least.

The American opposite him at the table didn’t mind either.

The Brits are getting worried they’ve all gone underground
If ‘One Shot Paddy’ sees them they know they’re going down
So the next time that you see the Brits with their faces full of fright
Look out for ‘One Shot Paddy’ and his friend called Eamon Wright!

“That wouldn’t be you, they’re singing about, would it?” the American asked, wondering for the tenth time why he was here.

“Yeah. We’re all One-Shot Paddy’s these days, the one’s who are still alive.” The accent was harsh, nasal and Belfast all over. The American didn’t know a heck of a lot about the Irish but he knew that. He took the double jigger of Bushmills and dropped it into the pint. Then he grabbed the mug and tossed some down. Beejeezus! No wonder the Irish kill each other.

“So, you asked me here,” said the American, “how can I help you?”

Through the hills of South Armagh this gallant hero roams
He’ll wander through the countryside he likes to call his home,
And when he finds a target he will quietly take his aim,
It is then that you will hear the crack and the Brits know who’s to blame!

McGrory didn’t hesitate. The American had been referred to him by a local NORAID fundraiser, and vetted by people McGrory trusted. He’d spent plenty of time on the ragged edge of gun running and usually could sniff a set-up. This seemed straight-up, but . . .

The Brits are getting worried they’ve all gone underground
If ‘One Shot Paddy’ sees them they know they’re going down
So the next time that you see the Brits with their faces full of fright
Look out for ‘One Shot Paddy’ and his friend called Eamon Wright!

“I hear you have some items we might find useful.”

“A buddy of yours said you’re looking for specific hardware. We met at the Ohio Gun Collectors Association Show where I have a regular table. I had a copy of Guerrilla Days in Ireland by Tom Barry I was reading and I guess he keyed on that. We started talking Irish history and politics, and the next thing I know, I get invited to a NORAID benefit.”

So if you’re home at night and the newsflash it is red,
Your man from South Armagh’s at work – another soldier dead,
And when it comes to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day cheer,
Remember ‘One Shot Paddy’ and the gallant IRA!

The American looked up at the band, then continued, “Of course, I was smart enough not to go. I figure, hey, if you’re needing what he hinted you’re needing, we don’t want to do our meeting and greeting where the FBI hangs out, right?”

The Brits are getting worried they’ve all gone underground
If ‘One Shot Paddy’ sees them they know they’re going down
So the next time that you see the Brits with their faces full of fright
Look out for ‘One Shot Paddy’ and his friend called Eamon Wright!

McGrory smiled and nodded. “That’s right, Yank. Too bloody well right. Ever since George Harrison got pinched in ’81, its been pretty tough to transport armaments from the US. And with the seizure of the Marita Ann last month, it’s been tougher still. We still get arms from Libya, but their Kalashnikovs are shite fer snipin’. We need something with more range and power.”

“Yeah,” agreed the American, “I heard about the boat. How much did you lose?”

The band started another song, something ripped off of the Wolfe Tones. They did it as badly and as loudly as One-Shot Paddy.

“Seven bloody TONS. Rifles, pistols, submachine guns, ammunition, explosives. All of it collected in Boston. W e used Boston cops as guards, did ye know? They were always loyal Irishmen before. The FBI put out that they used some bloody great electronic eavesdroppin’ on us, even claimed they followed us by satellite, but it was really the old story.”

“What’s that?” the American half-shouted over the band.

“Paid spies and informers. One of them’s not goin’ home to mother, I can tell ye. But seven bloody TONS! What we coulda done with that lot.” He looked the American in the eyes and the Yank returned his challenging gaze without a blink.

So what was that, the American wondered, a warning not to double cross him? Like I needed it. I may not have ever been across the Atlantic, but I’m not stupid enough to cross the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Still, if he’s worried about me double-crossing him, maybe that means he’s not going to double back on me either. Maybe. There was a large part of the American that didn’t want to be here in the first place.

The Provo continued, “So we’re doing this next a bit different, is all.” He didn’t elaborate, but it meant smaller loads, precise scheduling, moving through different ports of exit and entry. He continued, “What we want are small packages of arms suitable for sniping at distance, with telescopic sights, range finders, binoculars, support equipment, ammunition all included, ready to deliver to the boys at the front.”

“I heard you’re partial to Armalite 180s,” observed the American, “or AR15s.”

“Aye, we were. Prefered the Armalites over the Colts. Nothin’ beats that foldin’ stock fer slidin’ it under a coat. But we need more range. The Brits and the Ulsters mostly use SA80s now and they can cover us up with fire. In order to get within the killin’ range of an Armalite or a Colt, we’ve gotta get within killin’ range of them. We don’t have the ammunition stocks to match ’em round for round, nor the numbers. We’ve got to shoot and scoot. One shot, one kill, home to mother by supper and I’ll see yer friends tomorrow. They own the battlefield out to 300 meters. What we want is something that out-ranges and out-penetrates the 5.56mm round. Something in 7.62 NATO or bigger. Something that can punch through their bloody body armor or the sides of a Rover.”

“I thought Tom Barry said you didn’t have to be a crack shot at seven yards — if you were close enough to grab them by the belt buckle,” offered the American.

McGrory looked at the American sharply, plainly angered. “Try it sometime Yank. Try it. Tom Barry didn’t have to deal with SA80s and body armor and Kevlar helmets. And he never sprang an ambush where he didn’t have local superiority in numbers. The problem with grabbin’ the Brits by the belt buckles is gettin’ ’em to stand still while you run up and do it. If fookin’ Tom Barry had been in my boots, he’d-a been dead by now. That’s what I know about bloody legendary Tom Barry.”

The American nodded. “OK. OK. Our interests coinci de, as they say. I know just what you need, and I can provide it. Not in great numbers and only this once. I don’t do it free either. I can’t say I believe in your cause all that much. You guys are still socialists, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Nothing. I just gave all that up when somebody talked some sense into me.”

“Yer an American, you can afford to be a bloody capitalist. What I want before economic justice is my country back from a foreign occupier. You’d be a pretty poor Yank if you didn’t believe in that.”

“Oh, I don’t say that the British have a right to be there, they don’t. But the bombings . . .”

McGrory cut him off. “I’m not a bomber. I’m a soldier. The only people I’ve killed were the soldiers of a foreign power standing on my homeland. I’m not wantin’ to buy explosives from you, I’m wantin’ yer bloody rifles. And I’ll pay. Rory told you that much.”

The American nodded. “OK. OK. Look, I’ll do it for retail plus ten p ercent, and that’s as close to charity as I can get. You get a bargain from me now because I’m getting out of the business. My wife’s divorcing me and I need every penny I can raise. So think of this as a fire sale. Unless you steal the rifles, you’ll never get a better deal. And don’t expect another. I’m done after this.”

The Provisional IRA man nodded. It was a better deal than he had hoped, even if the American had pissed him off with his compromisable scruples. Sean had some questions though. “What type of rifle?”

“M1A’s in 7.62 NATO, the civilian version of the M14 battle rifle, five 20 round magazines each, with Leatherwood ART scopes and mounts suitable for firing at Camp Perry matches.”
The Irishman looked puzzled. Ah, thought the American. “That’s Bisley matches to you. High power rifle competition.”

Sean McGrory nodded his comprehension.

“Plus, let me think,” the American paused, “ah, 3200 rounds of M-118 special ball match ammunition, in boxes not stripper clips. That’s sixteen cans at 200 rounds per can, four cans to a wire-bound wooden crate, plus another crate of 800 rounds of AP. That’s five crates total. I have five rifles and that will give you 800 rounds per rifle. Ought to be plenty to get them sighted in and operational. I’ll throw in some repair parts and springs , not a lot but enough. Cleaning kits. I don’t have a stock of binoculars or spotting scopes, but I can give you a list of makes and models that will work best with the rifles. You can get them at sporting goods stores anywhere in the States. Surely you’ve got some locals who can pick them up without drawing suspicion?”

The Provo nodded. This was truly better than he had hoped.

“How much and when can I take delivery?”

The American told h im. It was cheap at twice the price asked, and he could get them headed to Mexico in three days. That gave him plenty of time to check out a contact that had been given him in Texas. The Texan was supposed to have Barrett M82 fifty caliber sniping rifles for sale. If the new smuggling scheme held up, there would be a bumper crop of One-Shot Paddys in South Armagh in three months or so. It was so good a deal, that he decided to sweeten the pot.

“I’ll give ye a thousand dollar bonus on the deal if ye can have them to me in 48 hours.”

The American grinned. “Sure, it’ll just go the lawyers anyway. Every little bit helps.” He looked up to see the barmaid headed their way. “You got the tip?”

“Sure as the mornin’.”

“OK, I’m going to the john and then out the back door. You’ve got my contact number. Call it tomorrow and confirm the cash, and I’ll get you a rendezvous, which then will get you an escort to the pickup point. You come personally, with only one other friend. Remember, I’m not going to screw with you so don’t you try to screw with me. I don’t want to piss off the IRA, but I won’t be hijacked either. OK?”

Sean McGrory, which wasn’t his real name, grinned. “Up the Republic!” he toasted as he held up what was left of his Guiness & Bushmills “Gelign ite cocktail.”

“Hell, yes,” agreed the American, “Up yours and up mine!” The Irishman laughed, and kept laughing.

I guess he did get the double entendre, thought the American. And without another word, he walked to the rear of the bar. When he hit the john door, somebody was puking out his Irish whiskey — probably a Jamesons’ drinker– so he kept on going out the back, the thick-armed bouncer nodding goodnight.

When he hit the street, he sucked in the fresh, bitter cold air.20God, he wanted a cigarette. What a time to quit. So he glanced about, and then did what he always did these days when the urge came on him. He took a pen from his pocket and stuck it in his mouth, gripping it in his teeth. A nicotine baby pacifier, he snorted to himself. Then, seeing no one, he cut down the alley, stepped over a drunk by the dumpster and made it to his car a block and a half away. No one followed him.

Kraut Mueller started his beat up Pontiac station wagon and pointed it toward his new home-away-from-home, a roach infested apartment in the University district. His soon-to-be-ex-wife, he knew, was asleep in the arms of her newly-discovered “soul mate” in the place Kraut had paid for — and was likely to continue paying for — for some time. He no longer cared about that. He did care deeply about his six-year-old son who was sleeping in the room next to theirs.

As he drove, he pondered the tactical lessons imparted by the Provo gun runner while he hummed “One-Shot Paddy.”

The three hundred meter war.


“A decided ballistic advantage”: Ten years later, on a ranch near Denton, Texas.

Kraut Mueller looked over at the label to the right and slightly above his head on the OD canvas wall. “Tent, General Purpose, Medium.” Then he scanned the men seated informally on folding chairs and cots scattered about. Most wore BDU woodland camo, some were the same uniforms they had worn on active duty. Kraut had never been in the military and he felt decidedly at a a disadvantage. He wasn’t a veteran. Yeah, he’d been shot at. Peo ple had tried to kill him. But he had never been a soldier in the service of his country as most of these men had been. His camouflage was jeans and a plaid shirt.

No, he had not been a soldier. He HAD been a traitor to his country during the same war that some of these men were veterans of. He had been, he knew, a traitor to THEM, not that he was going to brag about it here. He had been a communist and an urban guerrilla in the making before Dr. Richter had saved him from that insanity. And even after he had recovered from his “Benedict Arnold period” as he called it, he had been a two bit gun runner for a while. Battle rifles to the Provos, M-2 carbines to the marijuanos. Playing with rearming hand grenades and selling them to Mexican pot growers as booby-traps — the transactions always made on THIS side of the border in the desert outside Tucson where his cousin tended bar. It was good money but stupid stuff, while his young son grew and his marriage had eroded around him. But that was all many years B.C. now.

Before Clinton.

But perhaps because he was unconventional in his experience, he could see essential things that the others, steeped in the by-the-book of military experience apparently did not. The question was, could he get it across to them? Could he make a difference?
The truth was that the enormity of the responsibility they had undertaken was beyond any of their experiences. What they were grasping at without really knowing how, was to recreate citizens’ militias in their individual states in a fashion that was practical, do-able on slim resources and yet would be recognizable to the Founders, and most importantly, EFFECTIVE. What they were about was fashioning a credible deterrent to the Clintonistas, and in doing so they were trying to build a brick wall with little straw and not much mud. They were trying, in fact, to rebuild the Founders’ concept of armed civic republicanism after more than a century of disuse.

Hell, what we’re talking about doing here in practical terms is forcing the federal government to back down, to desist from further depredations of life and liberty. And after Ruby Ridge and Waco, everybody understood the costs of failure. They were undertaking, in public, to . . . how was it that somebody had put it? . . . yeah, that’s it, to “shake their guns in the tyrant’s face.”

Well, when you do that, you had better be a credible deterent. Because if you aren’t, the tyrant just stomps you dead and goes about his business. So what constituted deterrence?

Numbers, yes.

Nobody knew what they were exactly, but the press accounts made it pretty plain there were hundreds of thousands of us, at least, maybe a million, maybe millions. Let there be millions, Kraut silently prayed. What was it Clausewitz had said? “In military affairs, quanitity has a quality all its own.” Well, we are no longer that fabled “nation of riflemen,” but we are a nation with riflemen. Count the deerhunters, William Jefferson Clinton. Count them and tremble. Numbers we got. But numbers weren’t everything. Sometimes numbers weren’t anything at all.

Deterrence was also made credible by resources, logistics, by the capability of the weapons wielded, and the ability to sustain them in the field — ammo, fuel, even beans and rice.

Kraut was no soldier, nor even an ex-soldier, but he was a student of military history, logistics and weapons. And we’re mighty thin on all of those. No air cover, no artillery, no armor, no integral supporting heavy infantry weapons — no mortars, machine guns, hand grenades — all those things that the veterans had taken for grant ed when fighting as part of the greatest army with the largest logistical tail and technological prowess of any ever seen. All of which were forbidden to them as citizens by law or else closely restricted.

When he had raised these concerns earlier in the day someone had countered, “If we fight, we fight as guerrillas and we won’t need all those things. We’ll live off the weapons and supplies we sieze.”

“You’re presupposing,” Kraut had shot back, “that we have the ability to seize anything.”

There were men and women who were attracted to the constitutional militia movement who did worry about logistics, at least, but many were infected with the survivalism bug. They had stocked up beans and bullets in out-of-the-way places, worried as much about societal collapse as government tyranny. But running and hiding at the first shot was not a plan for victory, Kraut knew. He tried to tell such folks as he came across, people who were making preparations but were too frightened to train openly — too afraid of exposing the existence of their carefully hoarded caches to engage in the business end of civic republicanism — that they would merely end up doling out their precious supplies to those who did. Join, train, grow stronger by association and the power and example of numbers, he had urged them. Then your logistical preparations can be defended. Maybe, they won’t even be necessary.

His words, he knew, had fallen on mostly deaf ears. Some people, he had found, not only took counsel of their fears, they hid BEHIND their fears.

OK, so you worked with what you had. So what do we have? We have millions of rifles and we have will.


Will — which flowed from the combination of the natural anger at bad governmental behavior and the fear that it could happen to all of us. Outrage. Yes, we have that to burn. But that was a fickle thing, Kraut knew. Evanescent. A candle burning brightly but subject to the guttering puff of the first strong wind.

In the end, will was a by-product not only of belief but of military ability — of competence at the business end of resistance — and of that they had . . . not so much. Almost none, in fact. Which was why these men were gathered here in this tent, at one of the first national meetings of militia leaders in the country. These were not, for the most part, the posturers and the speech makers, the “militia generals” and conspiracy loons. Those were at=2 0the meeting aplenty, to be sure. But they were, at the moment, outside this guarded tent in the middle of the encampment, speechifying and comparing Trilateralist and Bilderberger notes in heated conversations, selling videotapes and Spotlight subscriptions to one another.

These men, on the other hand, were the unit builders, the trainers, here to hash out the doctrine, strategy and tactics of armed civic republicanism in the last decade of the bloody 20th century, at a time when 99 percent of their fellow citizens could not have told you what that phrase meant. These were the serious men, the practical men, and for every one of them, there were a hundred likeminded leaders scattered across the country who would pay attention to what was said here. Folks who would read what was posted on the Internet about it, sift it according to their own experience, judge it, discuss it with their people and internalize what made sense in their own field training exercises and practice.

“‘Well regulated’ mea ns standardized,” one of the men from Michigan was saying. “We all ought to adopt a common rifle and caliber.” He was immediately interrupted from three sides.

“According to whose standard?”

“All my guys are poor volunteers, some of them don’t even have deer rifles, just shotguns.”

“No, he’s right, we ought to standardize on ARs and 5.56 like the military.”

“Just about every guy I’ve got has a different weapon. How do I make them upgrade?”

“Yeah?” challenged someone else, “Who’s going to buy them? Uncle Sugar ain’t going to reimburse you the thousand dollars it takes to find an AR these days. And he’s not going to buy your ammo either.”

“All right,” said the Wolverine, “then make it SKS’s, AK’s and the common caliber of 7.62×39. Everybody can afford an SKS.”

Half of the men groaned or rolled their eyes. Separate arguments broke out over the eternal gunnie question of 5.56mm versus 7.62×39. AR’s were more accurate, AK’s were more reliable. What did you want? It was like the old beer commercial. Great taste or less filling? And then there was the corollary dispute, .45 vs. 9mm. And, as if to suggest they didn’t have enough to argue about, somebody else brought that up at that moment too. There were many passionate opinions and no compromise was possible. Noise filled the tent.

“GUYS!” a big booming voice cut through the chatter. They all turned toward the big bald headed guy from New Mexico. “We’re here to hammer out a common plan. Arguing about caliber is a waste of time because we’ll never agree. Let’s get back to what we CAN agree on. And you,” pointing at the guy who had brought up the merits of .45 vs. 9mm, “I can answer that question.”

Squirming at the attention of every man in the tent, the guy from Kansas said, “Uh, OK, how?”

The big New Mexican grinned. “Because I’ve been shot with both and .45 hurts worse.”

The tent exploded in laughter.

“That’s right!”

“You tell him, Bob!”

Kraut Mueller liked the New Mexican. He had a command presence, a head on his shoulders and little tolerance for horseshit and wishful thinking.

It was decided that standardization, while desirable as a goal, would be left up to individual units to implement, or not, given their own resources. Of course, that was the way it was with just about everything they discussed. Militiafolk were by nature irascible, independent and opinionated. Trying to get them to move in a common direction was like trying to herd cats and chickens at the same time. It could be done, but the least you would get for your trouble was exhaustion and a migraine.

Kraut knew what he’d pick, if asked. When he spoke later with Bob and some of his guys, he told them.

“George S. Patton said the M1 Rifle was the best battle implement ever devised, but that was only because he died before they refined it into the M14. It is absolutely reliable, it is accurate with iron sights and it is hard-hitting. Most importantly, it outranges the standard weapons of our likely antagonists, the federal police agencies. What are they armed with? ARs and MP5 submachineguns. The 5.56mm slightly outranges the 7.62×39 in practical terms, so with an SKS or an AK you’ve got to get well inside his fire envelope before your fire begins to tell on him.”

Kraut paused. He still had their attention, although a couple of foreheads were starting to wrinkle up in argument.

“I met a guy one time who clued me in about trying to fight a superior force with weapons that had the same practical ranges as your enemies. He was a Provo IRA man over here on an arms buying mission and bought M1A’s from me. He was real happy to get them. Why? Because the 7.62 NATO outranges the 5.56 by a considerable distance and hits harder when it gets there at any range. And yeah, I know, long range target shooters are getting great results with heavy 5.56 bullets at long ranges, but they’re only punching paper, not a man in helmet and body armor firing back at you.” Kraut paused again. He could see the words of objection forming. Before they could speak, he continued.

“Sean taught me about two things. The Gelignite Cocktail, which is a double of Bushmills dropped into a pint of Guinness Stout Ale,” a couple of the militiamen laughed at that, “and the Three Hundred Meter War. If this comes to shooting, God forbid, it’s those three hundred meters you’ve got to worry about. Nothing is more demoralizing than being harried and bloodied by an enemy you cannot touch. Somebody who shoots and scoots and is gone when you get to where he was. Now that doesn’t mean you’re not going to close with the enemy. You must. After you driven him to distraction and got him jumpy and going in ten directions at once then concentrate and STRIKE. But even then, what is the harm in carrying the fight to the enemy with a weapon that punches harder than his at any range? A weapon that will penetrate cover better than his. A weapon that is more reliable than his.”

“But the AK . . .” one of the men blurted out.

“Yeah, I know the Kalashnikov is even more reliable than the M14. And it’s cheaper, and ammo’s cheaper and it’s what most of us have got. That or an SKS. I own both. So do most of my guys back in Alabama. But we’re still just getting together now, trying to get our heads around a problem that only reared its ugly head two years ago at Waco. And I’ll concede the point that a man who knows20how to go prone and shoot a $69 SKS with iron sights at practical combat ranges is a greater asset to his unit than somebody with a $2,000 scope-sighted trophy who can’t the broad side of a barn without a table and bench, doping the wind and a significant amount of prayer.”

“Look,” said Kraut, “have any of you read John Plaster’s The Ultimate Sniper that came out a couple of years ago?”

“Sure,” said a tall sandy-haired fellow from West Texas.

“OK, maybe you’ll remember this. I carry it around in my wallet because I’m always having this argument.”

As he spoke, Mueller reached around, produced his wallet, slipped a much folded piece o f paper out of it and put his wallet back in his jeans’ pocket. He began to read.

“A term cited repeatedly in this book is ‘ballistic advantage,’ the great benefit you have over potential opponents due to your .308’s performance. I coined this term so snipers could clearly understand that at ranges beyond 400 yards, their rifles are inherently more accurate, more powerful, and more lethal than the assault rifles carried by their adversaries. At shorter ranges, an assault rifle’s large magazine capacity and high rate of fire give an opponent the advantage. Therefore, think of yourself like a long-armed boxer who keeps his foes at arm’s length, where you can pound him and exploit this great advantage. Equally, realize that allowing your foe to come within close range brings mortal danger. Since this is an advantage inherent with the ballistics of these respective rounds, let’s examine those relationships exactly. Our first data box compares .308 Federal Match bullet energy against the energy of Soviet Type PS 7.62mm 123 grain and 5.45mm 53-grain rounds fired from an AKM assault rifle . . . From the muzzle, the .308 has approximately two times the energy of its competi tors — meaning it will strike with twice the force, penetrate media to about twice the depth, and so on. But as we go farther out, the advantage of the .308’s heavier boat-tail bullet actually becomes even greater. By the time you’re at 600 yards, it’s hitting with about four times the force. To keep this in perspective, realize that the AKM rounds generate much less energy at 600 yards than a mere 9mm does at the muzzle, which is about 350 foot pounds . . . Next consider the drift advantage you have when it comes to a 10 MPH crosswind, shown in the next box. Again, the advantage is immediate but becomes more profound with distance. . .”

Kraut paused to clear his scratchy throat. One of the New Mexicans handed him a canteen and he up-ended it with a big swig, only to find it was full of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. He gagged, and whiskey came out his nose and ran down his chin. Choking and sputtering, he gasped “Water!” and another canteen was handed him. This delighted Bob’s boys, who leaped up to slam him on the back (which only made things worse) and to call out insults like, “What’s the matter, Alabama, never had Irish whisky before?”

“I . . I told you,” he wheezed, “I’m a Bushmills man.” Then he coughed again. “I never drink any alleged whiskey that comes out of a round bottle.”

For the uninitiated, Bushmills’ Irish Whiskey, the nectar of the pagan gods of the Celts, comes in a square bottle.

Looking around through tearing eyes, he realized it had been a set-up. “You dirty bastards . . .”

“No, no,” they demurred, denying culpability, laughing while trying to appear penitent at the same time. “Go on. Go on.”

He looked at the folded xerox and his eyes still teared, unable to focus. Finally, he was able to. Where was I? Oh, yeah.

Again, the advantage is immediate but becomes more profound with distance. . . By the time the AKM 7.62 round has traveled 400 yards, it has blown fully two body lengths off target. Imagine your foe ‘guesstimating’ when firing 500 or more yards into the wind or shooting against a stiffer crosswind. A round’s bullet path tracks its descent from the instant it exits a=2 0muzzle aimed parallel to the earth and indicates the amount a shooter must hold high when firing at longer distances. Here the advantage over a 7.62x39mm is obvious, but the higher velocity 5.45x39mm maintains a trajectory comparable to the .308 Match round.”

Kraut paused again, taking another drink of water and verifying it before swallowing.

“Our final comparison is velocity, and here the long-distance .308 advantage clearly shows, despite the initial superiority of the 5.45×39 bullet. Because the heavier better maintains momentum, it overtakes the 5.45 bullet at 400 yards and by 600 yards it’s decisively superior to either AKM. Now let’s combine these ballistic effects. The .308 Match bullet strikes with considerably more energy, an advantage that increases with distance; it shoots truer and straighter in a crosswind; it is=2 0much flatter shooting than the 7.62×39, and approximately similar to the 5.45x39mm; and the .308 considerably exceeds these rounds’ velocity beyond 400 yards. Overall this is a decided ballistic advantage.”

Kraut looked up from the paper and handed it the man on his right. “Look at the charts,” he said, “Plaster’s not wrong. And the 5.56 isn’t much better than the Kalashnikov rounds.”

“Hell,” said one, “everybody wants to be a goddam sniper just so they can get out of training. It’s a damn disease.”

Kraut looked over at the man, and nodded. “I know what you’re saying. I’ve seen it too. But I’m not talking about making more snipers, I’m talking about making more capable riflemen. I know we can’t get there today or even tomorrow. What I’m talking about is the future. We need to recreate Dan Morgan’s body of riflemen, with aimed, disciplined semi-automatic fire. Rifles carried by trained, physically fit men who know what to do. Unless I miss my bet, the threat of that is what keeps our opposite numbers in the bowels of the Hoover Building pacing the floor at night. And the M14 series semi-auto is the best tool that is available to us.”

“Plus,” Kraut added with a smile, “its a marvelous platform for launching rifle grenades.”

“Rifle grenades?!?” blurted one of the men. “Who’s got rifle grenades?”

“I do,” replied Kraut calmly. And before anybody could object, he continued.

“Of course, they’re inert training grenades. All perfectly legal, but great to train with. And if there ever should need to be real grenades, don’t you think that in a nation of machine shops with a chemical industry second to none that we couldn’t accomplish THAT? The important thing is to get your practice time in before if, as and when. Try hitting a 55-gallon barrel with a pound and a half projectile at 300 meters sometime. It’s kick-ass fun.”

“Tell us more about the rifle grenades,” said one. Kraut grinned inwardly. Well, whatever worked. And if the guy you were trying to sell the serviceable used car to was more interested in the chrome, well, wasn’t it the best chrome you had ever seen?

“OK,” agreed Kraut amiably. “The launching of rifle grenades from an M14 series rifle requires a special grenade blank cartridge, a USGI flash suppressor with bayonet lug and an M76 grenade launching attachment . . .”

The Quarry: Six months after The Battle of Sipsey Street

The first group of Alabama State Defense Force trainees sat on rude wooden benches in the open, arranged in an arc in front of a small raised platform, following the natural contour lines of the punchbowl that was this end of the quarry’s principal feature. With the olive drab canopy over it, it looked like nothing so much as a GI roadside fruit stand. The ex-gunnery sergeant of Marines waited while the acting sergeants hushed their squads. Behind him was a free standing bulletin board with a large graphic training aid showing the major assemblies and exploded view of a military rifle.

“All right. My name is Sergeant Major Hafnir. I am the lead marksmanship instructor here. And this,” he said, gesturing to the training aid illustration, “is why you’re here.”

“The U.S. Rifle 7.62 mm M14 is a rotating bolt, gas operated, air cooled, magazine fed, shoulder fired weapon. It is 44.14” long and weighs 8.7 pounds. With a loaded20magazine and sling it weighs 11.0 pounds. It’s maximum effective range without accurizing and using iron sights is 460 meters. That’s 500 yards to you apes from Winston County. Adopted in 1957, 1,380,358 M14 rifles were made from 1958 to 1965 by the U. S. Army Springfield Armory, Winchester, Harrington & Richardson Arms Co. and Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge, known fondly forever after to riflemen of all generations as TRW. Thanks to that incompetent swine Robert McNamara, the M14 was replaced as the standard arm of the U. S. Armed Forces by the Poodle Shooter, the Matty Mattel Toy, the ever-jamming, cursed M16, in the mid-1960s. After that, the U. S. Government sold the M14 rifle production machinery to Taiwan and they began making Type 57 rifles in 1969.

Today, there are fewer than 150,000 M14 rifles in the U. S. military inventory, with many of those packed in cosmoline at Anniston Army Depot here in Alabama. At least 450,000 M14s have been transferred to the foreign governments of Israel, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Israel was given 35,000 M14 rifles by the U. S. Government in 1973 at the start of the Yom Kippur War. The Israelis built 10,000 sniper rifles out of these and they remained in service until 1997. Some of these have since returned to the United States for civilian sale. During the Clinton Administration. . .”

There were some boos and jeers from the crowd. Hafnir stopped. His face wore a killing look. The punchbowl got deathly silent.

“I’m going to say this just once. The next GODDAM snot-nosed DUMBASS that interrupts this lecture is going to be carrying one of these rifles over his head on a ten mile dead run around the camp until he pukes his asshole up for inspection. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!?”

“Yes, Sergeant!”



“All right. During the Clinton Administration, three quarters of a million M14s were ground up by Presidential Executive Order, destroyed at Anniston for no other reason that I’ve ever heard except that they made the cowardly SOB nervous.”

Nobody snickered.

“However, the M14 rifle remained in use aboard U. S. Navy ships and in Navy SEAL Teams as well as with US Army Delta Forces. You may remember that Randy Shugart, who won a Congressional Medal of Honor for his conduct in Mogadishu in October 1991 carried an accurized M14. With the advent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the M14 was brought back as a Designated Marksman weapon and has given great service, with its added range and hitting power a definite plus. Even so, some problems were experienced with Checkmate production mags and there was also the difficulty of finding serviceable receivers among the few M14s that Slick Willy had left us in the inventory.”

The morning breeze whipped a fine grit into the eyes of the assembled trainees. The tarp over the platform flapped slightly.

“As produced, the M14 was capable of both semi-automatic and full automatic fire, with a selector lock that only the unit armorer could free up by means of a special tool. There was a later attempt to make a BAR out of the M14 and the M14E2 was given a straight line stock, pistol grip, forward hand grip and bipod. However, because it lacked the BAR’s weight it was not as stable and effective as an automatic rifle, although it did have firepower. Does anyone here know what the classic definition of firepower is, as applied to infantry rifles?”

“More misses per minute, Sergeant!”

“Right. Heard me before, have you?”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Anyway, what the M14 excels at, what it does superbly in the hands of a rifleman trained to its use, is aimed semi-automatic fire. N ow some of you have the notion that you’re going to be big, bad snipers. Most of you have as much chance of becoming a sniper as you do of getting laid in the middle of Governor Marsh’s Sunday School class at First Baptist.”

One kid from St. Clair County — and only one — laughed out loud at that and blurted “God damn!”. Hafnir didn’t say a word, but you could hear his eyeballs click as he looked at Staff Sergeant Bowles who was standing on the sidelines closest to the poor unfortunate. In an instant Bowles was in front of the trembling kid.

“Name?” Bowles said it softly, but with a deadly import. It would have been more humane to have screamed at him.

“C-c-cartwright, Sergeant.” The boy badly wanted to piss his pants.

“Rise and come to parade rest when I talk to you.” There was something disembodied about Bowles’ voice, like the sibbilant computer-generated hiss of a mechanical snake.

Cartwright leaped to his feet, rigid. At attention.

“I said, at ‘parade rest.’ I’m an NCO not an officer. Are you hard of hearing, Cartwright?”

“N-no, Sergeant.”

“Then you heard what the Sergeant Major said?”

How somebody could sound so reasonable and yet so frightening all at the same time was a mystery to the trainees who heard him.

“Yes, Sergeant,” said the miserable Cartwright.

“Follow me.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

Bowles marched off with the condemned man in tow and was soon lost to view. No one dared to turned to watch him g o.

Hafnir cleared his throat.

“Right. Don’t get me wrong, snipers have their place on the modern battlefield. But that place is in support of RIFLEMEN, executing the integrated battle plan of the unit commander. They are not freebooting pirates wandering around the battlefield plundering souls at their own whim. THEY support YOU, the rifleman. And that is what we are going to do in the next week. We are going to make riflemen of you. You will be taught how to use the rifle in defense of yourself, your unit, your family and your state. You will be taught marksmanship and maintenance. You will be taught the use of the bayonet and of the rifle grenade. I will teach you, and not God nor Ray Marsh will help you if you fail. Understood?”


“We’ll see.”

Hafnir turned to the table beside him and picked up a rifle, racking the bolt back, where it locked in place with a clack on the empty magazine. He faced front and hefted it at port arms.

“All right, this is the Taiwanese Type 57 Rifle, an almost exact clone of the US M14 Rifle. Through a magical process which your brains are far too primitive to comprehend, the State of Alabama has acquired a number of these for the maintenance of public order during the present emergency. This little darling and all her sisters come to us straight from the Combined Services Arsenal at Kaohsuing. When you successfully complete your training here, each of you will carry one home with you, along with a new M1956-style H-harness and belt, three magazine pouches, a canteen, cup and cover, a bayonet and scabbard, seven 20 round magazines and a basic load of M80 ball ammunition. If, at the end of the week, you are selected as a Designated Marksman, you will return for another training rotation and will then be issued M118 Special Ball ammunition instead of M80.

Per state law, as interpreted by the Attorney General and supplemented by certain executive orders of Governor Marsh, the Alabama State Defense Force has been remodeled along the lines of the Swiss system.”

Those watching marveled that the rifle moved not a millimeter while Hafnir spoke.

“You will note that the rifle issued you has been restamped at the new ASDF arsenal at Montgomery with ‘M14SA’ and ‘Alabama’. The first was done to reduce confusion among us old timers who have never called this beautiful rifle anything but an M14. The ‘SA’ stands for semi-automatic as all of these rifles have been so modified.

The second was done to remind you that this rifle is the property of the State of Alabama. It is not yours. It is not to be used for ANY PRIVATE PURPOSE WHATSOEVER. It will stay in your gunsafe or closet until it, and you, are called out by the state, for further training or active service. You will be responsible for this rifle, and woe betide you if you lose it. You will wish you had never been born, and at the very least I can assure you that whatever your ultimate fate, you will do that wishing in jail. Understood?”


“Those of you who are familiar with the M14/M1A series of rifles will no doubt also note there are two significant changes to these rifles which were made at the arsenal. These are a Sadlak tactical magazine release latch, here,” he pointed, “and a Smith Enterprises extended bolt stop/release, here.” He turned the rifle about to point at a piece on the left of the receiver. “Taken together, this modification saves seconds on magazine changes. And20seconds count in combat. Believe me.”

Hafnir returned the rifle to the table.

“A few words about the bayonet and the rifle grenade launcher. Every generation since the invention of gunpowder has thought that the bayonet — the infantryman’s spear of last resort — would become as obsolete as Achilles’ shield. It never has. Do you know why? Because the rifleman is forever being called upon to ‘restore order.’ Sometimes that means just showing our serious intentions without shooting some poor asshole as an example to the rest. Fixing bayonets allows us to announce our intentions. It also allows us to keep disarmed prisoners moving to the rear, or crowds of civilians in line at a disaster recovery center. Because merely showing it is not always enough to prevent its use, you will be taught how to use it in combat. The M14 is an excellent bayonet platform, unlike Mr. McNamara’s Mouse Gun which can break in a heartbeat if you buttstroke someone with it.

Now, because we don’t want you to have to get that close, we also teach you the art of the grenade launcher. And it is an art. Among other things, we teach you the grenade launcher because it may be necessary to project tear gas grenades for crowd control.”

If anybody had any questions about “among other things,” they weren’t going to risk Cartwright’s fate to find out.

“After training, one in four of you — those who demonstrate aptitude — will be chosen as designated grenadiers and you will be issued an M76 type grenade launching attachment along with your rifle. You will also be responsible for thi s piece of issue equipment. Grenade blanks and any pyrotechnic grenades or other munitions will be issued to you at times of unit muster, if required. In the meantime you keep that attachment with the rifle at all times. Understood?”


“All right, I guess we’ll find out whether Alabama still grows sons capable of being riflemen. Acting sergeants, form your training squads by number and line up to draw equipment. After the equipment is received, you will sign for it. You in-bred rednecks from Walker County can make an ‘X’ if you need to. You will then form up and your acting sergeants will inspect you and insure that each of his men has everything and it is in working order. After that, you will report back here to the seats you now occupy for the next bloc of instruction.”

Hafnir’s eyes scanned the crowd.



As they stood and turned to form up, in the distance Cartwright’s form could be barely seen, already faltering, as Bowles jogged easily beside him. No one wanted to join them, so no one said a word.

Voltaire and God’s will: After Sundown, Instructor Barracks, The Quarry.

“Hey, Schultz,” called former Gunnery Sergeant Hafnir, “bring me another beer while you’re over there.”

“On the way,” replied Sergeant ‘Schultz,’ whose real name was Schwartz. Hafnir had been calling him ‘Sergeant Schultz’ for more than seven years now, but Schwartz didn’t mind. Everybody had to have a nickname and there were worse ones than being called a character from an old sitcom.

The instructor cadre was gathered around a table in the common area, boots up, winding down after a good first day.

“Did you think we’d ever be drilling newbies again in the fine art of the M14 rifle?” Bowles asked, addressed to no one in particular. There were murmured grunts and agreeable nods. They all wore a half-smile on their faces. God, they had missed this. The camaraderie, the sense of purpose, the mission.

Winkler replied, to God as much as Bowles, “I just hope I don’t lose my federal pension over this.”

Hafnir countered, a little more roughly than he actually felt for the sake of the others, “What’re you worried about? At least you got a good-lookin’ young wife who can earn her livin’ on her back. Look at poor Bowles there. His wife left him years ago and he couldn’t get Barney Frank to pay him for a blowjob.”

They all broke out in laughter, even Bowles. Even Winkler. He’d only known Hafnir for four years and the older Gunny had been ragging him for three=2 0and a half of those about Marie. Winkler was lucky and he knew it, so he didn’t mind. Hafnir’s wife had died of cancer the year before and there had been a time when his friends had feared that one morning they’d wake to the news that the ex-Marine had eaten his .45. Not now, though. Now Hafnir, like them, once again had a purpose in life.

Then Hafnir asked, “How’s Cartwright, Bowles?”

“He’ll be all right. I didn’t grind him too bad.” (That meant that he was sleeping in his own cot tonight and not in the infirmary.)

“That boy musta had three breakfasts and a midnight snack. He may be stupid and out of shape, but he’s got grit. Kept tryin’ to keep goin’.”

“Hell,” Winkler offered, “they’re all stupid and out of shape.”

“Naw, they’re not,” piped up Jemison. Unlike most of the other trainers, who had been scout-snipers or marksmanship instructors for the Corps, Jemison was all Army and had been a Designated Marksman in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. At the moment, he was sunk so deep in the shadows of a beat up recliner in the corner that you could barely see him from the table. Like a sniper in his hide.

“Pay attention to a little kid named Flynn. He’s a natural, and he’s got a common-sense mind that’s as quick as a snake. He’s attentive, he’s patient and he’s a tough little monkey. On the evenin’ run I’m settin’ the pace and they’re all draggin’, but Flynn’s just matchin’ me stride for stride and my legs have got to be six inches longer than his. So, I look over at him and he gives me this grin and a wink. And I just busted out laughin’. Couldn’t help myself.”

“Maybe he wanted a date, Jemison,” said Bowles with a leer in his voice.

“Mebbe,” said Jemison agreeably, “but he was the first man in his class to successfully field strip and reassemble his rifle. I walked over to him and accused him of doing that before, expecting that he had an M1A or a Polytech M14S at home. The boy got insulted, I could tell. He says, ‘No, Sergeant, I just paid attention to what you showed us.’ He did too. When I was demonstrating the technique he just sat stock still, taking it all in. Turns out the only military style weapon he’s ever owned is a Rumanian AK74.”

“An idiot savant,” sneered Bowles, adding, “Forrest Gump lives.”

“No, I noticed that kid too,” said Winkler. “I was going over sight picture, ballistics and the incremental sight setting adjustments between M80 Ball and M118 Special Ball, and he held up his hand and said, ‘Sergeant, if the M80’s bullet is lighter and travels faster, won’t it hit higher on a target than an M118?’ Worked that out by himself just looking at the ballistic tables on the wall. I asked him if he’d ever reloaded or done any match shooting and he told me no, but that he liked the peep sight of the M14 over his AK74 because it was easier to adjust and had a longer sight radius so that meant it would be more accurate.”

“So he reads Guns and Ammo AND Shotgun News.” Bowles was still skeptical, but then skepticism was his default mode.

“Bowles,” said Jemison, “you’re one deeply flawed human being.”

Bowles lifted his beer bottle in a mocking toast. “I’ll drink to that.”

The TA312 field telephone on the wall clacked. Hafnir reached a long arm over and snagged the handset out of the cradle.

“Instructor Quarters, Hafnir.”

He listened for a moment.

“Right. Send them down.”

He replaced the handset.

“Company coming. Jack Durer and one friend.”

“Shall we clear the decks, Gunny?” asked Bowles, thinking of the beer bottles.

“Naw, it’s just Jack. He probably wants to find out how we did today. Relax.”

They hadn’t seen Durer since the day in the Governor’s office in Montgomery when the state’s chief executive had hired them for the job of training a modernized ASDF.

Hafnir paused, then added, “And Bowles?”

“Yeah, Gunny?”

“Don’t try that snake-scary voice on Jack Durer. He’ll feed you your larynx.”

As they walked down the path leading to the Instructor Quarters with the bare illumination of the smuggler’s moon guiding their steps, Jack Durer’s friend looked up at the night sky. It was beautiful here, deep in the Alabama piney woods, with barely a light in the camp apart from the main gate at this time of night. Lights out for trainees in the Alabama State Defense Force meant lights out as it did in any other army, and even if it wasn’t as yet much of an army — or really, even an army at all — the stars still blazed forth in all their glory.

Jack Durer caught his friend’s upward glances. “Pretty, is it not?” he asked in Mandarin.

The friend sighed, and spoke slowly, carefully, in barely accented English, “Yes, but not so beautiful as the stars of a home I shall never see again.”

“They’re the same stars, my friend. Besides, you’ll go back one day.”

“No, I think not. The world as we knew it is falling apart, Jack. It is as Yeats said. ‘The center cannot hold.’ We always knew that we lived at the mouth of the dragon’s cave. The wonder is that it took so long for the dragon to come out and devour us. Of course, it did not help that the biggest dragonslayer decided to lay down and take a nap.” He paused, reflecting bitterly on the many disasters that the election of the current President of the United States had generated so far away from America.

There was nothing Jack Durer could say to that. We’re guilty, he thought. Guilty as charged. May God and history forgive us. Not that either was likely.

“No, this is my family’s new home. My descendants will be Americans.” He paused. “Or maybe just Alabamians. Our fates are now intertwined, you and I.”

“They always were, my friend,” said Jack softly. “They always were.”

Hafnir, his ears dulled by years of small arms fire on the ranges of the United States Marine Corps, didn’t hear the two men approaching. Schwartz did. He moved to the window and glanced out, catching the profile of the two men in the illumination of the porch light. “Gunny, he’s got Chao-yeh with him.”

Hafnir came to his feet instantly. They all did. “Schultzy, get the door.”

As Schwartz held the door, General Chen Chao-yeh, formerly Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, entered, followed by Jack Durer, who was toting a gun case. Chao-yeh was impeccably dressed in a Saville Row suit, appropriate for a Washington embassy reception.

The first and last time any of the instructors had seen the General was in the news footage when he was coming down the ladder of his personal jet at Birmingham International Airport along with his wife and extended family. There on the tarmac, he had claimed political asylum and eloquently denounced both the forced takeover of his country by t he Communists and the cowardly political expediency of the United States in allowing it to happen. The rumor was that the Type 57 rifles were his doing.

Forget the clothes, thought Schwartz, you could spot him as a life-long military man from a thousand meters. There was not a spare ounce of fat on the small man, as far as he could see. Schwartz and the rest of the training cadre came to attention unconsciously. The General noticed.

“At ease, gentlemen. We are not here on official business, and as you know I no longer command anything, having been stripped of my rank and property by the transition puppet government of my country. Or, I should say, the country of my birth. This,” he gestured around the room and to the woods beyond, “is my new home. As to rank, well, perhaps my new country will find use for me again one day.”

The men remained standing, respectful, expectant.

“I’d say it already has,” replied Jack Durer, setting down the gun case and moving forward to make introductions. “General, this is Oliver Wendell Holmes Hafnir, retired Gunnery Sergeant of US Marines, currently serving as chief instructor of the Alabama State Defense Force with the rank of Sergeant Major.

The General extended his hand to the big ex-Marine. “I am very pleased to meet you, Sergeant Major Hafnir. I hope you like the scrap metal I have been pleased to provide you.”

“Scrap metal, sir?”

“Yes, the Type 57 rifles. You see they were declared surplus to our needs as the so-called Reunification Summit was getting underway and I arranged to buy them as scrap metal before the puppet administration could take over. I bought many things that way. Everything in my former country is for sale or theft these days, and I am afraid that when the Communists finally take us over, they will find only the bones of the chicken left. It will make a poor meal for them, I think.” The General smiled sadly.

“I am fortunate that my family has money derived from our long-time shipping interests. This provided not only the cash to buy the scrap metal, but the ship to transport it as well as many of my friends and family retainers to the Port of Mobile, where I arranged to sell the cargo to your Governor, also as scrap at low prices. I am pleased that he has found a use for it. As for my fellow expatriates, your Governor has extended a welcoming hand to all of them. Perhaps one day someone will find a use for them as well. Perhaps,” and here the General paused briefly, “perhaps that too will involve scrap metal.”

“General,” said Hafnir as he smiled broadly, “I can assure you that yours is the FINEST lot of scrap metal that any of us have EVER seen.” The instructors arrayed behind the Gunny nodded as one. Jack Durer almost laughed out loud.

Instead he said, “Gunny, why don’t you make the introductions all ’round, while I open up this steamer trunk.” As the instructors and the General were introduced, Jack Durer lifted the rifle case to the table. Breaking away from the group around Chen Chao-yeh, Bowles swept the beer bottles, empty and not-so-empty, off the table and into a trash can. He began to mop the table with a frayed bar towel when Jack Durer ordered, “Forget it Sergeant Bowles, I think the General and I have seen more than a few empty beer bottles in our time.”

The introductions were done, and courtesies preserved, when Jack Durer opened the case. To the men standing around the table, what lay inside was sleek, deadly and more beautiful and alluring than a naked woman.

The General cleared his throat and addressed Hafnir. “Sergeant Major, although we have never met, my friend Captain Durer has informed me of your service to our country and our state.”

‘CAPTAIN’ Durer? thought Hafnir.

The General continued. “In recognition of this, I present to you an example of the craftmanship of the old Republic of China, a T93 Sniper Weapon System in 7.62 NATO caliber. A s you will no doubt notice, it was patterned after your own M24 rifle. It is capable of Point 3 MOA at 800 meters. I am pleased to recall that in my younger years I had a small part in the design and testing of this weapon when I worked overseeing certain programs at the 205th Combined Services Arsenal at Kaohsuing. I have taken the liberty of having the stock replaced to more properly fit American ergonomics, so this example has a greater length of pull than does the production version. I think you will find the fit satisfactory. Please, Sergeant Major, do try it.”

Hafnir lifted the weapon from the case. It WAS beautiful, and it fitted his shoulder like a well-worn glove. Inletted into the stock was a small plate, subdued in color but easily readable. “Presented to Sergeant Major O.W.H. Hafnir by Chen Chao-yeh.” Below that was the date, and below the date was this sentiment: “God is on the side of the best shots.”

“Voltaire, sir?” Hafnir was lucky. It was the only quote from Voltaire he knew.

“Yes, Sergeant Major, Voltaire. But I must confess that I have wondered from time to time how Voltaire, who was an agnostic and a libertine and well versed in the intricacies of sin as are most Frenchmen even today, could have undertaken to enunciate the will of God. Still, for riflemen such as ourselves, it is comforting to believe it to be true, do you not think?”

“Yes, General, I do.” What a beautiful killing machine, he thought. “I cannot thank you enough.”

“Oh, perhaps one day you will be able to return the favor. I myself am a Christian, but I also believe in the concept of karma. Karma, duty, fate. They are all intertwined. Let us all do our duty and perhaps karma will be sufficient unto the day thereof.”

The General paused and looked around the room. “I have also arranged with Captain Durer that each of the rest of you, as well as Sergeant Major Hafnir, will recieve a new Type 57 of your own. These are for your personal use, please understand, not the property of the State of Alabama and you may take them with you when you leave state service. They should arrive in two or three days.” The General looked at Durer, who nodded. The instructors stirred, impressed and pleased.

“Gentlemen, I will take my leave now so that you can get some rest and begin your tasks tomorrow with a fresh perspective. I thank you for allowing me to intrude upon your personal time.”

As they left, Durer said to Hafnir, “I’ll call you tomorrow, Ollie.”


When they were gone, Bowles turned to Winkler and asked, “What the hell is karm a?”

Winkler grinned and said, “Bowles, you don’t know shit from shinola. Don’t you watch TV?” Bowles looked at him blankly.

“‘My Name is Earl’?”

“It is?”

“The TV show, idiot.”

“Huh? Oh.” Bowles didn’t watch commercial television.

Winkler explained. “Karma, my ignorant friend, is the mystical Asian philosophical concept that states that what goes around, comes around.”

“Oh, shit,” said Bowles.

“Exactly,” replied Winkler.

For his part, Oliver Wendell Holmes Hafnir, whose initials O.W.H. were widely believed to stand for “Old War Horse,” was left wondering just what in hell all that had been about. We’ve just started training these kids. You can’t even say we’ll succeed, according to whatever parameters Jack Durer and the Governor judged to be success. It ain’t like we just took Mount Suribachi all over again.

So why in hell did an expatriate Taiwanese general just drop a custom rifle that was worth at least five grand on him?


Karma, hell. The General, or more likely Jack Durer, wanted something from him. The question was, what? And would it cost him more than the rifle was worth?

Former Gunnery Sergeant Hafnir had a sneaking suspicion that it would. But, damn, wasn’t it beautiful?

As he mused, he caught a furtive movement out of the corner of his eye.

“Bowles, get yer damn greasy, beer-drippin’ hands off my nice new rifle.”

>Living in an Imperial World: Checkpoints in the Hudson Valley

From David comes this story about police action in lower New York State:

MOUNT VERNON – Police will begin staging gun checkpoints at the city’s borders tonight as a way to curb violence in the city, officials said yesterday.

Teams of mobile police units will set up checkpoints at various city borders in areas where police have dealt with incidents involving guns and violence, Mayor Clinton Young and Police Commissioner David Chong said yesterday.

“I am very seriously concerned about the gun violence here in Mount Vernon,” said Young as he announced the police action. “I am not satisfied with what has been happening so far this year.”

This year in Mount Vernon, a city of 4 square miles with a population of about 70,000, has had seven homicides – the most of any city in Westchester County.

Young said the gun checkpoint program is a “bold move” aimed at curbing violence.

“I want people to know they cannot come to Mount Vernon for the purpose of committing crimes,” the mayor said.

Young said he knows many of the offenses in the city are from residents and gang-related, but he added that many outsiders are involved in the violence.

With the support of the county police, the county probation department, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police, Yonkers police and the New York City police, officers will stop cars and talk to drivers about antiviolence, the Mount Vernon and county gun programs and even ask if people are carrying illegal firearms, Chong said. He added that the checkpoints will be similar to DWI checkpoints.

“We are not going to violate anyone’s civil rights, but there has to be a very strong and clear message. Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear,” Young said.

Mount Vernon police stepped up the pressure on the south side of the city during the summer because of the spike in homicides. The police mobile command unit has been set up on the south side on weekends and more patrols assigned there.

Want to feel really ill? Read the comments supporting this action.

Tempus fugit.

>Roubini: "The Treasury Plan Is A Disgrace"

> From RGE Monitor, economist Nouriel Roubini opines:

Nouriel Roubini | Sep 28, 2008

Whenever there is a systemic banking crisis there is a need to recapitalize the banking/financial system to avoid an excessive and destructive credit contraction. But purchasing toxic/illiquid assets of the financial system is not the most effective and efficient way to recapitalize the banking system. Such recapitalization – via the use of public resources – can occur in a number of alternative ways: purchase of bad assets/loans; government injection of preferred shares; government injection of common shares; government purchase of subordinated debt; government issuance of government bonds to be placed on the banks’ balance sheet; government injection of cash; government credit lines extended to the banks; government assumption of government liabilities.

A recent IMF study of 42 systemic banking crises across the world provides evidence on how different crises were resolved. First of all only in 32 of the 42 cases there was government financial intervention of any sort; in 10 cases systemic banking crises were resolved without any government financial intervention. Of the 32 cases where the government recapitalized the banking system only seven included a program of purchase of bad assets/loans (like the one proposed by the US Treasury). In 25 other cases there was no government purchase of such toxic assets. In 6 cases the government purchased preferred shares; in 4 cases the government purchased common shares; in 11 cases the government purchased subordinated debt; in 12 cases the government injected cash in the banks; in 2 cases credit was extended to the banks; and in 3 cases the government assumed bank liabilities. Even in cases where bad assets were purchased – as in Chile – dividends were suspended and all profits and recoveries had to be used to repurchase the bad assets. Of course in most cases multiple forms of government recapitalization of banks were used.

But government purchase of bad assets was the exception rather than the rule. It was used only in Mexico, Japan, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Jamaica, Malaysia, and Paraguay. Even in six of these seven cases where the recapitalization of banks occurred via the government purchase of bad assets such recapitalization was a combination of purchase of bad assets together with other forms of recapitalization (such as government purchase of preferred shares or subordinated debt).

In the Scandinavian banking crises (Sweden, Norway, Finland) that are a model of how a banking crisis should be resolved there was not government purchase of bad assets; most of the recapitalization occurred through various injections of public capital in the banking system. Purchase of toxic assets instead – in most cases in which it was used – made the fiscal cost of the crisis much higher and expensive (as in Japan and Mexico).

Thus the claim by the Fed and Treasury that spending $700 billion of public money is the best way to recapitalize banks has absolutely no factual basis or justification. This way of recapitalizing financial institutions is a total rip-off that will mostly benefit – at a huge expense for the US taxpayer – the common and preferred shareholders and even unsecured creditors of the banks. Even the late addition of some warrants that the government will get in exchange of this massive injection of public money is only a cosmetic fig leaf of dubious value as the form and size of such warrants is totally vague and fuzzy.

So this rescue plan is a huge and massive bailout of the shareholders and the unsecured creditors of the financial firms (not just banks but also other non bank financial institutions); with $700 billion of taxpayer money the pockets of reckless bankers and investors have been made fatter under the fake argument that bailing out Wall Street was necessary to rescue Main Street from a severe recession. Instead, the restoration of the financial health of distressed financial firms could have been achieved with a cheaper and better use of public money.

Indeed, the plan also does not address the need to recapitalize those financial institutions that are badly undercapitalized: this could have been achieved by using some of the $700 billion to inject public funds in ways other and more effective than a purchase of toxic assets: via public injections of preferred shares into these firms; via required matching injections of Tier 1 capital by current shareholders to make sure that such shareholders take first tier loss in the presence of public recapitalization; via suspension of dividends payments; via a conversion of some of the unsecured debt into equity (a debt for equity swap). All these actions would have implied a much lower fiscal costs for the government as they would have forced the shareholders and creditors of the banks to contribute to the recapitalization of the banks. So less than $700 billion of public money could have been spent if the private shareholders and creditors had been forced to contribute to the recapitalization; and whatever the size of the public contribution were to be its distribution between purchases of bad assets and more efficient and fair forms of recapitalization (preferred shares, common shares, sub debt) should have been different. For example if the private sector had done its fair matching share only $350 billion of public money could have been used; and of this $350 billion half could have taken the form of purchase of bad assets and the other half should have taken the form of injection of public capital in these financial institutions. So instead of purchasing – most likely at an excessive price – $700 billion of toxic assets the government could have achieved the same result – or a better result of recapitalizing the banks – by spending only $175 billion in the direct purchase of toxic assets. And even after the government will waste $700 billion buying toxic assets many banks that have not yet provisioned for such losses/writedowns will be even more undercapitalized than before. So this plan does not even achieve the basic objective of recapitalizing undercapitalized banks.

The Treasury plan also does not explicitly include an HOLC-style program to reduce across the board the debt burden of the distressed household sector; without such a component the debt overhang of the household sector will continue to depress consumption spending and will exacerbate the current economic recession.

Thus, the Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer. And the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown. It is pathetic that Congress did not consult any of the many professional economists that have presented – many on the RGE Monitor Finance blog forum – alternative plans that were more fair and efficient and less costly ways to resolve this crisis.

This is again a case of privatizing the gains and socializing the losses; a bailout and socialism for the rich, the well-connected and Wall Street. And it is a scandal that even Congressional Democrats have fallen for this Treasury scam that does little to resolve the debt burden of millions of distressed home owners.

>Living in an Imperial World: Rubicon in the Rear-View, Part I: Militarizing the Police

>From Pro Libertate:

The future of law enforcement: The 193rd Military Police Battalion, Colorado National Guard, trains at Ft. Carson last July 12 in preparation for deployment as part of JTF-DNC — the military component of security arrangements for the Democratic Convention in Denver.

There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them.

Garet Garrett, The Revolution Was (1938)

The seamless integration of the military and law enforcement into a single “Internal Security Force” is the defining characteristic of a fully realized police state. Once this fusion is accomplished, the question becomes not “whether” a police state exists, but rather how acute its institutional violence against the subject population will become.

That condition now exists in the country that still calls itself — without any apparent irony — the United States of America.

Much alarm has been raised over the admittedly alarming news that beginning October 1, the U.S. Army’s Northern Command will deploy a specialized, combat-tested unit as an “on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.”

This “dwell-time” domestic deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will permit its soldiers to “use some of the [skills] they acquired in the war zone” to deal with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.”

In the context of our descent into rank imperial corruption, this small but significant development could be seen by some as the moment our rulers crossed the Rubicon. But that metaphorical boundary has been in our rear-view mirror for quite some time. Admittedly, there is something quite ominous about the news that “homeland tours” are expected to become a routine part of the rotation of soliders tasked to carry out missions for those who command Washington’s Empire.

The Homeland Security apparatus is a recombinant organism, engineered from multiple strands of institutional authoritarianism.

The process began in earnest in the late 1960s with the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration; the chimera has grown in power and malignancy because of the generation-long, trillion-dollar exercise in murderous cynicism called the “War on Drugs.”

Indeed, it was in the context of this “war” that exceptions began to be carved out of the Posse Commitatus Act, which was intended to prevent the fusion of military and law enforcement functions within the United States. The cultivation of a huge population of official informants added another critical element to the metastasizing organism of official tyranny…

Read the whole thing.

Consider what it means to someone who would read this blog.

Then act.

Tempus fugit.

>The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversy

From Defense Industry Daily, a good recap on the ongoing efforts to replace/repair/upgrade the M16/M4 family of rifles.

Regardless of what the .mil folks do, every reader of this blog needs to know how to run and keep running the M16/AR platform, the AK series, the FAL rifle, and the M14/Garand system, along with the 1911, Glock, and SIG pistol families.

More ambitious students can then start studying these tools, along with this useful device and this fine machine.

Take a look at this compilation as well.

Tempus fugit.

>No Treason


The question of treason is distinct from that of slavery; and is the same that it would have been, if free States, instead of slave States, had seceded.

On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.

The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.

No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle — but only in degree — between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man’s ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and [*iv] asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.

Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that — in theory, at least, if not in practice — our government was a free one; that it rested on consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established.

If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be known. If it be the principle of the Constitution, the Constitution itself should be at once overthrown.

Read the rest, especially as your employees in the House and Senate plot over the weekend to take thousands of additional tax dollars from you, your family, and future generations nigh unto perpetuity for delivery to incompetent bankers, finance officials, and securities scammers.

Best part of all? The Congressional quislings and their Executive Branch coconspirators will be permanently wrecking the nation’s finances and still not solving the problems caused by hundreds of trillions of dollars in outstanding (and likely unpayable) derivatives.

Tempus fugit.

>USRSOG & "Six Ways In, Twelve Ways Out"


This site and this manual are well worth your time.

Explore and enjoy.

Especially if you are planning answers to the “Twenty Questions”.

Tempus fugit.

>This Can’t Be Good

>From Reuters on the LATOC Forum (editor’s note: italics added for emphasis):

Banks snap up Fed cash at record $188 bln per day
Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:16pm EDT

By John Parry

NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) – U.S. financial institutions borrowed a record $187.75 billion per day on average directly from the Federal Reserve in the latest week, showing the central bank went to extremes to keep the financial system afloat amid the biggest crisis since the Great Depression.

Federal Reserve data showed on Thursday the total amount borrowed nearly quadruples the previous record of $47.97 billion per day notched just the week before and comes as the Bush administration and U.S. lawmakers work on hammering out an agreement on a $700 billion rescue package for the financial system.

“This looks like the balance sheet of a central bank that is keeping the financial system on life support,” said Michael Feroli, U.S. economist with JPMorgan in New York.

Primary credit borrowings averaged a new record $39.36 billion per day in the latest week ended Sept. 24 compared with the previous record of $21.60 billion a week ago.

Borrowings by primary dealers via the Primary Dealer Credit Facility and through another facility created on Sunday for Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Merrill Lynch (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and their London-based subsidiaries totaled $105.66 billion as of Wednesday, the Fed said.

The Federal Reserve’s lending to U.S. depository institutions and bank holding companies to finance their purchases of high-quality asset-backed commercial paper from money market mutual funds via a new lending facility the Fed announced on Sept. 19, came in at $72.67 billion as of Wednesday.

The Fed designed the loan facility to help money market funds meet huge demands for redemptions from fearful investors over the past week after one U.S. money market mutual fund’s value fell below $1 a share, and to foster liquidity in the asset-backed commercial paper markets.

The move followed the Treasury’s action on Friday to set up a temporary guaranty program for the money market mutual fund industry.

Tom Sowanick, chief investment officer at Clearbrook Financial cited “a big increase in borrowings from securities firms which came at a time when the turmoil on Wall Street hit an apex and money market funds came under pressure, so they went to the window to make sure their funds remained stable.”

Proceeds in an account at the Fed from a special mechanism set up on Sept. 17 enabling the Treasury to sell cash management bills to raise money for the U.S. central bank to use in a costly bid to rescue financial institutions were $159.81 billion as of Sept. 24, the Fed said.

Lending in the “other credit extensions” category to insurer American International Group (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and possibly others was $44.57 billion as of Sept. 24, compared with $28.0 billion as of Sept. 17. (Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan and David Lawder; editing by Gary Crosse)

Best to be putting on your swimming trunks, mateys….

>Poole: The Last Hundred Yards – The NCO’s Contribution to Warfare

The Foreword and Preface:

The greatest weakness of the maneuver warfare movement in the United States Marine Corps has been its failure to address the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) corps.

As one of the founders of that movement, I have been aware of this failure for many years, and I share the responsibility for it. But, I also understand why it has occurred. Quite simply it takes an NCO to speak effectively and credibly to other NCO’s.

Here, in The Last Hundred Yards, Gunnery Sergeant H.J. Poole, USMC (Ret.), does exactly that. He translates the concepts of maneuver warfare into the tactics and techniques which are rightly the focus of NCO’s and Staff NCO’s.

The Non-Commissioned Officer must be a master of techniques, and also a teacher of techniques. This is no less true in maneuver warfare than in attrition warfare. As I wrote in 1985 in my Maneuver Warfare Handbook, “It cannot be said often enough that excellence in techniques is vitally important in maneuver warfare.”

But, the techniques of maneuver warfare are often different from those of attrition warfare, as The Last Hundred Yards correctly argues. For example, in attrition warfare, the assault is based on two elements, and the purpose is to take the objective. In maneuver warfare, the assault uses three elements, and the purpose is to pass through the objective and continue to advance deep into the enemy’s rear. Normally, the largest of the three elements is the exploitation element.

The Last Hundred Yards is the most detailed, most complete look at techniques in maneuver warfare. No FMFM even comes close, although the MCI Warfighting Skills Program does take a useful look at the subject. That alone should make this book of prime interest to any NCO or Staff NCO.

But, the value of the book goes beyond techniques. It also addresses tactics. In modern war, the NCO must be a first-rate technician, but he must also be more than that. He must be a tactical-decision maker who employs combined arms.

This may seem like a radical step to those NCO’s who have grown up in today’s Marine Corps. Seldom, in training, are Marine NCO’s or Staff NCO’s allowed to make tactical decisions; and “combined arms” usually refers to artillery and aircraft, which are controlled at higher levels (though the NCO may request support from either, he does not control them). But, it merely describes what German corporals, leading Stosstruppen, were doing routinely by 1918. They were deciding where and how to engage the enemy (and where not to) in attacks with unlimited objective, and they were employing combined arms in the form of the light machinegun and the trench mortar, both of which were squad weapons by that time.

Since 1918, the battlefield has not grown more amenable to centralized control; quite the contrary. Particularly in operations like those in Somalia or Haiti, an NCO may find himself making decisions with operational or even strategic effects. The fact that Marine Corps’ training seldom allows NCO’s or Staff NCO’s to make decisions beyond the level of techniques is a fault in that training, not a reflection of combat realities.

The Last Hundred Yards is a book about making tactical decisions, as well as employing effective, modern techniques. Most important, it is a book about integrating tactics and techniques. Techniques are the “tools” an NCO has at his disposal; tactics is the art of selecting the right tools for the particular job at hand. While the techniques themselves may be formulas, the art of selecting the right techniques can never be done by formula, because each situation is different. This book shows the NCO the right way to use techniques in his tactics, and makes clear the distinction between the two.

Correctly, Gunny Poole has made extensive and knowledgeable use of history in researching and explaining his topic. His example here should encourage other NCO’s to study military history. It is not a subject reserved to officers and civilians interested in the military art.

But, to the study of history, the author of The Last Hundred Yards has added something that previously has been missing in works on maneuver warfare: the experience of a Marine Staff NCO. Gunny Poole’s experience includes combat in Vietnam, plus many years of helping train Marine infantrymen. From that experience he has gathered the observations and lessons which, when combined with the lessons of history, make this book the extraordinary resource that it is.

The Marine Corps, and only the Marine Corps among the American armed services, has begun the long and difficult task of changing from an attrition style of warfare to maneuver warfare — from the French way of war to the German. It can only succeed if the maneuver warfare way of thinking becomes deeply rooted at the level where most tactical decisions are actually made, in the NCO corps. The Last Hundred Yards is the first book that gives NCO’s the knowledge and understanding they need to make that transition. As such, it is a book of immense importance, and a fitting tribute to all the NCO’s who have paid in blood for the lessons it so aptly distills.

–William S. Lind


U.S. Marine enlisted men have always enjoyed their fair share of self-esteem. But, as they face more destructive weapons on the modern battlefield, their capacity for self-reliance has become more critical to their survival. So much so, that today’s Marine Corps is redefining the role of its infantry Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO’s) and revamping its small-unit infantry tactics. One famous U.S. general has gone so far as to imply that, in the close-quarter combat necessary to neutralize modern weaponry, the proper role of the NCO is that of tactical-decision maker:

The last hundred yards in combat is the purview of the non-commissioned officer.1

This viewpoint is not difficult to substantiate. Many enlisted infantrymen spend almost half their careers in rifle companies. They experience numerous billet assignments and countless field exercises. By the time they become NCO’s, many have spent years where the “rubber (of their commanders’ decisions) meets the road.” By the time they become senior Staff NCO’s (SNCO’s), many have operated under a wide assortment of battlefield conditions and have become quite familiar with the most common. These experienced enlisted infantrymen have mastered the execution phase of small-unit tactics, in much the same way that career mechanics master the performance of car repair. For this reason, NCO’s are often called the “technicians” of tactics — their “tricks of the trade” being the ways to accomplish the various actions that make up any tactical maneuver. In other words, they’ve become experts in the detail of execution. But, experts must be fully utilized. A U.S. Army general noticed that the tactical technicians were underused in Vietnam:

The Army was successful in developing the military statesmen, staff planners, and management experts, but it had neglected the “military mechanics.” The results were beginning to show in the units.2

— Gen. A. Collins U.S. Army (Ret.)

Just as automotive mechanics become highly skilled at diagnosing car problems, so too do infantry NCO’s become adept at assessing tactical situations. Not only have they personally experienced many of the circumstances, but they have also realized the cost of ignoring subtle differences in each. They have learned that stormy nights can either hinder tactical coordination or enhance surprise. Because the ground to their immediate front has always been their priority, they have developed a unique appreciation for microterrain. Having themselves filled the shoes of riflemen and fire team leaders, they have unique insight into the training status of the “troops-available” aspect of the “combat situation.” And having participated in countless range details with every weapon organic to the infantry battalion, they understand how each weapon will perform under the “fire-support-available” aspect. In short, NCO’s are a little-used but excellent source of information about a dimension of the situation that is often overlooked — the detail of the situation. Only by meshing precisely with existing circumstances, will a tactical decision normally succeed. Without compensating for the subtle differences in situational variables, a field commander could logically arrive at a tactical solution that won’t work. His NCO’s could provide him with the missing situational detail.

This expertise in the detail of both situation and execution should qualify most infantry NCO’s to make sound tactical decisions. Again, the mechanic comparison serves to illustrate the point. When a mechanic encounters a bolt in a tight space under a car, what tool he chooses and how hard he twists it, establishes how easily the bolt comes out. For small units, tactical maneuvers are like tools. When a platoon encounters enemy on the battlefield, what tactical maneuver it chooses and how well it executes that maneuver, establishes how easily the enemy is defeated. Just as a mechanic’s level of experience affects his choice of tools and how to use them, so too does a platoon’s collective experience affect its choice of tactical maneuvers and how to execute them. In the average platoon, the NCO’s and SNCO’s provide most of the collective experience. For this reason, they should participate in most of the tactical decisions. This should in no way challenge the authority of their officers. After all, commissioned and non-commissioned officers share the same responsibilities in combat. If the lieutenant is wounded, the platoon sergeant takes over. When both work together, better decisions result. This brain trust can be further enhanced by including the squad leaders. The enduring satisfaction that comes from making a situationally correct decision, and then having that decision fully supported during its execution, far outweighs the temporary insecurity that may come from soliciting the advice of subordinates. On the other hand, it is courting disaster to rely on one’s personal impressions to provide the solution to a complex scenario and then not consider whether one’s subordinates have the skills to execute that solution.

Throughout this century, other countries have capitalized on the tactical expertise of their infantry NCO’s. By the end of 1917, the Germans had not only put their NCO’s in charge of the units spearheading their ground attacks,3 but also of the autonomous forts comprising their front lines of defense.4 Their success is indelibly etched in the Allied casualty totals for 1918.

U.S. infantry units have only just recently begun to rely more on the tactical-decision-making ability of their NCO’s. American SNCO’s have never had the opportunity as a group to commit their tactical insights to writing. They have had to pass along these insights to the next generation of infantrymen by word of mouth. The published guidelines on how to conduct fire team, squad, and platoon tactics are, for the most part, the broad conclusions of commissioned officers with a year or two of rifle company experience. The tragedy is that every time a seasoned NCO or SNCO leaves the Service, much of what he has learned about situational detail and the tricks of the trade of tactical execution goes with him. Field Marshal Zhukov — the Allied commander who turned the tide in World War II — said this about organizations in which NCO’s are not fully trusted:

My many years in the Army have demonstrated that wherever confidence in NCO’s is lacking . . . you have . . . no really combat-worthy units.5

— Georgi K. Zhukov

Because NCO knowledge has not been systematically retrieved, the U.S. Armed Forces have not learned as much about small-unit tactics as they should have. Before World War II, Chesty Puller — a prior-enlisted Marine veteran of nine years of small-unit combat in Haiti and Nicaragua — noticed a void in what should have been available in writing on small-unit warfare:

Puller often heard these officers [his instructors] admit that they did not know the answers he was constantly seeking. In truth, it seemed that little had been written about his favorite topic — limited, small-scale combat.6

To a U.S. infantryman actively engaged in a losing effort, this shortage of reference material can be quite unsettling. With a combat commission from Korea, Lt.Col. D.H. Hackworth was no stranger to war when called to serve in Vietnam. After two tours, he pointed out that U.S. knowledge on small-unit infantry tactics had not been significantly enhanced by the longest war in U.S. history:

Almost fifteen years since the tragic, inevitable fall of Saigon, there has been no major, honest post mortem of the war. There have been critiques dealing with the big picture . . . but none has addressed the lessons learned the hard way, at the fighting level, where people died and the war was in fact, lost.7

With their quip “Remember the basics,” famous Americans have continually warned of the consequences of ignoring tactical detail. For infantrymen, the basics have been categorized as “shoot,” “move,” and “communicate.” While, on the surface, these may look like simple concepts, in truth they are very complex. The enemy is not going to sit still while someone shoots at him, will kill whomever he sees moving, and can gain an insurmountable advantage by just correctly guessing his opponent’s intentions. Perhaps it was a mistake to refer to these crucial skills as basics in the first place. One would assume that the basics would be covered during basic training, or boot camp. In actuality, other military fundamentals — history and traditions, customs and courtesies, wearing of the uniform, close-order drill, marksmanship, discipline — are, for the most part, what is covered during basic training. The finer points of shooting, moving, and communicating must be learned by trial and error (sometimes the hard way) or from an experienced NCO. They are not basics in the sense of being elementary — something to be endured as a young infantryman and then outgrown. They are basics in the sense that no infantry unit can operate effectively without them. They are the detail of execution. And, with each departing generation of infantry NCO’s, much of what it takes for a unit to perform the simplest of tactical maneuvers is lost.

Yes, many of the skills that individuals and small units need in combat are described somewhere in the towering stacks of historical literature. But, these descriptions are so sparsely sprinkled throughout what are predominantly discussions about large units, that they are inaccessible to the average infantryman. Only by dedicating thousands of man-hours to a computer hunt, could a researcher identify meaningful trends.

And, yes, a significant amount of basic knowledge is presented in the manuals. But, here again, it is presented piecemeal in scores of locations. Furthermore, what is presented is seldom comprehensive. Whenever a discussion on something basic can be found (like how to crawl unnoticed through the enemy’s barbed wire), only a few sentences are allocated to it. This does little to raise one’s confidence that he could actually perform this function in combat. He also wonders how comprehensive the discussion can be, when only one way of doing the activity is offered, and generally without referencing the literature. The recent FMFM 1 — Warfighting — contains the central precepts for winning battles at minimal cost. But the larger FMFM’s on small-unit combat must be rewritten in the same professional style (with historical literature referenced). FM 21-75 — Combat Training of the Individual Soldier and Patrolling — provides young infantrymen with many important skills, but where is the manual on how to walk point? Point men perform the most dangerous job in war and affect the outcome of enemy contact every bit as much as the overall unit leader.

Some say that the formal schools cover what the manuals omit. They are correct — to the extent that enlisted instructors are allowed to teach the same subject long enough to discover what’s missing from the manuals, and to fill the void with common sense. But, all too often, instructors must teach verbatim from a handful of manuals and then change jobs before becoming comfortable with their subject matter. Without a wide assortment of military publications and historical references, the novice instructor can only do so much.

What NCO’s know collectively about small-unit tactics extends far beyond what is in the manuals. It is what has been learned by generations of NCO’s trying to adapt the one (official) way of doing things to more than one set of circumstances. It is also how to deal with unique circumstances for which the book solution does not compensate. This common sense of the NCO corps is unwritten, yet still alive around the campfires. It is every bit as valuable as what is in the manuals:

Basic Field Manual [italics added] knowledge is fine, but it is useless without common sense. Common sense is of greater value than all the words in the book.8

— Col. Amor Le R. Sims, 7th Mar. CO on Guadalcanal

There is nothing inherently wrong with the one way of doing each maneuver described in the manuals. The problem is that the manuals lack detail in situation and execution. In other words, they don’t specify under which circumstances, or with which pre-existing skills, the one way will work. Because this detail is missing, overeager practitioners of the book solution sometimes make poor decisions. They forget that this one way was probably never intended as “doctrine” that had to be obeyed every time, but rather as “broad guidance” that would work under ideal conditions. In truth, it is only one way to handle a unique combination of circumstances (which are for the most part unspecified and long since forgotten). Small-unit leaders who don’t realize this, may not only make illogical tactical decisions, but also become totally predictable in combat:

The central ideas of an army is [sic] known as its doctrine, which to be sound must be based on the principles of war, and which to be effective must be elastic enough to admit of mutation in accordance with change in circumstances. In its ultimate relationship to human understanding this central idea or doctrine is nothing else than common sense — that is action adapted to circumstances.9

— Maj.Gen. J.F.C. Fuller

Without NCO advice on situational variables, military commanders may become intimidated by the unlimited number of combinations possible. They may underestimate the effect of subtle differences in these variables and consider the “book solution” to be applicable most of the time. Or, they may overestimate the effect of these subtle differences, and consider it futile to prepare for any particular set of circumstances — i.e., futile to train. The small unit that too faithfully follows the method in the book will eventually attempt it under the wrong conditions. Furthermore, the unit may have difficulty surprising any enemy who has read their book. On the other hand, the unit that doesn’t prepare for any particular scenario will take too long to decide what to do (automatically sacrificing surprise and momentum), and then not have the teamwork to execute what it does decide to do. When considered in this context, enlisted one-liners, like “Forget the book” or “Out here you’ve got to learn fast,” seem less insubordinate:

The ordinary soldier has a surprisingly good nose for what is true and what is false.10

— Rommel

Because, as a group, infantry NCO’s enjoy vast experience, they can easily identify probable combat scenarios and through trial and error develop tactical solutions to those scenarios. Such solutions are called “techniques.” The squad that can develop the best techniques, and then combine them to counter a unique set of circumstances in combat, has a decided edge over the one that can’t. Any infantryman who has averaged three hours of sleep a night for months on end, and then tried to capture the momentum from a strong opponent, realizes the limits to impromptu problem solving under duress. In actuality, most small-scale combat is won or lost months before the battle — during training. What this training should consist of, can best come from the NCO corps.

It remains to be seen how badly the U.S. Armed Forces may have hurt themselves by not systematically recording the collective tactical knowledge of their NCO’s. If the famous general’s observation about the purview of the NCO is correct, the disturbing implication is that the U.S. military may have retrieved little of what young Americans need successfully to cross the “last 100 yards” in combat. And if, by chance, the “next 100 yards” falls under the purview of the NCO as well, U.S. infantry tactics as a whole may be less than perfect. Without NCO input, the tactics may have outlived their usefulness.

This book contains many techniques from the NCO corps, and how and when they might be combined to facilitate standard U.S. infantry tactics. It also discusses how to alternate these techniques to become less predictable. What has been intended is an easily accessible reference on, and starting point for further research into, small-unit infantry tactics. A Chinese military scholar by the name of Sun Tzu alluded to the importance of small-unit knowledge as early as 350 B.C.:

He who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious.11

— Sun Tzu

The techniques herein have been generated by consensus opinions from the forty or so U.S. Marine NCO’s and SNCO’s who attended each of the Camp Lejeune Platoon Sergeant Courses between 1986 and 1991, and the 3rd Marine Division Combat Squad Leader Courses during 1992 — roughly 1200 NCO’s in all. The method of collection was simple. The student body was asked in the classroom to identify promising solutions to common situations, and then again in the field to identify refinements to those solutions. While most of the techniques were developed in the forested coastal plain of eastern North Carolina, the vast majority of them worked equally well in the precipitous and heavily jungled terrain of Okinawa.

Many of the common-sense insights of these career enlisted infantrymen closely parallel the tenets of an ancient style of warfare that has recently gained popularity in the United States — “maneuver warfare.” This is significant, because it has been hypothesized that only through its NCO’s can any infantry organization fully adopt maneuver warfare. Several years of research have gone into supporting this hypothesis.

Why hasn’t more small-unit tactical knowledge been recorded for easy access by U.S. infantrymen? Were the founders of their military heritage somehow lacking? Or, has this oversight in learning occurred despite everyone’s best efforts? The final chapter will provide a possible answer to this mystery, and discuss how other nations have successfully dealt with the same problem.

To appreciate fully the contribution that U.S. infantry NCO’s could make to the body of recorded tactical knowledge (part two of the book), it will first be necessary to discuss the shortfall that has occurred without their systematic input (part one). Everyone has been affected to some degree by this shortfall in recorded knowledge. Before beginning the chapters, the reader should take the inventory test in appendix A. For NCO’s without formal instruction in maneuver warfare, a score of 50 is satisfactory, 60 is good, 70 is excellent, and 80 is outstanding. Seasoned staff NCO’s and officers score about 10 points higher. If the reader cannot agree with some of the answers to tactical questions, he should not become discouraged. Many of the questions are designed to gauge receptivity to a style of warfare quite different from the one traditionally practiced by most U.S. infantrymen. In other questions, the situation may be inadequately described to permit agreement on the answer. After all, there are no right or wrong answers in tactics, just many thought-provoking questions. The test is only intended as a way to stimulate further interest in the book and to gauge its impact.


To the United States Marine Corps rightly belongs the credit for this contribution to small-unit infantry tactics. Without the dynamic learning environment that existed in Marine Corps infantry schools from 1986 to 1992, this work would not have been possible.

None of the ideas presented herein are original; all have come from other people. Most of the tactical techniques have been developed by Marine infantry NCO’s and SNCO’s. In WWII, their predecessors were forced to deal with what could best be described as worst-case scenarios. The only way to root the die-hard Japanese from their holes on those tiny islands in the Pacific, was to go directly at them in broad daylight. But, in the early eighties, to compensate for the combat power disadvantage that the Marines were expected to encounter on future battlefields, General Al Gray and his civilian adviser Bill Lind began to emphasize what has since come to be known as “maneuver warfare.” This is a style of warfare that relies more heavily on the element of surprise. It helped Allied forces to attain a quick and relatively bloodless victory in the Gulf War.

Some traditionalists have had trouble accepting the looser control parameters of maneuver warfare. And, as is always the case with professionals, their concerns are partially justified. Some situations do take a more traditional approach. But, at the same time, many others can be solved at less cost by following the new way of thinking. There is no reason why both points of view cannot coexist in harmony. All that is needed is a better understanding of which conditions might favor one warfare style over the other. Then, any difference of opinion could only provide a healthy stimulus for additional learning.

There is a body of knowledge that allows the opposing viewpoints to coexist. It comes from the segment of military society that prides itself on supporting the decisions of every commander — the NCO corps. Passed along verbally from one generation to the next is an expertise in tactical detail that has played no small part in the establishment of the proud heritage of the United States Marine Corps. The collective experience of NCO’s in handling every conceivable combination of wartime circumstances provides a framework in which both styles of warfare can play important roles. In an effort to reconcile the opposing viewpoints and to shed more light on the situations in which maneuver warfare can work, this book provides a brief glimpse into this immense body of knowledge.

Semper fidelis.

Related titles here.

Order here. Note that Gunny Poole requires a copy of the purchaser’s DD-214 prior to sending The Last Hundred Yards.

>Fighting Tyranny Without Terrorizing the Innocent

As David noted when he posted this link back in June, download the document before it goes away.

Read it.




Tempus fugit.

>Foreign Reaction to Gulliver’s Travails

>An article from Bloomberg explaining the “why” behind King Henry’s in-progress coup d’etat:

Asia Needs Deal to Prevent Panic Selling of U.S. Debt, Yu Says

By Kevin Hamlin

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — Japan, China and other holders of U.S. government debt must quickly reach an agreement to prevent panic sales leading to a global financial collapse, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the Chinese central bank.

“We are in the same boat, we must cooperate,” Yu said in an interview in Beijing on Sept. 23. “If there’s no selling in a panicked way, then China willingly can continue to provide our financial support by continuing to hold U.S. assets.”

An agreement is needed so that no nation rushes to sell, “causing a collapse,” Yu said. Japan is the biggest owner of U.S. Treasury bills, holding $593 billion, and China is second with $519 billion. Asian countries together hold half of the $2.67 trillion total held by foreign nations.

China, Japan, South Korea and others should meet soon to seal a deal, said Yu, a former academic member of the central bank’s monetary policy committee. The talks should involve finance ministers, central bank governors and even national leaders, he said.

“Whether some kind of agreement between them to continue to hold Treasury bills is viable, I’m not sure,” said James McCormack, head of sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings Ltd in Hong Kong. “It would be unusual. If it became apparent that sovereigns in Asia were selling Treasuries the market would take that quite badly, it’s something to be avoided.”

The global credit crisis, triggered by a housing slump in the U.S., has saddled financial companies with more than $520 billion in writedowns and losses, collapsing Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in the process. Insurer American International Group Inc. and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also were rescued by the government.

`Grave Threats’

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is urging Congress to pass a $700 billion plan to remove devalued assets from the banking system. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Sept. 24 that the U.S. is facing “grave threats” to its financial stability.

China’s huge holdings of U.S. debt means it must bear a large proportion of the “burden of sorting things out” in the U.S., Yu said. China is not in a hurry to dump its U.S. holdings and communication between the two nations every “couple of days” is keeping Chinese leaders informed and helping to avoid a potential panic, he added.

“China is very worried about the safety of its assets,” he said. “If you want China to keep calm, you must ensure China that its assets are safe.”

Currency Manipulator

Yu said China is helping the U.S. “in a very big way” and added that it should get something in return. The U.S. should avoid labeling it an unfair trader and a currency manipulator and not politicize other issues, he said.

“It is not fair that we are doing this in good faith and are prepared to bear serious consequences and you are still labeling China this and that, accusing China of this and that,” he said. “China knows what to do. We don’t need your intervention.”

The U.S. financial crisis had taught China a lesson and that was: “Why are we piling up these IOUs if they may default?” China’s economic expansion strategy, which emphasizes export growth that has led to trade surpluses and the accumulation of $1.81 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, is the main problem, said Yu.

“Our export-growth strategy has run its natural course,” he said. “We should change course….”

Remember this Treasury Department listing of foreign holders of US IOUs?

Say “hello” (in the appropriate language, ignorant peasant) to your new overlords.

Meanwhile, here’s Germany’s answer to King Henry’s bail-out plan:

In a speech before parliament on Thursday, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück said the effects of the financial markets crisis would be felt in economies and labor markets worldwide for years to come. “The world will never be the same as it was before the crisis,” the Social Democrat said, adding,” the US will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.”

He blamed the current crisis partly on Wall Street’s “blind drive for double-digit profits” and massive bonuses for executives and bankers. He also called for greater regulation in financial markets and a ban on short-selling, and he suggested a role for the International Monetary Fund as a global markets watchdog. He said the unbridled “race for profits” had to be stopped, and that banks should only be able to conduct high risk transactions if they have sufficient capital resources and they report the risks in their balance sheets.

Steinbrück said the crisis would lead to lower economic growth in Germany as well as negative developments in the labor market. “Our economy will also suffer,” he said, though he said it would be difficult at this point to estimate what impact it could have on Germany’s federal budget. For the time being, he said, tax revenues are stable.

“An American Problem”

The minister reiterated his rejection of calls from Washington for Germany to create a bailout fund for failing financial institutions based on the US model. With a proposed $700 billion bailout package, the US government is hoping to stop the banking crisis. “More than anything, the finance market is an American problem,” Steinbrück said.

He also accused the US of serious failures, saying the Americans had been hesitant to introduce stricter rules requiring larger capital reserves at banks. “The US is the source of the crisis and it is the focus of the crisis,” he said. The finance minister also blamed an investment banking system that had not been sufficiently regulated, as well as supervisory bodies in the US that were deeply fragmented. “In large parts, this system is insufficiently regulated, and now it is falling apart,” he said.

He also criticized Washington’s position that the state should take a hands-off approach to regulating and instead leave things up to market forces. This “laissez-fair position” created the crisis, which he said has triggered an “earthquake in the international financial architecture with unimaginable write-offs.” Steinbrück spoke of write-offs totalling $550 billion. At some US banks, he said, they have found that they don’t even have a sustainable business model…

And the Germans also don’t seem that interested in King Henry’s request that foreign governments help buy fecal American securities so as to help the King’s Wall Street pals:

It’s not a call for assistance; it’s a scream for help.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is asking other countries to help buy up bad US debt. The US government is putting up $700 billion in taxpayer money in the hopes that the measure might restore stability in the financial system. Some countries are planning to help. But the German government has answered this call quickly and clearly: no.

Economics experts think that’s the right response. As they see it, in the long run, those responsible for the crisis — who have been cashed out with high salaries and bonuses for years — will not be penalized for billions “but will be let off the hook like everyone else,” says Carsten Meier of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). According to Meier, by injecting capital into the market, the US government is putting everyone who speculated and lost back on their feet and thereby standing in the way of a market cleanup.

Paulson has stated that the US government will pay a fair price for the bad debt, which Meier sees as sending “precisely the wrong signal,” adding that “people shouldn’t be rewarded for taking such high risks.” Meier also finds Germany’s decision to sit out any bailout operation to be the right move. “The financial crisis is primarily a problem in America,” Meier says. As he sees it, the fact that Germany and Europe are far less affected that the US justifies European reluctance. “The stability of the German banking system is not in danger,” Meier points out as he explains why he believes Europe shouldn’t provide any funds. “The world shouldn’t have to bear the burden for America’s lapses.”

Germany Shouldn’t Have to Bear More Burdens

Still, the financial crisis has already reached German shores, and banks here have had to announce write-downs of nearly €40 billion ($58.5 billion). “German banks are already sufficiently involved in the calamity,” says Stefan Kooths of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. Either way, experts estimate that half of America’s bad loans were sold abroad — and a large part of that was assumed by Germans. And now the money is gone. “There’s no reason why Germany should have to bear even more burdens,” says Kooths.

Experts have also criticized the American rescue package for a number of other reasons. Diemo Dietrich from the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) doesn’t think the plan is well-balanced: “The government is only buying bad risks and, in doing so, nationalizing the losses.” Dietrich adds that taxpayers won’t share in any of the profits that the government hopes the stabilized market will bring about in the long run…

Good analysis, even if it stings, coming from friends since 1945….

Meanwhile,the ChiCom government is ready to do what it must to protect Chinese interests:

On Wednesday, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang emphasised that Beijing would respond to ensure stable growth in the face of global uncertainties, although he did not give details. “China will enact economic control measures in accordance with the circumstances so as to maintain stable economic growth,” Mr Li told visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“We will make efforts to increase the dynamism and power of the economy by fully leveraging our huge growth potential to sustain stable, rapid growth in the long run.”

The latest People’s Daily commentary focused on the need to pursue domestic reforms that would spur spending at home. “As the international market softens, this may create a production capacity glut,” it said, urging increased investment in social security, medical care and education to lift domestic consumption…

And our nearest neighbor to the North?

The Bank of Canada loves King Henry and his plan.

Shocking, eh?

Fortunately, the next Administration will take these matters firmly in hand, I’m sure:

Heaven help us all.

>My Answer to the President

>Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market’s attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I’d only be repeating what I’ve been saying over and over – not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary.

The president assures us that his administration “is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.” Care to take a guess at whether the Federal Reserve and its money creation spree were even mentioned?

We are told that “low interest rates” led to excessive borrowing, but we are not told how these low interest rates came about. They were a deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve. As always, artificially low interest rates distort the market. Entrepreneurs engage in malinvestments – investments that do not make sense in light of current resource availability, that occur in more temporally remote stages of the capital structure than the pattern of consumer demand can support, and that would not have been made at all if the interest rate had been permitted to tell the truth instead of being toyed with by the Fed.

Not a word about any of that, of course, because Americans might then discover how the great wise men in Washington caused this great debacle. Better to keep scapegoating the mortgage industry or “wildcat capitalism” (as if we actually have a pure free market!).

Speaking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the president said: “Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.”

Doesn’t that prove the foolishness of chartering Fannie and Freddie in the first place? Doesn’t that suggest that maybe, just maybe, government may have contributed to this mess? And of course, by bailing out Fannie and Freddie, hasn’t the federal government shown that the “many” who “believed they were guaranteed by the federal government” were in fact correct?

Then come the scare tactics. If we don’t give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary “the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet.” Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It’s the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

The president also tells us that Senators McCain and Obama will join him at the White House today in order to figure out how to get the bipartisan bailout passed. The two senators would do their country much more good if they stayed on the campaign trail debating who the bigger celebrity is, or whatever it is that occupies their attention these days.

F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks’ manipulation of interest rates creates the boom-bust cycle with which we are sadly familiar. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he described the foolish policies being pursued in his day – and which are being proposed, just as destructively, in our own:

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion.

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection – a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end… It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history.

The very people who have spent the past several years assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound, and who themselves foolishly cheered the extension of all these novel kinds of mortgages, are the ones who now claim to be the experts who will restore prosperity! Just how spectacularly wrong, how utterly without a clue, does someone have to be before his expert status is called into question?

Oh, and did you notice that the bailout is now being called a “rescue plan”? I guess “bailout” wasn’t sitting too well with the American people.

The very people who with somber faces tell us of their deep concern for the spread of democracy around the world are the ones most insistent on forcing a bill through Congress that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. The very fact that some of you seem to think you’re supposed to have a voice in all this actually seems to annoy them.

I continue to urge you to contact your representatives and give them a piece of your mind. I myself am doing everything I can to promote the correct point of view on the crisis. Be sure also to educate yourselves on these subjects – the Campaign for Liberty blog is an excellent place to start. Read the posts, ask questions in the comment section, and learn.

H.G. Wells once said that civilization was in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

In liberty,

Ron Paul

>What Is To Be Done: A Practical Reading List

Rawles had a good list of practical books and manuals the other day.

Hopefully, you’ll be using that list to fill any gaps in your existing library as you use the remaining time wisely.

I’ll be excerpting some material from this book over the next couple of weeks.

God willing.

Tempus fugit.

>A View From London

>From today’s UK Telegraph, a perspective on King Henry’s plan from Alex the London investment banker.

>The Subprime Primer

From The Agitator, a not-safe-for-work-or-tender-eyes explanation of how the current economic malarkey (and subsequent coup d’etat) got started.

See also this much more grassroots (and even more not-safe-for-work-or-tender-eyes) application of King Henry’s “no banker left behind” bailout principles.

Laughing is always better than crying.


>Time Is Running Out

>Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Friends,

Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.

The events of the past week are no exception.

The bailout package that is about to be rammed down Congress’ throat is not just economically foolish. It is downright sinister. It makes a mockery of our Constitution, which our leaders should never again bother pretending is still in effect. It promises the American people a never-ending nightmare of ever-greater debt liabilities they will have to shoulder.

Two weeks ago, financial analyst Jim Rogers said the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made America more communist than China! “This is welfare for the rich,” he said. “This is socialism for the rich. It’s bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters.”

That describes the current bailout package to a T. And we’re being told it’s unavoidable.

The claim that the market caused all this is so staggeringly foolish that only politicians and the media could pretend to believe it. But that has become the conventional wisdom, with the desired result that those responsible for the credit bubble and its predictable consequences – predictable, that is, to those who understand sound, Austrian economics – are being let off the hook. The Federal Reserve System is actually positioning itself as the savior, rather than the culprit, in this mess!

• The Treasury Secretary is authorized to purchase up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets at any one time. That means $700 billion is only the very beginning of what will hit us.

• Financial institutions are “designated as financial agents of the Government.” This is the New Deal to end all New Deals.

• Then there’s this: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Translation: the Secretary can buy up whatever junk debt he wants to, burden the American people with it, and be subject to no one in the process.

There goes your country.

Even some so-called free-market economists are calling all this “sadly necessary.”

Sad, yes.

Necessary? Don’t make me laugh.

Our one-party system is complicit in yet another crime against the American people. The two major party candidates for president themselves initially indicated their strong support for bailouts of this kind – another example of the big choice we’re supposedly presented with this November: yes or yes. Now, with a backlash brewing, they’re not quite sure what their views are.

A sad display, really.

Although the present bailout package is almost certainly not the end of the political atrocities we’ll witness in connection with the crisis, time is short. Congress may vote as soon as tomorrow. With a Rasmussen poll finding support for the bailout at an anemic seven percent, some members of Congress are afraid to vote for it.

Call them! Let them hear from you! Tell them you will never vote for anyone who supports this atrocity.

The issue boils down to this: do we care about freedom? Do we care about responsibility and accountability? Do we care that our government and media have been bought and paid for? Do we care that average Americans are about to be looted in order to subsidize the fattest of cats on Wall Street and in government?

Do we care?

When the chips are down, will we stand up and fight, even if it means standing up against every stripe of fashionable opinion in politics and the media?

Times like these have a way of telling us what kind of a people we are, and what kind of country we shall be.

In liberty,

Ron Paul

>Two from Orlov: Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century & Our Village


Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century

Our Village





Tempus fugit.

>Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: The USSR Was Better Prepared for Collapse Than the US


A presentation first published in December, 2006 by Dmitry Orlov, and well worth your time.


Slide [5]

Continuing with our list of superpower similarities, many of the problems that sunk the Soviet Union are now endangering the United States as well:

– Such as a huge, well-equipped, very expensive military, with no clear mission, bogged down in fighting Muslim insurgents.

– Such as energy shortfalls linked to peaking oil production.

– Such as a persistently unfavorable trade balance, resulting in runaway foreign debt.

Add to that a delusional self-image, an inflexible ideology, and an unresponsive political system.

Review the whole presentation, and don’t forget two more articles from Orlov on getting by in the post-collapse USSR.

Or not.

Even if you don’t want to address reality, reality will find a way to address you.

Tempus fugit.

>Robb: Onward to a Hollow State

From John Robb’s Global Guerillas:


The modern nation-state is in a secular decline, made inevitable by the rise of a global market system. Even developed nations, like the US, are not immune to this process. The decline is at first gradual and then accelerates until it reaches a final end-point: a hollow state. The hollow state has the trappings of a modern nation-state (“leaders”, membership in international organizations, regulations, laws, and a bureaucracy) but it lacks any of the legitimacy, services, and control of its historical counter-part. It is merely a shell that has some influence over the spoils of the economy. The real power rests in the hands of corporations and criminal/guerrilla groups that vie with each other for control of sectors of wealth production. For the individual living within this state, life goes on, but it is debased in a myriad of ways.

The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis. This crisis typically has the following features:

* Corporations and connected individuals systematically loot the nation-state of financial assets and natural resources through a series of insider/no cost deals. These deals are made to “save” the nation’s economy or financial system from collapse.
* Once the full measure of the crisis is known, the nation-state’s currency falls precipitously, it’s debt becomes expensive, and it is forced to submit to international oversight/rules.
* The services the state provides rapidly evaporate as its bureaucracy is starved for cash/financing. This opens up a window for the corruption of government employees unused to deprivation.

The Dynamic of Primary Loyalties

The decline from functional but weak nation-state is extremely sudden. For individuals, there is a rapid and sustained decline in the standard of living. Additionally, there are spot shortages of critical items and commodities — particularly food, medicine, and energy (since these are globally fungible). Large and small business fail across the board, or become prey to connected companies/individuals with access to the remaining coercive power of the nation-state. As the deprivation becomes commonplace, people turn to primary loyalties for support and services — loyalties to a corporation, tribe, gang, family, or community. These groups, energized by new levels of loyalty but deeply obligated to reciprocate this loyalty with support, become extremely aggressive in pursuit of their survival. Once this shift in loyalty is made, a self-generating cycle of violence, crime, and corruption (fueled in large part through connections to the global market system) becomes entrenched. The nation-state, at that point, becomes irretrievably hollow.

The Looting

It’s instructive to view the US Treasury’s plans for a bail-out of the global financial system through the lens of the hollow state. By this measure, the bailout as it stands today, is a form of financial looting of the US Treasury (it isn’t socialism, since the government isn’t nationalizing the financial system)…

Read the rest, and consider what it means to you and your family.

Tempus fugit.

>The Peasants Attempt An Unarmed Revolt Against King Henry and His Court

>Having found virtually no one in the mainstream media or Congress with the courage to demand answers to the questions posed in this Bloomberg article of the former USA’s new King Henry, the poor naive commoners are attempting to use the “democratic process” to halt the ongoing Wall Street bailout boondoggle:

Inquiring minds are asking A $1.8 Trillion Bailout: Where the Money’s Going?

—Up to $700 billion to buy assets from struggling institutions. The plan is aimed at sopping up residential and commercial mortgages from financial institutions but gives Treasury broad latitude.
—Up to $50 billion from the Great Depression-era Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee principal in money market mutual funds to provide the same confidence that consumers have in federally insured bank deposits.
—The Fed committed to make unspecified discount window loans to financial institutions to finance the purchase of assets from money market funds to aid redemptions.
—At least $10 billion in Treasury direct purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September. In doubling the program on Friday, the Treasury said it may purchase even more in the months ahead.
—Up to $144 billion in additional MBS purchases by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The Treasury announced they would increase purchases up to the newly expanded investment portfolio limits of $850 billion each. On July 30, the Fannie portfolio stood at $758.1 billion with Freddie’s at $798.2 billion.
—$85 billion loan for AIG, which would give the Federal government a 79.9 percent stake and avoid a bankruptcy filing for the embattled insurer. AIG management will be dismissed.
—At least $87 billion in repayments to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) for providing financing to underpin trades with units of bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers (LEH).
—$200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury will inject up to $100 billion into each institution by purchasing preferred stock to shore up their capital as needed. The deal puts the two housing finance firms under government control.
—$300 billion for the Federal Housing Administration to refinance failing mortgage into new, reduced-principal loans with a federal guarantee, passed as part of a broad housing rescue bill.
—$4 billion in grants to local communities to help them buy and repair homes abandoned due to mortgage foreclosures.
—$29 billion in financing for JPMorgan Chase’s government-brokered buyout of Bear Stearns in March. The Fed agreed to take $30 billion in questionable Bear assets as collateral, making JPMorgan liable for the first $1 billion in losses, while agreeing to shoulder any further losses.
—At least $200 billion of currently outstanding loans to banks issued through the Fed’s Term Auction Facility, which was recently expanded to allow for longer loans of 84 days alongside the previous 28-day credits.

A quick check of the totals shows that is $1.809 trillion dollars that Congress is hell bent on wasting…

Silly peasants. Don’t they know there’s been a coup d’etat?

Financial coup d’etat in the U.S. – Part 1 – Hello feudalism

There is no other way to describe it. The biggest financial institutions in the U.S, in league with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, are staging a kind of coup d’etat against the American people.

If allowed to proceed, they will put forward legislation later in the week that will assign dictator-like powers to the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and certain big banks, and, using these powers, dump hundreds of billions of more bad debt on ordinary Americans. The consequences are dire, not just for the economy, but also for the civil rights of Americans.

Working behind closed doors over the weekend, leaders of the political and financial elite have been putting the final touches on a plan whereby the big banks and financiers will shift up to $700 billion of bad debt and toxic mortgages (which they created) onto the backs of the American people via the federal government, as well as put themselves in an ideal positon to strike a blow at other competitors, including non-monopoly financial institutions that are smaller or more community and regionally based.

All of this is in addition to the hundreds of billions that have already been pledged to bail out various big banks and other Wall Street financial institutions, as well as pump liquidity into the markets. The scale of this bailout is almost beyond description.

For example, various politicians and bankers are saying that the total amount of the bailout will be between $1 to $1.5 trillion, which is bad enough, being more than the GDP of a country like Canada. The government has already pledged $200 billion alone to prop up the mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What the politicians who support this bailout often fail to mention is that the American taxpayer must also now take on the debt of these giant mortgage companies, a sum that adds up to around $5 trillion. If housing prices do not recover (they are already down more than 15% on average), taxpayers could be liable for a substantial portion of that amount.

Likewise with the government bailout of AIG Insurance last week which cost $85 billion and results in the government now owning 80% of the company. One of the reasons why other banks would not touch AIG with a ten foot pole was that, over the last few years, AIG has been heavily involved in what are called “credit default swaps,” a kind of insurance policy for other companies in case they go bankrupt. If the American economy tanks, which many believe it is in the process of doing, no one can really say for sure how much the U.S. government (and the American taxpayer) would get back from the sale of AIG assets, if anything.

It is important to remember that these hundreds of billions of government bailout funds are being directed to aid an extremely tiny, but unimaginably wealthy, section of the population that is notorious for its greed, corruption, high living and recklessness, and that is responsible for hatching up the schemes to spread the bad mortgages, toxic securities, and other questionable financial instruments through, not only the American, but also the world financial system, thus triggering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Indeed, even the notoriously corrupt emperors Caligula and Nero of Ancient Rome would be shocked by the sheer avarice, arrogance, and egotism of this privileged 21st Century elite.

Examples of their out-of-control greed abound. One individual, Dick Fuld, CEO of the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers, walked off with $490 million for his term of office. Goldman Sachs sold toxic securities to unsuspecting pension funds, companies and individuals around the world, while at the same time selling “short” these securities, i.e., betting that their value would decrease. It is estimated that Goldman Sachs made billions of dollars on this scheme alone, which, if not constituting fraud, certainly borders on it. And there are numerous other examples of both questionable and criminal behavior by top investment banks and brokers.

Which brings us to the legislative proposal that the White House has sent to Congress. Who is spearheading this proposal? None other than Henry Paulson, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, who, surprise, surprise, was a former official with the same Goldman Sachs. The fox looking after the henhouse, so to speak.

The actual text of the Bush government’s legislative proposal sounds like the proclamation of a banana republic “coup d’etat” and is chilling in its implications. For example, the proposal gives Henry Paulson, as Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, dictatorial powers to designate any financial institutions he chooses as “financial agents of the Government.”

You can bet that the financial institutions that will be handed these extraordinary government powers will not be your local credit union, community-based bank or smaller investment house. Rather it will be the big banks associated with the Federal Reserve and other chosen financial monopolies (both domestic and foreign) that caused the crisis in the first place and are now using it to mount a sort of “coup” against other competitors (especially the smaller, non-monopoly ones), and the American people as a whole.

In other words, the same individuals who wrecked the U.S. financial system are the very ones given the lucrative contract to “rebuild it.” Many analysts are predicting that hundreds of smaller banks and financial companies across the U.S. will go bankrupt in the coming period. Guess who will be swooping in to take over their business.

Further language in the Bush government proposal gets even spookier. Section 8 reads: “Decisions by the [U.S. Treasury] Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

In essence, this is putting above the law any decisions or actions carried out under this Act by the U.S. Secretary or by any financial institutions it has chosen to be “agents of the government.” This is feudal rule, pure and simple, whereby the rulers put themselves over and above the law, and the civil right of citizens to challenge arbitrary decisions does not exist.

Using this anti-democratic legislation, the U.S. government, working on behalf of the big banks, can shift hundreds of billions of dollars of the big banks’ toxic debt onto the American people, as well as knock off other players in the financial sector that are not part of the “chosen few”. And nobody can challenge these decisions. No one can even mount a lawsuit against unfair or discriminatory practices.

How will this cabal of Wall Street financiers that is pulling the strings of the U.S. government wipe out their competition? One way – Designated as “financial agents” of the government, these chosen banks will have huge influence over which financial institutions get to unload their bad debt and which will not. If you are a small bank or credit union somewhere in rural America that has some bad mortgages on your balance sheets and you are not one of the Wall Street chosen few – watch out…

Satirical confirmation of the nefarious origins of King Henry’s deal can be found here.

Someone remind me – did serfs have the right to keep and bear arms?

And if not, why not?

Oh, but something like a creditor-ordered confiscation of all civilian-held arms and ammunition as a condition of receiving “assistance” on both the national and personal levels could never happen here.

This is America.

Or it was, until recently.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

We’ll let Coldplay take us out of this post, with what I propose as the Theme Song for the 2008 Collapse – Viva La Vida:

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
Once you know there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People could not believe what I’d become
Revolutionaries Wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world
(Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh)

Hear Jerusalem bells are ringings
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world
Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh