Current Affairs

BOLO & Be Careful Out There!

UPDATE:  Arrested after shootout.  That said, be careful! 



Updated with additional photos.  

Not going to get into the idiocy of DeMoroniso and others, just be aware.  While he may still be in the NY/NJ area, there's no real guarantee of that.  Meantime, be alert.  If you see something that is off, even if you aren't quite sure what, get out and report.  That applies everywhere -- and keep in mind that the knife jihadi was in a security guard uniform -- and you really don't want to know how many police and other uniforms are missing across the country.  Even if this guy is caught, this is far from over.  Be careful out there.  

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Merry Christmas! Be Careful Out There

Happy Holidays to All!  

Today is the shortest day/longest night of the year, and to my Norse/pagan/other friends who celebrate the Solstice tomorrow, a good one to you.  To my friends of a a different faith, a belated Happy Hanukkah.  If you celebrate something different, the blessings of that to you.  

Please be careful out there.  Today is also the anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, and if you think the timing wasn't deliberate, well...  There is a lot going on, and if we get through the next couple of weeks without a major incident, I will be surprised and pleased.  The propane tanks and cell phones in the news are but a small part of things.  There are reports out in the open about Middle Eastern males checking out Bagnell Dam in Missouri; not-in-the-media reports of Middle Eastern males checking out a National Guard armory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  There was a (mild, thankfully) poison/toxin attack on a synagogue just south of Paris that hasn't gotten a lot of attention.  For those paying attention, there is a lot going on and Daesh has continued to issue calls for attacks here and abroad.  

This time of year offers the chance for maximum impact and to target religions and groups that are hated by Islamists.  Others too, but if you don't think Daesh and other Islamist groups are the prime threat... 

For me, I say Sod Them.  Enjoy your holidays, and enjoy them without fear.  Just be alert and be prepared.  

Merry Christmas! 

Opening Combat To Females

Let me start by saying I don't care about wrappers, or who does what to whom how or when (so long as there is consent).  By wrapper, I mean the outward manifestation that is the amazing human body.  What matters to me is if a person can and does do the job, be it serving in the military or any other occupation, and if they are what I consider a good person.  Yes, that order is deliberate, as I know some people that are great at what they do, but frankly are assholes outside of that.  So long as they don't move beyond being "Do-Che's" as Uncle Jimbo has called it, I would use them for their proven abilities and expertise at need. 

Being able to do the job is what counts.  Right now, our all-volunteer force is -- in my opinion -- the finest fighting force ever to exist.  It is such because of a combination of training, professionalism, and high standards for any number of specialties, from combat to nuclear engineering/technical operations. 

That said, there are a lot of people of progressive bent that would like to see that force be eliminated, or otherwise degraded.  

Those points being given, the Secretary of Defense has ordered -- over some valid objections -- all military occupation specialties to females.  

So, I have one basic question for SecDef Carter:  

How does this improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the U.S. Armed Forces?

After all, that is the bottom line, is it not?  That one question does raise a host of sub-questions for me. 

While the order states open to those who meet the current standards, how long before the standards are changed to ensure diversity?  After all, many of those current standards are difficult for females (and a large number of males) to meet.  They were set high for a number of reasons, the majority of which come from experience in what is required to physically and mentally meet the demands of that specialty.  If they are to be changed, what will be the driver for that change, reality or social engineering?  

The order also appears to come with a dearth of planning for how to implement this effectively, which often means a number of preventable problems.  My question here is if that is considered a bug or a feature?  Will the problems be used to create real solutions designed to improve the situation, and the effectiveness and efficiency of our forces to do their job of bringing death and destruction to our enemies, or will it be used to enact further changes to appease the Social Justice Warrior crowd?  

While I agree with Jonn that many years of study were ignored or wasted, was any review or consideration given to examining the operations of countries that have already allowed females to serve in a variety of combat specialties?  While Israel is not alone in this, most have not allowed females into ALL specialties for a variety of reasons.  If these were not examined or considered in deciding to open to all, why not? 

To reiterate for the regular trolls and other idiots:  I don't care about the wrapper.  I care about competence.  

I would love to have detailed answers from the SecDef to my questions, but estimate the chances of that are on par with my winning both the PowerBall and MegaMillion lotteries this week. 

Now, what are your thoughts on this? 

San Bernardino: Did We Dodge A Bullet?

Edited:  More added below, as promised.

In examining the data coming out on the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, some quick thoughts and an invitation for discussion (by other than the regular trolls).  

First, as to the claim that the wife 'radicalized' her husband.  Bullshit.  I strongly suspect he was radicalized before, and that the marriage was an effort to strengthen that.  I hope that competent people are looking into who helped facilitate that, and how.  If memory serves, this would not be the first time a wife was chosen to help facilitate terrorist acts.  

Second, it would appear that they did have a plan, and had primary, secondary, and possibly even tertiary targets planned.  They were loaded for bear, and headed somewhere else to do more mayhem when intercepted. 

Third, as Moe Lane points out (hat tip Instapundit), it seems clear to me that the holiday party was not the primary target, but rather a target of opportunity.  No, I am not convinced he left angry and that caused this (too many people there, including one who was sitting with him, said he wasn't angry when he left).  Why they went to snap count, however, is not that important, but rather that they moved before plan, off plan -- and I think we dodged a huge bullet by them doing so.  Think about it:  the number killed by weapons was not nearly as high as it could have been, and the IEDs, which could have put this on par with the Paris attacks didn't work.  Did they move ahead of testing/rehearsing stage?  It also would appear to suggest that any control working with them was not local.  And, yes, right now I do think they had a control. 

Fourth, who financed this?  He made $50k a year in one of the most expensive places to live in the US.  On that salary, there is no way he/they could have afforded all the weapons and gear they had.  It would seem that they had to have help, on finances if nothing else.  

Fifth, people did see things before, but were scared to say anything.  My own thought is that a lot of effort has been given to vilifying/intimidating people who see something and say something.  Gee, think there might be a reason for that?  Thank goodness someone did say something after, which led to police intercepting them on the way to a secondary target.  

There is more, but that's all the time I have right now.  Please do sound off in the comments.  BTW, Uncle Jimbo has been on a roll on this one, hope to have time to post some links (or that he does so) later this weekend.  

Edit 1:  Nicki at The Liberty Zone had similar thoughts (great minds think alike).  If you are not regularly reading The Liberty Zone, you should be.  

Edit 2:  The President will address the nation tonight.  Anyone want to start a pool that 1 percent will be about the terrorist incident, and that he will not be able to bring himself to call it Islamist/Islamic/other-term-of-your-choice; and, that 99 percent will be about disarming Citizens via executive order?  

Edit 3:  Uncle Jimbo has been on a roll, appearing on O'Reilly three days in a row!  Working to add good links for all three days.  Some good food for thought in the following: 

Day 3

Metrojet Flight 9268, Daesh, & Russia, Oh My

There is a lot of speculation that Daesh brought down Metrojet Flight 9268, a Russian civilian airliner, over Egypt.  This is both behind the scenes and in the media, and it brings up some interesting points for consideration. 

First, it brings up the point of what did happen and how that is handled.  In the US, airline, railroad, and other similar accidents fall under the National Transportation Safety Board.  Yes, they can and have investigated more than airline incidents.  One of the best legacy products of the now defunct Aviation/Space Writers association is a booklet called Air Accidents and the News Media.  If you can find a copy, it gives a good breakdown of what happens, when, why, and who is authorized to talk at any given point.  The actual process used is designed to allow a complete and impartial investigation and to avoid political interference in same.  

Sadly, the latter is needed as politics do come into play.  It has since the early days of the railroads and continues today, and my thoughts on current and recent administrations eagerly coming out with immediate denials of terrorism should be easy to guess.  The early, and often completely unfounded, speculation about any accident/incident is not helpful, and flat out wrong.  It does, however, give the media and politicians ratings and a chance to grandstand.  

Getting real data is time consuming, and involves a lot of engineering and non-engineering forensics.  It means testing each piece of debris, and often requires that the pieces be, in effect, re-assembled so that a full and accurate reconstruction of events can be developed.  These days, it also involves a lot of computer modeling, which is a time-consuming process in and of itself -- and GIGO is very much on the minds of those involved.  Those involved via the NTSB and similar agencies around the world tend not to talk or leak, knowing that while pieces may be sensational, how they fit together can provide a very different story.  

In my personal opinion and experience, the first speculations are often wildly wrong.  The mid-phase speculation is more on target.  The final report is (at least here with the NTSB) is accurate, fairly complete, and somewhat boring to read even when the results are significant or even spectacular.  I will also note, for the conspiracy theorists out there, that I have never seen a final report that was clearly changed or whitewashed -- and trust me, given the hundreds of people that end up involved it would be very hard to keep such an event secret.  I will also note that not every country follows our model.  

We are into that middle period of public speculation, and it is interesting to say the least.  While there were early reports of the co-pilot being unhappy with the condition of the aircraft, there is a lot of back channel discussion of involvement by Daesh.  This is now coming out in public announcements, and I do find it telling that the UK has stopped direct flights to the UK from the Sinai.  This is not, however, definitive by any means.  

Which leads to a second major bit of food for thought.  The Russians (and the Soviet Union before them) tend towards direct action when terrorism is involved.  For our older readers, I simply will say Beirut, though there are many other examples.  

If this was indeed an act of terrorism, I suspect that the apocalpytic cult that is Daesh may well get some of what they seek.  Speaking strictly for myself, I will simply say Владимир: Добрый Охота!  Your mileage may vary, and if so sound off in the comments.  

A Note Of Condolence

Mary Katharine Ham has been a friend to Blackfive, and to many of the member authors, almost from the first day of this blog.  She was and is a staunch friend to our troops and veterans, and has done a great deal for them -- often quietly. Her support, both direct and via helping a number of veteran charities, is but one way she has walked and not just talked.  I believe I can speak for most authors, and say that we were all very happy for her when Jake Brewer came into her life, and became her husband, and the father of a lovely daughter and one child on the way.  Like MKH, he too did for others, and was in a bike ride to support a friend with cancer. 

I regret to report that Jake Brewer was killed yesterday in a tragic accident while participating in a charity bicycle ride.  He was 34 years old.  MK's post is on Instagram, and she is sharing photos there that give a better view of Jake to us all.  

On behalf of the authors at Blackfive, I wish to extend our sympathies and sincere condolences to Mary Katharine and her children, and the family of Jake Brewer.  There truly are no words at a time like this.  I simply add that if there is anything we can do, please do let us know.  Please keep them all in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever it is that you do. 


Gag Orders & More

In the comments below that I've not had time to address (yet, working on it), someone noted that we used to be the site where people could find out what the troops were thinking.  That is something Blackfive was (rightly) known for, and in my opinion a lot of good came out of it.  

That was a decade ago, and the times were very, very different.  Social media was new, and traditional communications was changing.  It still is, but...  One of the things that happened was that younger troops had embraced new means to keep in touch with family and friends, and as a result things that would not otherwise be known to the larger world could be, and were, shared.  One aspect was that needs of individual troops and units could be shared with a larger audience, and that resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of support, and "good" supplies/care packages/etc. reached those in need.  Indeed, a number of charities we highlighted and supported stood up to make sure that troops got letters, packages, and more.  

It also highlighted problems in the supply chain, doctrine, and more -- and again charities and individuals stood up in a huge way.  Everything from tools to kevlar blankets reached those in need.  Where there were problems and issues, higher was made aware of them quickly and could deal with those as needed.  Smart commanders (at the time Petraeus, Odierno, and others) embraced it as they could not only deal with issues quickly and smartly, but they could, would, and did seize opportunities.  They encouraged the wise use of new and social media to add flexibility to the system, and got some amazing results.  

This was also the time that the administration and higher command reached out to Blackfive and others to formulate a very friendly policy that worked to prevent issues (and there were indeed a few issues with OPSEC and such) while making the most of the opportunity.  

That has changed.  The politics in the five-sided-puzzle-palace have always had a tendency towards what I will refer to as rear-echelon, and towards suppressing anything that has to do with problems of things potentially embarrassing to higher.  Better to hide it than to deal with it is something of a tradition in my opinion.  That early policy did not sit well with certain quarters, as it did highlight problems, issues, and flat-out failures in the tail that hurt the tooth.  Unsurprisingly to any student of history, the tide changed.  One need look no further than the previous SMA who was obsessed with tattoos, painting rocks, and awarding ARCOMs for trolling SHARP violations instead of focusing on training that could keep soldiers alive in combat as a perfect example of that symptom. I will note that I'm liking the current SMA a lot more.  

Right now is not a good time for troops at ANY level to be speaking out.  The social media policy has changed, and higher is coming down hard on things that used to be encouraged.  

Case in point:  SFC Charles Martland.  His case is more than disturbing (disgusting is one word I can use here given Blackfive's family friendly policy).  Even more disturbing, higher has put in place a 'gag order' and is prepared to hammer flat anyone who comes to his defense.  There is some reason to believe such has already happened, and the word is out that speaking out would be a very bad thing for those who do so.  

Whatever the official policy, the unofficial policy is that troops speaking out is a great way to end a career.  Given the draconian cuts in play (and more on that horrendous, idiotic, and flat-out foolish thing in other posts), it is not a good time for the troops and not a good time for honest and full discussions (IMO).  I know I am going to be very careful about sharing some things, so as to make sure that those sharing can't be identified.  

Personally, I think it is time for the tide to change again.  How to make that happen depends on a lot on things outside the puzzle palace, and not just within.  My hope is that we can share information to encourage that, and be a part of a good solution once again.  

Shaded Intelligence? Shocked, Shocked I Am

News feeds are blowing up with the story about intelligence reports about Daesh (ISIL) being altered by senior leaders before presentation.  I'm shocked, shocked, to find gambling in this establishment.  

For me, the real news is about how many analysts are willing to go on record in this case.  To have fifty (or more) willing to do so on the record is truly unprecedented.  There have been a number of quiet insurrections at various agencies and organizations in the past, but never anything in public like this.  The closest I can remember involved Soviet analysis in the Carter years, and even then most of it was not done in the public, even when reporters came calling.  The most that went public were a small series of leaks and off-the-record interviews.  I will simply note that Reagan was not satisfied with what he was being presented, and took some unofficial steps to get other assessments to use for comparison and evaluation.  Then again, Boss was smart enough to have a "kitchen cabinet" on a variety of topics where he needed expert advice.  

As I've written here (and elsewhere) before, the fact is, there has and is always a tendency to "shape" intelligence and analysis.  Some of this is inherent in the system, and reflects an unconscious effort that is a result of the beliefs of those involved.  There can even be an unconscious tendency to shape things towards the belief of those higher in the chain, and the known biases of the ultimate recipients. 

Where problems arise is when there is a conscious effort to alter or distort the actual intelligence and recommendations of the analysts (who are or should be experts in the area).  At the best, such is because "the boss won't like this" and things are changed so as to present something that won't be rejected out of hand.  At worst, it is a pandering to the beliefs and goals of the prime recipient so as to curry favor, power, and other delights.  If you look at the worst failures of military and diplomatic efforts throughout history, they almost all come back to failures of intelligence and the lack of presentation of accurate intel and analysis to the leaders involved.  

The administrations response to Daesh/ISIL is a best inconsistent, and I personally feel that incoherent may be a better descriptor.  Daesh has gone from being a fringe group to a major power (and I use that term advisedly) largely as a result of a variety of policy blunders going back to our premature departure from Iraq and the response to Libya.  

It is damning that fifty (or more) analysts are going on record.  A small group might have political reasons of their own to cause a problem (and that has happened before).  For such a large group to be willing to go public raises serious questions of competence and intent on those higher in the chain.  At this point, whether any "shading" that may or may not have been done was done to make things more palatable for the President, or more, needs a full and thorough investigation.  My opinion of Congressional investigations is decidedly mixed, with partisan circus a top descriptor.  However, given what is coming out, I think Congressional and other investigations are clearly needed.  

While I've written on intel before, I think that a small series of posts may be needed on the topic, especially in terms of how those impact our intel and planning in regards this and other terrorist groups.  Meantime, sound off in the comments with your thoughts.