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March 2013

U.S. Using WMD in Afghanistan

Nuclear explosion

That's correct.

The U.S. has tacitly admitted that it is using Weapons of Mass Destruction, WMD, in Afghanistan, Yemen, and all other places that it conducts kinetic activity.  Iraq?  Tons of the stuff was deployed - and by definition, Saddam had far more of it than you could possibly inventory.

How?  How could a nation so set on PREVENTING the use of WMD end up using it in such huge quantities itself?

Simple- the U.S. has basically indicted itself.

You see, this past week the FBI released the indictment of one Eric Harroun, 30, known to Syrians as “the American.”  According to a story in the WaPo:

The complaint says Harroun conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction, the RPG, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday.

RPG?  WMD?  Well, yes, as journalist James Joyner has found out:

...unless RPG technology has improved vastly since I last fired one, there’s no possible way that it should fall into the category. Taking out a tank or a low-flying helicopter is destructive, no doubt, but it ain’t massive.
Nor, according to 18 USC § 2332a, would an RPG seem to qualify as a WMD:

(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—

(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life;

 Alas, following the trail to section 921, we see that:

4) The term “destructive device” means—

(A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
(i) bomb,
(ii) grenade,
(iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
(v) mine, or
(vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;

(B) any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and

(C) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

So, by the very definition that the U.S. uses to prosecute criminals, we, the good 'ol U.S. of A., is conspiring to inflict WMD across the globe. 

But how is it possible that the lowly RPG, and by association, the 40mm grenade, the 155 artillery shell, and the 81mm mortar, could be considered a WMD? Read the definition above- if it contains more than one-quarter ounce of explosive, its a WMD.  How much do these explosives hold?  You can check that here.  For example, the M362 HE round contains 2.10 pounds of the stuff.  Pretty massive WMD, if you ask me.

The asshat Harroun definitely needs prosecuted (see Jimbo's post below)- and introduced to a few new virgins afterwards if he is so inclined to assist (possibly) AQ-associated groups.  But to do so under the guise that RPG's and similar munitions are WMD is beyond the pale.  What next?  Do you see 30-rd magazines being slipped into this definition?  Because well, a grenade can kill only 1 person; 30-rd mags can kill up to what, 30?

Masses, I tell you.  That's mass destruction right there.

U.S law has gone beyond the ridiculous here.  And we've only done it to ourselves.  But want to know something?  It gets worse- just ask our good buddy Bob Owens:

DOJ prosecutes Army veteran that conspired with wrong rebel group to shoot 10 Syrian soldiers; refuses to prosecute Attorney General than ran guns to narco-terrorists used in 302+ murders

So they're willing to prosecute someone who fires ''WMD'' in Syria, but not go after someone who killed U.S. citizens right here in our own back yard?

What goes around comes around, and bites you right in the ass...

Long Overdue: A Review of 'The Fobbit'

Ok, I have to admit- I've been struggling with this one.  I'm a bit torn, for several reasons which will become clear in a moment.  But first, I want to let my good friend CSM Steve Valley say a few words on this book- he took the time to read it and send me a review; Steve and I served in Baghdad together, near the same time as this author David Abrams.  I wanted another set of eyes on this to see if it were only my perceptions that were skewed.  From the good CSM:


I’ll admit, as an Army Public Affairs officer that served in Baghdad for more than a year, I was really looking forward to reading David Abram’s book “Fobbit”. Abrams is a retired Army Master Sergeant that served at Camp Liberty, Iraq in 2005 with the Third Infantry Division Public Affairs Office and if anyone was going to write about the complex workings of the Army’s wartime communications machine from an insider’s perspective then this would be it

“Fobbit” received numerous accolades and wonderful reviews by the biggest names in book reviewers including the trio of heavyweights—the New York Times, Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. This of course made me think in the back of my head that the book is either the instant classic the media portrayed it as (which I really thought it would be considering that a Soldier wrote it) or it was going to be a book that made a joke of my fellow REMFs that did great work even though there never left the Forward Operating Base (FOB) for their entire tour in Iraq.

Unfortunately for me, the latter of the two scenarios was the truth as “Fobbit” gave neither an accurate portrayal of a senior enlisted public affairs NCO or for that fact, any Soldier written about in this work. Although “Fobbit” is a novel with supposedly fictional characters, Abrams based it on his journal that he kept during his year tour of duty in Iraq, so I bet you can picture Abram’s former office mates arepracticing their basic rifle marksmanship with his face as the target because of how he portrays them in the book.

Before I delve into why this book didn’t measure up to me let me clear the air and say that David Abrams is a wonderfully talented writer that shouldn’t have to worry about signing a multi-project book deal with a major publishing house. He’s master story teller that has got a real gift for prose. The Army has very few of these mucho-talented scribes and it will miss Abrams because he is that good. His words flow magically from page to page and he has created a great work of fiction, the key word being fiction, because in my opinion, this book doesn’t come close to describing how a real public affairs office operated in Iraq looked like.

I saw first-hand both a corps/division public affairs office at Baghdad’s Camp Victory and the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in the Green Zone and each of them differed greatly from the public affairs shops Abrams describes in Fobbit. I saw great PAOs and some that didn’t know the difference between an off-the-record interview and a live press conference, but both organizations thrived in the daily quagmire working public affairs in Baghdad during one of the most significant periods of times of the war.

On a daily basis I worked with lower enlisted Soldiers that completed the most difficult of missions while senior officers navigated impressively through the massive levels of bureaucracy which made it nearly impossible to put out an effective command message, never mind the right message. These people cared about their job and how the war was being portrayed back home, but this facet of conducting public affairs during was was never mentioned by Abrams.

Instead, Abrams ridiculed every level of Soldier portrayed in “Fobbit”, from an impatient and micromanaging chief of staff to an incompetent staff of commissioned public affairs officers hiding under their desks to avoid senior leadership, to a completely useless and embarrassing infantry company commander that ends up being the focal point of the story; as if anyone this pathetic would actually be allowed to serve as a commissioned officer in today’s Army.

The main crux of the story is how the U.S. military is deciding on how to report the 2,000th warrior killed in action in Iraq. The military is hoping for a story of heroics as U.S. forces reach this horrific milestone, while in actuality the 2,000th killed in action is none other than the utterly useless example of a disgraced infantry captain who was relieved from command after making bone-headed decisions in the field cause innocent Iraqi deaths and his Soldiers immediately losing the little amount of respect they had for him in the first place. The captain ends up the unlucky 2,000th American killed when he’s hit with a rogue mortar while drinking an Australian lager floating on an inner tube in a luxurious pool at Camp Liberty.

I remember being at the CPIC in 2004 when we were planning the strategy to announce the 1,000th U.S. military member killed in Iraq and it was nothing like the insincere atmosphere that Abrams writes about. This whole scene irritated me because there is absolutely nothing funny or petty about announcing the death of a fallen warrior in fiction or in real life. In fact, we weren’t even thinking of the story about the fallen warrior, in as much as trying to figure out the right theme and message that the U.S. military wanted to highlight to the American people back home whose support we were on the verge of losing.

In my opinion, there’s a logical reason why movies like Green Zone end up being panned by the public while books like David Bellavia’s “House to House” become instant classics---It’s because Americans want to read about factual stories from there service men and women no matter good or bad, not fictional stories that make our warriors look like fools serving in uniform.

While Abrams book has done extremely well on Amazon, most likely cashing in on the rave reviews in the main stream media, I’d bet that a large amount of readers that actually served in uninform in Iraq would shake their heads at the unprofessional, untalented and unskilled characters depicted as Army Soldiers in “Fobbit”. Yes, we’ve all served with officers and NCOs that made us wonder how they survived that long in the military, but I don’t remember serving with anyone as incapable and flat out dumb as the main characters in this piece of fiction.

While Fobbit is an enjoyable story, remember its pure fiction and shouldn’t be looked at as anything remotely described as the real life experiences of a wartime public affairs Soldier.

Let me put it succinctly: Abrams is basically trying too hard to write M*A*S*H on the backs of his fellow soldiers.  He even states in his interviews that is what he's trying to do.  But, based on how this book is presented, he's not taking 'literary license' with what happened- he's bashing the PA.  Although the PAO world is far, far from being immune to criticism, Abrams goes a bit too far.

That, and he's NOT funny.  I think that's where he falls down hardest- the humor he tries just falls flat.  No laugh track?  Well, maybe that would help.  I'm no Seinfeld, but neither am I a 1Lt. Hauk.  Abrams needs comedy writing training if he's going to do more of this.

So what's the confliction here?  As I mentioned up top, trying to review this without seeming self-serving was why I have delayed posting this.  See, the good CSM and I have been working a little project ourselves- Steve has a script out making its way around Hollyweird- he has been working on the writing for this for over 2 years, and enlisted some of my help to round it out.  Now, he has some true heavyweights looking it over, and we hope to have good news soon.  Its a far more realistic setup, and it's based on the situation in and around the Green Zone and the especially the CPIC- the Coalition Press Information Center.  Nearly everything that happened in Baghdad, and to Iraq, meandered thru the CPIC in some fashion- whether it was the players, the news about it, or the situation itself- the CPIC (based in the Baghdad Convention Center) was front and center.

David, it was a bit better than you portrayed it, an a whole lot more comical at times as well...

US Army vet fights with Syrian rebels

Well the wrong ones, apparently.

A U.S. Army veteran was charged with conspiracy Thursday for fighting alongside a Syrian rebel group linked to al-Qaeda. Eric Harroun, 30, known to Syrians as “the American,” crossed into northern Syria in January and joined members of Jabhat al-Nusra to fight against the Syrian military, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in federal court in Alexandria.

This gets just a little interesting when you make the fairly simple assumption that we are supporting some of the rebels in Syria. We are also talking like we may be doing even more than that from our lead position in the rear. This guy just picked the wrong bunch of Anti-Assad rebels, you know that whole al Qaeda thing, and got out in front of our policy. It does start to get a tad messy when we start actively working to depose Assad, but have to start sorting out which groups to actively work with.

Thus far the folks who have been rising to take the reins in the countries blossoming in the Arab Spring year deux have been fairly oppressive and rather unsavory themselves. Mostly it seems that they have been trading tyranny for theocracy and maybe even terrorocracy. Maybe the UN can send a Special Rapporteur to the region to sort out the good guys from the bad ones. Nah that won't work, they would just end up finding a way to blame the whole thing on Israel.


Oh, Ok; NOW You Are Worried About The Budget....

UPDATE:  Evidently, Bill DID serve as a Marine in Vietnam.  Megyn Kelly and one of our favorites, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, discussed this article over at FOX News and can be seen here (one of the many places)

And he is doubling down on his "this costs too much to honor everybody."  Well Bill, it also costs too much to give EVERYONE unemployment for 99 weeks and SSID too.

I probably should start with this:

He·ro·ic:  adj. also he·ro·i·cal 1. Of, relating to, or resembling the heroes of literature, legend, or myth. 2. Having, displaying, or characteristic of the qualities appropriate to a hero; courageous:

Evidently, libturd columnist Bill McClellan over at the St. Louis Post Dispatch thinks he has found the way to rescue the economy and save us from the deficits that have us mortgaged to China (yeah, what could go wrong there?)

Both the federal government and the state government are broke. So why are we providing military funeral honors for all veterans? It is a nice gesture we can’t afford.

Certainly, men and women killed in combat deserve full military honors. It’s a way for the country to say, “We honor the memory of those who died in our service.” These military honors — and the thought behind them — are intended to provide some solace for the families of the fallen.

But what about the guy who spends a couple of years in the military and then gets on with his life? Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died.

Let me clear it up for you Bill, since it sounds to me like you either didn't serve or you served as a file clerk who never went anywhere or did anything (which does happen).  I can say, having the benefit of a quarter of a century of military service behind me, I can tell you that signing on the dotted line to say that you will wear the uniform of your country and do what your country asks of you for a very specific amount of time, endure privation, pain, loss of freedom and some hardship, learn a trade or a skill, take on more responsibility than most 18 to 21 year olds understand, do all of it for low pay and then possibly die horribly or be disabled for life in the process; when others your age are sitting in a college classroom, hanging out at the Sip and Save, or working for minimum wage jobs--well, I think that sounds pretty heroic to me.  Probably sounds heroic to alot of other people too.  Just saying "I do solemnly swear" adds a clarity to your life that most will never know.

If we are going to talk about budget reform and the "little things" that add up to big things, how about we start with SSID being bigger than unemployment compensation and food stamps combined, welfare and the Obumbler Administration eliminating the work requirement which is outside the law for him to do, Food Stamp rolls surging 70 percent, and the 1,000 other programs that are a black hole of generational wealth redistribution instead of deciding that the 24.50 they pay the live bugler for TAPS to be played has to go?

I like that he couches the argument as a "final chance to serve your country".  C'mon families and vets, that 24.50 is gonna save us!  This will be your chance to take one more for the team!

You can find this intellectual lightweight and all around ass-hat to let him know your opinion at: [email protected].

Virgin Atlantic/Richard Branson Follow-Up

As long as I am in a highly PO'd mood courtesy of several factors including self-important petty tyrants making legal threats against a brother without cause or need, well, I might as well go whole hog here. 

I first wrote about the despicable and disgusting treatment of PO Howse here, and explained for the slow why I was so upset here.  I've been in touch with Virgin Atlantic (and no, no more free links for them), but have not heard from Sir Richard (too busy attacking the 2nd Amendment and freedom, and accusing the NRA of murdering children to reply), and I have not been able to contact PO Howse or her family despite several efforts to do so.  That's important, as until a statement is made by her or a representative, the matter is still open as there is no other way to know if she has accepted the apology and/or anything has been done to try to make up for the shameful humiliation to which she was unconscionably subjected.

Virgin's official statement will be below the fold, but I'm not impressed with it.  See my parsing of statements in the previous stories as to why.  Feh. 

Sir Richard's contacting PO Howse was via e-mail, apparently too busy talking about being nice to women to do anything substantive about his staff humiliating her.  At least the head of customer service had the balls to call her in person. 

No real answers to any of the questions I asked, the statement is all they are saying as they hope this quickly fades away (and swept under the rug one can imagine).  Well, I think you can count on my not forgetting, and continuing to follow-up on this. 

Meantime, no links and no business to any part of the Virgin empire if I can help it:  Virgin Air, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Travel, Virgin Entertainment, etc.  When the founder can't be bothered to call someone wronged as badly as PO Howse was; when it is far more important to talk about supporting women rather than fixing when his empire clearly wronged a woman; and, when it is far more important to attack freedoms in another country because of his, er, shortcomings  -- well, that's time for me to take my business elsewhere.  What you do is up to you, but at least you have some food for thought as you decide. 

Also, Virgin Atlantic and Sir Richard, the questions I asked in the first two stories still stand.  Anyone there have the fortitude and integrity to answer them? 

UPDATE/NOTE:  G4S also issued a pseudo-apology over the deliberate and despicapble actions of their "officer."  Does anyone have the fortitude to simply say "we screwed up, we are sorry, and we are doing X, Y, & Z to make sure it doesn't happen again" ???  Is it really that freaking hard?

Continue reading "Virgin Atlantic/Richard Branson Follow-Up" »

Really USO?

UPDATE:  Sadly, it appears the USO has doubled down on stupid.  There will be more to come from TSO, who is livid right now over the response received.  With this coming on top of reports that the USO is going after the "One Boy USO" as well, it seems that someone has indeed shot themselves higher than in the foot. If there is any adult in charge at the USO, please step forward, you are urgently needed.

When I read this post over at TAH, my jaw hit the floor.  I think a lot of the USO overall, and know that it is not a monolithic organization, and that there are in fact several USOs because of the national USO going away for a while years ago.  That said, there is the big USO, and the ones like the USO of Indiana that are part of but separate from the big one. 

Seems someone at the big USO got their panties in a twist over a four-year-old post by The Sniper and demanded he take down his blog.  What's more, no one at the district or national seems to know how to respond to e-mails, even when they've been given the f*****g e-mail addy four or more times.  A chirpy comment on a post is NOT an acceptable response and in fact is pretty damn amateurish and unhelpful IMO. If you can't be bothered to respond to e-mails sent multiple times by the legal representative for the person you are going after, don't make things worse by pretending you don't have it.

The Sniper has a response, and I sincerely hope that the adults get involved and deal with this issue.  I think Dallas might need a new director, one who has a brain, courage, inegrity, and more.  For me, I have no faith or confidence in the lady currently in charge, much less whoever is helping her at HQ.  I also think I'm going to continue doing what I can for the USO of Indiana, who does a great job looking after troops in Indiana (and special call out to the wonderful people at Camp Atterbury!).

Again, the USO has done a lot of good, and it is a shame that someone in their organization is trying so hard to destroy that, and to drive a wedge between the milblogs and the USO.  I sincerely hope that is not some new corporate policy, as I would love to be able to continue to support the USO. 

Mr. Sinise, if you still read here, help please? Any adult at HQ?  The Dallas director has administered a shot to the foot, and I would hate to see it move up any higher than it already has. Keep in mind, you attack one, you attack all and like The Sniper, I hate bullies. 


Lock-N-Load Java A Single Source Review

Working at Blackfive does have benefits.  Right after getting to meet good and interesting people, the best benefit is finding good things.  Those who have met me know I like good food and drink, possibly a little more than I should.  Good coffee is something I appreciate, and I know others do too -- particularly out in the field.  I made friends on embed by bringing good coffee with me.


I wish that I could have had Lock-N-Load Java with me for those embeds.  The kind folks at Lock-N-Load have sent me some of their products to try, and I (and my hosts) are very much enjoying the opportunity.This isn't a company that just does your standard blend and roast, but one that is dedicated to providing the finest coffees for all range of uses. 

This week's review is of the sampler pack of their Task Force Zulu premium single origin coffees. As a coffee snob appreciator, I like single-origin coffee.  In fact, I had a favorite for making in a french press on those days that called for a really good start to the day.  Any of these coffees will give you that.

Our tour started with the amazing Papua New Guinea.  Amazing is not too strong a word, as this medium roast coffee has a good body, wonderful flavor(s), clean finish, and absolutely no bitterness.  The write-up talks about dried fruits and other notes, and they are indeed there.  If you like complex coffees that are balanced and with no bitterness, this is a great coffee to try.  My host likes cold coffee, as in iced, and not every coffee holds up to that -- and this one did with even more notes and flavors coming out. 

Next up was the light roast Rwandan.  As I noted on Facebook, it has a good body and flavor, with hints of plum and fruit.  The body is a bit lighter, but not weak.  The finish was good, and the overall flavor truly is unique.  If you like a lighter roast and coffee, without loss of flavor or complexity, you should try this one.

Then we tried their Ethiopian coffee.  Let me preface this by saying that a particular Ethiopian coffee is my favorite mentioned above, and I benchmark other coffees against it.  Despite not being made in a french press, and being a medium light roast instead of a darker roast, the Lock-N-Load Java Ethiopian more than held its own.  This is a solid coffee with rich complex flavor, hints of fruit and herbs (to me), and a clean finish.  I really want to try this in a french press and compare to what I normally get/got. 

Finally, we tried the Costa Rican.  I put it off because my host has not had good luck with Costa Rican coffees before, but this one may have changed that for him.  It has a solid body, with the hints of sweetness for which Costa Rican coffee is known.  A light roast, it is flavorful and presents the best qualities of Costa Rican coffees. 

Now, I know I've talked about a french press a few times here, and for more than one reason.  To me, it is about the best way to make coffee there is.  Sadly, my glass french press is not able to travel with me because, well, it's glass.  For those in the field, that is a drawback.  Well, not anymore as thanks to Lock-N-Load Java you can get a stainless steel french press to go into the field with you.  And, yes, this is now on my Amazon Wish List. 

Oh, did I forget to mention that the company is veteran owned, has an option for you to ship coffee to the troops, and does other good work?  Well, here you go and more is coming on some of those good works.  Stay tuned. 

It's also not just me that likes them.  Check out this review at TAH


You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter, and at LaughingWolf.

Sergeant Peter Cimpoes - A Ranger You Should Know



Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, First Corps Commander, presents Sgt. Peter Cimpoes with the Silver Star Medal at 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment's award ceremony March 20, 2013 at St. Martin University's Marcus Pavilion in Lacey, Wash. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David T. Chapman)

From the 75th Ranger Regiment:  

Sgt. Cimpoes received the award for his actions during a night combat operation in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 11, 2012. During a heavy firefight with enemy insurgents in a targeted compound, Sgt. Cimpoes climbed to the roof of a one story building in order to reach two wounded Rangers. Once Sgt. Cimpoes reached the roof, he selflessly exposed himself to enemy fire and engaged and killed three enemy insurgents, who were as close as five meters away, with direct fire and grenades. Sgt. Cimpoes then maintained his suppressive fire against two additional barricaded shooters allowing other Rangers to evacuate the wounded from the roof to a casualty collection point. His actions ultimately saved the lives of two of his fellow Rangers.

Rangers Lead The Way!

Photo: Marine Corps Water Survival Training

Hires_130305-M-AR365-528cMarine Corps Capt. John Davis and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joseph Wells perform a rescue drill during a water survival course for instructors on Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, N.C., March 5, 2013. Davis is assigned to 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team and Wells is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment. More than 20 students attended the three-week course.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Wetzel


Hires_130312-M-AR635-958cMarine students jump in the water during graduation practice for a water survival course on Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson, N.C., March 12, 2013. The course creates instructors who can train other Marines to react and survive life-threatening situations in the water. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Daniel Wetzel