sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Three Sips


Because I saw this book advertised on several of your blogs, I decided to buy Three Sips of Gin by Major Tim Bax, Rhodesian Selous Scouts. I read the book and I enjoyed it. So I'm passing it on by making my own recommendation. It can be yours on Kindle for just over $4 - and I think that it's entertainment worth the price.

I personally identified with some of what Tim Bax went through, though I'm not African, and never lived there. You don't have to chew the SAME dirt to appreciate what another lived through.

I'm lucky to have lived in largely the same era as Tim Bax. He's a bit older than I am, but coming of age in a military environment prior to and during the Age of Reagan and Bush-the-Elder was a far simpler, far more interesting, and far more challenging age. It was a time of adventure, so often lacking in the controlled times we live in now. 

Your favorite blogger in a photo staged
by daughter, Heather
The story revolves around Bax's own journey and the colorful and often eccentric people he met along the way.

Living a life well, in my opinion, requires that one take risks and leap from the aircraft into the dark (hopefully with a functioning parachute). If you're not a risk taker and don't take a measure of thrill from pushing the envelope, you'll never  understand why I recommended the book.

My daughters grew up around spies, mercenaries, Naval Special Warfare operators, cops, and occasionally informers and agents. One can not live as a father of girls and not have some of this brush off on them. I am fiercely protective of their welfare, but I never sugar coated life.

I know people who peaked in high school, and while that may be enough for them, I didn't really like high school and only came into my own later - facing tough training and a far tougher real world. It is from that perspective that I appreciated Three Sips of Gin.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Topics



Riddle me This: If President Trump hates all immigrants, why does he prefer to marry immigrants?


Moving on to events in Northwestern Syria and the Afrin Region.

The Turkish armored divisions poised to eliminate Kurds from the gene pool have been dealt another in a series of setbacks that make them appear essentially helpless.

The Syrian state-run SANA news agency earlier in the day that said Syrian government forces and their allies would enter Afrin "within a few hours to support its people's (Kurdish) stand against Turkish regime's attack". The report by SANA raised fears of a potential clash between Turkish troops and Syrian forces, which are backed by Russia and Iran.

The Kurds are saying that they have no deal with Damascus and have the situation well in hand. The Syrians are using the Turkish invasion to move in from behind, take up positions and in a sense, 're-take' the Afrin Canton from the position of total Kurdish control that it now enjoys. In essence, to repatriate the region to Syria rather than Kurdistan.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, speaking at a news conference in Amman, Jordan, said his country would hit back if Assad's forces intervened in Afrin to help the YPG.

"If the regime is entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers," he said.

Turkey is full of bluster because the Russians are sending anti-aircraft rocket artillery in with the Syrian Army, which will prohibit the Turks from enjoying air supremacy in the Afrin City area.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Thoughts for a Monday


In Syria, Operation Olive Branch has stalled as a few Kurds, fighting for their homes are standing up to the Turkish Army. The Turks are claiming to have killed 1,500 Kurdish men, women and children in their effort to ethnically cleanse Northern Syria of Kurds. Independent sources put the number at about 300. 

CNN-TURK is trying to be optimistic and paint a picture of Turkish valor against difficult odds. Imagine that. Turkish armored and armored infantry divisions against far fewer Kurds defending their homes -- where is the valor in that for Turks? The Kurds have been successful and fought the Turkish armored fist to a standstill. When the Turks send armor and helicopters forward, they're destroyed. 

Turks using the "law of probability" in 
assessing casualties smacks of weakness.

Some of the Turkish success has been had from sending sniper teams forward. It's low intensity and the loss of a couple of snipers here and there doesn't impact the Turkish loss in terms of absolute numbers. A couple dozen snipers won't take Afrin or hold ground for the Turks. The Turks planned to have snipers keep the anti-tank missile teams heads down wile the armor moved forward. Their problem with that metric is that the missiles range is triple or more the range of the best case sniper shot. It's a very weak move for the Turks.

There best chance for success would be to move a division of dismounted infantry forward and overwhelm the Kurds with bodies, but that would cost a lot of meat and would end up being unpopular at home. Likewise the Turks could keep sending armor in until the Kurds ran out of missiles to destroy them...

President's Day Plans

I do have plans for the day, but they revolve around hanging out in the US and letting people who work for me do the heavy lifting elsewhere. (the loyal workers would ask, "what's new with that?") I'm available on the phone if there's a foul up. And I'm around if the White House calls for advice. They are working today, holiday notwithstanding.

A friend of mine named "H" expressed surprise that I'm still working at age 62. I pointed out that it's difficult to call it "work". It's not like genuine "work" that I once did.  

I haven't watched the Winter Olympics on TV yet. I doubt that I'll do that today.

I'm eating breakfast while I type this blog. Left-over fried chicken and rolls (home made) from last night. I'm not a big left-over eater guy, but fried boneless, skinless breast filets and rolls never go to waste (they go to waist).

Have a splendid day.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Sermonette

Life, Death and Politics

On January 29, a bill came to the floor of the US Senate, which if passed, would ban late-term partial birth abortion. In this procedure, the baby is dismembered in utero and pulled piece by piece from the mother. One key lobby that opposed the bill banning the practice was the so-called Catholic lobby - members of the Senate who publicly identify as Catholics and receive political contributions on that basis.

The Catholic senators who vote to allow partial birth abortion to continue in America are (in alphabetical order for your convenience):

Maria Cantwell – Washington
Susan Collins -Maine
Dick Durbin – Illinois
Kirsten Gillibrand – New York
Heidi Heitkamp – North Dakota
Tim Kaine – Virginia
Patrick Leahy – Vermont
Ed Markey – Massachussetts
Catherine Cortez Masto – Nevada
Claire McCaskill – Missouri
Bob Menendez – New Jersey
Lisa Murkowski – Alaska
Patty Murray – Washington
Jack Reed – Rhode Island

Far more children are slain by Planned Parenthood in one day than are slain by all firearm violence in one year. While all slaying for fun and/or profit is a tragedy, the one most easily put on hold is the one supported by your tax dollars.

By way of disclaimer, I am not Catholic, but I found that lobby in the Senate voting this way seemed ironic in the extreme. I found the lack of condemnation from the Catholic Church against these US Senators to be shocking. Nothing in the press (besides the usual hatred toward President Trump), nothing in print, nothing from the Pope - no hint of excommunication of these most Catholic senators. I've waited two weeks to hear the response of the Catholic Church before posting this. At best a whimper - business as usual. 

The 'Vicar of Christ on Earth/Lion of Christ' is very vocal on the subject of ILLEGAL immigration, and on the need to embrace Muslim savages. Not so vocal on the subject of carving up a baby in utero like a Thanksgiving turkey. The man is a whited sepulcher -- that's just how I look at him. Are no lines drawn anywhere? Sure, they're elected, sitting senators and can vote as they wish, but should they do so and remain Catholic?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Stupid Progressive Rants

Start Here.

I've mentioned this topic before on my blog. In Mexico, military style weapons are illegal.

The best source of high grade military weaponry to US citizens is Mexico. They are smuggled across the border the same as drugs are and are sold for top dollar. They are sourced in the Middle East, and from military stores in Central America (sold out the back door for cash by underpaid soldiers in banana republics with no 'end user certificate').

Democrats complain about too many guns. You'd think that they would want the border wall to be constructed to keep them out -- from the country where they are more illegal than they are in the USA... if you take my point. But the Dem's could not possibly care less.

The progressive firearms arguments make no sense unless you're a chowderhead. The murderous little scrote who killed the kids in the school shooting would have obtained a firearm illegally if he hadn't bought it legally, and he might have purchased a better grade of weapon.

Build the Wall (and lock Her up).

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Year's Follies

Happy Lunar New Year 

Celebrate as you see fit.  Rock on and then there is this classic: Terrier Style


Some of you lack faith in what you don't understand. That might (or might not) go double Asian astrology and it's impact on your life. Because you're predestined to live a life based on the position of stars when you were born... and some of you were well and truly screwed. Blame Buddha, or Vishnu or whoever. You can also blame Donald Trump as many in the sly, corrupt, wicked, lying mainstream media do. Irrespective of your system of belief, the Earth Dog Year is upon us.

Next Year (2019) will be the year of the pig, which does not bode well for Jews and Mohammedans. But you may be required to eat more rashers of bacon than you usually would.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Afghanistan

First, a Pause for the Cause - 

I have a number of friends who are dead and were killed on various battlefields named and unnamed. I have a number of wrecked agents (recruited assets) who were left on the field as well. I learned recently that David W., who I worked with in the Navy is in an assisted living facility. The guy is 60, but he has the body of an 80 year old, teeth fell out, withering. There are a lot of tragedies associated with him, but my recollection of the guy is a fit guy, 6-3, very smart, very clever. Now, I'm told that he plays checkers with the Oreos.

Others survived and are doing fine. What causes one person to break and another to survive? Maybe it has something to do with will to survive. Sometime it has to do with shame. Sociopaths (Barack comes to mind) don't live with shame because they can't tell the difference between what's right and wrong. If it's good for them, it's 'good'.

Sometimes you just reach your breaking point and that's it. And with that, I'm going to drift to a rant about Afghanistan.

USA

Pardon me if I disagree with the war hawks who want the US to continue its War in Afghanistan. The early war, run by CIA and supported by US Special Forces and US Air Force (providing on-demand overhead precision bombing) worked. I think that it was a good idea. Things started to unravel and costs moved from millions to trillions when Big Army took over 

America lost 2,300 soldiers listed as killed in action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. About 400 of those were killed in accidents (non-action events). Another 1,600 contractors were killed. About 21,000 combat wounds were sustained by soldiers and the number of contractors wounded is not readily available. The Department of Defense tends to parse those numbers.

Finding veteran suicide numbers specifically for the Afghanistan War, which we've been fighting for 17 years now is difficult. 
In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.
The military made a concerted effort to correct that horrendous problem. Treatment and proper care can serve to slow those numbers. It did in the case of my son-in-law, a Navy veteran, judged 50% disabled from his tour in Afghanistan.

A trillion + dollars into this seventeen year long war, how are we doing?
Our generosity is destructive in itself: By pouring what are enormous sums by local standards into underdeveloped economies and societies, we corrupt those we seek to help. 
This isn’t a brand-new phenomenon. Our wealth created thriving black markets in 1940s Europe, but it really got underway in South Vietnam, where our largesse was economic napalm applied to our allies. We corrupted not only the Saigon government, but also undercut its military. We turned bureaucrats and officers into war profiteers, great and small. One of the reasons the North Vietnamese won was that they were too poor to be corrupt on a crippling scale: They may have been mass murderers, but they weren’t crooks (that came with time and progress). 
By the time we reached Iraq, we had turned nation-building efforts into a shameless looting orgy for American and third-party contractors. In Afghanistan, we turned a nation of pickpockets into grand felons.
T.E. Lawrence was a grand exaggerator and, at times, an outright liar, but he did have insights that remain useful today. Of special relevance, Lawrence noted that it’s better for the locals to do something imperfectly for themselves than for us to do it perfectly for them. Paying a warlord or politician’s entrepreneurial cousin to do the work isn’t the same thing as having the locals do it themselves—not least, because as much as nine-tenths of the money never gets applied to the road-construction or water project but vanishes like a djinn done granting wishes.

The Trump Administration seems to have come up with a "new plan", but I'm concerned that it will end up the way the old plans did. Alexander couldn't hold the place, the British fought two Afghan Wars in the 1800's and gained nothing, the Russians left and eventually the Americans will too. The question is how much more blood and treasure we plan to dump in that worthless S--hole.

What is our clear strategy? Are we there to oppose China or are we there to nation build.

"Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown, 
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down; 
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, 
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East." 
            - Rudyard Kipling

China

On 2 February, the South China Morning Post reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping appointed a new ambassador to Afghanistan in a sign of the Chinese decision to become more involved in Afghanistan. According to the paper, the new ambassador, Liu Jinsong, was raised in Xinjiang, western China, and was a director of the Silk Road Fund to promote investment in the Belt and Road Initiative, among other postings in South Asia. 

Comment: Liu’s appointment indicates that the Chinese leaders have decided that the security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is so tied to security conditions in Afghanistan that China needs to intervene and be more assertive. The Chinese strategy relies on economic and infrastructure cooperation – essentially, greater prosperity -- to help improve security conditions.

The strategy works, but it takes a generation or two, as in Malaysia, to persuade zealots to change their life-style.

In Afghanistan, it also relies on and takes advantage of the US-led coalition to provide security. The big difference with US assistance is that the Chinese live in the neighborhood.

A Chinese-built fort in the Wakhan Corridor. On 1 and 2 February, several press outlets reported that China is in talks with Afghanistan about building and supplying a new military base in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan Province, which forms the Afghanistan-China border.

An Afghan defense ministry spokesman assured the press that Afghanistan would build the base. China would assist by providing funding, training and equipment. 

An Afghan defense ministry statement in January said that China would cover “all material and technical expenses for this base — weaponry, uniforms for soldiers, military equipment and everything else necessary for its functioning.”

The latest announcement provides context to reports since February 2017 about Chinese border soldiers and vehicles operating on the Afghan side of the border in the Wakhan Corridor. Some reports suggested the Chinese also would help staff the new base.

The Wakhan Corridor is a segment of the original Silk Road. In more recent times, Muslim ethnic Uighur militants and separatists from Xinjiang in western China use the Corridor for communications and supply between Uighur supporters in Central and Western Asia. Your beloved blogger took a hit and left a blood trail in the Wakhan Corridor circa 1980's, and that's all that I'm going to say about that.

Afghan border forces have proven unable to secure the border. Last May, Reuters reported that the Syrian government estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 Uighurs joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Uighurs produced and distributed an anti-Chinese video in which they vowed to “shed blood like rivers” in China. 

A primary purpose of Chinese involvement with this base is to stop Uighur movements through the Corridor, especially fighters returning from Syria.

The base also embodies the new policy of involvement in the internal affairs of neighbors when it suits China’s interests. China wants to include Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).


>>> ADDITIONAL  NEWS<<<

International news organizations reported that the US B-52 bomber attack on terrorist targets in northern Afghanistan two weeks ago set a record for the number of precision-guided munitions launched at one time by a single bomber. 

In terms of threat analysis, the important part of the mission was the targets. They were terrorist camps in Badakhshan Province that support Taliban operations in Afghanistan and operations of the anti-Chinese East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang, China. The ETIM is an ethnic Uighur militant group that seeks to convert Xinjiang, China, into an Islamic state governed by ethnic Uighurs. Reportedly ETIM’s headquarters is in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

The B-52 attack appears to have been partly intended to assist Chinese efforts because the ETIM poses no threat to the Afghan government. However, it is affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaida. 

The 4 February air raid proves that Uighur terrorists are receiving training and refuge with the Afghan Taliban in Badakhshan. That further explains the recent Chinese agreement to help build and equip a new Afghan military base in the Wakhan Corridor of Badakhshan Province. The Chinese also agreed to supply Chinese trainers for the base. 

The B-52 raid probably was not the first time that US air attacks have targeted anti-Chinese terrorists, but US-Chinese military cooperation is uncommon. The raid is the first time we have seen in open sources US forces attack an anti-Chinese terrorist camp. It also occurred on the same day that China and Afghanistan announced the new base agreement. 

The US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan said that the US will fight all terrorists wherever it finds them. It looks like mission creep relative to the mission of defeating the Taliban.