sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Colt's Dragoon

Early Colt Handguns
Colt Patterson Revolver - God made men and Samuel Colt made them equal.

Colt Walker Revolver, Model 1847
Colt's Dragoon Revolver, Third Model, 1848-50

Samuel Colt's first revolver, the Colt Patterson Holster Pistol, enjoyed limited success. Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker offered a few suggestions to improve the Colt Patterson and it resulted in the Colt Walker Model 1847. The Colt Walker was never designed to be worn on the hip. It was a "horse pistol", designed to be carried on saddle mounted holsters and of a caliber sufficient to kill both horses and enemy soldiers.  The Colt Walker, .44 (140 grain round ball) caliber, black powder, percussion cap, single action revolver fired a round ball at a muzzle velocity of 800 to 1,200 feet per second.

In 1848, Colt broke away from Eli Whitney and created Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company and improved the Colt Walker, resulting in the production of the Colt's Dragoon.

LL's Colt's Dragoon pistol

There were three Models of Colt's Dragoon and a the 1848 Pocket Pistol (so-called Baby Dragoon). Designed for the US Army's "Mounted Rifles".  This weapons was carried by the mounted rifle regiments in pommel holsters for close range combat even though they were effective at much longer ranges. 

In firing my Dragoon (which I have had and used for over 30 years), I find that it's accurate to roughly the same ranges as smokeless powder handguns. the long sighting radius of this handgun compensates for the lack of modern design. In the period when they were in common use, conical bullets were made and used for these handguns, improving the range and accuracy of the Dragoon.

My Colt's Dragoon is not a replica per se since it was made by Colt in 1976 (I bought it new in '76) for the American Bicentennial. However it is a modern version of their original handgun. I was told that the value would decrease if I fired it. Too bad for me. I've fired it and enjoyed it and it's worth what it's worth. (there are no hearses with luggage racks)

The Colt's Dragoon had a shorter cylinder than the Colt Walker which prevented over-loading the cylinders with black powder. As a practical matter, most pistoleros carried multiple cylinders pre-loaded and primed (forerunner of the speed loader for revolvers) such that you could continue to fight the weapon after firing the initial six rounds.

Loading 50 grains of 3F black powder in each cylinder produces a satisfactory charge and allows the shooter to engage targets effectively in the 25 meter range. Though then as now, the standard pistol combat range was 3-15 feet. A pistol has always been a close range weapon as a matter of practical use. The 4 1/2 pound weight of the Dragoon made it less than optimal for a belt holster weapon. 

The 1851 Colt Navy Model (.36 caliber) and 1860 Colt Army model (also a .44 caliber) were both more popular than the Dragoon because of their size. They were both the same size (just different calibers) and were made in very large numbers because the demand for their use during the War of Northern Aggression/War of the Rebellion/American Civil War (pick your name). These later models used a paper cartridge.

As a matter of practical use, it was important to cover each loaded cylinder opening with grease to prevent a "flash-over" detonation in which more than one cylinder would fire at the same time, potentially damaging (blowing up) the handgun and injuring the operator. Today I've used a number of different solutions with "tallow" being the best, surprisingly. The solution of the 1850's is a good solution today. I've tried commercial lube solutions, vaseline, and so forth, but none of them is dense enough to be as good as tallow. 

The advent of fixed ammunition (bullet married to a brass cartridge casing) both rimfire and center primed, solved many of the problems that plagued these early pistols. Smokeless powder, much later, solved the fouling issue that is present with all black powder weapons. 

The Colt's Dragoon in Popular Modern Films

True Grit (2010)

True Grit (1969)

Pale Rider

I selected this scene to demonstrate how cylinders are swapped out for a reload. Clint Eastwood is not carrying a Colt's dragoon, but it's worth watching to see how the technique worked as a practical matter.

Modern Speed Loader using fixed ammunition (for reference as not all of this blog's readers may be familiar with the concept)

A YouTube video showing firing and loading of the Colt's Dragoon.

These handguns (above) didn't "win the west" but they started the ball rolling. The Colt Peacemaker was a .45 caliber (45 Colt Cartridge) pistol that fired fixed ammunition. It had most features present in modern handguns with the exception that it was single action (you had to cock the hammer back every time you wanted to fire a round).

Colt .45 single action Army Revolver
Won the West...

A lot of gunfighters carried shotguns in the 8-10 gauge range because at the standard pistol range (close) the shotgun delivered a much more deadly punch. Once the first two charges were fired, the gunslinger could resort to the handgun. Despite the "fair fight in the street" theme found in many Western films, winning was more important to the (surviving) combatants than chivalric notions.

"The dumber people are, the more surprised they are when you kill them." 
                                       -- Attributed to Billy the Kid

Sunday, September 29, 2013

America's Navy and Position

The US Navy is in trouble. To me, it's serious trouble, but I'm not a progressive liberal who feels that buying votes to keep me in office is the role of the US Government.

I'm keying in part on Brian McGrath's article HERE. McGrath writes about the high priority need to replace America's Nuclear Missile firing submarines (SSBN's) with a new class of submarine that will carry out the same mission. The current generation of Ohio class boats are aging and the point is coming where they will not be mission-capable.
He writes: Given the mismatch between what the Navy budgets and what the Navy needs, the U.S. is currently on a trajectory to a 230 ship Navy, a figure which does not even take SSBN(X) into consideration. Should the SSBN(X) proceed as planned, its build profile will dominate the shipbuilding landscape for over ten years, and almost certainly shrink the fleet even further.
A 200 (or less) ship navy may sound like a lot of ships to the likes of a political activist/community organizer, but it's not. Ships are not like a lot of other pieces of equipment. They float in a corrosive environment and have a lot of moving parts. Additionally, they take a long time to build. Crews take a long time to train, deployed squadrons of aircraft must fly all the time to keep up the skills necessary for operational capability in a challenging maritime environment.

The current chatter inside the Washington DC Beltway is that the Navy can make do with four less aircraft carriers. And since we won't have ships to move them, we can make due with a Marine Corps about half the size of the present Corps. That makes perfect sense so long as there is no war. If war comes -- and history tells us that it inevitably does, the people who suffer wear a uniform. If you're "progressive" you really don't trust anyone in a uniform, so those folks lose no sleep over the matter. 

The Obama Administration installed John Kerry as Secretary of State. Kerry is viewed by those that he served with in the military as a traitor. When you combine that with the quasi-Muslim Commander-in-Chief whose agenda is not an American one, the state of the Navy is only one of many concerns should America embark on another war.

Allies are important in wars. We've seen Great Britain balk in aiding us for the first time in roughly 200 years, and even Brazil snubs us. Russia and China are emboldened and empowered by America's failed leadership -- and the Snowden matter showed that we can't keep a secret.  Why should any other nation trust the US?

The answer is that they don't. Look at Mexico. They're openly hostile toward the US at many levels and it's due to ham handed diplomacy by the Obama Administration. Does America care? Apparently not, because Barack will be around golfing for the next 3 1/2 years -- after which the Democratic party wants Hillary (the Bitch of Benghazi) Clinton in the White House.

Maybe a 100 ship navy is in our future?

I hear you asking what might be done to stop the slide. The US could repeal economy killing "social justice" programs such as ObamaCare and other regulatory quagmires that have been put in place and grow the economy. Part of that strategy has to be drilling and refining more petroleum to try and pay off the crippling national debt that President Obama keeps dumping on us. With these measures, there would be sufficient means to keep the nation strong and in a leadership role -- which is clearly not part of the Obama agenda.

Budget Cuts - Impact

And you thought he was a
Christian? Joke's on you!
The US Government is not composed of equally important parts. For example, if the Department of Education went away tomorrow, the States would still have their respective education departments that would carry out the functions of educating America's youth. The US Department of Agriculture is important but if it went away, the impact of 50 million Americans on food stamps would be noteworthy and farmers wouldn't be receiving subsidy checks not to grow certain crops, but food would still be produced and it would make it to market. I have nothing against USDA - but it needs to be about 50% smaller than it is. The Department of Education is unnecessary. 

Leader of the Free World
FEMA is useful in a very limited sense, but Billions pour into that rat hole every year and when a disaster strikes, they arrive about the time that the respective states have cleaned up the mess. I think you could could cut the budget in half and nobody would know it.

I spoke to Paul Nathanson over the weekend. He is a retired FBI Special Agent who works with the association of FBI agents which is not part of the Bureau, but deals with internal advocacy, offers scholarships and sends cards and flowers when they're called for, etc. Nathanson believed that between the furloughs and the cuts, the FBI's ability to do what it does has been impacted more than the 10% reduction. A lot of people who were of an age that could retire, did and took jobs in the civilian market. Because of the cuts, there are no FBI Academy classes underway. Because of the fuel budget, FBI automobile use has been severely cut back and in some divisions, agents car pool from interview to interview.
rodeo clown
“I was very surprised to learn how severe the required cut is and the potential impact on this organization. Frankly, as a taxpayer and as an American I was surprised, and it didn’t make any sense to me that the FBI director would be asked not just to cut 3,000 positions but, given what's on our plate, to send folks home for a couple of weeks without pay." -James Comey, FBI Director - Sept. 19, 2013
h/t daily time waster
The component of USGOV that tracked terrorists and drug cartel members with Man Portable Surface to Air Missile Systems (MANPADS) and assisted other countries in taking them into custody was disbanded and the mission was given over to the US Army's Military Attaches in various US Embassies. That means that the mission was effectively scrubbed. More time for blogging?

The US Navy's ability to deploy and maintain itself while deployed has been seriously degraded. The Navy still has claws, but they can't reach quite as far for quite as long as it used to. Most procurement programs have been put on hold and there is very limited money to repair equipment. When you consider equipment failure rates at sea and in an operational setting and how that impacts the ability for the navy to function, it's not a joke.

Social Welfare programs haven't suffered significant degradations and the welfare checks still go out on time to buy votes for the Democratic Party. The multi-trillion dollar ObamaCare program is on track to be rolled out on Tuesday in the hopes of buying votes --- though whether it will actually buy votes or cost votes, nobody's quite sure anymore. If your employment hours were cut from 40 to 29, you may rethink your love for Barack.

If any of you have forgotten Obama's credentials, they are listed (above-right) in his own words...

Saturday, September 28, 2013


You climb it because it's there.

a lemur, climbing for shits and giggles

hill climb (1924)

rock climb

critter climb

fantasy climb

Movie Moments

It's not good to be too high strung.

Get in the truck.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dumbing Down America with Common Core

I tried to look at the new national education standards as put forward in Common Core with a fair and balanced approach. I went to their website and started on math because it's the basis for understanding all science,

Under the new approach, the furthest you can go in high school is algebra. There is no provision for calculus or trigonometry. Under the new guidelines, they schools are funded to the extent that they ONLY teach Common Core. That means that's all they'll teach. And it's a pity because physics requires calculus if you're going to take it beyond a few science demonstrations such as having an apple fall from a tree. You'll see it happen, but you won't be able to explain WHY it happened because that requires calculus.

Then I moved on to English, and noticed that literature will not be taught at the middle school or high school levels. When I was that age, I read Animal Farm and later, 1984, Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451. Those are dangerous texts in the age Obama. I'm sure that the Common Core folks would have loved to have included literature if they could have limited reading to Das Kapital. To avoid controversy, they just cut the whole thing out.

At this point I would normally make a strident plea for the classics to be taught in school, but as the wanna-be president said so eloquently (regarding the Benghazi Massacre), "what difference does it make?"

My sense is that those who put Common Core together want Junior College to be the new high school. I admit that a high school diploma doesn't mean much anymore when you're looking for a job. Maybe that's what drove the people at Common Core? A truck driver doesn't need to read Thoreau or Emerson? If you work in a factory, why should you study Thomas Paine?

I realize that school officials will cry, "We only have so much time!" My answer is to extend the school day by an hour or two each day if that's what it takes for an adequate education.

Warehousing Narcos

I don't expect this blog's readers to keep up with the various and sundry Mexican cartels because there is a parade of nefarious traffickers who end up dead or in custody. In the free-fire zone that is Mexican narco turf, the cartels come and go. There was the Old Gulf Cartel. There is the New Gulf Cartel.

Last week (September 18, 2013), Mexican officials arrested Ediel Lopez Falco (La Muela) in the Rio Grande Valley. Ediel is wanted by both USGOV and MEXGOV for trafficking and cooperating with other cartels. In recent years, the Gulf Cartel went from an independent operation to a cocaine brokering operation where they moved narcotics into Mexico and then other cartels and independent operators took it from there to the destination -- usually in the USA.

Will this arrest that some Mexican sources refer to as "historic" change the price of drugs anywhere? Unlikely.  What does this arrest mean? What do YOU think that it means?

I received a call tonight that "Jose"(Hose A), at large in Mexico, wants to come to some accommodation with the US Government in regard pending drug charges. He doesn't want to be a rat. He simply wants to get off the hook. He doesn't want to do the full term that a Federal Court Judge will sentence him to. I don't blame him. Being a narco has not always been easy for Jose. The narco business isn't really easy for anyone because there is lots of competition. And as with most people like Jose, there are other narcos who would like to kill him for some perceived reproach or insult (according to Jose) or more likely because he stole a load.

Jose Alvarez Tostado
What do I plan to do for Jose? Nothing. The taxpayer in me doesn't want to see him in custody in the US because each inmate costs the Federal Government an average of $28,893.40. Will housing Jose for twenty years in the system run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reduce the amount of drugs in either the US or Mexico? No. Will it make anyone safer? Unlikely. If he simply stays out of custody in Mexico, somebody will kill him and that will be that. It's a cold calculus, but a practical one.

There is yet another Jose (Hose B) who doesn't want to be extradited to the US (he's on ICE's top ten most wanted list from a case in Orange County California that I participated in a long time ago). Jose Alvarez Tostado was free'd by Mexico in what has become a pattern since President Obama crashed the good working relationship that the US had with them. Alvarez-Tostado is looking for a way out of his bind too. Tonight he's drinking with a narco lawyer at a nice restaurant in Tijuana, BC, Mexico wondering what to do with himself since he has fallen on hard times since the Mexicans released him. His arrest took him out of the trafficking mainstream and he's concerned that if he's arrested again, the Americans might get their hooks into him.

Barack Obama would piss off the Pope -- and it's no wonder that the world at large jeers at the US. Any nation who would elect such an incompetent ninny to run the country can't be taken all that seriously. So the Mexicans will likely leave Jose Alvarez Tostado alone.

Warehousing narcotics offenders has a limited benefit to society. I'm not sure what to do with them. Execute them (Singapore style)? Release them (Netherlands style)? Or feed and house them in perpetuity (US style)? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

National Zapatista Liberation Army-- A Scam

The National Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN) is gaining some serious momentum in Southern Mexico, where they find their base of support. The movement has been simmering for about forty years, with various charismatic figures trying to whip up opposition to the constituted Mexican government.  But all is not as it seems.


The armed uprising in 1994 failed and in 2002, the EZLN signed a type of peace agreement with then President Fox in Santa Ana, California. The agreement established 32 autonomous municipalities within the Mexican state of Chiapas and thereby, ended the conflict. Or that was the intention of the moment. I was there at the signing. In fact, it took place in the conference room in my office.

Their Gripe

The National Zapatista Liberation Army is a communist movement that focuses on their assertion that Indians in Latin America have received less than they deserve because of globalization. Thus, their struggle is for social justice. They feel that the North American Free Trade Agreement is unfair (but never quite explain why that is). There is no question but what the Indians have received the "short end" of the deal when it comes to Mexican politics, but globalized trade would seem to have little to do with it.

Their leadership (guided by communists worldwide) came up with an interesting twist on traditional revolutionary movements:
...demand that the revolutionary armed forces not intervene in matters of civil order or the disposition of capital relating to agriculture, commerce, finances, and industry, as these are the exclusive domain of the civil authorities, elected freely and democratically.
Even though they are an armed revolutionary movement, they decided not to shoot at anyone. Therefore, they became a "peaceful revolutionary movement" and used that platform to gather support from NGO's which funded and sustained them over the past twenty years. From the early days, much of the advocacy for the revolution was carried out by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) arm of the Catholic Church. Historically, the Catholic Church has taken an interest in Indian affairs in Mezoamerica. Organizing and sustaining revolutionary movements has been a Jesuit specialty. In the case of the EZLN, they've kept the revolution running thanks to generous contributions from US Corporations -- the very same corporations that are their sworn enemies.

If the reader senses irony here, the reader is on point. 

American corporations are solicited by the Society of Jesus to give Jesuits money to buy soap and Bibles  and to provide the poor indians in Chiapas with an education. The money is then used to fund a few revolutionary leaders in a lifestyle that they had not enjoyed before -- and the Jesuit Brothers live a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds. A few dollars go to schools.

SCAM? Yes. Because it's a "peaceful revolution", corporations fork over money and deduct it from their income tax.  Since the struggle for social justice is endless, so is the need for money. Thus you see Communism revealed for what it has always been in practice. A few community organizers make out well as do the movement's "leaders" while those behind the scenes live very well.

And what of the Maya and indigenous peoples of Mezoamerica? 

Nothing ever changes for them. 

Islamic Supremacy in the American Heartland?

Chief Chuck Jordan
Tulsa Oklahoma PD
a true friend of Islam
There is something wrong with Islam beyond merely Sharia, which finds itself at odds with every aspect of American Law, English Common Law, and Napoleonic Law (Louisiana). They want to be loved and if necessary, they'll attack you until you love them (convert), which is a left-handed term for jihad.

Take Captain Paul Fields, Tulsa OK Police Department for example (worth clicking the link and reading the whole story) Chief Chuck Jordan, Tulsa OK Police Department ordered four officers from each squad in the department to attend an Islamic function that had nothing to do with their policing jobs. When Captain Fields objected, he was disciplined and stripped of his command. 

The Islamic Society of North America, which co-sponsored the event with the local mosque is the single largest front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda in the United States. Chief Jordan could have found that out if he consulted with his intelligence unit, the FBI or the local Counterterrorism Task Force. 

We don't know whether he checked or not. If he didn't, I strongly suggest to the reader that he should consider retirement due to incompetence, and that any replacement be vetted based on an understanding of who his friends are and are not.

Even though the Obama Administration proposed that the United States ally itself with Al Qaeda in Syria, he wasn't able to follow through with his desires because the American people objected. Captain Fields objected. And Islam (aided by Chief Jordan) rolled over his career like a steamroller. 

Chief Jordan: Shame on you!

Captain Paul Fields: You passed the test. While they've stomped you down, you can hold your head high with the understanding that others see what's going on even if the Tulsa City fathers do not.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Taxation Without (adequate) Representation?

When Barack Obama swept into office, he promised to be "the great uniter" as he pursued an agenda to "fundamentally transform America". The fundamental transformation has shown signs of balkanization as "progressive areas - which are anti gun and high crime" want to force their will on conservative areas in which firearms ownership is a cherished right -- and they don't have significant crime problems.

The US Congress would never agree because it would create states that would send conservative legislators to Washington and upset the balance of power. BUT the fact remains--->

Northern Colorado doesn't want to be part of Colorado anymore.

Six Counties in Colorado
(Denver Post) GREELEY, Colo.—It looks like Weld County voters will be casting ballots this fall on whether to pursue seceding from Colorado. The Greeley Tribune reports that Weld County commissioners unanimously voted Monday morning to place a 51st state initiative on the ballot. 
Weld and other northeastern Colorado counties have expressed interest in seceding to become North Colorado. Weld, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington and Kit Carson commissioners each set dates to vote on ballot initiatives for the 51st state. Yuma and Cheyenne counties have given the OK to place the initiative on the ballot this November. Morgan County commissioners are waiting on a citizen initiative.
Northern California doesn't want to be part of the Golden State anymore. (who can blame them?)

Siskiyou and Modoc Counties (CA)
(Fox News) A second far Northern California county has voted to secede from the state after Modoc County supervisors voted 4-0 in favor of secession. 
The vote on Friday comes just weeks after neighboring Siskiyou County voted for secession, according to the Record Searchlight of Redding. 
Modoc County Board Chairwoman Geri Byrne tells the Record Searchlight that she put the secession measure forward after hearing support for the idea from people in her district.
"We're not saying we're seceding today, we're saying let's look into it," Byrne said. The goal is to form a separate state called Jefferson that would also include parts of Southern Oregon. 
Once you leave the urban hells where crime is high, many people rely on government hand-outs (and don't work), and the high school graduation rate is nothing short of dismal, there is another America where people value self-reliance, family values, God and guns. Big states with massive deficits, such as California focus on these urban voting units to maintain their power. As a result the politics has changed the way people look at government from different districts within the area governed.

The notion of the well intentioned public servant in the Obama era has vanished as disclosures that the Obama White House used the Internal Revenue Service to target the president's political enemies, jacked up the Environmental Protection Agency to focus only on conservatives and the Department of Homeland Security changed its focus to "returning soldiers, retired police officers, and people who identify themselves as 'Constitutional'. Confidence in American National Government is at an all time low and it is reflected in secession movements.

These areas don't want to leave the nation. They just want to leave the "progressive" part of their states what force President Obama's version of hope and change. 


White House Policy

Cleaning House: F.B.I. Agent Pleads Guilty in Leak to A.P. 

SA Donald Sachtleben, FBI
The US Justice Department announced that Donald Sachtleben (age 55) a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year. Federal investigators said they identified him after obtaining phone logs of Associated Press reporters. Sachtleben has agreed to serve 43 months in prison. During this investigation, Special Agent Sachtleben was on administrative leave as the subject of a separate F.B.I. investigation for distributing child pornography, and has separately agreed to plead guilty in that matter and serve 97 months. (Savage/NYTimes/23September 2013) He was fired before his current plea deal, making him a "former special agent" at the time of conviction.

He will be eligible for release in 2026 at the age of 68.

Obama's Legacy

The touted progressive wet dream that became ObamaCare is unraveling as people open their insurance statements and find that in many cases their premiums will double thanks to Barack Obama's socialized medical program. At the same time, insurers are reducing the number of doctors and hospitals where ObamaCare will be accepted. You guessed it -- if you go there now and like it because it's really good, you're going to go somewhere else to get your high priced ObamaCare.

Losers: American Public

Winners: Insurance companies that backed Obama including AARP who sold their constituency down the river.

And in a Related Story

President Obama pledged to end partisanship, but instead has exacerbated it. He recently accused House Republicans of being extortionists for opposing a raise in the debt ceiling. Barack Obama once held the opposite position about debt and ceilings. In 2006, when George W. Bush was president, Sen. Obama said: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.” Really? What, then, does it say about his leadership now?

The World is a Little Smaller

Homeland Security to Test BOSS Facial Recognition at Junior Hockey Game. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will test its crowd-scanning facial recognition system, known as the Biometric Optical Surveillance System, or BOSS, at a junior hockey game this weekend.

With assistance from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, DHS will test its system at a Western Hockey League game in Washington state. The test will determine whether the system can distinguish the faces of 20 volunteers out of a crowd of nearly 6,000 hockey fans, to evaluate how successfully BOSS can locate a person of interest.

According to DHS, BOSS technology consists of two cameras capable of taking stereoscopic images of a face and a back end remote matching system. Stereoscopic images are two images of the same object, taken at slightly different angles that create an illusion of three-dimensional depth from two-dimensional images.

The cameras transfer the pair of images to the remote matching system by way of fiber optic or wireless technology. The system then processes and stores the two images into a 3-D signature, which is the mathematical representation of the stereo-pair images that the system uses for matching. [Read more: King/BiometricUpdate/20September2013]

The Last Word

New York Yankees vs Toronto Blue Jays

Changing Rules - US Special Operations Command

Are US Special Forces expanding to assume a domestic role in the US for the purpose of counterterrorist operations? 

Yes. Keep reading. And please forgive all the acronyms because this is the military, and the US Government, they are necessary to tell the story.

According to US Special Operations Forces -SOF: Background and Issues for Congress, September 18, 2013 the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, will be expanded as the Special Operations Division is expanded from 'division status' within the command to it's own command, SOCNORTH. SOCNORTH will become a Theater Special Operations Command, led by a general officer.
Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) were originally sub-unified commands under their respective Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs). TSOCs are special operational headquarters elements designed to support a GCC’s special operations logistics, planning, and operational control requirements.
I can't imagine a reason for a separate Special Operations Command for North America (Canada, US and Mexico). One possible reason is that the SpecOps community wants to create another general officer and to have someplace to stuff senior officers in need of a staff assignment. I keep telling myself that's why. But that's not why. On July 31, 2013, Secretary of Defense Hagel held a news briefing to discuss the findings of the Strategic Choices Management Review. While this briefing did not discuss specific actions to be taken as a result of this review, the Secretary of Defense stated that DOD would pursue a 20% reduction of U.S. military billets and government civilian positions in major DOD headquarters, suggesting that USSOCOM headquarters could lose up to 500 of its approximately 2,500 military and civilian personnel. 

Special Operations Forces are moving to assume control of the military aspects of counterterrorist operations in the United States. And before you suggest that I'm wearing my tinfoil hat, I'm not.  Not this time anyway.
In addition to Title 10 authorities and responsibilities, USSOCOM has been given additional responsibilities. In the 2004 Unified Command Plan (UCP), USSOCOM was given the responsibility for synchronizing DOD plans against global terrorist networks and, as directed, conducting global operations against those networks. (Source: “Fact Book: United States Special Operations Command,” USSOCOM Public Affairs, February 2013, p. 10)
In this regard, USSOCOM “receives reviews, coordinates and prioritizes all DOD plans that support the global campaign against terror, and then makes recommendations to the Joint Staff regarding force and resource allocations to meet global requirements.”
In October 2008, USSOCOM was designated the DOD proponent for Security Force Assistance (SFA). In this role, USSOCOM will perform a synchronizing function in global training and assistance planning similar to the previously described role of planning against terrorist networks. For more information: CRS Report R41817, Building the Capacity of Partner States Through Security Force 
Assistance, by Thomas K. Livingston.

Under the current UCP signed by President Obama in April 2011, USSOCOM is tasked in accordance
with Title 10 U.S.C. 167 to serve as a global Special Operations Forces (SOF) provider with the inherent responsibility to coordinate global SOF operations with the Services, Combatant Commanders, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

The current UCP stipulates that the USSOCOM Commander is only responsible for synchronizing planning for global operations to combat terrorist networks. This limits USSOCOM’s ability to conduct activities designed to deter emerging threats, build relationships with foreign militaries, and potentially develop greater access to foreign militaries.

USSOCOM is proposing changes which would, in addition to its current responsibilities, include the responsibility for deploying and, when directed, employing SOF globally (including operations within the United States) with the approval of the GCCs. USSOCOM noted that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) approved USSOCOM’s proposed UCP changes and these changes will be included in the next round of formal changes that President Obama is expected to approve later this year.

The question that this blogger posits is the definition of "terrorist". Under the Obama Administration we've seen that definition blur from "radical islam" to people who don't agree with the "fundamental changes that Obama is making to America." While you can make of that what you will, the expansion of SOF to North America and the changes in the law invoke a certain concern. I am not suggesting that the US military is poised to attack American citizens who simply disagree with Obama --- but we have seen that with the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the expansion of National Security Agency operations to American citizens inside of the US, etc.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

US Position on Iran

I have no idea what the Obama Whitehouse's position on Iran is. What is more to the point, they don't seem to know either. Yes, I understand that if they had a position (or red line), it would move depending on the polls.

Hate him or love him, even Bill Clinton had a position on most things. He surrounded himself with people who had ability and vision and he listened to them. Obama is on his fifth White House Chief of Staff and there has been a game of musical chairs with the insiders there because the experts are required to listen to Obama. Yes, I understand that when you're a narcissist, everyone should listen to you even though your ONLY life experience is as a Chicago community organizer.

George W. Bush (love him or hate him) let people know where he stood and the world trembled. Vladimir Putin does the same thing and Obama trembles.

Will Iran complete its nuclear weapons with the USA sitting on the sidelines? I doubt it. Israel will hit them before that happens whether or not the US is onboard. In fact, if I was Israel, I don't know that I'd share my war strategy with the US -- because I frankly don't know whether or not Obama would go to Iran with the information. 

I'm not sure what passes for Strategy in the Obama White House, though the recent exercise with Syria over chemical weapons provides me a rather clear road map.

Thinking on the Economy and Obamacare

Congress is in a push-pull battle to kill ObamaCare, President Obama's landmark legislation and the one thing that his administration will be known for. I don't think that the House of Representatives will be successful by using the threat of government shut down with the Continuing Resolution.

However I do suspect that the people whose hours have been cut, rates have gone up and access to actual healthcare have been vastly reduced due to this ObamaNation may vote for their very survival in 2014 and that could put the final spike in the coffin of ObamaCare. READ THIS (One Man's ObamaCare Nightmare)
(IBD) In Virginia, a low-income 25-year-old will pay $127 a month for the cheapest plan after subsidies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the Government Accountability Office found that the mid-priced plan in Virginia today costs just $112 a month. 
And as the New York Times discovered, even these ObamaCare prices are misleading, since the only way insurance companies could keep them low was by severely restricting their networks of doctors and hospitals. 
It notes that a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study found "insurers passed over major medical centers" in many states to keep premiums down. 
Those buying a Blue Cross plan in California's exchange will have access to 47% fewer doctors and 22% fewer hospitals than subscribers can get today, the Times reports 
Meanwhile the mainstream media continues to trumpet the Democratic Party line (mostly lies) and Fox News ratings climb as people turn from the propaganda machine to an effort at fair and balaned.

As to the matter of the US Economy? 20% of it is devoted to healthcare. The Obama White House could screw up just about anything - and they've demonstrated remarkable aptitude to select the wrong thing every time they've had a choice. I suspect that it will take another 3.5 years (providing that the American people don't make another horrible choice) to see real measures taken to fix the economy and undo what Obama did.
(Fox News) 7 out of 10 voters are concerned about their personal health care under the Affordable Care Act and a majority wants to take the health care system back to 2009, according to the latest Fox News national poll.

The poll, released Tuesday, finds that 68 percent of voters are concerned about their health care under the new system. That includes 43 percent “very” concerned and another 25 percent “somewhat” concerned.

The number feeling concerned is more than twice that of those who are unworried (31 percent).

Even a 56-percent majority of Democrats feels concerned (31 percent “very” concerned). By comparison, 72 percent of independents and 77 percent of Republicans feel that way.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hunting and Warfare with Brown Bess

LL with granddaughter, Alyssa, and Long Land Pattern Brown Bess musket
Fellow blogger, CW Swanson of The Daily Timewaster asked for a blog on the Brown Bess Musket. 

Here you go.

The Princess wants to go hunting with grandpa when she's old enough.

The Brown Bess Musket won the world for the British Empire, and was  the most widely used firearm in history until the advent of the Russian AK-47. Though it went out of issue in both the American and British Armies (1722-1838), they were common in American households through the 1800's in private use. 

Short Land Pattern, referred to as a Fusil. Often issued to artillery, dragoon
and Fusileers (light infantry) units. Note the lack of a bayonet lug.
The Brown Bess (British Pattern Musket) was built and issued in several variants: Long Land Pattern, Short Land Pattern, India Pattern, New Land Pattern Musket, Sea Service Musket and others. Usually the differences had to do with the barrel length. The locks were always the Tower series. The name Brown Bess is derived from the German "brawn buss" (strong firearm).

The Brown Bess was not intended to be used as an aimed weapon. It was designed to be volley-fired by one formation of massed infantry against another formation of infantry on an open European field where men fought according to set down rules of war. There were no sights on a Brown Bess, though you can aim it over the rear tang screw and the bayonet lug.

Brown Bess Musket with "lunger" bayonet
I bought my Brown Bess about thirty years ago and have hunted deer with it. It's less effective than modern archery for a number of reasons:

1. Modern compound bows and even modern recurve bows have synthetic bowstrings that are not effected by rain and moisture. The pan of the Brown Bess contains black powder that turns into "black sludge" when wet.  I hunted with a peace of tanned deerskin over the lock in inclement weather or even when there was 'heavy dew or mist'. During the "age of Brown Bess", archery relied on hemp or twine type string that stretched when wet. Thus the archery during that time suffered from some of the same limitations as black powder weapons.

2. Modern compound bows have longer range than the Brown Bess and a hunting arrowhead puts just about the same size wound channel through the target. The Brown Bess fires a .70 caliber patched lead round ball through the .75 caliber smooth bore barrel. An arrowhead going through a target will not smash bone usually. A 550 grain .735 caliber ball will simply shatter a bone (requiring an amputation - even if such a wound was suffered today because the bone is pulped) and mushroom out to about 100 caliber or one inch in diameter for the remainder of its journey through the target.

photo from the internet of a person holding a
.75 cal musket ball
3. A Brown Bess loads more quickly than a black powder muzzle loading rifle. However, I can fire three or four aimed arrows in the time it takes to load and prime a musket for a second shot. There is a way to "cheat" when loading a Brown Bess. Using a paper cartridge, pour the powder down the muzzle, drop the undersized .69 caliber bullet in (wrapped in greased paper) and simply stamp the butstock on the ground. The bullet usually drops down the barrel and seats itself on or close to the powder charge. The shooter would have to prime the pan, cock the musket and it would be ready for a "snapshot". It's safer to use the ramrod to seat the bullet but in combat, there might be no time for that luxury.

Thoughts on Hunting with Brown Bess

Brown Bess is not a high tolerance weapon and the ball more or less bounces through its barrel on its way out the muzzle toward the target. Thus, hitting a  running deer-sized target reliably at more than 50 meters (at most) is simply a matter of luck. (wise to bring a .44 magnum handgun to finish the work if you have to track a wounded deer)
However, it's important to note that the weapon was never intended by its designers to be used for hunting. In England, the deer belonged to the King. Maybe one day Barack Obama will claim that he owns all of the deer in the US but he hasn't as of this writing. 
Because the Brown Bess has a smooth bore it's not a bad shotgun because it can easily fire three + ounces of shot through a long barrel, giving it an open choke pattern with the effect of a full choke. Thus you can take higher flying birds such as geese with it, using #4 shot.

My motive in selecting this ancient pattern flintlock weapon for hunting deer was simply to give the deer a sporting chance. Though I've had .50 caliber rifled (percussion cap) black powder weapons as long as I've had Brown Bess, and I've hunted with them too, their accuracy made them lethal at three times the range...still not quite fair to the deer.

Most hunting shots in the Rocky Mountain terrain that I hunted were 100+ meters, thus I had to change my tactics to hunt with Brown Bess. It's a very different hunt than one undertaken with a .270 rifle blended with a Schmidt and Bender Police Marksman 2 scope (my rifle scope of choice). 

The Brown Bess in Combat

Since Brown Bess has a smooth bore, there were a number of loads that were used in combat -- generally for a first shot. Follow-up shots were inevitably one ball, because of the time involved. You can double-shot a Brown Bess and since the gas does escape around the balls, the danger of a barrel explosion due to pressure is reduced. With a double shot load you would use something like a 2F powder because you want a slower burn. The standard powder charge is 3F.  With a double shot load you achieve what modern shooters would call a "substantive double tap" with wound channel dispersion for maximum effect. (Two spaced holes instead of one)

Buck and Ball was popular with the colonists during the War for American Independence. There are a number of buck and ball variations, but usually it involved 3 or 4 buckshot (.38-.45 caliber) and a .70 caliber ball. At close range, it was devastating, pushing about 1000 grains of lead out of the barrel. Then or now, it's completely lethal.

The British, French, Austrians, Dutch, Germans and Spanish who fought land wars in Europe usually fought with regiments of 200 men, firing 200 musket balls per unaimed volley at a generally equal numbers of opponents at roughly 100-50 meters. Based on what I've read, the casualty count per volley (keeping in mind that every hit turns out to be a kill because they bled to death) was 3-5. The closer the formations were, the higher the effectiveness of volley fire. Drilled Americans during the Revolution - who ALWAYS fought in the European pattern despite myths furthered by modern education - occasionally managed to bring down 6-10 per volley because drilled  and trained Continentals tended to aim. After a few volleys, hopefully the enemy was demoralized enough that a successful bayonet attack could be launched, and the infantry closed for the kill. Once a bayonet was fixed on the musket, it couldn't be reloaded in combat and effectively became a spear.

There is no way to treat a lunger bayonet injury even today. It's a triangular bayonet that inflicts a horrible wound. World War 1 trench knives were in the lunger pattern for that reason.

During the Siege of Boston, George Washington armed most of the Continental Army with pikes/spears because he had a shortage of muskets. At first blush, a spear would seem to be an inferior weapon to a musket, however there isn't much difference between a hand spear and a Musket at close range.

Through the American Revolution, British sergeants often carried pikes in lieu of muskets because they handled more easily in hand-to-hand combat than the musket did. In a regimental formation the youngest officer, an ensign, usually held the colors and on one side you'd find a sergeant with a pike, a sergeant with a blunderbuss on the other.  The blunderbuss (short shotgun - something like 6 gauge) was also used by grenadier flanking companies (who carried hand grenades and a blunderbuss). The Brown Bess was large and unwieldy for men throwing hand grenades.

Example of Drill
The Movie, "Barry Lyndon" by Stanley Kubric

Example of Combat

An Irish/British regiment advances (with unloaded muskets) with fixed bayonets on a French regiment that is firing muskets during The Seven Years War. It's a very well executed and realistic combat sequence. The French used the Charleville Musket (similar to the Brown Bess).

During combat the musicians followed the main formation and acted as stretcher bearers. In both sequences, above, they are playing "The British Grenadiers".

Example of Close Combat with Irregular Forces
(Last of the Mohicans by Michael Mann)

If you were to buy this DVD, I recommend the "Director's Cut".

Tomahawk and war club at close range don't need a lengthy reload when action is close and hot.

During the French and Indian War, the British (35th and 60th Regiments of Foot) surrendered Fort William Henry to the French and were allowed to leave with the honors of war (they kept their colors, muskets and one piece of artillery). As they left the area, the Ottawa and Huron attacked the British and a few Mohawks.
Historians disagree on the number killed, but of 2,300 who left the fort, modern reconstructions of actual events suggest that as many as 1,500 British died in the encounter. Other historians hold that only a couple hundred died, but it was the last time in that war that the British accepted surrender terms from the French. General Montcalm, commanding the French forces tried to restrain his Indian allies but failed in the effort. Montcalm was killed while commanding the defense of Quebec later in that war.
Both of these movies reflect the use of muskets in a very realistic and compelling way, illustrating their strengths and weaknesses in the period they were used in combat.

In the Americas during the French and Indian War, British Major Robert Rogers (Roger's Rangers) and others realized the need to adapt tactics to the situations they were presented with, which didn't aways mirror those found in Europe. Many regular officers looked down on Rogers for adopting unconventional (but) effective tactics in which men under his command wore buckskin or green uniforms, cut off about 2 feet from the barrels of their Brown Bess Muskets, didn't use bayonets and traded them in for tomahawks.

The Rifle

Though the rifle was used by the Americans during the Revolution (and later by the British in other campaigns when the musket was king of the battlefield), they took a long time to load and were prone to fouling, which meant that after half a dozen shots, the shooter needed to clean the bore. Their range made them effective sniping weapons but undesirable main formation weapons. The patched round ball was "effective" to around 150 meters. The were accurate further than that but the velocity of the projectile dropped.

The Percussion Cap replaced the flintlock, making ignition of the powder charge almost a sure thing (if you kept the weapon clean) even in wet conditions and the era of the flintlock weapon for military applications ended. As mentioned above, many remained in service in private homes.

The rifled muskets of the American Civil War (100 years after the French and Indian War) combined a percussion cap, rifling and a conical mini-ball (which replaced the round ball). Those weapons were accurate to two or three hundred meters in the hands of a crack shot, but the tactics of the American Revolution had not changed. This accounted for some of vast casualties of that war.
However, in wars of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, disease killed many more men than gunshots did.
The change in the effectiveness of rifled artillery, and the weapons employed by infantry soldiers during the American Civil War/Crimean War saw the introduction of trench warfare as typified by the battle of Petersburg, Virginia, which was very different than anything seen previously.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Looking out of the door the Suez Canal.


I stole this from The Daily Timewaster. Since we all thieve from each other at times to fill our blogs, I'm unapologetic. 

What if US States were redrawn to all have equal populations:

The States of Shiprock and Salt Lake would appeal to me. You can throw in Ogalalla and Phoenix for good measure. The rest could do for themselves. The Liberals wouldn't care. It's just fly over country.

Rose Garden Hill near Moab, UT

I'd guess that if that was the case, the Liberals wouldn't even want to visit, what with that whole vast region being an 'open carry' state with no Second Amendment restrictions. Two massive conservative states in the middle of the country would make Barack and Hillary uneasy -- and Harry Reid would have to worry about relocating or finding himself an actual job.

I think that the Federal Government could allow that part of the country fund its own education and not worry about issuing food stamps. Oh, sure, they'd suck up the Federal Income Tax -- but I think that the people would be fine without ObamaCare and an abortion clinic on every corner. The area is oil-independent and has all of the fresh water and fertile land that it needs. There wouldn't be all that much "interstate commerce" for the feds to regulate.

I'm sure that you'd see a "well run militia" in those new states.

Colorado Recall - One Perspective

concentrated mist
a clear jewel on a leaf point
a river begins

The shot heard 'round Colorado (more here). Two plumbers start the movement.

The Biden Defense
Gun control advocates sent a message through Colorado, cheered on by Vice President Joe (Slow Joe) Biden directly, and President Obama -- from afar. The message was that politicians could vote for gun control measures without fear of career ending reprisals from their constituents. 

Voters responded and removed two Colorado politicians -- with more to potentially follow. And while the anti-firearms legislation that the legislature passed is still on the books, the gun control orgy is dead in Colorado and the legislation will quietly go away as the Democratic majorities in the Colorado House and Senate privately consider their careers. Politicians, to be obvious about it, value survival. They're not inclined to take stands on issues that put them at odds with their constituents, and they don't like to wade into divisive debates that rile people up but don't win them votes. And they listen when their colleagues are cast from office by angry voters.

John Morse and Angela Giron are no longer state legislators. They no longer have jobs. They no longer lap from the trough. And that lesson is not lost on the rest of Colorado's legislators. John Morse, former president of the Colorado State Senate, no longer presides.

There had never been a successful recall vote in the history of Colorado. But that changed when a couple of patriots began a movement.

John Morse (no longer a politician - left) and friend