Once More Into the Breach, Dear Friends?

American and UK flags flying together

We have spent most of last week trying to explain to Europe why we are quite happy with the election of Donald Trump. As I reflect on what we have said, and read, it struck me that one cannot understand this intellectually. At one point I was asked if I identify as Anglo-Saxon.

Well in a sense, I am heir to that legacy in self-government, and more. But I also combine it with the Viking traditions of my ancestry, and with the specific American ethos. None of these lead to a quiet, and calm citizenry. There is a reason why the Anglosphere is what it is, we are pretty much all this way, if you scratch beneath the surface.

I think this post, written in 2014, explains us fairly well.


On 26 September 1580, a ship docked in Portsmouth, England. That wasn’t unusual, then as now it was one of England’s great ports. But this particular docking would echo through history. For this was the Golden Hind, returning from the first circumnavigation of the world by a non-Spaniard. Soon the captain, Francis Drake, would be knighted on the ship’s deck, by Queen Elizabeth I, and in a few years he would play a key role in the Battle with the Armada.

Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, did some things that are important to this story, he established the Royal Navy, for the first time it became a force that was always ready. And he took England out of the Roman Church, which allowed her to go her own way, mostly looking outward, and not being involved with European politics as much as before.

But the reason this echoes so loudly in history wasn’t evident that day or even after the Armada had been stood off. It started to become apparent when England went to war with its King in the Civil War and even more so when the second chapter of that war saw the end of the first Empire, and the establishment of the United States.

Because what Sir Francis Drake accomplished that day in Portsmouth, was nothing less than the founding of the modern world, with all its freedom. If you look around at the world we live in. A world without legal slavery, where we are governed by our consent through objective law, and all the rest, you will find something surprising. It is all an English invention. It took England about 800 hundred years to put it together, and the rest of us in western civilization mostly copied it. Too often we forget that as Lady Astor somewhat unfairly said, our revolution was simply, “English freemen fighting against a German King for English rights”.

But now, in 2014, we are watching in horror as an evil group of thugs, misappropriate a religion, Islam, for the purpose of enforcing their will on the world. Nobody can claim they don’t aim high, at any rate.

anglosphere1But once again, the main obstacle between these thugs and their victory are the English Speaking Peoples. We are the ones that could have stopped Hitler easily in say 1934, but we were tired and worried about making a living. We paid for that mistake later, but Hitler and his henchman caused a holocaust of unparalleled scope in Europe. We learned from that and managed to face down Stalin and his successors without ending the world. But as the Soviet Union self-destructed, we declared it the end of history. We should have known better, evil never sleeps, it always looks for room to expand.

And so, we were attacked, in New York, and in London as the new century started, and we responded, as we always have. But this time we tried a kinder, gentler form of war, and attempted to make it easy on the local population, and to help them become like us. It seems as if it may have been a mistake.

The Hollow Men 5And so, here we are, with the weakest leadership our country has had since we entered the world stage in about 1900. They seem to have no clue what to do next.

That’s not surprising, the president has spent his entire life voting present while denigrating the military. Nor has he ever either led or managed anything. And yet, we elected him, twice. I guess we were/are tired of war.

But is war tired of us?

In business, as in war, one must have a strategy (an overriding plan). It seems to me, with an enemy as close to pure evil as ISIS, the only reasonable objective is to destroy it, root and branch, as we did the Nazis.

One level down from that is how are you going to accomplish your goal. Well, kids that’s why we have a military, and all its planners. We knew (and so did the British) on 7 December 1941 the broad outline of how we were going to fight World War Two. It was called RAINBOW. And we went on to execute it, and win, unconditionally. This is a specialized area of planning, and politicians are well advised to leave it to the military, just as I don’t tell a journeyman how to do his job. Give him the tools, and tell him what needs to be done.

And the same is true for tactics, if the guys in the field want an A-10 don’t send a B-2, at least if you can help it. In many ways our forces are best used as a force multiplier, they can do things no one else in the world can do. But a rifleman is basically a rifleman, whether he’s from London, Omaha, or Baghdad.

But the key thing here is, as it always is, the will of the people, and especially the leadership, and that is what worries me. When Obama said these guys are the JV, he spoke the truth, but the JV is much better than the girls 5th grade team, especially if they know that to lose is to die. And the JV will win if the varsity doesn’t show up.

But neither is that preordained, we have not only agency over ourselves but over what we do for and to others, for we are free people, and we are sovereign over our governments. For nearly five hundred years we, the English Speaking Peoples, have built the modern world in our image. We have endowed it with most of the comforts, including a full belly, that we innovated, and with the possibility of making oneself free to act in one own best interest. And so the question becomes, “Have we become too soft, too self-centered, to act once again for the good against evil, or will we once again rise to the challenge to make the world a better place, for ourselves, certainly, but also for others, whom we will never meet or know?”

And some of our nationalities have won their fame with all of us

For a long time now, they have been known as “The Ladies from Hell”, and they have earned it, from friend and foe alike, by their uncompromising stand, for freedom from oppression, no matter the odds.

But this isn’t “proud Edward’s power, with slavery and chains”. This is a bunch of ragtag so-called terrorists, who are really no more than well armed bullies. Are we, the guarantors of freedom for five hundred years really going to sit back while they murder and enslave ancient civilizations? All Europe will do is finance them by paying ransom but, our people learned about that long ago, when we found out how hard it is to get rid of the Dane when you pay the Danegeld.

A bit more than seventy years ago, a guy by the name of Hitler, said he would wring England’s neck like a chicken. Churchill said “Some Chicken, some neck”. A friend of mine, an Englishmen reminded me yesterday that we are the same people who Churchill was speaking of. Maybe we should begin acting like it again.

When have we ever not heeded this call

Truly, it is time to once again

And this explains, above all reasons, why the west is free,

and why Donald Trump will be President, and England shall be free.

Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

Thinks he's qualified to tell the United States what to do

Thinks he’s qualified to tell the United States what to do

Well! I guess we’ve been warned.

During his campaign, Trump was strongly critical of the agreement that saw Iran agree to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions on its oil industry and finances.

In September 2015, the billionaire told a crowd: ‘Any commander-in-chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared to stand up on 20 January 2017 [inauguration day] and rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.’

He also called the deal a ‘disaster’ and ‘the worst deal ever negotiated’.

This has led to panic among US allies in the Gulf, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan has claimed.

via Iran’s defense minister: Trump could trigger “world war” and “destruction” of Israel if he provokes Iran

And so the Jackals circle and whine. My thought is that if Iran is hell-bent on having a war with the United States and our allies, as it has seemed since the 70s, then it would be best (least bad, really) to just do it now, before they get nuclear weapons. Ambitious sods, aren’t they? One remembers that Saddam’s Iraq fought this bunch to a stand still for 10 years, I see little to make me think they have learned anything.

Still, I suppose if they want to try this on, at some point we will have to accommodate them, even if to us it looks like a waste of blood (mostly theirs) and treasure. We do have maritime trade, and our allies, including Israel to protect, and maybe a sharp lesson would be salutary for others as well.

For me, the key lessons from the last 16 or so years are these.

  1. Think hard, before voluntarily going to war, it’s almost never a good idea.
  2. We have no mandate to fix every problem in the world. We do have allies we’ve pledged to defend.
  3. If one must fight, fight hard and win decisively.
  4. This ain’t the Pottery Barn, if we didn’t start the war, we have no obligation whatever to clean up the mess, or pay for it. We may choose to do so if we reckon it’s in our interest, but it’s voluntary. You want to play with the big kids, well the big kid rules are in play.

What’s in an Armorer’s Toolkit?

sartk_label_unskewed-624x426This is pretty interesting , well, at least to those of us who claim to be able to fix things. From Weaponsman, who knows a helluva lot more about fixing weapons than I do.

Well, currently, the Army has a thing they call the SARTK, Small Arms Repairman’s Tool Kit. Since we didn’t find a link to it on the public intertubes, we made you one. After all, your tax dollars bought these things, NSN 5180-01-559-5181, for approximately six to ten thousand dollars each.  They are assembled by Armstrong Tool Group, a division of Apex Tools, and most of the tools are Armstrong brand. All the tools are made in the USA (required under protectionist legislation)

I’m guessing it looks pretty much like this, which is a civilian Armstrong set in a Pelican case, pretty nice set. $3,289.34 on Amazon

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That seems fair enough to me, I grew up in a company that was required to buy everything US made as well. Far as I’m concerned if you value your time, you do that anyway, although I’d guess the Europeans make some good ones too. And my experience says that Armstrong tools aren’t bad, roughly what Craftsmen was fifty years ago, good enough for most uses, but not really top line like Snap-on or Wright Tools either. In any case, here’s what’s in the plastic box.

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The kit itself is contained in a molded plastic (probably something like nylon 6/6) case with seven drawers, and custom inserts to hold the required tools. Inside, there’s a list of what goes in each drawer, although the custom cutouts for the tools make it readily apparent where a tool you have out goes. This derives from normal military and aviation tool control practice. (Leaving the tool out not only risks losing the tool, but risks screwing up the machine it’s left in or on. Few machines digest tool steel well).

Yep, almost all of us organize our tools in some similar way, foam inserts, racks, or pegboard. It saves tons of time and reduces losses more than you can imagine.

He goes on to speak of how the box is organized and such, in some detail, which you should read. And then he says this

Most of the stuff in the kit, it turns out, is not very exotic, and is not firearms specific. Indeed, most of the stuff we use to build an AR is not included, and one wonders what use a lot of half-inch sockets are whilst working on small arms.

Boy howdy, did I wonder that! In fact, this would be a great kit for a homeowner who wants to maintain his own car. And yes, even I know that there are a lot of specific tools, which make working on guns much easier. Heck, there are special tools for all fields, and often the are what makes a pro so much more productive, safer too.

These are quality tools, but you could put together a matching tool kit for far less money, even buying US-made-only (or EU only, if that’s how you roll) tools.

via What’s in an Armorer’s Toolkit? | WeaponsMan

Far less, well, I would hope so. Mucking about at Wright tools, I looked at their largest set. 1136 pieces including roll cabinet, although likely without as much organizational stuff, since in the civilian world, we tend to do that our way.

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Quit drooling on your screen, guys!

Now, mind you this set isn’t designed for maintaining and repairing small arms, It’s likely designed to work on cars and heavy trucks, not to mention industrial maintenance. Thing is, Wright tools are arguably the very best of American tools, not only made in America but made of American steel. (Yes, if you want to give me that set for Christmas, I’ll be glad to give you my address!) 🙂 So how much does this set cost? About $20,000, depending on where you buy it. And that is one of the major problems with military procurement, they end up, because of their systems, spending far too much for many things they buy, especially if there is a civilian equivalent. I don’t really know the answer to that problem, but we should be able to do better.

Mind you, this looks a lot like a boondoggle, but I strongly doubt there’s corruption involved here, it’s simply that the military is willing to pay too much for what they buy, and experience says when one is buying a tool set, the manufacturer loads you up with what makes him the most money (that may explain those ½” sockets). And often, having that NSN (NATO Stock Number) turns into a license to print money.

 

Well Said, Sir

 

No comment necessary

But you know, the Admiral’s speech wasn’t bad either.

 

Pearl Harbor Day, 75 Years on

uss_arizona_memorialWe often talk of World War II, it was a major series of events in American and world history, as long as those survivors were in charge, things were better than ever, as they leave the stage, we are seeming to come face-to-face with the fact that they went too easy on us, and the discipline to succeed in the real world appears to be lacking. We need to look back and take the lesson that America was taught starting today, 75 years ago.

75 years ago today, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. We were thus thrust onto center stage of the 20th Century’s biggest conflict and the most clear-cut war for liberty in the history of the world. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices made by that generation, who are now leaving us at a very rapid pace. They saved the world for freedom, this would be a very good day to thank them. In this video, I want you to listen to the resolve of Franklin Roosevelt, in it, you will learn much about leadership in a free country.

This is how an American President responds to an attack on the homeland.

The forward magazines of the U.S. Navy battles...

The Arizona at Pearl Harbor: Image via Wikipedia

We all know (or should) that behind them the Japanese attackers left 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. One of them the USS Arizona is still there, minus her hull, still to this day leaking oil and designated as both an American Military Cemetery and the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

The Japanese fleet also left behind it the most implacable foe there is, the determined and united people of the United States. ADM Halsey’s comment is an indicator: “When this war is over, Japanese will be spoken only in Hell”. It nearly came to that. The casualty projections for the invasion of Japan ran to over 1 Million American casualties only, the only other alternatives were for the Navy to starve the entire country while the Air Force burned it down. Every American (and Japanese) should thank their God for the Atom Bomb for this was the future it prevented. And as the Confederate Air Force has said: “There would have been no Hiroshima without Pearl Harbor”.

It probably should be noted that nearly the entire Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Australian Navy, as well as the US Atlantic Fleet, were in the process of joining the US Pacific fleet, which had long since become (by far) the most powerful fleet in the history of the world. Also transhipping were the Allied armies that had defeated Nazi Germany. Götterdämmerung had come for the Japanese as it had for the Germans before them. The implacable free people of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Philippine Islands, and even Soviet Russia had made the world (mostly) free, again.

We live in a world shaped by tragedies inflicted on the United States, 9/11 has been very influential in our lives but, Pearl Harbor is even more so. It taught us again that freedom is never free, if we don’t defend it, it will pass as it did, for a time, for many of our allies. It also taught us that when America leads anything is possible.

English: General Douglas MacArthur signs as Su...

The Surrender in Tokyo Bay: Image via Wikipedia

The Pacific Campaign was marked by a series of terrible battles in some of the most inhospitable of climates. Who can forget the battles that followed Pearl Harbor: Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, The Mitchell raid, Corregidor and the Bataan Death march, Midway, the Marianas, Tarawa, the Liberation of the Philippines, Iwo Jima and the flag, Okinawa, and that final scene in Tokyo Bay, where MacArthur and Wainwright accepted the Japanese surrender on the deck of one of the most powerful battleships ever built: The USS Missouri.  All of this happened in only 44 Months.

English: "Remember December 7th" US ...

Image via Wikipedia

People my age knew the men who fought all those battles, they were our heroes. Combat may not have been realistic but it fired our admiration. Ensign George Gay, the sole survivor of Torpron 8 at Midway, grew up about 10 miles from where I did. They deserve our memories today because 75 years ago they started the counterattack that built the free (and mostly peaceful) world we have known all our life. We seldom remember that the Pax Americana has mostly held since 1945, we owe a debt to those men (and women), our parents (and mostly grandparents now) that we will never be able to repay except by keeping the peace and freedom they won.

We Don’t Need You Guys Anymore and St Barbera

1-_mzoec5laodpkm-ovxhbeaAt the Reagan National Defense Forum, former Vice-President Dick Cheney did a panel with CNN’s Barbera Starr. Pretty good stuff from one of the deep thinkers about defense. Here’s the bit we all like:

I think he needs to be careful but he’ll learn as he goes along. I think he is putting some brains and good people with him. I am a big fan of Mike Pence. I know Mike well from his 12 years in the House and I think he’s a great choice as Vice President. He’s going to play a major role. I think Mr. Trump is taking very, very seriously the job that he has gotten now. Staffing up the administration.

I think one of the reasons people get so concerned about the tweets is it is sort of a way around the press. He doesn’t have to rely upon, uh, rely upon — this is the modern era, modern technology. He’s at the point where we don’t need you guys anymore. Here’s the video

via Cheney To CNN’s Barbara Starr: Trump Took Us To Point Where We Don’t Need You Guys Anymore | Video | RealClearPolitics

And speaking of Barbera, December fourth was the feast day of St. Barbera, the patron saint of the Field Artillery. Here’s the story from War is Boring

Legend has is that Dioscorus, a wealthy fourth-century pagan living in what is now Turkey, locked his daughter Barbara in a tower to shelter her from the world.

His plan didn’t work. Barbara converted to Christianity and reconstructed a bath house Dioscorus had built for her, modifying it so its windows would form a trinity of light. In a rage, Dioscurus murdered Barbara before “he was struck down and consumed by a blinding flash of lightning,” the 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division explained on its website.

Why the 11th Marine Regiment — an artillery unit — is interested in the legend of Saint Barbara, recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, is part of a curious but long-standing tradition among artillery troops in Europe and North America.

“Barbara came to be regarded as the sainted patroness of those in danger from thunderstorms, fire, explosions that is to say, sudden death,” the U.S. Field Artillery Association noted. “Given the questionable reliability of early cannon misfires, muzzle bursts and exploding weapons were not uncommon — it is easy to see why our predecessors sought the protection of Saint Barbara.”

“She has protected us well ever since.”

via: Raise a Toast to the Patron Saint of Field Artillery

In atonement, here is my favorite recipe for Artillery Punch.

Artillery Punch

by Laurie Helmich

 

1 pound sugar                    1 quart champagne

3 lemons                           1 quart Old Jamaica Rum

2 oranges                          1-quart sherry

1-quart strong tea              2-pint brandy

 

Put sugar in the bowl, add grated rind of three lemons, juice of two lemons, juice of two oranges, pour in boiling tea. Cover and cool. When cool, add rum, sherry, and brandy. Chill. When ready to serve, add champagne. Dilute with one or two quarts of soda for other branches of service.

 

The preceding recipe courtesy of the Officers’ Wives’ Cookbook, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

It is also recommended that your Aide is prepared to lead your horse home.

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