How Gangs Took Over Prisons

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

California had prisons for nearly a century before the first documented gang — or security threat group — appeared, but now gangs run prisons — and the street, too:

Another common misconception about prison gangs is that they are simply street gangs that have been locked up. The story of their origins, however, is closer to the opposite: the Mexican Mafia, for example, was born at Deuel Vocational Institution, in Tracy, California, in 1956, and only later did that group, and others, become a presence on the streets. Today, the relation of the street to the cellblock is symbiotic. “The young guys on the street look to the gang members inside as role models,” says Charles Dangerfield, a former prison guard who now heads California’s Gang Task Force, in Sacramento. “Getting sentenced to prison is like being called up to the majors.”

But Skarbek says the prison gangs serve another function for street criminals. In a 2011 paper in American Political Science Review, he proposed that prison is a necessary enforcement mechanism for drug crime on the outside. If everyone in the criminal underworld will go to prison eventually, or has a close relationship with someone who will, and if everybody knows that gangs control the fate of all inmates, then criminals on the street will be afraid to cross gang members there, because at some point they, or someone they know, will have to pay on the inside. Under this model, prison gangs are the courts and sheriffs for people whose business is too shady to be able to count on justice from the usual sources. Using data from federal indictments of members of the Mexican Mafia, and other legal documents, Skarbek found that the control of prisons by gangs leads to smoother transactions in the outside criminal world.

Gangs effect this justice on the inside in part by circulating a “bad-news list,” or BNL. If your name is on a BNL, gang members are to attack you on sight — perhaps because you stole from an affiliate on the outside, or because you failed to repay a drug debt, or because you’re suspected of ratting someone out. Skarbek says one sign that the BNL is a rationally deployed tool, rather than just a haphazard vengeance mechanism, is that gangs are fastidious about removing names from the list when debts are paid.

Well-Trained Squads

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

When DePuy arrived to lead a battalion in Budingen in the mid-50s, it was just as if it was the day after World War II:

Nothing had changed. The weapons were the same and the terrain was the same. So, I just felt very much at home. As I looked at the training of the battalion, which was as good as any of the battalions over there, I found that at the squad level it was a shambles, just like my battalion had been in World War II. At the platoon level, it was a little bit better. The company commanders were better. They had good potential. So, I decided to spend my time at the bottom. Now, that is when I first applied the overwatch — at least under that terminology. I had an opportunity when I was at corps to go over and watch 2nd Armored Division tank training under General Howze.* In my opinion, General Howze was the best trainer in the Army. Unfortunately, he wasn’t appreciated the way he should have been. Everything that he had written about how to train a tank platoon struck me as precisely the way to train a rifle squad since each of them have two operating sections or teams. So, I wrote up several little booklets which we used as training manuals and doctrine in that battalion. I trained all of the squads and platoons uniformly. I personally tested them all. I tested every squad three or four times. I used to spend days and weeks out there with those squads. I knew every squad leader well — both his good points and bad points. They got very, very good.

The other thing I brought with me from World War II was that I insisted that when the battalion was dug in, you couldn’t see it from the front. All of my colleagues had come from Korea, and they built big forts. When you got out in front, you could see everything. Well, one of the problems that I had was that the umpires who came to test me thought I was crazy. They didn’t understand why I hadn’t built Korean pillboxes on the military crest or at the bottom of the hill. Instead, I had my guys behind rocks, trees and bushes. I wouldn’t let them disturb the bushes, but made them dig in behind them, so you couldn’t see a thing from the front.

Well, to make a long story short, when I took my first annual training test at Wildflecken, the first thing we did was the defense, and all of the company and platoon umpires ran back to the battalion umpire and said, “This battalion is totally unsatisfactory. They don’t know how to dig in.” So, the battalion umpire came and told me that, and I said, “Okay, stop. Go and get the regimental commander, we’re going to have a little talk.” This was very ironic because the fellow testing me, Colonel Claude Baker, was the man who had previously commanded my battalion. I had taken over from him, and now he was testing me. But, he was a hell of a good man. He had been in the 5th Regimental Combat Team in Korea and was a terrific fighter. We talked it over, and he agreed one hundred percent with what we were doing. He got all his umpires together and instructed them. They also were skeptical about the overwatch, and bounding, and all of that. Anyhow, we took the test, and we got a low score. We got 80 on a scale of 100. Well, it turned out that when the year was over, 80 was the high score in the corps, but it was a hard way to get started.

The point of all this is, that if your squads are well-trained, and you know that they are doing one of three things, then you can visualize how much space they take. And, if the platoons are trained the same way, everything is uniform. Now, there is plenty of room for initiative on the part of the leaders to adapt this to the terrain and to the enemy, but at least you know what it is that they are working with. And, the battalion ran just like a clock. The problem was that it was about a decade or two ahead of its time. That sounds a little egotistical, but that’s exactly right, because if you went out and looked at a rifle squad or a platoon today, you would see exactly that. If you looked at the defensive positions, you would see what you knew in Vietnam as the DePuy foxhole, where they all had frontal cover and were all camouflaged. So, that’s what happened to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry.

Testing Battalions

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

In 1953 Gen. DePuy ended up back in Europe, testing battalions:

It was very strenuous because each one of those tests lasted for a day and a half. We didn’t get any sleep and then, after one day of rest, we would test another battalion. I went through a little over 20 battalions each year. I watched people do it right, and I watched people do it wrong. I saw a lot more do it wrong than I saw do it right. I was struck by the fact that those who had commanded battalions in war were something like five times as good and those who hadn’t. I blamed a little of that on Leavenworth, because the ones who hadn’t commanded in war, more or less took a passive attitude, and waited for voluminous recommendations from their staff. With all of that going on, there was never time enough to move the troops, or to let them dig in, or to do all of the things that they had to do. They were always late, or lost, or mixed-up in one way or another. Now, the guys who previously had commanded battalions, more or less made up their own minds, and the staff ran around behind them and made it work. They gave the troops plenty of time to move and to dig in, which made it a lot better.

Catastrophe 1914

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

While reading Catastrophe 1914, by Max Hastings, Vox Day has noticed a few things:

  1. Civilian leadership usually appoints the wrong commanders.
  2. The main thing lacking in military leaders, from the highest level to the lowest, is a willingness to accept the risk of defeat. Nothing assures failure like indecisiveness.
  3. Advances in communications technology increases the amount of civilian interference into war operations.
  4. Civilian leadership seldom has a clear objective in mind.
  5. Military commanders regard “the book” as an intrinsic excuse and therefore have a tendency to cling to it.
  6. A historian’s take on a given war is strongly influenced by his nationalist sympathies.
  7. The temptation to interfere with a strategic plan once it is put into action appears to be almost overwhelming.

A1 Intelligence

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

After the war, DePuy found himself working as an attaché in Hungary, where he stumbled into intelligence:

I did have one experience in Hungary which almost changed the whole pattern of my life. It almost turned me into the intelligence game permanently — something that I did not want. We really were not trained to collect information in a clandestine manner although at the time, Eastern Europe was a boiling pot of clandestine activity. We military chaps were amateurs. But, one day we received a message from Washington to go to Mohacs to report on the Danube bridge which the Germans had dropped in late 1944, as the Russians started their envelopment of Budapest. Some intelligence analyst in Washington was trying to complete the book — there was one being compiled on each country — and there were reports that the bridge was being rebuilt. So, one sunny autumn day in 1949, I put on my Air Force fur collared flight jacket — no hat — civilian trousers and shirt, and stirred up my Hungarian jeep driver — a blond crew cut chap in a field jacket with no hat — and we drove south to Mohacs.

Mohacs, by the way, is the site of the defeat of the Hungarian Army by the Turks. It lies 10 miles or so west of the main highway into Budapest from the southeast, which is the link with Rumania along the north bank of the Danube, and with Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia. It is about 75 miles south of Budapest. The trip down was uneventful and the bridge, it turned out, was not being rebuilt. As we returned to the main road leading north to Budapest, we encountered a Russian military convoy proceeding north. It consisted of US jeeps, 2 1 /2-ton trucks, stake and platform 10-ton trucks, plus artillery and towed antitank guns. The convoy seemingly was endless. So, as we sat there at the road junction, we counted the vehicles and recorded bumper numbers. The march units were closed up but there were gaps between serials. After an hour we became impatient and pulled into a gap. The only identification on our jeep was a small 6 by 8 inch enamel US flag on the right base of the windshield. Fortunately, we looked like all of the Russian jeeps in the convoy. Anyway, about 30 miles up the road, the column turned into a huge forested area on the right or east of the highway. A large group of officers and MPs were on the road and there was no way we could avoid turning in so we tucked up close behind a 2 1 /2-ton truck and scooted in with the convoy. The delegation on the road looked at us hard but didn’t stop us.

Inside the forest the road swept around in a large circle. We were moving counterclockwise. To the right, at intervals of perhaps 200 to 300 yards, were parking areas and bivouacs, most of them occupied with Russian troops and equipment. After about a mile, the element we were following turned into one of these areas and we were alone on the circular inner road — and a bit nervous I might add. Soon we came up behind a Budapest municipal water sprinkler wetting down the road. We could see no way out except to follow the circular road. It led us by tank parks, artillery parks, and command posts with lots of radio antennae, etcetera. I kept notes and counted everything. Lo and behold, we finally came back to the point near the main highway where we had entered. The MPs were still there and we chose not to exit through them so we started our second trip around the circuit. After more counting and more nervousness we reached the far side of the circle and found a small firebreak road which we followed to the east. It finally took us out of the forest and we found back roads which led to the main highway north of the Russian encampment.

In the legation I stayed up most of the night preparing a very voluminous and detailed report. In those days we had a book of Russian bumper numbers which identified divisions and regiments. It turned out that we had seen ninety percent of the 17th Guards Mechanized Division moving from the USSR to Hungary in preparation for the invasion of Yugoslavia from the north. In those days we had no satellite photography or other coverage. My report on a scale of A to F for reliability of the source, and 1 to 5 for accuracy of the information, was rated A1 . For a short time I became the darling of the US intelligence community. It nearly did me in professionally. It nearly sucked me into the intelligence business permanently, but after one tour with the Central Intelligence Agency, I was able to squirm out of an assignment to G-2, US Army, Europe (USAREUR), in 1952, and resume my career as a tactical officer with infantry units and staffs.

Tracking Tease

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Weapons Man got a call from some friends who tried out a new Tracking Point smart rifle, and it lives up to the hype:

  • Best packaged gun any of them had ever seen. In the gunsmith’s experience, that’s out of thousands of new guns.
  • First shot, cold bore, no attempt to zero, 350 meters, IPSC sized metal silhouette: “ding!” They all laughed like maniacs. It does what the ads say.
  • By the day’s end, the least experienced long-range shooter, who’d never fired a round at over 200 meters, was hitting moving silhouettes at 850 yards.

Playing the Steppe Warfare Game

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The only way to dismantle a nomadic empire is to play the steppe warfare game as well as they do:

That meant changing both the strategic aims and tactical principles Chinese armies usually relied on in extended campaigns. Sunzi’s judgment that “one who excels in employing the military subjugates other people’s armies without engaging in battle, captures people’s fortified cities without attacking them, and destroys other people’s states without prolonged fighting. He must fight under Heaven with the paramount aim of ‘preservation’” was sensible in the context it was written — a world of agrarian warfare in an interstate system of two dozen petty kingdoms that lacked the means to sustain extended operations — but it was suicidal on the steppe. “Preservation” cannot be the paramount aim of an army operating on the steppe. A nomad that gets away is a nomad that will fight you on a later day. Conversely, nomadic peoples had very little in terms of lands, cities, or possessions worth plundering or preserving. A nomadic empire’s greatest wealth was its people. Warfare between nomadic confederations were ultimately wars over people, where one side would do everything in its power to slaughter as much as the enemy as they could and capture, forcibly resettle, and incorporate into their own military anybody left over.

The Han followed the same basic strategy. The aim of generals like Wei Qing and Huo Qubing was to kill every single man, woman and child they came across and by doing so instill such terror in their enemies that tribes would surrender en masse upon their arrival. By trapping the Xiongnu into one bloody slug match after another the Han forced them into a grinding war of attrition that favored the side with the larger population reserves. The Xiongnu were unprepared for such carnage in their own lands; within the first decade of the conflict the Han’s sudden attacks forced the Xiongnu to retreat from their homeland in the Ordos to the steppes of northern Mongolia. Then came a sustained — and successful — effort to apply the same sort of pressure on the Xiongnu’s allies and vassals in Turkestan and Fergana. By sacking oasis towns and massacring tribes to the east, the Han were able to terrorize the peoples of Turkestan into switching their allegiance to China or declare their independence from the Xiongnu.

The Xiongnu were left isolated north of the Orkhorn. Under constant military pressure and cut off from the goods they had always extorted from agrarian peoples in China and Turkestan, the Xiongnu political elite began to fracture. A series of succession crises and weak leaders ensued; by 58 BC the Xiongnu’s domain had fallen into open civil war. It was one of the aspiring claimants to the title of Chanyu that this conflict produced who traveled to Chang’an, accepted the Han’s suzerainty, and ended eighty years of war between the Han and the Xiongnu.

How did the Chinese transform an enemy whose realm stretched thousands of miles across Inner Asia into a mere tributary vassal? They did it through eighty years of flame and blood and terror. Any narrative of Han-Xiongnu relations that passes over these sixty years of grueling warfare is a dishonest depiction of the times.

The infantry is a sensor

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The infantry is a sensor, Gen. DePuy explains:

One of the comments that I’ve made has infuriated the Infantry School. Now, I don’t blame them for being infuriated, but I honestly concluded at the end of World War II, when I soberly considered what I had accomplished, that I had moved the forward observers of the artillery across France and Germany. In other words, my battalion was the means by which Field Artillery forward observers were moved to the next piece of high ground. Once you had a forward observer on a piece of ground, he could call up five to ten battalions of artillery and that meant you had moved combat power to the next observation point — more combat power than the light infantry could dispose of. Now, you needed the infantry to do that. You needed the infantry to protect them, but the combat power came from this other source, and I think that trend has accelerated ever since. I think the infantry has the dirtiest job of them all. But, if you want to be rigorously analytical about what you’re really trying to do, it’s trying to move combat power forward to destroy the enemy, and the combat power that you are moving forward has been, in the past, mostly artillery, and that is even more true today. The infantry has a lot of ears and a lot of eyeballs. Now, it can call forward even more artillery fire and different kinds of munitions — Cannon Launched Guided Projectiles (CLGPs), the Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAMs), Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICMs), high explosive (HE), smoke, and illumination, and soon they will also have terminally guided anti-armor munitions. The infantry is a sensor. It’s a sensory organization that works into the fabric of the terrain and the enemy, and can call in all of this firepower — including artillery and TAC air that can really do the killing.

The Best Tactical Training

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

After the Bulge came the best tactical training a US Army officer could ask for:

I suppose the best tactical training that people ever got without any great jeopardy and just enough casualties to make it exciting and serious, was as a result of the fighting we did from the end of the Battle of the Bulge to the end of the war.

There were many actions, all fought at the company and battalion level. We were mounted in trucks and had five tanks and five tank destroyers. Hopefully, the direct support artillery was in range. It was a small self-contained battalion task force. You were expected to pursue the Germans, and you fought a lot of small engagements. Each one was different. The terrain was different, the enemy weapons and strengths were different, and the circumstances were different, but the mission was always the same — to go.

Now, to me, that’s the best training anybody ever got in the world. You can almost tell which people had that experience, particularly the people who were battalion commanders and had enough force to play with, and who had an independent mission in a zone of their own. The company commander was under the control of the battalion commander, right? The regimental commander just assigned zones. So, it was a battalion commander’s war at that time.

Well, one of the things that had been impressed upon me by that time, was that we weren’t getting any direct fire suppression. We just weren’t very good at that, and by that time, you see, we were outrunning much of our artillery. We never had more than about one battalion of artillery available because we were moving too fast. So, we no longer tried to suppress only with indirect fire. My heavy weapons company, “D” Company, had six mortars and eight heavy machine guns.

I didn’t think that was enough so I took .50 caliber machine guns from the trains and made a big .50 caliber platoon. Then I would attach the three heavy machine gun platoons to a single company. And, every time we would become involved in one of these little battles, wherever it was, I’d put that company in an overwatch position. I didn’t call it overwatch then. I didn’t know that word at the time. I put it in a base of fire. The commander had eight heavy machine guns, six .50 caliber machine guns, and the light machine guns of that company, and he had the company to protect it and to help move it. So, two companies were my maneuver companies, and one company was my fire support company, my base of fire company. I’ll tell you, it really was marvelous. They just overwhelmed anything that we ran up against. My regret is that it took so long to figure that out.

Pin him down with direct fire and move around him by maneuver. The serious war was really over by the time we got smart. I always used to maneuver with the tanks and overwatch with the tank destroyers. If it was a little village, if it was the corner of the woods, if it was a hill with brush on it, whatever or wherever it was, we’d just smother it with fire and get total fire superiority. Then, we’d move around the flank and go get ‘em — usually from the rear. Almost without exception they’d all come out yelling “Kamerad, Kamerad.” It was the only way I could figure out how to get firepower out of a light infantry battalion.

I would have loved to command a tank battalion or an armored task force. That’s why the mechanized infantry squad, which we were discussing earlier, can be very small, because it can operate in the fire envelope of the armored task force. If it’s a tank company with a mech platoon, we’re only talking about 15 or 20 men who are going to get out on foot to fight, but what we’ve got is about 10 or 12 tanks and about four Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) with automatic weapons on them that can totally suppress that woodline or those buildings.

The Han Logistics Machine

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

The logistics machine the Han created to defeat the Xiongnu is one of the marvels of the ancient world, T. Greer explains:

Each of the Han’s campaigns was a feat worthy of Alexander. Alexander only pushed to India once. The Han launched these campaigns year after year for decades. The sheer expanse of the conflict is staggering; Han armies ranged from Fergana to Manchuria, theaters 3,000 miles apart. Each campaign required the mobilization of tens of thousands of men and double the number of animals.

Close Air Support in WWII

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Gen. DePuy describes how close air support worked in World War II:

Well, generally, we didn’t have any close air support. They didn’t have a system back then like we have now. There was no tactical air control system. When we first went to Mayenne and to Le Mans, they had Air Force officers in trucks with radios with our two lead battalions. That was the only time in the war that I saw that — the only time! They talked to the fighters, the P-47s and P-51s, and got them to attack the German tanks and troops that the column ran into. It worked pretty well. In fact, it worked very well. I think flights were rotated over the head of the column, more or less, as a result of preplanning, and when they got there the Air Force officers on the ground would pick them up by radio and direct them in on the target. This was Task Force Weaver. We had priority because this was the breakout from Normandy.

Another story. Across the Saar, I needed some emergency resupply. In order to do that I had to call back to my regiment on the other side of the river and have them go to division. Division went all the way back to the XIX TAC, which was a part of the Ninth Air Force working with Third Army. They launched fighters that had ammo and medicine packed in the wing tanks. They flew up to where we were and found the corner of the woods where we had put out a couple of fluorescent panels in the form of a cross. We had asked that they drop it in the corner of the woods, northwest of the panel, and they did. So, that was sort of remote control. But, other than that, I don’t remember any close air support. The first real use of close air support was in Korea. The Air Force made its money in WWII by armed reconnaissance. It just went out and killed everything it saw.

Apparently [the Germans did have close air support] in Russia, particularly with the Stukas. The Stukas had radios that could talk to a regiment on the ground. They did that a lot, which was closer to close air support than what we had. But, they didn’t use Stukas against the Western Allies because Stukas couldn’t survive against our fighters. Stukas could survive against Russian fighters but they couldn’t survive against P-47s, P-51s, Hurricanes, and Spitfires. So, they didn’t use them at all against us.

Flying Cavalry Column

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Wei Qing and his nephew Huo Qubing achieved the first victories against the steppe nomads by using a flying cavalry column. T. Greer cites Sima Qian’s description:

The Han strategists plotted together, saying, “Zhao Xin, the marquis of Xi, who is acting as adviser to the Shanyu is convinced that, since the Xiongnu are living North of the desert, the Han forces can never reach them.” They therefore agreed to fatten the horses on grain and send out a force of 100,000 cavalry, along with 140,000 horses to carry baggage and other equipment (this in addition to the horses provided for transporting provisions). They ordered the force to split up into two groups commanded by the general in chief Wei Qing and the general of swift cavalry Huo Qubing. The former was to ride out of Dingxiang and the latter out of Dai; it was agreed that the entire force would cross the desert and attack the Xiongnu.

….Wei Qing’s army, having traveled 1,000 li [aprox 310 miles; 644 km] beyond the border, emerged from the desert just at the point where the Shanyu was waiting. Spying the Shanyu’s forces, Wei Qing likewise pitched camp and waited. He ordered the armored wagons to be ranged in a circle about the camp and at the same time sent out 5,000 cavalry to attack the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu dispatched some 10,000 of their own cavalry to meet the attack. Just as the sun was setting, a great wind arose, whirling dust into the faces of them until the two armies could no longer see each other. The Chinese then dispatched more men to swoop out to the left and the right and surround the Shanyu. When the Shanyu perceived how numerous the Han soldiers were and perceived that the men and horses were still in strong fighting condition, he realized that he could win no advantage in battle…. And accompanied by several hundred of his finest horsemen, broke through the Han encirclement and fled to the northwest…. All in all Wei Qing killed or captured 10,00 of the enemy, He then proceeded to Zhao Xin’s fort at Mt. Tianyan, where he seized the Xiongnu’s supplies of grain and feasted his men. He and his army remained there only a day, however, and then setting fire to the remaining grain, began the journey home.

Meanwhile Huo Qubing with his 50,000 cavalry rode more than 1,000 li north from Dai and Youbeiping and attacked the forces of the Wise King of the Left. He was accompanied by a force of carriages and baggage similar to what traveled with Wei Qing’s army, but had no subordinate generals beneath him…. When Huo Qubing’s army returned to the capital the emperor issued an edict which read: “The general of swift cavalry Huo Qubing has led forth the trips and personally commanded a force of barbarians captured in previous campaigns, carrying with him only light provisions and crossing the great dessert. Fording the Huozhangqu, he executed the enemy leader Bijuqi and then turned to strike at the enemy general of the left, cutting down his pennants and seizing his war drums. He crossed over Mt. Lihou, forded the Gonglu, captured the Tuntou king, the Han king, and one other, as well as eighty generals, ministers, household administrators, and chief commandments of the enemy… He seized a great multitude of the enemy, taking 70,443 captives while only three tenths of his own men were lost in the campaign.

A New US Army Air Corp

Friday, September 12th, 2014

The President has said that he will destroy the Caliphate, but there hasn’t been much shock or awe yet, Jerry Pournelle notes:

Of course one can only send what one has. What is really needed is Delta Force ground units with several squadrons of Warthogs (A-10 Thunderbolt). Actually, P-47 Thunderbolts would do, but we don’t have any of those. Ground units with adequate sir support under and air supremacy umbrella is generally successful in any kind of war, whether the enemy is the Wehrmacht of the North Vietnamese Army of 1972 when it invaded the South. Note that in that campaign, the North Vietnamese lost over 100,000 in killed, disabled, or captured; the US lost under 500 troops total in battles involving more enemy armor than many World War II engagements.

What is really needed is to form a new United States Army Air Corps with a 3-star general in command; its mission would be to design, develop, procure, train, and generally plan operations of air weapons suitable for support of the field army. That structure would provide a career path for those who wish to specialize in air/ground war. Of course USAF will never allow this, although they don’t understand or want the ground support operations mission, even though that is what is decisive in this kind of war.

USAF has one of the world’s best civil engineering capabilities: they build and operate bases. Perhaps the Army could borrow USAF construction units to build bases in Peshmurga controlled Iraq; the Army would have to provide security. Under present USAF/US Army turf treaties, the Army has to use helicopters, which are far more vulnerable to ground based opposition. This gives hot USAF pilots more missions, since air supremacy (which includes elimination of ground based anti-air weapons) is an Air Force specialty and they are very good at it. The problem is that when it comes to any budget crises, it’s the Thunderbolts that go first, leaving the Army stuck with vulnerable helicopters.

An American ground/air expeditionary force with unified command structure sounds like the Marines, but they don’t have optimum ground army support aircraft either.

Four squadrons of Warthogs and a regiment of Green Berets would eliminate the Caliphate in short order, recapturing or destroying the expensive weapons we gave the ineffective Iraqi forces which threw them down in their retreat from ISIS. Of course it would be hard on the areas that must be reconquered, but so is occupation by the Caliphate.

Regarding the President’s speech, in the wake of our operations since Benghazi, I am not sure that the Caliphate has been impressed. Had dawn come up over Iraq to reveal massive air strikes including carpet bombing by B-52’s, along with a maximum effort from Navy and Marine aircraft, the result might be different.

We have Delta Force, the CIA teams, and the Green Beret forces; we have ground support aircraft, and we have an Air Force that, once it is told unmistakably that the mission is to support our Legionnaires who will guide the Peshmerga, can do this job. Of course that is expensive. Perhaps we can take some of the profits from the oil fields we will liberate. I am sure the Kurds will be glad to share that revenue with us. And the sight of a US-Kurdish cooperative venture resulting in victory should provide a salutary lesson to the new Iraqi government – as well as give Iran something to think about.

Of course nothing of this sort will happen under President Obama. One does wonder what Vice President Biden would do if put in charge. At least he has said that we will pursue the Caliphate to the gates of Hell.

The Forward Slope

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Gen. DePuy recommends against having troops dig in on the forward slope:

After the Bulge had collapsed and we started back to the east, we crossed a series of rivers. When we got up between the Prum and the Kyll Rivers, we encountered a very high open ridge. One of my company commanders put his “C” Company out in the snow on a bare forward slope. They dug in and everyplace they dug they made dark doughnuts in the snow. On the other side of the river there was another ridge. On top of that ridge were some German
assault guns, and they waited until the company commander had all of his troopers scattered around in their foxholes on the forward slope, and then, they just started firing with their two assault guns. It was murder. Finally, after they killed and wounded maybe 20 men in that company, the rest of them just got up and bolted out of there and went over to the reverse slope, which is where they belonged in the first place. So, being on a forward slope when the enemy has direct fire weapons, high velocity direct fire weapons, is suicide. And, every time I went to Germany, I tried to convince Blanchard and the 1st Armored Division, the 3rd Armored Division, and the 3rd Division, at Hohenfels, of that. But, time after time, I’d find them all lined up in exposed, uncamouflaged, half-finished positions right within the sights of a Russian T-62 tank. It’s suicide unless they have frontal cover and are camouflaged. A trench is better. You see, a trench is a superior solution to that. And, a lot of people, the North Koreans, the South Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Russians, and some Germans, use trenches. The Arabs, the Egyptians, the Syrians and the Israelis, sometimes use trenches. Why? Because you don’t know where they are when they’re in the trenches. When you are trying to shoot at people in a trench line, you have to ask yourself, “What part of a trench line do I shoot at?” You can waste a lot of ammunition trying to suppress a trench. But, trying to suppress clearly visible American foxholes or bunkers with high velocity weapons is a Cakewalk. It’s suicide to go into battle like that. But, our Army as a whole, doesn’t know that.

Neighborhood Deprivation

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Do bad neighborhoods cause crime? Nope:

Background A number of studies suggest associations between neighbourhood characteristics and criminality during adolescence and young adulthood. However, the causality of such neighbourhood effects remains uncertain.

Methods We followed all children born in Sweden from 1975–1989 who lived in its three largest cities by the age of 15 years and for whom complete information was available about individual and contextual factors (N = 303 465). All biological siblings were identified in the sample (N = 179 099). Generalized linear mixed-effects models were used to assess the effect of neighbourhood deprivation on violent criminality and substance misuse between the ages of 15 and 20 years, while taking into account the cross-classified data structure (i.e. siblings in the same families attending different schools and living in different neighbourhoods at age 15).

Results In the crude model, an increase of 1 SD in neighbourhood deprivation was associated with a 57% increase in the odds of being convicted of a violent crime (95% CI 52%–63%). The effect was greatly attenuated when adjustment was made for a number of observed confounders (OR 1.09, 95% CI 1.06–1.11). When we additionally adjusted for unobserved familial confounders, the effect
was no longer present (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.84–1.10). Similar results were observed for substance misuse. The results were not due to poor variability either between neighbourhoods or within families.

Conclusions We found that the adverse effect of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse in Sweden was not consistent with a causal inference. Instead, our findings highlight the need to control for familial confounding in multilevel studies of criminality and substance misuse.