Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember those who are overseas in our country's service.  Drink a toast today to those that have gone on before us and tell a story or two about them in their honor.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rumor has it....

That the SERPA holster is now standard issue at USSOCOM....

Big friggin' sigh followed by head banging on the wall.

Posting from Blackwater err....US Training Center. I am here for the
Kyle Defoor Advanced Carbine Class.

British newspaper article on the SA80

You click here

Not exactly....complimentary

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Actual friggin' data on the SA80

  From our buddy Failure2Stop,  Not actually a formal write up per se (one is coming once he catches his breath from setting up classes and whatnot) but rather this was a rebuttal to folks with very little operational knowledge of bullpups other than "ZOMG!  I hate the AR/M4 because I had to clean it in the US military and bullpups LOOK so freaking cool!"

 And with that being said, step up to the fountain of knowledge......  Note the level of detail.

The SA80 is a poor design and prone to a lot of problems. The M16/M4 isn't superior in ALL regards, be it is in MOST of them 
When dudes raised on the SA80 switch over to M4s (and even the M16A4 fence-post) they love them, especially when I show them the versatility of the system. 
It is heavy. It feels like an AK, weight-wise. It is primarily constructed from stamped sheet metal. 
The trigger has serious issues, and under a heavy firing schedule are prone to failing. I have personally seen three guns go down almost simultaneously with the same problem. 
The handguard has a mounting screw that goes through the gas-block on the barrel which makes the gun very susceptable to POI change due to pressure on the handguard from aggressive hold, VFG use, or supported positions. This is not changed with the DD handguards- which have their own problems. They are prone to loosening of the retention screws (one through the gas-block and one that presses into the front of the receiver), which results in drastic POI variance. The gas block is exposed, and it happens to be right where the support hand wants to be for good front-end control. The top rail is lower than the top of the gas-block which severely limits a 12:00 light mount. 
It is highly trigger sensitive and prone to having consistently low groups during rapid fire or rapid trigger manipulation. 
It is no more accurate than an M16 or M4 when compared with similar optics. 
The line of sight over bore is really high, especially when using a piggybacked MRD. 
The NATO rail is severely lacking. 
The SUSAT is a nightmare.  
I have not seen the magazine well bend. However, I have seen what we would call the "lower receiver" (TMH here) bow outward which results in the magazine over-seating (like crappy 10 round 1911 mags do) during speed reloads. 
The weapon can be fired left-handed, but only if you are very very careful and have a laser. 
The rearward weight distribution makes the gun bouncy during multi-shot engagements and auto. I can hold 20 rounds on an IPSC on FA (full auto)with an M4A1, about 10 to 12 with the SA80. 
The lack of adjustability of the LOP (length of pull) makes the gun sub-optimal for CQB. Everybody touts the thing for being so short, but the LOP is barely shorter than an M16A2. Combined with the zero amount of eye-relief of the SUSAT; CQB work with it when wearing armor sucks unless you want to rely solely on the laser (if you get one) or until the ACOGS come in (which have a MRD piggy-backed). The long LOP prevents the 3-man from carrying in the high port, which results in a less than speedy 3-man's gun in the room/fight. 
It is virtually unusable with a single-point sling though the issue 3-point essentially configures into a single point, it isn't really. The sling sucks hard, but that will probably be a non-issue since we do have options. 
The pistol grip is uncomfortable unless, get this, you hold it with all of your fingers. That's right- it's more comfortable to carry in a non-firing grip than with a finger straight and off the trigger. 
The position and type of safety requires the shooter to use the left hand to engage the safety. It's a cross-bolt safety just forward of the trigger guard. 
The mag catch is stiff and only operable with the left hand. 
The placement of the mag release and charging handle (left side and right side, respectively) means that you have to flip the gun back and forth for stoppage reduction instead of just canting it and running it. The bolt-catch is handy though. Unfortunately, the bolt release is tiny and requires a bit of dexterity to consistently manipulate it. 
The short handguard makes it impossible the grip out on the rail where you are most efficient, but you have to hit the safety with the left hand anyway, so it's just a forced compromise anyway. It feels like a pan of water during SOM (shooting on the move). 
The trigger mechanism is slightly less complicated than the interior of a combine harvester, and prone to all kinds of fouling and unnecessary play, resulting in a great trigger (sarcasm). 
The buttstock is ribbed, but doesn't stick in place during firing like a decent stock should. It is also heavily curved which makes running in the frontal pocket with armor more difficult than it needs to be. 
You need two hands to work the gun and a functioning right side hand, arm, and clear line of sight to the right eye. This implies a lot of of failure points when in unconventional positions.
I taught the lead urban combat course in both marksmanship and tactics in the UK to instructor-level personnel from everywhere from SFSG to FPGRM. To a man they are senior and all have multiple tours in Iraq and the 'Ghan. I work with senior guys, guys that have been around and done stuff, many of which carried weapons systems other than the SA80. All of them are vocal about the fact that the SA80 needs to go away and be replaced with something that is actually made to fight with.  
Yes, we are using A2s. There are no A1s, as they were all upgraded to the A2 configuration. Yes, I know the difference. 
The SA80 is a bit better with the ACOG, but it doesn't do a damned thing about the problems with the system. The mount is a weak point. The ACOG needs to be cantilevered forward with the mount due to the rail being too short, and there are numerous accounts of a dropped rifle breaking or bending the mount. Implying that system would be fixed with an optic is grasping for straws and trying to obscure the real issues. 
I have sufficient experience in CQB to say that the short overall length of the SA80 is not an advantage over an M4, especially considering that the length of pull is not adjustable. Most movements within the enclosure will be done from a compressed position with the barrel pointing either upward or down. Virtually no actions will be taken with the gun up unless covering a danger area or threat, in which case the shorter OAL does nothing. Indexing the gun sucks since the bolt travel will cause the cocking handle to strike the bicep if brought into an under-arm position, which means that I can actually make the M4 protrude a shorter distance and still be usable for extremely close contact. I have hopped into and out of vehicles a few times and I can positively say that the SA80 is barely better than a SAM-R (USMC's version of the Mk11 SPR essentially), and no better than an M4 in those conditions. 
Why can't people be honest about things like guns? The SA80 is a POS. A better gun backed by better training would yield a better result. Why don't people want that to happen? As it is, HK is running out of SA80 receivers (I forgot to note, they are prone to cracking), which means that the MOD (Ministry of Defense) will have to accelerate their selection of a new system. I know this because I was in a tri-service (British) meeting about the topic.

Gunny Honey Badger

Remember this post about my friend Master Sergeant Blanton?

Well, "Randall" of the Honey Badger video fame has recently narrated a video on the Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant or "Gunny" as they are affectionately known.

And guess who's in the video?  That's right, Master Sergeant Blanton back when he was a Gunny.  I contacted him about this and he confirmed that he indeed does not give a shit and had a cobra for lunch.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


  from a Marine buddy who's now out of the Corps and currently deployed overseas:

and where one man would stand alone, to defy an empire
and bring peace upon the land.  Even if afterwards he couldn't
find his pants and could barely remember the public officials that he

Miss ya, bro.  Stay safe.

Giving back to Veterans

  There's folks that say "thank you for your service "(much appreciated) and there's some that do a bit more.

  This past Veteran's Day; veterans showed up to combined handgun and carbine shooting clinic put on by Jack AKA "Failure2Stop" of F2SConsulting and Todd Green and his merry band of men from Pistol-Forum.  Volunteers, mind you.  As in free range time, as in offering use of a carbine and free ammo to a vet as documented here.  TCinVA is not the sort of guy that would mention his own generosity so I'm doing it for him.

  This is not the first time has done this sort of thing either.....  Not to mention a little somethingsomething prize for the wildly popular ongoing Drill of the Week.

  Folks, there's a new carbine instructor on the horizon.  A guy who literally wrote the book on the Marine Corps new combat marksmanship training and standards.  A guy loaned out to the Royal Marines for three years to show our buddies across the pond how we shoot small arms and to train them accordingly.  A guy who can tell you about making shots as a DM (Designated Marksman) whilst laid up behind concrete rubble that had a dead, green human hand sticking out.  One of the first military testers of the FN SCAR.  Taught CQB to the Royal Marines. Deployed to five different combat zones.

  Failure2Stop is getting ready to announce classes.  I'll be first in line.  He and I went shooting together.  It was one of those range sessions where you're thinking "I HATE shooting with this guy because he makes me feel like I can't shoot at all.  Sorta embarrassing.

  Here he is, shooting at Todd Green's Aim Fast Hit Fast class.  Note the three (count'em, 3!) cases in the air as he is back on target already.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bacon: Is there anything it can't do?

Wired article

 From the article:

A few pig cells, a single surgery and a rigorous daily workout: They’re the three ingredients that patients will need to re-grow fresh, functional slabs of their own muscle, courtesy of Pentagon-backed science that’s already being used to rebuild parts of people.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Driver's Ed and a gunman

  Words fail me.....

My brother's award writeup

  Here is a video of him in action

Summary Action: Corporal Name Withheld deployed as a Team Leader, Sniper Platoon, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II from 19 June 2004 to 11 January 2005. His technical and tactical knowledge of all facets of sniping far outpaced that of his peers. Corporal Name Withheld has truly mastered his military occupational specialty and serves as the example of a Marine Scout Sniper to be emulated. Although junior in rank, Corporal Name Withheld's input was sought out and highly influential in the planning and execution of countless reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S), counter-improvised explosive device (IED), counter-mortar, clandestine, and urban combat operations prior to the assault on the enemy stronghold City of Fallujah. Corporal Name Withheld was in receipt of IDP during this period.

As the Team Leader, Corporal Name Withheld excelled in his duties with minimal supervision. Corporal Name Withheld was consistently entrusted to plan, coordinate, execute, and supervise independent reconnaissance and surveillance, raid support, and precision fire operations. Often operating far from friendly lines in a hostile environment, Corporal Name Withheld's command of his Scout Sniper Team has instilled a high regard for their attention to detail and outstanding work ethic while executing assigned missions. As a testament to his success as a leader, Corporal Name Withheld has led his Scout Sniper Team on over 100 combat missions during this deployment without enemy compromise.

Corporal Name Withheld's performance during high intensity urban combat operations in support of Operation AL FAJR, the Battle for Fallujah, was heroic and exemplary: 

On 9 November, the Battalion commenced offensive combat operations into the enemy stronghold City of Fallujah. Corporal Name Withheld and his two-man Scout Sniper Team were attached in support of 2d Platoon, Company I, as they cleared south through their assigned sector. Occupying a rooftop in order to provide overwatch and supportive precision fires, Corporal Name Withheld's team observed a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) team maneuvering 450 yards down an adjacent alleyway. The Scout Sniper Team also observed a M1A1 tank 200 yards down the same alleyway, but with its turret oriented away from the maneuvering RPG team. Corporal Name Withheld immediately engaged and eliminated two of the three enemy insurgents in the RPG team. Corporal Name Withheld's actions directly contributed to a weakened enemy and potentially prevented loss of friendly personnel and equipment.

Later that day, Corporal Name Withheld occupied an overwatch position from which he could support the Company with precision fires and achieve a commanding position from which to coordinate, direct, control, and adjust supporting indirect fires. As the Company reached Main Supply Route (MSR) Elizabeth, they were ambushed and pinned down by enemy RPG, sniper, and mortar fire. Despite being under direct RPG, and small arms fire, and proximity mortar fire, Corporal Name Withheld identified an enemy sniper firing from a mosque 450 meters from his position. With a skillfully placed shot to the head from his SR-25 sniper rifle, Corporal Name Withheld eliminated the sniper threat, directly contributing to the platoon's ability to medically evacuate casualties, reorganize, and continue its offensive clearing operations south.

On 10 November, Corporal Name Withheld positioned his two-man Scout Sniper Team to cover the exposed eastern flank of Company I as they pushed south through Fallujah. Occupying the roof of a building to establish an overwatch position for the advancing Company, they began to take heavy small arms fire, temporarily pinning down the Scout Sniper Team. As rounds impacted all around them, the two-man team returned fire. While the team's squad automatic weapon (SAW) gunner suppressed an insurgent firing at them with an RPK machine gun, Corporal Name Withheld skillfully eliminated another target firing an AK-47 rifle at them with a single, well-placed shot to the chest. With rounds from the RPK continuing to impact around their position, the two Marines repositioned themselves on the roof and coordinated suppression from the SAW, coupled with precision fires from Corporal Name Withheld's sniper rifle. Despite having a round ricochet off his helmet, Corporal Name Withheld, with great skill and presence of mind, eliminated the insurgent with a single, well-placed shot, effectively eliminating the threat to the two-man team and advancing Company I. 

On 13 November, while supporting 2d Platoon, Company I, in its assault south through Fallujah, Corporal Name Withheld occupied a rooftop overwatch position to provide precision fires for each of the two squads moving through the block of houses on either side of his position. From his position, Corporal Name Withheld observed a five-man RPG team moving from a house and into a back alley, attempting to maneuver on the advancing platoon. Simultaneously, Corporal Name Withheld heard radio traffic from one of the squads stating that the area Corporal Name Withheld had just observed activity in was secure. Recognizing the situation's potential danger, Corporal Name Withheld contacted the platoon commander, reported the insurgent activity, and then tactically guided the squad to attack the house the insurgents had occupied while continuing to provide supporting overwatch. As a result of Corporal Name Withheld's presence of mind, six insurgents - two with RPG launchers - were eliminated. Corporal Name Withheld's actions undoubtedly prevented the platoon from bypassing the alley, which would have left the Company's rear exposed to RPG attacks. 

While occupying an observation post forward of Company I's defense on 14 November, Corporal Name Withheld identified an insurgent rally point in the southwestern corner of Queens. Corporal Name Withheld maneuvered his Scout Sniper Team into a position from which they could engage the insurgents. At 550 yards, Corporal Name Withheld eliminated three of the four insurgents with well-placed shots to the head. Utilizing available indirect fire assets, Corporal Name Withheld directed and adjusted mortar fires onto the target, destroying the bunkered position and killing the fourth insurgent. 

On 1 December, Company I was tasked with establishing a screenline along Phase Line Henry in southern Queens in order to identify and eliminate enemy insurgents attempting to infiltrate from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines' sector into Company I's sector. After two days of observation, Corporal Name Withheld and his team observed a friendly logistics train broken down along Phase Line Henry. After an hour of providing overwatch for the halted convoy, Corporal Name Withheld observed two armed insurgents attempting to maneuver into an ambush position to engage the Marines. After multiple attempts to contact the logistics train via radio and inform them of the situation, Corporal Name Withheld engaged and killed both insurgents, eliminating the threat. Corporal Name Withheld's initiative in the absence of specific direction undoubtedly prevented the enemy from inflicting casualties on friendly forces. 

During the Battalion's final push south through Queens, Corporal Name Withheld observed five armed insurgents attempting to occupy a fighting position in a courtyard. With little more than inches available as a shooting lane, Corporal Name Withheld engaged and killed three of the five insurgents at a distance of more than 300 meters, as they ran past the narrow opening. Shortly thereafter, the platoon Corporal Name Withheld was supporting radioed him reporting that they had seen an insurgent run into a house and asked if he had positive observation. Carefully searching, Corporal Name Withheld was able to acquire the enemy through a three-inch crack in the wall. With one skillfully placed shot, Corporal Name Withheld eliminated the insurgent with a single round to the head. Later inspection revealed that the insurgent had barricaded himself inside the house and was preparing to fight any Marines entering the building to the death. Corporal Name Withheld's proficiency undoubtedly again prevented the enemy from inflicting casualties on friendly forces.

Although wounded early during combat operations, Corporal Name Withheld's enduring combat leadership, relentless offensive spirit, effectiveness under fire, and dedication to duty directly contributed 18 confirmed dead enemy combatants. He is extremely deserving and enthusiastically recommended for the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat "V". 

The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized. 

Recommended Citation: 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another laconic hero

  Tam noticed that yesterday's post on Master Sergeant Blanton had a bit of warrior laconism.

  Well, here's a bit more and it's close to home for me as it's from my little brother.

  At 1:50, watch for the reporter breathlessly exclaiming "it's a game of cat and mouse."

  My brother is the guy behind the SR-25 sniper rifle; a weapon he put to good use during the Second Battle of Fallujah.  There was a bounty on Marine Scout Sniper's heads.  The M40 standard issue bolt action Remington 700 based Marine sniper rifle had been reworked into the A3 "battle club" configuration by Quantico.  They took a very nice, fairly light, and easy handling sniper rifle and turned it into a ridiculously heavy tactical style benchrest rifle with superb accuracy.  My brother found out that you don't need sub MOA accuracy in urban sniping.  He found out that clearing a room with the SR-25 you have works in a pinch; a hell of a lot better than swapping out your heavy bolt action for an M4.  He found out that the insurgents couldn't differentiate between a regular grunt carrying an M4 and a Scout Sniper carrying an SR-25.

  What does he say when he acquires the target at 400 yards and prepares to make the shot?

 "Yeah, yeah."

  1:50 on the video.


Friday, November 11, 2011

I am the 1%

An interview with a hero in honor of Veteran's Day

Gunnery Sergeant (now Master Sergeant) Robert Blanton receiving Silver Star for heroics in combat in Iraq.

  Master Sergeant Blanton is a personal friend from over 10 years ago when we met working together as water survival instructors at the Force Recon training tank (pool).  His depth of knowledge, physical fitness, shooting skill, and generosity as a friend never fails to surprise me.

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Gunnery Sergeant Robert J. Blanton, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Platoon Sergeant, First Platoon, Company A, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), on 10 August 2008, in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM FY-08. As an element of Gunnery Sergeant Blanton's platoon began clearing what appeared to be an abandoned house, it became heavily engaged with enemy small arms fire from a strong point located inside the building. Gunnery Sergeant Blanton immediately repositioned his element's vehicles to support the engaged element. Bravely exposing himself to enemy fire, he dismounted his vehicle and began engaging insurgents as they presented themselves. Using initiative and quick thinking, Gunnery Sergeant Blanton returned to his vehicle and directed it to ram the building's outer wall in order to expose additional insurgents within the building. He then led a small group of Marines to clear the building and recover a wounded Marine trapped inside. During the recovery, Gunnery Sergeant Blanton courageously transitioned from his rifle to his pistol and began engaging insurgents located in close proximity to his position. Once the recovery was complete, Gunnery Sergeant Blanton coordinated with supporting aircraft on station to deliver precision guided munitions directly on the insurgent stronghold, effectively ending the engagement. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Blanton reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

By Cindy Fisher
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 14, 2009
The chaos for Gunnery Sgt. Robert J. Blanton continued long after the firefight. 
"That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was trying to remember everything that happened," the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marine said. He also tried to come to grips with losing Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke, 22. He was restless, reliving the battle with insurgents in the Al Jazeera Desert outside Baghdad.
"For a few of us, it’s like flipping through a photo album. OK, I remember that one, then I see another picture and try to place it and I remember now," Blanton said months after the Aug. 10, 2008, battle.
Some photos are out of focus and he struggles to put them in order. He recalls the battle lasting an hour and a half; others remember it as only 45 minutes. 
But, Blanton knows this: Had Ferschke not been on point, going into the house first, drawing the fire of about 10 insurgents and allowing the rest of his team to enter the room and return fire, the day would have been a lot deadlier for the Marines. 
"If Sgt. Ferschke hadn’t done what he did," Blanton said. "I’m pretty sure others would have lost their lives."
No sign of trouble 
The first days of August were hectic. First Platoon lived out of trucks while conducting counterinsurgency operations, said Capt. Luke Lazzo, 27, commander of Company A. 
Aug. 10, a Friday, was another blistering day in "a desolate, what looks to be forgotten, part of Iraq," said Sgt. Chris Bova, 21. Temperatures hovered in the 120s. 
By late afternoon, the team was looking for a place to bed down for the night, Sgt. Alexander Tice remembered 
"We were tired and pissed off," said Tice, 21. "It was so hot."
The team came upon an abandoned adobe out in the middle of nowhere — or something that could easily pass for it. As team leader, Ferschke decided it would be the last house they cleared before calling it a day. 
"We had been sweeping every house we passed," Bova said. "This was just as deserted as the rest of them." 
He remembers people were fishing on the lake a mile beyond the L-shaped house. Nothing unusual; no sign of trouble.
Tice, as point man, was usually first to enter buildings. 
"Every house before that, I was the first one in. But that day,[Ferschke] was just happy to be there and just went to the front," Tice said. 
The last moment Tice spoke with Ferschke is a crystal-clear shot in his "photo album" of the day — a moment he recounted with reddened eyes and a halting voice at Ferschke’s memorial on Camp Schwab in February. "He turned to me and smiled and said, ‘Let’s do this, boys." 
He went in. 
Ferschke was met with a hail of AK-47 fire, but plowed on to a corner of the room, drawing everything to him. 
"I don’t know how he didn’t fall," Tice said. 
"It was all that Monster (energy drink) he drank," Bova said, looking at Tice and chuckling. 
With the insurgents focused on Ferschke, the rest of the team made it to an opposing corner where they returned fire. The Marines were exposed while the enemy was firing AKs and throwing grenades from protected positions. 
Through the smoke and dust, Tice saw Ferschke go down. 
No time to be scared 
"We were outnumbered and outgunned," Tice said. 
He knew he had to get his guys out of there. Tice had the team fall back to their vehicles, returning fire on their way out. 
Soon, the rest of the platoon converged from the surrounding area. 
The radios came alive. 
They nailed down where Ferschke was "so they could direct their fire away from his position as no one knew if he was dead or not," Tice said. 
Though Tice didn’t talk about it, he was wounded as he returned fire to the enemy. 
"An enemy inside tossed a grenade out the door and he took fragments in his heel," Blanton remembered adding that Tice didn’t let that slow him down as he stayed in the fight till it was done.
It was the first firefight for all but four or five in the platoon. Everyone kept their cool, Tice recalled. 
"There wasn’t time to be scared." 
Sgt. George Callum dismounted, firing at insurgents and identifying targets for his Humvee’s main weapon. (Marines would not talk about the specific weapons they were using.) 
Blanton recalled Callum darting from one end of his vehicle to the other shooting the whole time. After the battle, Marines counted about 20 hits on the Humvee but Callum never took a hit, Blanton recounted with admiration. 
But the house, with its thick walls and small windows, proved to be an effective barricade for the insurgents. 
Blanton was in a 7-ton truck carrying the platoon’s supplies. He told the driver to ram the building. 
"That really opened it up," Bova recalled, leaning forward as he talked. 
As the driver of the 7-ton backed the truck out of the building about 40 feet, a suicide bomber boiled out of the house, headed for the 7-ton. 
Blanton thanked God for his truck’s design, which included door handles that were difficult to operate. The bomber couldn’t figure out how to open the door, he said. 
Cpl. James Bunney was in a vehicle to the left and rear of Blanton’s 7-ton. 
"He had a vantage point when the individual came out to try and gain access to our (truck)," Blanton recalled. 
Bunney took aim with his weapon and mowed the bomber down.
As the bomber slumped off the truck he detonated himself, an explosion that rocked the truck but did no damage to its interior.
"At that point, the adrenaline was up and we didn’t know what happened," Blanton said. The truck out of commission, it was time to slug it out at close range. 
Then, Blanton’s driver saw an insurgent in the building who was surrendering. 
"We took charge of that guy," Blanton recalled matter-of-factly. He helped secure the prisoner before getting back to the fight.
Callum moved from a covered position and a grenade went off several yards from him, knocking him down but leaving him unharmed.
Enemy fire let up a bit. Their thoughts turned to getting Ferschke out of there. 
Lazzo and Blanton led separate teams back into the building.
"All my thoughts were on getting him out as fast as we could," Lazzo said. 
Someone saw an insurgent priming a grenade amidst the rubble and yelled "Grenade." One Marine jumped from the building to avoid the blast, but Callum used his body to shield a fellow Marine. 
When they got to Ferschke, he was gone. 
After they got his body out of the building, Blanton called in close air support. Game over. 
As one Marine put it, it was a "trial by fire." 
‘You just do it’ 
"Everybody out there was exposed to enemy fire just trying to get the job done and defeat the enemy," Callum said with a shrug of his shoulders as he downplayed his actions. "We just focused on the job."
Several attributed their success — their survival — to training and muscle memory. 
"In extreme stress, you just go off. Your body just reacts from what it knows. It’s muscle memory," Bova said. 
"You work as a team. You don’t even think; you just do it," Tice added. 
Bova and Tice say there have been tougher battles in Iraq in the last few years, and tougher battles being fought in Afghanistan now.
If this had happened in 2006, it might not have attracted as much notice, Bova said. 
But their battle happened in 2008, a relatively quiet year in Iraq. And in the first four months of their seven-month deployment they had little interaction with the enemy, the two said. Stumbling on to an enemy cell like they did — and losing Ferschke — are what make this battle stand out, Tice and Bova said. 
But every servicemember knows that no matter how quiet it seems, it’s still a war zone, Bova said. 
"At every building, the adrenaline still goes up. You go from yellow to red. If you’re ever at green, you’re wrong," he asserted, leaning forward to make his point. 
Nine Marines were awarded Navy Commendations or Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals with "V" devices, one without the "V." Blanton received a Silver Star, and Lazzo and Callum were each awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" device for valor. Ferschke was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star with "V." 
Looking back, the memories are foggy, perhaps intentionally, Bova said shaking his head. It’s his way of coping. 
Tice and Blanton don’t have that luxury. For them, it’s still a photo album. 
"Some things, I don’t remember at all," Tice said looking away. "A lot of things are clear as day. Even now."

My Interview with Master Sergeant Blanton 

Q: Quick history of your career and schools attended?

A: 17 years in the Marines. 15 as a Recon operator.  2 years teaching CQB at Special Operations Training Group (SOTG), Okinawa, Japan.  The only school I haven’t been to is Ranger.

Q: Give us a rundown of the event in which you earned the Silver Star?

A: Clearing houses, got ambushed, rammed my vehicle through the house to
get one of my team leaders out, got attacked by a suicide bomber,
captured a guy and we killed 12.

Q: Please mention the troops that have made ultimate sacrifice that you'd
care to inform others about and also mention your mentors.

A: Any troop that has gone over there and died is worth mentioning, but
we were lucky to get a little retribution for our loss. I always felt
bad for the guys who lost a brother to an IED or sniper and not having
that satisfaction of an eye for an eye.  I was fortunate enough to start my reconnaissance career when there were still a lot of “old school” guys around. The guys who had the mentality of, “my reputation is on the line here, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to accomplish this mission” and they didn’t hesitate to “tune you up” if you needed it.

Q: Would you change any of your career choices if you could?

A: If I was smart enough to go to college, I would've tried the officer
route and been a pilot.  There was always something about waiting for
extract in the freezing rain, then getting the call that extract was
canceled because the pilots couldn't fly.

Q: Combat deployments and lessons learned from them?

A: Somalia – 94/95
OIF – 03
OIF – 05
OIF – 08
Lessons learned:
Nothing is more important than Combat Mindset, when firing into a house through the walls, aim low, because your enemy is hugging the ground, and guys really want to train and train hard. So if you sacrifice training, because you’re a libo (time off or liberty) hound, your guys will hate you.

Q: What schools shooting or otherwise helped the most in combat?

A: SOTG (Special Operations Training Group) shooting packages.  I did 4 of them while at 1st Force Recon.

Q: What are your lessons learned from combat operations both for the individual and unit?

A: As a unit, sometimes higher tries to drive you into doing it their way
when they have no idea what it looks like outside of the soda mess.  I
used to argue, now I say “roger that” then do it the right way when I
hit the ground.

Q: What is the biggest falsehood that you were taught in training that proved itself false in combat?

A: When I first started doing CQB, we were taught to fight from the
hallways, which are the tactics that LA Sheriffs and SWAT used.  In
combat, we figured out that standing in a hallway doesn't protect you
from the guy who sticks his AK around the corner and sprays.  So we
changed our tactics to fighting from rooms.

Q: 9mm and 5.56mm. Adequate?

A: 5.56 is sufficient, but I would prefer the 6.8 or a 7.62.  I will say
that the 5.56 has always done for me what I asked it too, it would
just be nice to have that little “extra” when the round makes contact.
9mm to me is a joke.  I'm a .45 guy all the way.

Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of shooting training in the military both in the units you've served in and what you've seen from other units?

A: Reconnaissance units get some of the best training the Marine Corps
has. Unfortunately, a lot of other units are restricted in their
training by a lack of experience for those instructing and safety
concerns by those in charge.  The rifle and pistol range as a means
of teaching shooting skills is a joke. I know it’s for marksmanship training,
but now they’ve started to implement combat shooting drills at the end and it's still pretty bad.

Q: What are your thoughts on the various weapons you've been issued
throughout your career?

A: I miss the MP-5 for its cool factor and ease of shooting, but I'm gladwe started using the M-4 for CQB.  I've never carried a side arm that was better than our modified MEU/SOC (1911) 45s.  
I'm very happy that the Marine Corps is getting away from bolt action sniper rifles and is starting to use gas operated ones.

Q: What changes has the Global War on Terror brought about with regards
to the training being given to new troops nowadays?

A: Training has become very Iraq/Afghanistan oriented. A lot of emphasis
is put on vehicle patrols and counter insurgency operations, which has
more to do with scaring them away, than engaging and eliminating them.
In reconnaissance, the “Green Side patrolling mission” was being lost
to everyone being a CQB god.  Towards the end of Iraq, most of the
missions were getting back to traditional reconnaissance, which was
screwing some guys up, because they had never done it.

Q: How much has physical fitness mattered in combat to you?

A: Physical fitness has always mattered to me, mostly in the sense that
when a team mate looks at me, I want him to have no doubts that I
would be able to drag/carry his ass out of any situation, or if he
needed me, I’d be there ready to fight, not trying to catch my breath.

Q: If you could teach a mindset to ready troops for combat, how would you
describe it and how would you teach it? Is there a school you've
attended that came close to this already?

A: While at SOTG (Marine Special Operations Training Group) I started teaching a Combat Mindset class.  Again, I don’t think anything is more important than your mindset.  I taught guys to constantly look at their surroundings and anticipate what could happen. When something does go down, even if it wasn’t exactly how you envisioned it, at least you already have your mind in the game and you can react faster than someone who was spacing out.

Q: Did fighting overseas bring home any revelations to you about America and its civilian population?

A: I enjoy talking to highly educated people, who are ignorant as can be.
No amount of education can teach you experience. I had a high school
friend on Facebook announce that people who don't believe Michael
Moore are scared of the truth.  I simply replied back that my opinions
are based from defending people in Somalia, delivering aid to those in
East Timor.  Helping the people in Indonesia two days after the tsunami
and the hundreds of smiles and hand shakes I've received in Iraq.  Then
I asked her how she got her opinions again? She de-friended me.

Q: What is paramount for a combat unit's weapons. Accuracy or
reliability? Define both according to your own standards.

A: You will never hit your target if your gun doesn’t shoot and with the
proper training you can learn and overcome a weapons inaccuracy, so I
would rather have a reliable weapon.

Q: Are today's troops overextended and overworked with the war on two
fronts? What does American need to do support its warfighters?

A: Yes, as a whole, troops are overworked. But I feel more for thefamilies back home who are dealing with day to day life AND wondering how their loved one is. To me that is way more stressful than being
outside the wire operating.America is behind us and I would really like to thank all the Viet Nam vets for leading the way on that. Every opportunity I get to thank a Viet Nam vet and share a drink with them, I’m on it.

Q: Would you rather see new and different rifles issued to our troops or more shooting training?

A: I would rather see better training. Training that focused more on weapon manipulation and malfunctions than accuracy.

Q: Based upon your experience with a Type 3 malfunction in an M4 and having to transition to secondary, do you think our regular infantry should all be carrying sidearms and be proficient in their use?

A: I don’t think the regular infantry has the time to train to the standard that makes a sidearm helpful, so only issuing them out to snipers and machine gunners is probably the best way to do it.

Q: What needs to change immediately regarding standard gear issue to infantry and Recon Marines?

A: We need to figure out a way to make light weight armor that moves with
the body and provides adequate coverage. It can get pretty ridiculous
with the amount of stuff we are required to wear. Almost to the point
where we’re not going to get hurt bad if we get hit, but we will get
hit because we can’t move fast enough to get out of the way. I am
thankful though that is has gotten a lot better over the years.
I would also like to see more in the way of Recon units using Sat
Phones for Comms versus all the computers and stuff we use now, and
every Marine should have a night vision device that can also see

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another stunning failure by SIG Sauer

Source letter (Dutch)  Translation graciously provided by "Korenwolf" of

Seems that the P250 has failed yet again after being dropped because of reliability problems with the FAMs (US Federal Air Marshalls).  Of course, SIG also failed at the BATFE handgun procurement competition due to.......reliability problems.

  One would think SIG would stop producing flashy junk and concentrate on quality but apparently three government contracts lost isn't enough of a hint, eh SIG?

Letter as sent to the Chairman of the Dutch House of Representatives

Date: November 8, 2011
Subject: Dissolution procurement agreement of new police service pistol.

Hereby I inform you that today I have with immediate effect decided to dissolve the agreement with the manufacturer of the new police service pistol, the company SIG-Sauer.

After the signing of the agreement the manufacturer prepared the pistol for mass production. Therefore the pistol had to be tested again. Furthermore the police had to test the pistol with the new police-cartridge (Action NP), as was communicated in the procurement procedure. This cartridge was only been available after the procurement and differs only minimally from the cartridge (Action 4) that was used during the procurement procedure. After the testing process was concluded three times with negative results the manufacturer was formally notified that it was not in compliance.
Unfortunately after the negative result of the fourth and last test it is found that the company SIG-Sauer cannot deliver the promised quality in mass production.

On the basis of the results of these tests I no longer find it responsible to continue with this pistol. There is no longer enough confidence in the quality of the pistol or in the capacity of the manufacturer to improve the quality or safeguard it. All this brings a risk to the safety of officers on the street. I have now delegated a (legal) review to examine the possibility of coming to an agreement with one of the other suppliers that has had their pistol operationally tested in the procurement procedure.

The replacement of the current police service pistol will be delayed by at least six months due to this. There will be new tests and a new retraining planning will be made. Till that time the current pistol (the Walther P5) will stay in use with the Dutch Police. The Glock 17s will stay in use with the police SWAT teams. The safety and operational deployability of these pistols is so far still guaranteed.

I will provide you with more information as soon as possible.

Minister of Security and Justice,
I.W. Opstelten