Drop by and see Drill Sgt. Rob over at "An American Solider." Graduation day is just past, and he's already got a retrospective on the cycle. It'll make any military man smile to read his reply to "PVT Krumme," and his tangent includes a story that had me telling my wife tales of fistfights past.
Our own Doc Russia urges us on in the attempt to defend our rights. I have also contacted my representatives and Senators, and urge everyone to do the same. I wrote the following letter, which differs sharply from the 'form letters' I have seen suggested. Therefore, I offer it for your consideration.
I trust that you do not need to be educated on the right to keep and bear arms. In case you may be wavering, however, please note this constituent's opinion: Sen. Feinstein's recent attempt to renew the ban on so-called 'assault weapons' must fail.
I am a regular voter, and shall be watching you closely in this regard. I trust that I can rely upon you do perform your duty to uphold the Second Amendment, but not so much that I will fail to attend to the vote.
You will have heard from the NRA that a study mandated by Congress, a follow-up study, federal surveys, and police reports have shown that these guns are rarely used in crime.
The truth is that this is beside the point. In the current age, when America's enemies directly target her civilian population, the old ideal of the citizen-soldier must be reborn. No police organization, nor any 'homeland security' device or legislation can be everywhere. We, the free citizens of a free republic, can be.
We are, in fact, everywhere that the enemy wishes to strike. We alone can defend the republic in all the weak and lonely places. We, acting as citizens, can defend the republic without endangering civil liberties through intrusive police powers. We must be able to equip ourselves to perform this civic duty.
Citizens must be called to their ancient duties--the same duties that have pertained to the free man since the time of Alfred the Great, of Richard the Lionheart, of Robert the Bruce, and of Washington and Jackson. We have both the right and the duty to uphold the republic and the common peace. We must also have the tools.
One of the problems of policing is that you can't be everywhere. You have to make some decisions about priority. You can police the suburbs, but if all the crime is downtown that may not be the best use of your time. On the other hand, if you spend all your money downtown, you may find the criminals moving their operations to the suburbs.
The same is true when trying to figure out how to set up a national defense against chemical and biological terror. It may be--in fact, it is--the case that some of these chemical and biological weapons present a greater danger than others. Rather than building up your defenses against all known agents, it's a better idea to determine which ones are the largest threat, and optimize defenses against those before you worry about the smaller-scale threats.
How do you judge the relative danger? There are a few useful questions. Just how deadly are chemical and biological weapons? How hard are they to make? If a terrorist wanted to get his hands on some, would he need specialized tools, or are there "dual use" technologies that could do the job?
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has written a report on chemical and biological terrorist threats that seeks to answer exactly those questions. It's apt to be driving the debates in Congress for quite a while. Follow the link and read up--you'll be better informed, and better able to keep your politicians from playing games in favor of doing what really needs to be done.
Readers of the Mudville Gazette will have seen this story on the joys of being a PRC POW:
"The Chinese army had always exercised 'revolutionary humanitarianism' towards war captives. Beat and curse were not allowed, nor a kick, because this were iron disciplines of an army. Chinese soldiers were forbidden from searching pockets of Americans, letting them keeping their cigarettes and other private items....Didn't know that the People's Republic of China was a paradise of human rights? You must have missed the article from a week or so ago, when we learned that the PRC is more respectful of religious rights than the US, too.
Our Volunteer cadres never beat or abused prisoners who made mistakes, but talked with them. If they really made serious mistakes, they would be placed in confinement, at most for one week.
JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) has proposed a new Real-time ISR system by 2008. ISR is an abbreviation for "Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance." It is part of C4ISR, which is itself a part of information operations generally. C4, in this case, is "Command, Control, Communications, Computers." When you add the two parts together, C4 & ISR, you get a mental model of how the military thinks about the information needs of the warfighter. (These things can be broken out in several ways; you'll people talk about C3I by itself, or C2I, or, as here, just ISR.)
The idea here is to develop a system, which warfighters can access, that will provide intelligence reports and SR data on a nearly to-the-minute basis. It doesn't take much imagination to see the benefit of having access to updated sat imagery, yesterday's reports from the DIA that may touch on your target, and maybe a scouting report from Marine Recon.
It seems to me that there are two critical challenges, one pratical and one technical. The practical challenge will be getting the intelligence aspects of this up to speed--intelligence products are analysis as much as information, and the analysis has to be done before the product is ready to be disseminated to the end-user. There will always be in any intelligence ops a competition between the desire to get these things out fast ("Hurry up with that report from al-Anbar province--we've got a series of ops there at 0200 Zulu!") versus getting things right ("Last week's reports were so rushed that we didn't notice two critical flaws, with the result that we lost men."). Putting things into a computer pipe increases the pressure for speed--think about how much less patient you are for news in the age of the Internet v. when you had to wait for tomorrow's morning paper ("Why aren't the results from the Belmont up yet? That race was over five minutes ago!"). Further, the analysis will have to be increasingly clear--they are talking about dissemination direct from DIA, not to a trained field intel officer, but to the tank-driver or platoon commander. Their needs will require clarity of analysis (in a hurry!). Keeping the balance will be that much more challenging under these twin pressures.
The technical challenge is security. Putting all this information on tap in one platform will mean that a security failure is devastating. Should an enemy (say, Chinese hackers) manage to access the system, we'll find ourselves in real trouble, real fast. Keeping on top of that will be the work of giants.
One of the things I've been reading lately are English translations of the old Muslim myths. Those of you who have been reading the Hall for a year or more will remember that we talked a lot about mythology during the invasion of Iraq. Mythology, out of which arise people's visions of who they are and what they ought to be, is probably more important than any political speechmaking. It is in the symbols of mythology where wars are really won, or really lost.
Here's a piece that I pass on largely without comment, except to say why it struck me as interesting. In the wake of certain recent events, we have heard a great deal about how being seen naked was an unmitigated humiliation for Arabs. Yet I find that one of the great heroes of early Islam was called Naked Dhiraar:
Because of the Roman archers, Dhiraar kept on his coat of mail and helmet, and in his hand carried a shield made of elephant hide, which had once belonged to a Roman. Having gone halfway to the Roman line, he stopped and raising his head, gave his personal battle cry:
I am the death of the Pale Ones;
I am the killer of the Romans;
I am a scourge sent upon you;
I am Dhiraar bin Al Azwar!
As a few of the Roman champions advanced to answer his challenge, Dhiraar quickly disrobed; and the Romans knew him at once as the Naked Champion. In the next few minutes, Dhiraar killed several Romans, including two generals, one of whom was the governor of Amman and the other the governor of Tiberius.