Stetson giveaway

A Stetson:

Quarterly taxes being due yesterday, I don't have much to offer to Project VALOR IT right now. I will, however, make a personal sacrifice if anyone will make a donation to the cause: I have a Stetson I would send to any reader who wishes to wear one of Grim's own hats (or decorate your horse with one, or whatever). It is a Chevron, which is more suitable for city wear than most Stetsons, yet still good for the countryside. It's in size 7 5/8 (or "61," in the Australian terms).

Readers must pay for shipping, and make a donation to Project VALOR IT. The size of the donation isn't as important as getting some money toward serving our wounded -- pick any amount you think fair. Email or comment if you're interested.

UPDATE: Blackhawk's offer states that he needs a hat right away to deal with the Texas summer sun. I'll leave this open the rest of the day only, to give all readers a full workday to encounter the offer and consider it, but if there are no other bids I shall close the offer tonight. We wouldn't want a man going hatless in this weather.


Gifts for Bush:

I have only one comment about this story: these people have outstanding taste in gifts. I'd be happy to receive any of those things.



Grim's Hall has always supported Operation VALOR IT. Sadly, events here continue at a pace such that I haven't been able to blog much -- or read much outside of my professional readings -- the last week or two. As a consequence, I haven't mentioned the current drive to fund the operation. If you haven't seen it at other websites, please visit the link.

Read this from Monday, too.

Bedside manner

Bedside Manner:

I went into see the doctor today to get a tetanus shot, on account of having stepped on a rusty nail. It took three hours -- it's getting hard to get in and out of a doctor's office, as I imagine all of you have noticed.

While I was there, I got a little taste of Gunny Therapy. It wasn't a bad wound, and I wouldn't have gone in at all except for the tetanus risk -- I cleaned it out carefully with a knife and some rubbing alcohol yesterday, so by this morning it was mostly healed and just a little sore if I put my full weight on it. After sitting for two hours waiting on the doctor, she finally turned up and asked to see the wound.

"Not much to see," I said, but she insisted, so I pulled off my boot and sock. She peered at the foot for a second or two, and so did I.

"Could be this is the wrong foot," I said. That's when she hit me.

Hey, I told her I just needed a tetanus shot.

Nice girl, for a New York Yankee. She was a vet -- Air Force -- and we talked for a little while before she went on. I did get my shot (another hour later, when someone could spare the time to give it to me), so it all worked out. Got home just in time to go pay the taxes. Happy Second Quarter to you, too.

Intelligence Coup

Intelligence Coup:

When I began hearing about large numbers of Al-Qaeda in Iraq members being rounded up or killed during the past week, I assumed that some sort of intelligence success had been achieved during the search for Zarqawi, and that American military, Iraqi military, and Iraqi police were moving quickly to make use of that intelligence.

It turns out that a significant amount of information was unearthed from the house that Zarqawi died in.

According to a recent announcement by Iraq's National Security Advisor, a good deal of information was found in digital form, on a laptop computer and a portable drive. (Captain Ed links to one news article; BBC news also reports about it.)

When I read this, I mused for a few moments about the term "information density", a phrase often used in computing. Information density refers to the amount of information that can be stored in a physical space--like a room full of magnetic-tape drives, a portable hard disk drive enclosure, or a thumb-drive in a person's pocket.

A significant amount of information can be held in the palm of a one's hand, using modern computer technology. Computers also make accessing and searching the data easy. That fact worked against Zarqawi's associates in this case: an Iraqi policeman was able to pick up in his hands information that would have filled at least one file-cabinet if it was reproduced on paper.

It was good news to hear that Zarqawi had been eliminated. It is even more good news to hear that his files have been ransacked and many of his compatriots have been dealt with.

Some have described the death of Zarqawi as a symbolic event, with little actual effect on the struggle against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. This news belies that claim: it appears that Zarqawi's death is significant.

Russ Sends Again

You're Welcome, Rabbi:

Via Russ Vaughn, again:

Thank God our safety is in the hands of these guys from the Midwest and South and not those snivelly effeminates from Brown, Brandeis, Columbia and NYU. If it were so, we'd by now all be prayer rugs.
Just don't forget our brothers in Texas, who deserve their own mention.


So… I was spurred into pulling an old book off the shelf by Grim’s post this morning. I looked at that drawing, and then thought back to that idiot cartoonist that the Joint Chief’s wrote a letter to, and wondered what type of moron really believes this with such a broad-brush?

Despite how pissed I get, the majority are not morons. What they are is ignorant of military culture and open, through thousands of years of distrust/wariness/prejudice, to being prey to a minority with an agenda.

Televising and embedded reports, even on the scale we have today, is not enough to overcome the millennia of wariness directed towards the warrior functions. The book I reached for this afternoon was Georges Dumézil’s The Destiny of the Warrior. Dumézil is a philologist who identified a stratified society in Indo-European cultures, made up of a Sacral (First) Function of kings/priests/magicians, Warrior (Second) Function, and a Common (Third) Function made up of the everyday Joe. To get to the point, he states that no other function of society straddles the ethical boundary of society in the manner of the warrior.

Warriors train for, and engage in, actions seen as reprehensible to the greater society. Warriors make killing and deception part and parcel of their lives... they train in the very acts which threaten society in order to defend society.

Short of removing that minority, I’m not sure what we can do to overcome the fears. Intense military marketing? Compulsory military service?

Anyway- just a thought before I head out of the office for a long weekend.

AZ Cartoon war

Of Course You Realize, This Means War:

A wee cartoon from the Arizona Republic:

Russ Vaughn sends, and suggests that you might want to write them a letter. Which, of course, is the point -- we'll be writing letters. Even the mention of "war" in the headline is just a reference to old Bugs Bunny cartoons. The blood-soaked, murderous Marines that the media loves to scorn will express their wrath with carefully-worded letters. They will explain, again, the honor and discipline of the Corps; its extraordinary history of service and the glory of its battle-record; and so forth and so on. It won't make any impression at all, except we might get a letter of apology from the editor, who probably told his administrative assistant to go ahead and dash one off for him at the same time he decided to publish this cartoon.

Not to mention any names, but I can think of some people who get more respect from various cartoonists these days. Something about arson and death threats, I think. Apparently that's the path to respect where the newspapers of the world are concerned. Maybe someday they'll stop to reflect on that fact, and what it says about them.

Bounty Hunting

Bounty Hunting:

Thailand has an interesting new counterinsurgency strategy it is considering: pay civilians to shoot insurgents.

As you read the article, it will help to know that Pattani is one of four Muslim-majority provinces in the south of Thailand, which are experiencing a bloody insurgency. Like most such things, this insurgency has mainly directed its violence at the defenseless -- monks, schoolteachers, immigrant workers from even poorer countries than Thailand -- though insurgents have demonstrated a capacity for fighting off the Thai military and police on occasion. Thailand, whcih has strict gun control, began arming teachers some time ago, and certain trusted citizens. Police General Chitchai Wannasathit, in addition to being Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, was recently the acting Prime Minister -- in other words, a very important man. General Sonthi is the chief of Thailand's army, also a very important man, and the first Muslim to occupy that position. It was hoped his appointment would 'win hearts and minds' among the southern insurgents, but it has not: he is a Muslim, but an ethnic Thai, whereas the insurgents are Muslims but ethnic Malays.

Now that you know all that:

The governor of Pattani wants to offer cash rewards of 50,000-100,000 baht to civilians who kill or injure insurgents in gun fights. He says rewards would give people an incentive to fight back, but academics and law experts argue it would just encourage more extra-judicial killing.

However, caretaker Justice Minister Chidchai Wannasathit and army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin appeared to second the idea yesterday.

Pattani governor Panu Uthairat said his proposal was a security measure aimed at protecting the lives of innocent people in the province. ''In some cases, people want to retaliate. Some have fired warning shots into the sky. Others clashed with insurgents who were killed or wounded in the process,'' he said.''Some wounded insurgents were caught. In the past, we handed out 5,000 to 10,000 baht in cash to civilians to boost their morale so they will fight back in self-defence,'' he said.

A source said civilians would be given 50,000 baht each if their return fire hit any insurgents, leading to their capture. The amount would double if the insurgents were killed.

Mr Panu said the authorities could not provide security for people around the clock. People should learn to protect themselves. They should be permitted to carry guns but only use them in self-defence, he said.

Legal experts questioned the Pattani governor's authority to offer a cash reward. Outgoing Bangkok Senator Sak Kosaengruang, formerly president of the Lawyers Council, said the idea was dangerous and unlawful.

If the reward was offered to police, it would lead to extra-judicial killing by unscrupulous officers, he warned....

Pol[ice] Gen Chidchai, also a deputy prime minister, downplayed fears a reward-system would give rise to extra-judicial killings. He promised to consider both sides of the proposal.

Gen Sonthi said the reward offer was a strategy by the governor to stimulate people to be extra careful. People should trust the government's judgment in tailoring anti-insurgent strategies to the region.
"People should trust the government" is not a very reassuring slogan, but "people should learn to proctect themselves" certainly is.

I remain convinced that, as we see the continued development of asymmetrical warfare, we will eventually have to distribute warfighting capability across the whole society. The tyrannies of the 20th century were based on the massed standing army, and civilian gun control to ensure that the army need not spend much of its time fighting the civilians. They could be kept at bay by free nations, but only with massed armies in return.

The new, would-be tyrants avoid the armies, and slip into our societies to take cover among civilians. Civilians are also their primary targets, in order to wreak such terror as to obtain by destroying a nation's will what they otherwise lack the strength to gain. Only the armed citizen could be assured of being present enough of the time, at enough places, to defend against such an enemy.

The Thais are finding that out. Despite their attachment to the idea of gun control, which they would very much like to believe is the right and moral policy, they are having to abandon it because it is not sustainable in the face of a modern insurgency. Irony abounds: the insurgents, by proving that they are capable of defeating the Thai army, are making free men and citizens out of the subjects of Thailand's King.

The new tyrants bypass hard targets to seek soft, defenseless ones. We must therefore harden the entire society. This is not a sentiment, but a truth. Even those who are sentimental about gun control, as is Buddhist-majority Thailand, come to realize it. The citizen ceases to be a mere unit of production for supporting the state's endeavours, important only because he works to build the nation's economy, pays taxes to support government spending, and is kept disarmed so that he can't protest too loudly about the taxes.

Instead, the citizen becomes what he was meant to be. The nations of the world will find that they need him. They shall have to arm him. Therefore, they shall also have to listen to him.

Rite of Passage

Rite of Passage:

It seems that I've been away from the Hall for too long. I return, partly because I have a question to pose to the membes of the Hall.

In the recent past, I have had many opportunities to think about rites of passage. Most recently, I went through a significant one myself, having earned an M.S. degree in my chosen field of study. However, I have also seen family friends celebrate the commencement of high-school education, and one of the friends of the Hall has received an M.D. (I haven't heard of many Marines who received that honor after their service...)

All these events are rites of passage. They mark the achievement of a goal. They mark the honoree as having left one class and entered another.

The question that comes to mind is this: is there a specific rite of passage that turns a boy into a man? Is there an event that we can say qualifies a young man as having risen to full (adult) manhood?

During my pondering of this question, I remembered a comment from Grim that I originally took as a joke:
With a possible exception for certain foreign countries, there is no such thing as a gun-free man.
I would be happy to accept this as the mark of manhood--but if you feel that something else should be used, feel free to comment on it.
Recruiting and retention seems on track.

All Active duty branches have met their targets for the year so far for both new recruits and and reenlistments. Even the Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve are at 103%, 96% and 100% of their YTD goals respectively.

These look like better than pre-9/11/2001 numbers. Interesting.
Three Guantanamo Bay Detainees Die of Apparent Suicide.

Can you just imagine the conversations going on right now at Gitmo? I'll bet you some procedures are going to get rewritten.

(Not that I particularly care that those guys offed themselves, mind you.)