Business kept me away from my desk yesterday, and prevented my mentioning the start of "National Ammo Week!". Readers are encouraged to purchase ammunition, preferably lots of it, in accordance with their local laws. This is a show of support:

The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Make your support of the Second Amendment known--by voting with your dollars!
Also, it's not a bad idea to shoot up the old stuff. Fresh ammo is happy ammo.

ladwell dot com / Personality Plus

The Swamp of Psychology:

Here is a piece on psychology from The New Yorker. Particularly, he's interested in the problems of personality tests. It's quite a problem:

Quiet by nature, Nininger was tall and slender, with wavy blond hair. As Franklin M. Reck recounts in "Beyond the Call of Duty," Nininger had graduated near the top of his class at West Point, where he chaired the lecture-and-entertainment committee. He had spent many hours with a friend, discussing everything from history to the theory of relativity. He loved the theatre. In the evenings, he could often be found sitting by the fireplace in the living room of his commanding officer, sipping tea and listening to Tchaikovsky. As a boy, he once saw his father kill a hawk and had been repulsed. When he went into active service, he wrote a friend to say that he had no feelings of hate, and did not think he could ever kill anyone out of hatred. He had none of the swagger of the natural warrior. He worked hard and had a strong sense of duty.

In the second week of January, the Japanese attacked, slipping hundreds of snipers through the American lines, climbing into trees, turning the battlefield into what Reck calls a "gigantic possum hunt." On the morning of January 12th, Nininger went to his commanding officer. He wanted, he said, to be assigned to another company, one that was in the thick of the action, so he could go hunting for Japanese snipers.

He took several grenades and ammunition belts, slung a Garand rifle over his shoulder, and grabbed a submachine gun. Starting at the point where the fighting was heaviest-near the position of the battalion's K Company-he crawled through the jungle and shot a Japanese soldier out of a tree. He shot and killed snipers. He threw grenades into enemy positions. He was wounded in the leg, but he kept going, clearing out Japa-nese positions for the other members of K Company, behind him. He soon ran out of grenades and switched to his rifle, and then, when he ran out of ammunition, used only his bayonet. He was wounded a second time, but when a medic crawled toward him to help bring him back behind the lines Nininger waved him off. He saw a Japanese bunker up ahead. As he leaped out of a shell hole, he was spun around by a bullet to the shoulder, but he kept charging at the bunker, where a Japanese officer and two enlisted men were dug in. He dispatched one soldier with a double thrust of his bayonet, clubbed down the other, and bayonetted the officer. Then, with outstretched arms, he collapsed face down. For his heroism, Nininger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first American soldier so decorated in the Second World War.

Suppose that you were a senior Army officer in the early days of the Second World War and were trying to put together a crack team of fearless and ferocious fighters. Sandy Nininger, it now appears, had exactly the right kind of personality for that assignment, but is there any way you could have known this beforehand?
There's quite a bit more, just as interesting both in the stories told and the questions raised. For example, did you know that the main personality test used worldwide was developed by a housewife trying to figure out her college-aged daughter's fiance? She read Jung, misunderstood him completely, and then...

Spirit of America

To Shepherd the Weak:

Thanksgiving is a time for charity, as well as thanks. Everyone has their own ideas about this, and I don't intend the following to suggest that you ought to donate to any of these groups. These are just some folks I've dealt with in the past, whom I've seen do some good with what they've gotten. If you're looking around, you might look here.

Grim's Hall is joining the Spirit of America "Friends of Iraq" challenge -- although I understand that most of you have divided loyalties on this score, as several of your other favorite blogs may be members. I won't take it personally if you donate on their team instead. In any event, you'll remember that the Hall helped out during their challenge over the summer, which was to help the Marines set up broadcasting services to show good news to the people of Iraq. That was a success, bringing hope to a weary people.

Some of you may prefer to donate closer to home. You will remember that my favorite military charity is The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. It sometimes looks after sailors and Marines who have come into need, but especially it looks after their families, and survivors of the honored dead.

Another of my favorite charities is Second Harvest. No American should go hungry during the holidays, fasting while we feast. Food banks are one of the surest ways to make certain no one does. Second Harvest is fairly impressive: they can put fifteen meals on the table for just one dollar.

Many of you may be donated out, with the political season just ending. That's easy to understand -- I know a lot of people gave more to political causes this year than ever before. There's no shame in that. If you want to give but are out of money, another option is a blood donation to the Red Cross. You may wish to use their webpage to look up a donation center without actually scheduling an appointment. My experience is that they badger you a bit if they have an appointment listed -- I've had as many as seven calls, and never fewer than four, reminding me to show up. Take a friend, if you go: you'll double the good done and enjoy the trip more to boot.

You could also set aside a week's poker winnings to donate to charity. Er, if you're good at poker. Otherwise, playing poker is a kind of charity in and of itself. To each his own.


Voices About The Hall:

For the first time, Grim's Hall will be seeing posts by authors other than Grim. I've extended to Eric an invitation to join as a poster, in order to facilitate his participation as one of the teachers of this Military Sciece project.

Other teachers will also be extended invitations. I've asked several people to consider it, though I haven't heard back firmly from anyone yet. There is also an open invitation to regular readers with military backgrounds -- if you can think of a book you'd like to teach, drop me an email explaining your background and what book you want to teach.

My blog has always been described as a "hall," which word was meant to evoke the great mead halls of legend: Heorot, the hall of Hrolf Kraki, and others besides. I'm proud to welcome warriors to this hall, and to give them a chance to hold the floor.



I've added a new link over in the "Other Halls" section. It's to a blog called My Sandmen, which I discovered only today.

One of the writers there has the pen of a Psalmist.

Victory has been liberated. Her face shines again now. It is humble and benevolent in the light of commensurate respect... yet fiercely resolute when the dark stain of threat soils her tranquility.

A newborn spirit facing ageless horror...

Victory destroys perfidy.
It challenges obstinance.
It terrifies those forsaken.
It detests appeasement.
It is ruthlessly patient.
It is brutally efficient.
It yields mercy to the vanquished.
It vindicates the heroes.
It rewards constitution,
And lends courage to generations.

A Psalm to Victory, who -- as we were discussing just a few days ago -- was known in Greek as Athena, Odysseus' only friend.

"Odysseus," you may not know, means "The Man of Trouble." In the Greek, it is not clear whether he suffers trouble, or causes them. In the poems, he does both.

The psalm is not a mode we often see, any more. The few who can still write them, I admire. It takes a purity and certainty of belief that is rarely to be found.
God of gold and flaming glass,
Confregit potentias
Acrcuum, scutum,
Gladium et bellum.
Such a prayer is only answered for a time. For that reason, we still forge swordsmen.

It happens that the fellow has a post on that, too. It cites Ayn Rand, with whom I'm not in the habit of agreeing. This time, I find that I do.
West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on -- which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious.
Well and truly spoken. Welcome to the Sandmen, who are encouraged to drop by more often.

Grim's Hall


As discussed in the comments to the post below, the class will begin with a study of Warfighting, which is the USMC's introduction to military science. It is required reading for all Marines.

We will be reading this for two weeks, until 2 December. However, I will welcome questions immediately, should any occur to you as you are reading it. Feel free to pose these in the comments to this post. I will take particularly challenging questions and make them into new posts for discussion.

Grim's Hall

Military Science "Book Club":

So, I've been exchanging emails with some of you over the post about the need for more knowledge of military science among the citizenry. Responses break into two categories:

(1) "Right on!"
(2) "How dare you call me ignorant?"

The first group I won't address here, since they and I see eye to eye on the point. To the second group, I'll begin with a public apology. I wasn't attempting to use the issue as a bludgeon to beat you with. I intended the statement as a challenge, not an assault.

The challenge is this: all citizens have a duty to the defense of the nation, just as all citizens have a duty to the common peace. We perform the latter not only with jury duty, but by taking the time to achieve a basic understanding of the law so that we can do our part to obey it and uphold it -- or to challenge it, if that is what we feel is necessary.

Similarly, you have a duty to the defense of the country. Some fulfill that duty by volunteering and serving in the military, but even if you don't, the duty doesn't go away. You have to fulfill it in other ways. One of these -- which I think is incumbent upon every citizen, because we all must make decisions in the voting booth on these matters -- is to take the time to achieve a basic understanding of military science. You ought to understand the principles involved. This is one thing you can't leave to experts, any more than you can afford to leave the law to lawyers.

To that end, I propose to run a "military science book club." We're all busy folks, so we'll have an easy-to-keep schedule of readings; and we'll start off with some publications I know that are available on the internet, so you won't have to trek down to the library or book store, at least not until you can judge whether this activity is worth your trouble.

We'll apply the usual "Grim's Hall" rules as to comments, so that the discussion will be respectful and fair to all parties. You'll have the benefit of some strong military minds, too, who will be glad to answer your questions. Many of them love to kick this stuff around anyway. Others will do it for the same reason I'm doing it: because we think it's important that all citizens know this stuff, if only because someday you'll probably win one of these elections. When that happens, we'll all be better off if you've got a grounding in these things.

So -- any takers, among my small but devoted community of non-veteran readers? If so, I'll put together a short reading list for us to start with, and ask a few folks to help spread the word. Feel free to mention it around, if you know any activist types out there who want to run the world someday, and who can be trusted to keep to the rules so that this will be pleasant and polite for all parties.

Any of you vets who'd like to volunteer to help teach a lesson, ya'll shout out too. I know some of you have field-specific expertise that I can't match. I'd be only too glad to have your help.

My Way News

On the Shooting

E.B. sends this article questioning whether a Marine acted legally in administering a coup de grace to a possibly wounded, possibly dead insurgent. JHD sends this article on the same topic, which points out that several insurgents have used such ploys to kill Marines -- and other ploys, such as boobytrapping corpses. It also mentions that the Marine in question had himself been shot in the face earlier that day while performing similiar duties.

Doc has posted an evaluation of the incident, and concludes that it was righteous for various reasons, one of which was that the insurgents are illegal fighters who are not therefore covered by the Geneva Conventions. This is a trickier legal point than you might imagine, however, because during "an occupation," all citizens of the occupied nation are covered by the Conventions, whether they are otherwise behaving as legal fighters or not. If the insurgent were a foreign fighter, then, he would not be protected; if he was or was thought to be a native Iraqi, whether he is protected or not doesn't depend on his conduct, but on whether or not we are still engaged in what the Conventions considers "an occupation."

Does the provisional Iraqi government's existence, and the fact that we have transferred control of the country to them, end the occupation? I gather that our government is arguing that it does: we transferred custody of Saddam at the same time, for example, in order to comply with the Conventions' requirements that we release or transfer all prisoners of war when the occupation ends. The administration has also stated from time to time that we are in Iraq "at the invitation" of the provisional government.

Still, this is a complication any defense by a JAG officer would have to address. There is another: if the military has been ordered to treat the insurgents in line with the Conventions, then there is an obligation to do so whether or not the Conventions normally would apply. I am not certain what orders have been given, but the US military's legal arm is very attached to the Geneva Conventions. I would be a bit surprised if troops in Iraq were not under orders to apply their standards at all times.

I do think, however, that no courtmartial could find this Marine guilty of murder. He was dealing, not with a prisoner but with an apparent corpse; he was doing so when there had been several suicide attacks on Marines; in circumstances when, indeed, even a corpse is dangerous; and when determining whether or not the "corpse" was dead or alive, armed or disarmed, would entail extraordinary risk to life and limb under the Conventions' standards.

The Conventions, in fact, permit you to grenade holes in which insurgents (or children) might be hiding. That is the nearest parallel to this situation that comes to my mind, as regards the ability to know the precise nature of a potential threat, and the power to use lethal force to make certain the way is safe. If that is righteous under the Conventions, surely this is: in that example, dead children as well as dead enemy combatants are a possible result. In this circumstance, the only possible result is a dead enemy combatant. There is no possibility of the force administered killing a noncombatant at all.

Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan

More on China Unrest:

The Asia Times has a piece on several major riots, street battles, and demonstrations from the Middle Kingdom. The police appear to be taking it on the chin -- which is not very surprising, as they are often not armed in China. "The People's Armed Police" is actually a wing of the military. The regular police are run by the Ministry of Public Safety, and are usually unarmed.

The people of China are not armed either, at least, not with firearms. You'll see some impressive knives in China, though, since people have to do their own butchery on a daily basis. For the same reason, the Chinese know how to use those knives. The relative lack of refrigeration technology means that fresh-killed meat is the standard even in large cities. It's quite common to see people wandering around with live ducks or large fish, or even pigs that have recently been killed and split into quarters so that they can be lashed to a bike.

Die Jakkalsgat: US mechanised infantry battalion structure

A Little Help:

A primer on US mechanized infantry unit structure, for those of my readers who felt stung by the recent piece citing Mr. Drum. The comments section is as useful as the piece itself for starting to get a handle on how the US Army's fighting units are structed, and how they operate.

Once you've got that down, you have to realize that the Marine Corps operates on a different principle entirely. The 'organic unit' for the USMC is the Marine Air/Ground Task Force (MAGTF), which handles the combined arms aspect in the way that TF 2/7 does, but the barracks 2/7 does not. However, Marines also have battalions, which is what 3/5 means below: 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. MAGTFs, though the organic unit for fighting and organization purposes, don't carry the unit's history. This has the result that Marines think of themselves as part of this or that battalion, though much less so than in the Army: Marines think of themselves first and last as Marines, not as cavalry, or 7th Cav, or 101st Airborne.

MAGTFs come in several sizes. The largest is normally the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and the smallest the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). There are also sometimes special MAGTF that are created for a particular function: Task Force Tarawa, for example.

The use of combined arms and joint force combat has been stunningly successful in Fallujah. Not only are these Army task forces working well together, they're combining well with the Iraqi National Guard, and the Marines, and the air assets that are tasked with supporting them. The lack of friendly fire casualties under these circumstances is astonishing.

In addition to not having called down fire on allied positions, the Coalition forces apparently have not failed to call down fire on enemy positions. It was just such a failure to fire -- having misidentified massing Confederate infantry as a support unit -- that caused the Union army to lose the first battle of Manassas, a.k.a. the first battle of Bull Run. Even amid all the confusion of units in Fallujah, fire support has been outstanding by all accounts.

Telegraph | Opinion | Tough dove

More on Powell:

From Mark Steyn, writing the week of Powell's famous appearance before the UN.

Foreign Policy: Powell Valediction

Matters of State:

One of my chief complaints with the Bush administration has been that Bush would not force a settlement between his advisors. It's fine to have advisors who disagree, so long as once the boss has made his decision, both sides resolve to follow his lead in full measure.

It is, therefore, with no sadness whatever that I watch the departure of Secretary Powell. Mr. Hitchens seems to share my opinion, by and large. Indeed, his disdain for the man outstrips my own by an order of magnitude.

I could wish for a better replacement: Dr. Rice has never impressed me in her current position, and I am not sure what virtue except loyalty justifies her promotion. The Secretary of State is one of those jobs which cannot accomplish much benefit even if it is done well, but can cause a great deal of harm if it is done badly. Having someone as notoriously indecisive as Dr. Rice in the position is probably not going to work very well. Still, at least she will follow the President, and thereby devote herself to working to undermine our foreign enemies rather than the Department of Defense. So, even if she is a poor choice, she represents an improvement.

Michael J. Totten: They Ain�t Studying War No More

On War:

Your boy Kevin Drum is right on [UPDATE: KGC correctly points out that Drum didn't write this; he was merely citing it. The actual author was Heather Hurlburt]:

Many Democrats who came of age during the Vietnam War retain a gut-level distrust of the military. Younger staffers, who may not carry the same psychological baggage, have few mentors urging them toward military or security issues. I speak from experience: My main qualification for my first Washington job -- covering European security for Congress -- was that I could locate the Warsaw Pact countries on a map and correctly identify the acronyms of the relevant international organizations.

But lack of expertise is only a symptom. The malady is an irresponsible lack of interest. The issues that drive most contemporary Democrats into politics are reproductive rights, health care, fiscal policy, or poverty, not national security. Even those young Democrats who are interested in foreign affairs tend to be drawn to 'soft' subjects such as debt relief and human rights. Aspiring foreign policy wonks will often get pulled into military affairs by way of, say, their work on demining. But when these young people visualize exciting jobs in the next Democratic administration, they think State Department, not Pentagon.
I've had a chance to know quite a few Democratic activists. I've never known one who knew, or cared to know, the first thing about military science. Of them all, Sovay is the closest: she's read some books on military history.

The rest of them just sneer.

I know liberals who care about these issues, and who know what they're talking about -- a few of them (Deud, I'm looking at you) post here. But where are they among the ranks of the activists, and the movers of the party?

I just finished saying that ParaPundit is the most convincing voice of the antiwar movement. ParaPundit, however, is a paleoconservative.

If you don't know a refused flank from a Notre Dame Box Formation, how am I supposed to believe you can win a war for us?

Why should I believe you if you say this war is the wrong one?

A German Lesson for Remaking Iraq (

On Revolution:

The most peaceful revolution of all time was the fall of the Berlin Wall:

By way of illustration, she told the story of a woman in Mecklenburg who learned, after the Wall fell, that the citizens of other East German towns had occupied their local Stasi headquarters. Since everyone else in Mecklenburg was otherwise occupied -- people still had to go to work, take care of children, clean the house -- the woman walked up to her local Stasi headquarters alone, knocked on the door, and said she would like to occupy the building. The guard solemnly handed over his pistol, gave her the keys and let her in.
Still, things are far from perfect: in fact, former East Germans are so miserable that twenty percent say they wish the wall had never come down at all.
The lesson of the East German transition after 15 years should, in other words, be phrased as a warning: Even if it is possible to get every political and economic element right, even if it is possible to avoid violence entirely, the psychological transition to liberal democracy from a regime ruled by fear is one that takes at least one generation, if not two. Few people are able to walk from a closed society into an open one without self-doubt and discomfort. Few people find it easy to readjust their thinking overnight, even if they want to. Few people are able to look at themselves in the mirror, tell themselves that the first few decades of their lives were all a bad mistake, and go out and start living new lives according to new rules. It was no accident, a wise teacher once told me, that God made the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years before bringing them to the promised land: That was how long it would take them to unlearn the mental habits of Egyptian slavery.
The rest of the article is just as interesting.

Camera phone smuggling rife in Saudi Arabia - NOV 14, 2004

Smuggler's Blues:

Did you know that camera phone smuggling was a serious problem for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

Cattle smuggling troubles Mozambique.

North Korea has to worry about radio smugglers.

Smuggling is also a problem for Iran and Azerbaijan. There's no word on what kind of smuggling is problem, however. It would be fascinating to know what either one has that the other one doesn't want coming in. Whatever it is, it's a serious problem: Al Jazeera cites a panel of Iranian economists, who cite smuggling as one of several critical threats to what remains of Iran's economy.

It could be, in part, archaeological treasures. Here's a fascinating report on "underwater archaeology" that treats several ancient cities sunken off the coast of Iran.

And, of course, there's this from down Mexico way. Nothing funny about that link.

ParaPundit : November 2004 Archives

The Hundred Thousand:

I never thought the Lancet survey of civilian casualties in Iraq would take off. For one thing, Lancet is a peer-reviewed academic journal, which publications are only rarely read outside the community they intend to serve. For another, the survey was so badly and obviously flawed that nobody could take it seriously. Surely, in the next issue the editors will correct what was a tremendously bad job.

However, perhaps because there are so many people eager to believe what it purports to say, I've started to see "the US has killed 100,000 civilians in Iraq" popping up on discussion boards everywhere.

ParaPundit ably examined the problems with the survey when it came out earlier this month. ParaPundit is very much anti-war: in fact, he is far and away the most convincing anti-war voice in the blogosphere, because he argues out of an understanding of the military science. The issues he tends to raise are the real and severe problems we have to overcome if there will be success in Iraq. I don't share his pessimism about our prospects, but I respect his knowledge and recognize that he points to real concerns.

Still, being of a serious mind, he hates bad argumentation from his own side even more than from his opponents. This is often true of people who are at the top of their game: they recognize that hackery and bad-faith argumentation from their side weaken their argument. Even though they agree with the conclusion, they'll still dispute the method.

As ParaPundit demonstrates, there are two serious problems with the Lancet piece:

1) The survey's "Confidence Interval" runs from 8,000 to 194,000 dead. The "100,000 dead" estimate is merely the middle of that range. However, the confidence interval means that 8,000 is just as likely as 100,000 to be the real number; and that 160,000 or 194,000 are also just as likely. That makes this, as one person sneered, "not an estimate but a dartboard."

2) The estimates that push this out of the 8,000 range and into the 100,000+ range come from hospitals in areas that were insurgent-controlled during the survey. The estimates out of other parts of Iraq, even those which have seen heavy fighting, are much, much lower.

It was standard practice in Ba'athist Iraq to inflate vastly the numbers of starvations resulting from the UN sanctions, and to invent out of whole cloth mass disease and other ills supposedly the result of those same sanctions. This is just business as usual.


That Was Fast:

From Xinhua wires:

Chief of PLO executive committee Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen escaped on Sunday night an assassination attempt as he was attacked by unknown militants at the mourning tent erected to receive condolences for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who died on Thursday.
The run-on sentence is characteristic of Chinese-to-English translation. In this case, however, it neatly captures the pace of events: Death -> Mourning -> Succession -> Assassination Attempt -> Civil War.