Category Archives: rants

Remember the Reason Today

Keep in mind today the real reason why the mail doesn’t run, public employees have a three-day weekend, and why your mailbox is full of tasteless fliers.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) commissioning pennant, used 15 November 1932, currently enshrined at the Indiana War Memorial. (Photo: Chris Eger)

11 Months Underway

Ships assigned to the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group sail in formation with Indian navy ships during a cooperative deployment in the Indian Ocean, July 20, 2020. Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Donald R. White, Jr. VIRIN: 200720-N-MY642-0207M

From DOD:

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is returning after operations in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility. It was the first carrier strike group to deploy under COVID-19 protocols. By the time the carrier strike group reaches home, the sailors and Marines aboard will have been gone for 321 days.

The Nimitz, the cruiser USS Princeton, and the destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson made up the group. 

Overall, the carrier strike group steamed more than 87,300 nautical miles during its deployment. The carrier launched 10,185 sorties totaling 23,410 flight hours logged.

I’m not sure the value of wearing out ships and crew on year-long deployments when there are no major conflicts underway, but you damned sure don’t see other fleets able/willing to pull off this type of crap, which is a statement of deterrence all its own, I suppose. 

Of note, Nimitz is our oldest active warship in fleet service– and the oldest commissioned aircraft carrier in the world–  slated to celebrate the 46th anniversary of her commissioning in May. Princeton is no spring chicken either, as the early Tico left Pascagoula for the fleet in 1989.

Sir Max Covers the Canceling of Military History

On my bookshelves right now, I have a number of excellent volumes on military history by British historian/correspondent/author Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, best just known as Max Hastings.

His The Battle for the Falklands is the best I’ve read on the subject and is drawn from first-hand reporting as he was there on the ground dodging Argentine A-4s and was the first civilian in liberated Port Stanley.

Then of course there is Overlord, Bomber Command, The Korean War, et. al.

Sir Max in an opinion piece entitled “American Universities Declare War on Military History: Academics seem to have forgotten that the best way to avoid conflict is to study it.” hits the nail on the head.

The revulsion from war history may derive not so much from students’ unwillingness to explore the violent past, but from academics’ reluctance to teach, or even allow their universities to host, such courses. Some dub the subject “warnography,” and the aversion can extend to the study of international relations. Less than half of all history departments now employ a diplomatic historian, against 85% in 1975. As for war, as elderly scholars retire from posts in which they have studied it, many are not replaced: the roles are redefined.

More here.

Don’t Just Offer a Pink .380 to a Woman and Call it a Day

As a certified firearms instructor for the past 20 years, I have seen hundreds of female shooters on the line, many of which never touched a gun before one of my classes. Some of those women are my own family. Despite the going trope of offering a hard-to-control .38 snubby or a pink/Tiffany blue .380 pocket gun to woman looking to get into gun ownership, how about offering them a more standard line of pistols and see what they like, are most comfortable with, and shoot the best? For reference, my wife’s favorite is a Beretta 92F Inox while my 25-year-old daughter has used a P229R her entire adult life.

In a similar vein of thought, check out Lance Bombadier Natalia Hudson-Carrier and Gunner Georgie Jones, of the British Army’s 3 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, pitch in working their L118 gun during Exercise Cypher Spear in the below video. The light 105mm howitzer is known as the M119 in U.S. service and has seen extensive use around the world including, perhaps most notably, in the Falklands. 

In the British Army, the only Guards unit to feature women, King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, is made up of about half female soldiers, who man the battery’s Great War-era QF 13-pounders in modified Crimean War uniforms.

The U.S. Army, followed by the Marines, opened the field artillery MOS to women in 2015.

Army Listens Intently to the Joes, Shrugs

The new AR 670-1, covering the changes for the grooming standards in uniform, is full of good stuff culled from a 17-person panel of enlisted men and women.

Short take: Men get to wear nail polish. Females get to wear lipstick and have ponytails and highlights in their hair. The latter is great news as it happens all the time anyway. 

As for beards, the thing that the enlisted have asked for repeatedly for the past two decades as number 1 on the “want” list where it comes to AR 670, that’s a big, fat, nope.

Literally “a nonstarter.”

Sure, you can argue it’s for NBC/CBW gear fitment. A safety issue. However, we are talking about grooming in garrison– the same place where you see a guy in every formation rocking a shave profile for face bumps. Why not just do away with the profile and roll with the facial hair. Sure, it will mean a longer line for CAC cards as guys decide to move to and from the face fuzz, but there is always a line for CAC cards.

Take Care of Your Local Public Range

On the final day of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management issued guidance to its local, state, and district offices to preserve and expand recreational shooting opportunities on the millions of acres of public lands under the agency. When I say millions of acres, I should actually clarify that it is hundreds of millions, as BLM controls some 245 million acres, with some 99 percent of it open to some sort of recreational shooting.

This, of course, is a good thing as there are some 50~ million American sports shooters and hunters, most of whom are always looking for a good place to shoot.

This brings me to my soapbox. As someone who regularly visits a public range in DeSoto National Forest, provided by the USDA Forest Service, please, please leave it as or better than you found it.

For instance, this was the trash area at the Black Creek Range this weekend:

I cleaned up a lot of this and physically packed out my own trash as well as some other litter, but you get the point.

These ranges belong to everyone, so please make sure they are useable for your grandchildren as well.

Help a goofy gun guy out? Vote on my stache

Hey guys, I got drafted into representing Guns.com in the American Suppressor Association’s Silencer Stache contest.

If you haven’t heard about the ASA, they are the trade organization for the suppressor industry and have really been working for the past few years on expanding gun laws concerning the devices nationwide, from a hearing protection standpoint.

Long story short, they are running a facial hair contest this month and I am running neck-and-neck (see what I did there?) with my opponent and could use your vote to put me over the top. So if you could give me an assist, I would appreciate it.

This F’N guy…

You don’t have to sign up for anything, join anything, or buy anything. You do have to vote in each heat (just scroll down the page) then enter an email addy at the bottom (feel free to use a burner one) to make sure you aren’t a bot, then click enter.

That’s it. Help me from getting shellacked! The contest is here. 

I thank you for your consideration.

Hand Salute, CPT Crozier

The (Acting) SECNAV Thomas B. Modly has booted the skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett E. Crozier (USNA 1994), from his post over the leaked letter the carrier’s commander penned in reference to the spreading COVID-19 cases among his embarked 4,000-man crew.

Several sources told USNI News ahead of the announcement that Navy leaders in the Pacific did not recommend Crozier’s removal from command.

Modly’s two minutes of reasoning is in the video below, essentially boiling down to breaking the chain of command on the face of it, with the unpardonable sin of making Big Navy look bad on the sniff test.

Loose lips sink ships, or at least careers, anyway.

Of course, all the public attention has resulted in the crew getting the attention they needed, which was the meat of Crozier’s concerns.

Crozier had a big send-off from his crew.

A Seahawk and later Hornet driver who flew with the Warhawks of VFA-97, the Mighty Shrikes of VFA-94 and the Rough Riders of VFA-125, Crozier completed numerous downrange deployments during OIF and the Global War on Terror. Serving as the XO of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for two years and then as skipper of 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), for another two before moving into the captain’s cabin of The Big Stick, Crozier was on the path for a star after 26 years of honorable service.

Instead:

Has everyone just hit the panic button on prepping?

Excuse me while I drag out the soapbox.

As a guy who ran a Y2K website 20+ years ago, penned zombie books (shameless plug) and have spent 40~ years living in a hurricane zone, I like to keep a stockpile of non-perishables on hand just in case. In short, if you don’t have 90 days worth of non-perishables on-hand even in good times then you just aren’t “adulting.” My grandmother, who grew up in the Depression in Weimar Germany and survived the leanest years of WWII, later became something of a “hamsterkauf,” socking away canned goods and cured/smoked meats on the regular. Open a cabinet to get a towel and you had to move sausages out of the way.

With that in mind, visiting my local big boxes for standard weekly shopping this week I was blown away by the panic buying I witnessed over the upcoming possibility of having to self-quarantine for the next 14-to-21 days in response to the COVID-19/Coronavirus scare.

Folks, jamming yourself into tight areas to queue for things that aren’t there is just a bad idea when it comes to catching a virus. Just think rationally, pardon the pun. Panic is always a mistake.

Furthermore, people are stocking up on the wildest stuff. Shopping carts full of TP, cans of garbage Chef Boyardee meals full of salt and preservatives, bags of over-sugared cereals and Pop-Tarts. People fighting over $7 packs of vanity napkins.

Meanwhile, the produce department has stacks of untouched long-lasting veggies like spaghetti/acorn squash, carrots, potatoes and onions along with fruits packed with natural sugars like apples– none of which have to be refrigerated. Likewise, nuts and raisins are untouched. Shelves of tinned fish products like sardines and herring are packed. Rice and beans left behind. These are the kind of staples people should have on hand.

The concept of flattening the curve of infection— simply limiting the rate of new cases to a level the healthcare system can match– is sound. After all, on any normal day, some 80 percent of the ventilators in circulation are already hooked up to a patient and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) only has 4,000 of those vital machines in reserve. Hopefully, the next few weeks will be enough to break the cycle and let people get back to being addicted to Instagram while they wait in line for a pink drink.

With that, and the fact that the two upcoming trips I had booked for late March and Mid-April are canceled, have me all-in on “social distancing” and becoming largely a shut-in for the next few weeks.

I’ll start working on the fresh stuff and freezer full of deer roasts and feral hog sausage just in case the power grid gets iffy later on in this crisis while I work on my usual garden for the Spring.

I think I will at least double the size of my plot this year.

You guys be safe.

YOU can help! FAA fixing to put the Whammy on RC plane clubs, drones

While dropping in at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday morning, you are likely to hear the roar of RC aircraft of all sorts. The park, just off the bow of the retired Gato-class diesel boat USS Drum (SS-228), is home to the Lower Alabama RC club, a group that has been around since 1975.

The LARC Club. The shot was taken from the Drum’s bow on Saturday by moi. In short, an RC aircraft strip. No, the MiG is not an RC plane.

The hobbyists of the LARC club, which requires membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and to comply with the AMA Safety Code, swoop and swirl their aircraft deftly over the uninhabited marshland, remaining well under 400 feet AGL. They hurt no one, damage nothing except their own planes on accident, and add to the wonder of the park, which is often filled with wide-eyed youth visiting the ships and aircraft displays.

If a kid sees an RC Spitfire or Corsair zipping around while there, that could spark a life-long interest or career in aviation– and with the future of a massive increase in drone flight very real, that is a good thing.

The thing is, the Federal Aviation Administration has a proposed regulation that would require almost every drone, quadcopter and RC aircraft in the sky to broadcast its location over the Internet at all times. Sound innocent, right? However, the rule would probably wipe out the hobby that has been around for generations.

As noted by ArsTechnica: 

In many cases, it may not even be possible for people to upgrade their existing aircraft to the new standard. The FAA rule states that a compliant drone needs to have a serial number that was issued by the device’s manufacturer in compliance with the new rules. Yet many RC aircraft are built by small companies who never intended to get into the commercial drone business. They might not have the technical resources to comply with the new standards or the legal resources to get FAA approval.

The FAA aims to allow a few RC/drone airfields like the one in Mobile run by “community-based organizations” where the rules could be relaxed on hobby-built craft, but that exemption would only be for a year.

After that, the agency thinks everyone will just kinda hang it up:

At the end of that 12-month period, no new applications for FAA-recognized identification areas would be accepted. After that date, the number of FAA-recognized identification areas could therefore only remain the same or decrease. Over time, the FAA anticipates that most UAS without remote identification will reach the end of their useful lives or be phased out. As these numbers dwindle, and as compliance with remote identification requirements becomes cheaper and easier, the number of UAS that need to operate only at FAA-recognized identification areas would likely drop significantly.

Public comments are open until 11:59pm on Monday. Let them know what you think if you have a minute. 

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