Friday, December 10, 2004

Iraq Outrage

Remember the Falluja incident, where a marine shot a prone insurgent (terrorist) because he thought the SOB was faking death or incapacity?

"SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse" offers Fighting Words.

Also, a fellow named Michael Graham offers a challenge to Michael Moore.

(No permalink available on his website, but Thanx to Sgt. Rock for the link)

More to the point, Little Green Footballs provides a link to the transcript of SecDef Rumsfield's "Town Hall" meeting.

We won't talk about how the press set him up by dragging a couple of Iraq-bound troops to the meeting and prepping them with questions. But we should give Rummy a big sloppy kiss for having the cajones to put himself on the line by taking unmonitored questions directly from the troops, with the press looking on. You won't hear it from the Main Stream Media (MSM), but that's the real story here as related by the Blog-o-sphere ... which MSM hates!

And finally ... having absolutely nothing at all to do (we hope!) with Iraq, The Barking Moonbat shows us how to increase traffic to your blogsite (which is, so far, exactly ZERO access and probably this is at least partially due to the fact that I haven't yet published the URL anywhere).

His solution? Show pictures of Naked Women!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

USPSA Rules 1.2.1

This is the text of my most recent post to The Unofficial IPSC List:
(NB: Updated with Mr. Amidon's comments on Dec. 12)

Mr. Amidon,
the new USPSA rule book, both in rule ("Medium Courses") and ("Long Courses") includes the following verbiage:

"Course design and construction must not require more than 9 scoring hits from any single shooting position or view, nor allow a competitor to eliminate a location or view in the course of fire by shooting all available targets at an earlier location or view."

(Emphasis added)
JA-What this means, and has been the case for several years, you cannot shoot all the shots from one location or view, prior to the change in the wording, IPSC only allowed 9 shots from one loacation or view, this kind of contridicted free style, all it accomplished was to take the boxes off the ground and place them onto walls as ports. With the added language, they are allowing you to have more shots from one location or view, you just cannot shoot them all from one.
jdg. This clause seems to have been overlooked by both IPSC and USPSA during their evaluation of the rule book.
This clause is a concern because it seems to entirely remove the possibility of "Free Style" competition.
For example, stages which might offer the competitive option of shooting all targets from one position, or of moving down-range to engage difficult targets at a shorter distance, now seem to be illegal.
JA-What is illegal, is being able to shoot all the shots from one position.

jdg.Also, shooting from a Bianchi-type barricade, it might now be mandatory that competitors shoot at one or more targets from each side of the barricade, instead of only one side. (As you know, many USPSA classifiers require that some targets be engaged,. or 'shot at', from one side and some from the other. This establishes a precedence for this interpretation.)
JA-Classifers are a seperate course of fire and the rules allow for them to stipulate
reloads and they are exempt from having to follow freestyle completely as most are shot at local clubs (level I). Now if it wasn't a classifier and you had the Bianchi-type barricade, and there were ten shots in the stage, and you could shoot them all from one side of the barricade, it would be an illegal stage, if it were only nine shots, then no problem.

jdg.Worst, and most bizarre of possible interpretations, when the stage procedures require the competitor to 'shoot them as you see them', if it is possible to shoot at some targets from more than one position ... how does one judge when the rule REQUIRES the competitor to move to a new shooting position even if there is no other reason to do so?

JA-The rule is a course design issue, not a competitors, as 1.1.5 states competitors must be able to solve the challenge presented in a freestyle manner and to shoot the targets in a as visible condition.

jdg.How is the competitor to know when this clause will be considered when shooting a stage?
How is the Range Officer to know when to invoke this clause?
What are the penalties involved?

JA-There are no penalties to the shooter, as stated, these restrictions applies to course design and setup issues, if someone fails to follow them, the only issue would be an arbitration and the possibilty to have the stage thrown out.
jdg.Perhaps my ultimate question is that, if a competitor finds it possible to engage all targets from less than all possible locations or views, and chooses to do so, will penalties be imposed on the competitor? Or, alternatively, must the stage be thrown out of the match because the stage design didn't meet these arbitrary restrictions?
JA-I know this may sound repetive, but if the course of fire states on signal, engage targets,
how does a competitor obtain a penalty for figuring out a better way to shoot the stage,
assuming that everything they do is done safely and no other rules are violated? It is
not a competitor rule, it is course design and setup.

jdg.Or can we just ignore this otherwise unenforceable rule clause?
And if so, how do we reconcile this with the published rules?
JA-You cannot ignore any rule without ramifications, however, I question
your statement that it is unenforceable. If you send me stages for approval for
a level II or level III match, and it appears that you are allowing 24 rounds to be
fired from one position, even though there are other positions, I would not
approve them.

jdg.Give the new restrictions on Arbitration Committees, can you provide a guideline for acceptible decisions when this question arises during a match?
JA-I cannot predict how an arbitration committee would rule on any issue, but if a
club asked for approval on stages presented for sanction or tournament, and it was granted,
then they set up a stage that allows all the shots (more than 9) from one location or view,
and someone files an arbitration as the stage being illegal, the arbitration committee SHOULD
rule that the stage be tossed.

jdg.Are there other rules which are unreasonable upon consideration, and are similarly subject to NROI interpretation?
JA-unreasonable is in the eye of the beholder, some say no more than two hits on a
penalty target is unreasonable, some say not allowing the static target to be put at an
angle greated than 90 degrees is unreasonable, so the only answer I could give
on this question is, if you have a question, reach out.

John Amidon

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pat Tillman ... Victim of "Blue on Blue"?

At the time of this writing, most internet websites have not yet noticed this, but the Washington Post has announced that their information is that former Cincinatti football player (and later U.S. Army Ranger) Pat Tillman was the victim of 'Friendly Fire'.

Army Spun Tale Around Ill-Fated Mission

By Steve Coll
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 6, 2004; Page A01

Second in a two-part series.

Just days after Pat Tillman died from friendly fire on a desolate ridge in southeastern Afghanistan, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command released a brief account of his last moments.

The April 30, 2004, statement awarded Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for combat valor and described how a section of his Ranger platoon came under attack.

"He ordered his team to dismount and then maneuvered the Rangers up a hill near the enemy's location," the release said. "As they crested the hill, Tillman directed his team into firing positions and personally provided suppressive fire. . . . Tillman's voice was heard issuing commands to take the fight to the enemy forces."

It was a stirring tale and fitting eulogy for the Army's most famous volunteer in the war on terrorism, a charismatic former pro football star whose reticence, courage and handsome beret-draped face captured for many Americans the best aspects of the country's post-Sept. 11 character.

It was also a distorted and incomplete narrative, according to dozens of internal Army documents obtained by The Washington Post that describe Tillman's death by fratricide after a chain of botched communications, a misguided order to divide his platoon over the objection of its leader and undisciplined firing by fellow Rangers.

The Army's public release made no mention of friendly fire, even though at the time it was issued, investigators in Afghanistan had already taken at least 14 sworn statements from Tillman's platoon members that made clear the true causes of his death. The statements included a searing account from the Ranger nearest Tillman during the firefight, who quoted him as shouting "Cease fire! Friendlies!" with his last breaths.

Army records show Tillman fought bravely during his final battle. He followed orders, never wavered and at one stage proposed discarding his heavy body armor, apparently because he wanted to charge a distant ridge occupied by the enemy, an idea his immediate superior rejected, witness statements show.

But the Army's published account not only withheld all evidence of fratricide, but also exaggerated Tillman's role and stripped his actions of their context. Tillman was not one of the senior commanders on the scene -- he directed only himself, one other Ranger and an Afghan militiaman, under supervision from others. And witness statements in the Army's files at the time of the news release describe Tillman's voice ringing out on the battlefield mainly in a desperate effort, joined by other Rangers on his ridge, to warn comrades to stop shooting at their own men.

The Army's April 30 news release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman's death, according to internal records and interviews.

During several weeks of memorials and commemorations that followed Tillman's death, commanders at his 75th Ranger Regiment and their superiors hid the truth about friendly fire from Tillman's brother Kevin, who had fought with Pat in the same platoon, but was not involved in the firing incident and did not know the cause of his brother's death. Commanders also withheld the facts from Tillman's widow, his parents, national politicians and the public, according to records and interviews with sources involved in the case.

On May 3, Ranger and Army officers joined hundreds of mourners at a public ceremony in San Jose, where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and Maria Shriver took the podium to remember Tillman. The visiting officers gave no hint of the evidence investigators had collected in Afghanistan.

In a telephone interview, McCain said: "I think it would have been helpful to have at least their suspicions known" before he spoke publicly about Tillman's death. Even more, he said, "the family deserved some kind of heads-up that there would be questions."

McCain said yesterday that questions raised by Mary Tillman, Pat's mother, about how the Army handled the case led him to meet twice earlier this fall with Army officers and former acting Army secretary Les Brownlee to seek answers. About a month ago, McCain said, Brownlee told him that the Pentagon would reopen its investigation. McCain said that he was not certain about the scope of the new investigation but that he believed it is continuing. A Pentagon official confirmed that an investigation is underway, but Army spokesmen declined to comment further.

(Further information may be found on the Washington Post website)


Here's the Geek point of view:

Yes, if true it is a tragedy. Yes, it does happen.

Anyone who has been in combat will understand that friendly fire is a fact of war. When the bullets are flying, and there is a breakdown in communications, the fire of artillary and other crew-served weapons (just as is the case of individual weapons) is often pointed at unidentified military groups who may later be identified as friendly troops.

The "Fog of War" is a well-known phenomenon, and it often results in tragic consequences.

It is the result of over-reaction on the part of local commanders who are under fire, or are reacting to calls for support from those who are under fire, and who place their barrages upon friendly troops simply because they have not had their target correctly identified.

True, it sometimes happens that artillary fire is misplaced simply because of human error ... the individual who calls in the fire incorrectly locates the target, or the officer in charge of the artillary calculates the wrong target coordinates, or the artillary crew misapplies the charge, declension or direction. Most often (as is the case here, which was a crew-served weapon) the gunner directs fire on a target which has incorrectly been identified as the enemy.

There is no possibility of confirmation of the target by an objective observer; here, the gunner perceived that his unit was under fire from an enemy and responds as best he can.

It's not always easy to know who is shooting at you, when all you really know is that your friends are being shot at and killed. You do the best you can. You want to take the pressure off your own people, so you shoot at whatever targets present themselves outside your own perimeter.

This is what happened on that day.

Pat Tillman died because of an error, which can easily be second-guessed by our huge coterie of arm-chair quarterbacks who have likely never found themselves under fire.

This is far to similar to the situation in Fallujah where a Marine shot an insurgent who he perceived as a threat to himself and to his unit ... only to find in retrospect that the insurgent might not have been armed. That Marine could reasonably be excused for having assumed that someone who was 'faking' death had the intention of killing American troops.

The machine gunner who directed fire on the (unidentified) U.S. Ranger and his native guide might also be reasonably be excused for having assumed that someone who was outside his perimeter was a threat to American troops.

It's not something to be proud of, but it is certainly something which should be understood in light of the circumstances.