visitors since 4 oct 2008

Synergy Strike Force

I was doing some research for a writing project and came upon this description of one of the Synergy Strike Force operations buried in a post about the fighting in Marjah. My friends Dave Warner and Baba Ken were a near constant presence at the Taj over the years I was there and for a few after I moved to the Helmand. They did a metric ton of really cool operations and sponsored some of the most interesting folks to ever visit the Taj; Jenn Gold, Rachel Robb, Mullah Todd Huffman and Kate Ludicrum come immediately to mind. I extracted this from the post and am putting it up again because what these folks accomplished (often on their own dime) was remarkable.

Dave and Ken showed up the night after the UN had cleared out of the Taj and said "Don't worry about a thing Tim san...we are going to have the times of our lives here".

Dave and Ken showed up the night after the UN had cleared out of the Taj and said “Don’t worry about a thing Tim san…we are going to have the times of our lives here”. They were correct about that and were a big part of why I loved living in Jalalabad.


Jenn and Rachel and one of their Bollywood friends

Kate Ludicrum doing computer training for local school girls

Kate Ludicrum doing computer training with local school girls

Todd Huffman shopping in the Jalalabad bazaar

Todd Huffman shopping in the Jalalabad bazaar

Dr. Dave Warner from the Synergy Strike Force, which is loosely affiliated with the San Diego – Jalalabad Sister City foundation, itself loosely affiliated with the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club (I am not making this up) has been working the sharing issue with the National Geospacial Agency (NGA) for the past four years. The goal was access for collation of  Stability Operations partners to NGA imagery data. The problem turned out to be not classification but intellectual property rights. The commercial imagery provider had a “next view” licensing agreement with NGA which restricted distribution of the product to official users only. Defining “official users” is always a very complicated endeavor for any U S Government (USG) agency. Here is the thing about large bureaucracies – they are run by motivated people and motivated people easily recognize impediments to mission accomplishment. The NGA is staffed by professionals who take their jobs seriously, and Dr. Dave’s efforts had illustrated that procedure was adversely affecting their mission of supporting America’s efforts in Afghanistan. The NGA management started to chip away at the licensing agreement because they had already paid a king’s ransom for the data and knew they should be able to distribute it as they saw fit.

Little Barabad in a 2008

Little Barabad in a shot taken sometime in 2008

The Synergy Strike Force water weel at Little Barabad village

The Synergy Strike Force water well at Little Barabad village today. See the rock fence outline below the well?   That is an indication of village growth which we attribute to the well.

NGA now has a site called DigitalGlobe RDOG Phase II which ISAF coalition implementation partners can access; write to them here to request imagery assistance. These products are provided to qualified agencies free of charge.

Zone 5 of Jalalabad City in 2007

Zone 5 of Jalalabad City in 2004

Zone 5 of Jalalabad City last month

Zone 5 of Jalalabad City last month

This is White Intelligence which has a limited but useful role in Stability Ops. Check out the results of a poorly designed retaining wall/canal intake project on the Kunar River which has caused serious farm land erosion in the Bishud District of Nangarhar Province.

Shot of the area where the Kunar and Kabul rivers join in 2004

Shot of the area where the Kunar and Kabul rivers join in 2004

A screen shot of the same area last month. Note how much land has been lost to river encroachment

A screen shot of the same area last month. Note how much land has been lost to river encroachment

It is good to see success stories from large USG agencies like the National Geospacial Agency which are pushing the envelope to provide critical support without spending an extra dime of taxpayer money. That is the kind of mission focused production us taxpayers love to see (China too for that matter given the amount of our debt they are holding.) The products NGA provides may not be timely enough to solve all M&E requirements but it can clearly provide a lot of help in remote or contested areas.

Shoot Back

The gun control farce playing out post Orlando is a perfect example the federal government refusing to acknowledge the real threat while focusing on a non-threat. The attack in Orlando did have something to do with guns. That, of course, is a somewhat superficial statement but thinking it through leads to another fundamental conclusion. The inability of local police and the FBI to address the threat.  The NYPD Demographics Unit was a reasonable attempt to disrupt potential attacks but it produced little of value before being shut down amidst charges of racial profiling. In October of 2011 the DOJ designated  Mosques as off limits for federal investigators.  As long as the problem of Islamic Terrorism is treated as a law enforcement problem it will grow. Islamic Terrorists exploit weaknesses; their attacks are acts of war and should be treated as such. If they were we could develop a strategy to deal with them but as it is now our federal agencies are forbidden from using the words “Islamic Terrorism”. If we can’t even name the threat how can we develop effective policies to fight it?

The inability of some 2nd and 3rd generation Islamic immigrants to assimilate into main stream culture is self evident. But let’s look at the assimilation issue through the eyes of a recent arrival from Kabul, Afghanistan. What are the western values we’re asking them to embrace and with which to raise their children? Toddlers and Tiaras? The fantasy of “Diversity is our Strength“? The prospect of their daughters being drafted into the Marine Corps infantry….the fact that we are having a debate on women in the infantry is indicative of a society that has forgotten how it became a dominate force for good in the world. Which cultural will instill the values immigrant parents want to see in their children…the decadent West or Islam?

The progressive liberal values that our elites cherish are anathema to people raised in a warrior society and Islam is a religion of war. Those same values would have been anathema to the generation Americans who fought and won WW II too for that matter. What can you do?  Nothing – that’s the state of play and there is no reason to limit any activity because your elected leaders insist on staying with the liberal narrative. Kevin Wilson does a great job articulating the frustration of  the law abiding, productive, pro second amendment citizens (hat tip Instapundit):

Yes, sometimes we get an Oklahoma City bombing. Sometimes, a shark does attack. But the reality of violence in the United States is practically unspeakable. And because this is fundamentally a question of social-status-jockeying rather than one of effective public policy, gun-control policies that might actually reduce crime are overlooked or opposed because they do not annoy the NRA. Indeed, gun control that doesn’t annoy the NRA isn’t considered proper gun control at all. We could be putting violent criminals away for gun-related crimes for longer terms and monitoring them more aggressively through an improved parole system. We could do that before they graduate to murder — remember how many of those charged with possession offenses have prior arrests and convictions. But this isn’t on any gun-control agenda.


For one thing, it probably would mean locking up a lot of young black men in Chicago rather than hassling a lot of old white guys living out weekend-warrior Rambo fantasies in Tulsa. And for the Democrats, that isn’t an option. The enemy is the enemy, and, guilty or not guilty, he must be punished.

My intent with this post was to cover the minimum skills that a reasonable person would want to master if he or she wants to carry concealed with confidence. There are hyper links that explain the training content; mastering this material will result in the ability to carry concealed with confidence. The majority of current conceal permit holders are essentially untrained but then again in the majority of the 2.5 million times per year a gun is used to stop a crime in America little to no training was needed. Producing the gun was all it took to prevent the crime.

Islam has millions of adherents who come in every shape, size, and color. You cannot count on identifying a Jihadi terrorist by matching what you think a Middle Eastern or Central Asian man looks like. There are plenty of Afghans in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan who look just like me. There are American converts to Islam who look like any other American. Islamic Terrorists can be picked out early by the alert observer because he will have detectable anomalies – something about them that sticks out from the normal pattern of life surrounding you. Read the books by Gavin DeBecker and Dave Grossman mentioned in the previous post for details.

As my father pointed out in a rather pointed email my statement that the targeted venue in Orlando was “irrelevant” was inaccurate and potentially inflammatory.  The target could have been selected specifically because it was a gay bar, or because it was a “gun free” zone, or because the murderer was spurned during his advances to other men in that bar and was seeking revenge, or a combination of all three and/or something else. I think that the consistent thread in all of the Islamic terrorist attacks in the US has been vulnerability …. and nothing is more vulnerable than a gun free zone. Gun free zones come in many different flavors. Trying to carry a concealed into a federal court or office will get you arrested. In a bar…….if you’re carrying with proper concealment who would know? That’s a call every man and woman has to make for themselves.

Regardless of motivation Islamic terrorists have a consistent feature. They are dedicated opponents who have enhanced their abilities with drug combinations. I would guess they combine amphetamines and valium or use meth combined with powerful opium based analgesics like oxycotin in the United States and Europe. In the Middle East and Afghanistan the drug combination of choice is capagon mixed with tramadol. Opponents who are motivated and drugged are difficult to put down, they will need to be hit repeatedly to stop them. The weapon training term used for dedicated opponent training is failure drill. Drugs are a two way street – they will enhance the ability of an Islamic Terrorist to fight on when hit but will also aid in detecting them when they are near you. Murders high on drugs and preparing to massacre people send out a vibe you will not miss if you are paying attention or in gun training terms are in condition orange.

 Dedicated and/or multiple opponents are bad news; firearms act as force multipliers for those who protect potential victims in these situations. When a threat can only be handled with lethal force not having a firearm will prove a fatal mistake. Needless to say if these were 13 Jihadis they might have proved tougher to break.

 Gun laws in America vary by state but never vary in intent. The purpose of having a concealed carry permit is to have the ability to stop an assailant who has demonstrated he is a lethal threat to you or another person. Using a firearm to defend yourself is always a legal liability crap shoot; the best outcome you can expect is to keep everything you had before the shooting. Even if the DA determines the shooting justified there remains a potential civil case and the costs of a court battle will drain the financial resources of the vast majority of citizens in this country. If you decide to carry concealed often I highly recommend you purchase concealed carry insurance; the monthly fees are reasonable – the protection priceless.

“Any gun will do if you will do” was the tag line Front Sight put on their tee shirts and it’s a good line to remember. There are hundreds of blogs that discuss the virtues and/or flaws of various guns and (more importantly) ammunition loads. I’m a 1911 guy but you should carry whatever you are comfortable with. If you are a novice consider a Glock style pistol that does not incorporate an external safety. The one skill to master when running a Glock (or similar style) pistol is take up the considerable slack in the trigger prior to pressing off the shot….and then resetting the trigger by trapping it first which enables rapid aimed fire. Stroking all the way through the Glock trigger (the safe action trigger has tons of slack in it by design) to press a shot will drive the rounds low and right.


All effective self-defense systems require training and practice and this is doubly true with firearms. If you have the time and financial means taking a four or five-day handgun course would be a wise investment. There are good schools all over the country; I favor Gunsite and Frontsite but any school will work because the information they are presenting is generally the same. These courses start with grip and stance and by the end of the training students are capable of presenting from the holster under time pressure while consistently hitting their targets and able to clear type 1, 2 and 3 malfunctions. These training courses are not a vacation; the pace is fast, learning curve steep and the days long.

 Listen to a former SEAL talking common sense to power concerning assault weapons.

The majority of you will not have the time and or money to attend a formal school but all of you know somebody who’s a gun guy (or gal) and they can direct you towards decent local training. What you need to master is grip, stance,  trigger control, presentations, consistent gun handling routines, the ability to clear malfunctions and the ability to hit what you are aiming at. Being consistent means you handle your weapon the same way every time. When it comes out of the holster it’s a proper presentation – even if you’re not on the range and putting it up for the night the presentation should be crisp and to the ready. That builds muscle memory while reinforcing good habits. Gun handling (loading, unloading, presentations, clearing malfunctions, etc.) can and should be mastered with a dry weapon. Presentations should consistently produce a good sight picture, slack out of the trigger and be centered on center mass of your target. The presentation needs to be smooth with an economy of movement. Range time needs to be focused and should consist of a drill progressions in a venue where you are allowed to present from the holster.

Typing “learning how to shoot a pistol” into Google yields 409,000 results. If you do not know anyone who can help coach you watch the videos, dry practice and then hit the range to do progressive training. Putting holes in paper targets from a bench rest (which is the rule for most indoor ranges) is useful to the novice and those who have not shot for several years but to develop the confidence of a sheepdog you need to run your firearm from your concealment rig and hit targets while moving. Nobody stands still in a gun fight, you and all around you will be moving.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to train up and carry a gun from now on…or train up, get a conceal carry permit and carry sometimes ….or are you going to do nothing?  Doing nothing is a solid choice as the odds of ever seeing a Jihadist unmask are unbelievably high. But soon someone somewhere in our country is going to be on the X; minding his own business when he looks up to see the impossible unfold right in front of him. If that happens to you be the guy in the video below. You don’t need to carry a gun to be a sheepdog; you just need to fight. Be the guy in the video below! Submission (Islam means submission in Arabic) is not an option for free people.

Fourth Generation War Comes To America: What Are You Going To Do About It?

Orlando is not the first mass shooting by a so called ‘Lone Wolf’ Islamic Jihadist in America; it’s the seventh in recent years but this one is different. The knee jerk reaction from the political left and their media enablers has (unbelievably) gained traction in the establishment media. The Orlando massacre has nothing to do with […]

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Meet a Couple of Heros

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Hotel California Naw Zad Edition

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