13 September 2006

Shotguns and the Media

So, yesterday LCPL B------ from the Marine small boat unit shows up with an M1014 Shotgun, which is a sweet little Benelli semi-auto weapon. Absolutely gorgeous. However, the bolt is frozen halfway between the open and closed position. Now, I don’t know squat about these Benellis, but he wants someone else’s opinion because he just is out of ideas. We pull the weapon apart, and get everything off of it but the bolt. Nothing doing, we cannot either move the bolt or see what the problem is. Now, we know that there is a broken piece in the trigger assembly and that there the tip of a small rod is missing. I’m guessing that it is wedged in there, holding the bolt in place.

So I did something I hate to do to a perfectly good weapon. I put it in a vice, and put a crescent wrench over the charging handle, and smacked the other end with a freakin’ big hammer.

Do not try this at home, folks. It’s also definitely NOT recommended procedure for anyone who isn’t an armorer. Even if you’re an armorer, get a second opinion like the good LCPL did before whaling away with a hammer on a weapon.

I eventually knocked the bolt all the way forward, at which point it fell out of the weapon and the missing tip of the rod goes flying. It had indeed been wedged between the bolt and the receiver.

This is what passes for excitement here.

I understand there is a big kerfluffle caused by a Marine officer’s report on al-Anbar Province basically saying that this place is a mess. As I understand the gist of the report as reported by the media (hahahahaha), there aren’t enough troops in al-Anbar province to put a boot up the foot of the insurgency in a serious manner. As a result, they basically have kicked the Iraqi Government out of the province.

Well, in the first place let me remind folks that the report has NOT been released to the press, and that we have third- and fourth-hand discussion of what the report contains. That’s what the legal profession calls “hearsay”. And the media has their own ‘special’ spin on the war and how they report things. I haven’t seen many reporters out here in al-Anbar checking things over for themselves, that’s for damn sure. Probably because they can’t find a secure hotel with a well-stocked wet bar in Ramadi.

But let’s assume that the contents of the report are being reported accurately. Let’s assume that this colonel, who has been in al-Anbar for nearly a full USMC tour (7 months) if I understand the media correctly, is not just burnt out because he has seen little progress during his tour.

The major reported issue is troop strength, specifically that there is not sufficient troop strength to operate effectively in downtown Ramadi and other urban areas. I’m pretty sure that the brass hats in Baghdad, Qatar, and Washington are aware of this, given that they shifted 1st BCT 1AD (your humble correspondent) and the majority of 2nd BCT 1AD down here this summer. As to dispersing them into smaller FOBs and COPs downtown, that is pushing into OPSEC information so I’ll just tell you that basic counterinsurgency theory is not entirely unknown among the senior folks in this province.

In other words, one bad report does not a lost war make, and there are measures implied in the report which will allow the United States, our Coalition allies, and the Iraqi Government to make headway here. Remember that as COPs, FOBs, and entire sectors pass into Iraqi control, more troops are freed up to concentrate on the remaining 4 provinces where the security situation is out of control.

Also working the news is the issue of how to count murders in Baghdad. The statistics out there are so badly massaged, first by the Army chain of command, then further by the PAO officers, then again by the media. What resemblance they have to the actual ground truth, only God truly knows.

There is some validity to trying to determine what murders are happening why. People killed in suicide bombings by jihadist terrorists from outside of Iraq are a totally different issue from people killed by Shi’a death squads or Sunni Former Regime Elements. The latter are pushing Iraq to a civil war, the former can be thought of as a foreign invading force killing Iraqis to destabilize their government. Means and methods to reduce those differing types of violence do differ somewhat.

There is no excuse for presenting misleading statistics without some sort of clear definition of what those statistics measure. If you are measuring only murders carried out by internal faction fighting, and excluding terrorist attacks, then you need to make it perfectly clear. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time some poor PAO type tried to make a complex point clear, while the media munched on donuts and exercised selective hearing in a deliberate effort to make the military look bad.

I mean, when you have a question as to who got their story garbled, the only thing you have to go on is your reputation for integrity, and the majority of the MSM hasn't got anything left. I am far more likely to give the PAO types the benefit of the doubt rather than assume that the PAO is lying and the MSM is telling the honest-to-God truth.


Blogger Tim Covington said...

I had to do something similar with a friends CETME a couple of weeks back. A round swelled up so tight that it would not extract. I had to use a wooden dowle and mallet to get the brass out. I then read him the riot act on cleaning his weapon. It's not like my wife's Hi-Point (you need a punch set to disassemble the pistol).

12:58 AM  
Anonymous nerdasaaurus said...

People killed in suicide bombings by jihadist terrorists from outside of Iraq are a totally different issue from people killed by Shi’a death squads or Sunni Former Regime Elements.

Allow me to disagree: regardless of how they died, or who killed them, they are still dead.

The MSM has a duty to report it correctly, however. We never hear about foreign troops in Iraq, but they are there. According to them, Iraq is disolving into a civil war. I have no doubt that sectarian violence is ever-present there, but I wonder how much of such "sectarian" violence is at the behest of Syria, Iran, AQ or any number of regimes OTHER than internal Iraqi groups. My guess is that the ratio is probably 90/10. From my reading of events, most Iraquis know that their future is in peaceful poltical exercises, not military violent ones.

T'would be a boon could Iraq's borders be closed, but we can't even close our own. Faster, please, on both issues.

2:11 AM  

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