Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Guns of Norkland

Norks with Type 73Booooring, you say. Cheap copies of crummy comblock stuff, made by starving slave labor. Interesting only because of its sheer quantity. Soon to be the world’s first radioactive parts kits, imported by Century International, if Kim Fat Kid starts something. 

Not exactly. Sure, the Norks have copied all the usual stuff from their former Soviet and Chinese sponsors. And even though their GDP is miserably low thanks to classically Communist mismanagement, and its exact amount anyone’s guess, you can indeed build a whole metric crapton of guns if you can spend a third to a half of even a miserable nation’s comic-opera GDP on arms. So that much is true. But the Norks have also developed some interesting weapons of their own. Here’s a video; watch for the oddball pistols:

(Hat tip, Gun Free Zone, where Miguel was bemused by the Nork conception of gun safety. Heh. Perhaps it’s just that life is cheap in the Orient).

Those Unusual Nork Pistols

We don’t speak Hangook, so we don’t know what these guys are saying, but the metadata say they’re officers of North Korean special operations forces. (Is the fat guy a one-man deception plan? Or is he just illustrative of who gets the calories in a socialist worker’s paradise?) But while the rifles are bog-standard AKMs — Type 68, in Nork nomenclature — the pistols are interesting. They’re the Type 70, a blowback-operated, .32 ACP (7.65 Browning, 7.65X17SR) pistol issued to officers (an older DIA document IDs it as a “Type 64 (New Type)” pistol and notes that it is marked “7.62.” even though it’s .32 ACP). It’s a single action pistol looks a bit like a Browning Model 1910, but it’s hammer-, not striker-fired. There’s also a suppressed version. Norks love them sabotage, espionage, terrorism and so forth, so they produce a lot of suppressed and concealable guns.

Type 64 "7.62" (.32 ACP) pistol. DIA image.

Type 64 “7.62” (.32 ACP) pistol. DIA image.

The Norks also make a direct copy of the Browning 1900, the Type 64, also regular or suppressed, in .32. Small Arms Defense Journal erroneously suggests that the suppressor is asymmetric, but the DIA notes it correctly as a standard Maxim type. It looks asymmetric because on the 1900, the barrel is below the recoil spring, unlike most of Browning’s more familiar later designs; that naturally makes the upper bound of the suppressor drop below the sight plane. The DIA also suggests that the suppressed version has a shorter slide, but its own photo doesn’t really seem to bear that out. Instead, it looks like the quiet gun has a longer barrel. DIA notes that the barrel threads are fine, which suggests that the suppressor may normally be left on (as a rule of thumb, finer threads hold a suppressor better, and coarser threads are superior for quickly mounting and dismounting it). If you have a Browning 1900 that is stamped 1964 7.62 on the left side of the frame, you might just have a Type 64.

Why the long-obsolete, retirement age 1900? Small Arms Defense Journal’s Dan Shea speculates that a famous Korean patriot’s assassination of a Japanese overlord with a 1900 adds some cachet to the gun’s reputation in the Land of the Morning Calm.

In addition to suppressed .32 pistols, North Korean SOF, saboteurs and intelligence agents have been known to use Czech Vz61 Skorpion .32 ACP submachine guns, usually with the factory suppressor. The ones we’ve seen have all been Czech made, but there’s no reason the Norks couldn’t copy this subgun/PDW. The Skorpion seems simple, but it’s more sophisticated inside than it looks at a glance. Like the earliest AR prototypes, “safe,” which is marked “0,” is the center of the selector/safety settings. You rotate the safety forward (where it says “20”) for automatic, or rear (“1”) for semi-auto fire. The gun fires from a closed bolt.

The trigger mechanism is a cousin of the AK, or for that matter the M16 or Garand, with the distinctive fore and aft hooks on the hammer. The pistol grip contains a clever cyclic-rate reducing mechanism that comes into play in automatic fire. A hook called the “bolt catch” holds the bolt to the rear while a weighted “actuator” is driven down into the grip. A spring drives a plunger on the actuator back up, where it impacts a lever that trips the bolt catch. This mechanism reduces the cyclic rate some 20% to a still quite high 800 RPM.

Is North Korea interesting yet?

North Korean Type 68, 7.62 x 35. From Modern Firearms.

North Korean Type 68, 7.62 x 35. From Modern Firearms (

Then, there’s their standard service pistol, for Army officers and not just for spooks. Sure, they once issued the TT-33, but when the rest of the commie world went to the Walther-inspired Makarov or other pocket pistol, the Norks went their own way. First, they modified the TT into the Type 68, which had some features the original lacked — like a safety. It also had a ramp-based locking system (like a Hi-Power or Glock) instead of the cam links of a TT-33 or M1911. The slide serrations differ from Russian or Chinese TTs, also.

Then, they got fascinated with Czech small arms. First, they supposedly bought some CZ-82 or -83 pocket pistols, but then, they adopted the CZ-75. Here’s Kim Chi Breath trying to demonstrate his mastery of one, with bonus target drone shootdown footage.

You can see the resemblance of the gun Kim handles to the standard 1980s vintage CZ. You can also see the unusual Nork pistol shot scoring system. They don’t actually show where the Beer Leader’s shots hit.

Baek Du San presentation model. Image: KPA Blogger.

Baek Du San presentation model. Image: KPA Blogger.

Of course, the North Korean “licensees” didn’t pay CZ as much as a the price of a dogmeat casserole. They just copied the Czech pistol, and declared the copyist a great inventor of the North Korean proletariat or something like that. The Korean copy is called the Baek-du-San (“White Head Mountain,” a terrain feature in North Korea held as sacred since ancient times), and closely resembles a mid-1980s CZ, except for the unique grips, the Korean markings — and the so-so workmanship. Supposedly, they chose this because Kim Jong Il was a fan of the CZ, although all information from Norkistan needs to be taken with a grain of salt. One blogger who covers the KPA has a blurb on the Baek-du-san that includes photos of a blinged-out presentation model and a long-barreled target gun. The standard b-d-s is well illustrated in the latest Small Arms Review.

Long guns — and their home-grown MG

northkoreanfemalesoldiersWhat about long guns? For most of their infantry weapons, te Norks are content to copy foreign, mostly Russian, prototypes. AKM, RPK, PK, PKM, DShK, NPV are all in their inventory. (They also produce 5.45 versions of the Kalashnikovs, but it’s unclear how wide the issue of these weapons is). The North Korean SKS (Type 56) , AK-47 (Type 58) and AKM (Type 68) variants differ little from their Soviet forebears; the biggest differences are in markings, except for the Type 68’s absent rate reducer. The AK-74 versions (Type 88 and 88-1) do show some Korean innovation, however. The folding stock rifle is a sidefolder of unique design that resembles an FN-FAL Para stock. There are also unusual helical, high-capacity magazines that have only been observed slunk from the shoulders of Kim’s personal security detail.

There is one weird and wonderful Nork weapon, though, that is entirely home-grown, and quite an oddity at that. That’s the Type 73 light machine gun, a weapon that combines lots of PKM features with a uniquely Nork dual feed system. Like the American SAW, the Type 73 is designed to accept belts and a box magazine interchangeably. (Unlike the SAW, the Type 73’s magazine feed apparently works).


Type 73 LMG. Image: Small Arms Defense Jourmal

Type 73 LMG. Image: Small Arms Defense Jourmal

The Type 73’s magazine interchanges with nothing; the gun also has a very unusual feature: a grenade launcher. Why? Don’t ask us.

The replacement for the Type 73, the Type 82, is a closer relative of the PKM and dispenses with the magazine feed.

RP-=46 in Nork serviceOther relatively rare machine guns still show up in North Korean service. KPA Blogger asked what these oddball MGs were (right) after they appeared in a recent propaganda video. They’re Russian RP-46 (Ruchnoi Pulemyot 1946G, the light or company machine gun of 1946. They were essentially a conversion of the pan-fed DPM to belt feed, and they use the same belts as the SG-43, PKM, and most other 7.62 x 54R mm machine guns, includinh the two North Korean guns (Types 73 and 82).

North Korean minigun-style Gatling gun, about which little is known.

North Korean minigun-style Gatling gun, about which little is known.

And finally, we have a true oddity, a North Korean minigun in their standard 7.62 x 54R caliber. Little is known about this gun, except that the Norks have tried to export it. The image is from SADJ.

Clandestine and Deniable Weapons

There are also weapons that the Norks use for clandestine service. We’re familiar with these because the South Koreans have captured them — many of them. A few have turned up in Japan as well. Among the most interesting is a copy of the M16 rifle that is, according to SADJ, innocent of any markings whatsoever. It’s unclear whether these “deniable” rifles were made in China (which does make M16 copies) or in North Korea itself.

Adding it up

northkoreansoldiersThe North Koreans not only have enough weapons of generally reliable, functional types, they also have a capability to design and engineer their own weapons. Some weapons, like the Type 68 and Type 73, show advantages over, or conceptual departures from, their foreign-designed forerunners. By and large, though, the North Koreans make weapons according to foreign designs, with relatively few modifications. We’ve covered the known exceptions to that rule here.

Then, there’s the day-glow camouflage suits. What? And going back to the first video, there’s all these dogs. If you want proof that the security forces have a tight grip on Norkland, note that those magnificent Shepherds haven’t yet been turned into plates of gaegogi. 


Johnson, Harold E. Small Arms Identification and Operations Guide — Eurasian Communist Countries. DST1110H-394-76-CHG 1. DIA Task PT-1110-01-01L. Washington: Defense Intelligence Agency, 5 September 1980.

Shea, Dan; Hong, Heebum; Kim, Namho. North Korean Small Arms. Small Arms Defense Journal.  27 Mar 2013. Retrieved from:  (this is the best single article on Nork small arms).

Shea, Dan; Hong, Heebum. North Korean Pistol Baek-du-San. Small Arms Review.  May-Jun 2013. p. 126. (This is a supplement to the March article in SADJ, with Hong’s photos of the gun which were not available in time for the March story).

US Marine Corps. North Korea Country Handbook.  May, 1997. Retrieved from:  Note that much of the small arms information in this handbook is inaccurate; trust Shea and Hong instead.

Other websites as linked in the text.

Have you seen this rifle?

This Philadelphia Police Department hasn’t, recently (perhaps not this exact rifle, but a select-fire M16A1 exactly like it).

Phillys Missing M16A1


Which is a problem because it’s supposed to be in their academy’s arms room. The department has over a thousand of the rilfles (1,386 to be exact... well, 1,385 for now). They were presented by the Department of Defense, and the PD is slowly converting them to semi-auto — it doesn’t train its officers to use, or allow them to patrol with, full-auto weapons. But they came up short one of the unconverted guns on a recent inventory, something they do very occasionally (inventory, not come up short — updated for clarity).

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who’s always willing to talk to the press about how irresponsible private gun owners are, is a bundle of quivering excuses, one of which is that his department hasn’t previously lost a weapon on his five year watch. He seems to have forgotten the series the Daliy News ran in 2011 recounting at least eight missing weapons, some of which were automatic weapons. The suspected thieves included department officers. The files for missing weapons were kept isolated in a cabinet with the computer label, “FUBAR storage.” The principal suspect was the stepson of a department big wheel; Ramsey reacted, alright, but only to punish the whistleblowers.  The whistleblowers sued. (Maybe those links will jog the Commissioner’s memory?).

Now, it’s quite possible (indeed, it’s the most likely explanation) that someone miscounted, and no rifle is missing at all. If they’re really missing one, they don’t have a lot of leads. There was no real control of who had access to the arms room, and the inventories seem to be irregular, haphazard and partial. Until this month’s short inventory, the last complete one was in December, 2012, according to Ramsey.

Commissioner Ramsey and Lt. Testa (shown), former head of the Firearms Imvestigation Unit, are accused of a coverup of previous missing weapons.

Commissioner Ramsey and Lt. Testa (shown), former head of the Firearms Investigation Unit, are accused of a coverup of previous missing weapons.

The missing-rifle crisis caused the department to look at its weapons room physical security, and they found it pretty weak. They’ve since improved locks, alarms, and added video surveillance for the first time. They’re also going to take a full 100% inventory of department-owned weapons, also, apparently, for the first time.

For someone who grew up in the Army’s systematic and deep weapons inventory system, this is pretty puzzling. Yeah, it’s hard to get a good count when you’re all tired, and the weapons are worn and the serials half filled-in by arsenal refinishes, but you can’t call the arms room secure until you have a by-serial-number count from two officers or senior NCOs (E-7 and up) that agrees with your inventory. If every mess kit repair battalion in the National Guard can accomplish this at the end of every drill weekend, a bad count makes Philadelphia look pretty foolish.

On the bright side, even if the Department lost control of the weapon and it ended up in criminal hands, they’ve got to lose about 3,000 more to break the known record, held by the ATF’s southwestern region and Phoenix division, in conjunction with their good friends, the Sinaloa Cartel.

PS: honest, we’re not bashing cops here. They’re pretty much bashing themselves… read those links.

Hagel blinks: Drone Hero medal binned

Collector's Item Now: Panetta's Chairborne Ranger medal

Collector’s Item Now: Panetta’s Chairborne Ranger medal

One of the last lame-duck strokes of DecDef Leon Panetta’s reign of error was the “Distinguished Warfare Medal,” a bauble for drone- and cyber-commando armchair warriors that would outrank the Bronze Star for Valor. As you might expect, this did not sit well with whole swathes of people, including those who get shot at, unlike the cyber heroes.

After pushback from Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to roll back plans for the dronefare medal.

On Feb. 13, the Pentagon established of the Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize the achievements of “a small number of service men and women who have an especially direct and immediate impact on combat operations through the use of remotely piloted aircraft and cyber operations.”

This is the first time Hagel showed that he learned anything as a combat vet — and what he learned was, don’t tangle with a superior force over a low-value objective. The superior force was Congress, which provides the dollars Hagel needs to feed his sprawling empire — or doesn’t, if he pisses them off. So he yanked the medal to make nice. (He could have simply placed it where it belongs, below the joint service commendation medal and the individual service commendation medals, the lowest awards given for valor).

Lawmakers were concerned about the proposed precedence of the new medal over combat medals including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Production on the DWM was stopped after Hagel agreed to review the medal.

Hagel’s statement, though, showed that he had been long enough on Capitol Hill for any of the integrity of the combat soldier to leach out of him:

“While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition, it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose,” Hagel said in a statement today.

The only “misconception” was that the medal was going to do what Panetta and Hagel said it was going to do. “Who are you gonna believe, me or the lying me last week?”

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women,” he continued. “I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal.”

So there’s gonna be some kind of drone pin for pushbutton warriors. That got one of the Congress’s most noble (just ask him) career non-warriors to praise Hagel effusively.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Hagel’s statement confirmed why he voted for his confirmation: “Simply put, he does the right thing.”

“Secretary Hagel’s commonsense approach to reviewing this important issue proves to our combat veterans that their sacrifices are valued,” Manchin gushed. “I truly am grateful for his leadership and for his willingness to listen to all who care so deeply about this issue.”

via The PJ Tatler » Under Pressure, Hagel Replaces Dronefare Medal with ‘Distinguishing Device’.

It’s puzzling why Manchin “cares so deeply.” While Hagel is a rarity in Washington, a Vietnam combat veteran, the anti-gun and usually anti-military Manchin is that commonplace DC panjandrum: a Vietnam-aged Baby Boomer who somehow never got his priorities right to shrug on a uniform coat or pick up a rucksack.

Remington… and Tracking Point?

Remington has this teaser video out. It’s been in all the usual places, and hints that they’re announcing something big on May 3 at the NRA Annual Meeting. They call it “Venture X.”

We assess that Venture X is some kind of partnership with, and possibly even acquisition of, Tracking Point. Why? Here are the indicators:

  • Hints that the venture involves a technology company.
  • Resemblance of the Venture X “X logo” to Tracking Point’s Network Tracking Scope reticle, which, to our recollection, was formerly used as a Tracking Point logo.

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 4.47.57 PM

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 4.46.18 PM

Boy, them’s some similar-lookin’ X’es.

  • Reuse of video we’ve already seen from Tracking Point in the Remington teaser. Some of that video shows Tracking Point’s mag-fed rifle.
  • The redaction, in the teaser video, of the scope, not always the rifle, and the size of that redaction, big enough to conceal Tracking Point’s sophisticated, active scope.
  • Images in the video (of both guns and of CAD imagery) showing a bolt-action rifle with a pronounced forged Picatinny rail, as would be needed to accept such a scope.
  • If you join the “Venture X” email list, your list membership is processed by Tracking Point associated nodes:

Now, there are indicators that don’t point to Tracking Point. For example, there doesn’t seem to be any way for the trigger of the CAD-file rifle to interface with the Network Tracking Scope in the way that Tracking Point’s own hardware does. And at one point, the drawing on the page and the part a man is handling both represent a polymer shotgun stock.

But we assess those as distractors, just as we assess the many hints of “top security” (dogs, locks, access control, the word “Confidential” on an iPad, etc) as just part of the fun of the video tease. Ergo, Remington and Tracking Point are sittin’ in a tree… and the child of this miscegenation will be unveiled to all of us at the NRA meeting.

Is this guy another Bloomberg Mayor?

Well, he’s actually the vice mayor of Mt Carmel, TN. And his particular vice has to be heard from eyewitnesses to be believed. Fortunately, while women in the region have been terrorized for at least three or four years by an unknown perv who massages his reproductive tackle out the window of car at female motorists has now been ID’s and busted — Vice Mayor William Blakely. And the local TV station has a report, and video of the witnesses’ testimony.

“It seems that every victim would tell the same story. But I knew all the victims did not know each other,” Kingsport Police Detective Terry Christian said.

Personal accounts in Thursday’s testimonies started the same – Blakely allegedly waving to get the drivers’ attention, then escalating to honking and partially crossing over into the drivers lane.

“Waving, grabbed his shirt, kind of pulled it up,” witness Deanna Dykes said.

“After the waving, it turned into a lot of beeping, him grabbing his chest area, and asking me going ‘please, please’ (clasping hands together) with his hands, may I… show me yours,” witness Kelly Street said.

Each witness testified they were fearful Blakely’s driving would cause an accident.

“He was taking his hand, wetting his mouth, and masturbating,” Sturgill said.

“At over 90 miles per hour, he had his penis out [the window]… he was masturbating… and that’s when it got really, really bad. I wouldn’t look over any more, and I wrote his tag number down on my hand, which I believe he noticed, and he exited very quickly,” Street said.

It was quick action by one of the victims that ended Blakely’s wild run, and solid police support for the latest victims, that ended Blakely’s wild multi-year string of sex offenses. More victims are expected to come forward and pile on now that the Tennessee Interstate Jerkoff has been identified, outed, and not least, made to pull his pants up.

Detective Terry Christian says it’s Street’s writing down of the license tag number that served as a catalyst for William Blakely’s charges.

“It’s important to make that report because if you don’t, they’re gonna feel that they can continue that offense and continue victimizing more females. And that might be your best friend, your daughter, your mother, your aunt, your niece. And you need to make that report because that’s what’s going to eventually stop that type of behavior,” Christian said.

Blakely is facing charges of indecent and reckless endangerment, and criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault with regards to the first two testimonies today. Charges for the case involving the third witness were dropped to reckless driving. Judge Toohey bound the two cases seen today over to a Sullivan County Grand Jury – scheduled for June 14.

Detective Christian tells News Channel 11 several more cases involving Blakely are getting ready to be presented to a grand jury.

via Witnesses: Man drove 90 mph with genitals hanging out the window – WJHL-TV: News: Weather, and Sports for Johnson City, TN.

Videos of the eyewitness testimony at the link — you might not believe it otherwise.

Now, this guy may not have been one of Bloomberg’s pervs (we wrote earlier that dozens of MAIG members have been busted for serious crimes… it’s more like fifty). He may just be a random perv. But he does illustrate this point: that the sort of sketchy people who become politicians, and the sort of overweening egos that want to be mayors, are much more likely to commit crimes than the sort of people who get concealed weapons licenses.

Tom Thurman (ex-FBI) on Bomb Forensics

classic_time_bomb3We’re at the stage now where there’s a lot of speculation — most of it uninformed — about the Marathon bombs. The typical journalist just follows his muse and makes something up, like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did yesterday. The better journalists find someone who knows what he’s talking about, and print what he says — even the warnings to avoid speculation.

Joe Pappalardo of Popular Mechanics did that. The expert he found was professor and retired Bureau bomb investigator Tom Thurman.

Thurman knows a lot about bomb investigations. Before his retirement from the FBI in 1998, Thurman was the chief of the FBI Bomb Data Center; he also worked Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; the bombing deaths of a federal judge in Alabama and an attorney in Georgia, both in 1989; and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

The first thing to do is to determine if the explosions were intentional. “What’s there that could spark an accidental explosion?” Thurman asks. If no likely sources for an accidental detonation are found—like a buildup of flammable vapors—the investigators start looking at other evidence.

Of course, even Pappalardo can’t resist the lure of early information, which is very likely to be BOGINT:

The Boston Globe is reporting via Twitter that a third device was found, unexploded, that police are detonating intentionally. So the fact that the scene in Boston is a mass homicide is now obvious.

We would have said that trash cans don’t generally contain things capable of spontaneous explosions, and that’s why we thought an attempted mass homicide was obvious. And we also would be leery of the media on twitter. During the course of the day, the Boston media reported that there were two, three, five and seven bombs, that the police had defused two, that the police had destroyed two in controlled detonations, that the police were blowing up the hundreds of backpacks abandoned by injured and fleeing persosn. Most of that is bullshit, and any of it that isn’t bullshit, is only factual by the sheerest happenstance.

And the worst offender in local media is the Globe. It’s a farm team for the New York Times, and its reporters have little local interest and few local sources. Most of them don’t even know anybody that’s not an Ivy League grad, which pretty much guarantees you can’t converse with Boston cops.

Twitter has given the media, which already prized primacy over accuracy, an even more uncontrolled hipshooting tool. If the Globe tweets sunrise, start worrying about Earth’s orbital mechanics.

Fortunately, Pappalardo returns to letting his informed source speak:

Video will be crucial to determining what happened in Boston, much more than the laboratory analysis, Thurmon says. “They will be looking at how the bomb got there: who deposited it and when.”

Even the video of the blast can help identify what kind of bomb it is—or in the case of Boston, confirm that the bombs that detonated were the same that went off. “Generally, white smoke means a commercial explosion or improvised device,” he says. A common chemical used in these bombs, in the United States and abroad, is acetone peroxide (TATP). It comes in a white powder and blooms in a white cloud when it explodes. In Boston, the initial images seem to show white smoke blossoming at the moment of explosion.

DHSmethtatp1Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) is very easy to set off, very easy to make (although difficult to store), and does not have any peculiar precursors that are easily interdicted or monitored by law enforcement (unlike, say, ANFO). However, other possibilities, including a smokeless-powder pipe bomb, have to be considered. Most media reports are still speculative, fabricated, or mistaken, and even early official reports are often wrong. (All of these early errors, mostly resulting from the media’s preference for speed over accuracy, will be heard from again: they will be conspiracy theorists’ “evidence” that a cover-up is happening, and actually all they prove is that the media suck at their job). 

Industrial and military explosives emit black smoke, Thurman says.

If the video proves inconclusive, there are other ways to figure out what happened. One main question is whether it was a suicide bombing or a remote-control device. “There is a very discernible difference between the injuries of a suicide carrier than of other victims,” Thurman says.

This question, at least, seems to have been answered. Not a suicide blast.

Re-creating the injuries will help determine the direction of the shrapnel, and help locate the epicenters of the devices—and that means detailing injuries to living victims and examining the deceased, he says. Human bodies that are hit by shrapnel have evidence in their bodies. All that information should be chronicled by investigators, on the scene, in the hospital and morgue. Residue of explosions needs to be collected and sent to the lab—devices can be tested in the field for their composition, but residue cannot, Thurman says.

We still don’t have any credible information on whether other devices were or were not found, and whether or not these devices (if any) were defused or destroyed. (If it were a highly unstable device, like a homemade TATP bomb, they’d probably rather blow it in place… the evidentiary value of a defused device has to be weighed against risk to human life.

Thurman ends on very good advice for everybody:

He cautions not to be too hasty in assessing blame. “Let the evidence direct us,” he says. “We need to have an open mind. This could have been anybody.”

via Bomb-Blast Forensics: The First Steps – 2013 Boston Marathon – Popular Mechanics.

Cop shoots dogs, Minneapolis taxpayers pay…

dog-and-gunWe’ve had a few cases of cops shooting dogs with impunity, and even one where a civilian blew away a chihuahua. In this case, cops were following a rumor a citizen had (oh noes!) an “assault rifle” connected to a crime. They staged a dynamic entry and blew away a couple of dogs. They just missed a kid — with police marksmanship as we know it, they might have been shooting at the kid, and not the dog.

And, oh yeah, the warrant didn’t authorize a no-knock raid. But who needs a stinking warrant?

[P]olice staged a dynamic raid specifically intending to shoot the dogs. It also notes that the city acknowledged that [Police Officer Chad]Fuchs, who killed the second dog, could see the three-year-old girl sitting at the table her dog was under, and fired anyway.

They never found the rifle they were looking for, by the way, and the Ketens faced no charges.

via Police Shoot Dog and Actually Compensate the Family – Hit & Run :

Minneapolis settled for $225k to make a lawsuit go away, because they weren’t willing to pay $225 to properly train Officer Chad Fuchs, or $2250 to initially select police officers capable of exercising mature judgment.

And Fuchs and the rest of the bozos involved in this raid are still on the streets of Minneapolis. So is a killer, since Minneapolis’s finest got sidetracked off a murder investigation into dog-shooting, and never did find the right suspect or the suspected murder weapon.

Good police training is expensive compared to bad police training, at least until the police go on patrol with the bad training. Then the true terms of the bargain come due.

The Boston Marathon Bombing

No one close to us is injured. We were not in Boston — for us, its appeal has been becoming more selective for decades now.

Most of what the news is reporting seems to be nonsense. People are jumping to conclusions, blaming it on a Saudi (as the New York Post did) or on “right-wing extremists” as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer rushed to do.

In fact, nobody is sure, yet. It appears that the Saudi guy (who does exist) has a fairly logical story: he was in the area, after the big bangs he ran like everybody else, but he was in hadji clothes, so someone tackled him and sat on him (literally) until the cops came. Logical, and maybe even true.

But in the aftermath of 9/11, much of the media’s breathless reporting turned out to be BOGINT. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, likewise. Thing is, reporters are people who like to tell stories. If they don’t have stories to tell, they make them up.

Some organizations or groups did cover themselves in glory:

  • The Marathon organizers and their medical people, who were expecting only to rehydrate spent runners. 
  • The ambulance crews, who seemed to break records getting to the scene.
  • The Boston EMTs, who dived right in, as did many firefighters and a few cops.
  • The National Guard guys there for crowd control.

And some groups did not:

  • The media, who first shot prurient grue video and then indulged in unsubstantiated speculation. (Not a single cameraman or talking head appears to have lifted a finger to help any of the wounded). They’re still perseverating on speculation, many hours later. 
  • Most of the Boston Police Department, who stood around idly watching others rescue people.
  • The Commissioner of said BPD, who came across like a tongue-tied moron.

Fort Bragg Cancels July 4th

calendarHey, it was just a white privileged heteronormative holiday anyway, right? As an attempt to keep the heat on towards the overriding goal of more and higher taxes, Secretary of Decline Chuck Hagel and his political-appointee mini-mes have ordered cuts to two popular things supported by the military at gigantic Fort Bragg: the traditional Independence Day celebration, and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville. Hagel’s politruks have refused to allow private donations to restore the museum’s hours.

No cuts are planned to military construction on the sprawling base, as the construction workers are union, and therefore a higher priority than soldiers and their families or the many retirees in the region.

Fort Bragg’s Independence Day celebration cancelled, other services reduced
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Due to budget issues, Fort Bragg is cancelling its 4th of July celebration and reducing services in many other areas.

“Our reduced operating budget for the remainder of this year forces many very tough decisions; notably I must cancel our annual Fort Bragg 4th of July celebration,” said Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Commanding General of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.  “With overtime pay costs of $120,000, the 4th of July celebration is unsupportable under these fiscal realities.  With a pending civilian workforce furlough and a 34 percent operational budget cut, we’re prioritizing our services to ensure our readiness and care of service members, civilians and families.”

via Fort Bragg’s Independence Day celebration cancelled, other services reduced.

The Chief of Staff of the Army, a political animal, has been bestowing earmarked funds on the base, to try to minimize impact on preferred constituencies, while maximizing the pain among the troops and the citizenry at large.

The museum, located in Fayetteville off post, is now reported to be closed during the week and reduced to limited weekend-afternoon hours only. Most athletic fields on post have had their lights cut off, most custodial service has stopped, and Retiree Appreciation Days have been cancelled.

There was a rumor that the liquor and canapés in the wet bars on military jets run for Congress and senior appointees would be replenished more slowly, but that turned out to be a vicious canard. Your tax dollars will still be welcoming Members of Congress and their 17-year-old star-struck pages into the Mile High Club. That’s a relief!

Iron Dome technical history

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Iron Dome to the rescue, 2012.

One of the most interesting developments in weapons technology is missile defense. And one of the most interesting systems is Israel’s Iron Dome, whose batteries have been shifted from one hot spot to the next (most recently, to southern Israel as Egypt has lost functional control of Sinai and Gaza). But Iron Dome is only one part of a much more sophisticated, and rapidly developing, system of systems.

In the air and space realms, as on the ground, amy disequilibrium between offensive and defensive technology usually turns out to be merely a pendulum swing. In the 1930s, generals steeped in Douhet’s questionable theory believed with religious fervor that “the bomber will always get through,” and some of them continued to believe it in the next decade, even after terrible expenditures in human life by their nations’ bomber arms. Even when the bombers got through, they weren’t decisive. A brick barely stood on a brick in the known industrial centers of Hitler’s Germany, but war production kept increasing until American, British and Russian soldiers parked their tanks on those rubble piles.

Nuclear weapons raised the stakes in the long war between defense and offense, and led to such advances as the air-defense missile, the supposedly uninterceptable ICBM and SLBM, and inevitably, to antimissile missiles.

Once intercepting a long-range missile was possible, arms designers turned their sights on dumb, short-range rockets and even artillery and mortar shells. And the pendulum swung.

Not a challenge coin -- the Israeli Mint struck a commemorative medal in bronze and silver.

Not a challenge coin — the Israeli Mint struck a commemorative medal in bronze and silver.

Iron Dome’s success in disarming Hamas’s dumb, cheap rocket artillery struck like a thunderbolt last year, during what the IDF termed Operation Pillar of Defense. And that makes this article from the usually members-only Aerospace magazine, made freely available American Institute of Aby the eronautics and Astronautics, interesting to 21st-century weapons men. It describes, briefly, the development and capabilities of Iron Dome and the other layers of Israel’s missile defense.

lIron Dome did not become a reality overnight, however. It came about only after years—some would say decades—of work to overcome the proverbial technological challenge of hitting a bullet with a bullet. And experts caution that the system is just one part of a multilayered capability that Israel must keep improving to stay ahead of the many threats it faces.

“There’s a danger of Iron Dome becoming like the superhero,” says defense and media consultant Randy Jennings of P-51 Consulting. “It’s just one component of a large system.”

Jennings may be thinking of the accolades that flowed to Patriot in the aftermath of the Gulf War. The Patriot  was meant to be one part of a layered system also, but the systems fell one after another to Republican budget hawks and Democrat “butter” advocates.

While there are those who fervently believe in the anti-missile with a faith beyond what’s scientifically supportable, an even larger share of opponents start from a similar faith-based position. The POTUS is perhaps the most celebrated of these; his opposiion to missile defense, and his hunger for unilateral nuclear disarmament, are both based in shallow understanding of the military and technological issues, and deep committment to a priori intellectual-religious positions. It’s stupid intellectualism.

The AIIA offers, instead, smart intellectualism. The layered Israeli system — built with considerable US help, technical and financial — is a model of what might be done, and what once (pre-2009) was going to be done, to protect America and Americans. Iron Dome (video) is only part of it.

The Israeli system is an overlapping system of systrems. It’s operated by the IDF Air Force. Right now, Iron Dome is one of two operational systems, and it’s aimed at small, unguided ballistic rockets. Due to the cost of intercept, they don’t shoot at every rocket — the long-term result of shooting down $50 rockets with $50,000 Tamir missiles is bankruptcy for the defender. Instead, the system’s computers distinguish between rockets that threaten life and those that will land in uninhabited terrain; only the life-threatening rockets are intercepted.

While exact numbers are always hard to come by, the current iteration of the Iron Dome mobile defense system seems to have an 80%-plus kill ratio when it’s launched against incoming rockets. Iron Dome will ultimately comprise 13 mobile batteries (5 to 6 are live today) and cover the entire nation of Israel.

The other operational system, Arrow 2, is a direct outgrowth of the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative. Only two or three batteries were built, and a new Arrow 3 system is expected to replace Arrow 2. Arrow 2 has atmospheric and exoatmospheric capabilities, and uses a proximity-fused fragmentation warhead to kill its targets. (Iron Dome’s Tamir missile hits to kill kinetically).

Arrow 3 is intended to be fired sooner after an enemy IRBM launch, and to hit chemical- and biological-headed missiles near their launchers, and nuclear-tipped missiles outside the atmosphere, preventing radioactive consequences. Despite the new capabilities, it has come in more compact and less expensive than the Arrow 2 missile.

A new small missile system, David’s Sling, extends Iron Dome-like capabilities against longer-range rockets and cruise missiles, at a higher cost. (This article from last year describes one of the tests on this system as it proceeds through RDT&E). It is expected to be deployed over the next 1-2 years on about the same level, as counted by launch batteries, as Iron Dome. But Iron Dome will still be expected to field the bulk of threatening projectiles — David’s Sling’s intercept missiles are reserved for the tougher targets. Along with improved electronics, the key to David’s Sling is a new hit-to-kill vehicle called Stunner, which has a post-launch maneuvering capability that lets it target maneuverable and evading missiles, cruise missiles, and reentry vehicles.

One potential buyer is the Republic of KoreaIsrael, and its development partner, the USA, is hoping to reduce the enormous unit cost of the system by finding export customers. , but to afford the system, they the Israelis to buy some of their defense exports, and the Israelis are not interested.

Like the USA, Israel has also experimented with lasers for missile defence. While the US abandoned its boost-phase Airborne Laser for political reason, as part of the fruitless “reset” appeasement of Putin’s Russia, Israel ultimately shelved chemical laser technology as too inflexible and immobile for the nation’s needs. The US system was a strategic defense system targeted against ICBMs and IRBMs; the Israeli one was a tactical system tested against short-range guided missiles and ballistic artillery shells and mortar bombs. To make the system as mobile, even portable, as a tactical system needs to be required technical breakthroughs that weren’t on the horizon yet. It’s not engineering if you have to schedule an invention!

These Israeli systems are financed partly by the United States. The USA benefits from the technology that Israeli engineers develop for these systems, and in turn feeds the Israelis new developments from the US missile defense system.