Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Beirut Battalion…They Came In Peace

On Sunday morning at about half-past six a.m., October 23, 1983, the Marines of 1st Battalion / 8th Marine Regiment were about to wake up to the nightmare of their lives.

A large Mercedes stake-bed truck driven by an Iranian, crashed through the barbed-wire barriers protecting the Marines and crashed into the lobby of the headquarters building and came to a stop. The Iranian suicide bomber detonated the 12,000 pound PETN bomb vaporizing himself and destroying the four-story cinder-block building causing it to collapse, crushing the sleeping Marines inside.

Barely had the roar of the explosion, heat waves and concussion subsided as the Marines had to adapt to the situation at hand, and react to the magnitude of this attack. Even while rescue efforts were underway, snipers in the hillsides of Beirut took potshots at the rescuers searching for their fellow Americans.

The Beirut Battalion’s mission was not to fight in this war, but by its armed presence keep the peace between the occupying armies and the several dozen armed militias that were wreaking havoc on the civilian population.

In all…241 Americans: 220 Marines, 18 US Navy shipmates, and 3 brave US Army soldiers were killed. Never forget that “they came in peace” and never forget the Beirut Battalion.

The Beirut Memorial outside Camp Lejeune, N.C., home of the 22nd & 24th MEU's

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lightning Out of Lebanon

"Lightning Out of Lebanon", written by Tom Diaz and Barbara Newman, is an "essential addition to our understanding" of the current terrorist threats to America. This is a brilliant account of how an FBI agent, Rick Schwein, captured a Hezbollah terrorist operating in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2002.

The authors remind us that "Hezbollah held the record for terrorist murders of Americans before al Qaeda seized that grisly distinction with the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001" and they point out that "a successful terrorist plot can be woven of many threads, some of which appear in isolation to be innocent, or at worst, merely petty crime."

They document how Ismalal Ascari an Iranian member of Hezbollah organization was the suicide bomber that leveled the US Marine Barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983 and Hezbollah operatives in Saudi Arabia are responsible for bombing the American barracks at Khobar Towers in 1996 killing 19 Americans and wounding 515 others.

The authors give a chilling warning that Hezbollah will "simply adjust their tactics to the realities of the moment without changing their ultimate goals - eradicate the Little Satan of Israel, expel the great Satan of the United States" and they finally remind us that "Al Qaeda did not send stealth bombers to the United States. It sent fanatical men willing to die."

"Lightning Out of Lebanon" is a must-read for your understanding of the War on Terrorism and our responsibilities in fighting it.

Lightning Out of Lebanon, Hezbollah Terrorist on American Soil
Tom Diaz & Barbara Newman
ISBN 0-345-47568-2

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Police Sniper School - 05'

This year’s Law Enforcement sniper school had a variety of snipers…some with 25 yrs experience and others with less than two. Several of these snipers have performed very well in past state and regional sniper competitions also, for some of them, this was just four extra days of training. And as anyone in a specialty unit knows, most of the officers have to provide their own equipment, while others have only the bare bones necessities that their law enforcement agencies have supplied to them.

As an instructor, this is one of the most rewarding classes that I teach. The amount of knowledge that I gain from each of the students is almost overwhelming at times. It’s great to put the students in situations, and watch them work their way out of it, on their own…finding solutions that I never thought of.

Each sniper brings something to the table, whether its years of actual experience, former US Army & Marine Corps sharpshooters, or seasoned police officers and sheriff's deputies.

It isn’t possible to put on a law enforcement sniper school in four or five days that covers all aspects of police sniping; the Marine Corps scout-sniper school is at least eight weeks long. However, in four days we exposed the new snipers to the basic needs of law enforcement sniper training, and the experienced snipers got an extra four days to hone their skills.

Overall, it seemed that most of the students went away with something more than they came with.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Monday, October 10, 2005

Remember the U.S.S. Cole (DDG-67)

On October 12, 2000 at 1118 hrs a small boat approached the USS Cole, moored in Aden, Yemen for refueling, and detonated a bomb, killing 17 of our shipmates and wounding 39 others. Built in Pascagoula, MS and commissioned in 1996, the Cole is named for a Marine Corps machine-gunner killed on “Iwo Jima” in 1945. Fifty-five years after that epic battle, 17 young sailors, male and female, serving their nation would be killed by suicide bombers intent on bringing their Islamo-Facist global jihad against the West.

On this 5th anniversary, let us remember those who gave their all:

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Clodfelter
Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow
Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Francis
Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna
Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn
Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels
Engineman 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto
Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Ronald Owens
Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer
Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett
Fireman Patrick Howard Roy
Electronics Warfare Technician 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux
Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Santiago
Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders
Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr.
Ensign Andrew Triplett
Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley

True patriots are like those on the USS Cole that gave of themselves for our freedom, for our way of life. For our children’s safety tomorrow, they gave their lives. Each night we sleep in safety underneath a "blanket of freedom" only because those who wear our nation's uniform are standing ever vigilant ready to give their lives in defense of our liberty just as these sailors did on October 12, 2000. And everyone that enjoys the freedom that we have in America, should stop and say a prayer for the families of the sons and daughters that were taken from us and for those who were wounded. We also give thanks to those sailors who brought that terrible situation under control and praise them for their courage and selfless devotion to duty in such a tragic event.

At the Memorial Service for the USS Cole in Norfolk, Va. on October 18, 2000, speaking to the families of those killed, their fellow shipmates, and President Clinton, Admiral Robert J. Natter CINCLANTFLT stated, "Today we gather and pause as a nation, as a Navy, and as a family to remember and honor our shipmates on the Cole. We remember and honor their courage, and we remember and honor their service. But most of all, we remember and honor their answering of that highest call, and we remember and honor their ultimate sacrifice. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, when it comes time for our response, remember the Cole."

The sailors of the USS Cole live in our hearts; they live in our souls. Never forget those who died, never forget those who killed them...remember the Cole.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

CCW Class, 10-09-05

Today's CCW class at the Gainesville Target Range went off without a hitch, except for a "squib load." This shooter used his Colt "Police Positive" .38 spl. and a new Kel-Tec P3AT .380 ACP. We couldn't have asked for better shooting weather either, overcast sky with a slight breeze. Normally, it's still hot-n-sticky in Gainesville this time of year.

This Kel-Tec pocket pistol sure is "small" in these big hands. However, this shooter had no
problem putting his rounds on paper at 12 yards. The double action only trigger on the Kel-Tec doesn't lend itself to precise shooting for many new shooters; however this man has a good grasp on the basic fundamentals of pistol shooting (and his Kel-Tec) and applied them very well.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

"Squib Loads"

Today, I experienced a Squib Load while teaching a Basic Pistol Shooting course. The student was firing a brand new Kel-Tec P3AT in .380 ACP. The ammunition being used was new-in-the-box Winchester, .380 ACP, 95gr. FMJ. While firing a string of five shots, the third shot was “noticeably” less than the all of the others. We had gone over the possibilities of misfires, hang-fires and squib loads in the classroom, but this was the first time I’ve experienced one like this. The report was less than ¼ of what a normal shot would be, and the slide never moved to the rear.

I checked the bore of the pistol and was surprised to find that the bullet had exited the barrel, and we were not able to recover it. Also, the exterior of the fired case and condition of the primer was the same as all of the other fired brass.

The NRA student workbook, The Basics of Pistol Shooting describes a Squib Load cartridge malfunction as the “development of less than normal pressure or velocity after the ignition of the cartridge.” The danger is obviously that the bullet may not exit the barrel completely thereby causing an obstruction. If the obstruction is not removed, the result of firing another cartridge could be catastrophic to the shooter and the firearm. Take Squib Loads very seriously and check the bore if you suspect that you’ve experienced anything out of the ordinary.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

CCW Class, 10-01-05

Michael is a 23 year-old full time law student at the University of Florida. Here, he fires a S&W 915, 9mm semi-auto from the "roll-over" prone position at a distance of 15 yards. Having only fired a gun several times in his life, he took to the challenging "moving & shooting" portion of the class very well (note the brass casing in the air).

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

"Close" Only Counts In...

All of the firepower in the world will not do you any good if you don’t hit your target. However, hitting your target isn’t the ONLY goal; it’s the incapacitation of your adversary that we are shooting for (pardon the pun). What causes this? might ask…well read on. There’s more to it than just “Bullet Placement.”

There are few controversies in the law enforcement / self-defense community that have stimulated as much controversy [and argument] as “bullet potential.” For the most part, opinions, ballistics, personal preferences and "war stories" have made it impossible to differentiate between the fact and fiction of a bullets wounding potential.

However, in 1969, the NYPD began an in-depth documentation and study of police combat situations and the results were published in what would become the seminal treatise “Department Order SOP 9 (s. 69)” or SOP #9. The Firearms and Tactics Section of the NYPD began gathering data in January 1970, with the study results published in 1981. By analyzing the facts available from autopsies, pathologists, medical examiners and ER surgeons the study found that the one factor that stood out as a proper measure of bullet efficiency was not the size, shape, configuration, composition, caliber, or velocity of the bullet but Bullet Placement was the “cause of death or an injury that was serious enough to end the confrontation.”

Then in 1989, the FBI published the Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness study that furthered the study of Bullet Effectiveness on human targets. In this study, Special Agent UREY W. PATRICK published that “projectiles incapacitate by damaging or destroying the central nervous system, or by causing lethal blood loss.” And as the bullets’ effects to either of these systems increase so does the “likelihood of incapacitation increase.”

Also noted was that the critical wounding components for handgun ammunition, in order of importance, were bullet penetration and the permanent wound cavity that the bullet created. The bullet had to penetrate the body deep enough to reach and pass through vital organs, and the permanent wound cavity had to be large enough to maximize tissue destruction and cause the consequent hemorrhaging.

As far as the “immediate incapacitation theory” goes, with the exceptions of hits to the brain or upper spinal cord, the concept of immediate incapacitation of the human target by a gunshot wound just isn’t reasonable.

An examination of most gunfights concludes that they are sudden and unexpected. Rapid and unpredictable movement occurs in any physical fight and gunfights especially offer limited and only partial target opportunities. Also, they usually take place in poor light and near or around unforeseen obstacles; and by the life or death stress of sudden, close, intra-personal violence.

This is why we train to fire at the center of whatever is presented for a target. Therefore the proper shot placement is a hit in the center of that part of the adversary which is presented, regardless of anatomy or angle.

In conclusion, many of the tactics techniques and procedures we use today were developed by the Firearms Training Units of these to great institutions and any study of human incapacitation from handgun wounds or the potential effectiveness of bullets would not be complete without a review of these two great works.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.
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