1 Oct 02
Update from a friend with the LAPD:
“Many of our officers who left the department in disgust under the Parks regime are now returning. Quite a few went to the federal Air Martial Program and left there is disgust too! It’s run be a tight group of Secret Service types who won’t listen to anyone but themselves and have succeeded only in making a hash of things.
The new chief of the LAPD is down to three candidates, one from here, one from NY City, and one from Philadelphia. Memories of Willie Williams (who was from Philadelphia) still linger in all our minds!”
2 Oct 02
Spreading the Sunshine, even in NJ! From a friend and student with the NJSP:
“Last week, during a midnight shift, the rest of the guys on my squad and I were talking during roll call. My sergeant was confused about some firearms terms I used and asked for clarification. As I tried to explain to him what the terms ‘single-action’ and ‘double-action’ actually meant, he interrupted me and said sarcastically, ‘Bill, you take all this gun stuff too seriously.’
In politely disagreeing, I said that, to the contrary, he and the rest of the NJSP don’t take it nearly seriously enough. That, I continued, will all become unpleasantly clear one of our guys gets on the witness stand, is grilled by a sharp attorney, and displays his ignorance so completely that he can’t even demonstrate an elementary knowledge of terms and nomenclature. This sergeant, who loves to argue until he is blue in the face, abruptly turned and left the room.
Two days ago, this same sergeant approached me as I was demonstrating to some troopers the disarm and retention techniques that you and I teach. He not only loudly informed us all that it was crap, but insisted that I try to disarm him (we were using prop guns). He confidently snickered that he could easily shoot anyone before any species of disarm could be successful.
You can probably imagine what happened next! I effortlessly took his pistol away from him time after time, simultaneously taking him to the ground. He never came close to even retrieving (much less actually shooting) either his main gun or his backup gun. His face was the brightest shade of red I’ve even seen!
I then looked around and saw a dozen of my troopers watching and listening intently. Several minutes later, I had prop guns in all their hands, even our hardheaded sergeant, and we were all learning and practicing disarms and retention.
At the end, even sergeant know-it-all said to me, ‘Thanks Bill, I guess there are a few things I don’t know!’
“The realization of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.” The most formidable impediment to our personal advancement is our own fear, which is always manifested as arrogance.
Good show, Bill!
10 Oct 02
A number of people I know have received messages from “email@example.com.” In some cases there is an attachment with a virus imbedded. Please be advised that this message is NOT coming from me. The above e-mail address is not mine or one I’ve ever used, and I have no idea whom it is.
I almost never send attachments, and my e-mail address has not changed in the last six years.
10 Oct 02
Khe Sahn, northern South Vietnam, January through June of 1968: the “Dien Bien Phu” that never was.
In January of 1968, American General William C Westmoreland was convinced that “the largest battle of the war” would take place on a plateau a short distance from a small Vietnamese hamlet called Khe Sahn, in the northern sector of South Vietnam. Like his predecessor, French General Henri Navarre (during the French Phase of the Vietnam War in the early 1950s), Westmoreland envisioned the American phase of the War ending in grand, Napoleonic fashion with a single, decisive battle. In it, the enemy’s losses would be so catastrophic he would be forced to stop fighting and accept American terms of surrender.
So convinced was Westmoreland, smelling victory for the first time since 1965, that the War would be won in a single battle at Khe Sahn (near the DMZ and the Laotian border), that he never passed up a chance to talk about it to the media, and the media was only too happy to pick up on it. It quickly became the “official buzz” in a number of newspapers. The French may have been unable to hold onto a remote outpost (Dien Bien Phu) fourteen years earlier, but this time superior American technology would unfailingly deal Giap a fatal blow at Khe Sahn. Westmoreland could hardly wait. Lyndon Johnson could hardly wait. The whole world could hardly wait! Giap was falling into a fatal trap.
In reality, the precise opposite was true! It was actually Westmoreland who was falling into a trap, but he was too committed to his fair-haired theory to see it coming.
Since he had arrived in South Vietnam in 1965 to take overall command of American forces, Westmoreland had racked up an impressive series of victories. American firepower and mobility combined to take a frightful toll on General Vo Nguyen Giap’s ragtag Viet Cong and regular NVA forces. However, as it had been with Navarre, a decisive victory continued to elude Westmoreland. Viet Cong and NVA forces still, with no schedule, attacked hardened American bases, sometime for weeks at a time, then abruptly broke it off and disappeared back into the countryside, leaving the disputed real estate in American hands. However, American patrols into the countryside always made contact, particularly in the north. Giap showed no signs of tiring and had no apparent interest in serious negotiations.
Bio Dai, the French stooge governor, was overthrown by Ngo Dinh Diem just as the French were leaving Vietnam for good in 1955. Under “Diem-ocracy,” South Vietnam started receiving military aid from the United States. The first US Special Forces advisors began arriving in 1961 in an attempt to suppress the Communist insurgency the same way the British had in Malaya. The British model failed, and Diem began to be looked upon as a liability. A military junta, orchestrated by the CIA, overthrew Diem in 1963. Going beyond what the Americans had wanted, they murdered him and Madame Nhu, his wife.
In July of 1964, the US Congress passed the famous “Tonkin Gulf Resolution,” which authorized American troops to participate in a direct, combat role. By early 1965, American aerial bombing raids were a regular occurrence. On 6 March 1965, two battalions of US Marines arrived, the first regular American troops to take part in the war.
However, the war continued to go poorly. South Vietnamese forces were no match for Giap’s soldiers. American commanders gradually assigned ARVN troops only to rear area duty, and American soldiers began to confront Giap’s men directly. President Johnson set a limit of 525,000 American soldiers in Vietnam, because the draft was unpopular back in America, as was the inconclusive nature of the conflict. Public support, along with the credibility of the Johnson Administration and his top generals, began to decline.
By early 1968, American commanders were talking about the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Giap seemed to have run out of gas. The war, everyone hoped, was beginning to wind down. Suddenly, a NVA officer, captured near the Marine base at Khe Sahn, told his American captors about a major battle that was planned for the area. It was just what Westmoreland wanted to hear! All kinds of intelligence confirmed what the NVA officer had said. There was increased road building, increased foot traffic, gun positions, and trench building in the area. Radio Hanoi talked incessantly about the impending “great slaughter of American troops” at Khe Sahn. In January, NVA troops actually did attack Khe Sahn and overran the village itself. The base was surrounded. Inevitable comparisons with Dien Bien Phu erupted in newspapers around the world. In fact, President Johnson had a scale model of the entire Khe Sahn area built in his White House office, and he studied it daily. Everyone waited for the “great battle” to begin.
It never did! The whole thing was a clever hoax Giap used to cover his preparations for the 1968 Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive, which began on January 31st, took Westmoreland and his entire staff by surprise. Simultaneous attacks erupted throughout the entirety of South Vietnam, in cities big and small, everywhere, it seemed, except Khe Sahn! Westmoreland thought at first it was just a diversion, designed to take his attention away from Khe Sahn, but it soon became obvious that he had been duped by Giap as completely as Hitler had been deceived by Eisenhower at Normandy.
All in all, the Tet Offensive of 1968 was a military disaster for Giap. None of his objectives were realized, and the popular revolt, for which he was hoping, never materialized. The last of Giap’s holdouts were blasted to bits by American ordnance at Hue by month’s end. Giap’s losses were staggering, but the real causalities were Westmoreland’s and Johnson’s credibility.
Optimistic reports no longer rang true. Faced not with a decisive, war-ending victory, but with an unpopular war that showed every sign of dragging on forever, Johnson threw in the towel. Westmoreland was recalled back to the Pentagon, ostensibly for a promotion, but everyone knew the truth. Johnson refused to run for a second term. His successor, Richard Nixon, never talked about “victory” in Vietnam and spent all his time trying to get American troops out. “Peace with Honor” was the best he could do!
The Marine Base at Khe Sahn was quietly dismantled and abandoned in June of 1968, the same month American troops started to be withdrawn, and the same month I arrived in Vietnam as a young, Marine second lieutenant.
After Tet, public confidence in the Johnson Administration and in Westmoreland dropped like a rock. Giap had cleverly used Tet to win a war he couldn’t win militarily. Tet exposed official lies and corruption as a victory never would have. Tet, not Khe Sahn, was the turning point of the American Phase of the Vietnam War. No one talked of victory after Tet. The last American troops left Vietnam in August of 1972. America had lost a war for the first time in its history.
Lesson: “A commander of only modest ability can win many battles, with only average luck, if he just develops the ability to let the enemy see what he thinks he wants to see!”
Tenaciously clinging to dear falsehoods has brought down more than one general. “Flexibility” is always most difficult when it involves one’s own ego. Be careful what you wish for!
14 Oct 02
We just completed and Advanced Defensive Handgun Course in the Midwest. We had a number of students join us from a large, local metro PD. This PD permits its officers to use virtually all handguns, except Glocks. The instructor staff (whom I had in the class) has been pushing for Glock acceptance, but to no avail.
The official cover story is that this department doesn’t like “striker fired” guns. The real reason is that one of the department’s “commanders” had an AD with a Glock as he was trying to put it back into its shipping container. Seems he pressed the trigger having neglected to unload it first! Being a product of our times, he, of course, assumed no personal responsibility for his stupidity. He, instead, blamed the gun, and Glocks have been blackballed ever since. The training staff is hoping he either retires or dies soon!
Another officer in the course was from a Chicago suburb which has a local ordinance banning the ownership of handguns. Like all such laws, it is fundamentally unenforceable. It is therefore not enforced and generally ignored by citizens and police alike. What a surprise!
18 Oct 02
We just completed a Basic Pistol Course in PA. Most of the students were supplied with G19s and G17s. One brought his own Beretta 92F. Another brought a Walther PPK/S. The Beretta and its owner held up fine. Glocks, of course, all did well. The PPK/S lasted for about twenty minutes. Too many feeding and other functional problems (hardball). The student gave it up and went to a Glock, which worked fine for the rest of the course.
Lesson: PPKs may work for James Bond, but I’ve seen precious few copies I’d give a dime for.
18 Oct 02
This is from one of my instructors in the Phillippines. I was not able to give him any particularly sage advice. Anyone see this and know some viable solutions?
“I am training a woman locally. She has been shooting for a number of years and takes instruction well. She suffers from ‘lazy eye.’ We started this day with drills at four meters (G26), and everything ran like a dream. Center hits. Chewing out holes in the middle of an IDPA board.
Then we went out to seven meters, and her groups, though tight, all began shifting four inches to the left. Her trigger control was perfect. She indicated that she was deliberately holding to the right, but apparently not enough.
At ten meters, her accuracy completely disintegrated She was nowhere on the target. Shots were all over the place but mostly left.
We tried using both eyes, strong eye only, weak eye only. Nothing helped.
If any of you guys in John’s circle of friends has encountered this phenomenon and knows how to deal with it, I’d be eternally grateful for your advice.”
You may contact Karlo directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send a copy to me.
18 Oct 02
Latest from LAPD:
“Our new Chief, Bratton, who brought Glocks into Philadelphia and NYC, is now bringing them into the LAPD! Is suspect we’ll finally see our Berettas go. Our SWAT folks like Glock but are sticking with the 1911.
Bratton has already started to clean house with our command staff. He wants resumes from everyone above the rank of captain. Many have already announced their retirement!
All in all, he looks like a breath of fresh air to me. Heaven knows, this department needs it!”
18 Oct 02
Shooting incident in SA:
“One of our officers was involved in a shooting today. He was responding to a call for assistance. On arrival, he was confronted by an ax-wielding EDP who was attacking passing motor vehicles. Our officer verbally challenged the EDP. The EDP jumped off a truck he had struck several times and advanced towards our officer.
Our officer had left himself sufficient time and space (per his training). Our officer, realizing that he would probably have to shoot, lined himself up so that the truck was direct in his line of fire and would serve as a backstop.
Sure enough, the EDP put his head down and charged with his ax raised. Our officer fired two rounds (9mm 115g FMJ, PMP) from his CZ 75. Both hit in the upper part of the EDP’s legs, causing him to pitch forward and fall to the ground. Our officer then stepped in and kicked the ax away.
I interviewed the officer two hours after the incident. He is one of my (and your) students. He reported that, at no time was he unsettled. He stated that all of the elements we teach, scanning, moving laterally, verbally challenging, etc came into play. He said it “all came together” and worked well (big smile when he said that).
Asked why he hit the EDP in the legs, he stated that the EDP was running toward him with his head down. So, he started his ‘zipper technique,” but stopped firing as soon as his target went down and presented no additional threat.
He stated that he can clearly remember using his sights. ‘That’s the way I was trained,’ he said, matter-of-factly.”
Lesson: Let your opponent panic. When you move, verbalize, and shoot accurately (using you sights), you are pretty hard to beat (even when you’re only shooting 9mm hardball).
18 Oct 02
Air travel advice from a friend who does even more than me:
1. Nobody questions canes. They get x-rayed, but that is about it. Wonderful examples can be found at canemasters.com.
2. Nobody questions small flashlights, like my Surefire 6Z.
3. Security folks are all in Condition White. On average, there are six security types in the gate area, but only one or two do any actual searching; the rest do nothing and pay no attention to what is going on. All these individuals would be working as janitors prior to 9/11.
7. I travel with books, including a small bible. None are ever examined, except the Bible, which is always examined.”
18 Oct 02
Advice from a friend in the federal system, from a recent lecture:
“If you’re not familiar with the AR-15 rifle, you should be. I recommend that you become familiar with how to load and fire it. Also, become familiar with the AK-47. Sooner or later, you’ll run into these weapons, and you need to know how to use them.
When it goes bad, it goes bad fast, very fast! You’ll have only a short window through which to take dynamic, positive action. Don’t hesitate and don’t miss!
You’ll have to move, move fast, and keep moving. A moving target is a difficult target.
Let this be your law: Prepared for anything, depending on nothing. Think in terms of being self contained. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that someone is going to rescue you in the nick of time. That only happens in the movies!”
21 Oct 02
From a large gun retailer in the Midwest:
“Today, I had a couple come in the store looking for a concealable handgun that they could both use. The husband wanted something in 40S&W, saying his friends all told him the 9mm was ‘largely ineffective.’ I asked how many of his friends had ever been in a gunfight.
Of course, none of them had. I said that I was not trying to sell him on one caliber or another, but that, if both he and his wife were going to have to use this gun, both would have to be able to carry and use it comfortably.
I went on to say, ‘There are no ineffective calibers, just ineffective shooters.’ I indicated that both he and his wife would have to be trained to the point where their personal expertise was sufficient so as to make caliber irrelevant. After that, discussions about caliber would be largely extraneous.
I believe both he and his wife finally began to understand the undertaking they were contemplating. This is a discussion I have with all first-time gun buyers.”
Lesson: ALL pistol cartridges are “largely ineffective!” “Effectiveness” comes from the shooter, not the gun.
24 Oct 02
“Unintended consequences?” From an LEO friend in Baltimore.
“Drug dealers here have now realized that police in my city (Baltimore) have begun to enter cartridge cases found at the scene of our (daily) murders here into a state database for comparison. Of course, the effectiveness of this ‘database’ is highly dubious, but their universal response has nonetheless been to abandon autoloading pistols and instead carry and use revolvers exclusively, so they don’t leave cartridge cases at the scene.
The PD, most of whose members don’t even remember the “revolver days,” has thus had to refamiliarize itself with S&W, Colt, and Ruger revolvers.”
Lesson: No matter what laws are passed, criminals will quickly develop ways to work around them, in most cases, with scant inconvenience. Restrictive gun laws thus have no effect on crime, but do have the effect of discouraging gun ownership among noncriminal citizens, which is, of course, their only real purpose.
24 Oct 02
From an LEO friend in Wisconsin:
“… just after dark, the burglars returned and all were quickly arrested. The chief investigator then told me, ‘I’m glad I was wearing my gun that day.’
I asked him what he meant. He indicated he had been processing worthless checks turned in by local merchants all day, and that he doesn’t always ‘arm up’ when he figures to be working around the office.
He must have noticed the look of astonishment on my face, because he quickly added, ‘I’ve been in investigations for four years now. Guess I’m losing touch with the street, huh?’
I nodded in agreement.
He has allowed himself to quit thinking of himself as a police officer and began thinking like and as a bureaucrat. This kind of thing is distressingly common around here.”
Lesson: You’re either in the Navy or you’re not! “Cop” is not just an occupation. It is a way of life. Grasseaters need not apply! One of the best ways to determine if a cop has a clue or not is to look at what brands of equipment he carries. For example, If he has a pistol (or no pistol at all) and an Uncle Mike’s holster, he has no real understanding of, nor interest in, the issue and is merely masquerading (as cheaply as possible) as a warrior.
28 Oct 02
From a gunshop owner in MI:
“Kahrs, particularly the new PM9s, fly off the shelf! Kahr 40s are not nearly as popular.
S&W lightweight revolvers are also selling briskly. They are more popular than the Kel-Tec 32. Everything else from S&W is a dog.
Glocks are hot sellers, as always, particularly the G23 and G32. The SIG 239 is also popular, particularly among police.
Beretta and H&K we can’t give away.”
29 Oct 02
Gunshop news from South Africa, a comparison:
“HS2000s, while we can still get them, are selling well, since Glocks have become nearly impossible to find.
By far, our best seller is the Norinco 213 in 9mm (Tokarev copy)
H&Ks, Berettas, and SIGs are priced out of the market.
You won’t see a S&W or a Kahr over here.
Top quality equipment (that you Americans take for granted) is rapidly drying up here. Anything we have to import from a country with a strong currency is prohibitively expensive.”
Lesson: Yes, we do take a lot for granted!