Know your enemy
Sep 30th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Letter Re: A Security Contractor’s Convoy Experience in Iraq.

Dear Jim,
A friend of mine who is a contractor sent this. It’s been posted elsewhere.
Foul language warning.Michael
Z. Williamson

Info from Iraq From Someone Who is Doing the "Run and Gun"

Yesterday a friend of mine who runs a small security company here in Iraq emailed
me. He is standing up a protection detail and wanted my opinion on tactics
and equipment running the roads of Iraq; Tactics, SOPs, hard car or soft?
I have been giving it some thought and here is where I am at.

I am willing to speculate I’m as well traveled in Iraq as anyone I’ve
met. I’ve been just about everywhere between Kuwait and Iran, all points
in between. And I’ve traveled every way possible.
I’ve gone in military convoy up armored hummers at 40 MPH. I’ve
run the Fallujah Baghdad gauntlet in a 15 truck convoy, thin skinned white
F350s. I’ve rolled all over in blacked out Pajeros in local dress. Diplomatic
convoys with armored suburbans and helo cover.
I’ve done the whole hide the guns and smile a lot all the way to showing
just about everyone the front sight post.
I’ve done 140 KPH up MSR Tampa
and weaved through Sadr city at a near standstill.
I, like nearly everyone have made mistakes and been lucky to be here writing
I think the most important and neglected aspect of survival in theatre is training.
Every freaking day your crew should practice "actions on" – At least
do it on a dry erase board. Actions upon anything and everything. What usually
happens is we start going through the "what ifs" and all the sudden
every guy in the crew has a different idea of what should happen. After all
we come from many different backgrounds. After about 30 minutes of that we
all end up scratching our head debating which idea is best and say "let’s
get chow." Decide on some fundamental concepts. And stick to them, but
of course always remembering that the plan is just something to deviate from
anyway. As long as we all know the end goal and work towards it. i.e. If the
vehicle is stalled in the ambush, driver flicks it in neutral so the rear car
can ram us out and we prepare to un-ass the vehicle on the opposite side of
the contact.
So rehearse and practice – Which is easy to say because I am the first to admit
that a knock on my hooch at 7AM with, "Hey, man, let’s rehearse
this" makes me grumble.
I’m sure we can all agree that debating your actions on is best done
at the hootch rather than on the side of a road in Tikrit while your car is
being remodeled by a PKM.
PMCS your vehicles all the time. Being broke down in Iraq is like a scene on
a bad movie. Been there done that. Check tires, oil, fluid, etc… And don’t
overdrive your car. My friend VC managed to put a Pajero upside down and backwards
on Tampa once because we pushed the cars past their controllability.
Every IC you meet will tell you he is a great driver. Just because you drive
fast and haven’t hit anything yet doesn’t mean you’re a good
tactical driver. Go to BSR or some other school. And if you haven’t let
the guy who has drive. Conduct driver training. Get the best guy to teach everyone
else. OJT.
Practice changing tires. There are a couple guys reading this email right now
who know exactly what I am talking about. Realizing you’ve packed 300
pounds of gear on top the spare while on the side of a road in Ramadi is a
self loathing I’d like not replicate. Make sure you have a tow strap
in every vehicle. Loop it through the rear bumper so it’s already attached.
that way you swing in front of the busted car and they hook up. Gone in 60
seconds or vice versa… Get a good jack, it’s worth the money. Make sure everyone
knows where all the tow, change, repair gear is in every vehicle.
In the glove box keep your stay behinds. A frag, Smoke, CN. The rule is. Never
f*ck with the pin unless you have the grenade outside of the window.
a bump and it drops on the roadside. Minimal drama. Inside the car? Party foul.
CN and Smoke. If you’re caught in traffic and you have a bad feeling about
a car behind you, toss the smoke. Most motorists will stop or at least give
you a lot of space. It works and it’s harmless. Can use more sparingly
and never while in tight traffic. Watching that cloud blow towards your car
faster than you can drive is not fun. The CN is rough stuff and I only would
use it on those rare situations where it just has to be done. And the frag?
Well we all know when those need to be used.
Put a rubber band on your sling so it doesn’t get caught on stuff while
getting out of the car.
Always do a proper route plan. Common sense here. And another note, we are
always trying to be sneakier and cleverer than everyone else. Avoiding MSR’s
and roads frequented by convoys you know the deal. Well before taking a road
you see on a map that isn’t used by the Army. Go see the G2, ask them
why. It may be for good reason.
Think about fuel consumption. Plan your stops for fuel and food. Always carry
a gas can, just in case.
Always have spare batteries for the GPS, Always have a map and compass just
like when we were E1’s. Do a map study; make sure everyone in the crew knows
the route plan.
Carry as big a gun as you can. Keep it clean. Keep it hot.
Carry lots of ammo. On April 4th I went through 14 mags and never would have thought that a possibility before then. Carry more ammo, stage
spare mags everywhere.
Like the freakin Easter bunny.
I will never go without wearing a helmet again. If there is a Kevlar helmet,
it’s going on my head. A dude standing right next to all of us on the
roof was dropped from a head shot. Spend the money get a good MICH or
the like. The more comfortable and low profile the more likely it is you’ll
wear it.
Wear a helmet. Watching Alcon get blasted in the noggin was
a SOP changing experience for all of us here.
Wear your armor. Period.
If you sleep in a trailer or hootch, know where the nearest bunker is. Trying
to find it at 4 AM while scared sh*tless isn’t the answer. And yes everyone
runs for the bunker. The Delta dude who is always giving the evil eye will
probably be the first one there followed immediately after by a SEAL in flip-flops.
120mm mortars make us all very humble.
Shoot a lot. Keep training. If your company won’t get more ammo, make
dry fire. Practice mag changes. Focus on cheek weld and front site. The
basics win every time.
The three guys shot on the roof here were all either changing mags while standing
or weren’t moving to different firing positions frequently – all were
regular military and not contractors. They were doing standard Army range sh*t.
And got dropped for it…
You remember when Sam Elliot said "If I need one there will be plenty
laying around" in the film We Were Soldiers Once, in regards
to the rifles? He was right. If you’ve seen those pictures of us on the
net Chip was on a SAW and I had a M203. There were weapons strewn about the
roof by wounded
and those who elected to not play on the two way range. No sh*t. By the end
of week two here we all had our choice in weapons. No sh*t. We fired RPK, AK47,
PKM, MK19, M249, M203, M4, Dragunov, and M60 at bad guys between the eight
of us… That was unreal.
This brings me onto this – Train on all weapons. If you don’t have access
at least read the FM or TM on them. You never know when you’re out of
5.56 and someone will hand you a PKM. Get familiar with them.
Practice shooting out to 800 meters. I know, nearly every fight is within 150
[meters] but we were trying to bang a mortar crew that was pounding us at 800
meters. And it
happened more than once.
In terms of shooting. Practice as you did on active duty. Always scrounge ammo.
I will ALWAYS take a hard car over a soft. Its just common sense at this point.
If I have a soft car I will sandbag the floors and jam steel and spare plates
everywhere I can. Bolt on armor is sh*t, but better than nothing. Remove the
Lexan windows from the gun trucks. Just like in the old days nothing breaks
contact quite like returning accurate, violent fire.
The rear vehicle is always most likely to be hit. Put your best shooters in
there, biggest guns.

The Golden CONEX
It ain’t coming dude. If I had a nickel for every time I have been told "Oh
yeah man, we ordered ten of those and they should be here in three days" Or
my favorite "don’t worry, it will
meet you in country.” If you don’t have good guns, ammo, armor,
or comms, just say no like Nancy Reagan used to say. Some companies are total
pieces of sh*t and will leave you in Iraq with a busted ass stolen AK and two
mags. Some will do you better than a tier one unit. Personally, I just want
the above mentioned items and the rest to go to my bank account. If I want
a three hundred dollar backpack Ill buy it.
Bottom line. Remember what gear is critical. Demand it be the best and take
proper care of it.
Medical equipment. It’s expensive. It has saved lives. The company I
currently work for spent a gazillion dollars outfitting each crew with great
mad gear. I’m sure the bill was hard to swallow. I sh*t you not it saved three
people’s lives, all had life threatening injuries. The med kits and our
18Ds saved them. The Army had a few bandages and an IV.
That was it. You know who you are, thank you for spending the money…
Do remedial med[ical] training. Can’t say anymore on that issue. Do it.
Wherever you go carry lots of booze. It’s the most valuable item you
can have. If I wrote a list of things I have managed to swindle with a bottle
of Jack [Daniels whiskey] placed in an E8’s hands you would cr*p you’re
Don’t get drunk and stupid. Be drunk or stupid but never both at once.
Never let the client convince you "it’s safe, I do this all the
time.” If it’s stupid it’s stupid.
On the same note. Remember if we hamper our client’s ability to do their
job too much. Our company can get sh*tcanned. It’s a fine line. Yeah,
your client thinks it’s cute to drive to some Hadji’s house at midnight
for tea, sometimes you just have to do it.
Learn to deal with all the clients. Some truly think that all Iraqis are great
people and that the US Army is the enemy. Some will encourage you to shoot
bicyclists who hog the road. I’ve seen both sides. Keep their agenda
and egos in mind. Don’t make your own life miserable.
Aimpoints are great. The Eotech is okay. TA31 ACOG is
the best by far. The Aimpoint battery lasts six months. The Eotech is a little
too bright for my
taste. Remember
that the dot is like 3 MOA in
size so they aren’t any good past 300 or
400. The ACOG is the heat.
Buy short M4s. They will save you’re ass. I carry a 18" upper on
me with glass so when we reach our destination I flick it on the lower receiver
and I now have a decent long gun. It’s like having two guns to choose
If you’re doing Green Zone PSD a
mag or two may do you but if you’re
in the party zone? Twelve.
Speaking of which, weapon, twelve mags, pistol, three mags, Med kit, GPS, map
and compass, radio, spare battery, $500 [in] US dollars, MRE , water bottle, NVG,
armor. It’s a lot. It’s hot but f**k it, if its too heavy get membership
at the gym. This job isn’t for everybody.
In your vehicle. Put a US flag on the visor so nobody can see it until you
approach a checkpoint, then flip it down. On the passenger side do the same
with a VS17 panel. G.I. Joe will shoot your a** just as soon as a Hadji will.
Carry MREs
and water in your car.
NEVER throw food or candy to kids. there are many reasons why. But at the least
it encourages kids to jump in front of cars, smashing a kid would ruin your
trip here.
If you find yourself trusting the locals its time to take a vacation.
Walk the fine line. Don’t be too conservative and don’t get blown
Listen to your intuition. It has saved a guy who is on this mailing list and
not listening to it killed a friend a month ago.
Once you make contact … Finish it. If you shot a guy and he is limping to
cover he can still get there and return fire. Just finish everything you start.
A car door is not cover. In fact a car is not cover. Cement is.
While doing the work-up for my last deployment we did live fire IADS and movement
from vehicles. It was the best training I have done and the most useful. On
that note we did many Simunition [practice] runs with vehicle ambush scenarios.
We found that without a doubt the single most important factor in surviving
out and away from the car. Getting behind it as though it was a concrete barrier
and playing HEAT will get you killed.
Don’t work for a company that doesn’t vet its ICs.
Check their creds, call the references, and put them through a ten day selection
Just because a guy was a SEAL in Vietnam doesn’t mean he maintained his
skills. On that note the best shooter in my training class was Vietnam SEAL.
Some of the best guys were 22 year old Rangers and the worst 38 year old SEALs.
My point it’s the individual that counts.
But we don’t have time or money to bring a regular Army kid up to speed.
You have to have the fundamental skill sets. We can’t introduce you to
live fire Australian peels. We should just review and coordinate verbal commands
and simple sh*t.
Just because somebody is a good dude isn’t good enough. If he can’t
shoot, think, and move – leave him home. Big boy rules.
If a guy doesn’t work out in your crew but has talent and skill send
him elsewhere, don’t sh*tcan him. Personalities clash. Especially when
you’re living together 24/7 for six months. Eating every meal together
all that. If I hear the same stupid story from a guy forty times? That’s
cool. It’s the 41st that’s gonna be drama. You guys know what I’m
talking about.
The contractor community is a sewing circle for men. Remember the Dyncorp guy
who shot the principal in Baghdad last winter? The story in its most recent
telling over cheap Turkish beer involved a diplomatic cover up, a magazine
change, and several deaths.
Throwing a flash-bang into the team leader’s hootch at 3AM while drunk
is not a good practical joke.
Remember how much money you’re making. Nobody wants to clean the sh*tter
on a Wednesday morning but keep in mind you’re the highest paid janitor in
the world that day.
Keep a sense of humor. Keep funny people around, they make sh*tty situations
tolerable and are like Prozac when you need it.
Have thick skin. Your friends will ask for naked pictures of your wife on deployment
and yes they may take them to the bathroom with them. Take criticism. If you
suck at something ask for training.
Always remember that you were once a young dumb*ss E1. You made $450
a month and weren’t allowed to fart without a permission chit ran up
and down the chain of command. Keep this in mind when you’re bitching
because you’re only making $17,000 a month when guys at the other
company are getting $17,500. And when the bosses back in the states email you
to have a clean shave? Do it. you never know when you’re going to be
on some stupid newspaper.
The soldiers around us are deployed for a year sometimes more. They make a
fraction of the pay. And are ordered to do stupid, dangerous sh*t everyday.
Keep that in mind when you are upset that instead of 60 days you’re extended
to 68.
And keep that in mind when dealing with soldiers. Treat them well, nobody else
Yes, we all work for ourselves at the end of the day. At the same end, never
f**k over your company or teammates who have to stay behind and clean up your
mess. Business OPSEC is
one thing but always share your info on intel and tactics. We are all Americans
and most of us will work together one time or another.
Some of the "business secret" stuff is corny. If you hit an IED on ASR Jackson
yesterday, e-mail your colleagues to stay away.
That’s it off the top of my head. Stay Safe, – Ben


Just because they’re bad people doesn’t make them stupid or incompetent. These mercenaries could be driving around the streets of your city treating it like occupied territory someday. If you live in New Orleans, they already have.

Daniel Ellsberg on the future
Sep 30th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

‘A Coup Has Occurred’ I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.


This is an unusual gang, even for Republicans. [But] I think that the successors to this regime are not likely to roll back the assault on the Constitution. They will take advantage of it, they will exploit it.


That brings me to the second point. This Executive Branch, under specifically Bush and Cheney, despite opposition from most of the rest of the branch, even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran which even by imperialist standards, standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly everyone in the Executive Branch but most of the leaders in Congress. The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual in our establishment. …

But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that quietly, I don’t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it’s not only aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.

Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn’t, it doesn’t even make it unlikely.


And the question is what then, what can we do about this? We are heading towards an insane operation. It is not certain. It is likely. … I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.

What I’m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on Iran is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.

And … we will not succeed in moving Congress probably, and Congress probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s a very ugly, ugly prospect.


I’ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada – who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war – is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath.

The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. Everybody under him who understands what is going on and there are myriad, are violating their oaths. And that’s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.


I think we’ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth struggling for in part because it’s only with the power that the Constitution gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world from mad men in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran. []

More people we could use in America
Sep 26th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

We’re the Only Ones Promoting Virtue Enough.

According to Dr. Al-Marshood, the two commission members approached the girls in order to “politely” advise and guide them regarding their inappropriate clothing.

Consequently, the two girls started verbally abusing the commission members, which then lead to one of the girls pepper-spraying them in the face as the other girl filmed the incident on her mobile phone, while continuing to hurl insults at them.

That’s actually pretty darn funny.

[Via Peter G]
[More from “The Only Ones” Files]

[The War on Guns]

Compare the reaction of the unnamed Saudi girls to the meek acquiesence of two US citizens facing similar demands in the US. Perhaps someone should invite the Saudis to come over here and give lessons to young women on the proper employment of verbal abuse and pepper spray when dealing with the American version of the Taliban.

Nicely done!
Sep 26th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

We’re the Only Ones Bordering on the Ridiculous Enough.

Three Mexican minors detained in California on suspicion of smuggling drugs stole a U.S. Border Patrol car while still wearing handcuffs and drove it back across the border to Mexico.

Homeland Security-“Only Ones” style.

What is it with cruisers this week? [The War on Guns]

Can we grant those three American citizenship, if they want it? This country desperatly needs more people like that.

Another one of those “isolated incidents”
Sep 23rd, 2007 by Ken Hagler

We’re the Only Ones Sorry Enough.

“I’m not going to deal with a guy that has a loaded gun until I secure a weapon.”

You forget your place, servant. Who the hell do you think you are? And how about if we deal with you on those terms?

I wouldn’t accept an apology from the Chief. Unless it comes sincerely from the offender himself, it is meaningless, and this “Only One” is still justifying and making excuses for his elitism and his ignorance.

And how nice of the department to exonerate Greene of excessive force liability. Where I come from, if someone grabs my arm, restrains me, puts me up against a wall, forcibly searches me and threatens me, all with the understanding that deadly force will be used if I don’t obey, it’s called “assault and battery” at a minimum. I’d think if the guy wasn’t wearing a uniform, one could probably justify using deadly force as an appropriate self-defense response.

How wonderful these guys will now get some training into what the laws they are paid to enforce actually say. But I can’t help wonder, if they catch one of us breaking the law and we say it’s because we didn’t know, will they accept our apology and give us a pass?

If it were me, I’d be looking at filing criminal and civil complaints. [The War on Guns]

I read a number of gun-related weblogs, forums, and mailing lists. It’s a very common occurrence for someone to post a question about what someone who is legally carrying a pistol should do when confronted by a cop. Invariably such questions attract multiple cops and cop appologists who say exactly the same thing this one did.

An illustration of conservative thought
Sep 13th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

More "Demographic Doom" for our society..

More "Demographic Doom" for our society.




Women feed the jump in college enrollment

By Greg Toppo and Anthony DeBarros, USA

Colleges and universities these days are
seeing a surge in enrollment – and it’s increasingly driven by young
women, according to U.S. Census data out today.

The numbers confirm years of enrollment
data showing that women have not only closed the college enrollment gap
– they have far surpassed men on campuses. For every four men enrolled
in graduate school in 2006, there were nearly six women.

[Chaos Manor Musings]

It says a lot about conservatives that the mere fact that more women are going to college than men by a slight margin is considered “doom.”

Cop in action
Sep 12th, 2007 by Ken Hagler

Missouri: Police Threaten, Detain Motorist for Parking After Hours. A motorist who refused to discuss his personal business with a St. George, Missouri police officer was threatened with arrest last Friday. Brett Darrow, 20, no stranger to unconventional encounters with police, caught a St. George Police Sergeant James Kuehnlein stating that he had the power to invent charges that would put Darrow behind bars. Update: Sergeant Kuehnlein was placed on unpaid leave Monday pending an investigation. [TheNewspaper.Com]

In the video the thug says, “I’ve been a cop almost as long as you’ve been alive.” It shows.

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