Running and dealing with foot pain

I am not an avid runner. In fact I find the act of running rather unpleasant most of the time. However I have a job in a profession that requires a minimum amount of running to stay employed in said profession, and so I run.

A few years back I was on an all expenses paid vacation and in a place where I had regular time in the afternoons to go work out on a treadmill or elliptical machine, and there was a conveniently located running track down by the helicopter LZ/PZ, so I decided that I was going to run a half marathon. And I did, I used Hal Higdon’s half marathon training plan, and followed it until I ran a half marathon in 1 hour and 44 minutes. I did all my on treadmill running in barefoot style shoes, and all my outdoor track work in trail runners (because rocks). After that all expense paid vacation ended, I did a lot more “road work” and drifted away from cardio in the gym.

But now, once again I find myself in a place where there is enough time to dedicate some of the day to running. And I decided that I will run another half marathon. Already signed up for it in fact, paid my registration fee and everything. So imagine my surprise when I developed “plantar fasciitis” in both heels. Seriously, what gives? I’ve been running for years, and was steadily upping my time without going crazy. I even have access to a dirt track here, which should have been perfect for my trail running shoes to help avoid impact on my knees.

Alas, it literally felt like hot coals just forward and under the ball of each heel, and it hurt worst first thing in the morning. So I stopped running for a few weeks, upped my stretching routine to try to help the healing process, and ingested plenty of ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help control swelling. I also bought some new inserts for my boots, and that did offer some immediate relief.

In researching how to treat plantar fasciitis, I discovered that the “consensus wisdom” from the medical community is that it is a stress injury from repeated over use, and that changing your routine will likely correct the problem by strengthening other muscles/tissues to get things back to healthy. To do that, I swapped my trail runners for an older pair of “barefoot style” running shoes and did two miles tonight (not a particularly long run by any stretch of the imagination). I used the sand track, and managed to run both miles without causing heel pain.

Damn, barefoot running is every bit as “work those calves!” as I remember. Even the tibalias anterior (front shin muscle) got a much more vigorous workout tonight than normal. Clearly running in trail running shoes spoiled my body mechanics, and years of running on pavement compounded the problem with very monotonous foot strike angles. The reason that I stopped running in barefoot style shoes is that those sorts of shoes absolutely suck on pavement (I’m more of a Clydesdale than quarter horse) and I didn’t particularly enjoy the gym at my last assignment.

Lessons learned.

  1. Mechanics matter. Barefoot running forces me to have better mechanics and this is a good thing.
  2. Variety matters. Just running, even on a well though out plan, can overuse my connective tissue and set my plans back very quickly.
  3. Stretch. I didn’t stretch nearly as much as I should for optimal recovery, adding additional stretches throughout the day helps me keep things loose.

And why is any of this important? It isn’t really, unless you’ve watched “Zombieland” and you know rule number one.

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Choate “Ultimate Varmint” Stock

Initial impressions of the Choate “Ultimate Varmint” Stock with the words “Designed by Major John Plaster” molded into the left side….

Context for the rifle: I have an older Savage 10FP Tactical 308 with 20″ barrel that still has the “tupperware” stock from long before Savage went to the accutrigger and round rear bridge.

Context for the shooter: I’m a fairly large person by statistical standards (over six feet, over 200 lbs), I have big hands (military size 10 or 11 depending on the manufacturer). I wear a size 12 ring. I’m not a NFL or NBA size, but I’m on the larger side of normal.

To me the Choate Ultimate Varmint Stock is perfect in the hand grip area (a frequent complaint from other reviewers is that the grip is too large), but too short in length of pull even with the two biggest LOP extenders installed. And those two LOP extenders are the absolute max that can be installed because the very skinny third one makes the two butt pad attaching screws not able to grip. As it is, using the longest screws that came with the stock I’m getting about a centimeter of engagement on each, and I’m not exactly comfortable with that so I might have to get some longer ones elsewhere.

The forestock is wide, but not as ridiculously so as the “Ultimate Sniper Stock” and smooth rather than textured with plastic spikes. I like this, as it is as close to a “budget chassis” as most anyone is going to get for the older square rear bridge Savage actions (1988 to 2006). A front accessory rail is going to be quite familiar to anyone who has done time shooting 10m air rifle or precision small bore.

The 20″ barrel of my Savage looks comically short in the “Ultimate Varmint” stock, like it is missing a suppressor. The barrel is not threaded for a suppressor, but if ever purchasing a can gets simpler than getting a mother may I stamp from the ATF I may chuck that baby into a lathe and git ‘r done.

The sling swivel studs are a nice strong design in my opinion, they are essentially a stud that goes through the forestock and buttstock horizontally so you can mount a shooting sling or carrying strap (the two are not the same) as you see fit. However they don’t fit snug enough to be silent, and I’ll probably end up needing to use some nylon washers or something else to quiet them down.

So, the bad…the Ultimate Varmint stock is a mix of “too big” and “too small” in various areas, not particularly well finished. If the grip is too big you can sand it down, and if the length of pull is too short you can add the spacers and then maybe even a slip on buttpad if you need more material. Still, for a 200 dollar base price stock that is essentially a molded plastic over an aluminum bedding block, these sorts of modifications shouldn’t be something that someone is talking about in a first impressions review.

And so, the good. For 200 dollars you get a stock that is a tried and true accuracy enhancer over the tupperware factory stocks of the era, and duplicates the functionality of the newer “accustocks” although I personally believe the Ultimate Varmint stock has better ergonomics for precision shooting. The accustock on the lower end Savage heavy barrel variants is still a hunting stock design, and the wrist lacks the proper geometry to support prone shooting or even other position shooting not involving a standing hasty sling or off of shooting sticks. The mechanical accuracy for the accustock is amazing, but ergonomically the Ultimate Varmint stock is going to be better for most people even with its downsides.

Interesting points. The Ultimate Sniper stock completely changes the balance of rifle, moving it rearward. This helps the rifle feel much more stable in a standing unsupported position and in a seated position. This would obviously be different on a rifle with a 24″ or 26″ barrel, or for a long action variant.

Summary, the Ultimate Varmint stock is priced about fifty bucks higher than it should be, but can totally get away with this because there isn’t much competition for the 1998-2006 Savage 10 aftermarket stock segment. It is a good stock in terms of being an upgrade over the factory offering despite not being the epitome of excellence in a few areas. If you shoot a lot of prone supported, this is a great stock for you. If you shoot a lot of “3 position” style rifle shooting, this is a better stock than the factory stick. If you just want to hunt, stick with the factory stock as it is lighter than the Ultimate Varmint stock by a fair amount. If you are a bigger person, simply having more stock to work with is going to be a good thing for you adjusting LOP and cheek piece.

I wouldn’t recommend someone go out and buy an older Savage to then spend more money on upgrading the stock, as overall that is going to be about equal of buying a New Savage with an Accutrigger and Accustock already installed from the factory. The Timney trigger on my rifle adds another even hundred to the cost, and the 20 moa EGW scope base another 38 bucks. All in all, an older Savage is probably not the most economical rifle to customize to your particular body.

But, if you have already sunk the cost into getting a Savage to shoot the way you like it, but still aren’t satisfied with the stock and are OK with never getting back out of the rifle what you put into it, then an Ultimate Varmint stock is worth a look. Sure it looks like plastic Derp from the last decade, but damn if it doesn’t work just fine.

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An open letter to all Americans concerning US Army Officer commissioning sources.

Dear citizens of the United States of America,

The US Army is many things to many people, and given the history of the United States, our military tradition maintains three separate rank structures. These are Enlisted, Warrant Officer, and Officer ranks. This segregation of duties by pay grade and responsibility level may not be the most egalitarian solution to serve the republic, but it endures because it is effective at producing units that are willing to close with and destroy the enemies of the United States.

Recently West Point has come under fire for allowing 2LT Spencer Rapone to graduate and attain a commission in the US Army. These links will take you too some obvious criticism of the Academy itself, and the response from the Academic leadership.

The United States Military Academy at West Point has served this nation in years of war and peace since being founded in 1802. A new nation, on only the second Presidential Administration ( Thomas Jefferson, who would go on to found the University of Virginia in 1819) it has served as a cornerstone of the US Army. For centuries, West Point remained a top Engineering school and provided civil and combat engineer leaders to tackle such problems from irrigation to establishing fortifications. West Point has a proud history.

But having a proud history is meaningless if your standards have fallen. However, West Point is just as well known for producing less than stellar results, the “ring knockers” or “West Pointers” are often the butt of the jokes from the lower enlisted and non-commissioned officer ranks. And West Point graduates leave the US Army at a higher rate than their Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Officer Candidate School (OCS) cohorts.

In short, West Point does NOT produce a superior officer.

What West Point does produce is a steady addition to the “West Point Protection Society.” This is where a West Point Captain arrested for a DUI was quietly shuttled between General Officers purview until the paperwork requiring him to be separated from service was conveniently round filed somewhere. This Captain went on to be promoted to Major, having survived by the active protection of Senior West Point alumni over his career.

West Point continually leads all commissioning sources for the lowest retention rate, as whatever dreams of glory a Cadet had upon pinning on a gold bar have been sufficiently shattered by the time a Captain’s railroad tracks adorn the uniform. We expect at least 50% of any given year group of West Pointers to leave the service at or shortly after 5 years when they have completed their active duty service obligation. A quarter million dollars worth of taxpayer money to see around 500 West Point graduates go on to enrich themselves in private industry without having to pay lip service to “Duty, Honor, Country.”

West Point does not produce the most disciplined officers, the discipline problems associated with West Point heavy Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course (IBOLC) classes at Fort Benning are rather legendary.

West Point does produce a toxic culture of “The Commander is ALWAYS right” no matter if an Army regulation specifically prohibits the activity the Commander wants to implement. Having tried to explain to a West Point graduate (who was give two company commands in a row and FIVE attempts at Ranger school by other West Point commanders in order to make sure he was likely to be selected for Major) that he couldn’t replace Army Regulation with a Memorandum For Record taking away rights and privileges granted by said Army Regulation and that IG would likely get involved and not end favorably for him. I was told, “shut up, when you are in command you can do it your way.”

West Pointers are extremely good at organizational politicking, and also very good at always finding the key job they need to make trend for promotion. And because the West Point Protection Association is alive and well they will make use of their organizational politicking skills to advance themselves. When West Point produces less than half of all Infantry Officers in the Army, I’ve had the distinct displeasure of having to serve in an Infantry Battalion, where the BN Commander, BN XO, and EVERY company commander was a West Point graduate. The OCS commissioned Officers served as XOs, the S4, and every other non Key Development position that is necessary but not sexy for promotion boards. That BN Commander even hand picked his Rear Detachment OICs directly from his OCS population, because he knew that it was a thankless job that needed to be done right.

In my humble opinion after serving with many Officers from every commissioning source (and I’m not as an ROTC graduate) the best commissioning source for excellence in creating well rounded Army leaders is ROTC. This is because over a thousand Colleges and Universities across the United States participate. And it is all voluntary, and very few ROTC Cadets get a “full ride” scholarship. But even a “full ride” ROTC scholarship costs the US Taxpayers less than the quarter million dollars that it costs to put each and every Cadet through the Academy.

Officer Candidate School (OCS), on the other hand, costs the Taxpayers even less than ROTC. And despite having lower promotion rates to the Field Grade rank of Major, OCS has been the only answer to fill the vacant Officer positions for the US Army in wartime. Because ROTC is voluntary fewer people volunteer during wartime for ROTC, and West Point’s total “surge” capacity is about 100 bodies total, four years AFTER the start of a conflict. OCS can crank out a fresh batch of 2LTs in 14 weeks, and can expand classes as needed. And this accounts for many of the problems OCS officers have with promotion to the Field Grade ranks, because the Army over commissions year groups with OCS graduates for war, and then separates them via the “up or out” policy to “right size the year groups.” This may sound cynical and jaded, but it is the reality for OCS alumni who learn very early that they are second class citizens of the Officer realm, having never worn the title of “Cadet” and only “Candidate.”

And yes, OCS has also let some poor leaders graduate as well when “quantity of Lieutenants” was more desired by the Army than quality. There is no such thing as a perfect commissioning system that will be able to accurately predict how a leader will perform under fire, but a Candidate with 2LT Rapone’s clear hatred for America would be easily washed out and sent out “needs of the Army” or back into civilian life. OCS is not there to teach someone “college stuff” OCS is there to prepare college graduates (or people with enough college credit to qualify attendance at OCS) to lead troops in combat.

LTG Caslen wrote in his rebuttal about inviting people to the streets of Baghdad or Kandahar to see the positive impact that West Point has had. You would be disappointed, both cities are still rough and not very friendly to Americans. During the “War on Terror” the contributions of West Point have not been spectacular, not even above average enough to merit serious scholarship to see a larger impact on military outcomes.

In closing, I will go back to where I started and say that the US Army is many things to many people. But it is YOUR Army, and you should have your say in how YOUR Army reflects whatever values that you feel are important to making this nation more free, and a more positive influence on the world.

Would quietly ending West Point harm your vision of what the US Army should be? Has West Point become a special interest for a small minority of people who are a drain on public resources?

Or is somehow, the cost of throwing a quarter million dollars worth of education at 1,000 for a grand total 250 Million per graduating class (that’s a cool Billion dollars to graduate 4 classes) a responsible use of taxpayer dollars? Are the “intangible benefits” of creating an “in club” within the Officer ranks truly in the best interest of America?

When you think about what America should be, and what the American Army should be, is West Point a requirement for your vision? If it isn’t, why is West Point still here?

Thank you for reading,
The humble author who shall remain anonymous as UCMJ still applies.


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Tactical Heresy: Holsters and Tourniquets

First up on “Tactical Heresy”; Uncle Mike’s Nylon Holsters, Blackhawk! Serpa Holsers, and should always carry a tourniquet? Hopefully I’ll be able to address why these “tactical truths” came from with some historical context, and then explain why they they can’t be universally applied and anyone who tries to universally apply them deserves a good mocking.


The common wisdom that Uncle Mike’s holsters, especially the cheap nylon variety, are pure garbage that will get you “killed on da streetz” is pretty universal. There are better holsters than Uncle Mike’s, but there aren’t better holster’s than Uncle Mike’s at the Uncle Mike’s price point. Just like the Hi Point pistol pretty much dominates its price point category, they serve a niche.

So where can you use an Uncle Mike’s nylon holster where it doesn’t matter? When hiking in nature and you don’t happen to be the top of the food chain any more. When open carrying and care more about proper retention than “speed draw.” Pretty much ANY activity where you need a secure way to hold a pistol, Uncle Mike’s nylon holsters will work just as good as a top quality cow leather or kydex holster. The “inside the waistband” holsters also work, they are not as good as a kydex friction retention holster, especially not for re-holstering, but if you have one of those “carry lot, shoot little” lightweight revolvers as your defensive carry piece then there aren’t a whole lot of kydex options out there for you.

Next up, the ever so “cloggable” Serpa holsters. Videos of Serpa holsters getting clogged with sand/grit while folks are rolling around at “real tactical schools” doing “real tactical stuff” can be found all across the internet. And yes, this is a real thing, the Serpa WILL in fact clog, however a friction retention holster isn’t something you want to jump out of a C-130 with, otherwise you’ll be searching the drop zone “hands across America” style for days trying to find where the hell that M9 or M11 pistol ended up. So when is a Serpa the right tactical choice? When you are in an environment where positive retention is more important than a speed draw, such as conducing airborne, air assault, or amphibious assault, and your pistol is your secondary weapon. Sure the folks who train hard on the weekends will make fun of you for having a Serpa in thigh rig setup, but they aren’t the ones wearing body armor during the week crawling in and out of MRAPs.

Last up, carrying a tourniquet and making fun of anyone who plans on using their belt MacGuyver style to staunch the blood flow. This one doesn’t make too much sense to me as the whole “carry a tourniquet” came out of the “War on Terror” and it does make total sense for that scenario. However the deaths from gunshot wounds in the US are actually a very rare thing, and of those tourniquets in Iraq and Afghanistan were there to staunch the blood from the leftover stump after someone “got blowed up” so to speak. Since the number of full or partial limb amputations are rare as a result of gunshot wounds, and thankfully there hasn’t been a large increase in victim initiated IEDs in the United States, the “tactical tourniquet” crowd has really supplanted “actual first aid training” with a magical totem called a CAT-T. The military figured out that teaching people to use a tourniquet, pressure dressing, sucking chest wound flap/pneumothorax decompression and then getting them to a REAL trauma center was the 90% solution to saving lives.

So tourniquets are great for full and partial amputations, but what about gunshot wounds? Will a belt actually do for that? Yup.  Now what does a tourniquet do for a lower abdominal gunshot wound (what, your tourniquet doesn’t double as wound packing?) What does it do for a lung shot (you know, use the plastic cover from your field dressing with some medical tap to make a flap that lets air out but not in?). Nothing, but you’ve got your tactical tourniquet, so you must be more prepared than the guy wearing a belt, right?

So there you have it, some tactical heresy, hopefully explained with the backstory about how and why some of the “common wisdom” came about and how it can’t be universally applied (and definitely shouldn’t be universally applied). And anyone who parrots the “common wisdom” without understanding where it came from is probably someone you shouldn’t let waste your time. Now, if you are planning on being a concealed carry ninja who works really really hard on drawing from concealment to do a Mozambique drill and can afford a better holster than an Uncle Mike’s low end nylon, by all means you should get one, and the same goes for a Serpa. Better gear is always a good thing, but it is never a substitute for training and good judgement.

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Las Vegas Shooting: Armchair Assessment

The murderer’s motives are probably going to go down in history as a complete mystery unless something comes up in the autopsy that points to a brain tumor or other disorder.

The murderer’s plan was pretty simple, get to a place with almost no avenues of egress, shoot up a bunch of tightly packed people with rapid fire from various semi-auto rifles from five football fields or more away, and die in place. He did that, and created a new US record for deadliest single shooter mass murder incident in the United States, but still comes in second place to a truck driving murderer in Nice, France.

The “spray and pray” method worked well enough to kill plenty, but I’m quite thankful he wasn’t a trained marksman or the death count would have been much worse. I’m also thankful he wasn’t trained in machine gun employment tactics or he would have known the difference between plunging fire and grazing fire and the effects on target.

So while it was bad, it could have been much much worse.

However, the next time someone says that the 5.56×45 is worthless past a few hundred rounds…well here’s another data point to show that it is effective enough on people wearing no more body armor than a t-shirt affords. Much like the Hi Point Carbine was quite effectively used at the Columbine murders, pretty much any firearm that works is going to be deadly if used with enough skill at an appropriate range.

It is pretty clear that the murderer put himself on a suicide mission, since he committed suicide rather than take on a tactical team doing a battle drill six. No reports of booby traps at all, although some reports of “explosives” which haven’t been elaborated on.

Lessons to take away.

Incoming fire sounds like firecrackers if you are at a concert where the loud music has de-sensitized your hearing. Anyone who’s pulled pits at the 500 or 600 yard lines knows the sound of the supersonic crack is louder than the muzzle report at that distance. Anyone worried about suppressors making him impossible to pinpoint are full of crap.

Most of the injuries were due to panicked people panicking. Crowds always make me nervous, and I believe they should be avoided if possible.

The actual causes of death have not been released, so it is too early to tell if it was central nervous hits, blood loss, or lung damage that played the larger role in cause of death. Either way, knowing how to apply a pressure dressing, tourniquet, and treat a sucking chest wound are life skills you should master long before you need them. Carrying around a tourniquet is great, but knowing how to use belts, shirts, and random pieces of plastic to save someone’s life might save your own someday.

The Las Vegas Police Department’s response to the murderer was about as well as could be expected for any major metropolitan police department in the US. That is to say they will review this and find plenty of room for improvement, but overall it could also have been a lot worse.

The question “why” is getting tossed around. There’s a photo floating around supposedly placing the murderer at an AntiFa rally, I have no idea if it is true or not. If it is true then it could be possible that a country music concert packed with 22,000 people who all seem suspiciously like Red State voters would appeal, but there are no indicators of violence in the murderers past. Demonic possession can’t be proven by modern forensic science, but this case sounds like it should qualify. Conspiracy theories about the guy being set up as a patsy are also flying around, but a lack of evidence isn’t evidence supporting a conspiracy theory.

I’m glad it wasn’t worse, and sad that it happened at the same time. However Beslan, Nairobi, Mumai, and Oslo were all worse in terms of gun deaths, and they all happened outside of the US since 2004. Nice, France was worse and a medium delivery truck was the weapon of choice in that murder spree. Evil people are out there, and sometimes being a good person with a gun puts you in the right spot to do something about opposing evil. Other times the bad guy is 500 yards away with a scoped rifle and a sack lunch and even a 10mm isn’t going to help you out.

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Hurricane Maria, the DOD, and recovery

When a disaster strikes, and everything is effected, then the work of getting everything “un-effected” is the “disaster relief” operations.

Here is what the problem set looks like.

You can’t get stuff onto the port because the longshormen are unable to get to the port to offload the shipping containers onto trucks that don’t have truck drivers because the truck drivers can’t pass through the roads that have been made unusable for traffic because all sort of trees, debris, and washouts are stopping movement. And you can’t fix the roads all at once because the machinery to do so works mile by mile, obstacle by obstacle.

So until you get the roads fixed, the longshormen can’t work, the trucks can’t drive, and people go without power, fresh water, and other parts of modern living. But then you have the Dunning-Kruger Geniuses who post stuff like this:


Fay is correct that the military is in fact trained to conduct amphibious assault, seize beachheads, establish Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) and move inland. Fay is utterly fucking wrong about using that capability for Puerto Rico because it is faster to fix the roads, get people moving, and let the systems get back up and running rather than invade Puerto Rico with thousands upon thousands of servicemembers who won’t get any relief off a JLOTS floating dock any faster than it can already get to the pier or airport.

Large scale recovery efforts take time. This is why FEMA recommends a 72 hour “shelter in place kit” for every home, and a 72 hour “bug out kit” for every person in your home when you live in an area that may require you to stay in, or bug out (or both).

72 hour kit (recommended at home, car, and work location):
Evacuation guidance:

The three day guideline is there because in a real emergency, there is absolutely NOTHING that is going to come help you for at least three days. It’s been ten days since Hurricane Maria slammed straight through Puerto Rico and millions are still without power. And it will be a while still until power can be restored. All those home generators that had a weeks worth of fuel stored, have run dry.

And it isn’t because the State and Federal Government response is inadequate, it is simply that there is no feasible way to swap out the most necessary resource easily on an island in the middle of the Caribbean. On day one you need thousands of people with chainsaws and the know how to reduce obstacles to get the roads clear. On day two you need thousands of road repair crews to make sure that bridges are safe, that washouts are repaired, and that the roads can still handle the gross tonnage of the trucks that need to drive on them. On day three you need thousands of lineman to repair electrical distribution lines, swap out transformers, and get the substations back on line.

As you can see, a disaster relief operation isn’t a static response, as human activity changes the situation the needs of the relief operation also change, and it is not feasible to magically swap out the experts you need on day one with the experts you need on day three, especially when you can’t really bring in outside expertise because they have no place to stay and become just another mouth to feed and body to house that eats up relief resources you need for the citizens.

So this isn’t to say that the US Government response was perfect, it absolutely never is, but hopefully the planners will take in the lessons learned from this, the same way they did for Katrina and apply them forward. And it is important to note that Houston and Florida had very different responses for one simple reason, geography.

The Cajun Navy, arguably the most visible of all the civilian volunteer relief organizations operating in Texas, was built literally on personal good will and open source communications technology enabling volunteers with bass boats to go where they were needed to do what needed to be done. Florida, slightly more isolated as a peninsula but still readily open for relief traffic flowing down. Puerto Rico has none of that. There are no bass boats going to make the trip from Florida to Puerto Rico, and even if they could they wouldn’t be useful on arrival.

So…if you live in Puerto Rico, or any island for that matter, your 72 hour kit should be a 480 hour kit (that’s twenty days). After all, the biggest problem after Katrina was getting supplies where they were needed, because flooding and fallen trees blocked roads.

But no matter how much I write about being prepared, there will always be someone who thinks just because the US put a man on the moon that somehow we can magically fix things overnight. People see the vast resources of the DOD, but forget that the DOD is spread across the face of the planet, and that an Armored Brigade Combat Team isn’t much use in Puerto Rico disaster recovery operations. The combat engineers from the Army would be very useful, but they require the exact same aircraft that are now transporting relief supplies to fly them in, and then they’d require those same assets to divert basic life support for them while they cleared roads and drove loads.

It’s a big problem, and it can’t get fixed rapidly. The geography and logistical reality just doesn’t support rapid recovery. And this is true no matter who is sitting in the White House.

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Taking a Stand.

I guess now that everything is open to both genders, I should probably start referring to the mothership of all things Infantry as “Fort Benning Prep School for Wayward Youth.” But, when the volunteers go through Fort Benning, they come out on the other side of graduation as an Infantry Soldier, or a Paratrooper, or a Ranger.

The Seattle Seahawks as a collective entity declared to the world that they would take a knee in protest. Colin Kaepernick’s attempt to use the NFL as a platform to protest has continued to grow, and the viewership of NFL games has continued to fall.

As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.


The Players of the Seattle Seahawks

Somehow the ten reasonable requests you can still find at have been bastardized into some generalized complaint about “those that would deny our most basic freedoms” rather than anything actionable. Of course the Seahawks are centered in a very blue city, and may find plenty of support in that metropolitan area. They will lose support in all the red counties of Washington, which is all of them except for five.

But on the same day, the Pittsburg Steelers spent the time for the National Anthem in the locker room, save for one. Alejandro Villanueva isn’t a corn fed “white” American name. News outlets are referring to him as an “ex-Ranger” or “veteran.” There are no “ex-Rangers” unless the Ranger tab has been rescinded from an individual. You earn the tab, you are a Ranger, you wore the scroll, you are a Ranger. The tab is a school, the scroll is a Regiment, but either way you managed to earn the right to wear that little piece of cloth. Ranger school won’t make you a better person, it will help you find where you thought your limits were and move past them. But in the end, the tab is a piece of cloth, and what matters is the character of the person wearing it.

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Alejandro Villanueva was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for valor and one for service. He is a man who volunteered to go to West Point in a time of war where no end was in sight, volunteered for Ranger school knowing where that would take him, and deployed three times. In his career he has seen men die, and the flag of our nation lay across the casket of someone he fought alongside. He is a man who has seen real bigotry, and real hatred, and he has seen men of all races come together to keep each other alive in a war that most Americans don’t care about and don’t care to know about.

Now the Ranger tab is just a piece of cloth. If you take it off a uniform it changes nothing about the skills, knowledge, abilities, character, and competence of the person under the uniform. Those are the things that matter, and those things are why Alejandro Villanueva stood, alone, while others stayed inside a locker room trying to avoid the controversy of taking a stand or taking a knee.


America isn’t perfect, and people have the right to be ungrateful and petty. There is no law requiring citizens to be good citizens. The “most basic freedoms” that the Seattle Seahawks whined about are still protected by men and women of all races who volunteer, freely and of their own accord. Their attempt to claim patriotic dissent while appreciating the very people who uphold the current imperfect system is simply wordplay to deflect the criticism of their choice. When they can’t even articulate what “most basic freedom” is being denied, or name this faceless oppressor, it is just whining.

I believe in the idea of America, and I know it isn’t perfect. But it will never be perfect, and times will get better and worse, reflecting the morals of the citizens of the times.

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