Iraq

The Female Fighters of Kurdistan – Part 3

Part 3 of the Thomas Osborn documentary about the Female Fighters of Kurdistan.

Part one and Part Two were blogged earlier.

The Female Fighters of Kurdistan – Part 2

I have found this little documentary fascinating. Part one was blogged earlier.

This is part two of the Thomas Morton documentary on Vice.Com about the female fighters of Kurdistan.

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The Female Fighters of Kurdistan – Part 1

Thomas Morton of Vice.com has a video series of the female fighters of Kurdistan:

From Boudica of the British Celts to Corporal Klinger, few things unsettle the male mind like a lady in arms. The Kurds of Northern Iraq have long recognized this principle and incorporated it into their quest to build a Kurdish homeland in the overlap between Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Fighting alongside their male comrades in a region not exactly known for its progressive stance on women’s rights, the female Peshmerga guerillas of the Kurdish Liberation Movement built a reputation for themselves in the 70s and 80s as demure diaboliques with the deadly poise of Leila Khaled or Tania-era Patty Hearst.  Read more »

Argies might talk tough, but Poms do tough

David Cameron is manning up against the Argies:

Britain is prepared to defend the Falkland Islands with military force if Argentina launched another invasion, David Cameron has said.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the Prime Minister said troops would be deployed in the event of another attempt by Buenos Aires to re-take the islands.

He made the UK’s “extremely strong” position clear after Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the Argentine president, renewed her accusations that the islands were stolen by Britain.

In an escalation of aggressive rhetoric, she took out advertisements in British newspapers claiming that the islands were forcibly stripped from Argentina in “a blatant exercise of 19th century colonialism”.

Her position has hardened since last year’s 10 year anniversary of the Falklands War and the discovery of potential oil resources off the coast of the islands.

Mr Cameron this morning said he would fight to keep the Falklands in the same way Margaret Thatcher launched forces to protect the islanders in 1982.

Asked if Britain would defend the islands, he replied: “Of course we would and we have strong defences in place on the Falkland islands, that is absolutely key, that we have fast jets stationed there, we have troops stationed on the Falklands.

Cameron needs to park a couple of Astute Class subs in and around the vicinity of Buenos Aires.

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Face of the Day

General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. has died:

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Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., the hard-charging US Army general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War, has died at the age of 78, a US official hsa said.

The highly decorated four-star general died at his home in Tampa, Florida, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known as Stormin’ Norman, commanded more than 540,000 US troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his 34-year military career.

Former US President George H.W. Bush, who built the international coalition against Iraq, said he and his wife “mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation,” according to a statement released by Bush’s spokesman.

Chart of the Day – No wonder the US is rooted

As the US approaches the fiscal cliff we can see why they are in terrible trouble:

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President Obama says he wants a “balanced” approach to the fiscal cliff. But critics argue the real problem is spending, which has far outstripped rising tax revenue as well as economic growth.

Federal government revenue rose from $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion from fiscal 1998 to 2012, slightly exceeding inflation. Revenue growth averaged 2.9% annually, despite two recessions, bear markets — and tax cuts.

But federal spending rose nearly twice as fast — 5.7% per year — surging from $1.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion over that same span.

The spending spike also exceeds growth in the population.

Some of the spending surge came during the Bush administration — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increases in non-defense discretionary spending and the creation of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement.

But spending accelerated under Obama. While he inherited a budget increase from Bush in fiscal 2009, an omnibus bill he signed plus his stimulus package helped boost spending $535 billion in his first year, hiking total spending from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009. Spending has never returned to the already-high 2008 level even after controlling for inflation.

Shearer on negotiation

ᔥ NZ Herald

David Shearer has given a speech on the art of negotiation:

Mr Shearer spoke to the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand about his skills in negotiating difficult situations in some of the world’s most dangerous spots.

He acknowledged those gathered, unlike some politicians, were probably not in the business of disagreeing; but were probably – like him – more skilled at negotiation.

He said he shared some experience in their field of expertise from his work with the United Nations and dealing with people carrying weapons – saying he worked in Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda, Lebanon, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq to help people reclaim their lives.

“Whenever I stepped into the middle of an argument, I learned some more about human nature.”

Which all sounds like bullshit considering his idea in politics is when parties or people disagree they must walk away from deals…strange behaviour really from a person who likes to think he was the master negotiator in world hot spots…no wonder he got on sweet with Somali warlords…when they pointed their AK-47s at him he bailed out just like he wants the Maori party to do.

Peak Oil still not here

ᔥ The Guardian

Far be it from me to argue with George Monbiot. It really is fun watching alarmists start eating hat:

In 1975 MK Hubbert, a geoscientist working for Shell who had correctly predicted the decline in US oil production, suggested that global supplies could peak in 1995. In 1997 the petroleum geologist Colin Campbell estimated that it would happen before 2010. In 2003 the geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes said he was “99% confident” that peak oil would occur in 2004. In 2004, the Texas tycoon T Boone Pickens predicted that “never again will we pump more than 82m barrels” per day of liquid fuels. (Average daily supply in May 2012 was 91m.) In 2005 the investment banker Matthew Simmons maintained that “Saudi Arabia … cannot materially grow its oil production”. (Since then its output has risen from 9m barrels a day to 10m, and it has another 1.5m in spare capacity.)

Peak oil hasn’t happened, and it’s unlikely to happen for a very long time.

A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.

Maugeri’s analysis of projects in 23 countries suggests that global oil supplies are likely to rise by a net 17m barrels per day (to 110m) by 2020. This, he says, is “the largest potential addition to the world’s oil supply capacity since the 1980s”. The investments required to make this boom happen depend on a long-term price of $70 a barrel – the current cost of Brent crude is $95. Money is now flooding into new oil: a trillion dollars has been spent in the past two years; a record $600bn is lined up for 2012.

The country in which production is likely to rise most is Iraq, into which multinational companies are now sinking their money, and their claws. But the bigger surprise is that the other great boom is likely to happen in the US. Hubbert’s peak, the famous bell-shaped graph depicting the rise and fall of American oil, is set to become Hubbert’s Rollercoaster.

American Sniper

ᔥ American Rifleman

It takes skill, discipline and dedication to consistently shoot the X-ring on targets. It takes a whole lot more to consistently slot bad guys that can also shoot back.

Six years ago, while fighting raged in Iraq’s cities, I heard that American snipers were racking up phenomenal numbers of kills, possibly overtaking the Vietnam War records of U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock (93), Marine Sgt. Chuck Mawhinney (103) and Army Staff Sgt. Adelbert Waldron (109). The rumor was true.

America’s new record sniper recently stepped from the shadows with publication of his combat memoir, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.” During four tours in Iraq, former U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle logged 160 confirmed kills and almost twice that many “probables.”

I spoke with Chief Kyle, a veteran of the West Coast-based SEAL Team 3, and learned that, surprisingly, he doesn’t like to swim and has little enthusiasm for parachuting—but he loves to shoot. Since shouldering his first Daisy BB gun during his boyhood in Odessa, Texas, to the .300 Win. Mag. rifle he most often used in Iraq, shooting has been his favorite pastime. Still he would have to attend the three-month SEAL Sniper School in order to develop mastery of the skills necessary to ply his trade.

That is a whole lot of dead bad guys…but somethimes they shoot back:

Kyle usually worked with, or in support of, conventional U.S. Marine and Army forces, providing covering fire as they advanced into insurgent-held neighborhoods in areas such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Baghdad’s Sadr City. Typically his 16-man SEAL platoon seized “commanding terrain,” often the tallest building in a neighborhood, even if that meant infiltrating ahead of U.S. forces. Because most Iraqi buildings stood only one or two stories high, from a four-story building the platoon snipers were able to dominate an area. The SEAL platoon went in with plenty of firepower: machine guns, grenade launchers, shoulder-fired rockets and lots of ammunition. “What’s not understood,” Kyle explained, “is that in an urban area, after that first shot, you’re not going to sneak anywhere—you’d better be ready to fight. When you go into a city, there’s no moving. You’re defending. At times we were really stuck out there; it left us hanging but those guys needed our support. We were in danger, but so be it.” Twice Chief Kyle was hit by enemy bullets—luckily absorbed by his body armor—and shaken by several nearby IEDs.

And his preferred weapons and ammunition?

From these elevated perches, he exploited the great reach of his favorite rifle, a custom-built Remington Model 700 bolt-action chambered in .300 Win. Mag. During his final tour his favorite rifle became a .338 Lapua Mag., which offered great reach and impressive barrier penetration.

Like a golfer picking the best club for a given situation, SEAL snipers could select among a variety of rifles that best fit their tactical setting. For long-range precision Kyle brought his bolt-action .300 Win. Mag.; for closer-range shooting, when quick follow-on shots were likely, he had a 7.62×51 mm NATO Mk 11, the Navy’s version of the semi-automatic Stoner SR-25; and for assaults, he had a short-barreled 5.56×45 mm NATO rifle similar to the Colt M4 Carbine. Only during his final tour did he have a .338 Lapua Mag. bolt-action. His standard .300 Win. Mag. load was a 190-grain match round manufactured by Black Hills Ammunition, which also loaded the 77-grain, 5.56 mm ammunition he fired. He fed his semi-automatic 7.62 mm rifle with 175-grain, M118 Long Range ammunition loaded by Federal.

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The mind of a sniper

What goes on in the mind of a sniper?

Chris Kyle is a sniper, the best in the world. He describes his job:

As US forces surged into Iraq in 2003, Chris Kyle was handed a sniper rifle and told to watch as a marine battalion entered an Iraqi town.

A crowd had come out to greet them. Through the scope he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops. She had a grenade ready to detonate in her hand.

“This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever,” he says.

“You’re running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, ‘You killed a woman, you’re going to prison’?”

But he didn’t have much time to debate these questions.

“She made the decision for me, it was either my fellow Americans die or I take her out.”

He pulled the trigger.

Kyle remained in Iraq until 2009. According to official Pentagon figures, he killed 160 people, the most career sniper kills in the history of the US military. His own estimate is much higher, at 255 kills.

According to army intelligence, he was christened “The Devil” by Iraqi insurgents, who put a $20,000 (ÂŁ13,000) bounty on his head.

Married with two children, he has now retired from the military and has published a book in which he claims to have no regrets, referring to the people he killed as “savages”.

Israeli researchers have found something a little different:

But a study into snipers in Israel has shown that snipers are much less likely than other soldiers to dehumanise their enemy in this way.

Chris Kyle killed an estimated 40 people during the second battle of Fallujah in 2004

Part of the reason for this may be that snipers can see their targets with great clarity and sometimes must observe them for hours or even days.

“It’s killing that is very distant but also very personal,” says anthropologist Neta Bar. “I would even say intimate.”

She studied attitudes to killing among 30 Israeli snipers who served in the Palestinian territories from 2000 to 2003, to examine whether killing is unnatural or traumatic for human beings.

She chose snipers in particular because, unlike pilots or tank drivers who shoot at big targets like buildings, the sniper picks off individual people.

What she found was that while many Israeli soldiers would refer to Palestinian militants as “terrorists”, snipers generally referred to them as human beings.

There were about 20 gunmen escorting a convoy and one of them was unlucky enough to get in the sight of my scope. The distance was about 300m, almost nothing for a sniper.

A few seconds later I saw him lying motionless.

In the heat of the moment my only thought was to shoot more and more. I saw the figures rushing in panic and trying to hide.

We killed all of them, except three or four who were wounded and captured. Afterwards I blamed myself for not being cool-headed enough. I thought that if I had been calmer, I would have killed more enemies.

We were proud of ourselves, but now I am ashamed.

If I was asked today, I would say it’s very hard to kill, but more than 20 years ago I was too young.

“The Hebrew word for human being is Son of Adam and this was the word they used by far more than any other when they talked about the people that they killed,” she says.

Snipers almost never referred to the men they killed as targets, or used animal or machine metaphors. Some interviewees even said that their victims were legitimate warriors.

“Here is someone whose friends love him and I am sure he is a good person because he does this out of ideology,” said one sniper who watched through his scope as a family mourned the man he had just shot. “But we from our side have prevented the killing of innocents, so we are not sorry about it.”

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