The King and Queen

Shot Placement and Energy Transfer

In previous blog posts I have mentioned what I consider the King and Queen of Combat Marksmanship. The King is shot placement and the Queen is energy transfer. Shot placement is self-explanatory, it is where the bullet strikes, enters, transitions though, and exits the target. Energy transfer is more particular. It is a component of terminal ballistics. I could have said terminal ballistics. A discussion about terminal ballistics is not a can of worms. A discussion about terminal ballistics is a 55 gallon drum of soul sucking carnivorous leeches, that causes PhDs in engineering to break out in fistfights and remove each other from Christmas cards lists.

For all of the blog posts I try to keep them pretty basic. There will be finer points that will be left out. There will be certain details glossed over. It is my intent to keep the conversation middle of the road. If you have PhD and you work at Picatinny, this will not be a peer reviewed technical dissertation. I am always learning myself.  

Energy transfer

Energy transfer describes the rate and amount of energy transferred into the target. This means that when the bullet hits the target that not all projectiles act the same. That as the projectile moves in the body of the target they transmit different amounts of energy at different times. Some projectiles will penetrate deeply and then begin to transmit their peak amount of energy. Others will begin to transmit energy early in their path. Others may transmit very little of their energy into the target.

The ability for a projectile to transfer adequate energy into the target is key. The ability to transmit most of this energy into the vital organs is ideal. The ability to transmit the maximum amount of energy across the entire path of travel is optimal. This is dependent on projectile size, shape, material, and construction. I will refrain from getting into that here.

I define energy as whatever property that must be transmitted to an object, to perform an effect on the object. We all know about kinetic energy of the bullet. But the amount of force it exerts inside the target is important. The key is the rate this energy is exerted. Force is an interaction that changes the motion of an object.  Force is applied by the projectile against the tissue of the target or against the materials in the armor. The force applied by the projectile against the tissue creates a permanent and temporary hollow space inside the body. This is called cavitation.

Cavitation is basically boring a tunnel inside the body of a target. That the force exerted by the projectile displaces tissue. It forcefully plows a hole, sometimes much larger than the projectile through the target. Some projectiles cause large amounts of cavitation at different peak points in their path through the target.

Cavitation in solid organs such as the heart, brain, and large vessels such as the Aorta or Vena Cava, is incredibly lethal. These tissues are effectively torn apart by the force transmitted that was caused by cavitation. Projectiles that penetrate and cause massive disruption via cavitation, cause damage that solid organs and vessels cannot recuperate from. This damage if extensive enough it is instantly lethal.

So lethality is tied to cavitation. Cavitation results from the force exerted against the tissue. Force exerted against the tissue results from the projectiles ability to transfer energy. This is why energy transfer is the queen of combat marksmanship.

Shot placement

There is a reason shot placement is the king of combat marksmanship, as it wears the pants in the relationship. Simply put a .22 caliber bullet placed in the right spot is lethal. When working as medic, I worked the scene of a shooting. I found out later, the story was that there was a drug deal and the buyer wanted the drugs and money. While he was running away he fired one shot over his shoulder, with a .22 Raven.

I conducted a rapid exam of the patient, the seller. He was pale white, warm to the touch, apneic, and pulseless. There were no obvious entry wounds, exit wounds, and there was no blood. There was no blood on him or the ground.  There was an organized cardiac rhythm under the CPR, otherwise known as PEA. This means I need to resolve the 4T’s and 4H’s of PEA. One of the T’s is Cardiac Tamponade.

This is resolved by executing peri-cardiocentesis, where a long needle is inserted into the sac that surrounds the heart. This condition can stop the heart if it is filled with blood from injury. So I press down on the patient’s upper most abdomen, insert the needle by his xyphoid process, aim towards the heart and watch the monitor, while CPR is paused. The PEA is interrupted by the contact with the needle and I feel pressure. I am at the heart. I draw back on the syringe and no blood. I re-advance the needle and draw again, nothing. On the third try, I am drawing back when I am well away from the heart. The syringe now has blood in it.

I then percuss his chest, its full of fluid, its full of his blood. Then I see the entry wound. It had been covered during CPR. It was a small entry wound along the left margin of the patients sternum, smaller than a mosquito bite. The 22. Round had entered just off his sternum, in the 4th inter-coastal space. He was dead within seconds.

This is a case in point that even the smallest calibers can cause the destruction of vital organs. That large cavitation, fragmentation, and secondary wound channels all take a back seat to where the projectile goes. What the projectile hits on its path is more important than how it hits. Some projectiles will begin to deform very early, or late, or completely, or not at all. This does not matter if the great vessels, heart, brain, and other vital organs are hit.

Now I do not want anyone thinking I am being contradictory. There still is no replacement for displacement. That larger bullets, with higher ballistic co-efficients, that are designed to have better energy transfer (and therefore cavitation) will have a higher probability of killing the same target with the same point of impact.

Again, some projectiles will begin to deform very early, or late, or completely, or not at all. If they destroy vital organs because of where the projectile travels, it really doesn’t matter.

So we have clearly stated what is optimal, a high BC projectile placed into vital organs. But what happens when the shot is not placed into vital organs, what happens when the aim is off by just a bit. This is complicated by the type of tissue that the projectile is moving through.

Bone and Skeletal Muscle can absorb, deform, and deflect the projectile. Wounds to skeletal muscle and bone may be incapacitating but are not normally lethal. Softer tissues like the lungs and intestines will suffer massive damaged but will allow projectiles to pass right through. A collapsed lung can result in air and blood trapping (Hemo/ Pneumothorax) that can be lethal if not corrected. Solid organs like the Liver, Pancreas, and Kidneys will tear and rupture. These can be non-field repairable and result in eventual death. Vitals organs such as the great vessels, brain, and heart will rupture in very much the same manner.

There are circumstances when the aim is off and the direct wounding of the projectile or the permanent wound channel, is not lethal. Yet, the temporary wound cavity from cavitation is lethal. The temporary wound cavity is caused by the cavitation which is we have stated is based off the projectiles ability to transfer energy. This varies by caliber and bullet composition (a series of blog posts in their own right).

The basics of what happens is that as the projectile bores through the target. As it travels the projectile, and if applicable, its fragments, tears direct holes into the target. If the projectile does not result in lethal injuries the energy it transfers can. The energy this (these) projectiles transfers and the rate at which it is transferred it is directly result in the cavitation pattern. This cavitation pattern and the force it applies can destroy vital organs. This is a critical component in how lethal a projectile is.

This is why I call energy transfer the queen. Like any good queen, she magnifies the king’s power. She subtly but substantially influences the environment. She expands his reach, she makes him stronger. Again, shot placement is the king for a reason. Everything you do supports where the shot is placed. Just in case the king is a touch off target, the queen has his back.

The next blog post well cover Suppressors and the SCAR.



New Calibers, the fight to come

New calibers, the fight to come

In my efforts to enhance the lethality of US weapon systems, my intent has always been to bring more people into the discussion. I do my best to not speak in absolutes, I intend to discuss things conceptually. This is so that experts in the finer points of cartridge construction, rifle barrel design, and ballistics could help drive the conversation. I am not some tier one super hero. I do not pretend to know everything and I would be highly skeptical of anyone who claims they do. But I have little fear in speaking out. I know this community has what it is needed to help drive the development of what could be the last cartridge based systems fielded by the U.S military. 

There have been a few shifts in my thinking. The first was a firefight in 2003. Before then I was always under the notion that 5.56×45 mm projectiles would be modified to meet the demands of combat environments. When your perspective is based on ½ mass time velocity squared, 5.56×45 appears to the end all be all. But, I landed in Ft Bragg in November of 2003, with a new perspective.

I’ve mentioned the King and Queen of combat marksmanship. Energy Transferred into the target is the Queen and Shot Placement is the King. That these elements combine into the probability of killing the enemy. In the mid 2000’s a study was released that said 5.56 bullets need to yaw to transfer energy. If the 5.56 bullet does not Yaw or “tumble” shot placement becomes even more critical. It can kill without it, but the kill probability drops substantially. The Army study said a 5.56 bullet needs 4.75 inches of body penetration to Yaw. The people we have been shooting at for the last 16 years are not known for being more than 5 inches thick.

Until this study was released, I believed that the 77grain bullet and other larger 5.56 projectiles were going to be the answer in most applications. I then discussed with my father, a famous sniper in LE circles, the USMC’s experiences in the transition from the M14 to the M16. Stories of grown Marines on the verge of crying from frustration in shooting the M16 the first time are still visceral to him. Had we gotten it wrong all those years ago? Did we hamstring our forces for a half century in the name of lighter weight? Did we marry light, cheap, and easy at the expense of lethality and the military half mile? (I feel we should have ALL rifles capable of engaging targets to 800m not 500m as some have suggested)

Around this same time, I had a chance meeting with a staffer from Senator Tom Coburns office. One conversation led to an email. This email turned into hours of phone calls and a white paper. This white paper was sent to the Secretary of the Army and became the Individual Carbine program. At the time, I was a senior NCO assigned to a NG SF ODA. Not really the center of gravity in weapons modernization. But I kept in contact with Senator Coburn and his staff. I advocated for multiple weapons platforms that I thought would be effective solutions.

But what I tried to communicate more than anything else was the projectile. The bullet we were shooting was more important than the gun we were shooting it with. DoD was so tied to 5.56×45 that it there was no way any small arm wouldn’t use it. The Individual Carbine was cancelled a few years ago because none of the weapons offered any cost/performance benefit over the M4. It is the same reason the SCAR ® Mk.16 was cancelled. They all shoot the same 5.56×45 cartridge. Like I said the bullet we shoot is more important than the gun. No change in bullet equals no change in rifle, the M4 lived on.

Not long after this I went to the SCAR fielding at 1st Special Forces Group. While I liked the Mk.16, I completely forgot about it the second I shot the MK.17 SCAR®. It felt new, light, and a lot like the future. It was European so it had some quirks like ergonomics and not enough room for all the lights and lasers. But the aftermarket would resolve that. I started digging around in my network about the first field reports. I talked to friends at 2nd Ranger Bn. and 3rd SFG. I had faith this was going to be the system that was going put it all together. That the SCAR was a SOPMOD away from perfection. I figured the SCAR® was the answer. Now we can really knock people in the dirt. Simply put 7.62×51 is very lethal, and I could do house work with this gun.

But there is a problem. 7.62×51 does not have the legs to be effective past 1000m. For those that know there has been a long-standing need to have a +1000m battle rifle. I’ve known this for well over a decade. Until recently not many people listened. Some are now. One who agreed early was Jim Schatz.

I met Jim Schatz when he came to Seattle in 2012 for a small arms conference. I had a friend use his credentials to get me in. I remember it was in the convention center in Seattle, Washington. The same place I would meet Alan Handl just a few months later that same year.

I was advising the staff of Senator Coburn at the time on the Individual Carbine program. I had many questions and doubts about case less ammunition. How do you clear malfunctions? Can it fire out of a battery? What happens when it does? Jim told me about his experiences with an experimental case-less gun. Well if I had doubts before, they were concrete reasons now. It’s a conversation that makes me utterly scared of LSAT. While these solutions maybe the future, they have serious technical hurdles to overcome. Also, advancements in polymer cases will be probably too far advanced to make the effort cost effective.

I remember mentioning to Jim the bane of our existence, the PKM. That we had no proper counter. The Mk.13 had been fielded in 300WM. But two Sniper rifles vs area suppressing hit and run machine gun teams is a losing bet. He agreed and mentioned 6.5 calibers as a solution. I kept in touch with Jim irregularly over the years. I did not know Jim other than infrequent conversations and occasional emails. But it was very clear Jim was a person of immense experience, knowledge and professionalism. His was often the first opinion I would seek, which he freely gave. I found myself coming to some of his conclusions, long after independently covering the same ground. His input cannot be stated enough. I know everyone it the HK community knew exactly who Jim was. Unfortunately, Jim died recently. His death could not be more untimely. For the battle he had always advocated for is about to be fought. I feel it should be him telling this story.

I believe the answer to our problems is 6.5 projectiles. In my opinion, in a 2-cartridge solution. Handl Defense believes that all our solutions must fit three primary parameters. Something we produce must; improve performance, support doctrine, and show a cost benefit. Everything I’ve ever gotten approved in the military fit these three same tenets. It had to work better, be in left/right limits, and be inexpensive.

The new cartridges we adopt across the force needs to fit into these parameters as well. There is perfection and then there is effective. Perfection can be the enemy of the good. We can seek a solution that has the best performance. If it does not fit doctrinal applications and it is expensive, it will not get adopted. I see two solutions in both 7.62×51 and 5.56×45 sized platforms that fit the bill. The solutions we seek should emulate current supply chain structures as much as possible. This will reduce the cost of introduction an absolute key for adoption. I see four contenders each with their own strengths and weaknesses. I will discuss each of them superficially now. There will be a more in-depth discussion about each in their own blog post later.

What I see in small case solutions. While there are as many options as there are opinions, these two options reflect the most likely solutions to upgrade from 5.56×45.

The first option is 300 Blackout. Now before you shut down your browser or scream ” it is for suppressed use only!” There is more than meets the eye with this cartridge. Many people have been working diligently to get more out of 300 Blackout. Some of them have been successful. The issue with 300 BLK is that historically there has been much more bullet drop at comparable ranges to 5.56×45. Initial versions dropped the height of a 6 foot man in about 350-375 meters as opposed to about 450-475 meters for 5.56×45. Understand also 300 BLK required more training for the end user. You had to become more instinctive in compensating for bullet drop. Then there are issues with mechanical reliability in piston guns, they often had to be suppressed to get the extra back pressure to insure effective functioning. Handl Defense has been successful with 300 Blackout in our modified FN SCAR® 17s. But there was serious reworking of the operating group.

Regardless of its issues, the 300 BLK penetrates a target and begins to yaw in the target almost instantly. This means it carries a higher chance of being lethal round. There are some experiments with smaller 300 BLK rounds that show real promise. One 300 BLK producer who was using a blended metal technology that was claiming 700 meters with minimal bullet drop. There have been some projectiles under 120 grains that are getting 2600 fps and more. This opens the door for a EPR type of round in say 90-100 grains to make 300 BLK effective to almost 700 meters. I am sure this will require longer barrels (16 in and up). Then the fact this cartridge is based on 5.56×45, makes it a very viable option. The cost savings transitioning from 5.56×45 to 300 BLK would save millions upon millions of dollars and could be implemented very quickly.

But for a 5.56 based gun solution, 6.5 Grendel needs serious consideration. 6.5 Grendel does not use a 5.56×45 case. Even though it can hold more powder and provide higher velocities, the fact it would require a new case to be adopted is its most serious draw back. The expense of new cases on top of other new expenses cannot be discounted in these budgetary environments. One other drawback to the 6.5 Grendel is that it would also reduce the number of rounds in the magazine by four. But for these drawbacks you get serious performance that will fit in an M4. 6.5 Grendel cartridges shooting lighter bullets (90-100 grains) can achieve 2900 fps. There is equal and in certain cases superior performance from 6.5 Grendel to the 7.62×51 147 grain M80 round. Sierra states that their 123grain 6.5 bullet has 2900 joules of energy at 2700 feet per second. An EPR type M80A1 or M855A1 cartridge in 6.5 Grendel could be a powerful solution for 5.56×45 based rifles. This could be the 800 meter solution for the M4. But startup costs and fewer rounds per man in a light infantry role could very easily stymie 6.5 Grendel.

When it comes to 7.62×51 cartridge solutions, I believe the requirement is that it must fit in SR 25 pattern magazine. One other item I have always pushed for is a common 7.62×51 magazine. I believe any mid-sized cartridge must fit in legacy 7.62×51 systems with minimal retooling.

The first is 6.5 Creedmoor. My first experience with this cartridge was in early 2013. I was testing the AK conversion kit Handl Defense was developing for FN SCAR® Mk.17. Another shooter was a lane or two over with a 6.5 Creedmoor match gun. I knew of the cartridge but I had never fired it. He allowed me to fire about 30 rounds out of the rifle. It was instantly apparent this was a new beast. Flatter, faster, and seriously tight groupings. Not unlike the first time you ride a Ducati superbike, you had no idea you were going that fast.

6.5 Creedmoor is immensely popular in precision shooting circles. There is a lot of data, history, and success behind the cartridge. There are numerous advocates across all shooting disciplines. 6.5 Creedmoor has high-BC 6.5 mm bullets fired at good velocities (2700-3000fps). It has a very similar trajectory to 300 Win Mag. and less recoil than 7.62x51mm. When you look at match grade 7.62x51mm like the 175 grain M118LR, the 6.5 Creedmoor has about ¼ less wind drift. It will have about 100 inches less drop at 1000 yards. Then even with 20% lower mass, the 6.5 Creedmoor will retain 20% more energy. It will also hit the target at 1000 yards at about 300 fps more speed.

The 6.5 Creedmoor does not use 7.62×51 as its parent case, which could present the same issue with 6.5 Grendel. Which might mean the adoption of a new case system wide and the extra expenses that go with that. I have had discussions with some re-loaders who say you can make 6.5 Creedmoor from 7.62×51 cases. It just takes extra work. If used military brass can be converted to 6.5 Creedmoor easily, it will overcome its biggest stumbling block. Think of all the ASPs across the military. Think of the millions upon millions of rounds of 7.62×51. Without a way to use them and reuse them, it will be harder to justify the caliber change. Remember this decision will be made by Generals and Politicians. They do not care that one cartridge has 300 extra FPS. its BC is 4% higher, or 2% more accurate at 1000m. They care about cost to benefit ratio for project that pales in comparison of strategic impact to the JSF or Virginia class attack subs. 

Which leads me to 260 Remington. This cartridge does not have a portion of the following that 6.5 Creedmoor does. It has almost all of the same performance in SAMMI spec versions as 6.5 Creedmoor. But 6.5 Creedmoor is more developed, better supported, and does perform that little better. For match shooters that little bit better is all the difference. But that does not mean that 6.5 Creedmoor is the better fit. 260 also flies much like 300 Win Mag. It also has the high BC bullets. It also will provide overmatch to the PKM.

260 Remington has two things going for it. The first is cost. To convert the metric tons of 7.62×51 brass to 260 Rem is far simpler and straight forward. Converting 7.62×51 to 6.5 Creedmoor might be just and extra step or an extra tool. When we must add an extra 3-5 cents per round and multiply it by 2 billion, that could be all the difference.

The other thing 260 Remington has going for it is a group in the government is working very hard to close the small performance gap between 260 and 6.5 CM. I do not have permission to disclose the particulars so do not bother. Handl Defense has supported this effort in the government. I understand there will be implications of bias. Regardless, an optimized 260 Remington could provide near equal the performance of 6.5 Creedmoor. It could do this cheaper both in initial startup costs and over the lifecycle of the program. This is a serious advantage that cannot be discounted.

I recognize there is a lot in this post, and others, that I do not discuss. For example, I do not discuss doctrinal applications, or if that one 6.5 bullet could work in both 5.56 cases and 7.62 cases, or bullet composition. That even when I delve into the calibers that there will be a lot I leave out. Even in these posts themselves, I cannot cover it all. These blog posts are not intended to be closing arguments. They are intended to start discussions. I know this is a highly contentious subject, so I expect vigorous debate. Additionally, the e-mails I have gotten recently and other input is not only welcome, it is exactly what I seek. It is what we should seek from each other.

My next blog post will be about the King and Queen of combat marksmanship; shot placement and energy transfer. 

This blog post is in Honor of James Richard Schatz, Jr. Who died March 16, 2017. He was a paratrooper and an Army Marksmanship Unit Instructor. God Bless him and his family.

Size does matter

Size does matter

As some of the close friends of the company know I have a history with the U.S. Senate. That for more than a decade, I have advocated for more lethality in our small arms with Congressional leadership and their staff. This is the first time I have publicly acknowledged this. I do not consider myself a pivotal player in the Special Operations community. But this is the time to speak up. The next cartridge, the next bullets, the next 30 years of small arms is being decided. It is being decided as we speak. 

As a CEO of a firearms manufacturer, a Green Beret, a medic, a sniper, and an engineer. I forget my unique perspective. I have enough experience in each discipline to truly understand what we need in more lethal systems. It is time for those in the shadows to emerge a tiny bit. So that we might engage in honest conversation with each other. The time is now, as a nation, as a military, we must get our new cartridge right. But what can we do right now? 

So, for me, it all goes back to a firefight in 2003. My ODA was engaged in a close to mid-range multi direction ambush. I remember very specifically engaging several enemy that had just been blown out of their position by another gun truck. I dropped every bit of a full 5.56 magazine of fast, controlled, and aimed shots into them. They did not drop immediately as I had expected. I thought I was missing them. But members of another ODA would verify later I had put several shots into each of them. This firefight would verify to me that 5.56×45 has lethality issues.

This shock of the results of that August night fundamentally altered how I saw small arms. It put me on a mission to bring a higher level of lethality to our forces. I have studied reports that discuss 5.56 lethality, and over penetration issues. I have treated critically injured patients who have been shot with a massive variety of small arms. I have spoken with men far more combat experienced than me. One thing has become abundantly clear to me. In the arranged marriage of combat marksmanship, Energy Transferred into the target is the Queen and Shot Placement is the King.

What the projectile does once it enters the body is secondary only to where it enters the body. That a projectile that transfers the bulk of its energy into the enemy combatant is key. Once a projectile enters the human body, if it exits, it means there was energy that was wasted. A bullet that can fragment, yaw, or a combination thereof inside the body is ideal in my opinion. We should seek to insure every possible joule of energy has been transferred into the target.

When a projectile enters the human body what type of tissue it strikes is paramount. I have seen small caliber bullets deflect off and skip around bone. I saw a convenience store owner shot in the head from under 10 feet. It entered his skin at an angle, deflected off the frontal bone of the skull, transverse around the skull, under the skin, and exited out of the occipital region. I have seen a person shot multiple times at close range with 7.62×39 and live. I know of a retired General and a NSW SOMTC instructor who have been shot in the chest with 5.56 and lived. I have seen the work of 7.62×51 rifles and machine guns. I have never seen anyone shot in the chest, head, or abdomen with 7.62×51 and live. 7.62×51 inflicts injuries that are usually never survivable.

The way a bullet destroys muscle, solid organ and soft organs is different. This is based off the cavitation effects of the projectile once it enters. Imagine looking down on a boat moving through water. It leaves a wake behind it. The size, shape, and speed of the boat determine the size of the wake. Think of the boat wake as projectile cavitation.

Since Humans are about 70% water I feel this is a very accurate metaphor. Look at the wake of a speed boat, like the type that are raced in the open ocean. They leave clean small wakes by comparison to their size. It the pursuit of speed, they reduce drag, they transfer as little energy into the surface of the water as possible. This is akin to how a 5.56 projectile works. Clean and fast through the air often means clean and fast in the target. According to Army studies a 5.56 bullet needs 4.75 inches of body penetration to Yaw. This Yawing is critical to the 5.56 round being lethal. It is how it transfers its energy into the target. If the 5.56 round fails to yaw, it often fails to kill. That August night in 2003 makes a lot more sense now.

Now look at the wake of a battleship. They sit low in the water, muscling the water out of the way. They push forward with brute force. They plow the ocean. It does not mean they are inefficient, they are designed to sit low and power through the water. Only when compared to the open ocean race boats they are considered inefficient. 7.62×51 rounds act in the same manner. They seem to plow through the air, which becomes very evident when they go transonic. In this same manner they plow through human beings. Those who have fired a M240 machine gun at the enemy and seen the work it does. Or who has placed the crosshairs of his Leupold on an enemy insurgent and pulled the trigger. They all will tell you 7.62×51 kills the first time. 

Now concessions will need to be made for enemy armor. Do not think for one second that Near-Peer adversaries are not fielding equivalent body armor systems. This is why I am a fan of the HK 417, M110 and the FN SCAR® (Mk.17). Even though 7.62×51 almost never stops in a human body, they have joules to spare. The flexibility of the cartridge and its many variations like 180 grain AP, 175 grain 118LR, 110 TAP, and others allow the modern 7.62×51 based rifle more lethality and flexibility right now. But 7.62×51 is not the future. The future is for my next blog post.

Regardless of what you’ve heard, yes size does matter.

The MK.17-M110- A stronger foundation for the SCAR

The MK.17-M110- A stronger foundation for the SCAR 

Drag racers always look to put the strongest motor in the lightest car. Light weight and big power leads to better performance. But often racers put motors in cars that were not designed for it. The engineering analysis of the manufacturer was for how the car was originally designed. These cars could be so overpowered that engine torque would overwhelm the frame to the point where the windshields would crack.

We find some similarities to the design of the SCAR®. The SCAR® was designed as a 5.56x45mm gun first. The 7.62×51 SCAR® Mk.17 shares a lot of the same materials and parts. The SCAR® Mk.17 was not the main effort, the SCAR® Mk.16 was. Since USSOCOM had a proven and well liked 5.56×45 gun already, the SCAR® Mk.16 was dropped. The SCAR® Mk.17 became the main effort. FN Herstal put a big motor in a small car and we went to war with it. I have been a fan of the gun ever since.

Since Handl Defense seeks to extract the maximum performance out of the system, just like racers do. We found some similarities in solutions to what drag racers would do to reduce flex. Why do you want to reduce flex and vibration in a gun? Let us start with more durability and accuracy. In a rifle, you have areas in the design that overall are more stable. If you remember your physics, these are nodes. The barrel extension is place of high stability in a SCAR® and therefore a node.

Areas that have less stability along an axis are called anti-nodes. Examples are the end of the barrel and places along the track of the operating group. These oscillating and flexing areas, like the barrel, are what cause harmonic vibrations. This effects accuracy in a negative manner. Rigidity reduces the amplitude of these vibrations and is therefore equivalent to mechanical accuracy. Discussions about barrel profile, tuning, timing, and dissipating the now increased frequency of the small oscillations will be for another time. But to better understand nodes and anti-nodes in an alloy, look at this video.

Where does Handl Defense add extra rigidity in the SCAR®? All along the long axis of the platform. We also reduce torsional, longitudinal, and shear forces of the weapon as well. We do this in several ways.

First, is tighter fitment of the trigger module. Our trigger modules were originally designed to require press fit by rubber mallet. Once the trigger module was mated with the upper receiver and after a break period of about 100 rounds the two components would wear together in a way that would result in a long term tight fit. This tight fit kept the nodes and anti-nodes of the energy waves in effectively the same places. It also reduced the amplitude of these waves along the entire track of the operating group.

This design theory caused complaints in the early models of the SCAR25. The longitudinal tension was decreased in subsequent versions of the SCAR25 and MK.17-M110. Handl Defense still retains the stressed member concept in our current trigger modules. We are the only SCAR® trigger module producer who understands and applies these concepts.

Inversely from a tight-fitting set of components, a loose-fitting set of components will also adversely affect mechanical properties. Nodes and anti-nodes will change locations along the long axis of the firearm the more flex is introduced to the platform. Harmonic wave patterns can even superimpose on each other. Where these waves superimpose, a new pattern emerges with even greater amplitude known as constructive interference.

With the addition of the Handl Defense MK17-M110 series of trigger modules, we provide more structural rigidity to the platform. Handl Defense has provided substantial increases in the platforms compressive strength and torsional rigidity. Now we provide much stronger support for the entire chassis. This is important as the extrusion profile lends itself to vibration.

Another way we make the system more rigid is to use different materials. Imagine two objects of the same weight dropped from the same height on the same surface. These two objects are of the same size and shape, their only difference is the one has high elasticity and the other does not.

When the highly elastic one is dropped, it bounces and comes back almost as high as it was dropped from. What happened is the potential energy was converted into kinetic energy that was transmitted back into the ball due to elasticity.

When the inelastic ball is dropped, it drops on to the surface and does not bounce. This potential energy was converted to internal energy back into the ball and the surface. This is caused by the inelastic nature of the collision.

To simplify, elastic collisions maintain momentum (bounce/ vibrate) and inelastic collisions dissipate energy into the objects themselves. This is consistent with the conservation of momentum. Which means the energy must go somewhere. Into something else or back into itself. Materials that have a lower tensile strength will vibrate longer and with more amplitude (larger waves).

To understand the amount of energy that is dissipated into a material we need to understand Young’s modulus. Which on a basic level is stress divided by strain. Stress is the force applied to an area. Strain is the elongation of the material over the original length.

One way to measure strain is tensile strength measured in megapascals (mPa). A pascal is one newton per square meter, one megapascal is 1,000,000 pascals. One mega pascal (mPa) is 145 psi. The yield tensile of 7075-T6 Aluminum in the Mk.17-M110 is 500 mPa. The AZ 31 in the Mk.17-M110 MOD 2 is 220 mPa. The SCAR® upper receiver is a 6000 series material. The yield tensile of 6061-T6 is 145 mPa. With twice the stretch at failure of 7075-T6. The polymer we believe to be a urea formaldehyde, cellulose filled polymer with a probable mPa of about 55.

In OEM configuration, the SCAR® upper receiver takes all the forces of the cycle of operation on its own. The upper receiver is a homogenous extrusion with a tensile strength of about 145 mPa. It is also much stronger material than the trigger module. By the nature of the design there is no ability to transmit any of the operating forces to the polymer. When recoil waves pass through each other without being disturbed, and where they meet, the net amplitude is the sum of the two individual waves. This constructive interference is known to wreak havoc on sensitive optics. 

When a Handl Defense trigger module is mated to the SCAR® the trigger module fitment and material properties effect the upper receiver harmonics. It now has active resistance at the receiver end plate and barrel extension that will not allow for normal 7.62×51 recoil pattern amplitude in 6000 series Aluminum. This is cancelled by the much stronger 7075-T6 or AZ 31 trigger modules. The energy patterns are dampened by these materials. We specifically designed the MK.17 series of trigger modules to have destructive interference. Which means that energy waves moving through the trigger module and upper receiver are moving in very different patterns. This destructive interference allows for more nodes to develop along the pathway of the operating group. When the energy waves of the FN SCAR® upper receiver and the materials of Handl Defense trigger modules have opposite phases, they help cancel each other.

In the diagram below if wave A is recoil forces moving in the SCAR® upper receiver. Then wave B is recoil forces headed in the opposite direction. Since the material is homogenous there is no external interference. When these recoil waves meet they add to each other. This constructive interference is 3700 joules of energy for 7.62×51 instead of 1800 joules for 5.56×45 the SCAR receiver was orignally designed for.

The next diagram wave A represents the recoil forces in the upper receiver. Wave B represents recoil forces in a Handl Defense trigger module. Due to the stressed member concept specific to Handl Defense, recoil forces are transmitted into the trigger modules. Handl Defense trigger modules are made of very different materials, chosen for their higher tensile strengths. Recoil forces are transmitted in a different frequency. This different frequency results in destructive interference, reducing recoil forces transmitted throughout the platform and into sensitive accessories.

Understand Handl Defense came to these conclusions without any assistance from FN, USSOCOM, or NSWC Crane. We have never received input from any of those organizations, ever. We have sought our own solutions and forged our own pathway. We in effect did what the racers did, we reinforced the frame by providing stiffer support and selecting specific materials. We do what racers have always done, whatever it takes in the name of better performance.

A way forward in Syria


A way forward in Syria

Recent events have shown the situation in Syria is still very volatile. ISIS is being continually pummeled by coalition airstrikes and US Special Operations. ISIS is on the verge of collapsing into fractured resistance. But, Syria still holds the potential to destabilize the middle east and the globe. The consequences of miscalculation in Syria will result in this proxy war developing into a regional war. This could easily escalate into a war of global powers directly engaged with each other.  I previously described how the situation in Syria is very similar to the Spanish civil war in the 1930’s. The Spanish Civil War set the conditions for World War II. A mismanaged Syrian Civil War would set the conditions for World War III.

There are ways forward, this is my opinion on how I think we should proceed. It is not going to be easy and the United States is not in control of critical aspects. We will need our global and regional allies. We need to be prepared to change our perspectives about the region. Concepts we have relied on in the region will need to change.  We will need to work with our adversaries.

We will also need skilled negotiators. For this reason, the American people are fortunate to have Donald Trump as President. The other Presidential option had a very adversarial position with Russia. Her penchant for aggression and flippant disregard for military advisors would have resulted in catastrophe in Syria, that would have had secondary effects in Europe. 

The first step is to assure Bashir Assad will no longer control the resulting Alawite state. The United States and the Global community should be uncompromising in this. The Assad regimes actions against his own people are inexcusable. He fits within mold of Milosevic and Hussein. His slaughter of democratic reformers started this conflict. His continued use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons were acts of genocide. He needs to be brought up on war crimes charges at the Hague.

The Russians needs to take the lead on replacing him. The United States or any other international body deposing him and replacing him will not have the needed credibility for the Alawite and other minorities in Syria itself. The global community needs to put all pressure possible on the Russians to replace him with an Alawite of their choosing.

Second step is to assure the destruction of ISIS. The savagery of the Syrian Civil War has been perpetuated by both sides. The Assad Regimes chemical weapons use still come in second to the genocidal fanatics of ISIS. ISIS is an example of the worst traits of humanity rolled into one organization. Ethnic cleansing, rape, torture, religious persecution, slavery, are all ISIS hallmarks. Due to their ability to conduct decentralized operations, ISIS present a global threat. Even after the centers of power for ISIS are eliminated, individual ISIS members will need to be perused globally.

The focus needs to be on ISIS. Other proxy groups, such as the Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra and Hezbollah, still need to be transitioned in to political efforts or further persecuted into irrelevance.

Third step is to engage our regional allies in particular King Abdullah of Jordan. The Sunni nations the United States has historically supported, can provide a lot of help. In the open they can help provide a bulwark against the Shia groups and their primary supporter, Iran. In a discrete manner they can help restrict the ideology and funding of radicalized groups in the region.

One person stands out as key to the regional solution, King Abdullah of Jordan. He is a well respected in all circles. I have 5th SFG friends who have met him, and they are very impressed. He is a unique personality. He is a Sunni Hashemite Muslim king who can directly trace himself to the throne of Muhammed himself. His heritage traces directly to Muhammed’s great grand father. It could be argued that he has more right to the inheritance of Muhammed than even the house of Saud.

He is very pro-western king who has allowed for a parliament to be established in Jordan. He is respected by every capital in the region. He has history with both the Russians and Americans. He was trained in the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate school. He commanded the Jordanian Special Forces and lead against ISIS that were highly effective. He is not adversarial with Israel, furthering his ability to stabilize the region. His clout in the region is unparalleled. He is the key to forming a new, moderate middle east. The United States should provide every effort in supporting his rise as the key figure in the middle east.

The fourth step is to resolve the Kurdish – Turkish issues. The battles between the Turks and Kurds is a key obstacle for regional peace. The global community needs to intervene immediately in resolving the Kurdish problem.  Many Americans are very fond of the Kurds. They have shown themselves to be resilient fighters for decades. Unfortunately, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

Kurdish rebel groups such as the PKK have conducted attacks inside Turkey which are considered “terrorism” by the Turks. The Turks have historically suppressed the Kurds, which is the largest minority group in Turkey. By the mid 1990’s over 350,000 Kurds had been displaced by the Turks. The eastern part of Turkey is dominated by Kurds. There is large support for the Kurds internationally. But the Turkish government, now more hardline under Erdogan will not be keen to give autonomy to the Kurds. But a look at the Anatolia borders drawn for Turkey in the 1920’s should be evaluated.

the fifth step is to discard Skyes-Picot borders for Syria and Iraq, then establish Kurdistan. After WW I, the French and British portioned the Ottoman Empire into the basic boundaries we see in the middle east today. To better fight Arab nationalism they broke up areas to control them along ethnic lines. As the colonial powers began to recede in the 1950’s, the countries of the middle east began to form. They held to these borders which did not reflect the ethnic realties of the region. 

In the Special Forces Warrant Officer course I developed a matrix to better understand the forces that drive societies from a revolutionary perspective. From Mao to Washington there are commonalties and wide disparities in why people take up arms in revolt. The Plumb Societal Matrix helps make this more classifiable.

A key element is the six levels of a society. Which in ascending order are: Individual, family, tribe, state, nation, and international movement. Each of these is a larger collection of the preceding level. Different ethnicities and governments favor different levels. For example, the Chinese operate on levels 2 and 5, family and nation. The United States operates on levels 1 and 5, individual and nation. This does not mean that China or the United States care only about these levels. But social norms and legal policy is driven at these levels. They are the societies centers of gravity.

In the Greater Middle East, they operate on levels 3 and 6, tribe and international movement. They care about the tribe and international movement you belong to.  Being Bani-Amur and Sunni or are Quda’a and Shia are more important than being Syrian or Iraqi. The individual means much less in these societies than in western ones. Which makes certain terror techniques understandable when you learn how they function on an ethnic level. It also explains why so often Western polices fail in the Middle East. Our policy is not on the same societal frequency.

Iraq and Syria do not exist as fully functional homogenous nation states. These nations borders do not reflect the realities of their central government’s ability to protect and influence the populace. Iraq has its own problems as well. The southern regions massive Shia populations are in effect an Iranian proxy. The northern region of Iraq is already Kurdish run and nearly autonomous.

It is my opinion that the western region of Syria should be partitioned into its own nation. This would extend North from Al Suwayda to Aleppo. This would include the Druze, Alawites, and other minorities which have normally fared well under Assad.

The Kurdish north-eastern part of Syria, centered around Al Hasakah, should be merged with Kurdish regions in the Iraqi north. This will put pressure on the international community and the Turkish government to resolve their own issues with the Kurds.

The Sunni majority which spreads from the Jordanian borders to Raqqah and across to Tikrit and Karbala should be annexed by Jordan. King Abdullah has the clout and heritage to rule the Sunni tribes of this region.

The Western Power drawn borders that exist today are not compatible with the current ethnic realties of the region. Until this is resolved there will always be strife and discontent. This task is daunting, but this is in my opinion the best pathway forward to resolving the greater regional crisis.


When the moment chooses you


When the moment chooses you

I heard something recently that was a passing statement. But a statement that was said with a conviction that it could only come from experience. The type of experience that sometimes people don’t survive. I know this person had lived through mortal danger to pass on this wisdom.

I do not name drop, I personally can’t stand it. Each man should be able to stand on his own merits. Even though I spent a long time in the Special Operations Community. I have never considered myself special. I am just too smart to fail and too dumb to quit, that is all I have. But, there are people in SOF that will absolutely humble you with their level of ability and dedication. They are the antipathy of the prima-donna athlete often revered in our media. They are people whose character will permanently strip away your ability to complain, forever.

The words came from someone I know, who I knew have lived to pass on the wisdom that was so clear in just a few words. This man, Travis, reminds me so much of my best friend Cameron. They both possess an aggression and confidence is often mistaken for recklessness. When the house of a man’s confidence is built with the bricks of accomplishment, these men have built fortresses. It is a common trait in Special Operators, they know they can get it done. It comes from being ready for whatever the world throws at you.

What Travis said was “to be ready when the moment chooses you”. In my military experiences, there were times when the situation forced itself on you. Where you had to dealt with it, you had to overcome it. The consequences meant shame, failure, or even death. No time outs, no stress cards, no deferring it to the chain of command, no passing the buck, it was fucking win or die. One false move and you collapse the booby-trapped cave. You have shoot them before they shoot you. You win or you die.

Law Enforcement and Medicine is the only other places in life I have seen that can parallel the crisis of combat. Where the situation is forced on you. Make no mistake it is a step down, but it is close. In these environments, lives hang in the balance of your decisions. It is an environment where ignorance is a fatal flaw and stupidity is lethal.  A place where you can do everything right and still fail. Where you can give all of yourself, and still people die. A place journalists, bureaucrats, and lawyers will never truly understand.

Some may know I am closely tied to both Medicine and Law Enforcement. My entire family is in Law Enforcement. My father is a famous SWAT sniper, my brother a detective, my mother a Sheriff Deputy, and even my most of my step family is in Law Enforcement. I have a cousin who is a paramedic that holds a pistol qualification record for an Ohio Law Enforcement Academy.  Many of the members of my 19th SFG ODA’s were in law enforcement. I am honored to count most of my friends and acquaintances from the LE community.

I am also closely tied to medicine. Some my friends and close business advisors I rely on at Handl Defense are also Doctors. Then when I am not developing weapons and relationships for Handl Defense, I also work as a Paramedic. My department is often regarded as the best Paramedics in the world. Where most programs require 833 hours of training and education, ours requires over 3000.  Our cardiac arrest survival rates are in the high 50% to low 60% range. We intubate critically ill patients in the high 90% range. We bring the ER to the patient. We are studied the world over as the model of pre-hospital lifesaving care. We have a lot more in common with SOMTC than NREMT-P.

One early morning  the situation chose me. I am dispatched to a Law Enforcement officer not breathing and pulseless. There is just enough time to really open my eyes and focus on the road and flip on the lights. It’s a cold, dark, and wet night the Northwest is known for. I am working with the newest guy in the department. For a second the thought creeps in. My father, my brother, my mother, my friend, the junior Bravo on 9115, is effectively dead on the ground. No time outs, no pause button, no deferring it to the doctors, no passing the buck, it was time to do what only we can do.

In what seems like a minute, I arrive. On his back, staring lifeless at the sky is a police officer. Exposed to the cold and wet of the early morning night only his cut away armor between him and the sopping pavement. A man in his 50’s, in a moment I knew he was a father and husband. He had been fighting with a criminal. Once the criminal was subdued, the officer sat down, and went into cardiac arrest.

The fervor of the firefighters doing CPR was readily apparent. We treat every one of our patients the same. But you can feel the intensity when its one of us who is dying. Every Firefighter and Paramedic consider Law Enforcement one of us, we are all part of the same team. The officers had seen him sit down and go into seizures. They quickly realized he was not breathing, started CPR, and delivered a shock by way of AED.  The firefighters delivered two of their own and CPR was still on going, I could sense he has a chance.

As the Medics, we have all the powerful tools. We deliver cardiac drugs and intubate patients. Intubation means we insert a breathing tube into someone’s lungs through their mouth. As some have heard, if you don’t have an airway you don’t have a patient. Without the ability to provide high concentrations of oxygen to a patient via an endotracheal tube, it can make survival less likely. Without the ability to offset rapidly progressing metabolic and respiratory acidosis cardiac function will not be restored. They will become too acidic and  tissues will begin to die and any survival chances rapidly decline. 

I will not go into the specifics of this particular situation but his care was incredibly complex for so many reasons. Initially, It looked like saving his life was not going to happen. It was a very bad situation that was not set up for success. In the back of my mind was Travis saying “be ready when the situation chooses you”.

Even though the odds were stacked against me, I knew where I was. I know I can get it done. It comes from being ready for whatever the world throws at me. I had to rely on understanding the problem mentally. I had to visualize what I could not see. This can only come from an in-depth understanding of your craft. Some times you have to do things by feel and not by sight. Although there was no way to see or directly verify on one procedure what I was doing, I knew where I was. The cold, wet, dark, and crisis all disappeared in the focus.

He began to show signs of life. He had a blood pressure. He wasn’t out of the woods just yet though. Even though we had gotten pulses back, he had very serious issues that still threatened his life. The specifics of this situation were dire, this situation is very infrequently survived  After we got him to the hospital it took 3 hours for Doctors to fully stabilize him.

As the doctors and nurses wheeled him on the bed down to the surgeon, I saw the officer’s son. He was image of the officer 20 years younger, himself a police officer on duty in another district. Sometimes the reality of what we do is instantly apparent.

Unless the entire team did their jobs, he had no chance. Not unlike SOF, in public safety even the new guys are capable of really good job. The collective sweat of 2 dozen people was spent on one man. This is part of what makes America great, that we know one life is worth all the effort. His fellow officers, the firefighters, the medics, and the doctors were ready when the situation chose us. One more walks among us because we were prepared for the worst.


many have the will to win, few have the will to properly prepare to win” – B. Knight



Post Election with Brass Tacs and Black Rifle Coffee Company

Throughout the Veteran Business Community there are many intelligent and bold leaders. Some in spaces that might not seem fertile ground for veterans. One fine example of this is Evan Hafer over at Black Rifle Coffee Company. He has singlehandedly wrested single batch roast to order coffees away from the condescending hipster elites and openly mocks them while doing so. I had the honor of serving in the same unit as Evan. I always found him to be a quintessential professional, yet with an open mind, and very outgoing personality. What is less known is Evan is a very proficient shooter. Even within our community, very proficient.

The BrassTacs is a blog ( where Scott Lambin does extensive reviews on great American pastimes. Like firearms, Tim Kennedy beating people up, guns, home defense, Coke bottle gas masks, things that shoot, and machine guns. His articles are easy reads and cut to the point. I was considering writing an article on this very subject. But we would get caught up in some Warrant Officer bloviating on the Secretary of State’s  juxtaposition for supporting Shia geopolitical goals in the face of historical Sunni nation support. So without delay, here is Scott and the guys at BRCC on POTUS -Elects possible staff.

Now that the election is over; whether you are shocked, appalled or happy maybe like most, a mixed bag of all aforementioned emotions. The BrassTacs was recently in Washington D.C and the level of #Butthurt that we witnessed was astonishing! Now that we have avoided the train wreck called another Clinton Presidency, where are we with those advising Donald J Trump; who will be 45th President of the United States of America. Love him or hate him he was the best option to in fact; #makeamericagreatagain. Particularly for our 2nd Amendment! Many of us has said it from the start. “Trump will do just fine so long as he has a trusted group of people surrounding him”. We have laid out a panel of heavy hitters; military, law enforcement and those that are not new to the D.C circus. One thing is certain! ANYONE will be better than what we have seen in the previous 8 years!

justicePresident Elect Trump shed light on the appointment of the Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Scalia, he also released a list of twenty – some prospects. We know the importance; we know the vicarious predicament it puts our 2nd amendment in, should someone more liberal than Scalia be appointed. We would recommend the appointment of Ted Cruz to fill the big shoes of the late Antonin Scalia. Throughout the primaries Ted Cruz proved to have a clear head. He was rarely drug down the rabbit holes of slander and irrelevancy. Ted Cruz has the precise demeanor that our 2nd amendment needs to be upheld in a manner that protects all other rights!



dojOur pick to lead the Department of Justice is none other than Trey Gowdy! The Republican congressman from South Carolina that spear headed a plethora of investigations on Hillary Clinton (which was not a witch hunt). If you remember, Mr. Gowdy is the one who Hillary asked the infamous question about “What difference does it make, whether or not those responsible for inciting the terrorist attacks in Benghazi spontaneously, or deliberately”. Trey Gowdy is that of a relentless bulldog when he interviews anyone, not for precise political gain, but to bring justice to those that have broken the law. The level of integrity he would bring to the Justice department is one that in our opinion hasn’t been seen in quite some time. In short…Mr. Gowdy is like the honey badger…he just doesn’t give a fuck!


dvaWe have ALL said the name James Mattis in one way or the other! The retired Marine General will go down in history as one of the most feared and respected leaders of Global War On Terror. With an unsurpassed level of integrity General “Mad Dog” Mattis would clean house throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has taken care of his Marines and other military personnel in combat. James Mattis’ fortitude has been tested, forged and has triumphed over the vast majority of the political heads on the battle field. Rest assured, that having someone with the experience and leadership overseeing the welfare of our warriors; accountability would be adhered to and Veterans would be taken care of!


generalPresident Elect Trump has repeatedly stated that he will repeal Obama Care with the promise of “something better” put into place. It is up to the Surgeon General to pull the trigger on the overhaul! We have yet to see what the alternative is. Dr. Ben Carson is the man to line item the broken medical plan that is currently law. Dr. Carson does not fly by the seat of his pants and is very calculated in his actions…kind of important when you’re a surgeon. Dr. Ben Carson understands the medical industry and the people it serves. Next to a national reciprocity conceal and carry law, Repealing Obama care is at a close second in terms of prioritization! Ben Carson is the one to shit can it!



dosSome would argue that the Secretary of State is one of the most crucial appointments that a POTUS can make. As important as international relationships can be, someone with a spine needs to be in charge of the department that forges those relationships. The past 8 years of SEC STATEs have been rollovers and have allowed just about every country to embarrass us in their countries and in ours. From bowing to apologizing, we have undoubtedly encouraged a weak stature on the international stage. Newt Gingrich has been in politics for quite some time. Starting in Georgia and moving up to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Not only a political powerhouse, Newt is also a businessman who can identify when we’re about to get bent over on trade and import/export deals…something that Kerry and Clinton couldn’t or wouldn’t  do. Everyone in the past 8 years opted to let our country get boned! Newt knows the inner workings of  Washington DC and would be a great asset in diplomacy.


dodWe have only begun to scratch the surface and there are plenty others that would be considered “Key” to making America great again. Who is going to lead our warfighters? Who will be the face of the greatest fighting force on the planet? This decision was a toss up between Mad Dog Mattis and who we thought would be better suited for the job. Lieutenant General Michael Flynn! The former director for the Defense Intelligence Agency and many others. General Flynn is also a battlefield leader during the Global War on Terror. Pick up a rock…now throw it in any direction, you more than likely hit someone with at least one deployment in support of the GWOT, but do they have the stature and clear head that Lt. General Flynn has?  He is not only a leader in GWOT Michael Flynn will cut through the bullshit, roll up his sleeves and get down to it! At one point he was projected as a possibility of President Elect Donald Trumps running mate for VPOTUS also, so with the long rolodex of contacts and institutional knowledge, Flynn would be the man for the job!


dhsFormer NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani experienced the ultimate gut wrenching experience on September 11th 2001 when those two planes flew into the Twin Towers. Having the worst terrorist attack take place in your city is something that I cannot fathom. Then Mayor Giuliani showed extraordinary fortitude in uniting the city and arguably the entire United States of America. He and President Bush conducted a series of public announcements encouraging EVERYONE to come together under such a tough time. Mayor Giuliani wasted no time in helping in draft up many effective plans for New York City to keep its citizens safer against the growing threat to more terrorist attacks and violent crimes. Mayor Giuliani flew both of his middle fingers up at the mafia during his tenure as the spearhead for New York City! Rudy Giuliani is our pick for Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. His track record has shown tenacity in standing up to dickheads that run the political and criminal machines and he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth for fucks sake!


Although this is only a portion of the key personnel that will ultimately advise President Elect Trump to overwhelming success in the Oval office. We will leave the speculation of the other offices up to you. Do you have an opinion on them? If so we would like to hear your input! This is merely our opinion. Most of the guys at BRCC and The BrassTacs have decades of experience working with both administrations under Presidents Bush and Obama specifically the (DoD and DoS). We haven’t even gotten to the inaugurations and Portland is virtually burning to the ground and college kids are refusing to go to class until there is a re election! Hypothetically, would another election yield a different result? Why?


Handl Defense would like to thank BrassTacs and Black Rifle Coffee Company for this contribution. This is reposted here with their permission.

The Burden of the Free


I spent my time since election day soaking in the significance, searching for a deeper meaning. The day after the election, I attended a Veterans Day celebration at my children’s school. For some reason, I choose not to wear my uniform. I wanted to be invisible, I wanted to see without being seen. I wanted to sense the feeling of this day. I had just fallen asleep hours before, knowing the grandest of human experiments, our Constitutional Republic has just received new life. What could I sense, what could I feel on this day?

I brewed a travel cup of Black Rifle Coffee Companies’ AK 47 (their best IMO) in my press at home. Jumped in the car, went down the hill, and slid into the assembly hall. I sat with other veterans of many other wars. Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, GWOT, and even WW II. There not many of us, but not one race, gender, or war was not represented.

The veterans sat, the teachers spoke, the children sang. Then they began to sing all the songs of each of the branches. When the “Halls of Montezuma” or the Marines Hymn, began all the Marines present tried their best Michael Bolton impersonation. Of course, this was to the shock, horror, and bewildered amusement of all present. God bless the Marines; they get esprit de corps like nobody else. They couldn’t give two shits what you think about it too.

Then the last song they played was “taps”. The long somber notes that sound so much like a musical go to sleep echoed softly in the hall. Then it hit me like a slap, Donnie Barger, today is about Donnie. Men like Donnie Barger died to give us this chance at renewing freedom. President Reagan said “Freedom is only one generation away from extinction…it must be fought for, protected and handed to our children, for them to do the same”. But without men, and increasingly women, who will lay it all on the line there is no action in these words.

Donnie Barger is an example of the best America has to offer. From the western hills of Virginia and raised on the plentiful venison which covers that area. He served in the 1st Ranger Battalion, and he had the devious streak all Batt Boys do. He became a Green Beret and was a phenomenal Team Sargent. I had the honor of serving with him on ODA 333 or “3X” as it is known. A family man, a kind and giving person, who would simply out work you. He was purely focused on taking care of the team and raising hell with the Taliban.

He eventually found Special Forces too restrictive, as the politicization, and conventional force mentality began to creep in. Once he told me I should quit what I was doing and try out for the ground branch of the CIA’s Special Activities Division. That the independence of movement and level of aggression that could be brought to the enemy was unmatched. That this is where the savage instinct could be truly unleashed.

The sting of the day when the call came that Donnie had died, is exactly where “taps” took me. I remember the bright sunny Virginia day when we took Donnie back home to lay his body to rest. The sound of “taps” playing softly in the background over the tears of Donnie’s family. Recently the Special Forces Regiment has lost even more brave men and it will continue to do so. 

Because these men have carried our load, borne our burden, paid our cost. So we must honor them by doing everything we can to insure their sacrifice is not in vain. IT IS WHAT WE OWE THEM, SECURE THE FREEDOM THEY NO LONGER HAVE.

The Freedom we nearly lost on November the 8th.  Anyone of us with a Top-Secret Clearance can testify to the crimes Hillary committed. All could see the graft, collusion, and overt corruption that was nearly enshrined as our permanent system of government. A bloodless coup that would have been epitome of Maoist cultural revolutionary practice. Never again would the common man or woman have a voice in the ever increasing have and have-not system of globalist pay for play governance.

We all knew the final check on government corruption, the second amendment of the constitution, was targeted for elimination. That chaos and destruction on a global scale were eventualities of a Clinton Presidency. We were so close to being Reagan’s “those who will tell stories of what it was like in America when men were free”.

If you are reading this you may have your own personal Donnie Barger, Tony Yost, or Danny Eggers. You might be a firearms enthusiast who knows how close we just came to losing it all.

Remember this from Lincoln “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It is our task, it is our duty, to secure our freedoms for generations to come. To enshrine our rights permanently, so that no future generation could ever question their absolute validity. Our undying effort in this cause is what we owe for this chance the renewal of freedom has given us. 

Spanish and Syrian Civil Wars, precusors to global war?


The Spanish Civil War as a historical precedent for Syria

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” -G. Santayana


As the conscious thinker reflects on the geo-political situation in the world, he must always use historical perspective to color his thoughts. The uninitiated rarely understand that decisions in political capitals far away do directly affect their lives.  That global leader decisions do eventually manifest in lives of the common man.  That Political, Military, Economic, and Social destabilization which seems to be accelerating, will affect us all. The conscious man can prepare and anticipate when the waves that start on foreign shores impact on our lives. Fortune has always favored the prepared mind.

We face multiple historical parallels between the interwar period and the current global state of affairs. In particular the event which started everything on both timelines is the Great Depression (1929) and the Great Recession (2008). Both of these events were massive economic downturns exacerbated by pseudo-socialist economic policies of the left. The political reluctance to “suffer the hangover” and follow Keynesian economic polices instead, is putting the globe on the exact same path of the 1930’s.

There is a rarely covered event from 1936 to 1939 that was the direct precursor to World War II. This is the Spanish Civil War. The similarities to Syria, while not a perfect match, in my opinion are striking. In the Spanish Civil War there was political suppression that led to rebellion. Reprisals and atrocities against unarmed combatants. International volunteers to fight on the side of the “oppressed”. This was followed by massive majorities of the global powers fighting by proxy. Most importantly the western democracies, whose feeble leaders typified by Neville Chamberlain, acted without conviction or courage. This unprincipled leadership emboldened aggression. By showing a lack of courage with halfhearted measures exacerbated the suffering, but then they compounded the damage by offering strategic concessions to the aggressors.

In this article, I will layout how the situation is very similar to our current involvement in Syria. Although simplified, the players in the Spanish Civil War have very similar modern representatives in Syria. That things are unfolding in a way that is eerily similar to the Spanish Civil War. That we need to recognize that emboldened aggressors, and weak western leadership, may very well plunge us into the same abyss of 1939-1945.

The Players

The Republicans who contrary to modern American Republicans, were socialists, leftists and progressives. A formative violent suppression by the ruling class against a workers’ rebellion in 1934 fostered dissent that was the base of Republican power. In February of 1936 they formed the Popular Front which promised large scale reforms in contrast to the will of the Spanish land owners, who exerted disproportionate control. The Republicans represented the majority of the population and were very cohesive in ideology. Although they were different groups and factions, they all wanted the old order of the Spanish hierarchy gone.  

The Sunni based insurgent groups are the modern equivalent of the Republicans. In this group is also the Kurds and Free Syrian Army groups. Strategically they strive to overthrow the Syrian government or annex portions of Syrian territory. This key goal among these groups is why they are aligned. All of them want the Assad Government gone. The Sunni groups mostly came together after a violent suppression of their political aims by the Assad regime. Although the Sunni groups are aligned, they have dramatically different end states in mind. They are very different groups individually and are often fighting each other. This fighting is common between break away Syrian Army elements and the Al-Nusura Front, also ISIS and the Kurds are commonly fighting each other. But all of these elements are anti Shia and anti-Assad, this is what binds them.  They are supported by the United States, EU, Turkey, Sunni nations, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Nationalists were the wealthy Spanish landowners, the military establishment, the business class, bound by the common thread of the Catholic Church. In the have’s and have not’s, the Nationalists were the have’s. Spain was a country were wealth disparity was steadily growing. The Nationalist controlled all aspects of society. From education to the economy the nationalists set policy, and with the military at their back, they acted with impunity. They were led by General Franco.

The Assad Regime is the modern equivalent of the Nationalists. They are in effect are the mirror image of the role the Nationalist played in Spain. They control everything in Syria and have going back several generations. The Alawite minority has ruled over the Sunni majority with minimal Sunni representation. Many of the smaller ethnic minorities also supported the Assad regime as they feared the Sunni majority. The Assad Regime is also supported by Hezbollah and Shia based groups to include the Iranian Government. Most importantly the Assad regime is backed by Russia. The Russians view Syria like the United States views Israel, their primary ally in the Middle East. 

Germany found in the Spanish Nationalists an opportunity to support another group of authoritarians.  While not a national socialist regime like the Germans, the Nationalists were led by General Franco. The military strongman that Hitler saw himself as was reflected in General Franco. The Germans also were in the military buildup prior to World War II. This was an opportunity to get their forces directly and indirectly involved in combat operations. This was to provide critical military operational experience to the German military. Strategically, this gave the Germans the opportunity to test the will and resolve of the western powers.

Russia plays a very similar role to the Germans. Putin is a far smarter and experienced leader than Hitler. He also lacks the psychological disorders of a genocidal egomaniac. Their support of the Assad regime is historical in nature. I often describe Syria is to Russia as Israel is the United States. The Russians have supported Syria for well over 50 years. The Russians, much like the Germans in Spain, have already provided financial, logistical, advisory, and combat support to the Syrians. Like the Germans, the Russians are using the Syrian situation to test the resolve of the western powers.

Western Powers this group of countries are the same now as in the 1930’s. In the 1930’s this group of countries which included Great Britain, France, Mexico, and to a smaller degree the United States. These countries openly supported the democratically elected socialist Spanish Republican movement. They were also literary, social, and volunteer movements within these countries that actively supported the plight of the Spanish Republicans. Then as now, these countries support the democratic aims of the people. One key element is that in 1930’s Great Britian was the global power led by Neville Chamberlain. Now the United States is the global power led by Barack Obama. The parallels between the countries and their leaders is strikingly similar.

Global Environment there are also very striking similarities between the global situation in the 1930’s and the 2010’s. Then as now the global economy had yet to recover from a global economic crash. The Great Depression which started on Black Monday in October 1929 is mirror for the current “Great Recession” of 2008. Then as now, Keynesian economic policies mixed with a lack of political leadership created a lasting malaise. Politically in the Western Powers, then as now, there is a reluctance to engage in military actions needed to prevent expanding violence. Then as now, belligerent nations are forming formidable military powers in Asia and Europe in the face of the Western Powers projecting weakness.

The Events

The Genesis of Genocide

The Spanish Civil war started in earnest when the Republicans we democratically elected. There were multiple events that led up to the election, such as violent suppression of labor movements, and economic troubles. General Franco led the most notorious of these in Asturias. There continued to be governmental mismanagement and strife that eventually resulted in the Republicans taking control in February 1936. There were many rumors that the Republicans were going to take retaliatory actions against the nationalists. By July of 1936 Nationalist military leaders had rebelled but failed to consolidate power. Both sides rapidly consolidated power in their respective regions.

The Syrian Civil War started when the underrepresented Sunni groups were protesting for reforms, Assad responded with violent suppression. Soon thereafter Sunni groups broke away from the military and formed the Free Syrian Army and other Sunni Groups. Many of these Sunni groups end up becoming elements within ISIS and the Al-Nusra front. Like the Republicans in Spain, they were a coalition of groups that were consolidated on removing the historical power structure. The Alwiates, Shia, and other minority groups consolidated on the other side. These minorities have long feared the Sunni majority.

Elements within all of these groups have shown little reservation in conducting combat operations without the slightest regard to civilian casualties. In many cases savage treatment of the enemy and civilians is the preferred technique. ISIS is willing to execute, rape, and torture anyone. Not to be outdone the Assad regime uses all types of weapons on targets without civilian considerations. The “Barrel Bombs” being dropped into neighborhoods or the devastation being levied against Aleppo, are primary examples.

The Spanish Civil War had its fair share of suppression of populations, executions, and the overt targeting of civilian populations. In Spain there were constant attacks on non-combatants and execution of prisoners by both sides. The nationalists estimated 1 million people were killed in the fighting. Current estimates are that 250,000 to 500,000 people have died so far in Syria.

How The Foreign Powers Got Involved

In Spain, when the Nationalists revolt stalled outside of Madrid, fighting became a static battle of attrition. The Nationalists realized they were outnumbered and did not have control of national assets. They needed external support. Franco being a General he found very willing support in National Socialist powers Germany and Italy. Hitler and Mussolini both fashioned themselves as militant leaders. In Franco they saw a mirror image of themselves. More importantly, they saw an opportunity to test new military technologies and techniques.  They would be able to refine tactics and equipment prior to their expansionary adventures. In particular they would have an opportunity to fight against Soviet and British supported forces. The two nations primarily targeted in Germany’s expansion.

The Republicans soon found themselves facing German and Italian equipment and even troops supporting the Nationalists. They instantly reached out to foreign powers as well. The Soviets and Western powers instantly offered their support. While the Soviets were willing to offer weapons and equipment, the Western powers, led by the United Kingdom, offered various lower levels of support. In particular the United Kingdom, who was fully committed to the policy of appeasement, their lack of support reinforced Hitler’s opinion of the British weakness.  Many people did volunteer from the western powers to fight for the Republicans.

In Syria, like the Spanish Republicans, The Sunni groups are not only indigenous Syrians, but also international volunteers to fight on their behalf. Groups like the Kurds, Free Syrian Army, and ISIS are bolstered by foreign fighters. In particular the Sunni groups are funded, equipped, and armed by Sunni nations and the United States.

How Situations Escalate

In the Spanish Civil war at certain times, many of the nations did get directly involved. This applies mostly to the Germans, but the others to some degree get involved. In Syria today, the Russians are very directly involved in combat operations supporting the Assad regime. These escalations are a direct result of the supported faction losing ground and the supporting nation having to make up the capability gaps. It was very routine for the Germans, their air force in particular, to engage in direct combat operations. In the Spanish Civil War, the Western powers, and Russia to a lesser degree, knew that having combat forces directly engaged was a recipe for disaster. They did their best to have no direct engagement with German or Italian troops. With World War I a recent memory, the Western powers were very reluctant to get directly involved.

This is one of the stark differences between the Spanish Civil War and the Syrian Civil War. The western powers now are keen to have direct combat engagement. Our level of direct involvement with Sunni forces and its duration will not be discussed here. But, what I will say is that when you have opposing armed forces augmenting the proxy forces fighting each other, it is a recipe for disaster. How will the Russains escalate their posture when a F18 drops a JDAM on an Assad military unit that has embedded Spetnaz. How will the President Obama and possibly Hillary Clinton as she will escalate his policies, act when bodies of Green Berets or Navy SEALs are shipped home. We have advisors embedded with Free Syrian Army units. The same kind of units that are being bombed by Russian SU-24’s. Every day there are close calls between Russian and NATO forces.

President Obamas calls to bomb the Syrian Air Force should be a cause for great alarm for its recklessness. The Syrian Air Force uses the exact same aircraft as the Russian Air Force, and they are co-located on the same bases. One mistake and he will have just started World War III. This would end up being a war without clearly defined strategic goals. Against and enemy who has been rapidly advancing its C3I, small arms, doctrine, and Air Defense systems. Other than advancing a recently accelerated support for Sunni nations and their strategic goals, there is no foreseeable positive strategic end state for even a limited conventional engagement with the Russian military.

When the Western Powers Balked

During the Spanish Civil War, once Germany and Italy got involved, the tide of battle shifted in the Nationalists favor. With the Luftwaffe and German Falschrimjagers taking on active roles in the fighting the Republicans were steadily being driven back. The Soviets still were very supportive with equipment. The Western Powers supported with volunteers and political support.  But it eventually became apparent that without direct support that the republicans were going to lose. Neville Chamberlain utterly failed to recognize that the Germans saw Spain as nothing else other than a dry run to practice their combat techniques. The Germans also saw it as an opportunity to gauge the resolve of the Western Powers and the Soviets. 

Hitler clearly recognized that the Western Powers lacked actual political fortitude for combat. That his primary adversary was going to be the Soviets. The Spanish Civil War made this very clear.

The same thing is happening right now. President Obama has shown the lack of resolve in any combat operations unless it supports a Sunni objective.  The United State has shown it will fire cruise missiles at Houthi rebels, bomb Assad’s troops, and overthrow Q’uaddafi. The United States and the Western Powers failed to act in the Ukraine. This was clearly telegraphed by Obama’s the amateur red line in Syria comment. The making of a threat, without the slightest indication of the resolve to follow it through, green lighted the Unconventional Warfare campaign to seize the Crimea.

Barack Obama, just like Neville Chamberlain is clearly projecting a lack of consistency, clarity, and resolve. His geo-political ineptitude is frequently outmaneuvered and often blatantly disregarded by belligerents.   The Ukraine today is like the Sudetenland of the 1930’s, an example of just how far a belligerent can go without an effective response. Then as now, the west projects weakness. Weakness invites further aggression.

How the Spanish Civil War set the conditions for World War II

The weakness projected by the west during the Spanish Civil War laid the foundation for World War II. There were considerable displays of appeasement by the Western Powers. They started by surrendering the other territories without cost or consequence. These were attempts to get the Germans in particular, to stop supporting Franco and the Nationalists in Spain. Germany never stopped their efforts and basically got two for one. They had shifted the balance of power in Spain so that Franco would win. Then they were given other concessions to stop supporting an effort effectively assured of victory.

This steeled Hitler’s opinion that the Western Powers were foolish and weak. He could then focus his efforts on the Soviets as they had actually shown some resolve in Spain. Hitler always looked at the Soviets as his primary enemy. This assessment was accurate, the Western Powers were shown to be ineffective in the Spring of 1940, while the Soviets slugged it out with the Germans for 6 years.

The Western Powers, who held significant military advantages, showed they lacked resolve, and could be fractured. Instead of forcing the Germans and Nationalists to the bargaining table, their half measures resulted in green lighting Hitler’s genocidal rampage across Europe.

Today in Syria we face the exact same scenario. We can accelerate our combat efforts and risk a limited to all-out war with Russia. It is also pretty clear there is no really good foreseeable outcome in combat operations against Russia. We could do what the Western Powers did, appease then withdrawal. This is almost certain an invitation for further aggression. When viewed in the light of the Sunni vs. Shia split, Western Powers withdrawing would result in a destabilization that would result in a regional war that would have global consequences. In my opinion, the only way forward is to get the Sunni and Shia factions, nations, and supporters to the table. The United States and Russia would act as brokers of the deal. While this outcome would most likely destroy the old Sykes-Picot framework that has been the foundation of the region. It is time to recognize the Middle East is not, nor ever has been, based on British colonial constructs. That only by rearranging the region based on their belief systems is the only answer to the regional woes. Any other answer leads to war and history is clearly telling us this.

Putin’s role in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest volley into Syria reinvigorates the epic East/West struggle for Middle East control. The natural resource rich region once again is center stage of geopolitical struggles aimed at maximizing area influence.

The board has been reset and the pieces are carefully set. In his mind, Putin is the hero this time and swoops in to save the world. I can see the propaganda shot now: Camo-clad warrior Putin, hanging off the side of a Russian gunships, shirt less with a bloodied spear, fresh from Crimea no doubt.  Cue Wagner Ride of the Valkyrie: Vladimir is on the way to save Syria.

Putin himself telegraphed his intent in June 2015, blaming a morally bankrupt for not being able to accomplish the mission. In a statement of self-aggrandizement Putin said: “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.” Putin sees Russia as the defender of traditional values, dismissing the US like a washed-up has been.  Eyeing warmer waters at the time, Putin was stacking the deck in efforts to set the change for his triumphant return.

Fresh off his maskirovka masterful campaign in Crimea, Putin continues his full contact passive/aggressive choreography on the world stage. His Syrian land grab delivers what Russia failed to accomplish in Afghanistan, a secure, warm water port and forward operating base closer to international shipping lanes. In earlier versions of The Great Game, Russia danced with Great Britain for control of the same areas under dispute today. Russia was geographically isolated from Europe and unable to expand further north or east, could on move to Central Asia for natural resources, commerce and population. For all intents and purposes, Russia is running the blockade that hemmed them in during the Cold War and the tragedy that broke up the USSR. Russia is redrawing borders and Europe needs to be more concerned.

Map1 shows the Afghan, Pakistan, USSR, Iranian and Indian borders circa 1979. The Iranian Revolution was in full tilt at the time, throwing the US Middle East plan into disarray.  With their nemesis wounded, the Soviet Union jumped at the chance to expand their Central Asian influence and reach the Arabian Sea. Not unlike today, a weakened US in the Middle East seemed like an easy target.



Russia has been working to dominate Mediterranean sea lanes. In February, they announced a ten year deal with Cyprus for two ports and two airbases. Their naval bases in Syria provide Russia with plenty of regional presence from where they can observe and react to potential threats or even disrupt international shipping lanes, specifically oil transportation. This has been their intent since the early 18th century, when they sent their Naval fleet into Beirut, Lebanon. During the Cold War, the USSR supplied weapons to Syria by way of Czechoslovakia. Having such a large naval and air presence in the region gives Russia the unprecedented ability to choke off the West’s access to natural resources such as gas aind oil, something that Russia has shown a penchant for using against their adversaries in the past.

Russia’s agenda will be to safeguard and expand Russian bases, ensure Bashar Al Assad survives and to expand its operational footprint over Syria in order to mitigate American regional influence.

Putin’s allies on the ground: Iran, Hezbollah and Syria are giddy as schoolgirls, anticipating a tremendous display of righteous destruction. The net is electric with support. Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nisrallah, spent 3 hours on the terrorist al-Manar TV program extolling the newly arrived Russian weapon systems and shit talking the US regional impotence, calling Washington’s efforts in the area a “devastating failure”, adding, “The failure of America and the international coalition to bring defeat to Daesh was one of the reasons which called or pushed Russia to also come, and to get directly involved.”

The Russian land grab comes on the heels of the still emerging international embarrassment of the US military’s stinging loss of their second group of special trained “moderate” rebel forces. As of Friday, the fledgling group surrendered a major portion of their fighters and weapons to Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front moments after arriving in Syria. The first group of US trained fighters only made it a week in country before being compromised and hunted down by other “moderate” rebels, likely the same Al Nusra Front.

The truth is that there are no “moderate” rebel factions in Syria. Any moderates with means have fled. Islamic State, Daesh, continues to pillage the ungoverned (read:unprotected) areas of Iraq and Syria. As a result of the US allied bombing campaign, IS no longer parades targets of opportunity with newly acquired military hardware like before. It’s caused Daesh to shift tactics and avoid large, major battles.  IS leadership has hunkered down in the security vacuum and either plans to melt away or is planning a cunning counter offensive. The most likely course of action is a comprehensive plan of smaller hit and run tactics on isolated Syrian government outposts, something the Russians look to counter.

Although largely viewed as ineffectual, the US air campaign accomplished the major tack of stemming the IS advance and fixing them regionally. However, without ground troops to coordinate precise targeting actions and clearing operations, the effort is at a stalemate. To eliminate Daesh, the US may need to work with Russia, at least to deconflict air operations. Conveniently, the Russians have moved headquarter elements into Baghdad, Iraq, perhaps in anticipation of such a relationship. The US will need to be mindful that alienated Iraqi Sunnis gave them hell in Iraq, prior to forming ISIS. Working exclusively with the Shi’a, Russians and Syrian Alawhite minorities to target Sunnis may not go over well with other Sunni alliance members, Saudia Arabia, GCC, Turkey and Iraqi moderates.

The entire Middle East is a proving ground for new military tech. US military commanders are concerned and have expressed their astonishment with how fast Russia has been able to close the technology gap. Decreased funding, years of hemorrhaging tech secrets to cyberattacks and lackluster engineering results have allowed China and Russia to nearly pull even with US capabilities. In certain categories, Russian capability may now exceed that of the US. They definitely have more nuclear weapons.

The US had no effective early warning that Russian fighter jets were on their way to Syria until they were spotted on the ground. Russian pilots were able to maneuver 24 attack jets in a tight formation with their cargo aircraft in order to mask the radar signature of the smaller craft with the size of the larger An-124. In order to maximize range, the smaller jets either re-fueled mid-flight or stopped over in Iran to re-fuel. Either way, the US was blind to such a large movement. Not an encouraging sign for our ability to provide early warning or detect imminent threats.


Europe should be concerned with this also, with several Russian airbases located so close to European borders and Putin’s demonstrated will and skill with huge denial and deception operations.

Overall, the effect Russia could have regionally in the Middle East will decrease any accomplishments the US intended. The deployment of Russian troops in Syria will end up helping Islamic State as Russian assets have been sent to areas where they are most likely to fight other groups opposed to IS, i.e. US backed Syrian rebels. This should be a major concern for any “friendly” elements the US might have on the ground. The principal disagreement the US has with Russia is Assad. The Russians see him as a part of the solution and the US see Bashar al Assad as the main problem.

Additionally, Israel needs to be concerned because it brings a better armed enemy force to its doorstep. Now that Russia is validating the Iranian forces and providing top cover for them, Hezbollah, Quds force and other anti-Israeli factions are now on the Israeli border. The likelihood that Israel will be able to continue bombing Syrian forces resupplying Hezbollah is in doubt now. Russia will likely be protecting those troops now. Which presents obvious problems for Israel and the US. The advanced surface to air missile systems and radar capabilities will prevent the Israeli air force from taking off undetected. Early Syrian and Iran warning from the Russians eliminate any Israeli surprise attack option.

One thing is for certain, Putin has been able to strengthen his position by diverting attention  away from the bullying of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea while simultaneously embarrassing the US by saying “We have to go to Syria in order to fight terrorism because you can’t handle it on your own”.

The US is in a position of limited options: work with the new Putin coalition (joining with Iran, Syria and Russia), continue mission with what they have on hand(limited moderate rebel factions that truth be told hate democracy) and only de-conflicting as necessary, or reinvent their foreign policy and regional capacities. Cue the music, Putin’s coming to the party.

Handl Defense would like to thank Grey Cell for their contribution.