Tuesday, August 28, 2007



I decided to put aside politics for the moment as, in the course of researching a new book, I came across some quotes that I felt I should share. My bigggest pet peeve in the United States Army was rifle marksmanship, or rather the lack of it. The age-old Army attitude of suppressive fire (aka "Spray-n-Pray) was a bad idea in the first place, even on a regular battlefield free of civilian bystanders, but it's really coming back to bite 'em in the butt in the crowded urban battlefields of Iraq. Suddenly, they've realized rifle marksmanship is pretty darned important after all, especially when you're trying to take out an individual amongst many you're not trying to take out. Rather than advanced marksmanship training and spending some time and live ammunition at the range, they have decided to throw money and technology at the problem. The Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon, who will be seeking six-figure incomes after retirement by being "consultants" for defense contractors, are proposing instead all kinds of widgets and gee-gaws and doo-dads and entire new "weapon systems" in lieu of range-time and training. Instead, they just need to get back to the basics of shooting. If you don't believe me, perhaps a few quotes from these other fellers might help.

"You must have forgotten what happened in the American Revolution. We won that war with accurate fire, when the enemy had all the volume. It won at Kings Mountain and Saratoga, and every other battle we won. And real shooting almost whipped the mass-firing Federal army in the Civil War. It's still like that, anywhere I've seen men shooting it out. You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em."

USMC Legend Lt. General Lewis "Chesty" Puller

"When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,

Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;

She's human as you are--you treat her as sich,

An' she'll fight for the young British soldier."

British Poet & Author Rudyard Kipling

"In battle, the only bullets that count are those that hit."

President & Rough Rider Theodore "The Good" Roosevelt

"The primary job of the rifleman is not to gain fire superiority over the enemy, but to kill with accurate, aimed fire."

Former Chief of Staff General Joseph "Lightning Joe" Collins

"If the fighting Army does nothing else, we must be able to hit our targets. Conversely, if we do all other things right, but fail to hit and kill targets, we shall lose."

Former Vice Chief of Staff General John Vessey

"One hundred misses per minute is not firepower. One hit per minute is."

The Guru, Colonel Jeff Cooper

"Firepower means bullets hitting people."

Mevlin Johnson, WWII Weapons Designer

"Put your heart and soul into being expert killers with your weapons."

General George S. Patton Jr.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Dick Cheney has been giving marksmanship lessons. You know, shoot a quail, shoot another hunter--it's all good.

Ben said...

Here's my Army marksmanship story: I joined the Army National Guard while still in high-school and they allowed me to attend the monthly drills before I even went to basic training.

My first drill was doing rifle qualification at the range at Camp Dodge. I had been shooting guns most of my life (thanks to a certain gun-nut older brother) but had never fired an M16. My platoon leader gave me a quick run down on what button did what on the M16A1 and I fired at the range and got a qualifying score quite handily.

After I went through U.S. Army basic training and Advanced Infantry School at Fort Benning Georgia, and the Army taught me the "correct" way to shoot, I returned home and fired rifle qualification. My score dropped significantly from when I used my Iowa squirrel hunting methods. I nearly didn't qualify.

While on the subject, in the Guard, usually the only time we fired live ammo was at our yearly qualification. That's like having the only time you drive a car be when you take your driving test. Hardly a good way to maintain proficiency.