October 28, 2007

Blackwater

Leaving aside all the usual moral issues for the moment, as a taxpayer, I want to complain about this 21st Century innovation of using ex-U.S. military servicemen as highly paid mercenaries alongside much lower paid servicemen.

The government has forfeited its monopsonistic (i.e. sole employer) buying power over government-funded jobs killing people and breaking things, so the taxpayers are having to shell out much higher pay, either to Blackwater mercenaries or in six figure re-enlistment bonuses to U.S. military servicemen to keep them from going over to Blackwater. From the taxpayers' point of view, it's a ridiculous situation.

This is not a unique case restricted to the military. Much of the demand for privatization of traditionally governmental jobs comes from government employees themselves who want a competitive job market for their skills. For example, the folks who run state lotteries have been working for years to get the state lottery business privatized so they can transfer from a civil service job to a "private"-sector job ... running a state-licensed monopoly. It's the best of both worlds!

As a taxpayer, I'm tired of paying to train somebody in a government job, then, when they are finally productive, having them jump to an privatized for-profit job that costs me two or three times as much.

I want our monopsony back!

(I've also been wondering, how did the Blackwater company decide to name themselves after a particularly lethal complication of malaria? Were "Black Plague" and "Black Death" already trademarked by somebody else?)

By the way, mercenaries are not some brilliant 21st Century innovation that nobody ever thought of before. Renaissance Italy, for example, used lots of mercenaries and how'd that work out for them? There are good reasons why advanced societies got rid of their reliance upon mercenaries. Same with Max Boot's brainstorm of using lots of illegal aliens in our armies. These are old, old ideas. Machiavelli discussed the downsides of mercenaries and foreign fighters in Chapters 12 and 13 of The Prince.

The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way.

And if it be urged that whoever is armed will act in the same way, whether mercenary or not, I reply that when arms have to be resorted to, either by a prince or a republic, then the prince ought to go in person and perform the duty of captain; the republic has to send its citizens, and when one is sent who does not turn out satisfactorily, it ought to recall him, and when one is worthy, to hold him by the laws so that he does not leave the command. And experience has shown princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress, and mercenaries doing nothing except damage; and it is more difficult to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms. Rome and Sparta stood for many ages armed and free. The Switzers are completely armed and quite free.

I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without having its own forces; on the contrary, it is entirely dependent on good fortune, not having the valour which in adversity would defend it. And it has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its own strength.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

29 comments:

Mark said...

Can you blame soldiers for doing what lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, ex-congressmen and heaven knows how many others do all the time?

I don't think that anyone really likes the mercenary feel of companies like Blackwater, but if it is at least helping to drive up military pay (pay, not signing bonuses), then you can't think it all a bad thing.

In addition, the message has been sent by this Congress and this administration that if you work in an office tower in New York, in no way serving the country, the feds will reimburse your family millions if you die from a terorrist attack. If you wear the uniform, then the best your family can expect is a few thousand.

In the past, our troops have been able to tolerate low pay because of the respect that went with wearing the uniform. There was a degree of nobility in doing so. Lately, however, American politicians both right and left have sent the message that the USA is nothing more than an economic infrastructure built to serve the needs of businesses and billionaires. "Intellectuals" - for example, the very neocons who burn through soldiers' lives at a phenomenal rate - have proclaimed from the top of Mt. Sinai that America is nothing more than a "proposition nation" and an "idea," and that the child of someone from Guangzhou or Guadalajara has as much right to live in the USA as the child of someone from Greenville, South Carolina.

Who in his right mind would die for that?

Evil Neocon said...

Steve -- the counter-argument is that Blackwater like other private companies can innovate far quicker because it has less bureaucracy and less interference with Congress banking political favors or barreling the pork.

Example: Blackwater had the "Grizzly" mine-IED resistant transport ready several years before the Pentagon could get one together.

Another example: the "Kris" a very controllable .45 submachine gun very good for protective details under threat of IED/assassination.

The other counter-argument is that Blackwater and other private companies can do thing that the US cannot. For example Blackwater's CEO has stated he can stop the killing in Sudan for 1.5 billion, and could move in less than a month. Blackwater also credibly claims that it can muster more skilled resources for critical but non-glamorous actions like guarding supply depots, transportation, etc.

Unlike the military, when the need goes away so too do firms like Blackwater.

I agree with you that we need a MUCH larger military, but part of that means continued high defense spending in peacetime; otherwise we are just like we are with Clinton's cut in the 1990's

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think the private military companies belong in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I do think they have a useful role in the world. They shouldn't be trusted fighting our wars but if they can make some dough here and there training backwoods 3rd world militia etc., more power to 'em.

-Vanilla Thunder

Anonymous said...

The analogy with other types of privatization misses the unique situation of the military. In fact Blackwater and other “mercenary” companies can be an excellent complement to the armed forces:

Being a soldier does not pay especially well. People do it because of non-monetary reasons, patriotism, status and learning (to have a better career later).
If the armed forces wanted to recruit based on money alone they would harm status and patriotism, and also lower the quality of the recruits. Some relationships break apart if money is too clearly or directly involved (marriage, friendship).

Blackwater does not directly compete with the military regarding recruitment. If you want to fight you have to enlist for many years first. It only competes for people that are ALREADY experienced soldiers. Some might have stayed in the military if not for Blackwater, that is true, but many if not most would have moved on to other jobs or retired. Another advantage of this type of option (classic example is commercial airline pilot) is that by giving soldiers the option to make good money in the end of their career more people might be inclined to sign up in the first place.

The real issue with recruitment is the ideological poisoning the left and Hollywood engages in. Portraying the armed forces as psychopaths or losers might not directly influence the type of people that might sign up, but it lowers the general status level young men can earn by serving.

Fred said...

"In addition, the message has been sent by this Congress and this administration that if you work in an office tower in New York, in no way serving the country, the feds will reimburse your family millions if you die from a terorrist attack. If you wear the uniform, then the best your family can expect is a few thousand."

1) Not every relative of a 9/11 victim got "millions"; awards were based on future earning potential with a minimum payout of $250k.

2) The purpose of the fund was to forestall a tsunami of litigation that could have bankrupted the airlines, among other businesses. Those receiving payouts were required to drop their right to sue.

3) Family members of servicemen killed in battle today receive more money from the government than surviving parents or spouses ever received before in American history. The receive a tax-free one time "death gratuity" of $100k, and, assuming their serviceman signed up for the max low-cost SGLI insurance (which they pretty much all do), an additional $350k in life insurance. This is comparable to what the family of a 9/11 office worker earning a similar salary would have received from the 9/11 fund. Surviving spouses or parents of slain servicemen also a monthly stipend for the rest of their lives.

jerzy cow said...

Very good post. In addition to "invade the world/invite the world" the GOP also stands for running the government very poorly and corruptly.

Just about every good historian has noted that the best sign of a country in decline is that it hires mercenary armies to fight its wars. Frankly I find it scary that there is now a well-funded army, with its own PR machine, and controlled by a crazy Republican who married into the Amway company's crazy founders.

Mark said...

1) Not every relative of a 9/11 victim got "millions"; awards were based on future earning potential with a minimum payout of $250k.

No, but many did. The average payout was $1.8 million. If I died tomorrow in a car wreck would the feds give my wife and kids millions? Nope. The 9/11 workers were "special."

2) The purpose of the fund was to forestall a tsunami of litigation that could have bankrupted the airlines, among other businesses. Those receiving payouts were required to drop their right to sue.

Either way you're wrong on this one:

If you think the airlines were liable for the terrorist attacks, then why should Congress protet them from their own negligence?

If, as I, you don't think the airlines should have been held liable for the attacks, then either they would've won the lawsuit or Congress should have enacted tort reform protecting businesses from such tragedies.


3) Family members of servicemen killed in battle today receive more money from the government than surviving parents or spouses ever received before in American history. The receive a tax-free one time "death gratuity" of $100k...

Even the poorest 9/11 victim's family got more than that. The average payout was $1.8 million.


and, assuming their serviceman signed up for the max low-cost SGLI insurance (which they pretty much all do), an additional $350k in life insurance. This is comparable to what the family of a 9/11 office worker earning a similar salary would have received from the 9/11 fund.

Comparable, perhaps - for the lowest earner. Keep in mind that "earning a similar salary" means "peanuts." Because that's what most soldiers get paid.

And you mean that servicemen have to buy the life insurance - before they die??? Why who ever would have thunk it? Maybe the 9/11 office workers could've done that, too.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line for the hiring of Blackwater and the like is that they can circumvent the Geneva convention laws to which our soldiers must theoretically adhere, not to mention conforming and dealing with all the political shenanigans that never end.
This allows for tactical expediency advantages that our military, often striving for political correctness, and well as convention laws, simply cannot match.
Frankly, we utilize the Blackwater soldiers in matters where we want to "cut the bullshit, and get it done."
If Blackwater had been hired to find and kill Bin Ladin during the Clinton administration, he would have been dead before 9/11.

Steve Sailer said...

Okay, but Blackwater _has been hired_ during the Bush Administration, and the bastard's still alive after 6 years.

Bill said...

I know a couple of guys who do this for a living. They're young, well-paid, and get to play with the coolest big-boy toys. A lot of them really like their jobs, but I have pretty serious reservations about what's going on.

For one thing, they are used in situations where soldiers might be prevented from doing so by US law. For example, when the Louisiana Natl. Guard was sent to New Orleans to control the situation after Katrina, mercenaries were sent as well. I know one who was there. Seems like an end run around Posse Comitatus, but I'm no legal expert.

They are also used for sensitive missions that you and I will never know about because they are classified. Whose authority are they under?

Another consideration is the fact that these companies are largely run and staffed by special operations soldiers. I can't offer any numbers to back it up off the top of my head, but it seems that there are far more of them than there were when we faced down the USSR with tanks and bombers.

Special operations demands a certain mentality and combat style that could fairly be described as vicious. Do we really want to be training thousands of ninjas to eventually turn loose on the civilian population?

Sure, most of these guys are pretty decent and won't be a problem in the future, but I've met a couple who are straight-up psychopaths. I know one who just got 5 years for attempted murder (he would have pulled it off if he wasn't so drunk), and I ran into another just the other night who head-butted a guy, breaking his nose over a joke he didn't think was funny. Both assailants were rangers.

This is one of those things people haven't really thought through. As Steve's quote from Machiavelli pointed out, these guys may have some nasty surprises in store for their current masters somewhere down the line.

As for the "foreign" aspect of mercenaries, it is an interesting idea that if these guys are foreign in a sense, then perhaps the original racial stock of America has become a de-facto foreign entity in this land (we're certainly treated that way at times). The mercenaries and soldiers I know are racially and culturally so much more like me than the people I see when I turn on the TV that it's almost as though we constitute a different, alien nationality. That's something that's been kicking around in my head for a little while -- that America will not in all likelihood blend together, but rather different groups will coalesce and actually revert back toward their original forms. This may be the ultimate result of radical diversity.

John of London said...

How come no one has mentioned Milo Minderbinder in Catch 22?

tommy said...

If Blackwater had been hired to find and kill Bin Ladin during the Clinton administration, he would have been dead before 9/11.

If our military had been authorized by the Clinton administration to take out bin Laden he would have likely been dead anyway. Blackwater isn't going to be bringing anything to that battle Special Operations soldiers don't have and we didn't need to circumvent the Geneva Conventions to get bin Laden - we just needed a president willing to authorize the hit. It just wasn't enough of a priority for Clinton and his document-filching buddy Sandy Berger.

We need to dump these mercenaries. It is a crappy deal for the taxpayers and those most tempted by the offers of firms like Blackwater are the very sort of personnel who would likely have long careers with the military if there were no other buyers for their skills (i.e. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Army and Marine Corp. snipers, etc.). These are prestigious specialties that less committed people in the military won't ordinarily even try out for.

These individuals aren't cheap to train either. In the process of driving up the cost of hiring and retaining skilled military personnel, Blackwater is also receiving a generous form of corporate welfare by selling our military the troops the military has already paid out big bucks to train (and big bucks simply screening out large numbers of people who couldn't make the cut in Ranger School and the like).

If Blackwater wants to compete on a level playing field then let them take in 18-year-olds with zero military experience and cough up the money to turn a worthy handful of them into special operations troops and snipers.

Svigor said...

Sure, most of these guys are pretty decent and won't be a problem in the future, but I've met a couple who are straight-up psychopaths. I know one who just got 5 years for attempted murder (he would have pulled it off if he wasn't so drunk), and I ran into another just the other night who head-butted a guy, breaking his nose over a joke he didn't think was funny. Both assailants were rangers.

Since when are Rangers "special operations" troops? I'm no war nerd but I did live near Fort Stewart; as far as I remember/could tell at the time, that place churned out battalions of those guys and they weren't "spec ops." They were the Army's answer to the Marine Corps, as far as I could tell.

Jody said...

How do all of you anti-Blackwater folks feel about the airlines?

Svigor said...

If our military had been authorized by the Clinton administration to take out bin Laden he would have likely been dead anyway.

Yeah, from what I've read, our special forces had the laser on the target (bin Laden) and Clinton vetoed the air strike because intelligence reported some towel-head bigshot would've been collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

Tommy - "and big bucks simply screening out large numbers of people who couldn't make the cut in Ranger School and the like"

I heard that one operation (a British one, not Blackwater itself) recruits through personal recommendation only. So the vetting is informal and cheap. You wont get in if someone already/formerly in the army or marines cannot vouch for you. The inexperienced and washouts wont usually get anywhere.

Maybe Blackwater is the same?

Another upside of that process is suspect muslims dont seem to to get inside these mercenary outfits. Unlike the the more PC regular US & Britsh forces as we know from various incidents.

Mark said...

Rangers
fall under control
of Army Special Operations Command, which means that they are special operations - though they are the bottom rung of special ops units, and generally the easiest to qualify for. Delta operators and SEALs are miles above them.

Some would consider them more of an elite light infantry unit than special forces.

JCR said...

Svigor,

The Ranger regiment falls under USSOCOM. http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/socom/sof-ref-2-1/SOFREF_Ch3.htm

What separates the Rangers from other infantrymen in the other Divisions or separate Brigades is the selection process. The Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP) and mandatory completion of Ranger School if one is to stay in the regiment. Ranger School is available for infantrymen assigned to other units and Spec Ops of other branches. The Ranger regiment also serves as a feeder to Special Forces and Delta. Minimum rank allowed to apply to SF selection is E-4 and O-2.

tommy said...

Since when are Rangers "special operations" troops? I'm no war nerd but I did live near Fort Stewart; as far as I remember/could tell at the time, that place churned out battalions of those guys and they weren't "spec ops." They were the Army's answer to the Marine Corps, as far as I could tell.

They have been special operations troops for a long time, Svigor. However, quite a few infantrymen attend Ranger school to simply earn Ranger tabs and never actually serve in a Ranger battalion. I'm not aware of any Ranger battalions at Fort Stewart, just standard infantry, so maybe this is what you are referring to. To the best of my knowledge, all modern Ranger battalions are headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia and organized under the 75th Ranger Regiment. When it comes to special operations, you have the Rangers, the Green Berets (technically known as "Special Forces") and Delta Force in the Army; in the Navy you have the SEALs and in the Air Force Pararescue (parajumpers). Until recently, the Marines had no forces that were technically special operations (that is, they weren't controlled by SOCOM) but the de facto equivalent of Marines special operations has long been Force Recon. I believe Force Recon is also under the command of SOCOM now.

Ranger school is much harder than ordinary Marines boot camp/infantry training. Marines who are part of the prestigious 1st Reconnaissance Battalion have the opportunity to attend Ranger school when empty slots are available. From what I understand, it is considered one of the most difficult "extracurricular activities" available to these Marines.

Yeah, from what I've read, our special forces had the laser on the target (bin Laden) and Clinton vetoed the air strike because intelligence reported some towel-head bigshot would've been collateral damage.

See here, here and here for information on the problems the CIA had with (intentionally) ambiguous orders from the White House that made it impossible for the CIA to simply kill bin Laden.

David Davenport said...

Renaissance Italy, for example, used lots of mercenaries and how'd that work out for them? There are good reasons why advanced societies got rid of their reliance upon mercenaries.

Steve, privateers are a fine, old, and early American tradition. Check out the bios of John Paul Jones or of Robert Rogers. Rogers as in "Roger's Rangers." From whence do you think the US Army got that handle?

Good ol' Steve. Usually sound, but occasionally goes into his War Nerd mode.

Steve, you seem to have the Left's fear that Blackwater will be hired by the RepubliKKKan high command to do dirty deeds within the US and/or will become the nucleus of an AmericaKKKan FreiKorps. ( ... As if that were a bad thing, thinks I. ... just kidding. )

My attitude is, Blackwater is my kind of guys. Good for them if they can earn some decent pay checks.

/////////////////////

Robert Rogers was a colonial farmer recruited from New Hampshire in 1755 by the British for service in the French and Indian War (1754-63).

He created a unit ( of irregulars acting under a letter of marque --DD) called Rogers' Rangers in 1756 (the first Rangers), and by 1758 the British placed him in charge of all colonial Ranger companies. The Rangers wore distinctive green outfits and developed tactics called "Rogers' Ranging Rules", which the British considered unconventional. These tactics are still in use by Rangers today, including the Green Berets.

Rogers' Rangers were most famous for their engagement with the Abenaki St Francis Indians, who lived midway between Montreal and Quebec. These Abenaki were credited with the deaths of over 600 colonists during the duration of the war. After the Indians attacked a retreating British unit under a flag of truce, Rogers led a hand-picked force of 200 Rangers to destroy the Indian's village.

( Massacred the mostly mixed-blood St. Francis villagers and their French advisers, in the view of less sympathetic historians. --DD )

Rogers' Rangers took part in General James Wolfe's expedition against Quebec and in the Montreal campaign of 1760. The Rangers were later sent by General Jeffrey Amherst to take possession of the northwestern posts, including Detroit. In 1763 the Rangers were in the West again, during Pontiac's War (1763-64), and they participated in the Battle of Bloody Bridge

After the war, Rogers went to England to write of his accounts. In 1766 he asked King George III to fund an expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific. The King refused, but granted him command of the northwest post called Michilimackinac ( Michigan -- DD. From there, Rogers conducted his own expedition anyways. His ambition caused him to be sent to England on the charges of treason, but he was acquitted. ( Rogers was accused of wanting to set up Michigan and maybe Ontario as his own fiefdom. --DD)

Historians believe the spark of the American Revolution may have begun in the ranks of Rogers' Rangers. One of America's best officers during the Revolution was John Stark, who had been Rogers' Lieutenant. The British had treated the Rangers poorly during the French and Indian War. In 1775 former members of Rogers' Rangers fired upon the British at Concord and Lexington.

Rogers returned to America to join the Revolution when it started. George Washington refused his offer of help, because he feared that Rogers might be a loyalist spy. Outraged by this, Rogers openly joined the British and organized and commanded the Queen's Rangers, which saw service in areas around New York City, and later created the King's Rangers.



http://www.acidus.com/rogers.html

David Davenport said...

Roger’s Rangers Rules or Plan of Discipline
Major Robert Rogers - 1757
(Commander of Roger’s Rangers)


Don't skip #13: " ....them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage."

This is the original version —


1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to drafted, and scouts for the next day appointed.


2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy's forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c.


3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.


4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.


5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to your, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.


6. If your march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties as a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c, and if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced, guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.


7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.


8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.


9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.


10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.


11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.


12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.


13. If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.


14. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.


15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.


16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be followed by the darkness of the night.


17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.


18. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.


19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.


20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.


21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form am ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.


22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.


23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.


24. If you are to embark in canoes, bateaux, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.


25. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.


26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgement of the numbers that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.


27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river, or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.


28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fire, & c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitring party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, & c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.


Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen that will make it necessary in some measure to depart from them and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which case every man's reason and judgment must be his guide, according to the particular situation and nature of things; and that he may do this to advantage, he should keep in mind a maxim never to be departed from by a commander, viz. to preserve a firmness and presence of mind on every occasion.


— From JOURNALS OF MAJOR ROGER ROGERS (as published in 1765)


http://www.military-info.com/freebies/roger.htm

Bill said...

Since when are Rangers "special operations" troops? I'm no war nerd but I did live near Fort Stewart; as far as I remember/could tell at the time, that place churned out battalions of those guys and they weren't "spec ops." They were the Army's answer to the Marine Corps, as far as I could tell.

-svigor


They are special forces, but not quite as special as, say, Delta. The more talented guys often get their feet wet in a ranger battallion, then move on to other, more specialized units. Your average ranger is a kid of about 20 or so, whereas a Delta member would typically be closer to 30. One guy I know started out as a ranger, then became a SEAL, then something unclear, then worked for mercenaries, yet was somehow disappearing for "training" all the time. To be honest, I don't know what the hell he's doing, and he doesn't talk about it.

The special operations community is kind of a closed society, so if you know a couple of them like I do, you end up meeting a lot more. I shouldn't run them down, because for the most part I like them and enjoy their company, but they are Warriors, and that isn't an unmitigated blessing.

I am not surprised by the Blackwater incident. Something like this was bound to happen, and I seriously doubt it's an isolated fluke.

I watched that anti-American Turkish movie "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" recently, and as corny as it was it brought up many of the grievances locals have with Americans in the region. The main villain in the movie was an American head of a mercenary outfit.

Mark said...

To the best of my knowledge, all modern Ranger battalions are headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia and organized under the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Two battalions and the Ranger Training Brigade are based in Georgia. One of these battalions is at Hunter Army Airfield. But one battalion is based at Ft. Lewis, Washington, I suspect because Rangers are in the first line of reaction and so one gets stationed nearer to Asia.

Glaivester said...

I have no moral objections to using mercenaries, as long as we don't pretend that thye are civilians.

Svigor said...

One of these battalions is at Hunter Army Airfield.

Sorry, that's what I meant, not Fort Stewart. I haven't lived in Savannah for 15 years.

Svigor said...

Some would consider them more of an elite light infantry unit than special forces.

That's exactly the impression I got (from word of mouth, not just personal observations of their behavior) and was trying to impart.

Anony-mouse said...

My understanding is that many police forces hire private detectives to do things the police forces can't.

And by the way, if its wrong to have mercenaries, then why are private detectives and security guards okay?

And how about those private firefighters from AIG that helped out in San Diego?

Mark said...

What's fascinating about this whole thread is that there are people here who have actually served in the military, or know folks in the military, and who actually talk to them when they see them instead of stare at the ground and sort of slink away.

How do these conversations go at sites like DailyKos?

"Um, yeah, I was a Marine in the 29th Division of the 75th Ranger Battalion stationed in Meridian, Mississippi. My rank? Well, uh, Chief Petty Officer. My platoon leader was Colonel Ozzie Mandias."

Anonymous said...

"blackwater" is in reference to the creeks in the area that run black with tannin from the tuff in the forests. The water is some of the creeks back in the woods is literally coffee-colored.