Monthly Archives: January 2012

When the FBI come for… whomever

Don’t expect sympathy, even if they’re just screwing up.

Judy Sanchez may not have lived a perfect life, but she wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. Apparently confused by Spanish surnames, or unable to believe that Vasquez and Sanchez were not the same thing, FBI special agents from the notorious Boston field office — the same outfit that helped mobsters James “Whitey” Bulger and Steve “Rifleman” Flemmi commit over a dozen murders, and framed innocent (of those crimes, not choirboys) men for them  — cut down her door with a chain saw. 

The local paper in Fitchburg, Mass., a bleak former-factory town where Sanchez raises her daughter alone, with public assistance, and attends a few classes at the local state college, takes it from there:

Sanchez doesn’t know how long she was held on the floor, but estimates it was between 30 and 45 minutes while her daughter cried in the other room. It was a cold morning, and she was not allowed to put warm clothes on.

“I was still at gunpoint the whole time. I was freezing,” Sanchez said.

The FBI agents kept asking her where Luis Vasquez was, and she said she didn’t know.

Remember the old movie, Marathon Man, “Is it safe?” I’ll say one thing for the Bureau: they’ve really internalized that mantra of Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action. We in SF got crucified in the press for considerably less-violent raids in the combat zone, in search of real armed bad guys. We never terrified a puppy into pissing itself, like these FBI heroes.

Sanchez and her daughter live in apartment 2R, which is located in the rear of the building. The other apartment on the floor, 2F, is at the front and is the home of Luis R. “Joker” Vasquez, but Sanchez said she only knew him as “Jay.”

The motto of the FBI: “Close enough for government work!” Hey, they got the right floor. For the Boston SAC, thar’s probably worth some kind of commendation, but at least they’re not helping the mob plug operations security leaks by whacking informers. Then again, maybe it’s some of the same guys… of the six-plus FBI agents moonlighting for Bulger, only two faced any consequences, and only one is in jail.

He still gets his pension, even while sitting in the can. Some things are sacrosanct to federal employees, and no federal-employre judge is going to mess with the rice bowl of a fellow federal employee, even if he has to send him to crowbar motel. So what about the intended target of the Fitchburg Chain Saw Massacre?

Vasquez, 41, is believed to be the leader of the local arm of the Sex, Money, Murda gang and was captured in his apartment.

via Fitchburg woman and daughter ‘terrified’ as saw rips down door after getting wrong address in drug sweep – Sentinel & Enterprise.

OK, Vasquez was likely a real bad guy — we’re willing to stipulate that whatever a crew called Sex, Money, Murda does, it doesn’t increase the civic capital and good fellowship in town. Got it. And he does probably deserve to be in pokey — if he’s convicted on everything he faces 40 years. And they did get him, in his apartment, omce they figured out they had the wrong place. (This other news story makes it clear that they only hit Vasquez’s apartment after taking down Sanchez). We guess that just like all those Irish and Mormon FBI guys with white shirts and rep ties, all Hispanics look alike to outsiders.

They held her and her wailing 3-year-old under gunpoint, separately, she says, for 40 minutes. The FBI says it was not that long (probably true, because time drags when you’re face down in a puddle of dog piss with some wannabe ninja’s Danner boot on your neck).  But then, they can’t say how long it was because that’s a state secret… so maybe she’s right.

Then they left, with a mumbled apology, leaving behind a card. The card had the numbers of one of the Boston ASACs, and of FBI lawyer Damon Katz. Sanchez called but got no satisfaction: platitudes. Katz’s tone sent his message well enough: F you. We have sovereign immunity. You’re probably guilty of something, and should be grateful we left you live. 

Meanwhile, Katz recorded the calls to use against her if she sues. Was he there when the Boston Field Office was controlled by the Bulger Brothers’ murderous mob? Maybe, probably not. But he’d have fit right in.

Image: Judy Sanchez’s door, Judy’s photo via the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.

Are you up for a Challenge?

The unifying experiences of SF are adversity, pain, and long walks in “the environment” with 100 pounds of lightweight gear in a rucksack. Sound like fun? OK, what if they cut the amount of weight, and focus the whole thing on team-building and not chest-beating? (We’re not big on chest-beating, actually. There are SEALS for that).

Then you probably want to look into the GoRuck Challenge. It is, by the way, conducted with a real ruck (a newer one than our old standby on the left, Gott sei dank) and led by a real special operations (mostly SF) vet. Using some of the techniques from SFAS, SFQC, and … combat to get to places in your skull and heart you didn’t know you had. You won’t get killed, you won’t flunk, all you have to do is not quit. “Individuals start the Challenge, a team finishes the Challenge. Together.” But they don’t promise “no suffering.” Per ardua ad astra and all that.

The company behind the GoRuck Challenge, GoRuck, makes some pretty excellent-looking rucksacks and stands behind them with a warranty that will make your eyes pop. Was the Challenge originally a promo tool for the gear? Maybe. I do know that the founder and company are generous donors to an excellent charity, the Green Beret Foundation.

Here’s a capsule bio of the founder, which should give you an idea of his sense of fun:

Jason joined the Army and earned his Green Beret after 9/11 for the paid vacations. His time with America’s best took him to Iraq, Africa, and Europe, and gave him bonds to last a lifetime.  Always inspired by the three rules of Special Forces: (1) Always look cool (2) Never get lost (3) If you get lost, look cool – and recognizing that most gear on the market broke rule number 1 – he founded GORUCK and later the GORUCK Challenge. He is currently either leading a Challenge or drinking beer at a Ruckoff with his chocolate lab, Java.

via Cadre | GORUCK Challenge.

As the kind of sick folks who keep an old LC-1 in the library (near the front door) for occasional doses of humility-through-exercise, we at fully endorse the GoRuck challenge. We’d even try one of the company’s rucksacks, but the problem is a good ruck hardly ever wears out, so we have about 150 years’ supply of rucks in the war and gun rooms, plus the hiking one by the door. We haven’t got 150 years’ worth of knees and ankles (in fact, we’re all out of left ankles already. Damned parachutes).

St Louis beats New York

No, we haven’t become a sports blog. We’re referring to the battle of the Welcome Home Troops parades — a battle in which Mayor Bloomberg, who most emphatically does not welcome veterans to his fair city, has unilaterally disarmed.

So in the Show-me State they rolled the floats, the vintage deuce-and-a-halfs, the veterans and the American Flag. They held the parade. In New York City they threw a SEAL in the laughing academy at Bellevue, because he claimed to be a SEAL. No parade, says the Mayor, whose can’t allow himself to be distracted from his laserlike focus on micromanaging the trans fats consumption of his subjects.

St’Louis raises the red, white and blue. Bloomberg’s flying his flag, it’s just missing the red and blue parts.

But hey, a comparison to Petain is not fair. Petain wasn’t a billionaire.


Hat tip: Jim Hoft, who has some pictures. You’re probably going to have to find these pictures in blogs

We Build Bigger Bombs, They Build Better Bunkers

One of the longest-lasting dynamics in warfare is the continue battle between the defensive armorer and the offensive swordsmith. That battle marked the entire Age of Chivalry, as swords evolved form the machete-sized Gladius Iberius of Rome to the massive two-handed, heavy, reinforced-point armor-piercing broadswords of the late Middle Ages.

The same dynamic repeated with each new weapon. Helmet and bullet. Tank and anti-tank gun. Bomber plane and interceptor. Up-armored HMMWV and IED.  (“Oh, they have armor now, Ibrahim. Better add another 155 shell!”).

Latest example: bunker versus bunker-buster. Our most powerful bunker buster, thanks to the media and Congress doing the work our enemies’ intelligence organizations might not get to, is no longer guaranteed to bust bunkers. So a secret project to boost the bunker-buster’s bunker-busting brisance got underway, only to be blown (no pun intended) by Pasdaran pals Adam Entous and Julian Barnes in the WSJ:

The 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, was specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea to cloak their nuclear programs.

But initial tests indicated that the bomb, as currently configured, wouldn’t be capable of destroying some of Iran’s facilities, either because of their depth or because Tehran has added new fortifications to protect them.

Emphasis ours. Gee, why would Tehran do that? Because the media just loves sharing military secrets. Which they usually get from those staffers for those Congressmen who reflexively consider the US the villain in every international contretemps.

Doubts about the MOP’s effectiveness prompted the Pentagon this month to secretly submit a request to Congress for funding to enhance the bomb’s ability to penetrate deeper into rock, concrete and steel before exploding, the officials said.

via Pentagon Seeks Mightier Bomb vs. Iran –

Emphasis ours again.

The public has a “right to know” but the public also has a right to be safe, and there are some situations where public knowledge has very small benefit compared to the loss of public safety involved. If nothing else, Entous and Barnes have triggered another round of hardening of bunkers that are producing nuclear weapons, weapons that are being built by a regime driven by an apocaltptic ideology.

One of the few Obama Administration initiatives to be met with unalloyed good cheer in the uniformed military — the guys who do the bleeding that all these Washington drones consider beneath them and their families — has been the administration’s willingness to hammer leaky officials, to arrest them and drag them into court, to yank the security clearances of their family members (permanently, one hopes), to ensure that their runny mouths never threaten another American life.

Adam and Julian, the Revolutionary Guards called. They say tashakor and want to know what size burka you wear. Meanwhile, they’re digging and pouring concrete.

Arrrrr…. Navy learns to think like a pirate!

The US Navy has called for bids to convert an elderly amphibious ship, USS Ponce LPD-15, to a more specialized configuration — a special operations mothership, according to the Washington Post. And they want it done in haste.

Ponce (pronounced PON-say, it’s named for the city on the south coast of Puerto Rico) will then be deployed to the Middle East, which might mean the Somali pirate coast, or might mean the Arabian Gulf (we know that’s not the correct name, but we use it to irritate the Iranians. If they ever overthrow their terror state we’ll change the name back).

Ponce was built in 1971, last of a class of Amphibious Transport Dock ships designed to rapidly transport Marines to beachheads, land them, and provide support as necessary. She can launch her Marines in amphibious armored vehicles, landing craft, small inflatable boars, helicopters or tiltrotors. All those capabilities (plus underwater and parachute oprions) would exist in a special operations configuration as well.

The pirates, who have been forced to develop a set of asymmetric capabilities or die, use motherships to extend the reach of their small boats beyond safe coastal waters into sea lanes rich with ransomable ships and hostages. The Navy’s intentions are more benign towards innocents, but a floating ship gives

Expect a mothership to contain a de facto FOB or JSOTF headquarters with communications and logistics for planning, launching and recovering special operations missions. While these would normally be maritime special ops missions using SEALS and Naval Special Warfare craft, the ship is perfectly capable of embarking and deploying other services’ special operations forces from its well deck or large helipad.

Ships at sea have long been used to free US  forces from the political and operational shackles, and the security risks, of land-basing in friendly frontline states. It also relieves those states of domestic and foreign policy burdens those bases, even temporary ones for SOF, can impose.

Finally, the presence of Ponce in an area provides a plausible alternative, allowing clandestine bases, if any, to be credibly denied. That can be good for US and for foreign nations also. There are several foreign countries where all parties denounce the United States in public but while in power work closely with us, and keep that secret when they pass into opposition.

The Post suggests the Pentagon wants the reconfihgured Ponce in “the mideast” by June, and hints broadly that that schedule might be tied to some unspecified future mission.

U.S. military officials declined to say what prompted them to give the Ponce a sudden new lease on life. But contract and bidding documents underscore the urgency of the project.

One no-bid contract for engineering work states that the military was waiving normal procurement rules because any delay presented a “national security risk.” Other contract bids are due Feb. 3. The Navy wants the conversion work to begin 10 days later on the Ponce, which is docked in Virginia Beach.

via Pentagon wants commando “mothership” – The Washington Post.

Amphibious ships of this class (the Austin class), along with Aegis cruisers, were a main focus of Secretary Panetta’s naval budget cut proposals. In fact, just days before this contract was let out, Panetta announced plans to scrap Ponce and her remaining sisters, leaving the Navy with fewer, but younger, amphibious ships — “gators” in Navy slang. The Navy is being cut less than the Army or Marines, but the trend seems to point to a 260-ship Navy, down from nearly 600 at the end of the Reagan Administration, and over 300 today. But unique among her Austin sisters, Ponce seems to have a reprieve.

No word on whether Ponce’s new ship’s motto will be, “Arrrr!”

Images: US pirate flag, Flag Discounters; USS Ponce: official website. (Much nicer shot than the badly composed AP photo the mainstream media is running, eh).

This post has been edited. The pronunciation of Ponce has been corrected. And jeez, we’ve been to (and like) the city!

Bloomberg and vets

There’s only one Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and he has only one attitude to the nation’s veterans:

To hell with ’em.

We’ve recently seen how his cops and prosecutors threw a Marine in jail for gun possession, a very serious crime in NYC if you’re not a career criminal, who gets a pass. Then they threw a SEAL down the booby hatch for saying he was a SEAL (to be fair, they’ve also passed up robbers and murderers to lock up a political organizer and a medical student).

Now Bloomberg, who is worth $19.5 billion thanks in part to creative draft-dodging during the Vietnam war, has responded to suggestions that the city stage a welcome-home parade for the troops withdrawn from Iraq after that long, and so far, somewhat successful, mission.

Bloomberg’s answer: hell, no.

He says that Army officials said a parade was “inappropriate” now. “A a parade would be premature while we still have so many troops in harm’s way around the world,” the mayor said on the radio. Ah OK, it’s not him….

After al, with many troops still in Europe and the Pacific, New York didn’t celebrate V-E or V-J day… oh, wait. They did.

And what a Pentagon spokesman actually said publicly was that “officials were grateful communities were finding ways to recognize the sacrifices of troops and their families,” the AP paraphrases. We don’t know what officials he could have been referring to — not New York ones, clearly.

It’s a pity, because most New Yorkers are great people, we have seen their grit, humor and generosity in good times and ill, and they deserve better politicians than they have; but then, Americans are a race of noble giants whose politicians are, or become, poisonous dwarves.QED.

Michael Bloomberg’s failure to grasp V-E Day may not be entirely his own fault: it maybe inherited. Neither his father nor grandfather appears to have served. (His father sat World War II out in a Massachusetts dairy). His own children (both daughters) were raised to share their family’s view that service is beneath them.

Given the character that runs in their veins, it’s probably good news for the services.

Source: News from The Associated Press.

Image: Bloomberg’s website… yes, even the horror-show blue tint.

A month of Sundays…

…end with this post. As usual, we won’t be posting further today. Look at the That Was the Week that Was post immediately below this to see if you missed anything you really wanted to see.

We’ll be back at it Monday. This coming week we’ll be looking at how magazines help your AR run, what’s the difference between 5.56 and .223 (in answer to a suggestion two weeks ago), some of the facts of taking a 1,000 meter shot, and how different cities approach the idea of a parade for Iraq veterans.

Closing today, we’d like to do something new with these Sunday posts — call it a little Special Forces Sunday Homily. Today, we’ll repeat the Special Operations Truths.

Humans are more important than hardware.

Quality is better than quantity

Special Operations Forces cannot be mass-produced

Competent SOF cannot be created after emergencies occur.

Most special operations require non-SOF assistance.


These are our touchstone, our rules to internalize and live by. They have applications far beyond the narrow world of Special Operations Forces. Beyond the military, for that matter. Tens of thousands of former and retired special operators still live by these rules every day as they excel in new fields. They can’t help it because it’s part of them, now.

Make it part of you if you dare.

That Was the Week that Was: 2012 Week 04

That was the week that was, week four. In which the WeaponsMan crew looks back and asks that musical question, “What the hell were we thinking?”

  1. We began with the now-standard Sunday non-post and invitation to submit suggestions.
  2. On this day in 1776, the New Hampshire legislature was buying guns. That was probably not what George III and Lord North wanted to hear. 236 years later, New Hampshire (and 49 other states) are still buying guns, and it creeps George’s successors in DC out.
  3. What happened to the Mk-16 SCAR? The tale of “a good rifle, but not better enough for the money.”
  4. We bust the myth of gun-theft rings targeting gun-sports events.
  5. We explain why most of our posts are long, in the post that’s the exception.
  6. Who invented the detachable magazine we know so well? We make a case for Hugo Borchardt (later, we’ll discover that it was probably James P. Lee. But Borchardt shipped his gun with spare magazines; there is that).
  7. We explain how some 60- and 70-year old M1 rifles and carbines became the focus of a turf fight between the White House, which wants the old guns melted down, and Congress, which wants them imported and sold off.
  8. Weapons Website of the Week: Forgotten Awesome photographs, intriguing weapons.
  9. This week, most of the nation celebrated the Navy SEALs. Not in Nre York, where Bloomberg’s Blue Shirts threw one in the nuthouse.
  10. We take the world’s most immature military-affairs journolist[sic] and smash his face through a plate-glass window. Virtually, of course.
  11. Snipers get a chance to own their own M-24 SWS. How cool is that?
  12. We explain how the Army needs to quit wringing its hands and deal with the Great Benning Hog Infestation. Mmmmm bacon.
  13. Keith aka “Jack” Idema Reported Dead. Alive, he brought great discredit on the Special Forces Regiment.
  14. PBS tells us we’re too dumb for enign… egin… that applied science stuff. They would know.
  15. SF wanted – Down Under.
  16. First Detachable Magazine – traced to James Paris Lee, a prolific designer of about 100 to 120 years ago. Borchardt still had some firsts with his, though.
  17. The BBC looks into the psychology of snipers and sees a Devil there.
  18. The Special Operations Truths. The touchstone and essence of what SOF is and does.
  19. We explain the difference between the 5.56mm and .223 rounds and chambers.[UPDATE: this much-postponed post has been postponed again. We regret the inconvenience).
  20. Not a love triangle exactly: the MP, the scorned woman, the .380. That’ll leave a mark.
  21. Saturday Matinee: Black Hawk Down. A third person shooter, as it were.
  22. This weekend wrapup

Saturday Matinee #004: Black Hawk Down

Director Ridley Scott seems to do well in bringing nightmarish fictional dystopias to life, so he was an inspired selection for Jerry Bruckheimer and the producers of  the movie version of Mark Bowden’s incredible non-fiction book,. After all, the parched arena of Gladiator or the nightmare society of Blade Runner are practically Disneyland compared to the Hobbesean state of nature that Somalia has been for many decades now. And Bowden told the story with rare craft and integrity.

Bowden’s book may be the best single work of small-unit military history ever written, full stop. Bowden applied the techniques he used as an old-style shoe-leather reporter for the Philadelphia Enquirer to understanding and documenting the battle that took place on Sunday, October 3, 1993. He did it first for the newspaper and its website (and word of the website spread like wildfire through the special operations community at the time, which brought Bowden more interviewees).  The book followed.

The military produced classified and unclassified studies on the battle as well, and some participants have told their stories also. We’ve read them all. It is only Black Hawk Down which shows a full understanding of the battle.

The movie builds on this clarity and adds stark visuals, a rapid pace and haunting Arabic music, and extremely skillful acting by a mixed cast of newcomers and established character actors.

To keep the movie moving, it’s much more compressed than the book is, and it needs a long run-up with lots of text on screen to explain to American viewers what they were about to see.

The political aspects of the mission are downplayed in the movie; the disastrous leadership at the National Command Authority level cost Secretary of Defense Les Aspin his job, and his health deteriorated precipitously. In Congress, he had been a firm voice for the military and military reform; in the Pentagon he became an unsuccessful shock absorber between an anti-military presidency and armed forces who had little respect and trust in his boss — and that was before October 3, 1993.

Some people are shocked by the violence in the movie. Read the book… the movie’s violence, for example the death of Tim Martin (whom we knew slightly in 10th SF, before he went to selection) is actually toned down from what the Rangers and special operators experienced.

The US Army assisted in making the film, and as a result, the weapons, uniforms and aircraft are dead-zer0 on for the period (yes, our M4s had fixed carrying handles still in 1993). The tactics are simplified but accurate… an actual mission FRAGO or briefback would bore the moviegoing public to tears. The effects of combat — sound, light, and psychological — are all well-modeled. In an Amazon review, a period 2nd Rangers veteran said this about that:

It’s very accurate as far as weapons, equipment, uniforms, etc. They used the exact helicopters that were used in the original mission in 1993 with the 160th SOAR.

The whole movie I was searching for inaccuracies. Want to know what I came up with? They had their names written in marker on their Kevlar helmets (this was done so the audience could quickly tell who’s who) we wrote our names on the helmet band. The chin straps on the Kevlar helmets were not taped up (As soon as I got to Ranger Battalion we had to taped up and tie down certain pieces of equipment and this was one of them), they wore dog tag silencers (in Ranger Battalion I was told to get them off and tape em up with 100 MPH tape as soon as I got there), and sometimes they said each others names on the radios instead of call signs (once again this was done for the audience). So as you can see I was really reaching there.

RLTW, guy. He also said, clearly referring to a movie that gave its name to generations of no-hopers who were about to be dropped from RIP, ROP, SFAS, and other elements’ selection programs: “Combat is not one guy running around killing people by the hundreds with a head band on. They made it a real as you could get it on the screen.” Bravo. (Gee, we need to find some more of this guy’s Amazon reviews, he’s clearly a genius as he agrees with us.

This was one of the last theatrical movies made to show US forces in a positive light. Because it stuck so well, for a movie, to the facts uncovered so thoroughly by Mr Bowden, it could scarcely have failed to do so. It is a ripping tale of courage, adventure, sacrifice, and that uniquely American gift for combat improv. If you haven’t seen t, well, Amazon has a copy for you.

If you want to know more about Operation Gothic Serpent and the real men depicted in the movie, get Bowden’s book. Another good book about the operation is In the Company of Heroes by Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who survived his shootdown and cruel Somali captivity.

Timeline of a Shooting Investigation

From Army Times* comes this series of news stories, reprinted from the Hattiesburg, Mississippi American newspaper and/or the Associated Press:

[Camp] Shelby MP shot while making rounds — Jan. 21.

Wife Arrested in Shelby MP’s shooting — Jan. 24.

Camp Shelby MP may face charges in shooting: sheriff  – Jan. 25.

You just know there’s a story there.

It begins around midnight Friday night, January 20th, when duty Military Policeman Britain Wright reported that he was shot in the chest while making a routine security check at the camp’s north gate. A driver shot him once and then drove off… he didn’t return fire. His combat protective vest stopped the bullet, and he was taken to Forrest General Hospital, examined, a released. The base raised its alert level, and sheriff’s deputies and other MPs began looking for the assailant, while Forrest County sheriff’s investigators interviewed the victim.

He was shot by a person in familiar Army uniform. The single shot from a .380 auto pistol slammed into Wright’s vest, and stopped. It was a near-run thing, Sheriff Billy McGee noted: “two inches higher, it would have killed him.”  The shooter then calmly backed back out of the gate and drove off while Wright called for help.

That night, his wife Tiffany visited him in the hospital, and when he checked out Saturday morning, they went home together.

But Wright’s story had gaps and implausibilities in it, and after hours of questioning the following Monday, he began to slip. Finally the truth came out. The Army uniform the shooter was wearing, and the car she was in, were quite familiar — they were his own, and the shooter was Tiffany, who suspected him of cheating on her.

She arranged by cell phone to meet him at the gate, and when she did, she didn’t say a word — she let Mr .380 do her talking for her.

“She never says a word to him, shoots him, gets back in the driver’s door, goes and backs out and drives off,” McGee said. Investigators don’t know if she was counting on the vest to stop the bullet, or not.

Meanwhile, both military and civilian police had been all wound up looking for an assailant whose identity and whereabouts would have been no mystery — if the shooting victim had come clean.

Tiffany Wright, 30, is charged with aggravated assault.

Sheriff McGee is waiting to see if the Army somehow punishes Britain Wright for his false police report. If not, he’ll file misdemeanor false-report charges.

This probably hasn’t done Wright’s career in military police a whole lot of good. He may be invited to excel somewhere other than the Army. We also see marriage counseling, or “family law” attorneys, in the Wrights’ future.

There are some lessons here for the Weapons Man, apart from some obvious ones like, Beware, beware, the bad-guano-crazy woman. That pretty much covers it from Mr Wright’s point of view. Well, no, actually: Do not perjure yourself for you bat-guano-crazy woman who just tried to whack you. Ok, now it’s covered from his POV.

From Mrs Wright’s viewpoint, the lesson depends on whether she was trying to whack her husband, or just send a message. If the latter: Guns are not suitable devices for sending a message. Unless the message is: Bang! You’re dead.

If she was actually trying to whack him, she’s a miserable failure. To kill someone wearing body armor, you need to either (a) use a weapon capable of overcoming that body armor. And it doesn’t matter what level of armor it is, a .380 pocket pistol is not going to penetrate reliably. Or (b) shoot a vital area outside the body armor.

Ineffective shots on armored targets are tantamount to no shots at all. Actually, in most cases they’re worse: they make the guy mad, and then he wants to fight. True, you can hammer a guy down with body hits and then whack him on the ground, but that’s not a very elegant way to do things, and it’s certainly not an approach you can count on. On the other hand, weapons that penetrate body armor aren’t pocket pistols.

*For those of you who don’t know, Army / Navy / etc. Times are publications for active-duty service members, that for years provided the best insight into administrative and personnel stuff like promotion lists and pay scales. In the 1990s they were bought by the Gannett chain, and we stopped reading as they became full of anti-military slant and soldier-hostile columnists inherited from the new parent organization.