"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." John Adams (1780)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Would An Iowa State Defense Force Look Like?

Although I'm probably the only one in Iowa who cares about this, I'll keep banging on about the need for an active state defense force (SDF) or "state guard," such as 22 other states and Puerto Rico already have.
In previous writings I've stated that since SDFs are funded and administered entirely by the state, they would be immune from the inevitable federal cuts when the federal government teeters into bankruptcy.  Also there is no risk that they might be deployed overseas when a disaster springs up here at home. A state guard can tap into several pools of volunteers that the National Guard cannot. As unpaid volunteers, a state guard can be operated at comparatively little expense. Lastly it could be made to conform to the requirements for the state militia as laid out in the Iowa Constitution.

An active Iowa State Guard would provide Iowa a security and response force all its own into an uncertain future where numbers of it National Guard troops may be cut by federal austerity measures or deployed out of state on federal missions when a catastrophe strikes at home. It would increase the state's ability to fend for itself until (or if) outside help arrives in a catastrophic disaster as well as the age-old, though presently unlikely, roles of quelling insurrection and repelling invasion.

Historically, state defense forces were organized as light infantry or military police. Nowadays most state guard units are unarmed support units such as civil affairs or medical units designed to assist the state's National Guard in peacetime and provide relief during state disasters. While these are certainly important duties, the traditional role of the state militia, armed defense, is still important and may be more so in the future.

There are many local civilian relief agencies that do great work during a disaster but none of them  provide armed security to backup local and state police forces to maintain order. In a truly catastrophic emergency (think Hurricane Katrina, a nuclear detonation or long-term grid-down situation) police agencies can quickly find themselves overwhelmed. Iowa has a population of 3,000,000 and has about 8,000 cops statewide (most of whom are local police and couldn't be deployed where needed). The IANG currently has about 7,200 soldiers on the books (many of whom are no doubt support staff), minus those deployed elsewhere or eventually cut from service, and may take several days to mobilize. A state guard would provide a relatively low-cost force to help fill in the cracks.

But what would such a force look like? Below is one possible option for an Iowa State Guard company-size unit that could fulfill the disaster relief mission as well as the more traditional armed defense mission. One could be formed at Camp Dodge (HQ of the Iowa National Guard as well as Iowa's emergency operations center)  and if deemed a success, another one could formed elsewhere in the state. If that one succeeded another could be formed. Let's take a closer look at the company.
Table of organization for the author's proposed State Defense Force company.
(The word "Men" is used for space concerns. Soldiers might be either gender.)
Security Platoon:
Organized along the lines of an Army light infantry rifle platoon, this would have three squads of 9 to 11 soldiers. Each squad would have a squad leader and two fire teams of four or five soldiers. It would also have one headquarters squad consisting of a platoon leader, platoon sergeant and a radio operator as well as two machine-gun teams of three soldiers each. The platoon would train in the use of small arms, small unit tactics, riot control, first aid, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense.

Weapons would depend on what the state could afford to scrounge up (and what they felt comfortable entrusting the SDF with). Normally, infantry squads would be equipped with M16s or M4s, as well as one M203 grenade launcher and one M249 light machine-gun per fire team (2 per squad). The two platoon-level machine-guns are normally M240 medium machine-guns.

If on a truly shoestring budget, state guard members could be required to provide their own rifles (although perhaps restricted to standard military calibers of 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO). This was how state militias were originally armed in this country. Perhaps a cheap supplemental weapon would be to have one tactical shotgun per fire team. This would give a lethal close-quarters and guard duty weapon as well being able to fire numerous types of less-than-lethal rounds in a riot control mission. Platoon-level MG's could be replaced with 2 or 3 well-trained sniper teams.
Emergency Response Platoon:
This would be comprised of a three-person headquarters section and four Emergency Response squads modeled after the 10-person "Citizen Corps" volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Each squad would have a squad leader, an assistant squad leader/safety NCO, as well as the following two-soldier teams: Fire Suppression Team, Search and Rescue Team, Medical Triage Team, and Medical Treatment Team. Unlike the community based CERTs, State Guard ER Platoons and Squads would be quickly deployable around the state.
Like in a CERT, all members would be cross-trained in all roles of the squad. Civilian CERTs receive about 20 hours in training and that curriculum could be used for the Emergency Response Platoon. In an environment of civil unrest the Platoon leader and senior NCOs could wear sidearms and/or a two-soldier armed Security Team could be added to each squad to guard supplies and personnel.
Engineering Support Platoon:

This platoon would have the equipment you might want see rolling into your town after a major disaster: light excavating vehicles, chainsaws, water pumps, or generators. More importantly it would have the men and women who could operate and maintain them. These wouldn't necessarily have to be former combat engineers, there are plenty of Iowa farmers, mechanics and construction workers who could lend their expertise. In a defensive mission the platoon could be put to work digging bunkers, trenches, or tank traps and building other necessary structures.

Headquarters Platoon:

This is the administrative center of operations for the company. In addition to the company commander and his senior leaders, this platoon would contain communications, clerical, and supply personnel, as well as an armorer and a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) specialist.  A few medics and a field kitchen (for the militiamen as well as for disaster evacuees) would be great.  If the state could swing it, a couple of mortar teams would add huge combat capability to the company.

Thoughts on Training & Uniforms:

No doubt many people who would volunteer for an Iowa State Guard would have prior service in the active duty military. That training should be taken into account. For other enlistees a "basic training," perhaps as simple as an overnight weekend, might be required.

Active National Guard and Reserve units typically meet for drills one weekend per month and two weeks during the summer. For the unpaid volunteers of a State Guard, perhaps that could be cut down to four quarterly musters per year, with some additional training times available on nights and weekends to fit around their busy schedules. When you're asking people to do something just out of the goodness of their hearts it's best not to put too many obstacles in their path.

The State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS), a non-profit organization advocating for the advancement and support of regulated state military forces, offers its "Military Emergency Management Specialist" (MEMS) certification. This is comprised of three qualification levels: Basic, Senior, and Master. Perhaps these could be required of officers and senior NCO's.

Necessary to secure Geneva Convention protections in a full-blown national invasion by another nation state, uniforms could be as simple as a distinctive armband. However, there's something attractive about the idea of putting on a nice-looking uniform. Just ask any military recruiter. Supplying volunteers with a decent uniform may be one of the few tangible benefits they'll receive for their service. It would no doubt be worth the cost not to scrimp on it.

While the unpaid volunteers of an Iowa state defense force would probably not be mistaken for the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, they wouldn't need to in order to be a valuable asset in times of catastrophe.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Iowa News Shows Its Anti-Gun Bias

What if some big city gangbangers lead police on a high speed chase until they crashed in a nearby small town and then fled on foot and the pursuing deputy got injured, so two country boys decided to pursue the five suspects themselves and captured the bad guys at gunpoint and turned them over to the police? That would be a pretty interesting story, right? Especially in Iowa where the big news usually involves the butter cow at the State Fair.

Well apparently not to most Iowa news reporters. The old adage in reporting is, "If it bleeds, it leads." Apparently the new maxim in reporting is: "If it casts gun owners in a positive light, bury it."

For those of you who don't have press cards stuck in the bands of your fedoras, here's the scoop. According to Cedar Rapids CBS2/FOX28 news (to my knowledge the ONLY mainstream news agency to include the armed civilian good guy aspect of this story):
Five men are in jail after a very scary car chase.
The Linn County Sheriff's office says it all started with a shots fired call in Cedar Rapids and ended with a car crashing into a child's playhouse.
Deputies say, around 7 Wednesday night, they tried to stop a vehicle that matched the description of a car involved in a shots fired call.
They say the driver of the car wouldn't stop so officers chased them all the way to solon.
The chase ended after the car crashed into someone's yard plowing through a child's play house.
That's when the five men got out of the car and took off running; two neighbors saw the commotion and decided to help.
Tim Moore and Scott Eastwood say the five men threw drugs and a gun down in his yard as they ran across the highway.
During the chase, the deputy who was chasing them fell so Tim and Scott got into a truck and continued to chase the men.
The men were eventually caught when the neighbors confronted them and held them there [at gunpoint] until back up arrived.
The video of the newscast is a little more in-depth and contains interviews with Scott Eastwood, the permit-to-carry holder, and his neighbor Tim Moore who apprehended the five suspects. The story focuses quite a bit on the armed good guy aspect of the story. I highly recommend that you watch news video to get a full feel for the story.

The important thing to note here is that if it wasn't for CBS2/FOX28 (who share a news room) we might not know at all that the suspected bad guys were apprehended by an armed civilian permit-to-carry holder. None of the other news outlets even mentioned it.

KWWL news (Waterloo) reported:  "Five occupants of the vehicle took off on foot, and was [sic] later arrested by police officers." KCCI news (Des Moines) stated simply: "The five males in the truck tried to run from the scene, but they were soon captured."

The "Iowa City Press-Citizen" wrote: "The occupants of the vehicle fled on foot and they were pursued by the Linn County deputy who initiated the chase," [Johnson Co. Sheriff's Office Capt. Gary] Kramer said. With the help of some Solon residents, who alerted officers to the suspects' location, the five individuals were arrested a short distance away on Sutliff Road, Kramer said." [Emphasis added.]

"The Gazette" of Cedar Rapids, which normally is so fascinated by permit-to-carry holders that it periodically publishes their names and addresses when they apply for or renew their permits, yawned from the page: "[F]ive people were apprehended near where the truck crashed after they tried to run from the scene."

We've seen this many times on the national scene, when school shootings or other shooting sprees are stopped by armed civilians. The national news media usually just report that bystanders "subdued" or "disarmed" the gunman, never mentioning that they did so by pointing their own weapons at him.

If an Iowa permit-to-carry holder someday overzealously pulls his pistol on an innocent person or accidentally shoots himself in the leg you can expect a lot of media attention on THAT gun owner. If you're a supporter of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms just remember: No news is good news.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Black Rifle (Bam-Ba-Lam)

Semi-automatic rifles, variously called "sport utility rifles," homeland defense rifles," or "modern sporting rifles" by those who enjoy and support their use, and often derisively labeled "assault weapons" by those who wish to ban them, are among the most popular guns on the market today. The AR-15 style weapon is the most popular among them. Americans own about 5 million ARs with about 500,000 more hitting the private market each year.

With numbers like that there should be plenty of gun owners in need of training on how to maintain and safely shoot the AR platform. Recognizing this market, Corey D. Roberts and the rest of the crew at Tactical Insights LLC defense training have stepped in with their new "Black Rifle" Operator Course. Since the stated goal of the class is to "provide skills and knowledge to every student, from the new rifle owner to the experienced shooter" I decided to sign up for the class.  The debut class was June 7th.

Most of the 14 or so people in the class had .223 caliber M4-style ARs with 16" barrels and collapsible stocks. There were two oddballs. One guy had an AK-47-style rifle and I had a full-size .308 caliber AR with 20" barrel and solid stock. Thankfully nobody engaged in any Freudian speculation on why I needed the big battle rifle. (I'm just taking the advice of Boston T. Party, Fred, and Bob Cashner. Honest!)

The first three hours of the class were in the classroom. Roberts and Ryan Evans, a police officer and certified armorer, headed the class. There was an overview of the AR-15 and AK-47 systems, with definitions, capabilities and explanations of their respective ballistics. Students were walked through field-stripping their weapons followed by some shooting fundamentals. All in all the classroom section of the class was a good "basic training" for AR owners.

The next five hours were on the shooting range. Students practiced shooting from various standing, kneeling and prone shooting positions that one doesn't always see at the shooting range. We shot at moving targets, from under and around barricades and practiced shooting while on the move. It was a good day of practice using the AR platform in close quarter battle drills.

I thought the class was a great learning experience sure to provide new AR-15 owners and seasoned shooters with increased proficiency. If you've got a "black rifle" you might want to check it out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

IGO & Iowa Right To Life Primary Voting Guides

On Tuesday, June 3rd Iowa's two big-box political parties will hold their primary elections to determine who will represent them on the November general election ballot. As usual, interest groups are beginning to rate the candidates. Here are some key ratings from Iowa Gun Owners and Iowa Right to Life.

Iowa Gun Owners, which bills itself as "Iowa's ONLY no compromise gun lobby," recently emailed its "2014 Iowa Gun Rights Primary Voter Guide!" to supporters. This guide included the candidate survey results in the key State House and State Senate races that IGO is focusing on across the state. Here is the relevant portions in IGO's words:

State Senate Races:
In Senate District 19 (Ankeny) Senator Jack Whitver is in a primary with Brett Nelson. Senator Whitver has surveyed 100% in this race promising to co-sponsor all of Iowa Gun Owners’ legislative priorities if re-elected.

Brett Nelson has refused his survey. We don’t know if he’s willing to support gun control or not but we do know where Senator Whitver stands.

In Senate District 27 (Hampton area) we’ve received signed surveys from both candidates seeking the GOP nomination. Sadly, both Shawn Dietz AND Timothy Junker have put down at least one anti-gun answer on their surveys.

Dietz refuses to help fix Iowa’s pre-emption problem, thus allowing you to get criminally charged for carrying a firearm in parts of Iowa that prohibit your carrying them there (i.e. Iowa City and many cities in Eastern Iowa.)

Junker is adamantly opposed to the idea of doing away with Iowa’s unconstitutional permit to purchase handguns, a relic of a bygone era of “Jim Crow” laws that have been largely phased out across the county.

In Senate District 29 (Dyersville area), long time IGO member James Budde has surveyed 100% pro-gun! More, Budde has pledged to LEAD in the gun rights fight by sponsoring gun rights legislation in Des Moines.

Budde’s going to adamantly fight against Bloomberg’s Universal Registration too.

However, despite our best efforts, James Heavens, also from District 29, simply won’t fill out the survey. We have no idea if he’s planning to ‘make a deal’ with gun-grabbers in Des Moines or not – since he’s unwilling to tell gun owners where he stands.

Senate District 39 (Washington area) is a three-way primary as Senator Sandy Greiner is retiring. IGO members in this district have been busily trying to get a survey from all three candidates for some time.

But as of this writing, Royce Phillips is the only candidate in this race who is willing to tell gun owners where he stands.

Not only did Phillips answer the survey but he did so with 100% pro-gun answers – giving us a reason to believe that he’ll fight to stop gun control at every corner if elected. Michael Moore and Bob Anderson have refused to survey at all. We simply don’t know if they’ll vote pro-gun or anti-gun if elected.

State House:

In House District 15 (Council Bluffs) we have vastly different candidates running.

John Blue has surveyed 100%. No hesitation, no wavering, he’s been clear all along that he’ll fight against gun control and for Constitutional Carry if elected. We’ve talked with John and he seems very serious about the 2nd Amendment in our conversations with him.

Troy Arthur has returned the survey as well, but unlike John Blue, Arthur’s survey was very disturbing.

Troy Arthur will not support Constitutional Carry and he will not support repeal of the unconstitutional ‘permit-to-purchase’ either!

More dangerous, however, was Arthur’s answer on mental health legislation. Gun grabbers are using mental health legislation to come after gun owners, especially vets, by having them declared unfit to possess a firearm.

The key is the word ‘declared.’ This can be done by virtually anyone. Hundreds of thousands of vets have lost their rights this way according to Gun Owners of America. Hundreds of thousands!

On the other hand, if someone is ‘adjudicated’ defective it means that the individual was given a chance to appear in a court of law, have counsel present, produce evidence, confront the opposition’s evidence, and more.

In other words, adjudication implies you have rights, declaration means someone can arbitrarily decide to seize your gun rights. Troy Arthur supports the idea of you simply being declared prohibited. No due process, no lawyer, no rights, just the end of your gun rights.

Thankfully, John Blue is opposed to this radical attack on the 2nd Amendment!

In House District 39 (Johnston area) we have received multiple surveys as this is a 3-way primary. Representative Jake Highfill and Taylor Egly have surveyed 100% pro-gun. Jerry Kinder has REFUSED to survey in this race at all.

It’s important to note that Rep. Highfill, in his two years in the House, has co-sponsored all of the legislation put forth by Iowa Gun Owners.

In House District 47 (Boone) we have a Democratic primary with a reportable difference that voters should know about.

Hans Erickson has surveyed 100% in favor of your gun rights. Constitutional Carry, Stand Your Ground, Pre-Emption reform – Hans Erickson supports all of these concepts and more.

Mark Trueblood has not returned our survey, although IGO members in the district say that he may have dropped out of the race, which may explain this.

In House District 60, Rep. Walt Rogers has failed to return his survey. We’ve spoken to Walt about gun rights, at length, this past legislative session. You see, when Constitutional Carry legislation came to the House for a vote in 2011 Walt voted “NO!”

Now Walt is in a leadership position in the House, and insiders have reported that Walt’s more concerned about maintaining that leadership position that he is about fighting for your gun rights. This pattern of behavior is what makes his refusal to survey this time around all the more concerning.

Thankfully, Jason Welch, who is running against Rogers, has surveyed 100% pro-gun. More, Jason Welch has promised to SPONSOR key pieces of legislation for IGO. We appreciate his support for the 2nd Amendment.

In House District 61 (Waterloo area) we have a 3-way Democratic primary that you should know about as Brad Condon answered 6 out of 9 questions with arrogantly anti-gun answers. He wasn’t just anti-gun, he’s proud of it!

Andrew Miller answered the survey too, but thinks it’s ok for a single ‘mental health professional’ to take gun rights away from Iowa’s veterans on their own volition without any basic due process rights!

Miller actually called our office wanting to make sure we highlighted how ‘good’ he is on the 2nd Amendment and basically argued that anyone who’s even accused of being ‘mental’ should have their gun yanked immediately. Andrew, consider your race “highlighted.”

Timi Brown-Powers refused to survey in this race.

In House District 84 (Mt. Pleasant area) incumbent Dave Heaton is hoping that the voters will forget about his vote against Constitutional Carry in 2011 as Ralph Holmstrom is primarying him to be the GOP nominee in this district.

Heaton has refused to complete his candidate survey whereas Ralph Holmstrom has surveyed 100% pro-gun!

Finally, in District 91, Rep. Mark Lofgren, no friend to the 2nd Amendment whatsoever, is retiring from that seat to run for Congress (voters beware, Lofgren is ducking his federal survey while Matt Waldren has answered 100%) creating an open seat race between Mark Cisneros and Gary Carlson.

While Gary Carlson is refusing to tell gun owners where he stands on the 2nd Amendment, Mark Cisneros has been extremely up front about his pro-gun views in signing his survey 100% pro-gun.

(Cisneros actually surveyed twice for us, as his original survey was misplaced by a volunteer in our office. Cisneros was very sincere in his support of the 2nd Amendment when we spoke to him.)

Iowa Right to Life describes itself as "the largest pro-life organization in the state of Iowa united in our value for human life and the common belief in each individual’s fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect." Here is their voter guide:

The Entire List of Candidates Iowa Right to Life Believes Best Meet Evaluation Criteria:
(Where multiple candidates are listed for a particular race, they are in alphabetical order)
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Governor Terry Branstad
Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds
U.S Senate
Sam Clovis
Senator Joni Ernst
Matt Whitaker
U.S. Representative District 1
Rod Blum
Steve Rathje
U.S. Representative District 2
Matthew Waldren
U.S. Representative District 3
Robert Cramer
Joe Grandanette
Matt Schultz
Monte Shaw
David Young
Senator Brad Zaun
U.S. Representative District 4
Congressman Steve King
State Senator
District 1:    Senator David Johnson
District 3:    Senator Bill Anderson
District 5:    Tim Kraayenbrink
District 7:    Senator Rick Bertrand
District 9:    Jason Schultz
District 11:  Art Hill
District 13:  Senator Julian Garrett
District 15:  Crystal Bruntz
District 19:  Senator Jack Whitver
District 23:  Jeremy Davis
District 25:  Senator Bill Dix
District 27:  Shawn Dietz AND Timothy Junker
District 29:  James Budde AND James Heavens
District 39:  Royce Phillips
District 41:  Senator Mark Chelgren
District 47:  Senator Roby Smith
State Representative
District 1:    John Wills
District 2:    Rep. Megan Hess
District 3:    Rep. Daniel Huseman
District 4:    Rep. Dwayne Alons
District 5:    Rep. Chuck Soderberg
District 6:    Rep. Ron Jorgensen
District 7:    Rep. Tedd Gassman
District 10:  Mike Sexton
District 12:  Brian Best
District 15:  Troy Arthur AND John Blue
District 16:  Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa
District 17:  Rep. Matt Windschitl
District 18:  Steven Holt AND Dillon Malone
District 19:  Rep. Ralph Watts
District 20:  Rep. Clel Baudler
District 21:  Rep. Jack Drake
District 22:  Rep. Greg Forristall
District 23:  Rep. Mark Costello
District 24:  Rep. Cecil Dolecheck
District 25:  Rep. Stan Gustafson
District 26:  James Butler AND Eric Durbin
District 27:  Rep. Joel Fry 
District 28:  Rep. Greg Heartsill
District 29:  Patrick Payton
District 30:  Zach Nunn
District 37:  Rep. John Landon
District 38:  Rep. Kevin Koester
District 39:  Rep. Jake Highfill
District 43:  Rep. Chris Hagenow
District 47:  Rep. Chip Baltimore
District 54:  Rep. Linda Upmeyer
District 55:  Darrel Branhagen
District 57:  Ryan Kilburg
District 60:  Rep. Walt Rogers
District 63:  Rep. Sandy Salmon
District 64:  Craig Johnson
District 67:  Rep. Kraig Paulsen
District 68:  Ken Rizer
District 71:  Jane Jech
District 72:  Rep. Dean Fisher
District 75:  Rep. Dawn Pettengill
District 79:  Rep. Guy Vander Linden
District 80:  Rep. Larry Sheets
District 82:  Jeff Shipley
District 84:  Rep. David Heaton AND Ralph Holmstrom
District 91:  Mark Cisneros
District 92:  Ross Paustian
District 94:  Rep. Linda Miller
District 95:  Rep. Quentin Stanerson
District 96:  Rep. Lee Hein
District 97:  Norlin Mommsen

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cannabis Oil Coming To Iowa

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said that next week he will sign a bill legalizing the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy. This comes after the bill passed the Iowa legislature at the last moments of the session.

According to The Des Moines Register:

"The legislation requires patients with chronic epilepsy and their caregivers to acquire a registration card through Iowa’s Department of Public Health, per a written recommendation from a neurologist. The oil would have to be obtained in another state that produces it. The bill limits the amount of oil that can be in a patient or caregiver’s possession at any given time.

"Branstad said he supports the measure because of its narrow focus and applicability to a small number of people in need. He said that families with children suffering from severe epileptic seizures convinced him of the bill’s importance and that he believes the oil can help them."

The bill is so narrowly focused that even Iowa's anti-cannabis crusader Clel Baudler supported it. “I refuse to call it medical marijuana. It’s hemp oil. I hope it works,” he said. “Right here, right now, we have the opportunity to do something that is very good.”

Even if the further legalization of other forms of medical marijuana doesn't take root here in Iowa, as it has in other states, at least this bill will provide some relief for some very sick children and their families now.

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