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Slaying Daesh: An Interview with an American Advisor in Iraq

Chris Hernandez
I once read a novel about a Vietnam veteran’s life after homecoming. In one scene he’s alone in a bar in April 1975, transfixed to a TV, drinking away anger as he watches the last helicopter lift off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon. Later I told a fellow Iraq veteran friend that I was pretty sure I’d be in a bar someday, drowning my sorrows in iced tea and watching the last helicopter abandon the American embassy in Baghdad.

About two years later, ISIS hit Iraq. Mosul fell after a not-even-halfhearted defense. The Iraqi Army fled Fallujah without a fight. Baghdad came under threat, and Iraqi troops seemed incapable of defending it. One day as I read yet another report of the Iraqi Army retreating in disarray, my Iraq veteran friend sent a text.

“You picked out a bar yet?”

The Iraqi Army – now there’s a term that’s struck terror into the heart of many an American fighting man. Not in 1991 when we stomped it into defeat during Desert Storm, nor in 2003 when we used it as a speedbump on the road to Baghdad; no, the terror came later, when we tried to fight alongside it. I personally had little direct interaction with the IA, but many who did came home full of misgivings, frustration, and visions of impending collapse. When ISIS swept much of the IA aside with barely a fight, many of us Iraq vets felt our “US embassy in Saigon” moment was at hand.

Helmets abandoned by IA troops fleeing ISIS

Helmets abandoned by IA troops fleeing ISIS

Yet, two years into the fight against ISIS, the Iraqi Army seems to have at least improved. It stopped the ISIS advance outside Baghdad (with our help), took back areas on the outskirts of Mosul, took Hit, took Ramadi and parts of western Fallujah, and is preparing to retake the rest of it. Recently we’ve seen video of an IA helicopter door gunner calmly smoking a fleeing ISIS vehicle, read reports of a lone IA Abrams tank nicknamed “The Beast” whacking ISIS all over Hit, and seen video of another IA Abrams hitting a moving VBIED (car bomb) at long range.

As a former tanker, the stories about IA tanks really got my attention. And while I was encouraged, I also cringed. Is the Iraqi Army really capable of using Abrams tanks? I wondered. And if they are, isn’t that knowledge and capability bound to reach ISIS?

So I was pretty happy when I recently met a US Marine Corps advisor to an Iraqi armored division. This officer deployed twice to Iraq as a tanker, and made trips to Afghanistan to see how tanks were being employed there. Policy prevents me from identifying him, so I’ll call him Brad.

Why did I choose "Brad" as a pseudonym? No reason, just a random name.

Why did I choose “Brad” as a pseudonym? No reason, just a random name.

Brad and I spoke by phone for over an hour. He’s assigned to a base in Anbar province that I used to run convoys to back in 05, and the troops he advises are in the thick of the fight against ISIS. He’s got direct visibility on the capabilities of today’s Iraqi Army, and had direct visibility on the IA during Operation Iraqi Freedom. If we want to know the truth about today’s Iraqi Army and especially their tankers, he’s a good person to ask.

My first question for Brad was whether or not he was going with the Iraqis on missions. In Iraq I was a TWAT (Tanker Without A Tank) on a convoy escort team, and never fought in a beloved Abrams. In Afghanistan I was around French light tanks in firefights, and had one fire its main gun close enough to rock my Humvee, but never connived my way into one for a mission. Some Americans are outside the wire in the ISIS fight, but what about Brad and other tankers?

“We don’t accompany the Iraqis. Mostly, they’re doing it, they don’t need us,” Brad said. “It’s like the old parable, ‘what you expect of people they tend to deliver’. If we don’t accompany them, the Iraqi Army realizes they need to do it on their own. The only thing we really have a problem with is that they move at their speed, and we want them to move faster. But when it comes to the rubber really meeting the road…

“I was part of an operation earlier this month. They were clearing a road, and it was heavily defended by Daesh. They ran into several problems, they lost one of their senior leaders, they had issues where certain units weren’t performing as well as others. But they adjusted their scheme of maneuver on the fly, they provided relatively accurate reporting, they were relatively responsive to our requests for information while they were in the middle of the fight. Their problems now lie in basic soldierly proficiency. They’re in the war now, and they don’t have time to focus on just basic soldiering. They have to keep everybody on the line, they have to keep everybody attacking.”

Reuters photo of Iraqi SF fighting ISIS in Ramadi.

Reuters photo of Iraqi SF fighting ISIS in Ramadi.

Basic proficiency is a big deal though, especially considering all the complex tasks that go into running a tank. So where are they as far as being able to perform basic tanker tasks? 

“I mean, are they US Marines or American Army? No. Those are the two finest fighting forces in the world. But they adapt to changing tactical situations, they continue to press despite casualties and IEDs. Are they incredibly proficient at accurate fires and all those thing? Well, they’ve got some work to do in that area. But when it comes to behaving like a professional army, they’re making great strides every day, actually. It takes decades to produce the kind of culture and institutional knowledge the US Army and Marine Corps have with their tanks. It takes going to gunnery twice a year, year after year, it takes officers who have been to multiple gunneries, the Master Gunner program, you know, all those things they just don’t have time to do. They are at just a basic level of proficiency. I think the biggest thing to say about this is…they’re not us, but they’re resilient, and they don’t give up. The fighting spirit’s really there.”

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/slaying-daesh-in…or-iraqi-tankers/

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


During recent debates with social justice types, I’ve run across something I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, the definition of racism I always accepted is wrong.

I thought racism was “a belief in the inherent superiority or inferiority of a race”. Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; racial prejudice or discrimination”. Oxford’s definition is “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior; the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”.

So according to me, Merriam-Webster and Oxford, racism is an individual trait. Anyone can be racist if they believe their race is superior to others. This would seem true, since people of every race have committed horrible crimes based on racial hatred. I’ve personally had the misfortune to meet whites who hate blacks and Hispanics, Hispanics who hate blacks, and blacks who hate whites and Christians. I know an Asian raised by hillbillies who told me Asians consider pretty much everyone else inferior. I know a Hispanic man who refuses to have anything to do with his own grandchild because she’s half black. I met a Hispanic college professor who asked “what kind of a f**king Mexican marries a white woman?” Once I walked past a white child in a grocery store who suddenly blurted “You’re colored!”, then got really nervous when I stopped to talk to him about it. In Kosovo I had a very depressing conversation with someone who advocated killing every last member of an opposing ethnic group: “The adults committed crimes against us, the old ones used to commit crimes against us, and the young ones will commit crimes against us. So they should all be killed, from one until the end.” And I knew a lot of people from the other ethnic group felt the exact same way.

Racism, to me, seemed to be an individual trait that could be held by anyone. However, SJWs (social justice warriors) tell me I’m wrong about racism. Racism has been “redefined”, and now must include “systemic”.

A few days ago a comedian and CNN commentator explained to Stephen Colbert that blacks are literally incapable of being racist:

“We can be prejudiced, but racism implies power and institutions behind it. I can be prejudiced, I can be like, ‘I don’t like white people,’ but I can’t, like, not hire them or not give them their voting rights — you know what I’m saying? So it’s a very different thing.”

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This isn’t racist. And you’re racist if you think it is! P.S., the guy’s shirt says “Unlearn white skin as the default”.

When I started researching the new definition, I ran across this 2009 Daily Kos article:

“Therefore, according to this institutional power definition, it is not possible in this country for black people to be ‘racist’.  Yes we have a black president, and a few second/third generation black leaders in majority black areas, but African Americans and people of color do not have institutionalized power, established over centuries, to impose their prejudices and preferences on the majority culture.” [emphasis in original]

Even before that, the University of Delaware was teaching students that whites are automatically racist, while minorities are incapable of racism:

“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination. (This does not deny the existence of such prejudices, hostilities, acts of rage or discrimination.)”

So minorities hold no institutional power, which means they cannot be racist no matter what they personally believe, because racism is systemic. If it’s not systemic it’s prejudice, or discrimination, but not racism. Clear enough?

The new “systemic” definition of racism seems to be taught as unquestionable truth on some college campuses. And a LOT of white people are not just accepting it, but embracing it. Just in my personal experience, quite a few whites have told me that since I’m Hispanic I can’t be racist no matter what, but they can be since they’re white, and they probably are racist but just don’t know it, and they’re sorry for their white privilege, and if they don’t fight white privilege they’re just as guilty of racism as any white supremacist. On the extreme edge of that white guilt are people like these, in a video made by a flamboyantly annoying black racial activist.

(If you think that video is too insane to be real, think again. As near as I can tell, the “Uhuru Solidarity Movement” is a thing. If you’re white and want to “join and pay reparations,” please visit their site.)

The backstory on the following video is a little murky, but it pretty clearly seems to be two minority college students challenging white college students to explain why their lives matter. “Our argument is that white life is wrong. Our argument is that we should never affirm white life.” Remember, telling a white person their life doesn’t matter, because they’re white, isn’t racist.

So this whole redefinition of racism got me thinking. If only whites can be racist, what do you call a black person who actually calls for genocide of white people?

I find it sorta difficult to understand how someone can say white people should be killed, and even specifically talk about killing white infants, yet not be considered racist.

This man, a member of the New Black Panther Party named “King Samir Shabazz”, also said, “We gonna need preachers going into the cracker churches throwing hand grenades on early Sunday morning when the cracker got his hands up, ‘please white Jesus!’ Well we gonna throw a bomb in that God damn church, burn up the cracker, burn up the cracker Jesus, and burn up some cracker white supremacy…drag some of these god damn rusty dusty ass crackers out of their homes, skin their asses alive, hang their asses up by some damn rope in some trees, drag them up and down the streets by God damn trucks, sick the pit bulls on them, pour acid on their asses, dump them in a God damn river, bring them back up, bust them in the head with a rock.”

But remember, that’s not racist. According to our friendly SJWs, even if King Samir Shabazz al-Qaddafi X (or whatever name he gave himself) actually did throw hand grenades into a white church while busting a white infant’s head with a rock and yelling “Kill all white people!” it wouldn’t be racist.

But Shabazz was just speaking hypothetically. So let’s look at a real case of racially-motivated murder that wasn’t racist (honest!).

In San Francisco in 1973 and 1974, a group of black radicals murdered at least fifteen people, almost all whites, and tried to murder eight more. One of these white victims was kidnapped, bound, and dismembered while still conscious. Two more victims, a husband and wife, were kidnapped and hacked with a machete after the kidnappers fondled the wife. The group responsible was “a splinter group of the Nation of Islam, called the Death Angels, [which] required the murder of several ‘blue-eyed white devils’ for membership.”

Wrap your mind around this: according to the modern redefinition of racism, the black radicals who kidnapped, bound, and chopped a conscious man’s limbs off because he was white weren’t racist.

Since racism must be systemic or it isn’t racism, I’m curious about something. If a KKK Grand Dragon is kidnapped, put on a plane and dropped into downtown Tokyo, is he no longer racist? After all, there is no systemic racism again the Japanese in Tokyo. Presto, Mr. Grand Dragon is no longer racist. Right?

I’m Hispanic, a minority which automatically “has no power”, and can’t be racist. So I could change my name to Chris Herndriotti, claim I’m Italian, join the Klan, burn crosses and lynch black people, but I still wouldn’t be racist. Right?

If a black man named John Smith and an otherwise-identical white man named John Smith joined forces to beat an Asian man to death while yelling “We hate Asians!”, did the white John Smith commit a racist murder but the black John Smith didn’t?

What about biracial people? Is President Obama automatically racist because he’s half white, or automatically never racist because he’s half black?

I’m so confused!

What I love (and by that I mean hate) about the SJW movement is its desperate quest to define people by racial, ethnic or religious identity. The very same people who say they oppose treating people a certain way because of their race treat people differently because of their race. Non-white SJWs have defined away their own racism, while white SJWs have embraced their own irrational white guilt and labeled themselves practitioners and beneficiaries of racism even if they personally have done nothing wrong. Individual actions and beliefs mean nothing to these people.

Perhaps these SJWs have a valid point hidden somewhere in the stupidity; maybe they’re reasonably pointing out that blacks have suffered worse than others, and that many whites don’t recognize advantages most of them have. Those things are true. But SJWs, like activists everywhere, dilute their own message with hysterical overreach and hyperbole, and create conflict where none is needed.

I’m not educated. I’m just a community college non-graduate who spent almost 27 years in the military and is still a cop after over twenty years. I’ve lived with, worked with, and served in combat shoulder to shoulder with people of different ethnicities, religions and races, in several countries. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Racism is an individual belief. Redefining racism so that “no minority can be racist” is a transparent, convenient, self-serving way for minorities to be racist without having to admit it. Minorities who hold all whites accountable for past wrongs are just as racist as a hillbilly Klansman with a swastika tattooed on his neck. Yes, systemic racism exists, and blacks have historically borne the brunt of it in America. Yes there are white racist douchebags. Real racism, especially systemic racism, needs to be exposed and defeated.

But plenty of “oppressed minorities” are also racist, and the endless search for a white racist under every rock only perpetuates racial tension we don’t need. Dammit, can’t we admit things have gotten better? Can’t we at least acknowledge that we’ve come miles from the systemic racism of the Jim Crow era, light years from slavery, and that all whites aren’t the eternal enemy of all of us with darker skin? The experience my parents had in the 60’s in north Texas, when they were kicked out of a restaurant – while my father was serving in the Air Force – because “we don’t serve Mexicans here”, hasn’t and won’t happen to me. And if it did, the public backlash would be so intense the restaurant would shut down. This country is better now than it was then.

I’m grateful that my country is better. I’m grateful to all the people, even the whites, who fought and sacrificed to make it better. I won’t poison my children’s minds with the lies that the system is rigged against them, or that all whites are their enemies. And I damn sure won’t tell them that if they become racist, they’re somehow better than white racists.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


This was published April 18th on BreachBangClear.com

Eating Tacos is Racist [The Deadly Scourge of Cultural Appropriation]

Chris Hernandez

You may have heard of the recent, tragic incident that horribly traumatized many innocent people. It made national news, disturbing video of it has been shared on social media, and it’s had an impact far beyond the people immediately involved. This incident and the evil behind it threaten to destroy the very fabric of our society.

What? No, not the latest terrorist attack. I’m talking about something far worse.

A white kid wore dreadlocks in college.

A white kid with dreadlocks! Run for your lives!
A white kid with dreadlocks! Run for your lives!

 Yes, Cultural Appropriation has reared its ugly head in America. This white college kid had the gall, audacity, and White Privilege to steal dreadlocks from African culture (dreadlocks were also Egyptian, Viking, Greek, Spartan, Indian, Sufi Muslim, Aztec, and maybe even Jewish, but whatever). Despite the horror I’m sure you’re feeling, please muster the courage to watch the video. If you dare.

I know what you’re thinking: “That evil racist deserved far worse for what he did.” And many people agree, the white victim of harassment and assault was 100% to blame. Sure, maybe the black woman technically assaulted him, but come on. He appropriated her culture. And that’s unforgivable.

There have been other egregious instances of cultures being wrongly appropriated. Miley Cyrus dared to twerk. Coldplay and Beyonce made a video set in India. About 684,000 white celebrities pissed off Kareem Abdul-Jabar by wearing cornrows. Justin Bieber won the crown jewel of racism by wearing cornrows and dreadlocks. College students in the UK ordered gay men to stop stealing women’s culture by dressing in drag and acting like black women. A white couple stole black history by jumping a broom at their wedding, even though Europeans used to jump brooms at weddings too. And as another observer noted, the black male student in the above video appropriated Inspector Gadget culture.

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Here’s a definition of Cultural Appropriation (CA), from racerelations.com:

 “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.”

Notice the definition includes the terms “unauthorized use” and “without permission”; you see, if black people had told white people “It’s okay to have dreadlocks”, there wouldn’t have been an issue. And that’s where the entire silly, stupid, racist concept of CA falls apart, and the point I can’t even sarcastically pretend to take it seriously anymore.

Like many far-left ideas, CA requires us to stop thinking of people as individuals and instead lump them together by race or ethnicity. “All blacks/Mexicans/Koreans/whatever minority think white people need permission to use any symbols of their culture.” That’s pathetically stupid and overtly racist.

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/cultural-appropriation/

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

 


After every attack by Islamic terrorists, we hear what’s become a rote response: “But those aren’t real Muslims. Islam teaches peace. No real Muslim would murder civilians.” This optimistic-but-empty platitude is repeated by everyone from horrified peaceful Muslims to naïve college students to jihad apologists deliberately lying about the attackers’ intentions. It’s so common and so wrong it may as well be titled the “No True Muslim Fallacy”.

After the Benghazi attack and “Innocence of Muslims” video that didn’t spark it, Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America, wrote, “No practicing Muslim would advocate violence in any form in response to cartoons or films, no matter how offensive.” After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Piers Morgan wanted Muslims “To denounce [the attackers]  as non-Muslims, to urge REAL Muslims – the vast majority who loathe these extremists as much as we do – to rise up against them, alienate and marginalize them, root them out of their society.” Islamweb.net informs us, “if any Muslim kills an innocent person, that Muslim has committed a grave sin, and the action cannot be claimed to have been committed ‘in the name of Islam.'”

So apparently thousands of people who mistakenly think they’re Muslim have been shooting, beheading, burning, or blowing their enemies up lately. These non-Muslims-who-think-they’re-Muslims have killed over 50,000 people, mostly “real” Muslims, in the last two years. Somehow these people, most of whom were raised Muslim from birth, have misunderstood Islam so badly that they’re doing exactly the opposite of what Islam says.

See this terrorist? His name is Moner Mohammad Abusalha. Dr. Bukhara, Piers Morgan and others might think he’s not really Muslim, but in fact, he is. Or at least, he was. He blew himself up in a suicide attack on a restaurant in Syria.

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He was Muslim because he believed in a certain type of Islam that’s existed for hundreds of years, and has been studied and validated by many religious scholars. Not every Muslim agrees with this version of Islam, but this guy did, and millions of other Muslims do.

You know how I know this guy was Muslim? He told us.

He didn’t care if you don’t think he was a “real” Muslim. He didn’t need your permission to call himself Muslim. He was positive he was Muslim, and he thought others Muslims who don’t massacre their enemies aren’t real Muslims. He was supported by millions of other Muslims who either directly armed, trained, fed and housed him, or gave tacit support to his actions. Whether or not you gave him the “real Muslim” stamp of approval made no difference to him. It probably never crossed his mind.

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By the way, Abusalha grew up in a gated community in Florida, graduated from high school and spent some time in college. All suicide bombers are poor and uneducated? Yeah, not so much.

In the end, denying his or any other terrorist’s religious faith is meaningless. Because our opinion about their faith means nothing, either literally or philosophically.

We need to realize something: we don’t get to decide what makes a “real” Muslim. Nobody needs our approval to label himself any religion he wants. Two western Christians (or atheists, or agnostics like me, or Muslims, or whatever) can argue for years about what makes a true Muslim. Who cares what they think? Do Christians need approval from Afghan Muslims before calling themselves true Christians? Do Baptists need approval from Catholics?

The definition of true Islam has been debated at least since the Sunni/Shia split in the 7th century. Sunnis and Shia have been killing each other for apostasy for 1400 years, and some Sunni extremists refer to Shia as  “rafidha (‘rejecters of the faith’) and majus (Zoroastrian or crypto-Persian)”. Other strains of Islam, like the Sufis, have risen and sometimes been brutally oppressed by more powerful Muslim sects. The “what is true Islam” debate has been violently raging among Muslims for over a thousand years; why does anyone, especially non-Muslims in the west with no real understanding of Islam, think they can smugly decide what a real Muslim is?

If I’m curious about an avowed jihadist’s religious affiliation, I might do something totally crazy: I’d ask him. Because, you know, he and his buddies are screaming to the world what their religious beliefs are.

I know, I know. Someone’s about to say it. Some people have probably been screaming it since the first paragraph. So go ahead and let it out.

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Now that you’ve shocked us with that newsflash, guess what? We already know that. Of course all Muslims aren’t terrorists. If I believed all Muslims were terrorists I wouldn’t have lived, worked and socialized with them in Kosovo, served in combat beside them in Afghanistan, invited them into my home, or taken one to a range to improve his pistol skills. Most Muslims are nothing like ISIS, and would rather kill an ISIS fighter than join him. You literally have to be stupid to believe that every last Muslim is a terrorist, or condones terrorism.

But you have to be even stupider than that to think none of them are, or that it’s just a tiny handful. The suicide bomber threat isn’t over because the suicide bomber I mentioned earlier was the only one ever. ISIS isn’t a small organization, and it’s funded by many Muslims all over the world.

Even our government tacitly admits jihadists are Muslims. Our President might be loathe to use the term “Islamic terrorism” (his people apparently even censored French President Francois Hollande’s use of the term at a White House meeting), and politicians like Cory Booker might outright refuse to even say the words.

But if our elected representatives truly didn’t believe jihadists were Muslims, they wouldn’t have terrorists like Osama bin Laden buried according to Islamic law. The military wouldn’t have temporarily banned female guards at Guantanamo from offending a war crime suspect’s Islamic beliefs by touching him while moving him from the prison to legal appointments. And if the rest of the Muslim world didn’t believe those terrorists were real Muslims, Muslim scholars wouldn’t have complained that bin Laden’s burial at sea violated sharia law and warned that Muslims would attack Americans in retaliation. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)  wouldn’t have complained of guards at Guantanamo Bay force-feeding prisoners on hunger strikes during Ramadan. If nobody believed bin Laden or terrorists at Gitmo were real Muslims, why would our government, Muslim scholars and CAIR be so worried about offending their Islamic sensibilities?

Everyone knows not all Muslims are jihadists, but everyone with an understanding of reality knows jihadists are actually Muslims. So please, stop claiming you know what all real Muslims think. Nobody cares. At least, the Muslims who believe Islam commands them to slaughter people don’t. If you’re positive you know what “real” Islam is, find your nearest ISIS fighter and argue with him about it. Because wasting time trying to convince me that “real Muslims would never be terrorists” doesn’t stop your so-called fake Muslims from murdering people.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


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A few months ago, a woman sitting next to me on an airplane started a friendly conversation. When she found out I was an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, she asked about something that was obviously bothering her.

“My daughter’s friend is an Iraq veteran,” she said. “He wasn’t in combat, but he’s disabled by PTSD. He was a medic, and he says the enemy was always trying to capture medics. On missions they wouldn’t let him out of the Humvee because he was in so much danger. He says his PTSD is from being scared of being captured.”

The woman was almost embarrassed to tell the story. Her expression betrayed obvious doubts about this veteran’s “trauma”. But like most of the public, she didn’t feel justified questioning any PTSD claim, from any veteran, for any reason. When I told her I never heard of medics being targeted more than anyone else (especially since they don’t dress or look different than other troops), that riding in a Humvee in Iraq isn’t so scary as to disable someone for life, and that he was probably milking the system for free money, she seemed relieved. She suspected the same thing, but didn’t feel right saying so.

It’s fair to say most of us combat veterans have suspicions about PTSD claims. We’ve been frustrated by stories of horrible, disabling PTSD from people we know were never in combat. We’ve heard of troops coming home from deployments to peaceful countries, never hearing a shot fired, but immediately claiming PTSD. We know that in the War on Terror only a small percentage of troops actually faced an enemy, and many of those relished the experience. We have the nagging feeling most PTSD claims are more about free money than healing and recovery. Some of us have become so skeptical, we automatically throw a mental BS flag when we hear someone talk about having PTSD.

But most of us doubters aren’t psychologists. We’re not trained. We don’t know what transpires between a veteran claiming PTSD and his VA counselor. We know PTSD doesn’t require combat experience, and understand not everyone has the same resistance to trauma, but still wonder if veterans really get disability payments for being yelled at in basic training. We hear assurances that PTSD disability isn’t handed out like candy, that claimed trauma is investigated rather than blindly accepted, and that the “tiny number” of scammers are quickly identified and booted from the system. Maybe our suspicion that the VA PTSD system is corrupt and overrun with liars, scammers and thieves is off base.

If our suspicions were confirmed, that would be pretty depressing. Know what would be even more depressing? Being told by two VA psychologists that the system is even more corrupt and full of liars, scammers and thieves than we thought.

Not long ago I wrote an article about two “combat” vets and their attempts to paint veterans as pitiful victims of PTSD. A VA psychologist read the article and contacted me. He can’t speak publicly because he still works at a large VA center, but I verified his identity and work. I’ll call him John.

John has treated over 700 veterans for PTSD. He estimates 75% of his patients are either outright fabricating trauma, or twisting benign experiences into supposed trauma in order to qualify for disability benefits. “Of all patients referred to me in 2015 for PTSD evaluation, 25% (estimated generously) had a real trauma-related condition,” John wrote. “And the majority of the remainder were obviously feigning PTSD symptoms.”

Few of John’s patients were actual combat veterans. “Only 10% had documentation (CIB/CAB/CAR/Purple Heart/Bronze Star, etc.) indicating substantial combat exposure,” John said. “Yet just over half were receiving VA disability payments for PTSD. All who weren’t yet on disability for PTSD were applying for it, and most on disability were appealing to increase their disability rating.”

Read the rest at BreachBangClear.com.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


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I’ve finally released my third novel, Safe From the War, as an ebook on Amazon. Print and audio versions to follow (hopefully soon). This book is the prequel to Line in the Valley, and explains what my protagonist Jerry Nunez experienced in Houston before he was sent to fight on the Texas border.

In one day it’s received a few five-star reviews. Not a bad start.🙂

Short excerpt:

“Nunez approached the door, watching the window closely for shadows against the glass, eyes peering through blinds, anything. He saw and heard nothing. The door had no windows, and dirt was streaked across it at waist level.

Everything else was clean. Dirt on the door didn’t fit. Nunez pulled the flashlight from his belt and strobed the door with it.

The streaks were drying blood, not dirt. It looked like someone had reached for the door with bloody fingers, smearing it from their hands as they were pulled inside. Nunez strobed again, looking at the doorstep this time.

Blood. Lots of it. Not in a pool but scattered in large spots, each several inches across. Dozens of smaller drops dotted the doorstep. Red footprints covered the gaps between larger spots of blood. The random pattern of the drops suggested a violent struggle at the doorstep.

Looks like that little thug was telling the truth, Nunez thought. But the suspect was stabbing her, not punching her.

The blood was dark and thick. Nunez recognized it as venous blood, what most untrained observers thought was arterial blood. Nunez knew from previous experience on the street, and more than one bad incident in Afghanistan, that the girl was hurt bad. He reached for his radio shoulder mike and lifted his eyes from the doorstep.

Fingers were inside the window, separating the cheap Venetian blinds. Dark eyes behind them stared hatefully at Nunez. If the other hand held a gun, Nunez was fucked.”

If you should read it, please leave a brutally honest review. Thanks and I hope y’all enjoy it.

Chris

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


Sometimes it makes sense to carry a .380. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have said that, but with today’s advances in ammunition technology the .380 has become a viable self-defense round. I’m a cop and don’t carry purely for self defense; it’s my job to advance toward a threat, not cover my and my family’s retreat. After hearing opinions from two very skilled tactical trainers, and spending enough range time with a Glock 42, I would have the confidence to advance on a threat with a .380. Yes, I’d likely be at more of a disadvantage than I’d be with a larger pistol, I’d have to get much closer to make effective shots, and I’d probably need to put more rounds on target to stop a bad guy (which is why I never go with less than three spare mags when I carry my G42). But I could win a gunfight with a .380.

Now that I’ve explained why I sometimes carry a .380, the next question is, what’s the best way to carry it?

One extremely low-profile way to carry a small pistol is in a pocket holster. When I have to dress up and tuck in my shirt, pocket carry is great. But for EDC, it has a significant drawback: it’s not ambidextrous. If the first indication I’m in a gunfight is a disabling wound to my right hand, and I’m pocket carrying, I’ve got problems. The same concern applies to strong-side IWB carry. I don’t carry a gun in case nothing goes wrong, I carry in case everything goes wrong. And one way everything could go wrong is having to engage in a gunfight with only my weak hand. My weapon generally has to be accessible with either hand.

For that reason, among many others, I’ve switched to Appendix In Waist Band (AIWB) carry. And Big Stick Defense (http://www.bigstickholsters.com), run by fellow Texan Levi Ralston, makes a pretty good AIWB holster.

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This is MY holster, before Big Stick shipped it over.

Tons of Kydex benders are making holsters. But Big Stick’s “Fat Boy” stands out among others for two reasons. Big Stick only advertises one major feature for the Fat Boy, but the second and third really grabbed my attention. (Note: the Fat Boy isn’t only for appendix carry, I just use it solely for that purpose.)

The Fat Boy’s “signature feature” is a raised sweat guard that cover the entire body side of the weapon; none of the weapon touches your abdomen. This prevents rust, and helps avoid “holster bite” when you holster your pistol. Holster bite doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for middle-aged guys fighting a beer belly (like me), getting the crap pinched out of your stomach every time you holster becomes kind of a pain. The Fat Boy eliminates the bite problem.

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The second feature is the Fat Boy’s “control channel”. The channel keeps Kydex off the slide release, which prevents the possibility the slide release will catch or drag during the draw. An associated feature is a pronounced shroud that prevents accidental mag release. One time, with one holster, I drew my weapon and discovered my mag was popped. That was during a very intense training exercise, I was moving around a lot and hitting the deck repeatedly, and don’t know if the mag released because I leaned on it or if I failed to seat it before holstering. It only happened once, so I’m more inclined to think it was my fault rather than the holster’s. But that incident made me very aware of the possibility that a holster could cause me to lose my magazine. In a gunfight, that would just be embarrassing. I don’t have to worry about that happening if I’m using a Fat Boy.

The Fat Boy’s third and most-important-yet-unlisted feature is retention. I’ve used a lot of AIWB holsters, but this is the only one the pistol actually snaps into, the only one I can hold upside down and shake without having the weapon fall out, and the only one I could wear in a fistfight or wrestling match without worrying about losing my weapon. I can think of any number of holsters, including some very popular minimalist holsters, that I would be terrified to have in my waistband during a physical confrontation or even during significant physical exertion (i.e., running through a panicked crowd toward a potential threat). Having a loaded pistol floating around loose in your pants during a life-and-death crisis would kinda suck, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I was wearing a Fat Boy. With the G42 Fat Boy the weapon does “pop” as it’s drawn, which could be a problem if you’re trying to draw quietly, but training and awareness keep that under control. The G43 version is just as secure but has a much quieter draw.

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A one-off holster, made for a Jericho.

Based on my experience with the Fat Boy, Big Stick Defense seems to make good stuff. They offer a lifetime warranty on their gear, and if you buy a Big Stick holster and really wear it out they’ll pretty it up for you free of charge. If you’re in the market for a Glock 42 AIWB holster (or for any of the weapons listed below), Big Stick is a good place to start.

G42
G43
G26/27
G19/g17
G21
G34
Fullsize or commander 1911 W/ rail
Beretta PX4 storm
Plus many other commonly carried pistols

And if you’re near Brownwood, Texas, have a one-off weapon that’s not on the list and want a Big Stick holster, feel free to visit Big Stick Defense and let Levi use your weapon to custom make a holster for your pistol. Check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bigstickdefense/?fref=ts, for more information.

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P.S. I don’t have any business association or interest with Big Stick Holsters. I just like their products and enjoy helping a Texas businessman who believes in the 2nd Amendment.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).