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The Baldwin Files – Old Soldiers vs Young Soldiers

December 18th, 2018

I have been thinking for some time about belatedly developing some kind of guiding philosophy or “mission statement” for these articles. Over time, I have ranged – more or less randomly – all over the place; from commentary on gear, pontificating on the Constitution, exploring a bit of what I deem relevant history, and preaching leadership above all. Leadership fascinates me precisely because it is universal and always central to all military actions whether in the past, the present, or in the foreseeable future. In large part I have been guided by my favorite Carl von Clausewitz quote, “War is no pastime; it is no mere joy in daring and winning, no place for irresponsible enthusiasts. It is a serious means to a serious end.

Clausewitz could just as readily have been talking about military leadership when he made that observation. Likewise, Clausewitz’s insightful conceptions of the impacts of probability and chance as well as fog and friction are challenges just as true of leadership as they are of combat. That is one reason why his thoughts – as well as Sun Tzu’s and others – on the subject of leadership, war, strategy, and operational art, are still deemed relevant for professional soldiers to study even now. However, the small unit tactics of ancient China and the Napoleonic era are of very little professional interest to modern warfighters – and rightly so.

With that in mind, I have also been considering the risk of being guilty of providing only antiquated information that is of little practical value today. Antiquated as defined by Webster’s is something that is “outmoded or discredited by reason of age: old and no longer useful, popular, or accepted.” It is true that tactics change constantly and can indeed become outmoded over time. Sometimes, if an enemy fields an effective countermeasure for example, a tactic can become obsolescent very quickly. However, sound military principles like those that Clausewitz is talking about above age much better and rarely go completely out of style.

For example, the version of Major Roger’s Rules for Ranging that I learned decades ago had one rule that went something like this; “Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.” Even when I was a young soldier, that was certainly not a tactic, technique, or procedure (TTP) that was in use by any modern military. If it were, hatchets would still be standard issue. Therefore, if taken literally, that “rule” would indeed be antiquated tactical advice. However, if considered instead in terms of more enduring principles like speed, surprise, and violence of action than that rule – I would respectfully submit – is just as applicable today as it was in 1757.

By the way, just because a TTP is antiquated does not mean it no longer works. Moreover, just because the U.S. Military considers something too low tech, hopelessly outdated and no longer popular does not mean that our enemies have the luxury or inclination of thinking the same way. Just because the person shooting at you from the ridge is using a 303 Enfield rather than a more modern AK47 does not mean he is any less of a threat. Antique tools can still kill you and your friends just as dead as the newest high-tech precision ordinance. The same resource limitation applies to many of our Allies. They may not have any choice but to use “old school” and unsophisticated TTPs. That means – by military necessity – we have to be prepared to work within the limits of what they have and how they are constrained to operate.

As I alluded to above, the mechanics of warfare change all the time, it is human nature that is enduring. Therefore, insight into fundamental human nature during war remains relevant across time and cultural boundaries. As we know, while a soldier may train constantly, he actually practices his profession only intermittently. Most of the soldiers that landed at Normandy in 1944 had never seen combat until that day – even though the war had been ongoing for years. Today, some soldiers may have multiple tours but on each rotation most are still experiencing combat for their first time. Even for those who have seen combat more than once, it is a very individual and in some sense narrow experience. Like all veterans, I can only say that I have personally experienced combat: in the rank I held at the time, at the specific level and intensity of warfare I was involved in prosecuting, only for relatively short periods of time, in particular geographic locations, and against contemporaneous enemy threats.

I have visited the Normandy beaches and walked the ground of Pickett’s charge several times. Yet, despite my experience and training, I can still only make an educated guess about what it was like to land on those beachheads under fire or what Pickett’s men experienced at Gettysburg. Therefore, I cannot honestly claim that I have “mastered” the broader aspects of the “art of war” without diligently studying the experience and wisdom of others – and perhaps not even then. Investigating how those in the past have addressed the training of troops, used intelligence or out maneuvered a determined opponent helps provide additional and critical context. Historical figures like Vegetius still provides useful insight in some aspects of war; Saxe a different perspective; Sun Tzu a more strategic point of view; and Clausewitz and Jomini additional different thoughts and theories to consider.

It is important to note that even though some may have first experienced war as young men, all wrote their thoughts down as older men. A long time ago a Major General told me that he learned everything he knows about leadership as a Second Lieutenant – but it took him 30 more years to understand what he had learned. Warfare is like that. Clausewitz and Saxe initially experienced war as teenagers, but it took years and additional life experiences for them to contextualize that information and form it into coherent theories or principles. I read many of these authors years ago and learned – even memorized – some of their words. Nevertheless, I understand their ideas far better today than I ever did as a younger soldier.

Experiencing war for the first time has been likened to “seeing the elephant” since Hannibal’s campaigns, I suppose. However, there is another – even more ancient – pachyderm analogy that also aptly applies. That is the blind men and the elephant. One declares the tail of the animal is “like a rope” because that best describes the piece he can “see.” Whether he is aware or unaware that the portion that he has access to is just a small part of a larger beast does not in any way invalidate his observation. That particular blind man is absolutely “right” in his assertions, as are the others in their descriptions of different elements of the whole creature in question.The study and practice of war and combat has always been like that. Each “blind man” in turn describes warfare as he experienced it – or as he thinks it should be conducted – but, shaped and confined by his own experiences and biases, only had opportunity to “see” just a limited portion of the whole “truth” of combat. Today we only know as much as we think we know because we have access to the writings of ALL the “blind men” who have gone before us, “laid hands” on war, and then bothered to leave us their sincere impressions.

I will use one example to illustrate the point. Consider the inherent danger of combat; in On War, Clausewitz gives a good description of the emotional impact on a novice as he approaches a notional battle. The danger of painful death and dismemberment is at first abstract and far away. As the new soldier moves closer to the actual fighting the abstract becomes very real and frightening – to the uninitiated even petrifying. Danger, i.e. realistic FEAR of violent death is not something most of us have to deal with on a daily basis – not even soldiers in peacetime. It is not something that can be simulated in training. In fact, military training is rigorously designed in such a way as to minimize even the possibility of death or serious injury. In combat, a leader must control his own dread, display confidence and inspire soldiers to overcome their natural fear in order to accomplish a mission.

True enough, but so what? The caricatures in the attached picture are deliberate exaggerations of what a great many soldiers – retired and active – actually feel. Each is like the “blind men” above. An individual convinced that he has mastered the entire art of war by virtue of experiencing combat at least once. Of course, they are both equally wrong; it simply is not that easy. However, of the two, I am much more concerned about the younger guy – since he is still in the fight. He and his teammates are really the target audience I hope to ultimately reach. That does not mean that my minor contribution so far provided any appreciable value added either. Candidly, no one really needs me to repeat what Clausewitz said. His work is readily available and better authors than I have written whole books explaining him. So, that leads to the larger overarching question to be asked and answered. Why keep writing these articles at all? Is there any real need?

I decided to see what else was available on the internet. The good news is there is a lot of sound stuff out there produced by numerous good, professional people. Many of whom are featured on this site from time to time. On the other hand, there is a lot of goofy – and frankly scary – misinformation out there as well. I will mention two YouTube videos in particular because they seemed to be representative of a lot of questionable content and, as a result, the most problematic to me. First, both videos had good production values, the presenters were articulate, and each gave the impression that they were subject matter experts. One young fellow was demonstrating how to assembly a Molle II rucksack. He was wearing a multicam combat shirt with no insignia. He claimed he was showing the audience “pro tips” and how to set up the pack the way “guys going to selection” do it. Then he proceeded to attach each element of the pack to the frame wrong – pack body, load lifters, and shoulder straps.

By the end, when he mounted the waist belt upside down, he had dissuaded me of the notion that he knew anything about the subject at hand – or the military in general. Here is a real pro tip, if you do not have extensive experience with an item of kit, put it together the way the official instructions say it should be done. The other video was on assembling ALICE gear. The fellow on this was closer to my age I assume. I have to guess because only his hands were visible on screen. He did seem to be very familiar with the ALICE harness. He rigged his pouches with zip ties and 550 cord as was common in the early 80s and onward. I saw one major problem with his presentation. He was not just passionate about the subject, but rather came off instead as inexplicably angry.

In fact, he made sure the audience understood that there was one way – and one way only – to properly assemble ALICE gear in order to survive in combat. His way. No variations authorized. If anyone dared to do it differently, they must be damn fool cherries with a death wish. Here is another pro tip from me. Anyone that says there is only a singular way to do something in combat is probably wrong. Sure, some specific TTP are more desirable than others because they are tactically sounder and, consequently, more likely to produce the desired outcome. However, there is almost never just “one way” to get the job done. Both the presentations I have highlighted were slick and professionally produced. An experienced soldier would spot the same issues I saw quickly enough, but a neophyte might be easily led down the wrong path.

That sampling convinced me that there was indeed still some need for higher quality material out there. That said, I am not going to make it my mission to deal with all the disinformation in the tactical or quasi-tactical corners of the internet. I admit that task is far too large and daunting for me to take on. However, I can attempt to put out information that might be useful for some. More accurate – hopefully – than the young guy, and certainly a lot less angry than the older guy. That is good enough for me. I assure anyone that is reading this or anything else I have written, I do not make these comments or observations while astride some high horse. I have benefited from the guidance of outstanding leaders and excellent teachers. Still, being the hard head I am, I have learned many of these lessons the hardest way. That is, I have screwed it up royally – sometimes multiple times – before I figured it out. Still, there is no reason that others cannot learn from my mistakes without having to repeat them. Besides, I have the time and I am not ready to do the old soldier fade away just yet.

LTC Terry Baldwin, US Army (Ret) served on active duty from 1975-2011 in various Infantry and Special Forces assignments. SSD is blessed to have him as both reader and contributor.

Annika Andersson to be proposed as new Chairman of the Board of INVISIO Communications AB

December 18th, 2018

The Nomination Committee of INVISIO Communications AB intends to propose to the Annual General Meeting in May 2019 the election of Annika Andersson to succeed current Chairman of the Board Lars Röckert, who has declined re-election. Annika Andersson has been a member of the Board of Directors of INVISIO since 2014.

INVISIO’s Chairman Lars Röckert has informed the Nomination Committee that he declines re-election. Lars Röckert has been a member of INVISIO’s Board since 2010 and Chairman since 2011.

“During my nine years at INVISIO, the company has undergone radical improvements in market leadership, sales and results. It fits well in my own planning to hand over to new stewardship,” commented Lars Röckert.

To be able to work effectively, the Nomination Committee has decided to present the nomination for Chairman of the Board it intends to propose in connection with the Annual General Meeting on May 2, 2019.

“The Chairman of the Board plays a key role in how the Board will be formed and the candidates that will show interest in the company. To enable effective discussions with both current and future members of the Board, already at this early stage we want to be open with the person that the Nomination Committee intends to propose as Chairman of the Board,” says Lilian Fossum Biner, Chairman of the Nomination Committee, representing Handelsbanken Fonder. We believe Annika Andersson will be an excellent new Chairman of INVISIO. She has been an active member of the Board for almost four years and is well acquainted with the company’s organization, products and markets.

The Nomination Committee intends to propose Annika Andersson to succeed current Chairman Lars Röckert. Annika Andersson has been a member of INVISIO’s Board since 2014. Annika Andersson holds an M.Sc Econ. from the Stockholm School of Economics and has long experience of the financial industry, where she worked with portfolio management, corporate governance, information and sustainability. Annika is a board member of INVISIO, Clavister Holding, Jetty, Karolinska Institutet Holding and Chairman of Karolinska Institutet Innovations.

The Nomination Committee’s full proposal for the Board will be presented in connection with the notice to attend the AGM.

2018 IDPA National Championships – Seven Years Running

December 17th, 2018

HOUSTON, Texas – Comp-Tac Victory Gear® remains the top holster choice among IDPA members, according to the results of the equipment survey conducted by the International Defensive Pistol Association during their 2018 National Championship this past September. This is the Seventh year in a row that Comp-Tac® was named the number one holster brand in the competition holster category.

The survey found that more than one third, (33%), of the 261 holsters reported by competitors were manufactured by Comp-Tac®.

In addition to being the top holster for competition, the Comp-Tac® Armadillo™ vest was the 2nd most popular concealment garment in the match, used by 26% of the 205 responses. The Armadillo™ brand was second most popular concealment garment by only 2%.

“The Comp-Tac® customers use our gear for a wide range of uses; include law enforcement gear, military equipment, every day carry and competitive shooting. The IDPA Nationals survey is an excellent barometer of what gear gun enthusiasts and users are purchasing. It helps us know what customers want and need in their gear and gives us the opportunity to serve our customers better,” explained Gordon Carrell, General Manager and Comp-Tac Team member.

The 2018 IDPA National Championship equipment survey was conducted among the 355 competitors with 261 indicating a competition holster preference and 205 indicating a concealed garment preference. For a full report of the IDPA National results please visit – IDPA Tactical Journal Webpage.

Rail-Rap by Burn Proof Gear

December 17th, 2018

The Burn Proof Gear Rail-Rap uses the same material as their Suppressor covers but is configured so that it will protect your hands from a hot handguard. This includes a fiberglass liner and an aramid layer.

Rail-Rap is available in a variety of colors from


December 17th, 2018

Designed by Joe Caswell, the PROVOKE is a production version of his Morphing Karambit. It combines D2 blade steel with a titanium nitride finish for corrosion resistance and 6061 aircraft grade aluminum handles.

Blade Length 2.41″ (61.21 mm)
Blade Edge Plain
Blade Thickness 0.209″ (5.31 mm)
Closed Length 4.96″ (125.98 mm)
Weight 6.1 oz
Style Folding Knife w/Kinematic

To open the knife, squeeze the aluminum chassis and the two pivoting arms move, unfolding the blade and locking it into place. Lift the tab at the back to unlock the blades.

Look for the PROVOKE in January.

Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity to host Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry (APBI)

December 17th, 2018

CAMP PENDLETON, C.A.—December 13, 2018—Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity will hold its Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry Feb. 6, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at MCTSSA aboard Camp Pendleton, California. The intent of the APBI is to communicate to industry, MCTSSA’s mission, organization and activities.

“The Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry provides a unique opportunity to network with MCTSSA technical and subject matter experts, gaining rare access to MCTSSA facilities,” said Col. Robert Bailey, MCTSSA’s Commanding Officer. “It is our responsibility to nurture relationships with our talented industry partners, which will help us be successful bridging the awareness gap of Marine Corps’ Command, Control, Communications and Computers and USMC amphibious vehicles capability requirements and technical challenges, and highlight partnership opportunities for industry.”

The APBI, a one-day event, features a wide array of technical briefs from leadership, and subject matter experts from across MCTSSA. Participants will be informed of current technical objectives and associated challenges. Briefers will provide insight into contracting financial magnitude, the scope of areas under contract, and specific capability gaps where industry can provide solutions. Some of the areas that will be discussed include, but are not limited to, cybersecurity testing, wireless technology, advanced manufacturing, cloud computing, naval systems integration, automated testing, systems engineering, system and system of systems testing, data link analysis, tactical networking, and United States Marine Corps Operating Forces technical support.

MCTSSA is a subordinate command of Marine Corps Systems Command and provides test and evaluation, engineering, development, and deployed technical support for Marine Corps and joint service command, control, computer, communications and intelligence systems and amphibious vehicles throughout all phases of the acquisition life-cycle.

Interested participants may register at

For more information, contact Sky Laron at (760)725-2167 or

Give the Gift of Clean Guns for Christmas!

December 17th, 2018

(Taylorville, IL)  12.14.2018

Pro-Shot Products wants everyone to enjoy their holiday season to the fullest; for many people that necessarily includes time on the range or out hunting.

Give those people (or yourself) the gift of clean guns for Christmas!

The process of making a gun filthy is usually an enjoyable one. Sorting out the aftermath, not so much. A Pro Shot Products cleaning kit can make all the difference.

Pro Shot weapon cleaning kits are Made in the USA. There are a wide variety of styles available (including a lens cleaning kit) and a huge assortment of products and accessories available to modularize. Among them:

“Tactical” kits

Bore Inspection Lights

Black Powder cleaning equipment

Pro-Shot Products Inc. maintains a comprehensive Defense Catalog for military, LE, and government agency sales. DUNS: 613701416 Cage Code: 5QGZ6.

Pro-Shot prides itself on outstanding customer service; consider some cleaning equipment for your last minute shopping!

Pro-Shot is online at

MATBOCK and CRO Release a Dual-branded Product, the Graverobber Assault Medic (GRAM) Bag

December 17th, 2018

The Graverobber Assault Medic bag is the result of years of needed improvement in bags specifically designed for the team medic. CRO brings a multi-mission approach to the design with their well-thought-out adaptability, including a panel insert that converts to a skeleton med panel which can be clipped or slung using the thin padded shoulder straps. Remove to design a custom panel that is interchangeable for different packing requirements or easily change bags with the versatility of a panel insert.

Lighter Faster Warriors, The MATBOCK™ ethos, is realized by the GRAM. MATBOCK Ghost® material is used throughout with Tegris® reinforcements, giving the inside contents protection to allow for narcotics to be setup using a soft case.

A few of the highlighted features include:
Mounts on ALICE frame
Hangs in vehicles
Ultralight 2.9 lbs
1.2 lbs skeleton setup
Mitigates shrapnel hazards
Thin (2.75”)

The Graverobber™ Assault Medic bag is designed to be mounted to an ALICE frame, giving the medic a slim assault bag that can be configured in many ways to enhance medical load carriage. This jumpable, water resistant bag bridges the gap between assault bags and en-route care, due to its expandable design and ability to hang.

This versatile, meticulously designed med bag was created with everyday medic load carriage in mind.

*All items made in Ghost® have a 4-6 week lead time.