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Scare Tactics Scare Tactics - Why are Liberian soldiers wearing fright wigs?
slate.com ^ | 8/1/03 | Mark Scheffler

Posted on 08/06/2003 9:12:04 AM PDT by Oorang

Scare Tactics Why are Liberian soldiers wearing fright wigs? By Mark Scheffler Posted Friday, August 1, 2003, at 9:56 AM PT

Bewigged fighter sends otherworldly message

Few things exemplify the chaos of Liberia more than the sight of doped-up, AK-47-wielding 15-year-olds roaming the streets decked out in fright wigs and tattered wedding gowns. Indeed, some of the more fully accessorized soldiers in Charles Taylor's militia even tote dainty purses and don feather boas. Why did this practice begin and what is the logic behind it?

The cross-dressing combatants blipped onto the Western press's radar screen right around the time the Liberian Civil War started on Christmas Eve in 1989. During Taylor's rebel siege on Monrovia in the '90s, his band of dolled-up marauders—aka the National Patriotic Front of Liberia—put on one of the most disturbing horror shows the planet has ever seen. Between 1989 and 1997, 150,000 Liberians were murdered, countless others were mutilated, and 25,000 women and girls were raped. The NPFL's shock-and-awe antics were apparent from the very start of the conflict. In an essay in Liberian Studies Journal, an administrator at Cuttington University College tells a story of Taylor's forces storming the rural campus during the initial stages of the war in "wedding [dresses], wigs, commencement gowns from high schools and several forms of 'voodoo' regalia. … [They] believed they could not be killed in battle."

According to the soldiers themselves, cross-dressing is a military mind game, a tactic that instills fear in their rivals. It also makes the soldiers feel more invincible. This belief is founded on a regional superstition which holds that soldiers can "confuse the enemy's bullets" by assuming two identities simultaneously. Though the accoutrements and garb look bizarre to Western eyes, they are, in a sense, variations on the camouflage uniforms and face paint American soldiers use to bolster their sense of invisibility (and, therefore, immunity) during combat. Since flak jackets or infrared goggles aren't available to the destitute Liberian fighters, they opt for evening gowns and frilly blouses.

The cross-dressing "dual identity" isn't just a source of battlefield bravado, though. Cross-dressing has deep historical roots in West African rites-of-passage rituals involving "medicine men" who would recommend wearing masks, talismans, and bush attire as a means of obtaining mystical powers. Rebels dressed in gowns and wigs and adorned with bones, leaves, and other "forest culture" trappings are practicing a modern variation on this technique of using symbolic "clothing" to access sources of power far stronger than their own. And in common Liberian initiation rituals—which exist in memory throughout the country, if not always in practice—a boy's passage to adulthood is symbolically represented by the donning of female garb. He must first pass through a dangerous indeterminate zone between male and female identity before finally becoming a man. A soldier dressed in women's clothes—or Halloween masks, or shower caps, etc.—on the battlefield is essentially asserting that he's in a volatile in-between state. The message it sends to other soldiers is, "Don't mess with me, I'm dangerous."

Liberia's adult warlords appropriated and updated these rites-of-passage rituals in order to form tight-knit proxy fighting forces. The strongmen persuaded impoverished youths to join their battalion by offering them the chance to be part of a secret society and attain supernatural powers. In a country where the young had few if any options, this was seen as an opportunity to "be somebody."

After Charles Taylor's Cuttington University attack, other offshoot Liberian militias vying to control the country embarked upon similar gender-bending rampages. One of the more notorious henchmen of the era was Joshua Milton Blahyi, a commander whose nom de guerre was "General Butt Naked." Hired for his ferocity by rebel leader and Taylor contemporary Roosevelt Johnson, his "Butt Naked Battalion" consisted of drug-fueled teens who went into battle in flowing dresses and colorful wigs. The general himself reportedly wore only laced-up boots and his weapon.

Not surprisingly, these troops became poster children for the war. Dressed in gowns and shower caps and "fortified by amphetamines, marijuana and palm wine [they] sashayed irresistibly for photographers," writes Bill Berkely in The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa. "Liberia's fifteen minutes of infamy seemed to spring full-blown out of the most sensational Western images of Darkest Africa."

Today, some 14 years after Taylor's troops first began their march toward Monrovia, Blahyi has put his clothes back on and supposedly found God. Prince Y. Johnson*, who tortured former Liberian president Samuel K. Doe to death in 1990 and recorded it on video, is talking about returning from exile in Nigeria with a promise to solve problems with "elections, not guns" once Taylor is gone. And Taylor himself is sitting in his Monrovian compound being shelled by new bands of rebels wearing bathrobes.

Correction, Aug. 4, 2003: This article originally misstated the name of the man who tortured and killed former Liberian President Samuel K. Doe. It was Prince Y. Johnson who tortured and killed Doe, not Roosevelt Johnson.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; allyourtvs; arebelongtous; crossdressing; liberia; psyops
I emailed this to my brother who has spent a lot of time (years) throughout Africa, for his job. This was his reply "Don't laugh. This is true - throughout Africa. They really believe this kind of stuff - even today!"
1 posted on 08/06/2003 9:12:04 AM PDT by Oorang
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To: Oorang
They want to grow up to be democrats.
2 posted on 08/06/2003 9:15:45 AM PDT by the gillman@blacklagoon.com (Everyone's pockets are stuffed with Chicom cash!)
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To: Oorang
Read Col. Mike Hoare's combat memoir "Congo Mercenary". The superstitions of African tribal warriors can get pretty crazy, and often grim.
3 posted on 08/06/2003 9:19:16 AM PDT by Seydlitz
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To: Oorang
Is this one of them?


4 posted on 08/06/2003 9:20:34 AM PDT by LouD (Genuine GOP Vigilante - Accept no substitutes!)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: LouD
Hey, isn't it a little early to be posting that sort of pix? Ewwwwwwwww
6 posted on 08/06/2003 9:23:45 AM PDT by Oorang
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To: Oorang
According to the soldiers themselves, cross-dressing is a military mind game, a tactic that instills fear in their rivals.

Akin to the Scottish practice of flashing the enemy before a battle?

7 posted on 08/06/2003 9:26:19 AM PDT by jae471
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To: Seydlitz
Reference: Indian Ghost Dance Shirt ...it proved just about as useful at stopping bullets.
8 posted on 08/06/2003 9:26:20 AM PDT by 50sDad ("Can't sleep...clowns will eat me!")
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To: Seydlitz
Thanks for the recommendation. My brother mentioned that book as well. Don't know if I want to read it right away though.

To me the depressing factor is that there are so many people who rely on logical thought so little. How can they actually believe this kind of stuff. I know, different primitive culture, but, it still boggles the mind.

9 posted on 08/06/2003 9:26:27 AM PDT by Oorang
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To: LouD
Or is this one?


10 posted on 08/06/2003 9:29:55 AM PDT by Zavien Doombringer (Ain't nothing worse than feeling obsolete....)
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To: All; biblewonk
Though the accoutrements and garb look bizarre to Western eyes, they are, in a sense, variations on the camouflage uniforms and face paint American soldiers use to bolster their sense of invisibility (and, therefore, immunity) during combat.

Uh, sure. Kinda like donning a giant SUV for the daily grind gives the commuter a sense of invincibility. ;o)

11 posted on 08/06/2003 9:30:37 AM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary. You have the right to be wrong.)
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To: the gillman@blacklagoon.com
Add a few AK-47s and it would look like various sections of San Fransisco!
12 posted on 08/06/2003 9:35:57 AM PDT by aegiscg47
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To: Oorang
Though the accoutrements and garb look bizarre to Western eyes, they are, in a sense, variations on the camouflage uniforms and face paint American soldiers use to bolster their sense of invisibility (and, therefore, immunity) during combat. Since flak jackets or infrared goggles aren't available to the destitute Liberian fighters, they opt for evening gowns and frilly blouses.

I guess Slate couldn't get a former grunt to fact-check for them.

13 posted on 08/06/2003 9:35:59 AM PDT by Riley
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To: Zavien Doombringer
Is that a guy?!?
14 posted on 08/06/2003 9:36:57 AM PDT by Oorang
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To: Oorang
Yes, RuPaul
15 posted on 08/06/2003 9:37:38 AM PDT by Zavien Doombringer (Ain't nothing worse than feeling obsolete....)
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To: newgeezer
I'm speechless.
16 posted on 08/06/2003 9:37:57 AM PDT by biblewonk (Spose to be a Chrisssssssstian)
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To: Oorang
Scare Tactics Scare Tactics - Why are Liberian soldiers wearing fright wigs?

I think it's that "Queer Eye" show what done it.

17 posted on 08/06/2003 9:38:56 AM PDT by George Smiley (Is the RKBA still a right if you have to get the government's permission before you can exercise it?)
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To: Riley
Okay, you lost me. Since I'm not a "former grunt" fill me in, please. Thanks.
18 posted on 08/06/2003 9:40:59 AM PDT by Oorang
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To: Oorang
writes Bill Berkely in The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa.

Went to the Barnes and Noble link on that. The book sounds fascinating.

19 posted on 08/06/2003 9:45:31 AM PDT by hotpotato
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To: Oorang
The author of the article is apparently trying to equate the use of camoflage among Western forces, which has practical value and makes real-world sense with the silly-assed notion that wearing an evening gown will 'confuse the bullets'. Good fieldcraft isn't done to make people 'feel invisible'. It is done to acquire legitimate advantage, even if only a couple of crucial seconds in combat.

One of the two is a rational, thought-out countermeasure taken from years of experince, the other is a ridiculous superstition that is so demonstrably wrong that it should be abandoned after the first engagement. No comparison.
20 posted on 08/06/2003 9:53:15 AM PDT by Riley
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To: Oorang; Squantos; Clive
I emailed this to my brother who has spent a lot of time (years) throughout Africa, for his job. This was his reply "Don't laugh. This is true - throughout Africa. They really believe this kind of stuff - even today!"

Oh yes, and it's not at all limited to the locale or tribal cultures around Liberia.

During the Rhodesian counterinsurgency of the late 1970s, a pal of mine located there to pursue his occupation as a highway paver, a critical occupation when a large part of that fight was the mining of public roads to harass and terrorize the civilian forces and destroy the occasional military vehicle as well. One tale he related from that period is certainly germaine.

It seems two border-crossing terrorists had successfully pulled off their infiltration from Zambia, bringing along with them a Soviet TM-46 antitank mine. While inserting the fuse and arming the device, they noted that the slaked TNT filler inside was a crumbly dull yellow clumped powder, and decided to enhance the magic of the device by doubling its charge by surrounding the mine in the hole they'd dug for it with mealie meal, approximately the corn meal staple of the African diet in those parts. Trouble was, the ground was wet, making the meal swell up in a mound that betrayed the location of their little surprise. No problem.

They began tamping it down, stomping it back down flat, until in the best traditions of roadrunner foe Wiley Coyote, one of them jumped down directly atop the detonator, originally designed to go only beneath the weight of a heavy armoured vehicle, but which had been field modified to fire from the lesser weight of a civilian halfton farm pickup or passenger car. In any event, the combined weight and enthusiusm was enough.

The guy's stunnned partner was captured still alive and explained the African logic behind the event to the bemused troopies who took charge of him. Kids, don't try this at home with your antitank land mines....

21 posted on 08/06/2003 10:05:16 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Oorang; Squantos; Clive
I emailed this to my brother who has spent a lot of time (years) throughout Africa, for his job. This was his reply "Don't laugh. This is true - throughout Africa. They really believe this kind of stuff - even today!"

Oh yes, and it's not at all limited to the locale or tribal cultures around Liberia.

During the Rhodesian counterinsurgency of the late 1970s, a pal of mine located there to pursue his occupation as a highway paver, a critical occupation when a large part of that fight was the mining of public roads to harass and terrorize the civilian forces and destroy the occasional military vehicle as well. One tale he related from that period is certainly germaine.

It seems two border-crossing terrorists had successfully pulled off their infiltration from Zambia, bringing along with them a Soviet TM-46 antitank mine. While inserting the fuse and arming the device, they noted that the slaked TNT filler inside was a crumbly dull yellow clumped powder, and decided to enhance the magic of the device by doubling its charge by surrounding the mine in the hole they'd dug for it with mealie meal, approximately the corn meal staple of the African diet in those parts. Trouble was, the ground was wet, making the meal swell up in a mound that betrayed the location of their little surprise. No problem.

They began tamping it down, stomping it back down flat, until in the best traditions of roadrunner foe Wiley Coyote, one of them jumped down directly atop the detonator, originally designed to go only beneath the weight of a heavy armoured vehicle, but which had been field modified to fire from the lesser weight of a civilian halfton farm pickup or passenger car. In any event, the combined weight and enthusiusm was enough.

The guy's stunnned partner was captured still alive and explained the African logic behind the event to the bemused troopies who took charge of him. Kids, don't try this at home with your antitank land mines....

22 posted on 08/06/2003 10:05:25 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Riley
Good point about Western camoflouge versus Liberian blouses and wigs.

Another point that reporters always miss is that African warfare is very different than Western warfare. In the West, we fight with the single purpose of destroying an enemy's ability to resist. In African warfare, combat is not traditionally conducted in a direct encounter with enemy forces. Traditional African warfare was geared towards capturing slaves, not killing people (which explains the failure of the musket to catch on in western Africa, even though Arab and European slavers were always ready to exchange guns for human cargo). Rather, in its modern incarnation, it is a hodge-podge of guerilla tactics, tribal vendettas and psychological bluff. Combat deaths are low, as most killing is done against defenseless civilians from rival tribes, as enslaving them is no longer an option.

23 posted on 08/06/2003 10:06:35 AM PDT by Seydlitz
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To: archy
My favorite nasty mine trick was something that I read about coming from either Rhodesia or SA, I don't recall which- AT mines boobytrapped with a photoelectric cell.

24 posted on 08/06/2003 10:10:59 AM PDT by Riley
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To: Nettie
The message it sends [...] is, "Don't mess with me, I'm dangerous." Oh, yeah, I've seen a lot of people around the "Squares" in U.S. cities (e.g., Central Square in Cambridge, MA), sending that same message, that same way.

Believe me: add in the assortment of Kalishnikovs, leftover WWII burp guns, RPGs and PK light machineguns, and they are indeed quite dangerous, and unstable. And neither are their traditional weapons to be overlooked, either, as they'll happily use them on unarmed or wounded victims.


25 posted on 08/06/2003 10:13:53 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: archy
LOL....Sounds like the old polish mine clearing joke.....:o)

Kewl Story Archy ......Thanks and Stay Safe !

26 posted on 08/06/2003 10:17:21 AM PDT by Squantos (Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.)
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To: Oorang

  Out of Africa: Butt Naked Battalion

Sun Tzu's Newswire Press Release - 9753
Monday, August 18, 1997, 6:45 pm U.S. Eastern Time
Out of Africa: Butt Naked Battalion
---- by Sun Tzu's Newswire Staff
An Associated Press story by Tina Susman contributed to this piece

In Monrovia, Liberia, Joshua Milton Blahyi was General Butt Naked
during Liberia's civil war that claimed up to 200,000 lives before
the warring factions signed a peace accord.

Blahyi was hired by warlord Roosevelt Johnson. His group of drugged
and drunken teenagers entered battle in drag wearing wigs, flowered
dresses, and carrying purses.

General Butt Naked, as Blahyi has been named in press dispatches out
of Monrovia, wore only his shoes as he led his Butt Naked Battalion
into battle.

Blahyi claimed a pact with the devil at age 11 consummated a satanic
ritual. He said he was required to perform human sacrifices and go
into battle naked to ensure his safety on the battlefield.

Many of Blahyi's sacrifices were small children, some taken underwater
as they played and others simply butchered.


In 1996 Blahyi claims that God told him that he was a slave to Satan
and from that Blahyi asserts that his conversion to an evangelical
religion began.

Blahyi is now an evangelical preacher in Monrovia.

Sources: AP, Aug. 4, 1997, Tina Susman, Sun Tzu Organization files

27 posted on 08/06/2003 10:17:31 AM PDT by gcruse (http://gcruse.blogspot.com/)
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To: Riley
One of the two is a rational, thought-out countermeasure taken from years of experince, the other is a ridiculous superstition that is so demonstrably wrong that it should be abandoned after the first engagement. No comparison.

Well, there is a comparison to be made, but it's better compared under the heading of morale enhancement rather than a comparison of varying equipment.

The flag the Marines planted at Iwo Jima offered no practical shelter or protection from Japanese fire, but it was certainly a welcome sight, and the raising of it was more than just a symbolic act that deservedly endures today. That the totems and images Africans prefer tend to be more individual and personalized than the national flag WWII American Marines preferred may simply reflect a difference in cultural or tribal preference. The motivation as a morale enhancer is similar, however.


28 posted on 08/06/2003 12:00:52 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Riley
Thanks. Didn't mean to sound stupid. Your point is obviously "in your face" logical. I was looking for something between the lines I thought I had missed.

What is frightening in this article is that there are so many people who believe this kind of stuff. Not just in Africa but in many places. Look at all the people that believed Clinton. Rational, independent thought is a good thing. Unfortunately it is all too rare.

29 posted on 08/06/2003 12:03:43 PM PDT by Oorang
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To: gcruse
In Monrovia, Liberia, Joshua Milton Blahyi was General Butt Naked...

You happen to catch the name of the Nigerian general heading the advance team sent by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to assess the situation in Monrovia? I swear, a fiction writer couldn't come up with details as bizarre as those to be found in the Liberian mess.

30 posted on 08/06/2003 12:25:40 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: aegiscg47
Add a few AK-47s and it would look like various sections of San Fransisco!

The Liberian LURDs have more and better support weaponry; the San Franciscans more and better vehicles. The capabilities of the leadership of either group is questionable.


31 posted on 08/06/2003 12:29:27 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: archy
Is that a PPS-43 he's armed with? If so, how did he get it? I thought those weapons only turned up in the Far East.
32 posted on 08/06/2003 12:29:49 PM PDT by Sparta (Send the Palestinians to their homeland, Jordan.)
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To: archy
LOL Yes, I did.
33 posted on 08/06/2003 12:32:53 PM PDT by gcruse (http://gcruse.blogspot.com/)
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To: jae471
According to the soldiers themselves, cross-dressing is a military mind game, a tactic that instills fear in their rivals.

Akin to the Scottish practice of flashing the enemy before a battle?

Possibly, though I believe Shaka's Zulus resorted to something similar while in ranks.

But I also recall an event from the U.S. Civil War/ War for Northern Dominance of undersupplied troops wearing dresses, skirts and fancy women's hats taken from the shops of a small town they had raided. Probably no wigs, however, and I doubt they were under any misapprehensions about their stylish outfits causing bullets to swerve.

-archy-/-

34 posted on 08/06/2003 12:36:02 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Sparta
Is that a PPS-43 he's armed with? If so, how did he get it? I thought those weapons only turned up in the Far East.

Either a Sudarev-designed PPS-43 or possibly the earlier PPS-42 version. As for its provenance, most any sort of weapon is liable to turn up most anywhere in Africa; the place is a collector's dream and an armourers and logistician's nightmare.

But the things also turned up in Rhodesia during the 1970s, and I believe were also used and possibly produced by the North Koreans for their airborne forces before being replaced with Kalishnikovs, making the surplus Sudarevs available as military aid to *National Liberation* movements- or paying customers with the right cash.


35 posted on 08/06/2003 12:46:17 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: archy
Another question about African weapons, is it true that most of the various warlords try to buy M-16s because of the higher rate of fire and the increased damage a 5.56 x 45mm round does?
36 posted on 08/06/2003 1:13:56 PM PDT by Sparta (Send the Palestinians to their homeland, Jordan.)
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To: archy
The flag the Marines planted at Iwo Jima offered no practical shelter or protection from Japanese fire, but it was certainly a welcome sight, and the raising of it was more than just a symbolic act that deservedly endures today.

True, but the Marines on Iwo didn't delude themselves into the belief that raising a flag would offer anything other than a morale effect- which it did, amongst other things.

Believing that wearing a dress and a feather boa will deflect a bullet, and seeing that it doesn't, and continuing to act as if it does, is a simple inability to grasp the logic of cause and effect.

We tend to do things because they work. We discard them if they don't, and try something else until we find something that does work.

I guess I am seeing this more as an issue of practical soldiering, rather than than a study in belief systems.

Hey, I hope they keep on believing this stuff. We may have to fight them someday.

37 posted on 08/06/2003 1:15:33 PM PDT by Riley
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To: Oorang
Your point is obviously "in your face" logical.

My 'in your face' tone was meant for the author, not yourself or any other poster on this forum, and was an expression of frustration with newsies. I try to keep my disagreements with others on a civil plane, and focused on the idea and not the poster. No offense was intended.

38 posted on 08/06/2003 1:20:28 PM PDT by Riley
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To: Sparta
M-16 customers are generally not found in Africa. The main reasons are three-fold:

(1) M-16s require much more maintenance than a Kalashnikov or its Soviet-era ilk. Your average African militiaman is simply too poorly educated, untrained and unfamiliar with mechanical devices to really maintain anything complicated.

(2) The primary weapons dealers in Africa are either Chinese, Ukranian or Serbian. Their wares are almost exclusively former Soviet weapons, or their modern counterparts.

(3) Africa is awash in Kalashnikov ammo. It makes military and business sense to keep your men supplied with stuff that can easily be repleneshed locally.

39 posted on 08/06/2003 1:21:27 PM PDT by Seydlitz
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To: Oorang
Few things exemplify the chaos of Liberia more than the sight of doped-up, AK-47-wielding 15-year-olds roaming the streets decked out in fright wigs and tattered wedding gowns. Indeed, some of the more fully accessorized soldiers in Charles Taylor's militia even tote dainty purses and don feather boas.

As a combat vet, this is why I thought Apocalypse Now despite all it's sureality, was one of the most realistic war movies ever made. It captured the unbelievable, upside down insanity of war.

40 posted on 08/06/2003 1:24:41 PM PDT by AAABEST
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To: Riley
No offense taken! I guess I should stay off the computer when I haven't had much sleep! "In your face" logical meant that, to me, it is so obvious, why don't these people get it.

Think I'll try to go take a nap.

41 posted on 08/06/2003 1:36:47 PM PDT by Oorang
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To: Oorang
I'm going the other way- I need some weapons-grade coffee. :-)
42 posted on 08/06/2003 1:37:45 PM PDT by Riley
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To: Riley
Excellent post.
43 posted on 08/06/2003 1:39:24 PM PDT by Oorang
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To: AAABEST
Great comparison.

I cannot claim to be a vet. Even so, Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite movies (despite Martin Sheen). When people ask me why, I tell them it seems to not be so much of a war movie as a psycology of war movie. My brother, who is a Vietnam Vet, was amazed that I thought A.Now was a great movie (not that he didn't). Great comparison with Liberia.

44 posted on 08/06/2003 1:44:38 PM PDT by Oorang
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To: Sparta
Another question about African weapons, is it true that most of the various warlords try to buy M-16s because of the higher rate of fire and the increased damage a 5.56 x 45mm round does?

The *Klashkof* [African attempt at pronunciation of *Kalishnikova*] is generally preferred for simplicity and availability of ammunition. But the M16 is sometimes a status symbol, and the Russians found to their horror that some Africans found the M16 to be more desirable because it's finish and the colour of the plastic stocks and foreend was black. More Juju.

Accordingly, the Russians reworked the plum-rustred pistol grips and foreends of early synthetic stocked AKM and AK74 rifles to a black polyvinyl-nylon composition. Hey, whatever the customer wants!

45 posted on 08/06/2003 3:16:57 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: AAABEST
As a combat vet, this is why I thought Apocalypse Now despite all it's sureality, was one of the most realistic war movies ever made. It captured the unbelievable, upside down insanity of war.

So far as capturing the wierdness and irony, you're spot-on. The inaccuracy results when, for the storytelling's sake, they compress all the oddities of a tear-long tour or career experience into a couple of days, making them into a routine happening.

I did indeed see more than a few wild-o things take place, and heard of quite a few more. But for the most part, we recognized them at the time as abberations, and not the usual way things were, or should be.

It's when such things frequently take place and aren't recognized as unusual that your sanity begins to suffer.

And I swear, those stories about frequent cannibalism were untrue, despite the Cambodian bodies with the livers missing. Most of the stories, anyway.

-archy-/-

46 posted on 08/06/2003 3:23:19 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Seydlitz
(2) The primary weapons dealers in Africa are either Chinese, Ukranian or Serbian. Their wares are almost exclusively former Soviet weapons, or their modern counterparts.

There are also quite a few Czechs from the old communist days *Omnipol* trade group days still around, and there's a lot of flogging of Romanian AKs, easily spotted by their distinctive forward pistol grip not unlike that of the old Thompson SMG but reshaped to accomodate the AK's folding buttstock.

Those things turned up quite a bit in news footage of the festivities in Iraq, as well as in the Palestinian areas of Israel and elsewhere, and likely will continue to do so.


47 posted on 08/06/2003 3:32:06 PM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: archy; AAABEST
Another thing to remember about "Apocalypse Now" is that it is based on the Joseph Conrad novel "Heart of Darkness". It is just that book retold in the Vietnam War.
48 posted on 08/06/2003 3:34:16 PM PDT by Seydlitz
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