What’s In a Name


The V-42 Stilletto. The knife of the commando

As a kid I read any military history books I could get my hands on. I fantasized about being a paratrooper or a commando in WWII, killing Germans with my trust FS or V-42 stilletto, or gunning down wave upon wave of charging Japs with my M1 Thompson. All I wanted was to earn my CIB and Jump wings, and nothing else really mattered. When I was an older kid (aren’t we still just kids at the age of 18?), I had the fortune of joining the military, and making my lofty dream into a hard reality. One of the things taking the route I did in the military did for me, was give me an added amount of respect for those that came before me, and a realistic view of what they had to endure in the stories, that up until then were just that, stories. Rangers, Snipers, Commandos, Units with the term “Special” in their name are known to all of us, and with good reason, THEY EARNED IT!

The Combat Infantry Badge

The Combat Infantry Badge

In my view, there are certain things you don’t do. 1) You don’t disrespect those that made a name for themselves by using that name to describe something that has no true relation to the original definition, especially if it is a for profit venture. 2) You do whatever you need to, so as not to give the impression of being a “Wanna Be”, by giving yourself a rank that makes no organizational sense, or naming your unit, group or training course after one of the above mentioned groups. If you look at names that a number of us use to describe our tactical courses of instruction, you will see they have names like “Combat Patrol”, “Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course”, “Combat Rifle”, “Basic Leadership”, or “Grid Down Commo”. We use the name to describe the course, not to embellish the cool factor. Using names of “Bad asses” to describe your course or unit, does not give you any bennies, except to the ignorant, the “Wanna be”, or someone who is a little of both.

A while back (2008) a guy (a Lieutenant Kernel)from a PA militia tried telling me the name he had for his unit (had the word “special” in the title) was due to everyone being able to get a 280 or better on the APFT, and they were all at the “Special” level of ability and training (half of his unit was “snipers”). “Special” doesn’t begin to cover this “Soup sandwich without the bread”. I advised him if he wanted to keep up that ruse, he might want to take the pics of his “unit in training” down from his site, since it showed half of the members as possessing at least a 50 lb. “Forward facing, trunk mounted,  modular food storage unit (obviously it was a different APFT than I took dozens of times) , and them doing any type of “water ops” (the training they had scheduled)  would automatically start with a “capsize drill”. Obviously, he rescinded his request for me to come help train “His militia” ( Yes, I was doing this before I started MDT), and said I was probably a federal plant (actually posted this on a militia forum LOL), and he’d seen through my ploy, trying to infiltrate his unit (That’s funny….. he contacted me). What’s my point? The point is this. Do you want to get prior service members to join your group? Fine, don’t make them laugh when you introduce yourself as “Lieutenant Kernal_______ of the First Special Snipers Brigade” “Prior service recruiting tip” If you are a militia unit, and you use rank, keep it conservative (In a group of 8, anything over the rank of Lieutenant is BS, and that’s a stretch you do, only if  you want an “officer” in charge), or better yet, only use the duty position as their title (my recommendation). When it comes to your unit name, keep it low key. Don’t use names with “Special”, “Recon” (I have yet to meet a unit with that name in their title that knew the first thing about reconnaissance), or any name that ends with an “O” (recondo, commando, etc.). You want to be nostalgic with a group name?  Use something like “_______Rifles”, “________ Longrifles”, “________ Scouts”. Hell, I don’t even have an overall problem with a unit using the term “Rangers”, since it was also a generic term to describe militia units throughout our history (starting with the Brits), as long as it’s not being used to describe a training course.

The Parachutist Badge aka "Jump wings"

The Parachutist Badge aka “Jump wings”

We owe the men who have earned the history of those unit names, courses, and ranks more than we can repay, and those who try and capitalize on those names for recruiting (units) or monetary (courses) purposes are probably bullshit artists who probably have never done more than maybe attend a dojo, read a history book, or play Modern Warfare 3 one too many times. If in doubt about THEIR origins for THAT course name, ask them.The answer will probably confirm what I’ve mentioned above, and will register high on your BS meter.

Army pic

This is for you guys that said in the last post that I look angry, and probably never smile. I was just glad to be home.

By the way, I’m probably gonna start a “Selous Scouts” course, since I found this blank certificate online


Obviously, I’m joking. As stated before, those were some “Bad Ass” Dudes. I read about them in my first issue of Soldier of Fortune, and respect what they did too much to use it in that way.

Selous Scouts

July, 1979, Yup, still got it.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE


35 thoughts on “What’s In a Name

  1. Still waiting for the Snapper Tab…..guess I’ll get that in early October? And for the record, I’ve only got a 10lb MFSU. Guess I’m going to have to work towards the 50? (‘burp)

  2. Excellent post. Strange timing, too – I’ve just read several books on the Selous Scouts in the past couple months. Hard F-ing Core.

  3. Pingback: A great post from JC Dodge - Knuckledraggin My Life AwayKnuckledraggin My Life Away

  4. Fuking old ladies purse…I bet you still have the Superman underoos you wore the night you lost your virginity and that they are unwashed and preserved in a vacuum sealed bag… 😉

    I was on a site a while ago, a forum where i didn’t stay long where the owner was referring to his prepubescent survival guys as “Operators”. By that I think he meant they got dressed in camo and could operate a button, but wouldn’t admit to it.. He didn’t take kindly to me making short work of the facts, and surprise i was banned for being a trouble maker.

    But we’ve had this conversation… Now go use your water filter!


    • That’s some Monica Lewinsky shit right there! Superman? No, I was more of a Captain America fan, but never had the “roos”. We shouldn’t have to tell people these things, the respect should be inherent (that’s a societal issue), but it isn’t. The “Wanna be” ignorance factor is huge in the “Community”. There are those that prey upon that very ignorance and their desire to gain acceptance and respect from the ignorant around them. They do this by offering them a way to say “I’ve done that.” by joining their group, or taking their class (oh look a certificate, patch, etc. from someone who won’t say who qualified him). Although Youtube has a place, too many think it replaces qualifications, certifications, etc., and believe that and some “light reading” will make them a “Trainer”. Those that adopt personal descriptions like “Operator”, “Commando”, or “Sniper” just show their need for attention, and a lack of true desire to make themselves into more than just a “Federal Speedbump”, and protect those they care about (isn’t that what it’s all about?).

  5. My son-in-law spent 2 tours in Afghanistan as a small arms specialist (what ever that is). Now he’s a recruiting station manager and in September becomes a 1st Sargent (with only 7 1/2 years). I don’t think his recruiting is bullshit.

    • Did you actually read and understand what this post is about Jesse? It has nothing at all to do with US Military recruiting, it’s for guys who are trying to recruit for their militia units or groups. And being a First Sergeant only means you are the senior (Time in the highest NCO Grade/Rank for the post) Non Commissioned Officer for your unit or Duty station.

      • Yeah I did. I was referring to the content were Wirecutter say’s, ” for recruiting (units).” It wasn’t clear, to me anyway, that he wasn’t referring to U.S. Military recruiting.

        As for 1st Sargent, so I screwed up. What I meant was Sargent First Class (i.e. a rank of E-6). Being a Navy man myself, Army ranks seem confusing.

        • By the way, since he’s in command at his recruiting station, technically that makes him a 1st Sargent, assuming you are correct about the definition of same.

        • First, it’s “Sergeant”, not “Sargent”. Second, The ” for recruiting (units).” line, I said that in the post. Third, Sergeant First Class (SFC) is an E-7, so apparently, if he’s a Staff Sergeant, he’s and E-6. BTW, you can be a First Sergeant (1SG), and be in the rank of E-6, Staff Sergeant (SSG), it’s Duty position and time in grade (seniority in that rank).

  6. Pingback: MDT: Thoughts On Recruiting Prior Service Members | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  7. 1- I would say if a group decided to wear any sort of military badges/ patches it should only be ones they individually earned. Dude earned a CIB/ Ranger Tab/ ETC and wants to rock it then go for it. Fakers are going to drive away the men (predominantly Infantrymen plus a few misc combat arms and some SOF) who actually earned those tabs/ badges and should be the core cadre of a militia unit.

    1A- If for Morale/ Healthy Competition purposes an organization could certainly create their own tabs/ badges/ etc. Anybody with a half a brain, a visa card and the internet can order any sort of tab, badge, etc they want. Come up with a standard and if people meet that standard they get the piece of flair.

    Say guys who pass a time/ score 0-100 meter stress shoot and get 7/10 with a service rifle at 400 meters can wear a rifleman tab.

    Guys who pass a 3 day woodcraft/ survival class with measurable deliverables can wear a bushmen badge.

    You get the idea.

    1B- Another option would be to have civilian classes/ events act as a certification process.

    Qualify as a rifleman at Appleseed and wear a rifleman patch. Score X in a high power match and wear a sharpshooter patch. Take a tracking class from the Tyr Group and wear a tracker patch. Climb a local mountain and wear a badge made of a pair of crossed ice axes.

    These could be awarded in a big ceremony or a low key thing. The point of instilling pride in people for their accomplishments and inspiring others to reach for the brass ring, which I would argue is more important, can be met in a meaningful way.

    2- If they are being serious about it rank should, at least roughly mirror comparable positions in military units. Platoons are 30-40, Companies 120-160, Battalions 700-800, Brigades 3k+, etc.

    Some terms like ‘Patrol Leader’ give flexibility.

    3- In the unlikely event that I depart the Army and join a militia type unit that wears military uniforms I am wearing the rank of Colonel (0-6) and the name tag Sanders. Doesn’t matter if I am actually a Battalion Commander (don’t think any militias legitimately have BDE sized units of active members) or a rifleman. Obviously that is how seriously I take the concept of rank in a militia.

  8. Man just love it. Kernal Foghorn, A polished turd, There were dad’s in my buddy(kid ) group that Were 10th Mnt, plank owners.. Were first in Germany to open up the camps . So when watching The Great Escape / The Jump, and hear one of the dad’s say BS, you could ask why, and HE would tell you. Those are cool guy’s. Now ..A safari club luncheon with high tea, thats what we see around these parts. Really scary ,Big dudes and real stories do not wear a mixed bag of hand outs from Army /navy stores that are made in china.
    Hey Marines tell the unwashed public what a MOTARD is……. Got patches………. USN,never again. Cold war era. No red wings in Bancock.

  9. Really great post, and comments too. It’s been my experience that the people with the most qualifications, and the front-line experience that backs it up, are the people that are the most close-mouthed, humble, unpretentious, and helpful to the jeeps who really want to learn. Conversely, the most experienced, most qualified, are also the first to throw the B***S*** flag and get up and walk out, or unload a scathing description of why some ‘group’ is suffering from severe recto-cranial inversion and advising them to get un-fa-cocked-ded ASAP before someone gets hurt.
    As an aside, thanks to all you vets out there that are helping the rest of us try to get our stuff packed and squared away.
    E-7, USAF (ret)

    • “the front-line experience that backs it up, are the people that are the most close-mouthed, humble”

      You got that right. My good friend (he’s 89 now) walked across Europe during WW II. He carried a .30 cal machine gun, and 2 ammo cans, plus his personal pack. When his tripod carrier bought the farm, he carried the gun, 4 ammo cans, and the tripod (130 lbs total) plus his personal pack for 3 months, fighting the entire way. I only learned all this during the course of 20 years of almost daily 2 hour conversations. He also has a bronze star, and refuses to say how he earned it. Close-mouthed indeed!

  10. A friend fought in Rhodesia for two years. Crazy situation. Pretty hardcore.

    Selous Scout certificate is an interesting find !! Too bad Cecil Rhodes was a piece of crap.

  11. Just loved what i read. Stumbled on it by accident. You are dead on, respect for tradition, what was accomplished before our time and the people who’ve done it is not what it used to be. Especially with all things military which carry a heavy load of dedication, pain and sacrifice. Being from the province of Quebec in Canada, up here we are not too keen about militia and all the BS attached to it.

  12. So I kind of started a shit storm over at WRSA but didnt want to get involved. That fight being between you and Sam K. That aint my business so I will not comment on it.
    I did not however get a chance to elaborate on my post before comments got closed.
    What I specifically meant by saying Rank reflecting time in the unit was probably not picked up how I intended it. I did not mean that the longest serving guy would lead. No that is not what I meant at all. I may have used the incorrect terminology and conflated rank and grade so let me explain.

    Let us say I have been in a unit for 5 years over the course of that 5 year I have completed a specific amount of training primarily focused on leadership but including a proficiency in at least one area of specialty (such as Radio operator). Do to meeting these requirements and time in the unit I have a grade of 1st Lt.
    Thats it, there is no level of command implied by that grade. I may or may not have command authority because that authority resides in the duty position I have with the unit. The “1st LT” is a title and it signifies that you have completed a level of training and proficiency but not in and of itself your ability to lead. Your position in the unit is your authority.
    Kind of like the Navy in that the guy in charge of the ship is called “Captain” regardless of his actual grade.

    Honestly it really does not matter since we cant get our shit together to even decide what a level of training should look like and how to vet people anyway.
    You are right. Those of us who did not serve in the military have very little in the way of providing Bona Fides. Some of us are honest enough to be upfront about that but to many try to tack on a fake title to imply professionalism.

    • G1, Concerning the rank, Duty position, and Authority, I understand what you are saying, but rank and duty position are usually very closely tied together. You can do it that way, but the problem I see is if you ever work with a unit that does ties it together the way the military does, you will have some issues. As far as the “Getting your shit together” stuf is concerned, all that has to be done is to ask. I have helped a number of groups through the years with that kind of stuff (most recently the LF in PA), and it’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it (organization, training standards, etc.) with reality in mind. Most prior mil that I know have no problem with non prior service personnel in their group (that would be somewhat ridiculous), but the key is what you said, honesty, and being willing to do what your told to get to the level you need to be at. When a guys says he’s one thing, gives ambiguous answers or none at all to inquiries about the background (need to know it to know where the individual is at in the training curve), then will not give names of the people that he says trained him, just BS statements that are made to impress the ignorant, it gets pretty old. Here’s an example, “At that time Soldier of Fortune magazine still accepted ads for VietNam vets and Mercenaries looking for work. I got a job and I paid quite a few of them to teach me some of their tradecraft.” or “has trained under several of the most capable men in America, serious martial artists who teach old-school, combat-effective techniques” or “For combat skills, I found a Vietnamese combat vet (who worked with SF during the war) who taught me Vo Bihn Dihn “. Notice a pattern? None of it is verifiable. The same guy is asked “You’re discounting our actual military backgrounds, what is your background?” and he says this “Much has been publicly shared on my own blog and in my published books (What has been shared is what is quoted above). Other details I have shared with a few people I consider to be worthy of that knowledge. You aren’t one of those people.”. People need real skills, not something someone tries to pass off as his “Subject Matter Expert” opinion of real skills. I have said, and continue to say it is the person’s character I’m concerned with, because we can square away their martial survival skills, but we can’t give or teach them (adults) character. I respect the Hell out of Sandman (I’m using him as an example because he has never been a student of mine), and he never served in the military, and I’d be happy to have him in my group. You know why? Because he didn’t try to impress me with BS, he just told me where he started, where he was now, and where he’d like to be in the future, from a training aspect, and he has good character, and I think is a good leader. You ask any student I’ve ever taught in my business or even before that began, and they will tell you I don’t give two shits about their background (except to know where they’re starting from), I just want to know where they want to be, and how we can get them there.

      • Spot on. Unfortunately this is a problem that has to be addressed in the community. We have to get to some level of maturity and honesty. People have to know their role and focus on things they can acheive and contribute to. Don’t try to bit off more than you can deal with. Thats the honesty. The maturity is to admit that you are not up to speed and that you will not get up to speed by giving yourself a title or by purchasing gear. You will not get up to speed by spinning tales and getting people to follow you. You get up to speed by doing, by learning from guys who have done it or at least have been trained themselves how to do it. We still have a lot of folks who are not getting that.

  13. Pingback: Getting Wet And Man Crush | The Sun Also Rises

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s