Maf is Hard

Maf is hard, but maf itself is by no means secret. Neither is science (scienf?) secret. Both of those, math and science, while they may be hard to understand, work the same for anyone who cares to look, by definition.

What is hard to understand, however, is why the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) recently chose to investigate the Grim Reapers, a bunch of gamers led by SuperCap, ordering the latter to turn over any information in his possession. For playing a game. Admittedly, it is a game that shows that the U.S. Navy is way behind the power curve against an array of potential adversaries, as described in a previous article, Wet Paper Tiger. More on that in a bit.

I myself was investigated by the NCIS in the early 90s while on USMC active duty, and it was a clown show back then. I later found out that one of the NCIS agents assigned to my case was briefly investigated by local police for “over-surveilling” a youth gymnastics center. I have no knowledge of the outcome of that investigation, but to be generous I suppose that stalwart defender of freedom may have thought that some of the underage girls there were hiding state secrets in their leotards. Somehow, I doubt that the NCIS put nearly as much attention into their own gymnastics fan as they did into me.

My own case, detailed elsewhere, apparently fizzled into nothingness, but was itself a laughing-stock of “let’s git ‘im, boyz” overreach that would never convince an actual jury. Same for the three times I was considered for courts martial (yes, that is the official plural) over nothing but the feelz of senior officers who didn’t like the cut of my jib. All three of these latter alleged incidents spanned about two weeks of the warfighting in Desert Storm. I’m a bad boy, baby. Ladies, line up. Have I mentioned the two times I’ve been arrested in the civilian world? No convictions, but we can pretend otherwise. No tats either but I can run out and get some Cracker Jacks.

However, for cases under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) where military people stand accused, the burden of proof is MUCH lower, and is usually adjudicated for more serious offenses by a panel of senior officers, themselves often corrupt and hoping to earn political points for their own advancement. The outcome of many UCMJ cases in the past two decades, where junior officers and enlisted have been hammered for snap decisions made in dangerous, no-win circumstances, or who have been made as patsies to cover up mistakes, or in some cases systemic incompetency, of senior career officers, make my point for me. An interested reader need only scratch the surface with some web investigations of their own to find many such examples. In this environment, the NCIS needs only slap enough words together to make it look good enough to provide sufficient political cover for the outcome the establishment wants. And any “attorney” assigned to your case (known as a Judge Advocate General, or JAG) is himself looking forward to promotion in that same system. Thinking about enlisting? Stir that set of fun facts into your decision matrix.

Sadly, NCIS was already the laughing stock of real investigative organs of the state at that time, with rumors of “over-sampling” evidence from Navy drug interdiction operations, rather than simply reselling it as the pros know to do. As NCIS headquarters shares tenancy at the Quantico USMC base with FBI training facilities, they’ve always been seen as the wannabees by feebs. And thought of as squid weenies with a badge by Marines. Maybe someday they might sponsor a hit TV show to recover their collective reputations. If they would just learn to fabricate believable evidence or outrages like the big boys do, they would do themselves a huge favor.

The current head of the NCIS is this guy named Omar Lopez. Let’s assign him a cool, edgy nickname, like Sparky. I can neither confirm nor deny that Lopez has explicitly forbidden the use of Sparky as his official callsign within the agency, nor the circumstances under which such a callsign might arise.

Anyway, there is this class of investigative techniques collectively known as elicitation. Elicitation is how investigators, lacking actual evidence, try to trick people into making voluntary statements to implicate themselves. One elicitation technique is known by many names, but I like to use the term “ringing the bell”. An investigator rings the bell by throwing out an often imaginary “fact”, and seeing if the target of the investigation makes a statement to confirm the rung bell, or provides an alternative narrative. Either way the investigator wins. The only way for the target to win is to say nothing.

Now one would think that Sparky would know this concept. Surely he didn’t get to his position by means other than actual expertise at the job.

So let’s close the loop back to our gamer friends the Grim Reapers.

I haven’t had access to any classified information for over thirty years. But I do have access to math and science, which works the same for everyone, so I don’t need any access to classified information. Plus I have a pretty good understanding of human nature and how self-serving organizations grind along. Who would believe that I, a nobody completely outside the establishment, could come so close to hitting many nails on their respective heads?

The Grim Reapers have access to open source information that is close enough to actual capabilities and plans, and need no access whatsoever to classified information to reach their conclusions. By using an understanding of math and science to fill the gaps, they, or anyone else who cares to investigate, can independently re-create more accurate actual weapons capabilities, and using simulation software, reverse engineer tactics that flow outwards from those capabilities. Full disclosure, they do simulations of alien attacks and scenarios based on Star Wars, too. Who would believe a bunch of fanciful gamers have stumbled upon anything real or important?

Oh, that’s right. Sparky’s NCIS did.

To my understanding, it has long been the official policy of the Department of Defense to neither confirm nor deny any information in the public domain which might reveal actual capabilities or plans. Until the NCIS itself decided to step up to the plate and go after a bunch of gamers that most people would ignore as well-groomed neckbeards with a penchant for locker-room humor and endless pop culture references. In Sparky’s world, the Grim Reapers should all shave their heads and take luge lessons.

Sparky, your NCIS elicited itself, you arrogant scamp. Your best move, like the targets of your politically-fueled cover ops the NCIS calls investigations, would have been to say nothing. But you just couldn’t help yourself. In one fell swoop you alerted the entire world to pay attention to the Grim Reapers’ work as dangerously accurate.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, from an official and credible establishment source no less, regarding how much trouble the Navy is in, who is going to investigate Sparky for his agency’s confirmation of my open-source analyses of the current state of the Navy against a determined near peer adversary? Who is going to investigate Sparky for his agency’s confirmation of the weapons models and simulations of the Grim Reapers as being too accurate for comfort? No one, that’s who. Where does that buck stop? Sparky’s not even really to blame either. Poor feller is just doing what he thinks will most please his political masters, as he has been conditioned to do over his entire career. That was the thesis of my other relevant essay, A Hilarious Loyalty Oath, about the emphasis on political maneuverings and witch hunts in dying institutions versus actual capabilities. Your agency just confirmed Daddy’s musings on that one as well, Sparky. Well, thanks, I guess.

For decades the U.S. Navy, through corruption, politicized decision-making and promotions, over-reliance upon expensive systems designed for no-risk weak state operations, haphazard maintenance, systematic destruction of NCO morale, political witch hunts, self-inflicted recruiting fiascos and other misadventures too nuanced to list here, has been plotting a course to the bottom of the South China Sea. But future sailors and Marines can rest peacefully in their watery graves knowing that establishment political hacks, like Sparky and numerous others, have their backs, as long as it isn’t too personally inconvenient.

So Sparky, this essay, if one wants to call it that, should be a nice lesson for you and others like you to do better at your jobs. But this lesson won’t be heeded. Instead, when the balloon goes up, Sparky and many other nameless politicos will be enjoying their pensions, and patting they/them selves on their collective backs for their dedication. The U.S. Navy’s future adversaries will surely thank you for your service.

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