Thursday, December 1, 2011


My latest article published with Action Target's newsletter today.


Editor’s Note: The views in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily represent those of Action Target, Inc.

Action Target hosted their 20th Law Enforcement Training Camp earlier this year. While pondering some of the unfortunate recent tragedies that have struck the law enforcement community nationwide—including a higher percentage of lethal attacks against police officers as well as the accidental shooting death of a 24-year-old corrections officer—I thought I’d offer some tactical tips to law enforcement training instructors.

GBI Investigates Probation Officer's Death:

Now, although this piece mentions officers and may be geared towards law enforcement in general, all the points can most definitely apply to the tactical shooting community as a whole. Here’s my advice:

Repetition is the law of learning. The more students accurately perform a variety of techniques, the more comfortable they will become. Tactical training drills allow officers to develop individual skill and assist in building muscle memory.

Muscle memory is a kinesthetic phenomenon whereby specific muscular patterns and movements become ingrained. When movements are repeated over and over, eventually these movements can be performed without conscious effort.

Under such extreme stress, cognitive ability is diminished and thought process is narrowed acutely. When facing the stress of lethal confrontation, officers should not have to think about basic weapons manipulation or marksmanship fundamentals; if they have to think about these basic fundamentals under stress, their chances for losing increase.

On the other hand, regular practice and difficult, realistic, and challenging drills will increase survivability. Repetitive training, therefore, is vitally important when considering survival and life-saving tactical techniques.

As with any type of improvement, officers can never increase their ability unless they fail on occasion. No person can develop unless they try something new and push themselves to the limits. Failure or imperfection on a specific technique or drill is likely to occur. The idea is to have officers meet successes. Small improvements provide satisfaction which, in turn, buoys individual esteem and maintains interest and encourages persistence.

As a training instructor, here are some of the key points to remember during every range training opportunity or any tactical firearms training period.

1) Individuals that are considered “experts” in their chosen field are extremely good at the fundamentals. Focusing on the basics is a positive thing. On occasion, give students something fun too. No one wants to be bored at the range.

2) When training, it is important to remember the end goal: preparing for lethal confrontations. In order to maximize training, (a) the individual shooter should envision that each and every shot during the tactical evolution is, in reality, a lethal force situation; and (b) trainers should mimic real world events. For instance, in my last custom tailored Patrol Rifle Course, I had police officers wear the same Active Shooter go-bag that they carry in their squad cars. I had them reload from that pouch. The feedback was positive, mostly because the training mimicked real circumstances. In short, train as you fight. Don’t say, “In reality we’d do this but we’re not going to train like that.” That’s cheating yourself and your team of valuable training! Cheating or foregoing reality will get someone hurt or killed in the long run.

3) Give students several tools to fill up their tactical toolbox, but focus on what will work best. Remember, it’s not a good tactic if it doesn’t work well (a) on the move, (b) in low-light, or (c) under stress.

4) Start out slowly. Speed will come in time. Or, perhaps once you’ve done some drills at full speed, slow down to quarter or half speed until techniques are perfected, then speed back up.

5) Weapons handling skills can increase dramatically without ever shooting a single round. Dry and/or dummy round training periods are extremely helpful and are all too often overlooked. The nice thing about that is the price is right. With the budget crunch, remember, weapons handling skills doesn’t mean you have to shoot a lot of rounds. In fact, dummy rounds work wonders.

6) Firearms are inherently dangerous. Safety briefings and safety are occasionally thought of as the same thing; we’ve said it and we’ve heard it said a thousand times. Unfortunately, it’s under that premise when accidents happen. Don’t think it will never happen here. Creating an atmosphere where everyone’s comfortable enough to say, “Watch your muzzle” or “Get your finger off the trigger,” is essential. No egos among the instructors or the students. Remember, always keep safety first.

Use these tips for a safer, and more effective, training environment and continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.


Jeffrey Denning is a former SWAT team leader, security contractor, undercover Federal Air Marshal, and Iraqi War Vet. He is the founder of Warrior SOS and writes tactical articles for

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Controlled Pairs, Double Taps, or 6-Shot Rhythm

This article of mine was posted on Action Target -- great guys, great products.

The phrase “The shot heard around the world” refers to the single gunshot that began the battle of Lexington and Concord of the American Revolutionary War. In historic times, rifles could only shoot one round at a time. As time progressed, John Moses Browning and other inspired gunsmiths drastically changed the weapons in modern gun fighting by designing firearms capable of semi- and fully-automatic shooting. Today however, most shooters and firearms trainers continue shooting only two rounds at a time.

This type of culture asks the questions: Why and how did this phenomenon occur, and secondly, why pause in the middle of a gun fight? How is it that we’ve arrived at this point? Does it matter? This two-shot-only practice has been around for decades.

We’ve programmed ourselves to let the majority of our multiple shot drills be only controlled pairs or double taps-hammers accelerated pairs. Why? Examining the history of this trend is not as important as outlining the pros and cons and what we should do to improve, right?

So here it goes.

The usual tactical axiom states, “One hit is better than ten misses.” Which means, two shots are better than one, but why not three, four, or five shots?

Many people have survived getting shot multiple times. The cliché “one shot, one kill” should be discarded from the war-fighter lexicon. This is especially the case for gun rounds, but also true with most every caliber of long gun used for close-quarters engagements.

So, how can we change our thinking and training?

Utilizing Action Target’s innovative Pepper Popper target is a great place to start. This target allows a shooter to shoot three, four, or even five shots as quickly as possible before the target falls. Adjusting the tension allows you to make the most of every shot as you train. Since most engagements are close in range, place this target within the distance Action Target recommends to ensure a realistic handgun training scenario.

For long guns training, try the new RTS Self-Healing Reactive Target . It is important to keep your shots fast, your groups tight, and have good balance with an aggressive stance as you fire three, four, or more shots at a time. Training with the RTS Self-Healing Reactive Target is a fun experience that mimics how many rounds you should take in real-world lethal encounters.

One of the most enjoyable drills for me personally is a six-shot rhythm drill with my handgun. I use paper targets on my AT Hold target stands, and attempt really tight shot groups as rapidly as I can. Usually, I practice from 5-7 yards.

When using iron sights, try to get a flash-sight picture—where the front sight isn’t in perfect alignment, but slightly bobbles around in the rear sight. If you’re close enough to the target and have a smooth trigger, you’ll hit your target. Also, when you’re doing these drills, shoot as fast as you can.

We have come a long way since the ancient wars of the past. We must remember that if we want to win—keep shooting. The briefest remedy to survive and win any gunfight is to shoot faster and more accurately than the threat(s).
Until next time, continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.


Jeffrey Denning is a former SWAT team leader, security contractor, undercover Federal Air Marshal, and Iraqi War Vet. He is the founder of Warrior SOS and writes tactical articles for

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just a Teacher?

Here's an old article I wrote when I blogged for the Washington Times. I stumbled across it today.

By Jeffrey Denning

It’s been just over one month since I came home from a year-long deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserves. Spending time with my wife and children is absolutely, well, celestial. But eventually work called. This time, I had to travel out of town briefly, which required a trip to the airport.

Often we, as a society at war, forget to pay tribute to the spouses and family members of those who serve our country. My wife suffered right along with me and she deserves medals, plaudits and awards for her courage and commitment to me and to America.

I wasn’t there to help her with the kids, the dog, the overflowing sewage, or the broken fridge and water heater. I wasn’t there to help with the dishes or the dirty diapers. I wasn’t there to tuck the kids into bed each night or to comfort them when their classmates said I was going to die in Iraq. I wasn’t there to comfort my wife during the three out-patient surgeries, or when she raised the children alone and took them to church by herself each week

When I left, our youngest couldn’t say ‘Daddy.’ When I returned, she could sing songs and speak in full sentences.

So, when my incredible wife called this week in a panic about my accident prone son who had gotten injured badly, I wanted to do everything I could to come home to help out. The kids need me; my wife needs me, and I need them.

In the midst of trying to get home I had one giant obstacle to overcome –– the airport.

It seems like nothing goes right at the airport when your really in a hurry to get home. After having my flight delayed and then cancelled, I was rebooked and cancelled and rebooked again. Then I was delayed and cancelled again on another air carrier. Those who’ve been there know I’m not exaggerating.

After waiting several more hours, the flight home was cancelled once again. While waiting in a meandering line full of angry passengers trying to get booked on the very last flight of the evening, one irate passenger hollered at the airline customer service rep. I thought I might write about adult temper tantrums in airports. Supermodel Naomi Campbell reportedly spit, cussed at and fought with London’s Metropolitan Police, for instance, when she got yanked off a plane by them not long ago.

While wondering what I might write about for future posts, I struck up a conversation with a woman standing in line with me. Soon, a friendly conversation began. Her name was Helen.

Well Helen told me that she needed to get on that final flight out, to take care of her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Helen had an appointment early the next morning with several people, including representatives from the hospice, who she anticipated taking care of her mother. I silently thought to myself that if the last seat on the last flight of the day were between she and I, I’d let her take it. I could wait until morning to fly home, as I didn’t have a pressing appointment.

In casual conversation, I mentioned that I had just recently returned home from serving in Iraq. Helen’s expression went rapidly to somber and sincere. She offered her hand to me, and with the most sincere kindness and gratitude she thanked me enthusiastically. Tears began to build in her eyes as she told me thank you repeatedly.

Helen said that I was the first person she had ever met who had served in Iraq. Shaking my hand vigorously, thanking me lavishly, she said that I definitely needed to get home to my wife and children. With overwhelming kindness she practically shoved me into the line in front of her. I only accepted her offer after she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“What do you do?” I asked her.

“Oh, I’m just a teacher,” she stated nonchalantly.

“Just a teacher? Just?” I paused for effect. “The job you have is incredible. I can’t thank you enough,” I said passionately, putting my hand over my heart. She went on to explain that she teaches first grade. I thought of my son and daughter and their elementary school classes.

Helen and I exchanged a few more brief words then departed. Fortunately, merely by coincidence, she was able to get booked on that last flight out and I was rebooked for a morning flight.

I felt so honored that a total stranger—a teacher—would offer up her seat not to me, per se, but to a mere stranger who had served in Iraq.

Nostalgically, I recalled my elementary school teacher. One in particular I remember: Mrs. Talbot. It was in her Second Grade class where I stood with my hand over my heart, staring inquisitively at Old Glory, and the beautiful stars and red and white flowing stripes, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

I’m proud to know that there are still teachers, mothers, and passengers of all kinds flying on airplanes, who would voluntarily give before taking, and whose examples of goodness and kindness is not only contagious towards me, but to the next generation.

The safety and security of any civilized and decent society rests in the bosom of those who love and give without expecting anything in return—who want freedom and would fight to defend it, as a mother would for her child.

God's beautiful creations - the beauty of pollination

Saturday, October 15, 2011

About me

I'm the founder of a non-profit organization, a former Federal Air Marshal and Iraqi War Vet, and I'm a MORMON.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marine Iraqi War Vet & Police Officer Goes Public, Admitting PTSD

The name Warrior SOS came about after I received a brief text message from my long time friend and warrior-buddy, J.P. Villont. He sent a note, an SOS. SOS is an international distress signal. In morse code it is: ... --- ...

S.O.S. is the clarion call for H-E-L-P!

Upon getting JP’s message, I immediately called him. I asked him if he had thought about suicide or had thought about killing himself. Many years ago, in FBI Crisis Negotiation school, I learned that asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide won’t put the idea in their mind; they won’t do it if you ask, in other words. I also learned that sometimes people do not equate suicide with killing themselves, and vice versa, so I began a habit to ask both questions if I sensed any distressing signals appertaining to such a total and complete despair.

Thankfully, with the help of J.P.’s loving and supportive wife, and caring counselors at the VA, he’s been able to get help and healing. Often signs of Post Traumatic Stress and other combat related emotional frustrations, come in the way of fits of anger. J.P. is no exception. Recognizing and admitting there’s a problem is the first step. There are many people willing and anxious to help.

As a personal note to J.P., I simply wish to say: I sure love you, brother. Keep the faith! Fight the good fight. You’re a good man.

Warrior SOS also wishes to thank retired Delta Force Commander, DALTON FURY (, for signing a copy of his NY Times’ best-selling book, Kill Bin Laden for J.P. Villont. (As a side note, any readers should definitely be sure to check out Dalton's new fictional Delta Force Novel, Black Site.

Once again, Warrior SOS applauds the great courage of J.P. and his wife Lisa for going public, and agreeing to be interviewed with Stars & Stripes, a military newspaper. By courageously going public to discuss difficult, personal heartaches and heartbreaks surrounding PTSD, hundreds - if not thousands - of military veterans and their family members will likewise find the courage to seek help; others in similar circumstances will be comforted by the fact that they are not alone.

A portion of the article/interview, follows:

JP Villont’s Story as Reported by Stars & Stripes

Story by Matthew M. Burke, Stars & Stripes, published Sept. 23, 2011

Marine Cpl. J.P. Villont returned from Iraq a broken man.

The married father of four was angry, paranoid, hyper-vigilant, aggressive and withdrawn — telltale signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yet, for seven years, the former Marine was reluctant to seek help.

“Obviously I had PTSD and it was undiagnosed,” Villont, 40, said recently from his Phoenix home. “It’s a huge stigma, so I didn’t want to find that out. I pretended I didn’t have it for many years.”

Then, following a couple of violent outbursts, Villont finally contacted a few veterans facilities in Arizona. He was told he would have to wait months for treatment.

With seemingly nowhere to turn, his wife, Lisa, starting posting messages on the Wounded Warrior Project’s Facebook page.
“Its been over 7 years since my husband returned home from Iraq, just last week he finally decided to seek help for what we assume will be diagnosed as PTSD,” she wrote...

Lisa Villont is convinced that [a volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Project’s] actions helped save her husband’s life.

“I can tell you, there is little doubt in my mind that if we had not encountered WWP ... I would be a widow today,” Lisa Villont said.

“He absolutely, positively, would have found a way to kill himself.”
...Finding others with similar problems was the key for J.P. Villont.

In 2003, the infantryman was attached to the 1st Tank Battalion as a machine gunner during the invasion of Iraq. His unit fought its way through Basra, all the way to Baghdad.

“We were in direct combat with the Republican Guard — their tank battalion,” the soft-spoken Villont recalled. “I was with 60 tanks so we were rocking and rolling. I saw a lot of destruction.”

In the middle of his tour, he went on leave to be with his then-pregnant wife who required an emergency surgery in a California hospital.

He rode out of Baghdad with two body bags next to him.

Villont was supposed to have 10 days of leave before heading back to war. But, word came down that his unit had accomplished their mission and that he was no longer needed in Iraq.

“That was pretty surreal,” he said. “Like the Vietnam vets, I went directly from combat back into civilian life.”
He left the Marines and returned to his job in law enforcement.

Not long after, his troubles began.

First, he assaulted a neighbor who shot bottle rockets toward his home in the middle of the night; Villont said it triggered a flashback. He was later jailed for a morning after a domestic disturbance last year. which triggered a six-month investigation. He was cleared after no charges were filed. He was then allowed back to work.

Finally, he sought help but was unsuccessful, and his wife reached out to the web community.

After reading Lisa Villont’s postings, [Jennifer] Boyce, [with the Wounded Warrior Project] referred the couple to local services and a Project Odyssey retreat with fellow vets. The retreat offered outdoor activities and the companionship of fellow combat veterans, plus counselors.

At first, Villont resisted. But after talking with other vets, he decided to give it a shot.

“I didn’t want to sit around hugging each other singing ‘Kumbaya,’” he said. “But it was me and seven other vets. We clicked immediately. It was a breath of life.”

Now, J.P. Villont exchanges texts, calls, emails and Facebook messages with the other veterans he has met.

He uses social media to monitor legislation and find other outreach organizations, and he received a scholarship from the University of Phoenix to get a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling so he can help other veterans. Villont is retiring from his job as a highway patrolman at the Arizona Department of Public Safety due to injuries from an on-duty crash in March.

Although he is not cured, J.P. Villont no longer ruins family outings because of his outbursts. He’s learned he has certain “triggers” — his wife calls it his “Spidey” senses — and needs to stop before he reacts to them, to ask why he feels threatened. Villont just got out of a 24-day inpatient PTSD clinic in Tucson and is looking forward to starting school in October, thanks to the single post his wife made a few months ago.

“It’s been a pretty amazing asset,” Villont said. “You’re able to learn about this stuff from your computer. ... Once you start opening doors there is no end to this stuff.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Davis Brown - The Just War Tradition...Special Issue of the Journal of Military Ethics

The Just War Tradition and the Continuing Challenges to World Public Order, A Special Issue of the Journal of Military Ethics
Launching Speech Given on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversaries of 9/11 and of JME

Davis Brown

Davis Brown at Norwegian Defense College

Davis Brown, Ph.D. (ABD), J.D., LL.M., is the founder and director of the Just War Theory Project with the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and the author of The Sword, the Cross, and the Eagle:The American Christian Just War Tradition.

It was a Tuesday morning; warm and clear. After an unremarkable commute I stopped by the Pentagon to run some errands, then I continued to my office a quarter mile away. I was to spend the morning editing a policy brief by the Academic Council on the United Nations System on humanitarian intervention; and I had to get ready for a phone call to the Executive Director of ACUNS. We were preparing this document to present in New York in two months time, and I was going to be at that seminar in person. I had already resolved to finally have dinner at Windows On The World (the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center), something I had long wanted to do.

Then a plane hit the North Tower, and I and my co-workers rushed to a television to see the news coverage. At first we all thought it was a freak accident. Then the room fell silent as we watched the chilling image of a second plane hitting the South Tower, and we all knew then that this was no accident.

In the meantime, life goes on, so I made my phone call on schedule. We made some small talk about the attack (as if anything about it could be regarded as “small”), then it was back to the mundane world of word-smithing and comma placement. In the middle of the call, I was jolted by a loud whoosh of a plane flying low and fast right right above us. Two seconds later, a thud, in the distance, but the explosion was big enough to shake the building.

I quickly ended my phone call and everyone went outside. A plume of black smoke rose in the direction of the Potomac River. Then someone exclaimed, “It’s the Pentagon!” and despite our disbelief at the events that were unfolding that morning, we all knew he was right. A little while later, we watched in horror as one of the Twin Towers collapsed, then the other. By then our shock had turned into the grim realization that we were probably going to war—never a pleasant thought when you’re in the military.

Two months later, I went to New York for that seminar. It was my first time back in seven years. And it wasn’t the same New York I had once lived in. The city was eerily subdued, the mood like that of a wounded lion. The site of the World Trade Center, once a place of rough-and-tumble commerce, now sacred ground. In sum, the events of ten years ago this Sunday were life-altering to the American national psyche, and I daresay to the international psyche as well.

On September 10th, the academy (of international law, at least) was still fighting the Kosovo War, which recently had exposed the tension between what uses of force are legal, and what are moral or even legitimate. But the attention span of the academy can be short, and after 9/11 nobody wanted to talk about humanitarian intervention anymore. In a way, this was understandable, since everybody thought at the time that 9/11 would change everything.

But as it turns out, 9/11 didn’t change everything. It did not pose any significant challenges to jus ad bellum or just war theory, at least not in and of itself. What 9/11 did do, was to set into motion a chain of events that a year and a half later did challenge jus ad bellum and just war theory. I speak of the doctrine of preemption, which was articulated first as a measure to prevent further catastrophic terrorist attacks, and later invoked as a justification for invading Iraq. And not only is the United States still fighting the Iraq War, but so is the academy.

Preemption is a problem for us, not necessarily because it’s the global superpower that has invoked it, but because of the dilemma for world public order that it poses. Preemptive self-defense would legitimize an attack on another state that has no immediate plans to attack it; it may have long-term plans to do so but may lack the capability or resolve to attack in the present. To allow such an exception to article 2(4) is to open Pandora’s Box. And yet, in an environment in which we struggle to keep chemical, biological, and God forbid nuclear weapons out of the wrong hands, the consequence of not allowing a preemptive attack may be to force a state to suffer a crippling first blow. Prohibiting anticipatory self-defense thus plays into the hands of the state with the original hostile animus—the state that is the real aggressor.

Meanwhile, the problem of humanitarian intervention, which everyone stopped talking about after 9/11, has not gone away. Now, it’s clear that the drafters of the Charter envisioned a world in which aggression would be de-legitimized, hopefully out of existence. But surely the drafters did not intend to provide a shield for such well-meaning public servants as Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein. To legitimize humanitarian intervention is to invite its abuse as a cover for more nefarious motives, but vicious regimes like the ones I just mentioned cannot, must not, be allowed to remain unaccountable for their atrocities, much less remain in power.

These are the two dilemmas that continue to vex scholars and policymakers: anticipatory (or preemptive) self-defense, and humanitarian intervention. How to resolve these dilemmas has been the work of the Just War Theory Project, which is a loose network of scholars and professionals dedicated to exploring the role of military force in maintaining world public order. I and the other contributors to this Special Issue submit that the framework of the just war tradition is well suited to help us find our way out of these dilemmas.

In designing the Special Issue, we sought papers that we believed would advance our understanding of each individual just-war criterion. In the article on Proper Authority, I argue for returning to the original, state-centric understanding of the concept. For various reasons laid out in my paper, I argue against the trend of construing Proper Authority as something multilateral or judicial.

We have two articles on Just Cause, one for anticipatory self-defense and one for humanitarian intervention. Joseph Boyle takes up the anticipatory defense side, and his approach is to distinguish between defense, which he finds a permissible cause to use force, and punishment, which he does not. Henrik Friberg-Fernros takes up the humanitarian intervention side. Now the question of whether humanitarian intervention is legitimate or not has been done to death, and it seemed pointless to add yet another article on that question, when the battle lines within academia and praxis are pretty much drawn at this point. Friberg-Fernros’s article is different: Rather than trying to argue that humanitarian intervention is a just cause, Friberg-Fernros starts with the assumption that it is. His focus, then, is to discover whether humanitarian intervention is a right to act or a duty to act. In doing so, he illustrates the tension between just war theory, which is permissive, and the Responsibility to Protect, which is more or less obligatory.

We also have two articles on Right Intent. In the first one, Darrell Cole argues that Right Intent is best treated not as an inward frame of mind, but as a communal, public act that has observable manifestations. From those manifestations we can deduce the real intent of the actor. Cole then applies that approach to the Iraq War among others. In the second piece, Fernando Teson draws the distinction between intention and motive, and shows how the two are often confused, and frankly, often misused.

We tend to speak of the three just war criteria of Thomas Aquinas, but actually there is a fourth one, which is embedded in the second. Not only must the attacked state deserve to be attacked on account of some fault, but also the attacked state must deserve to be attacked on account of some fault. This is the criterion of Proportionality of Cause, and it’s probably the most difficult one to apply. In my article on Proportionality, I suggest using a tort-based approach, in which the use of force is judged as an appropriate (or inappropriate) remediation to an injury that has been caused by another state that has breached its obligations.

We also have a paper on the under-studied criterion Reasonable Prospect of Success. Frances Harbour proposes that what is to judged as “reasonable” should be the “probability” of success, and not merely the “hope” or “chance” of it. She also calls for an expanded understanding of what “success” is; she argues that there is moral value in resisting a supreme injustice, even when the unjust actor can’t be overcome. That, in her opinion, is a “success,” even if it isn’t a material one.

And finally, Walter Dorn presents his Just War Index, in which the use of force is not evaluated as either “just” or “unjust,” but rather on a sliding scale in which the use of force could be supremely just (or unjust), or moderately, or slightly. In this exercise, Dorn also illustrates the limitations of just war theory. What just war theory can’t do is to provide clear, definitive answers to the question “is this or that war just or unjust”. Why? Because at the end of the day, there is still some subjectivity to evaluating each criterion. For example, two of our contributors find the Iraq War to be largely just; I’m sure some other contributors disagree with that. One of our contributors finds the US war effort in Afghanistan to be more unjust than just. In this case, I know some others disagree. On the other hand, what just war theory can do, first, is to help us find the right questions—questions of authority, cause, intent, proportionality and so on. Second, just war theory can tell us which uses of force are comparatively more or less just than which other uses of force, and why. For example, if our contributors had to rank in order of more just to less just: Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the US invasion of Iraq, I think all of them would agree on the same ranking. In sum, our contributors believe that just war theory can provide insight into judging the legitimacy of using force, in a way that the modern, restrictive form of jus ad bellum in international law cannot do, and in a way that most approaches to international relations don’t even address.

That, in a nutshell, is our Special Issue, which should be available in print in a few days. Thank you, Henrik, for your role in bringing these papers to the light of day, and for allowing me to address this august and somewhat intimidating audience.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Shoot Center Mass?

I just started as an editorial writer for My first article:

Why Shoot Center Mass?

"Why are we trained to shoot center mass. Why not shoot someone in the arm or in the leg?" That was the question posed to me by my friend, Brian, while we were attending the police academy together. When I attended the Dallas Police Academy I had already served as a full-time police Special Reaction Team (SRT) team leader at a U.S. military installation. I had attended multiple civilian police and Department of Defense special operations tactical schools, including an Advanced SWAT course with the famed Los Angeles Police Department. So you can imagine my surprise when asked why we were being training to shoot center mass.

I've often wondered about this conversation when thinking of my friend. A few years following that conversation there in the police academy, he was gunned down in the line of duty—murdered.

Here's how the conversation went, as best as I can recall.

Read the full article here:

Friday, May 6, 2011

I called the mother of a slain Marine today - why I did & what happened

Funeral services for my good friend and teammate, Johnny Linde - Arlington National Cemetery.

It is with some trepidation I'm posting what is essentially a very personal and private glimpse into my life today. I pray that the eyes of spiritual sensitivity be opened, and that the damning and coarse nihilist thoughts and/or comments be not allowed to anyone who sees this one blog. I do not wish to cast my pearls before swine.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormon or LDS faith, I served a volunteer mission for two years prior to joining the military. I'm active in my faith. Most importantly, I try to be a good person, and a good citizen. I try to think of holy things throughout my day.

Just as we need food and water for nourishment, our souls need regular spiritual attention. If we fail to eat or exercise, our bodies will become weak and our muscles will atrophy. The same applies to our spiritual muscles.

Just as we need healthy minerals and sunshine, we need good role models to look up to, to emulate. Our children especially need good heroes. We need heroes and heroines who stand for something. I tend to look to the heroes of the Bible and the Book of Mormon--Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Some of my heroes are America's Founding Fathers -- those who made a solemn oath to give their lives, fortunes and their sacred honor to preserve their freedoms (and ours)...Thomas Jefferson and those great men who crafted the United States Constitution.

I feel as did a modern day prophet and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said this: "I am saying to you that to me the Constitution of the United States of America is just as much from my Heavenly Father as the Ten Commandments. When that is my feeling, I am not going to go very far away from the Constitution, and I am going to try to keep it where the Lord started it..." (George A. Smith [CR-4/48:182])

A very good friend of mine who served as a Marine in the early 70's often reminds me of a young Marine at boot camp with him. A very large and mean Drill Instructor walked up to this scrawny recruit and screamed in a demanding, controlling and intimidating tone, "WHO'S YOUR HERO, PRIVATE?!"

Now most people under such a circumstance would tend to revert to anything that would please such a person, even resorting to instant sycophancy (e.g. in 1970's USMC third person speak, "Sir, the Private thinks his Drill Instructor is his most admirable hero, sir.")

But that didn't happen. No, the young man with faith and courage stated resolutely that his hero was "The Lord Jesus Christ."

Upon that, the giant DI slugged him as hard as he could (they could do that and get away with it back then). The boy fell back hard on the floor, all the wind gushing out of his lungs and completely, utterly unashamed, he regained his footing.

"What did you say..." The intimidating drill sergeant demanded, adding again, "Who's your hero?"

At this point, most people would think to say something else, or even remain silent on the matter. But this courageous man, valiant in his testimony and faithful and unwavering in his stance -- even and especially amid, fierce opposition -- replied again that his hero was the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, that said -- with that story in mind -- I'm going to post something that is personal and sacred to me. I hope that even if some people mock it, that others will remember that I have a testimony that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, the First Fruits of the Resurrection. For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Now, here are my words, personally recorded in my journal entry this, the sixth day of May, two thousand and eleven.

I had brisk, but wonderful, deeply touching -- spiritual -- experience today. I had the thought (I didn't feel it was an impression from the Lord at the time), to contact the mother of a young Marine who was killed in Afghanistan last October. Looking back I had the distinct feeling to ask a coworker of mine who knew her son well, to get her phone number. I didn't ask him. Usually I don't hesitate, but as I mentioned, I didn't feel this was an impression. In fact, I didn't even know why I should contact her, really, or what I'd say. Fortunately, however, I did make an inquiry about the name of this family to the aforementioned coworker. (Hopefully this preface isn't too confusing.)

When I was allotted a few moments of peace, the thought to contact this military mom came again. I called 4-1-1 information and asked for their home phone number.

I stammered a little bit on what to say, as I later learned that the boy's fiancee first answered the phone (they graduated high school in 2009 and were supposed to be married in this June after his military tour). Finally, when Ms. XXXXXX picked up the other line, I gathered my thoughts and spoke. I don't remember what I said. All I remember was I wanted to say, "I love you." Doing so to a perfect stranger could be a bit socially awkward, so I didn't say that. Regardless, she felt the love I wanted to share.

Through our conversation, I felt this fine woman was indeed my sister and God's daughter. She told me, from what sounded like through tears, that she was humbly grateful for me calling her and saying what I said. From her response, I gathered that my words comforted her. Especially today. She told me that today was her son's birthday. He would have been 20 years old. She said his fiancee-widow and her were going to go out and celebrate it.

It was at that point that the Holy Ghost confirmed to me that all the previous feelings were of a spiritual nature, and not of myself. I was overcome with gratitude, love, and the realization that God knows each of us personally, and that, by and large, He works His mighty miracles through each of us -- as well as the small miracles like having a total stranger call you up and say, in so many words, "Our Father in Heaven is aware of how you're feeling today, and He wants you to know He loves you and cares for you."

Every intense feeling of my heart -- all the pure, unspeakable joys that come from heaven alone -- sank deep into my heart. And, like the rainbow cannot shine or show its full glory without the rain, I shed a tear or two, simultaneously experiencing the beautiful array of warm and bright feelings from the sunshine in my heart.

Finally, on a somewhat different, but related note, I was able to find a beautiful quote I have known about for several years, but did not have a reference to. I think it's proper and fitting to close with then-Elder Ezra Taft Benson's beautiful expression and explanation of all those who come home after this life is over. Said he, "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations," Brigham Young University Speeches on 10 December 1974.)

God is indeed our Father, and that makes us brothers and sisters. To read about another very personal and powerful experience of mine I had while in Iraq, check out my profile on

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Weekend, Military Warriors, Politics, and Freedom

Part of a note I wrote to some friends of mine today...

My buddy just sent me a note today. He came home from Afghanistan with the Army Special Forces. One of his teammates (John Masson) came home a few months earlier than he did after stepping on a land mine and losing both of his legs and an arm. I can't imagine his kids or my kids not being FREE.

Now, in my rambling, in between changing poopy diapers and setting the trampoline up for the kids after having it up for the winter, I could go on and on about other (things), but I won't.

May I just say this: I know God lives. One evidence of this is the wise and God-fearing men He raised up to pronounce a Declaration of Independence, to create a beloved U.S. Constitution, and establish this blessed land which we call America, for their children and ours. America's Founding Fathers were not simply men who got together at a critical and pivotal time on this continent; they were led and inspired by God to grant us freedom and liberty by law.

I've stood atop Pike's Peak in Colorado where the words for "America the beautiful" were inspired.

I've stood in the melancholy fields of Gettysburg and have wept at man's inhumanity to man.

I've walked by the dark iron gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and have pondered what will come of the United States.

I've walked in the garden, the beautiful garden of Gethsemane, made sacred two millennia ago. I've stood at the empty tomb and pondered the impossible. It seems right to mention such a thing today, given it's Easter weekend.

This much I know, and doubt not: Nothing is impossible with God.

We are at a great and terrible place in history. The tide of immorality wages and the land is being crushed from the inside by diabolical politicians and lovers of their own selves rather than lovers of God, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul.

We are facing a crippling debt so enormous in scale and so horrific in size that nothing seems possible to fix that ailing balloon ready to pop and turn into a second great depression. I worry for my children and for the financial interests of all Americans.

I worry about tyranny in the government as the government grows larger, seeking more control; I worry about the people's voices as well as their votes, particularly those who seek a permanent dole and who don't care about liberty, thrift or hard work.

Yet, I am optimistic in that the good and honorable men like you will help -- and have helped -- do your part in keeping America great and free.

God bless you all. I'm glad to call you my friends and brothers.

Jeffrey Denning

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Foreign Energy Reliance - Our Broke Government - More Taxes, Ugh.

This C-span report by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) is an interesting approach to someone's crazy idea of an energy solution!

After reviewing House Bill 909, Roadmap for America's Energy Future, which the aforementioned Congressman, and 70 others have supported, it looks positive. I found this disturbing figure on the Bill sponsor's website:

Roughly half of the U.S. trade deficit is energy related. Preventing fossils fuel development at home has made us dependent on foreign oil for 70% of our supply.

My fellow American's we cannot afford to be dependent upon foreign commodities, especially oil. If the oil magnates and regulators decide to switch to a foreign currency, going away from the ever-declining US Dollar, prices would soar. But that's not all! Prices are going to soar anyway. They have been and they will yet go heavenward...but that, my friends, would not be heaven on earth at all. The recession seems be spiraling.

I'm an optimist by nature, and I still have hope for America's future, but a depression, or at least a quasi-depression seems to be rearing its ugly head on the horizon. This is especially true given the fact that Congress and government leaders continue to spend money we don't have. Like a balloon inflated too much, if we continue on this path the explosion will make the Hindenburg disaster look like a tea party -- and I'm not talking about being Taxed Enough Already!

Speaking of wife and I voted yesterday in a local city election. We voted "No" to another lame tax. Why did so many people vote "Yes"? Yet another burdensome tax law passed. We're already in one of the highest tax areas in the entire country! There's even talk of the state filing for bankruptcy!

I do not believe for one minute that raising taxes will help our local or state government spend less. If anyone thinks raising taxes will help us (meaning any local, state or federal government entity) get out of debt, don't believe it. If they get our money, they'll just spend more. The writing's on the wall -- government cannot manage money. That's my money, and your money. It should be sacred and used with care. More of it should be in our pockets.

There are giant US corporations now headquartered in Ireland. Why? Because Ireland has one of the lowest tax mandates in the English-speaking world, if not the lowest. There are literally billions of dollars worth or revenue going back into that country because the taxes are LOW. Why can't Congress collectively get a clue? Why must we outsource and rely on other countries for goods and consumer products? Because it's cheaper to hire foreigners in foreign lands, that's why! Yet by lowering taxes we could create more jobs for the thousands of good and wise and honest American's out of work. We could pour money into the US treasury and, especially into the American households.

My friends and fellow countrymen, it is far past time to raise a hue and a cry. We MUST become patriots for the American cause or we will one day not have or enjoy the liberties and the freedom our citizen ancestors have for the last two centuries!

Finally, I recently purchased a great book of Ronald Reagan speeches, and I found this treasure in a speech he gave in Arizona years prior to his tenure in the Whitehouse. He said,

"Here is the main battleground! We must reduce the government's supply of money and deny it the right to borrow. ...

"If your Congressman should say we must cut costs first and then reduce taxes—don't stand for it. Remind him that no government in history has ever voluntarily reduced itself in size. Governments will always find a need for the money they get." (A Time for Choosing: The Speeches of Ronald Reagan, 1961-1982 (eds. A.M. Balitzer & G.M. Bonetto; Chicago: Regnery Gateway in cooperation with Americans for the Reagan Agenda, 1983) 35, italics original, 37-38.

P.S. For a good read on politics, terrorism and the future of American economy if we continue to rely on foreign oil, see retired CIA officer Robert Baer's Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Muslim Students Association (MSA) member in California supports terrorists - hates Jews

The following is a note from the embedded video: A Muslim Jew-hater and supporter of genocide is flushed out by David Horowitz at a speech during "Israel Apartheid Week at the University of California San Diego. Horowitz was hosted by Young Americans for Freedom. Visit the Horowitz Freedom Center Website at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snowboarding Accident

My nephew broke his femur while snowboarding recently. He was doing a back-flip off a jump. Unfortunately a tree got in the way. The good's a clean break.