Monday, 10 July 2017

Price Drop!



Good news for some of you! I have dropped the price of “Survival Weapons: Optimizing Your Arsenal”. If you do desire a copy please buy it through the Lulu website. Not only will this give you an additional discount but it ensures that more of the money you spend goes to support my loved ones.

Thank you for all the support and interest.

The Books

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 


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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sam's Van: Kitchen Equipment.

Sam’s Van is an idea from a friend of mine from Tennessee. When he was in his late twenties he proposed that a person should only have as many possessions as could be transported as a single van load.

For a variety of reasons I can no longer meet this ideal but it is a useful concept to help you declutter and reorganize your environment. There are some interesting websites about minimizing your possessions and these can provide useful inspiration. However, Sam’s Van is about optimizing what you have rather than minimising it.

Recently I began to consider what I have in the kitchen. This caused me to look at some lists of “essential” items of kitchenware, which did give me something of a chuckle. I quite like cooking so my kitchen contains some items I would not put on a basic start-up list. The list below is a combination of what I have in my kitchen and items that appear on lists of essentials. If you are equipping a new kitchen or wish to declutter an old one this list and my comments may be of help.

Plates, Bowls and Cutlery.

At least four of each, with six preferable. The more you have, the less often you will have to wash up! Bowls end up being used for microwaving veg and other uses so a few extra of these is prudent. I found that teaspoons tended to be in short supply too so I brought a bundle more and released them into the drawer in the hope that they will breed.

Mugs.

Extra mugs save on the washing up and let you be sociable. Eight is a good number if you are on your own, twelve if a couple. Mugs also get used as little mixing bowls for making sauces, instant gravy, mustard or similar.

Beer and Wine Glasses.

You do not want to drink your beer and wine from mugs.

Pots and Pans.

You will need two, maybe three, saucepans of a suitable size for your requirements. For example, if you are mainly cooking for yourself a pot of about a litre size is going to be the most useful. Make sure all the pots have lids and that they are of a configuration that you can use the lid to drain the pot.

Wooden Utensils.

You will need some spoons to stir your cooking and spatulas to flip frying or grilling food over. Since some of your cookware will be non-stick it is prudent to get non-metallic items. If the local pound store does sets of wooden utensils you can soon acquire half a dozen or more items of varying shapes and applications.

Frying Pan.

If you are getting only one, get a non-stick one of reasonable width. A frying pan can also be used for making and reducing sauces.

Mixing Bowls.

A couple of bowls are useful for mixing stuff in, serving fruit or popcorn in and so on. If you are smart you will select some that you can use in the microwave. Some glass/ pyrex bowls often have measuring graduations too.

Measuring Jug.

I measure out the quantity of rice or pasta that I intend to cook by volume, so a measuring jug proves very handy. I also use it to fill the coffee maker with water. It is used so often that it seldom leaves the draining board.

Chinese Cleaver.

Something like 90% of cutting jobs in my kitchen are done by my Chinese cleaver. If I am using another knife it generally means the cleaver is in the wash. Unlike the western cleaver the Chinese model has a full bevel and a relatively thin blade. This type is sometimes called a vegetable cleaver but you can use it on anything you might wish to eat. As well as chopping it can also be used for slicing, dicing and all sorts of fine cutting too. Best place to get one is a Chinese supermarket, preferably one in a Chinatown district.
I have yet to cook anything the Chinese cleaver could not cut. Should such a situation occur I have a Buck Ax in the kitchen too. The back of this gets uses as a hammer to break up frozen veg.

Chopping Boards or Mats.

Have at least one, and have it of a type that is easily washable. Use it to cut your veg before your move onto the meat or fish or use a different one for each. If you want to have different boards for meat, vegetables and bread have them different colours.

Paring Knife.

The other knife I use a lot is a “bird’s beak” paring knife. These are also called “shaping knives” or “peeling knives”. This can be used for the jobs that a cleaver is not really suited for. Mine came with a knife block set. Its hooked blade is very useful for opening packaging. I brought the knife block set to stop a certain “guest” abusing my boning knife.

Scissors.

Modern packaging means that the scissors get used a lot too. I ended up putting a screw hook to hang them by inside the kitchen drawer so I could easily locate them. Some lists of kitchen equipment have kitchen shears, which are presumably used for food preparation. Never used or owned these. The scissors or cleaver should serve.

Bread Knife.

Whether you need a bread knife will depend on how you buy your bread and how much bread you eat at home. I have one as part of the knife block set and it sees occasional use.

Carving Knife.

There is one in the knife block set. Before I had that I usually used the cleaver.

Butcher’s Steel and Ceramic Rods

No point in buying a cleaver and knives if you cannot keep them in working condition. I have a pair of ceramic sharpening rods and a butcher’s steel in my kitchen, ready to be used as needed. See my book on how to use them.

Filleting and Boning Knives.

I don’t have a filleting knife and I find I have seldom used my boning knife. Good ones tend to be expensive so do not buy unless you expect to get lots of use out of them.
 

Whisk.

Whether you need a whisk depends on your cooking abilities and style. If you have no idea on how to make a sauce or batter you do not need them. I like the “magic” whisk type that look like they have a spring bent into a horseshoe-shape. I brought two or three of these to save on washing up. Never felt the need for an electric mixer or blender.

Skimmer.

This is a Chinese item like a cross between a ladle and a metal net. It is used to fish stuff out of boiling water or deep fat. I have seldom used it.

Electric Kettle.

You could get by with a saucepan if you have one clean but an electric kettle is worth having. Get the sort that will only boil the amount of water you need.

Toaster.

The usefulness of a toaster depends on whether you have bread in the house. I had a friend staying with me who would buy bread for sandwiches so the toaster saw some use. Since he has gone it has not been used.

Garlic Press.

I have not seen mine in over a decade. When I need crushed garlic I simply flatten it between the cleaver blade and chopping board, which also makes it easier to peel. Then slice or mince further with cleaver as necessary.

Potato Masher.

Use a fork unless you make a lot of mash.

Pizza Cutter.

Just use a table knife.

Ice Cream Scoop.

Use a spoon.

Can Opener.

I don’t eat a lot of canned food. When I needed something like canned tomatoes for a chilli con carne I’d use the can opener on a penknife. A spare penknife is a useful thing to keep in the kitchen drawer. A friend who was staying with me ate more canned food so we brought a turnkey-type can opener from the pound store. Unless you are disabled or work in an industrial kitchen you do not need an electric can-opener. They are a waste of energy and money.

Bottle Opener/ Corkscrew.

You should have these. The penknife stands in reserve.

Pepper Grinder.

Unsurprisingly, for grinding peppercorns.

Vegetable Peeler.

I’m sure I have one of these somewhere but have not used it in years. Often you can simply scrape or wash fresh vegetables instead or use your paring knife.

Grater.

I like grated cheese on my spaghetti so I brought a grater from the poundstore. You can get by with cutting the cheese with a knife so this is an optional item rather than an essential.

Lemon Juicer.

Lemon juice for pancakes gets brought ready squeezed. If I have to get juice from a fresh lemon or orange I squeeze them manually or mash them with a spoon

Pressure Cooker.

I probably do not use this as often as I should. It gets forgotten in the cupboard so I will try keeping it on a shelf instead. I eat a lot of rice and pasta and pressure cooking these does not offer much of a real time saving and the pot is large for the volumes that I cook. The pressure cooker is good for cooking rice or pasta with other ingredients. Frozen veg is quicker and simpler in the microwave. It does get used to make the Ham in Cola that I usually cook near Christmas.

Wok.

I’m told that most people buy a wok, use it for a few meals then forget about it. I have been using mine for several decades for a variety of meals. There are lots of things you can use a wok for other than stir-fries. If you do stir-fry, however, buy a chuan to move the food around with. This resembles a cross between a spatula and a shovel. You will also need a bamboo brush to clean your wok with. It is worth having a lid for your wok too. My lid got damaged in a move several decades ago and I have managed without, however. You can buy a wok set in a nice box from many supermarkets. For a fraction of the price you can pick one up unboxed from a Chinese supermarket. Buy a cleaver, brush and chuan while you are there.
Don’t bother with non-stick or stainless steel woks. Get a carbon steel wok of 13-14 inches and season it

Microwave.

I use my microwave a lot but I really should use it more creatively. Mainly I use it to cook frozen vegetables. A bowl of frozen veg can be cooked in just a few minutes. I also use it to make polenta or mug brownies. The microwave is used for defrosting too but it is less wasteful to let items thaw naturally in the fridge overnight.
 

George Foreman Grill.

The grill in my oven is very inefficient, and the one in the microwave/ grill is not that great either so I brought a George Forman grill. I will admit I have used my wok and frying pan much less since I brought my George Foreman. Bear in mind it cooks both sides of the food at once so will cook quicker than a conventional grill.

Tongs.

I don’t think I have ever owned kitchen tongs. The closest thing I have to them are cooking chopsticks, which I seldom use. A wooden spatula serves for flipping food.
 

Porridge Pan.

If you like porridge a small non-stick milk pan is worth having. It lets you make breakfast if the pans from the night before have not yet been washed. I have a spurtle too but you can use the handle of a wooden spoon instead.

Ladle.

I have a couple of these but seldom use them. I do use one as a measure when pouring pancake batter. You can also use some as very small saucepans for melting a few grams of butter, for example. I would not class a ladle as an essential. I’d not throw my away but I’d not rush out to buy them if I didn’t have them.

Casserole Dish.

Whether you want a casserole dish will depend on your cooking skills and inclinations. It is a good idea to select one that can also be used in the microwave. I fill mine with tortilla chips and melt grated cheese over them. A nice looking casserole dish can also be used as a serving dish too.

Measuring Spoons and Measuring Cups.

I don’t own any of these and have managed without them. The scales, measuring jug and eating spoons get used instead.

Scales.

Depending on your cooking style these can be handy to have.

Timer.

Handy to have, particularly if you are easily distracted or not that experienced at cooking.

Colander.

Generally I use the saucepan lids to drain pots. A colander can be useful for some other tasks such as washing fruit or veg. Can also be used as a well ventilated fruit bowl. 

Sieve.

I seldom use mine but it is worth having one. A sieve can be used to drain stuff that would go through a colander. It can also be used to sift flour or icing sugar.
 

Baking Tin.

If you want to use your oven you will need at least one ware that can be used in it. You can use your casserole dish and get by using foil instead of a baking sheet. A non-stick backing tin a few inches deep can be used to make pies or toad in the hole. According to at least one website a 9 x 13” dish will be the most useful. A square or round dish 8 to 9” across is more useful if there is just one or two of you. You will need a non-metallic cake slice or knife to use with your non-stick containers.

Tupplewares.

A few plastic boxes can prove handy.

Oven Glove and Tea Towels.

My girlfriend’s sister took a dislike to my oven glove and it disappeared. Tea towels work just as well and are more versatile. Towels are great for swatting houseflies from the air to keep your kitchen a “no-fly zone”.

Food Processor, Blender, Liquidiser.

Personally I have managed to cook for several decades without owning any of these so I would dispute that they are “essential”.

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 


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Monday, 5 June 2017

Preventing Terrorist Attack.

The primary means to counter terrorism are policework and defence in depth. “Policework” encompasses the fields of surveillance, investigation, intelligence gathering and patrolling. Note that most of these activities are the province of law enforcement and intelligence agencies rather than that of the conventional military. To put it another way, preventing a terrorist action is achieved in the same way as the prevention of any other criminal activity.
It is interesting that many of the voices I see demanding that “something be done” after a terrorist attack are the same that so loudly complain about police and intelligence services attempting to do their jobs. A large chunk of our society wants to “cut off the nose to spite the face” and bend over backwards making excuses for our attackers.

Suppose, for example, an individual is suspected of being involved in terrorist-related activities. The first thing that needs to be done is to investigate if these suspicions have any veracity. The only way to do this is surveillance and investigation. It may be necessary to follow that individual. It may be necessary to investigate his friends, acquaintances and contacts. It may be necessary to read his mail or monitor his conversations.  Such things are necessary if terrorist attacks are going to be prevented. They are also necessary to establish the innocence of a suspect.

Think about this the next time you read the latest “scandal” that our intelligence services tapped a phone. How can you demand that they do their job when you simultaneously bind and blind them? After attacks there are often complaints that “known extremists” were operating, ignoring the lack of legal options that could have been used on them.

Do not misunderstand me. Civil liberties, freedom of speech and privacy are all important. A healthy society balances the requirements of the individual and those of the many. Our police and intelligence services do need overview and culpability. An overview panel should be drawn from all of the major parties. The panel would prevent information and resources being used for personal or partisan agendas. Unlike the public hearings in favour in certain circles the panel would not be used to generate publicity for its members.

In many worldviews criminal activity and terrorist activity are distinct. Organised crime groups can be just as serious a threat to public safety as terrorist groups. Certain terrorist groups are active in organized crime and many criminal groups will use terrorist tactics and weaponry. Criminals and terrorists can be countered using the same tools and techniques. In some countries the responsibilities for surveillance, investigation and intelligence gathering are spread between half a dozen or more agencies. There may be unproductive lines of demarcation between them and sharing of information may be variable.

Since terrorism and criminal activity can be countered in the same way it would be prudent for the relevant sections of police and counter-intelligence forces to act together. Ideally this would become a chimeric “corporation” that gathers and processes data from local, national and international sources. It would deal with both criminal and political threats. Personnel would be drawn from law enforcement, intelligence, military and civilian career paths.

More efficient support of investigation, surveillance and intelligence gathering will help prevent terrorist attacks. No human system can be expected to be perfect, however, which brings me to defence in depth.

As I have stated in my books and other posts, the reason shootings and stabbings occur at schools is that our schoolchildren are unprotected. Machete attacks occur in public places because the attackers know their victims will be unarmed. Gunmen shoot into crowds because they know no one will be shooting back. Bombs get planted because they can be. Soft targets invite attack.

In 1940 Britain lived in fear of sudden Nazi paratroop attacks. The solution was bands of local armed volunteers who were to become the Home Guard. If such attacks had ever occurred these men would have taken up their rifles and held the invaders until reinforcements could arrive. Incidentally, many Home Guard units kept their arms caches separate from the local police station since they knew the police station would have been a priority enemy target.

Modern “pop-up” terrorists attacks are actually a similar tactical problem to the anticipated Nazi paratroopers. The difference is these will emerge from the crowds rather than down from the sky.

Where is our “defence in depth”? Where is our local defence response? How often do you see even a single policeman walking around a public area? And if there is one, it is likely he has nothing more than a handgun or tazer. If something happened in your area right now, how long would it take an armed squad from the local station or barracks to reach you?



I recently visited a museum with my girlfriend. On entry her bag was checked but the cardboard box I had under my arm was ignored. It held a new laptop, but the box could easily have accommodated an AK47 and a few grenades. The “increased security measures” in this building at the moment are that an unarmed, overweight security guard asks for my photo ID.

Defence in depth is about effective security precautions and being able to back them up in a timely fashion.

Yes, it may mean more searches. It may mean random traffic stops. There may be more armed police on the streets, or even military.

I often hear bitching about police looking too military. I am more concerned with them not having sufficient means or dispersion to deal with threats. On the rare occasions I do see a police officer with an SMG I am more concerned that he does not appear to be carrying any reloads.

My suggestions have been misinterpreted as being that I am advocating martial law. Quite the contrary. I am suggesting that we make better use of available resources by using the military to support the police.

You may not like surveillance cameras. You may not like being delayed by a search. Weapons detectors at schools may make you “uncomfortable”. It is time to grow up to the facts that the alternatives are worse.

The Books

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 


http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html


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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The "Murray" Troop Training System.

One of my more regular correspondents recently mentioned that he had brought a copy of “Crash Combat” and was finding it a “great read”. This is always nice to hear. He is in Australia and this reminded me of the Australian connection that the book has. Readers will know that the concept of the book was indirectly inspired by a section in John Vader’s “Battle of Sidney”. I thought I had already made that passage the subject of a blog. Turns out that I never got around to it, so here it is.

…editor whose reporter named Murray as his source. He was taken to the GOC, General Maitland, who at once asked, “Well, Brains, what's the big secret?” Colonel Murray, forever to be known as “Brains”, explained his theory:

“In a situation like the one existing now in the country, there no time for special training to deal with all the conditions which are likely to be presented to the infantryman. To begin, the fittest men must be chosen and every part of boredom in training must eliminated. There is no need, for example, to learn how to salute, since nobody salutes at the front except the peace-time men who can,t drop the habit. Naming the parts of a Bren or Vickers is a waste of time: tell a man which part may cause a blockage, show him how to clear it and he will be as efficient as an instructor. Retire the fire and brimstone sergeant-majors until the war is over and replace them with sergeants who know how to give simple orders in simple teams which will get their meaning across. Take out all the "snarlers" and "bludgers" — there is no time to make them into soldiers. Send them to dig holes.

When men choose their own leader they are usually right and recruits should be allowed to choose their corporals, the section leaders. Then send them out to live in the bush for two days, to cook their own food and make their way to certain points by a certain time. They have to learn how to stay alive both fending for themselves and avoiding enemy fire. On their first or second day — as soon as possible — give them trenching tools and tell them that in, say, ten minutes, machine-guns will be firing live bullets across the ground where they are standing: they'll learn that to stay alive they must dig quickly, and when the bullets fly over their heads they'll get a quick and impressive example of the value of cover. Also within the first couple of days give them rifles and targets — without bothering about rifle ranges — and let them get the feel of the Lee Enfield. As many practice rounds as possible should be issued to them so that they can be confident that they can actually hit a man at a hundred yards, for that is about the distance where most men are accurate and anything further be left to the good shots.
They should all fire the Bren, Vickers, Owen and Thompson guns, and if possible let them see an anti-tank and bigger pieces fired so they'll know what slow and cumbersome things they are to move about when the infantr’ call for their support. Any farmers who have driven tractors should be made members of Bren-gun carrier crews, either as drivers or as gunners who can drive in an emergency. On the third or fourth night send them on night exercises. Most of them will get lost but they will learn the importance of control, identity and perhaps how darkness can be used to an advantage.

If there are no commanders of the new battalions being formed who will accept these ideas then anybody, whether sergeants, junior officer, who has the will and ability to adopt this system should be promoted to battalion leadership. Cut out drill al- together. On long route marches and training exercises they will soon learn to march in step for the convenience it offers, and when they march they will also know that it is easier to march in ranks Of two or three than in straggling lines. Australians have a good instinct for soldiering — both in attack and defence —and the best way to bring it out is to teach them how to use a gun. I certainly believe that the majority could, with the right leadership in platoons and companies, be made into soldiers in one week.”
(From Major-General Murray’s Australia Invaded.)

Murray’s ideas were readily accepted by General Maitland: field commanders were instructed to follow detailed training systems for new recruits as well as transport supply, artillery and other non-infantry units who could be used as infantry in an emergency. The response was most encouraging. When battalions, freed from parade ground bull and dull repetitive lectures, were given a greater opportunity to release the men’s initiative and show in field exercises a more dashing spirit. The AIF battalions were surprised to find themselves being challenged in these exercises by militia battalions whose previous conduct was careless and indifferent. The new mood of the Australian Army was to prove as important as the material help from Britain and America, for in the long run it would be militia and ATF infantry who would be standing against the invader.
The Books

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 


http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html


http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/crash-combat/paperback/product-22603842.html




Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Common Mistakes in Military Writing.

You may be working on a TV or movie script or creating a video game. You may be writing a news report, sourcebook, article or novel. The chances are that sooner or later you will have to deal with weapon or military related topics. Using the wrong term can easily make your efforts worthless nonsense. Here are some common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Magazines.

One of the most common and prevalent mistakes is also one of the easiest to avoid. There are few ways that will as easily destroy your credibility or that of your character as this mistake. A “clip” is not a “magazine”. Despite common misuse “clip” is not an alternative term for “magazine”, they are separate and distinct things.  A clip is a mechanical component that fits inside a magazine. To say they are the same is like claiming a rabbit is the same as a burrow or a sock the same as a foot! It is not “semantics”, it is just plain wrong! I have known at least one veteran soldier who would grind his teeth every time a journalist, screen writer or supposed “expert” gun writer made this mistake. Details that you may not appreciate may matter a lot to others. If you cannot get a basic detail like this right you might as well give up writing.

The quick rule of thumb is, if you want to use “clip” you should use “magazine”. For small arms clips are something of an anachronism and only found is some vintage weapons. Very few modern firearms require ammunition to be loaded into a clip. Rounds fit directly into the magazine. Futuristic weapons are very unlikely to use a clip. See here for more detailed explanations. If you take one thing away from this article, make it this and your writing will have improved considerably.

Shrapnel.

Shrapnel is a term that needs to be treated with some caution. Strictly speaking shrapnel comes from a shrapnel shell. Typically a shrapnel shell contains a mass of musket balls of around half an inch diameter. Unlike a shotgun shell or canister load a shrapnel shell explodes in mid-air to release its cargo. Shrapnel shells were adopted in 1803, copied by other nations and saw a decline in use during the First World War, the large infantry formations that were the intended target becoming uncommon. Some later designs such as the AHEAD anti-aircraft round could be legitimately described as shrapnel. The term is actually seldom used in modern military technology publications. See here for a space warfare application of shrapnel.

Most of the time someone uses the term “shrapnel” they actually mean splinters or fragments. It could be argued shrapnel has become a generic term for such things but its more definite meaning can cause problems. I recently read a book where the author spoke of “ground strewn with jagged shrapnel”, which is a ludicrous oxymoron to the educated reader. A very nice example of the problem was in the BBC Musketeers series where a character claims men have been wounded by shrapnel. Not only did she actually mean wooden splinters and stone fragments, but this constitutes an anachronism too.

It is tempting to use specialized jargon to create the impression that you are knowledgeable. Not doing your research and using it wrongly can create the opposite effect.

Shrapnel is a term best reserved for character dialogue only.

Suppressor.

You will find assertions that the term “silencer” is wrong and that the correct term is “suppressor” or “moderator”. This is a modern affection and is actually wrong. Maxim’s first designs were called “silencers” so the term is legitimate. Many people who claim this is wrong call magazines “clips”, which tells you all you really need to know about them! Suppressor and moderator are more fashionable terms in modern usage so are the terms more likely to be used by characters familiar with firearms or military hardware. What term a character uses will depend on their familiarity with such devices and their era. A cop in the 1920s or a modern civilian non-shooter is likely to claim a suspect had a silencer.

Graticule vs Reticule.

This is an easy one to remember. A graticule has some form of graduations, a reticule does not.

Revolver.

In some older books “revolver” is used as a generic term for a pistol or handgun. Characters will draw a revolver which in a later passage is identified as a Luger! You will also see revolvers treated as being distinct from pistols. This confusion is the result of “automatic” being dropped from “automatic pistol”. Revolvers are actually a subset of pistols or handguns, so calling them pistols is permissible.

A revolver has a cylinder with a number of chambers in it. One round goes into each chamber. Typically there are six chambers. Small revolvers and large calibre designs may have fewer chambers. Small calibre revolvers or some more modern designs may have more. You can say that a revolver only has “two shots in its cylinder”. You cannot say it only has “two shots in its chamber”.

Revolvers have a gap between the barrel and the chamber. Therefore most revolvers cannot effectively use a suppressor/ silencer. There are exceptions to this but that stable of 70s cop shows, the detective special with a little Champaign cork-sized thing on the muzzle, is pure fantasy.

Trading Shots.

If two units are “trading shots” they are shooting at each other. I would have thought that did not have to be explained, but I recently read a book where several times artillery “trade salvos” and the shots are then described as being targeted against other units.

Incidentally, a weapon is not “the answer to…” another system unless it is a direct counter to it. The German Nebelwerfer was not the answer to the Soviet Stalin’s Organ, it was its equivalent.

Jargon.

Like many institutions and cultures the military have their own jargon, some of which are effectively shibboleth. You should familiarize yourself with some of these before writing on the subject. For traditional reasons the British rifleman will call his bayonet “a sword”, no matter how short the blade. A private of a rifle regiment will be a “rifleman”, not a “trooper” incidentally. A more common tradition is the US military practice of calling caps and hats “covers”.

A tradition to note is that US marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”. One marine will never call another a soldier. I have even seen a marine chewing out kindergarten children on this when the children had sent a letter “hoping that he and the other soldiers were safe”. Traditions and terminology matter.

Rank.

In the English-speaking militaries an NCO is never addressed as “sir”. Civilians may be addressed as “sir”, officers are “sir” but corporals, sergeants and warrant officers are never “sir”.

You should not write on military matters unless you have some comprehension of rank and how it fits into a military structure. A major would not normally command a rifle squad, nor would he be commanding a division. There is a movie where a character is introduced as “a colonel in the SAS”. Generally regiments only have one colonel, and they are unlikely to be twenty-somethings who are sent to single-handedly deal with alien invasions.

I could fill a book with dumb and avoidable mistakes in modern media. Don’t assume you know things, do some research. Some of your assumptions will prove to be misconceptions, which may be uncomfortable and difficult to accept. Don’t claim an aircraft has a twelve cylinder engine when a couple of seconds’ research will tell the reader it had nine. Don’t fuel your T34 with gasoline. Don’t give a character a laser weapon and then have him notice the increased recoil. A shotgun is not a rifle. “RPG” does not actually stand for “rocket propelled grenade”. “Chain guns” do not have multiple spinning barrels. Decimate does not mean “nearly wipe out”. “Shaped-charge/ hollow-charge/ HEAT” does not melt through armour, it forces through. “Point blank” does not mean close, it means aimed without adjusting for drop

Good writing is in the details. Not bothering to get the details right shows a contempt for your reader and your subject. Even if your writing is not sympathetic to the topic getting your details right can only help you convey your message.  
 
Just as important as getting your details right is to be consistent. I have read books where a firearm changes calibre four times in a short paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence! In a book I read recently a character is described as a “dashing colonel”. Later in the same scene he worries about offending a superior officer who is a major. On the next page he is engaged in conversation and is frequently addressed as “major”. In a later scene set a day or so later he is once again called a colonel. This is just sloppy and there is not really any defence for this.
The Books

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/epsdbook.html 

http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/survival-weapons-optimizing-your-arsenal/paperback/product-21488758.html


http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-west/crash-combat/paperback/product-22603842.html