Day By Day© by Chris Muir - Get This Guy Syndicated!

February 12, 2004

Part of a new Rumsfeld initiative?

Update: OMG! I forgot to say thanks to CAPT H. for the picture!

Pursuant to Secretary Rumsfeld's intent to streamline procurement, make things cheaper and to get 'em faster - and to think outside the box, the DATs* are doing their best to help. In this case, they're trying to either; a, mate tanks to make the new little ones, b, trying to save on fuel costs by using only one engine at a time. Obviously the TTP* needs some work yet.

2tanks1.jpg

Actually, as a young Forward Observer with A 1/46 INF, 2nd BDE, 1st Amored Division in Germany in 1980 I had a similar experience to this. While on a January FTX* in several feet of snow out in our 'manuever rights"* area, we were defending a terrain feature called the "Kemnath Bowl" near the small town of Grafenwoehr. We were doing our thing, the infantry dismounted along the military crest, TOWs and Dragons in strongpoints all ready to whack the guys from 3rd BDE as they came down the "candystripe*" up to the bridge across the 'blue line' when we would open the attack. The gents of the 3rd BDE were nicely accomodating and we opened the attack.

We were task organized with a platoon of tanks from the Red Lions of A 2/81 Armor. For my part, in order to initiate the group of targets on the river crossing, I was positioned on the reverse slope in "TC defilade"*.

The tanks of the platoon were in front of me running up and down the slope, changing position, and engaging. The platoon leader of this group of heroes was so focused on his targets that he was not doing his other job - looking behind him when backing up his 60-ton behemoth. As for myself, I was watching the fight through my binos and adjusting fire. The infantry company commander, whose heaters in his command track didn't work, had decided to conduct this fight from his jeep (with a canvas cover on and a good heater), followed by his command track. The problem was - his jeep couldn't get through the depth of snow, so he was following my M113. Closely.

So, DAT starts his tank back again, I'm focused on the trigger point for a target and talking on the command fire net to my boss, the company commander is right behind me in his jeep - and the only guy paying attention to what is going on in the immediate area is my driver.

Who is desperately trying to get my attention, but I'm tuning him out on the VIC* as I initiate my target. Finally Specialist Davis gets my attention by punching me in the stomach with the stick I used when I needed get his attention and the VIC wasn't working all that well.

I look at Davis, his eyes are as big as saucers, he points to the front, I look, and there is a very, very, very large and getting larger M60A3 backing up right at us. Unlike the platoon leader/tank commander, I turn around, see that the damn company commander is still about three feet behind my track and try to get him to understand I need him to back up. He just looks at me with the slack-jawed, drooling stare of someone who has been awake too long and his driver is probably asleep anyway. The jeep doesn't move.

I turn back around. The tank is now very large, huge even, blocking out the grey, snowswept vista of the Kemnath Bowl. Shit. This is going to suck.

All I can see is the back of the platoon leader's head. Not that he needed urging, but I tell Davis to "unass" the track, and I get out of the TC hatch and throw a snowball at the platoon leader.

Whack! Right in the back of the head.

He turns his head around... just as his tank starts up the glacis of my M113 and starts chewing on the trim vane. I turn around, the the jeep is suddenly in motion. A$$hole.

The DAT in command of the tank is screaming into his VIC. The tank grinds inexorably up the front of my track, shattering the trim vane to flinders, grinding off the headlights and bracket on the right side, and comes to a halt, resting on the barrel of my M2 .50 cal. Which was not intend for that role and has assumed a curvilinear profile not normally associated with machine gun barrels. There have also been two very large bangs. That was the torsion bars failing on the first two roadwheels, as they also were not intended to support the weight of a tank. Fortunately for all involved, the bars failed and not the anchors. That's a real pain to fix.

Good thing the TC helmet intercom connections are break-away, because I launched up the rear of the tank, hopped on the turret and smacked the DAT on the head. Fortunately for both of us, he just ducked down into the turret and quit being a baby.

So, the Company Commander joins us and yells at us both. We can leave that discussion alone, except to say many expletives were deleted, the company commander realized that he didn't want anyone to hear about this - and he arranged to have my track recovered and paid for the repairs out of his PLL. In the meantime the war went on.

And that's another story, about riding around the wilds FO'ing from the loaders hatch in a tank commanded by a demonstrable (he demonstrated it multiple times daily) idiot.

Jargon is explained in the extended post.

FTX - Field Training Exercise

TTP - Tactics, Techniques, Procedures.

DAT - Dumb-ass Tanker. As opposed to DAG, Dumb-ass Grunt. (Hi Donnie!)

Maneuver Rights - an area of land that by agreement, we could maneuver across (paying for damage, of course). Something we haven't done in the US since the Louisiana and Tennessee Maneuvers of WWII. Imagine tanks and tracks moving through the streets of your town, soldiers setting up and fighting in your town square, and maneuvering across your land. That's what the Germans put up with for decades during the Cold War. Most of 'em, especially near the border didn't mind near as much as you'd think. They bring you coffee, pastrys, offer up schnapps, fruit, etc. The entrepreneurial ones would follow the units selling hot food out cars and vans and trailers.

Candystripe - slang for a secondary improved road. Depicted as red/white/red/white lines on a map.

Blue line - slang for a stream or river.

TC Defilade. Using terrain as cover/concealment from observation or fire. Cover protects from fire offers concealment. Concealment - they can't see you form behind that bush, but if they shoot at the bush, well, damn, that sucks.
You can be in full defilade, meaning nothing shows. At the Combat Training Centers where we use laser engagement systems, you'll also hear the term 'laser defilade' or 'laser berm'. That refers to the way defensive fighting postiions are built. If you can't dig deep enough, or digging deep means you can't cover your sector of fire, you build a berm. The berm has to be pretty thick to stop a kinetic energy penetrator. It just has to be opaque to stop a laser. "Laser defilade" essentially is cheating, and that's why there are Observer/Controllers to do the killing of vehicles engaged in that. Part of the dance at the CTCs. Anyway TC defilade means the track commander's head is above the line, hull defilade (normal engaging position if you can get it) means the turret is exposed and you can shoot, but the hull is still down. You'll also hear it as "hull down".

VIC - vehicle intercom. System that allows crewmen to talk to each other and use the radios while in a very noisy environment.

Unass - get yer ass off the vehicle.

Glacis - the front slope of an armored vehicle.

Trim Vane - large piece of plywood that is deployed when swimming the vehicle to keep the track from nosing under and swamping.


Comments on Part of a new Rumsfeld initiative?
SayUncle briefed on February 12, 2004 09:39 AM

I find that particular bit of gun porn degrading to guns :)