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Getting to the Fight, Part 6.

Part 6 of Blake's Behind-the-Scenes look at the GWOT.

Miscellany and Curiosities

Been working my butt off again, literally. Iím having to tighten my belt to keep my pants up, which isnít a bad thing considering that my doctor would like me to lose 40 pounds or so.

A bit of an explanation seems in order here. The basic process for deploying unit equipment in theater is that we get the stuff off the ship, then move the stuff to the staging base. Some of the equipment is unpacked there in order for the deploying unit to conduct required training, such as live-firing all individual and crew-served weapons, and conducting live-fire immediate action drills of various sorts, both dismounted and mounted. Then when all the training is complete, the gear gets packed back up, and we load everything up on trucks to move it north. The people fly north by tactical airlift (cattle-class on C-130ís, mostly,) or by road convoy in armored trucks and HMMWVís, and marry up
with the rest of their equipment at their bases in Iraq when the line-haul trucks deliver it.

But the problem is that there are never enough line-haul assets to make everyone happy. (Kirkís First Rule of Logistics: No army, anywhere, will ever have enough transportation assets to keep everyone happy.) So we as shippers have an obligation not to waste lift: itís really bad form to use ten trucks to move gear you could have moved safely on eight trucks, because those two extra trucks could have been used to move some other shipperís stuff. Weíre not doing so bad here. As evidence I offer the following photo of a loaded line-haul truck somewhere in Kuwait. I think that one counts as being full.

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At some point in my perambulations around Kuwait, I ran across a Polish Army unit getting ready to go home. And they had a war trophy. Sitting on a heavy equipment transporter was, of all things, a Sherman tank. It looks like one of the old ďSuper ShermansĒ the Israelis up-gunned with a 90mm gun, but this one has had a sleeve inserted into the barrel to turn it into a flamethrower tank. Itís not real clear as to how it would up in Iraq, but by cracky, the Poles found it somewhere upcountry, and they are taking it home.

See pictures:

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Hosting provided by FotoTime

Finally, I keep getting reminders that this is not quite the same Army I joined in 1978. To wit, tonight in the chow line I saw a couple of interesting vignettes:

The Cute Blond Chick with the Big Honking Gun Ė In my day an infantry brigade was an all-male club. These days two of the six battalions in my brigade have women assigned to them, as does the brigadeís headquarters company. So here in the chow line is this little blond female PFC, who is maybe 5 feet tall in her boots, with an M240 machine gun slung diagonally across her back. Durned gun is nearly as big as she is, and sheís toting it around with about as much concern as if it were an oddly-shaped purse.

The Star Wars Toy Ė In the same chow line was a hulking squad leader from an airborne unit, one of those annoying 6-foot-6-inch-260-pounds-and-ainít-none-of it-fat types with the 56-inch chest and the 28 inch waist. (I say annoying because Iíve always wanted to look like that and have never managed itÖ) Heís carrying an M4 carbine across his chest in a combat sling. The weapon has so many hi-tech widgets attached to it, it looks like a toy from the Star Wars aisle at Toys-R-Us: aiming lasers, optical sights, spotlights, extra handgrips, a bipod, you name it. If thereís a place to attach an accessory, thereís something attached. In this guyís massive paws it really looks more like a toy than the very lethal weapon it actually is.

My first military rifle was an M14 in college ROTC during my freshman year. We've come a long way since then. Except we haven't, really. I'm given to understand that a number of units now want to issue scoped M14's to the Designated Marksman in each squad until the purpose-designed DM rifle becomes available. I expect that the novelty of a wooden-stocked weapon in this day and age will wear off about half-way through the first foot patrol toting that beast. It gets heavy after a while.

For the record, based on the markings and battle damage - I call that an M36 Jackson turret sitting in a standard M4 chassis (vice the angled-body chassis more common to the type) that belonged to the Iranians (see that roundel on the turret? Green/tan/brown? A camo version the green/white/red of the Iranian Army. The Poles are taking home an Iraqi Army battle trophy...

Lest we think that unusual - at Pinder Barracks, Zirndorf, Germany, the 6th Battalion, 14th Field Artillery (Everything's better with a Whorebonnet on it! Those who know, know), had a trophy gun in front of their battalion headquarters. A Skoda howitzer captured from the Serbs by the Austrians, captured from the Austrians by the Italians, captured from the Italians by the Germans, and just taken over by the US when they found it occupying the Kaserne after WWII... Heh. A traveling trophy, kinda like the Americas Cup...

Lastly, when you're me-sized, the M14 doesn't feel that big. I liked it.

Parts 1, 2, and 3, 4, 5 can be reached by clicking the respective numbers.

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14 Comments

Fully loaded truck? Naw; needs 10 rolls of concertina, a couple of tents, the company clerks desk and the mess gear from the truck that broke down ten miles out of base. Now that would be a loaded truck. Cute blond PFC with the 240: Long ago and far far away I was assigned to a group of people that had a few ladies assigned. We were issued M-1s, no not carbines. One of the very light weight ladies had to have someone behind her to brace her feet when she fired, otherwise she was pushed so far back down from the firing line she could not see the targets. Couldn't hit much but she was game. An Old Fogey
 
Having moused around the Web for a few minutes, I'm willing to buy the ID of the mystery vehicle as an M36. The muzzle brake and bore evacuator threw me off a bit, as most of the WW2 photos I remembered showed the early model M36's without either. This looked just like the cannon mounted on the M46, and I had assumed it was a retrofit rather than original equipment.
 
It's also *not* on the standard chassis, either, Blake. That threw me for a minute, kind of like seeing a bobblehead doll with Donovan McNabb's head on Sammy Sosa's body...
 
What can one say? Third World armies have wierd equipment. Some of it put together from odd bits left lying around in scrap heaps. For example, the old Yemeni Army at one point had the same Emerson-built Vulcan turret that the US used on an M113 hull, but the Yemenis had mounted theirs on old Russian-made BTR-152 armored trucks. And a couple of years ago, an SF type in Afghanistan found a couple of WW1-era Renault light tanks in a scrap heap, and arranged to have them flown back to Fort Campbell and then trucked to the Patton Museum at Fort Knox. The curators there have some hope that from the two they can reconstruct one operable example.
 
IIRC, I thought they were actually Ford 3-tonners, but I could be wrong (even *weirder* if they were).
 
Dang! 18-wheelers? I do believe that's a 22-wheeler!
 
John, do you have photos of other US 90mm guns, as the muzzle brake in Blake's photo does not look correct: it looks French. Ford 3-tonner???? Cheers
 
Rich, that reminds me of a very bad story I heard from a senior official at Ga. Tech, in front of thousands of us, back in 1968. It seems that a fellow got himself a hunting licence, armed and equipped himself, and went out hunting. Well, what showed up as the first sizable large critter in his sight, but a young, good-looking, totally naked, cheerful friendly female human woman. The poor boy was taken aback, a bit, not expecting such a thing. However, he was not struck speechless. He asked her, "Are you game?" She nodded, grinning widely. . . . . . . . . . . . . . So, he shot her.
 
John - here is a Ford 3 Tonner owned by the Patton Museum at Fort Knox (which might even be one of the three I discovered abandoned in the woods behind the firing line of the known distance range at Fort McClellan, back in 1978. And here is a wartime M26 Pershing, a contemporary of the M36.
 
John, I saw the vehicles from Afghanistan while they were sitting at Campbell Army Airfield waiting for transport to Knox. (It was someone from 5th SFG that found them, I think.) They were clearly Renaults, and not the Ford model shown in your photo. Those SF guys *WILL* go looking for souveneirs, though, won't they. For a while the 5th SFG had a factory-new D-30 122mm howitzer sitting in one of their yards. (The color of the paint on new Russian hardware is kind of distincive.) Never did hear where they got that one. Fort Campbell recently decided to recover the Gun, Motor Carriage, M7 that's been lying for years off a trail somewhere between Oriental Village Road and Heavy Beast FLS/LZ. It's been there for years. I remember driving past it several times when I was still on active duty in the later 80's.
 
Dear John, I guess I went a little too far, because I read that beautiful poem. It reminds me of the Revolutionary War! This is a wonderful post in itself! I wish I knew as much as you guys do. Then again, the Navy turned me down. :( Oh well. I can still pray for everyone else! Have a great day. :)
 
WRTO muzzle brakes, the one in the photo of the M26 that John provided a link to, along with the bore evacuator, look very similar to the set in my photos. I'm still inclined to identify the Polish prize as an M36, and the suggestion that it was originally an Iraqi trophy from the Iran-Iraq War makes a good deal of sense. I suppose that converting it into a flamethrower tank made sense to somebody at some point, too.
 
The vehicle in question is a M36B1. It is the M36 90mm turret mounted on an M4 an was a late war production and never really saw service. After the war, bunches of M36B1s were sent overseas.
 
Thanks, Homer! Based on that - I went and did some more searching, and found this. I think we can lay this one down as solved... though I'll still get some more definitive info for CAPT H on US 90mm guns.