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March 11, 2004

Some battlefield equations are simple.


U.S. Marine Col. Charles Gurganus said gunfire broke out on the northeast corner of the plaza and several people were wounded before Marines spotted two gunmen. When the gunmen tried to attack the Marines, the troops shot and killed one of them, he said, adding that he did not know what happened to the other man.

Asked how he knew the man killed was a gunman, Gurganus said: "He had a gun, and he was shooting at Marines. That's what I call a gunman."

Works for me.

Here's the story.

Hat tip, Sonja!

by John on Mar 11, 2004 | Observations on things Military
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And who says...

...nobody ever dropped nukes on us?

1958 B-47E accidentally drops a Mk 6 30 kiloton atomic bomb, Mars Bluff, SC

What's interesting is there are several accounts with several different dates.

This was the most interesting.

Hat tip - Strategy Page

The Topic for Today is:

So, rather than reduce the soldier's load, is this going to be our solution?

Given that it takes 24+ AA batteries a day to power up the stuff the current grunt has to schlep around with him, what's this going to do to the current Logistician's Nightmare?

I have to go Data Diving, talk amongst yourselves....


Ultimately intended to help people like soldiers or firefighters carry heavy loads for long distances, these boots are made for marching.

"The design of this exoskeleton really benefits from human intellect and the strength of the machine," says Homayoon Kazerooni, who directs the Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley.

The exoskeleton consists of a pair of mechanical metal leg braces that include a power unit and a backpack-like frame. The braces are attached to a modified pair of Army boots and are also connected, although less rigidly, to the user's legs.

More than 40 sensors and hydraulic mechanisms function like a human nervous system, constantly calculating how to distribute the weight being borne and create a minimal load for the wearer.

"There is no joystick, no keyboard, no push button to drive the device," says Kazerooni, a professor of mechanical engineering. "The pilot becomes an integral part of the exoskeleton."

In lab experiments, says Kazerooni, testers have walked around in the 100-pound exoskeleton plus a 70-pound backpack and felt as if they were carrying just five pounds.

The whole thing is here, with a link to some interesting video.

March 10, 2004

Okay Guys, let's get Cracking!

I'm being assaulted by the Canadian Army, and frankly, it's just plain embarrassing.

In comments to the overturned tank post below, I got sniped. JMH, my window into Her Britannic Majesty's Northern Gate Guards, sent me this little Mouse That Roared piece, which mortified me, even if it is a little bit stale.

US Tankers, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Lord Strathcona's Horse - 31


116 (US) Armored Cavalry Brigade - 27

Close, but no ceegar! Close only counts in my biz - artillery.

Okay - the challenge for you tankers out there - defend your honor by pointing out any time we kicked Canadian butt (no nasty comments, please - just the facts, ma'am). Reality is guys, our record against the Canadians militarily on this continent isn't all that good, what with all our half-assed attempts to assimilate them in the 18th-19th centuries. I mean, shoot, the last time us Middle-North Americans successfully kick butt, it was booting the French from Louisbourg, which hardly counts -and that as Brit colonial militia under Brit leadership! So help me out here and gimme some ammo to fight with this Canadian who comes over to the Castle and twits me while drinking my beer!

BTW, you gents of the 116th - Good Luck and Godspeed on your pending departure for the sandbox!

March 09, 2004

One wonders how this happened.

It looks like flat ground (though I'd like to see what's to the right of this critter) and I see nothing obvious to cause a total roll-over. Any of you tankers out there got ideas?


Coming soon to a police station/military installation near you...

SmarTruck III.jpg

The Army's new Smar Truck lll concept, designed for America's homeland security, or for use in a war zone, sits outside Cobo Center March 6, 2004 before being put on display for it's March 8 unveilling at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2004 World Congress. Built in partnership with International Truck and Engine Corporation, the vehicle showcases the latest in armor protection, and detection and deterrent capabilities. Smar Truck lll is equipped with a weapons station module featuring a remote controlled .50-caliber machine gun which rises from the back of the vehicle and has sniper-detection directional sound capabilities. REUTERS/HO/Rebecca Cook

by John on Mar 09, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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March 08, 2004

The 4th ID War Memorial?

The story is more interesting than previously reported. Excerpts from the article in today's Wall Street Journal:

In This Monument To Dead, The Medium Really Is The Message

Hussein Statue Is Melted To Honor U.S. Soldiers; Artist Works in Secret

By Yochi J. Dreazen, Staff Reporter Of The Wall Street Journal

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Forehead resting on his palm, a weary American soldier kneels before a makeshift memorial -- a fallen comrade's helmet, rifle and boots. Nearby, a young Iraqi girl reaches for his shoulder to comfort him.

Officers from the U.S. Army's Fourth Infantry Division commissioned a life-size bronze sculpture of the tableau to honor dozens of troops the unit has lost in its 11 months in Iraq. Thanks to an unusual choice of sculptor -- and an unusual source of bronze -- the officers added a touch of poetic justice to the work.


Searching for a talented local sculptor to carry out Sgt. Fuss's vision, the Americans asked an Iraqi contractor if he knew any. The contractor recommended Khalid Alussy, a thin 27-year-old with a quick laugh. Asked about his sculpting experience, Mr. Alussy told the officers that some of his work was right outside the division's temporary base, one of Mr. Hussein's presidential palace compounds here in the deposed leader's hometown.

He was referring to a massive pair of 50-foot bronze statues of Mr. Hussein on a galloping horse, his sword pointing toward Jerusalem. The statues flanked a huge, domed, arched gateway on the main road into the palace compound, perched atop the structure's two 100-foot-tall towers. Mr. Alussy told the soldiers that he was on a team of several artisans commissioned by the Hussein government to make the statues. He said he took the job because he needed the money and was afraid of the consequences of saying no.

The officers didn't question Mr. Alussy further about his political views. Had they pressed him, they might have learned that he's harshly critical of the U.S. and bitter over an American rocket attack during the war that killed his uncle. In an interview, he says he thinks the war was fought for oil and holds the U.S. responsible for the violence and unemployment that have plagued Iraq since.

"I made the statues of Saddam -- even though I didn't want to -- because I needed money for my family and to finish my education," he says, reclining in a room decorated with several of his paintings. "And I decided to make statues for the Americans for the exact same reasons."

Mr. Alussy's initial asking price was far higher than the officers had expected. He blamed the steep price of bronze. So the Americans decided to recycle the bronze Hussein-on-horseback twins. "We figured we were going to blow them up anyway, so why not take the bronze and use it for our own statues?" recalls Sgt. Fuss. "That way we could take something that honored Saddam and use it to remember all of those we lost getting rid of him."

Without having to supply the metal, Mr. Alussy agreed to do the job for $8,000. By comparison, the former regime paid him the equivalent of several hundred dollars for his work on the Hussein statues. To finance the project, Sgt. Fuss publicized it in the task force's internal newspaper and asked officers to get soldiers to contribute $1 each. Within weeks, he raised $30,000.


The Army supplied Mr. Alussy with a posed photograph of First Sgt. Glen Simpson kneeling with his head on his palm. The artist was also given an army helmet and a set of boots to use as models, but Army officers refused to give him a real gun. Instead, he based the M-16 on old photos. He says some relatives mistook his creation for the real thing.

As the work neared completion, Sgt. Fuss and the division's commander, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, decided it needed a clearer connection to Iraq. The general suggested adding a small child to symbolize Iraq's new future, Sgt. Fuss says. When they told the artist they wanted another statue, Mr. Alussy demanded $10,000 more. "He learned capitalism real fast," Sgt. Fuss says.

With the division getting ready to return to the U.S. next month, the statues now are en route to its home base, Ft. Hood, Texas, where they will be the centerpiece of a monument that commanders hope to dedicate by Memorial Day, May 31. Current plans call for the tableau to be placed in front of a semi-circular wall emblazoned with the names of the dead. The division will be sent back to Iraq as early as next year, so some space on the wall will be left blank to allow for additional names.

The article is here, for those of you who are subscribers.

SGT Hook, who is headed for Afghanistan is paying attention...

...but the Press doesn't seem to be paying too much attention to the region. Wait! I know why - the press is only interested in bad news.

SGT Hook is just interestested in certain kinds of news. Can't say as I blame him!

March 07, 2004

Today's history tidbits... now that Hosting Matters is done migrating stuff around.

1862 Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, ends: Pea Ridge is an interesting fight. For those of you in the midwest, where larger-scale Civil War battlefields are scarce, it's a good one to visit. Trivia note - according to the Missouri Historical Society, there are more 'named Civil War engagements' in Missouri than any other state except Virginia. The Civil War was tough out here in Missouri and Kansas. But nothing like the bloodbath in Northern Virginia and Maryland. [Ed. Note - as Dr. Funk notes in his comment - it may not have been as bloody in absolute terms, but it was sure probably meaner!]

Anyway - as the military history instructor at Fort Sill, I used to conduct Staff Rides to Pea Ridge. It's a nice small battlefield, well maintained and a good fight to study. It pretty much is a textbook example regarding the Principles of War, as published in US Army Field Manual FM 100-5. My view of the principles is a little skewed... when I look at winners and losers, what I usually find is that the side that screwed up the least wins. Not always - mass can have a gravitas all it's own... ask the Finns. In this fight MG Curtis, the Union commander, screwed up the least. The mnemonic I use for the Principles is MOSSMOUSE. For a good slideshow on the subject, I direct you to the Berkely Army ROTC site.

Unity of Command
Economy of Force.

In this fight, Confederate Commander MG Earl Van Dorn moves his forces out of winter quarters in northeastern Arkansas to attack MG Curtis' troops, who are gathered on the ridge south of ElkHorn Tavern (though that ridge is NOT Pea Ridge, which is just to the north). Van Dorn wins Offensive, Maneuver and Surprise as he makes a daring flank march (see Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville) to get behind Curtis' force. Due to chain of command issues - i.e., Missouri Militia General Sterling Price's forces are not yet assimilated officially into the Confederate Army, and MG Ben McCulloch feels he should be in command and not Van Dorn, Van Dorn splits his forces - with McCullochs' troops attacking on the west side of Pea Ridge, Van Dorn and Price's troops attacking from the east side of the ridge, at Elkhorn Tavern. McCullochs forces include the formation of Native Americans, commanded by then-Colonel Stand Watie - who later rose to Brigadier General and commander of the First Indian Brigade - the last Confederate General to surrender his forces at war's end. However, Curtis has scouts out as he should, and detects the movement - score Security for Curtis.

Union Commander Curtis, even though his command includes a large number of ethnic Germans from the St. Louis area who don't speak good english under the command of MG Franz Sigel, wins Unity of Command hands down over Van Dorn. Sigel has his best day of the Civil War at Pea Ridge under Curtis - and it wasn't that good a day. Curtis did have the leadership challenge of pulling his troops out of prepared positions to turn around and face an enemy coming at them from the rear - just about the most difficult thing you can do and not induce panic - he had the advantage of a unified command with no real quarrels about who was in charge - and he had interior lines, so that he could control both sides of his fight with little movement between them, unlike Van Dorn who was trying to synchronize two separate fights miles apart. In this, Curtis also gets the nod for Simplicity, Van Dorn a big fat 'F'.

Early on, Curtis recognized that the most serious threat to his position was McCulloch's attack on the left. He left the Iowan, Col. Grenville Dodge and the 1st Brigade, 4th Division, supported with artillery, to bear the brunt of the fight that first day at Pea Ridge, while Curtis managed to defeat in detail McCulloch's disjointed attacks on the left. Dodge would later achieve fame as the Chief Engineer of the Union Pacific railroad - and the opening of the West. This act wins for Curtis the Economy of Force laurel - not trying to be everywhere at once. Accepting risk and dealing with the greatest threat.

By his economy of force choice at Elkhorn Tavern, Curtis also wins Mass - something the Confederates never achieved, piecemealing in as they did on both sides - though it's a very close fight at Elkhorn Tavern that first day. It's a good thing for Dodge that the Confederates didn't have sufficient ammunition for their guns - they were reduced, by the end of the days fighting, to shooting rocks and scrap iron from their cannon - and the Union artillery was knocking off the Confederate batteries. Van Dorns chain of command problems, lack of mass, and exterior lines of communication in effect allow Curtis to swipe maneuver back from Van Dorn as during the night he shifted his forces to the east side of the battlefield and counter-attacked at the Tavern, knocking Van Dorn fully out of the fight, and making it a win for Curtis.

Pea Ridge is not a battle you hear much about - I suggest precisely because Curtis won the fight. The battle of Shiloh was a month away. If Curtis had been badly defeated and his small army dispersed or captured, the threat to Missouri would have been immense. Missouri was a strategically significant source of lead (for bullets), mules, and food, clothing, and fodder for whoever held the state. The great concentration of forces for Shiloh might not have happened, if General Halleck decided to pull significant forces back to protect St. Louis and the west bank of the Mississippi. A rousing confederate victory at Pea Ridge and significant inroads into the State of Missouri, with the pro-Southern Governor Sterling Price at the head of the Missouri State Guard, the Union would have had to respond. Alternatively, Van Dorn's 10,000 troops, fresh from a victory at Pea Ridge might have made a decisive difference on the first day at Shiloh. But because MG Curtis won - we'll never know, and so there is a very nicely maintained, if not all that easy to get to, Civil War battlefield in northeast Arkansas that's worth a visit!

84 years later...

1945 The Remagen Bridge is captured by the 9th Armored Division. Interesting tidbit about the 9th Armored. The division was originally an element of Patton's FUSAG, First US Army Group, the 'ghost' army created as a part of the pre-Overlord deception plan. Two of those units did in fact get stood-up. The 108th Infantry Division and the 9th Armored. Most armored divisions named themselves and incorporated that name into their shoulder insigia. 1st Armored, "Old Ironsides", 2nd Armored "Hell on Wheels", 3rd Armored, "Spearhead", etc. The 9th tooks it's name from it's origins, "Phantom". Another interesting bit about the deception plan was the level of detail undertaken to underpin the story. To the point that shoulder insignia were designed (in case there were spies who would note the absence of such things) and as the story relates in the link - the fact that patches were produced. I have a relatively extensive patch collection I inherited - and I have examples of all of those patches.