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May 22, 2004

Something else you won't see too often in the blue state press...

From Tim Chavez in The Tennessean:

Don't come up to Jamie Young, Martha Morris or Donna Clemons and ask these local mothers what they think about the war in Iraq.

That's a stupid question.

Their opinion hasn't been formed by news media coverage, Bob Woodward's latest book, the loudest talking head on television or a presidential candidate. These local moms get their perspective from the telephone and from pictures sent home or over the Internet. They've quit watching and reading the news. They say the coverage doesn't provide the full story.

Endless days of big headlines and lead stories on prisoner abuse make one believe Iraq is just one big holding pen instead of a place where people can now protest openly and hold religious observances once banned. If any one of the 200,000 members of our armed forces is doing something right in Iraq, the average viewer and reader would be hard pressed to find out. Yet if there is even speculation of something wrong, it leads the newscasts and makes the front page.

Go read the rest here.

Send Mr. Chavez a thank you note!

Hat tip to JMH for the pointer!

I want. of these. A flying staff car. Yep. It exists. It flew. Got up to 500 feet even. That pilot had large, brass cojones! And you probably thought I meant one of these... an AirGeep. Nope! I want a make-out vehicle!

May 21, 2004

About the Armorer at Castle Argghhh!

Okay, okay. Enough of you have asked, I'll reveal a little.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

And, for any new visitors...

This is why I started the site, even if I get distracted a lot. That ADD thing, y'know.

by John on May 21, 2004 | Gun Rights

Lest anyone thinks I've gone soft...

Wahabism Delenda Est!

There are now seven pages of Google entries on the subject.

Recoiless Rifles.

Calliope asked some good questions, so here's some answers...

The conundrum was this: Getting better projectiles to kill tanks into smaller/lighter guns - preferably that the troops could carry themselves and not require motor transport. Especially light troops, like airborne forces.

What to do, what to do.

Conventional guns are tubes, sealed at one end. Open the sealed end, stick in your cartridge, close the breech, fire. Newton's observation that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction then takes hold. You send a lump of steel in one direction, the barrel wants to go in the other direction, less the impact of various inefficiencies such as friction and heat transfer from propellant to tube, etc. There are just limits to what you can do here. You can improve the performance of a given gun system by using shaped charges instead of solid shot. Of course, that presents a different problem, since shaped charges don't like to be spun. You can re-tube it to a 'squeeze bore' gun where you use special ammunition that swages away going down the bore, which will achieve a greater velocity, at the cost of greater ammunition cost and complexity and tube wear. You can be more efficient than that and put a sleeve, or sabot, around the smaller projectile and fire it from the same bore (the process used on most tank guns today). All of this is fine - except it doesn't make your gun any smaller, and aside from adding a muzzle brake to it, it really doesn't help your recoil any. If just improves performance of the existing system against more resistant targets.

You can use a rocket. Once the shaped charge was developed, that became practical. This time, instead of sealing the tube and pushing out a projectile, you seal the tube and let the gases vent out the open end. Same thing - only this time the projectile sits on the end of the tube and the tube flies with the 'jo. This is the concept used by the bazooka, and it worked, though you suffered some limitations in ammo types, because the state of the art at the time pretty much limited you to shaped charges, which limited the tagets you could attack. And the ammo was expensive.

So, what else can you do? Well, the first recoilless gun (Argghhh! I can't find my copy of Hogg/Batchelor's Artillery!) was developed during the 1700's. Not terribly practical, it would have achieved it's recoil-cancellation by firing the projectile one direction, and an equal weight of shot the other. Difficult to employ tactically, yes? But what if you could use the gases? Meter them out the rear of the piece, so that the thrust from that canceled the thrust from the projectile? And thus the recoilless rifle was born.

The rest is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Pointy little bits on the end.

Bayonet Brits kill 35 rebels OUTNUMBERED British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago. The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down.

Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.

The battle erupted after Land Rovers carrying 20 Argylls came under attack on a highway.

After radioing for back-up, they fixed bayonets and charged at 100 rebels using tactics learned in drills. When the fighting ended bodies lay all over the highway — and more were floating in a nearby river. Nine rebels were aptured.

An Army spokesman said: “This was an intense engagement.”

The last bayonet charge was by the Scots Guards and the Paras against Argentinian positions.

Can't tell this came from The Sun, can you?

May 20, 2004

Words from the Secretary and Chief.



Today in history...

German Paratroops landing at Maleme airfield.

In 1940 German tanks reach the Channel, splitting off most of the British Expeditionary Force from the main french armies. The British have Dunkirk to look forward to. The French, occupation. Until the US, Brits, Canadians, and some French soldiers come back on June 6, 1944. A date lost to de Villepin.

In 1941, the greatest German airborne (and last big one) assault began on Crete. Casualties were so high Hitler never used mass paratroop drops again. The battle at Crete provided yet another of those chapters seemingly peculiar to Anglosphere armies... heroic defeats. Of course, as the Brits have amply demonstrated throughout their history - you only need to win the correct battles to win the war. Something the Confederacy learned to their sorrow in the US Civil War.

May 19, 2004

Answer to the gun stumper.

First off:

Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff Quaff... buuuuurrrrrp!

It is something old - if 1945 qualifies as old.

Here's the original question and the answers.

It's not a muzzle-loading cannon. That would be one hell of a counterbore if it was! (For those who don't know - a counterbore is when you drill in from the muzzle, making the bore larger than the rifled portion. There are many reasons this is done, but in black powder weapons it was mainly done to prevent cracking. It can also be done to repair muzzle damage, and that is often done in small arms. The russian arsenal rebuilt Mosin rifles are sometimes found with counterbores.)

Those who guessed/deduced artillery - you are correct, as far as it goes. There are too many lands and grooves for a small arm. They are also too pronounced. And, too flat at the breech. There was no forcing cone - which should have given it way that it was not a small-bore arm, either. The 'rusty' portion is flat. That would be one odd looking cartridge - for a rifle or a tank or artillery piece. Another option would be separate loading artillery - but their breeches have some other tell-tales, such as the 'swiss groove' - and they too still have a forcing cone for the initial ram and seating of the projectile.

There is really only one weapon that fits the evidence (and you had to be able to figure out that there was no forcing cone): a recoiless rifle. Where the cartridge sits unsupported in the breech and the rifling is pre-engraved on the rotating band of the projectile.

I told you you were going to have to be a geek to get it. There were some very informed guesses. I was impressed. Calliope - your brother made a good guess too - it does look like the sleeve that would engage a prop shaft. And John, you were correct - it uses an abbreviated form of interrupted screw breech block.

The 'dirt' in the bore? The rust-colored stuff is cosmoline. The crunchy particulate matter is welding residue from when the weapon was dewatted and the bits carefully rewelded to meet ATF specs to still be a "non-gun."

Here's a picture with a slightly different POV.

The weapon in question? A 57mm M18 recoiless rifle. Made by Firestone, in Canada (note the "C" serial number), in 1945.

May 18, 2004

Bummer. It sucks to be a Syrian Missileer.

Condolences to the families of the dead, and the dead themselves, but I don't feel sorry for Assad.

Not to worry, dude. They'll make you some more.

Well, we can only hope this is true...

...and that these guys were involved in Berg's head being sawn off while he was still alive.

4 Men have been arrested in connection with the cowardly act.

I take reports like this with a grain of salt - but I can certainly hope!

The story is here.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Blaster is enjoying an NRO-alanche...

As well he should.

What BG Kimmit is describing is a "mix in flight" binary round. While he says that the Iraqs had declared all such rounds destroyed prior to the 1991 Gulf War, that isn't entirely true. The truth is the Iraqis said they never had such rounds. The Iraqis never claimed to have them. The United States never thought they had the capability:
"The U.S. Defense Department’s “Militarily Critical Technologies List” (MCTL) is “a detailed compendium of technologies" that the department advocates as “critical to maintaining superior US military capabilities. It applies to all mission areas, especially counter-proliferation.” Written in 1998, it was recently re-published with updates for 2002."


"There was some talk shortly before the first Gulf War that the Iraqis had been creating binary chemical weapons, in which the relatively non-toxic ingredients of the agent remain unmixed until just before the weapon is used; this allows the user to bypass any worry about shelf life or toxicity. But according to the MCTL , “The Iraqis had a small number of bastardized binary munitions in which some unfortunate individual was to pour one ingredient into the other from a Jerry can prior to use” – an action few soldiers were willing to perform."

Note that the referenced article is from Alternet, and it is saying that the US, Ritter, and the UN "knew" that there was no binary weapons capability in Iraq. We know that they didn't have these prior to the Gulf War, and the UN says that they never developed or weaponized any WMD after the Gulf War, under the inspection regime.

Blaster's whole piece is here.

UPDATE: A reader of The Corner makes this observation:

Jonah, Balster's Blog got very close to, but missed, the really huge news behind the sarin gas shell. The thing was not marked. This is not the way you manufacture, store or deploy chemical munitions. They require special handling and careful considerations when used to avoid endangering your own troops. So why in the world would this chemical munition not be clearly marked? 1. Hiding the things from inspectors. Chemical weapons, disguised as conventional ordinance, would be extremely difficult to detect by anyone, especially if they were mixed in with conventional ordinance at weapons dumps, with innocuous markings (perhaps simple numbers) to allow handlers to tell the difference. If this be the case, our missing WMDs may very well be hiding in plain sight to this day, undiscovered until terrorists grabbed what they thought was a regular conventional artillery round from an unsecured sight that inspectoirs may have already gone through. 2. Disguising the things from Saddam's own commanders. It was no secret that America was serious about WMDs, and threatened war even during the Clinton administration over it. It was also no secret that WMDs were what American military commanders most feared in the event of an Iraqi invasion (remember the worries during the first Gulf War?). Saddam surely would have anticipated America appealing directly to Iraqi field commanders not to use chemical weapons, and may have known that we would hold those who did personally responsible in war crimes trials post invasion. We threatened exactly that. Faced with the possibility that his own commanders may not follow orders to use chemical weapons, he issues artillery shells and other weapons that are devoid of known markings that distinguish between types of ordinance. That means that if Iraqi cammanders shoot anything at all, the will likely shoot chemical weapons in the mix. Ironically, that may have backfired on Saddam. Many Iraqi Republican Guard Units deployed around Baghdad melted away faster than expected. What if that is because Iraqi commanders that suspected they had chemical weapons "in the mix" refused to use any of their weapons and abandoned their post? Of course, this is loaded with speculation. But whatever the reasoning, the story of unmarked chemical weapons munitions turning up randomly in central Iraq is bound to get real interesting. Real fast. Joe Frye

We shall see whether the press takes the bait. Especially in conjunction with this:

Financing and armaments appear to be in plentiful supply. When Abu Ali's network runs low on resources, it turns to a man identified only as "the Emir," a shadowy loyalist leader who summons Abu Ali to meetings at irregular intervals. "We are not rich men," Abu Ali says, "but we have everything." Old Soviet surface-to-air missiles that had been stockpiled by Saddam's regime go for upwards of $ 1,000 apiece on the black market, yet Abu Ali's organization has them in abundance. It also has access to a pipeline of weapons flowing across Iraq's borders. Another major Baghdad cell leader, Mohammed, happily displays the latest acquisition, a batch of 60mm mortars with markings in English that were hidden in a boggy field and retrieved by a farmer's wife. When asked how the group obtained them, Mohammed responds in a word: "Syria." Abu Ali's most frightening plans involve his desire to employ unconventional weapons. His most prized possession, he says, is a cache of 82mm mortar rounds. Mohammed displays one of the rounds and proclaims, "This is a chemical mortar." Encased in a green storage tube with a flip-lock lid, the weapon has liquid sloshing inside a bulbous head reeking with a putrid odor that burns the nostrils. The Russian markings on the weapon identify it as a TD-42 liquid, high-explosive mortar. It's impossible to know what is really in the device or if the boasts of Abu Ali and Mohammed are true. Iraqi scientists in the Military Industrialization Commission in the 1980s and early 1990s imported Soviet munitions to refill with unknown substances. Abu Ali claims that his cache came from that commission, and he is convinced the mortar contains a highly lethal gas. His group, he says, is just waiting for the right U.S. target and the right meteorological conditions to use it. When a reporter expresses skepticism, Abu Ali smiles and says, "Wait and see."
by John on May 18, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Saddam's WMDs
» Catfish and Cod links with: Where did that sarin come from?

Words from GEN. Schoomaker.

After the XXXX IPR to GEN Schoomaker on 13 May, the CSA made several comments which he asked us to pass on.

The CSA stated that the Abu Ghraib leadership and discipline problems remind him of what a company commander faced on a daily basis in the mid-1970s. But the Army has progressed signficantly since then, and he emphatically stated the Army today is better than that. There are too many good things going on in the Army for us to accept Abu Gharib as a systemic problem.

The CSA stated "the Army does not need its leaders walking around kicking rocks" when there is bad news. Soldiers watch their leaders in difficult times, so as leaders today: "Keep your chin up."

He stressed that "We have a war to win and an Army to transform." He then talked about discipline - character - values & ethics. "There is nothing we can’t do, there are things we should do, and there are things we won’t do."

The CSA also made comments regarding reports of a DOD - Army rift, which he said were nonsense. He cited examples of funding support (such as the Army keeping all the Comanche helicopter funds for other programs), and the 30,000 increase in personnel end strength. DOD is providing support whenever the Army asks.

The CSA closed by reminding us that the times we face are new, and we cannot accurately predict the challenges we will have to face in the future. Our goal must be building agility into our Army.

As one who kicked a few rocks around last week, I'm happy to pass this along.

Duty First!

Your daily dose of... own personal googlebomb.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Castle Argghhh! Today, #3 on Google for Wahabism.

Move, shoot, communicate...

Those are the things that characterize an effective army, in broad brush. There are little things like doctrine, organization, training, too. But most of that stuff is in books, and while books look good in the library, they don't do much for the blog...

While I do aspire to covering 'move' and owning a White M3 Scout Car or Daimler Dingo armored car someday, I'm going to have to pass on move for the moment with the kid in college, and concentrate on shoot and communicate.

Here's some tidbits in the Arsenal regarding communicating - in two modes.

Okay, firearms aficionados...

What's this?

If you want a bigger version... here.

Most of you will get the generic aspect of what... I'm after the specifics.

No prize other than bragging rights.

May 17, 2004

A voice in the media wilderness.

From David's MedienKritik:

Normally one wouldn't want to touch the leftist German daily taz with a ten-foot pole, but this report by Inga Rogg is surprisingly sober.

The [Iraqi] Minister for Human Rights, Bakhtyar Amin, has championed the cause of human rights in his country for more than 20 years.

"As bad as the American transgressions are", he continues, "we must not forget that our country is built on a boneyard." More than 300,000 people were inhumed in mass graves. The true tragedy is that, even today, there is still too little discussion about it.

Amin has some advice for Arab sovereigns: they should follow George W. Bush's example and apologize for the crimes they've committed. "Washington is showing us how a democracy deals with criminal behavior," Amin says. "We should learn from this, not only here in Iraq, but throughout the Arab world."

Wonder how long it will take al-Zarqawi to silence this voice?

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Not enough outrage, Powell says.

Powell: Arab world should be more outraged
'No excuse for silence' after American's beheading
Monday, May 17, 2004 Posted: 8:09 AM EDT (1209 GMT)

I agree. Rather than visiting US websites looking for pictures of Nick Berg's head, they should have been visiting the local chapter of "Wahabi's 'Я Us" and done some ass-kicking.

DEAD SEA RESORT, Jordan (CNN) -- The Arab world should be showing "a higher level of outrage" over the death of an American businessman whose beheading was posted on an Islamist Web site last week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

"There's no excuse for silence on this kind of murder," Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Sure there is, Mr. Secretary. When you either secretly approve, or are more afraid of the killers than you are the nation of the victim. Plenty of reason to be silent.

"I would like to have seen a much higher level of outrage throughout the world, but especially in the Arab world, to this murder," he said.

Me too. Didn't see much beyond pro-forma stuff and a spike in hits from Arab nations to my website. Which may be expats and others. But no comments from anyone in the region decrying the barbarity. Nope. None.

"What we saw with this horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible murder should be deplored throughout the Arab world."

I've already made my suggestion, Mr. Secretary. The Arab world should simply embrace the concept of "Wahabism Delenda Est!"

Keep poking 'em in the eye, Mr. Secretary. Who knows, someday they may blink.

The whole story is here.

Sarin? In Iraq? Mustard, in Iraq? Did I miss the memo?

Device found in Iraq with sarin gas Car bomb kills Iraqi Governing Council leader Izzedine Salim Monday, May 17, 2004 Posted: 11:59 AM EDT (1559 GMT) BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S.-led coalition convoy in Iraq found sarin gas in an artillery round rigged as an improvised explosive device, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said Monday.

Sarin is a nerve agent used for chemical weapons. A doomsday cult in Japan used the gas in terrorist attacks in 1994 and 1995.

The detonation of the device in Iraq resulted in a small dispersal of the nerve agent, Kimmitt said. Two members of an explosives ordnance team were treated for minor exposure, he added.

These guys either didn't know what it was, or didin't understand how it works. Artillery binary agents need the shock of firing and spin to work properly. Which means, possibly until we just told them - that they didn't know they were sitting on a stash.

Or they do know, and now they have to figure out how to make 'em work. Bit more of a challenge that. The real concern is where did it come from? Overlooked in Hussein's alleged disposal of same? Or did Saddam dispose of by burying.. meaning there's a stash of it somewhere we haven't found? Life get's more interesting in Iraq with each passing day.

"The area that was affected was very minor," Kimmitt said. "There's no need for any further decontamination. The [ordnance team] people who went up there showed some minor traces of exposure, but it was so minor the doctors already have these people released."

It's fine as a terror weapon, where the intent is to intimidate and frighten as much as to kill. But single rounds are not going to be causing huge mass casualty events - though properly used they can certainly cause a lot of damage.

Kimmitt said the artillery round was of an old style that Saddam Hussein's regime had declared it no longer possessed after the Persian Gulf War.


The general said the Iraqi Survey Group, headed by Charles Duelfer, would determine if the shell's discovery indicated Saddam possessed chemical weapons before the U.S. invasion last year. Officials in Washington said another shell -- this one containing mustard gas -- was found 10 days ago in Iraq.

Of course, we all know it was a CIA plant, right? Just to distract attention away from Bush's political troubles. I'm sure it says that on DU by now, anyway.

The whole piece is here.

by John on May 17, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Inter-Mission
» Boots and Sabers links with: Sarin and Mustard Gas In Iraq

May 16, 2004

Well well well.

Some Syrians were killed in the train explosion in North Korea.

Bringing home some spart parts, mebbe for stuff that came from Iraq?

Who knows? Well, the Syrians know.

by John on May 16, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Daily Dish

Jim Dunnigan offers some insight into why some arabs like saw off people's heads and wave them around on camera.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

The short answer: They're losers.

And it's an adaptation to being losers. Kinda like the fans of a once great sports team who now take solace in the fact that this year, they kicked a 50 yard field goal (while still losing every game) or had 74 home runs in a losing season vice 72 last year.

Note to the Arab world - hard work, innovation, reform, and, above all, a change in management and oganizational outlook will do more to change your win/loss ratio than taking excess joy over an asshole sawing off the head of some poor fellow who was still alive and hogtied and sat upon by a cowardly weasel wearing a mask and shouting things that only serve to embarrass God, and further diminish your own mean little spirits.

Al Qaeda is taking advantage of a uniquely Arab concept of “victory.” Having been on the losing side of history for so many centuries, most Arabs accept just about anything as a “victory.” For example, Saddam Hussein declared himself the winner of the 1991 Gulf War because he was still running Iraq after it was over. Of course, the main, and widely publicized, reason he was still in power was because Arab nations refused to join the coalition to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait unless the U.S. agreed NOT to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. Earlier, Saddam gained much perverse praise from the Arab world for getting Iran to agree to stop the war that had raged between the two nations throughout the 1980s. This war began when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, in an attempt to grab some Iranian oil fields while Iran’s armed forces were in disorder following a revolution in which Islamic radicals overthrew the king (Shah) of Iran. The Iranians quickly got their act together, pushed the Iraqis out of Iran and spent the next eight years trying to get to Saddam. For thousands of years, the Iranians (or Persians or Parthians or whatever) have been pounding Arab armies into the ground. So Saddam’s ability (via the use chemical weapons and billions of dollars worth of Russian arms) to stop (if not exactly defeat) the Iranians, was, to many Arabs, a real victory.

Now all this Iran/Arab stuff plays a special role in Iraq. To the surprise of many Sunni Arabs, the Shia Arabs fought, during the 1980s, to defend Iraq from the Shia Iranians. Actually, about three percent of Irans population is Arab, so in some cases you had Shia Arabs fighting Shia Arabs in this war. But the Iraqi Shia Arabs (over half the population), via a combination of fear, nationalism and financial incentives, were compelled by Saddam (a Sunni Arab) to serve in the war against Iran. What was being played was the race card. The Iranians are an Indo-European people, and have been defeating, and generally lording it over the Arabs, a Semitic people, for thousands of years. Memories are long in this part of the world, and in this case, ethnic memory trumped religion. Normally the Sunni and Shia Moslems do not get along very well. Conservative Sunnis consider the Shia heretics. And the fact that most Shia are Iranians does not help matters either.

Al Qaeda is a basically a Sunni Arab organization that attracts recruits who are not Arabs, but who MUST be Sunni. Al Qaeda was founded by members of the conservative Wahabi form of Islam found in Saudi Arabia. To a Wahabi, even contact with infidels (non-Moslems) is forbidden, and it is the duty of all Moslems to convert or kill the infidels. One should not lose sight of al Qaeda’s core values and goals. When you do focus in on those values and goals, the video of an American civilian being beheaded makes some kind of perverted sense.

The whole thing is here.

Wahabism Delenda Est!