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May 28, 2004

Well, the challenge was waaay too hard.

Though the assorted guesses (well maybe less the squirt gun), indicated some thought and knowledge, they weren't even close.

The answer is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Now for a moment of Zen.

After you contemplate the beauty of self-propelled artillery, go take a read of John Kerry's consistent, coherent stance regarding Iraq.

Iraq and Afghanistan provide a needed shape-up to the Army.

Not that I thought we were doing things badly before the war... but we're doing them much better now - at least in terms of training the troops. You can argue lots of things at the Colonel-level and higher!

From today's Strategy Page update:

THE WAY THINGS REALLY WORK: The Iraq Effect on Military Training

May 28, 2004: Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the U.S. armed forces to change the way it trains it troops. Especially for the army, which is supplying over two thirds of the troops (but has less than half the manpower in the Department of Defense). As is typical in wartime, all those useless frills that accumulate during peacetime are quickly tossed. Especially in basic training, troops are spending less time in the classroom and more time out in the field, wearing body armor and carrying the same combat equipment they will soon be hauling around Iraq or Afghanistan. The recruits are pretty enthusiastic about it, for this is still a war being fought by volunteers. No one is taking basic training who doesn’t want to, and everyone knows where they are likely to end up.

All other forms of training have also undergone a wartime reality check.

Electronic technicians are learning more about operating in hot, dusty, environments. Officers and NCOs are getting more training on how to plan aand carry out the types of combat missions typical of Afghanistan and Iraq (and just about any combat zone.) In general, there’s a lot less theoretical training, and a lot more hands on, practical stuff. This trend took hold quickly because new instructors were coming to the army schools straight from a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. Combat veterans have always been accorded a lot of respect, and the schools were quick to use their combat experienced instructors to revise the curriculum.

Basic is a hell of a lot better than it was when I went through it!

They also have some good news on the PR front...

2LT Leonhard Cowherd, Final Roll Call

"First Sergeant, Call the Roll."

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

"First Sergeant, let Lieutenant Cowherd's name be stricken from the roll."

Play this as you read. Amazing Grace


Before all that is to follow, I want to thank the Agnew's for hosting a gathering after the Arlington ceremony. They are the parents of Charles', Leonard's twin, roommate from VMI. This was 'just' the thing; you can't put that many high-energy young people together without laughter and good memories finding a way to the surface. This gathering was vital to lifting spirits and providing a steam valve for emotions. At the end - the young ones stuffed the 'old folk' in one limo headed back to Culpeper while they went out in another to find some adventure.

As it should be. Thank you for opening your home and your hospitality.

I now have to apologize to all of you who attended the Arlington ceremony. We know this wasn't a trivial thing for your to accomplish. We are sad that we couldn't visit and thank you personally. I now know that an Arlington internment is one of being 'whisked' - here and there and it all makes sense but... So many friends and we didn't get to say hello rightly. Thank you. Your presence and support meant more than you'll ever know; to Sarah, to the Cowherd's, to the Cerri's, and to veterans everywhere.

And what to say of the ceremony itself?

We left Culpeper with a motorcycle escort and through every county and interstate we were handed off to the next jurisdiction's protection. At points there were up to 6 motorcycles and police cars guiding us through the various turns and road nuances. The coordination and dedication to make this possible were not lost on us. At the end, the motorcycle police managed to array themselves at the entrance to Arlington with a standing salute to Leonard. We never had the chance to meet, know, or thank them... They just honored him.

Of Arlington?

An old friend who lovingly...sadly opens his door for what must come. Arlington is America's memory of what makes the nation. Other memorials on the mall are wonderful and meaningful - but Arlington is not only for is of us. Generations have made this place part of the national fabric. Rich man, poor man. General, private. Lifer, conscript. All services, all heritages. Men and women who gave the full measure; honored in perpetuity.

There are no surprises at Arlington. Everything is as manicured and as perfect as nature can be made. Acres and acres of military order. Simple. Dignified. Elegant. As long as there is Arlington, there will be America.

Pulling in we were momentarily amongst the tourists. And they were not interruption - they were purpose. I too have been on the outside looking in. Now, with roles reversed, I was thankful to see those throngs coming to learn and experience and teach. I saw more than one parent pull their child aside to point and whisper a lesson of our country. I saw many stop and put their hands over their heart as we passed; simple, dignified, elegant.

The day was early-Summer, Southern gem. Hot but not stifling. Blue sky with wispy white. And the cicadas? Strangely appropriate. For you in other parts of the country, they are big but gentle things. I doubt anyone who attended didn't have at least one land on them at some point in the day. And the sound? A distant jet on the runway waiting to take off. A constant whine. And it was good...nature carrying on. And Leonard would have been fascinated and investigating.

And the ceremony?

These words, my feelings, are insignificant to describe the wash of emotion in all of this.

As the hearse door opened I placed my hands upon my daughters shoulders...and I felt her shudder. MG Blount holding her to the left,
Charles to the right, her mother, her brother, and I to her rear. The
Cowherd's a part of the single family we've all become.

The Old Guard does not make mistakes. The wooden casket came off the hearse rails with precision and practiced timing.

There were 12 chairs under the small awning erected beside the grave site; just enough seats and space for immediate family. Sarah to the right-front in her black dress. Again, her mother and I found ourselves directly behind. My son to my right shoulder and the hundreds of family and friends closed in around us. It is hard to imagine intimacy in all of this, but it was there. There were quiet and peace in that little circle amidst the vast openness of Arlington.

Have you heard Amazing Grace on bag pipe? If that little bag of wind was put on earth for no other reason than to play this one song - it would still have a place amongst all the wonderful instruments the world has ever known. And the kilted-piper didn't end his song, he just turned and walked away...till the strains faded in the cicada whine.

The prayers offered by the family minister were perfect; a soldier's prayer born of powder, honor, and hope.

The 21 guns were three, crisp firings of seven. Again, the Old Guard does not make mistakes. However, a moment to speak of those guns. Like Leonard, I am a West Pointer. Like Leonard, I religiously counted guns whenever a dignitary arrived at school. 21 reports signified a visitor with enough importance to grant the Corps amnesty for all the various troubles and peccadilloes cadets seem to manage. West Point has a lot of visitors and a lot of cannon fire but rarely 21. 18 - "peon." 20 - "oh good Lord, another wanna be." and so on.

And on this day, on this sacred ground, 21 guns were fired to honor 2LT Cowherd.

Taps... An American will always struggle during Taps. While surely a
harbinger for many, it is our heroes we cry for. Not of sadness per se - of loss. How to measure against their lives? How to reconcile against their sacrifice? How to deal with what it takes to keep America? Simple, dignified, elegant...

The flag was creased, folded, and lovingly presented to my daughter.

She understands its meaning. It currently rests in an oak case with the Army seal. It will have a place of honor always. Leonard's mother and brother each received one as well.

Stand a little stiller during your next National Anthem. That song and that flag are paid for.

And my daughter?

Leonard's Kiddo. Leonard was her everything and she is his honor.

We all have our moments, Sarah more.

I'll offer historic perspective that seems most appropriate. Stephen Pressfield recreates the words of Greek king to the families of the 300 Spartans:

"When the battle is over, when the 300 have gone..., then will Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it. But who ladies, who will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen. If they behold your hearts riven with grief, they too will break. And Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, then Sparta will stand and all Greece will stand behind her. Why have I nominated your men and you to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the three hundred? Because you can."

If these words ring true, then look to my daughter, Leonard's mother, my wife, and all the rest of the families' members. They are bearing up. America stands strong and proud. In Sarah's love, she has found an open heart for friends and a strength of belief that will carry her through.

Sarah's future is now at hand. I know there is a large community waiting to see... wanting proof in their faith that families are cared for. Believe. Army, VA, AER, TAPS, AFSC, Social Security and a bunch of other acronyms have checked into the net offering help both immediate and long-term. The years ahead are waiting and will write their own story. For now, no one could ask anything else.

To all of you that have been part of this thread - its been a way to keep you up to date and answer questions we know you have. I grabbed your names that first night because you needed to know or I knew you would want to know. Others have joined along the way as arrangements and details fell into place. As I tap these last words on this Memorial Day - I hope you haven't minded one man's view into what the day is all about.

Thank you for cards, and flowers, and prayers, and visits, and trips, and food, and errands, and arrangements, and condolences...and for holding our hand. You friends around the world have truly helped.

Our sails are filling with wind again and we'll all be back to work tomorrow. We know there will be awkward moments. Don't worry. Believe us...we understand. We'll all get through it. It's OK.


Tony Cerri

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

May 27, 2004

From an email regarding perspective on casualties.

Looking back on the day that I left for my first tour in Vietnam, I can vividly remember my parents' fear that they would never see me again. With the passage of time, and with children of my own, I have come to realize that it is the fear of the unfamiliar that makes combat deaths so frightening to people, and particularly to parents. We are pretty blasé about letting our kids do wild things on playground equipment - because we did it and survived. We don't get too concerned about illnesses because we have all had them and recovered, and we believe that we have pretty good medical care available. We get a little nervous about the kids driving cars, but we're just as concerned about our insurance rates going up as we are about the likelihood of them getting injured or killed - because we've been there and survived.

But war, especially in a foreign country - now that's scary because it's unfamiliar to most Americans.

Maybe if we had more ex-servicemembers, male and female, in the population (as we did after World War II), it wouldn't seem like such a boogyman.

Unfortunately, if al Qaeda is successful, we might become all to familiar with combat deaths in this country in the future.

He could well be right.

Since we had fun with the last one...

What's this?

Good News from Iraq...

...that of course, we aren't really hearing about from the media. Not enough American Bodies - so it isn't news.

From the Strategy Page Update today in the extended post:

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Another little agent of nastiness.

Oddly enough, there really isn't a whole lot of info about the German Glasmine 43 out on the web. Not that I spent a huge amount of time or effort (I'm sure someone will) but what's here may be the most complete set of pictures out there on this ugly little spud.

From the Army Medical Activity website talking about fragment producing weapons (for doctors) I did find this:

In an attempt to reduce the metallic content of the antipersonnel mine and increase the difficulty in its detection, a glass mine (Glasmine 43 (f)) was developed. This consisted of an outer glass casing 4.2 inches in height, from 4½ to 6 inches in diameter, and from 0.25 to 0.40 inch in thickness. Approximately 40 pounds of direct pressure was required to break the glass shear plate and activate either a chemical or a mechanized ignitor

It was developed to be hard to detect by having as little metal as possible (the mine detectors back then weren't near as sensitive as your average Wal-Mart metal detector is now), using no strategic materials, and able to be produced by an industry not already overwhelmed with war work. I guess the germans were just boarding over the broken windows...

Here is a picture of the basic components, though you can't see the (inert) charge (original waxed paper, block of wood inside). A glass bowl, made of tempered glass so it will shatter jaggedly, into which sits the explosive, a detonator (lower right), the thin glass plate (usually missing from these) leaning up against the bowl, and the top cover, another piece of thick glass to add to the fragmentation effect. Obviously, with the very thin glass plate, these were not intended for long-term minefilelds in front of defensive positions, but were for hasty delaying and harassing minefields. This top cover is a relatively rare color, brown. Most are that greenish-blue tinged color of the bowl. Mines this complete are rare, because, well, they're glass! The effort the seller went to to ship it to me from Scotland made unpacking a 20 minute process - but the thin glass plate survived!

This is a shot of the charge, with a 8mm Mauser rifle cartridge for scale. Wrapped in paper and waxed to waterproof it, it's just big enough to blow off your foot - like the Elsie I covered yesterday. This one at least has a secondary use - the glass bowl is a glass bowl, after all...

Next is a picture of the detonator - called a 'saukopf' or pigs-head by the Germans, for obvious reasons. Remove the cotter pin on the left, and the initiator is armed. It took roughly 40 pounds of pressure to set it off. The real purpose of the brown piece of glass was to make sure that when stepping on the mine the something went deep enough into the bowl to hit the fuze.

by John on May 27, 2004 | Ammunition
» No Quarters links with: Esoteric items of war

Today in history.

1813 Col. Winfield Scott captures Ft George, Canada, which is later
lost. One of the few, and brief, successes against them da*n dirty Northerners!

1940 Operation Dynamo: Dunkirk Evacuation begins. In which the British armed forces show their grit in diversity, and add to a Battle Honours list which is most notable in some respects for it's magnificent defeats, than it's brilliant victories. Ever the economists, the Brits only win the crucial battles.

In some respects, Dunkirk, along with the quiet stoicism of the urban population during the Blitz, shows the great underlying strength of character of the British nation - despite the best efforts of the elites.

May 26, 2004

Another kind of hero.

Remarks on Awarding the United States Coast Guard's Gold Lifesaving Medal Posthumously to Arland D. Williams, Jr.

June 6, 1983

The President. We're here to honor Arland Williams, Jr. Virtually everyone in the United States knows of his heroism and knows of his deed, but very few, if any, knew his name. Those of us who do know of his bravery have remembered him only as the ``unknown hero.'' And that was in the terrible tragedy that took place down here on January 13th, 1982, when the plane crashed into the bridge and into the ice-covered Potomac. And for a long, long time we have known of the one man who repeatedly handed the line from the helicopter to others that he thought were in a worse situation than he was, saving five people in all. And then when the helicopter went back for him, he was no longer there.

And now an investigation by the Coast Guard and a thorough study has made it known that Arland Williams, Jr., was the hero who gave his life that others might live. And we have here his family -- Arland and Virginia Williams; his son and daughter, Arland and Leslie, and the Vice Commander of the Coast Guard. And we are awarding to him this medal -- some 607, I think it is, have been given in the 100 years' history of the medal. There is a gold and silver medal. Two gold were given to other heroes in this same tragedy, two silver, and now this one.

And Time magazine said, ``If the man in the water gave a lifeline to the people gasping for survival, he was likewise giving a lifeline to those who observed him.'' And I think that is true, because all of us had to stand a little taller witnessing this heroic deed and knowing now the man who gets the credit.

And, now would you read the citation?

Vice Adm. Stabile. Mr. President, I'd be happy to.

``The Secretary of Transportation takes pleasure in presenting the Gold Lifesaving Medal posthumously to Arland D. Williams, Jr., for acts as set forth in the following citation:

``For extreme and heroic daring on the afternoon of 13 January 1982, following the crash of an airplane in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Mr. Williams was a passenger on an Air Florida 737 that crashed in a blinding snowstorm into the 14th Street Bridge that crosses the Potomac River and connects Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. After hitting the bridge, the plane plunged into the frozen waters of the Potomac River. Mr. Williams was seated in the rear section of the plane which was partially above the water. When a U.S. Park Police helicopter arrived to commence rescue efforts, Mr. Williams, although injured, quickly realized that he was trapped in his seat by a jammed seat belt. As the helicopter lowered a line to the survivors for towing them to shore, Mr. Williams, acknowledging the fact that he was trapped, refused to grab the line and passed it on to the other injured persons. The helicopter crew rescued five other survivors and then returned to Mr. Williams. He could not be found as he had sunk beneath the icy waters. By not grabbing the rescue line and occupying valuable time in what would probably have been a futile attempt to pull himself free, other survivors, who might have perished if they had been in the frigid waters much longer, were saved. Mr. Williams sacrificed his own life so that others may live. Mr. Williams' unselfish actions and valiant service reflect the highest credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of humanitarian service.''

Signed, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Secretary of Transportation.

The President. Mrs. Williams, I hope that you'll receive this medal for your son. And to his son and daughter, let me just say you can live with tremendous pride in your father.

Note: The President spoke at 12 noon at the presentation ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House. Mrs. Virginia Williams, mother of Arland Williams, Jr., accepted the medal on her son's behalf. Other participants in the ceremony included the recipient's father, Arland, his children, Arland and Leslie Ann, and his sister, Jean Fullmer, Vice Adm. Benedict L. Stabile, Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Comdr. D. C. Addison, crash investigator, and Senator Charles H. Percy and Representative Daniel B. Crane of Illinois.

Gold and Silver Lifesaving Medals are awarded for personal heroic daring in rescuing or attempting to rescue others from drowning, shipwrecks, or other perils of the water. Only 607 gold medals have been awarded since 1874.

Gold Lifesaving Medals also were presented to Martin L. (Lenny) Skutnik III and Roger W. Olian, and silver medals to Melvin E. Windsor and Donald W. Usher for their heroism in the Air Florida incident.

Even moonbats will have trouble dissing this man.

A little more perspective... since I'm on the subject today.

From an article on National Review Online today, regarding A&E's upcoming broadcast of Ike:Countdown to D-Day.

The excerpt is about the director of Ike, Lionel Chetwynd:

Now in his early 60s, Chetwynd is a longtime naturalized American citizen who was born in England and raised in Montreal. He'd remembered from Canadian regimental history that of the 4,400-odd Canadians sent to Dieppe, about 3,600 were killed. Although they knew it was basically a suicide mission, not one man failed to report for duty. Chetwynd asked one of the old soldiers in his regiment, Sgt. Gordon Betts, why.

"My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for," Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. "You kids don't even know what to live for."

The historian in me must put in a corrective:

While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.

There are other, similar casualty figures bandied about. Suffice it to say that while 3,600 Canadians may not have died, 3,600 is a close figure for killed, wounded, and captured. Out of a force of roughly 6,000, that's a lot of people.

Go read the whole thing... the further context is instructive.

Interested in Dieppe? Click the picture.

Hat tip to JMH.

Take a moment...

Moonbats got you down? Go visit here. Get a little morale boost!

Hat tip to David - but I see Misha has it as well...

by John on May 26, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Observations on things Military
» A Man With More Sense Than Money links with: Rousing Tribute to the Soldiers
» AlphaPatriot links with: I Won't Back Down

Let's go for a little perspective here...

From todays New York Daily News:

Terrible Tally: 800 U.S. Deaths In Iraq War

By Kenneth R. Bazinet, Daily News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - America is about to pass - or may already have passed - another sad milestone in Iraq: 800 dead soldiers.

The Pentagon's official death toll, usually a few days behind the actual number, stood at 797 yesterday. But a reliable count maintained at the Web site, which monitors news reports and compares them with the Pentagon's running tally, put the real number at 803.

Showing just how disproportionate the U.S. sacrifice is in Iraq, the total number of deaths for the other countries in the Iraq coalition is 110.

D-Day: 1500 Dead in one day.
WWII: An average of 400 dead, per day, for 1000 days in a row (counts non-battle deaths, 300 combat dead per day).

Single bloodiest day in American history:
Battle of Antietam, 23,000 fell, killed or wounded, in a single day.

Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, 7,000 Union soldiers fell in 20 minutes.

Okinawa, as I observed in an earlier post some time ago:

Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific campaign and the last major campaign of the Pacific War. More ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than all those killed during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing, more than 107,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts killed, and perhaps 100,000 Okinawan civilians who perished in the battle.

The battle of Okinawa proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Thirty-four allied ships and craft of all types had been sunk, mostly by kamikazes, and 368 ships and craft damaged. The fleet had lost 763 aircraft. Total American casualties in the operation numbered over 12,000 killed [including nearly 5,000 Navy dead and almost 8,000 Marine and Army dead] and 36,000 wounded. Navy casualties were tremendous, with a ratio of one killed for one wounded as compared to a one to five ratio for the Marine Corps. Combat stress also caused large numbers of psychiatric casualties, a terrible hemorrhage of front-line strength. There were more than 26,000 non-battle casualties. In the battle of Okinawa, the rate of combat losses due to battle stress, expressed as a percentage of those caused by combat wounds, was 48% [in the Korean War the overall rate was about 20-25%, and in the Yom Kippur War it was about 30%]. American losses at Okinawa were so heavy as to illicite [sic] Congressional calls for an investigation into the conduct of the military commanders. Not surprisingly, the cost of this battle, in terms of lives, time, and material, weighed heavily in the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan just six weeks later. (Global

Take a look at Vietnam, by month, by year.

This is not a bloodbath. It is actually one of the more bloodless wars we've conducted.

Which is of little consolation to the dead, wounded, and missing and their families, but is important to note, nonetheless.

More in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Instead of abused prisoners and a$$holes sawing off heads...

Let's have a little conventional military heroism. This time, Canadian. In fact, in some respects, today will be "All Canada, all day" just to annoy people still pissy over the fact that Canada declined to participate in Iraq (but are still in Afghanistan).

The motto of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) is "Perseverance."

Lt. Edward Perkins "Persevered". After making the initial crossing of the river, he returned to the far bank "after an extremely eventful 24 hours."

Crossing the Melfa River

Lieutenant Edward J. Perkins, DSO

The recce troop of an armoured regiment consists of eleven light American General Stuart or "Honey" tanks. From these the turrets have been removed and instead a .50 Browning machine gun is mounted. The vehicle carries a crew of five and its fire power besides the .50 includes a .30 Browning, a Bren gun, a PIAT and four Tommies. We also carry prepared charges and grenades. In small arms weapons, our fire power per man is a as large as any force in the army. Our job is close recce both of the ground and of the enemy which we are prepared to do either from our vehicles or on foot.

For the Melfa crossing, six of my tanks were taken for use by engineers who were travelling with us and my troop consisted of only five tanks. As a matter of fact, my own tank had a mechanical failure soon after we crossed the start line and I had to switch to my sergeant's tank. At no time during the operation did the troop consist of more than four tanks carrying in all twenty men.

The plan of the operation was that a force commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Vokes of the British Columbia Dragoons (BCD) and including the Irish Regiment of Canada, was to push through the gap in the Adolf Hitler Line which had been made by 1st Canadian Division. They were to advance about 8000 yards and then form a strong point or "firm base." My regiment was to go through this strong point and advance the remaining 4000 yards to the Melfa. We were then to seize a crossing and to hold it while other troops passed over and continued the advance. My job was to lead the regiment during the advance to get to the river as quickly as possible, find a crossing and get over. The Commanding Officer (CO) would then push over "A" Company of the motor battalion who were under his command, and if possible, get a tank squadron over, although whether this last would be possible, was not certain.

The Vokes force pushed over the start line at 0600 hours. At 0800 hours, the CO sent me forward to liaise with them and to find out what was happening. I found that while the preceding units were not encountering great opposition from the enemy, they were having considerable difficulty in getting their tanks forward over many obstacles and the rate of advance was consequently slow. I spent most of the morning reporting progress to my CO who was impatiently waiting in the assembly area two or three thousand yards back.

Read the rest here.

Now for the Victoria Cross from the Melfa River Crossing.

On the 24th May, 1944, "A" Company of the Westminster Regiment (Motor), under the command of Major Mahony, was ordered to establish the initial bridgehead across the River Melfa. The enemy still had strong forces of tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry holding defensive positions on the east side of the river. Despite this, Major Mahony personally led his company down to and across the river, being with the leading section. Although the crossing was made in full view of and under heavy fire from enemy machine-gun posts on the right rear and left front, he personally directed each section into its proper position on the west bank with the greatest coolness and confidence. The crossing was made and a small bridgehead was established on ground where it was only possible to dig shallow weapon pits. From 1530 hours the company maintained itself in the face of enemy fire and attack until 2030 hours, when the remaining companies and supporting weapons were able to cross the river and reinforce them.

The bridgehead was enclosed on three sides by an 88 mm. Self-propelled gun 450 yards to the right, a battery of four 2cm. A.A. guns 100 yards to the left, a Spandau 100 yards to the left of it, to the left of the Spandau a second 88 mm. Self-propelled gun, and approximately a company of infantry with mortars and machine-guns on the left of the 88 mm. gun. From all these weapons, Major Mahony's company was constantly under fire until it eventually succeeded in knocking out the self-propelled equipment and the infantry on the left flank.

Shortly after the bridgehead had been established, the enemy counter-attacked with infantry supported by tanks and self-propelled guns. The counter-attack was beaten off by the company with its P.I.A.T.'s (1), 2" mortars and grenades, due to the skill with which Major Mahony had organized his defences. With absolute fearlessness and disregard for his own safety, Major Mahony personally directed the fire of his P.I.A.T.'s throughout this action, encouraging and exhorting his men. By this time, the company strength had been reduced to 60 men, and all but one of the Platoon Officers had been wounded. Scarcely an hour later, enemy tanks formed up about 500 yards in front of the bridgehead and in company with about a Company of infantry, launched a second counter-attack. Major Mahony, determined to hold the position at all costs, went from section to section with words of encouragement, personally directing fire of mortars and other weapons.

At one stage, a section was pinned down in the open by accurate and intense machine-gun fire. Major Mahony crawled forward to their position, and by throwing smoke grenades, succeeded in extricating the section from its position with the loss of only one man. This counter-attack was finally beaten off with the destruction of three enemy self-propelled guns and one Panther tank.

You can read the rest here.

Last but not least on Canadian stuff today: Elsie

The Canadians have signed on to the Landmine Treaty, known as the Ottawa Convention in recognition of their strong support, and in my experience in planning sessions, they are pretty up front and aggressive about it (though they are willing to position themselves behind minefields provided by us... because we are Bad People and didn't sign on. It's all Bush's fault, of course. Even if Clinton was in office.

Perhaps this is one reason they are so into it. They developed a pretty nasty little bugger of their own, the Elsie.

I have two, shown with a rifle bullet for scale:

Not large at all, just big enough to blow off your foot. Exactly the kind of thing that so annoyed the people who wrote the treaty. Small, hard-to-detect, easy to emplace mines that look a lot like toys to small children (though service mines (vice the training ones shown here) are not quite as attractive a color!

Before any Canadians get huffy - they are/were also produced by the US and Japan as the M25 and Type 67 respectively. They are very simple.

The C3A2 (Elsie) is a plastic bodied cone shaped A pers mine which is designed to wound or kill by blast effect. The mine has two components; the body and charge. The body resembles an arrow head, it has a smooth finish and contains the firing mechanism. The charge is a seperate component which fits inside the body, it contains a shaped explosive charge and has camouflage material on its exterior. When delivered, the body has a dust cover to protect the internal cocked striker mechanism/detonator. After the body is placed in the ground, the dust cover is removed and replaced by the charge. The mine is water resistant and it can be laid in wet ground. The C3A2 contains 7.8 g of Comp A5 while the older C3A1 version contained Tetryl. The mine is difficult to locate using metal detectors under most field conditions. Due to its small surface area the C3A2 has limited resistance to blast overpressure from explosive breaching systems like the Giant Viper and MICLIC. The Elsie is also produced in the US as the M25, and in Japan as the Type 67.

The designers were curiously respectful of the victims buddies:

The C3A2 "Elsie" is difficult to locate using metal detectors in areas that have high metal content in the ground such as artillery shell fragments. On detonation the mine will cause immediate blast injury to the victim as well as hearing damage to anyone within a 5 meter radius. Due to its shaped charge the mine concentrates all of its explosive force upward. The secondary fragmentation hazard is thus greatly reduced.

Wouldn't want to hurt anyone with that secondary fragmentation hazard...

Here's a picture of the mines and their component parts, less the safety clip. I haven't found a clip yet... The mine on the left has the shipping plug with it. The little black bit in the center is the explosive charge (inert trainer in this case) that is inserted into the mine to make it live. In this photo, you can see that it is in fact a shaped charge, albeit a wee one.

If you'd like all the dirty details, they're all laid out here.

Still to come: The german glass and shuh mines.

by John on May 26, 2004 | Ammunition

May 25, 2004

The Culture of the Veil.

Perhaps SWWBO and "S" have a point... and, as Aaron observes, I'm just being too easy on 'em.

From Steven Vincent's piece in today's National Review Online:

...We were sitting outside the British military base at Basra International Airport, waiting for soldiers to open the gate. The afternoon was hot, a desert wind blowing dust and grit across the asphalt. As the boredom mounted, a trucker stood and crossed the roadway. Looming over Nour, he snapped something in Arabic, causing her expression to fall and her body to flinch as she curled her legs beneath her. As the trucker strode back to his companions, I asked Nour what he'd said. "He demanded that I sit more like a respectable Muslim woman," she replied in an embarrassed voice. Angered at the man's effrontery, I rose to confront him, only to be halted again by Nour's demurrals. "You'll only cause me trouble." Sadly, she was right. Convening a one-man Morals Police for the sole purpose of humiliating a woman, the trucker had acted in the name of the force we had no defense against: Islam.

A small incident, perhaps — yet it's hard to overstate its symbolism, or the problems its portends for Iraq's future. Something frightening lies at the heart of this nation, I've come to understand, something dark, irrational, thuggish, especially among the "ignorant men" of its lower classes. In public, it often takes the forms of a weaponized stare that glowers at an unescorted woman — or a woman accompanied by a foreigner — as if yearning to see her disgrace herself, do something scandalous or un-Islamic, in order to fuel invidious gossip and innuendo. In private, it manifests itself in the threat, and frequently the reality, of violence to restrain and subjugate females. To accommodate and placate this malevolence, Iraqi females learn to repress their own behavior and instincts, while safeguarding their most important social possession — reputation.

One wonders why the left, especially, seems to want to defend this culture, even elevate it, while at the same time casting fundamentalist christians into the ninth ring of the leftist version of hell?

It is impossible to grasp the psychic claustrophobia this attitude creates for women without actually experiencing it. One afternoon, Nour and I took a boat ride down the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. The pilot, a barely literate teenager, insisting on turning around and looking at us, as if supervising our behavior. Irritated by his glare, I suggested to Nour we ask the kid — or even pay him — to face the front of the boat. "Oh no!" she protested. "Then he'll think we are really doing something scandalous and he'll tell his friends and I'll never be able to take a boat ride again." For most of the trip, we sat under the teen-ager's gaze, trying to ignore it. As we disembarked, Nour muttered, "Now you see why I hate these ignorant men?"

She's not alone. The rage and despair women feel toward religious and social customs is palpable. Take TV newscaster Najiah Abdulsala. On camera, the attractive Basran reads the news sans scarf. "I know it's against Islam, but I don't care — it's my choice!" she told me at her office. On the streets, however, Najiah is careful to wear hijab. "Religious men verbally assault me and I've received warnings from the Islamic parties," she said angrily. "Fortunately, I am marrying and my husband is taking me to Kuwait." Another Basran is not so lucky. She told me how her four brothers dominate every aspect of her life — when she can leave home, with whom, for how long. "If I run away, they will track me down and kill me." Once, when they discovered that she planned to marry without their permission, they beat her so badly they broke her arm.

I don't get it. Obviously.

Wahabism Delenda Est.

The whole piece is here.

Ammunition, Part the 4th. Closing out the muzzle-loading ammunition piece.

G'day, everybody! While I certainly haven't exhausted the muzzle-loading era and may return to it, I'm going to close it out for now with a post about 'cleaner' bullets and what to do when your weapon misfires. Then I can move on to black powder primer fired cartridges and beyond - at a later date, at a later date, keep your shirt on!

If you need a refresher, here are parts I, II, and III.

As I mentioned in earlier discussions about black powder, a major problem with those guns and that ammunition was the residue, or fouling, from firing. It doesn't take long before it starts to get hard to load your weapon. Instead of the bullet dropping down onto the powder, you have to exert more and more force to ram the bullet down the bore. That takes time, meaning you reduce your rate of fire, and the distortion of the soft lead bullet can significantly reduce accuracy, and even range, if you distort the skirt of a minie' ball sufficiently. Most Civil War engagements were fought at distances where range wasn't a question, but accuracy, and most importantly, rate of fire, were important.

The most common kind of 'cleaner bullet was the Williams. It came as a Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. In this photo, they are 1, 3, 2, something I didn't notice until after I took the picture last night. You'll have to excuse me, I was in the basement right after the tornado warning sirens had gone off. Have you ever tried to snag 7 cats and get 'em to the basement - quickly? And I expected Beth's new car to be a dimpled wreck from hail, too. In the event, nothing happened.

Shown with an 8mm Mauser round for comparison. Hi-speed (or patient) version here.

These were designed to clean the bore as the bullet traveled down the barrel. When fired, a zinc ring at the bottom of the bullet would expand to clean the debris and grease from the rifle. On the Type 1, the zinc ring is gone from years in the ground, leaving only the post. The Type 2 was only produced briefly, in favor of the Type 3. The differences are the Type 2 has a thicker ring than the Type 1, and in an attempt to contain costs, a smaller bullet. The Type 3 is basically a Type 1 bullet with the improved Type 2 disk. Depending on who you read, they ranged from really effective (Williams himself) to worthless. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle - and had more to do with training of the soldier and intensity of the combat.

There's more in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on May 25, 2004 | Ammunition
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #18

May 24, 2004

2004 National Military Strategy.

If anyone wants to read the 2004 National Military Strategy, click here.

Don't be scared - it's only 30 pages. Here's the forward, to give you an idea.


The “National Military Strategy” conveys my message to the Joint Force on the strategic direction the Armed Forces of the United States should follow to support the National Security and Defense Strategies in this time of war. This document describes the ways and means to protect the United States, prevent conflict and surprise attack and prevail against adversaries who threaten our homeland, deployed forces, allies and friends. Success rests on three priorities:

First, while protecting the United States we must win the War on Terrorism. The attacks of 11 September 2001 demonstrated that our liberties are vulnerable. The prospect of future attacks, potentially employing weapons of mass destruction, makes it imperative we act now to stop terrorists before they can attack again. We must continue to root out transnational terrorist networks, sever their connections with state sponsors, eliminate their bases of operation, counter dangerous proliferation and establish a global antiterrorism environment. This mission requires the full integration of all instruments of national power, the cooperation and participation of friends and allies and the support of the American people.

Second, we will enhance our ability to fight as a joint force. Joint teamwork is an integral part of our culture and focus as we develop leaders, organizations, systems and doctrine. We must continue to strengthen trust and confidence among the Service components that comprise the Joint Force. Enhancing joint warfighting requires the integration of our Active and Reserve Components and our civilian work force to create a seamless total force that can meet future challenges. We must strengthen collaboration among our joint forces, agencies at all levels of government and multinational partners. Key to such collaboration is an improved ability to collect, process and share information.

Third, we will transform the Armed Forces “in stride” – fielding new capabilities and adopting new operational concepts while actively taking the fight to terrorists. Transformation requires a combination of technology, intellect and cultural adjustments – adjustments that reward innovation and creativity. In-stride transformation will ensure US forces emerge from the struggle against terrorism with our joint force fully prepared to meet future global challenges.

The NMS serves to focus the Armed Forces on maintaining US leadership in a global community that is challenged on many fronts – from countering the threat of global terrorism to fostering emerging democracies. In this environment, US presence and commitment to partners are essential. Our Armed Forces, operating at home and abroad, in peace and war, will continue to serve as a constant, visible reminder of US resolve to protect common interests. Our dedication to security and stability ensures that the United States is viewed as an indispensable partner, encouraging other nations to join us in helping make the world not just safer, but better.

//signed//Richard B. Myers
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Lest anyone be concerned - this is completely unclassified. We WANT the bad guys and potential bad guys to know this.

The secret is in making it work.

by John on May 24, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Peppermint Tea links with: Linkaliciousness!
» Sgt Hook links with: Castle of Argghhh!!!
» Budaechigae 부대찌개 links with: National Military Strategy 2004 Available Online
» The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler links with: The Strategy for 2004

Now This is a Wargame!

I want a copy of this! Oh, wait. We're already living it.

by John on May 24, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» G'Day Mate! links with: More quizzes....

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Aaron, the Liberal Slayer, brought up something in his comment to a previous post:

Religious folk should read Samuel II carefully concerning the reason King Saul was stripped of his monarchy.

It is not Wahabism. It is Amalekism. And it still exists today.

I don't pretend to be a religious person. What faith I have, is my own, and I feel no need to profess or otherwise spread the word. I will leave that to others who feel the vocation.

But I am always out to learn. And Aaron provided the opportunity. So, I went looking. I came upon this bit regarding Torah study - and in this particular case, Deuteronomy.

Amalek represents all those who take advantage of and prey upon the weak and the disadvantaged, overpowering them through strength and brute force. Over the centuries his name changes, but his motto remains the same: "Might makes right." He aims his poisonous hate toward the weakest members of society - the stragglers, the lame, the blind, the old. Amalek's spiritual heirs created concentration camps and gas chambers.

I see Aaron's point. I'll say this, however. We can't kill it all, all at once, everywhere. So, for right now, I'll settle for the Wahabist strain of it.

Of course, you realize that the average lefty is going to say that passage describes any conservative.

Which goes to show they don't understand us conservatives.

But that's a d-uh statement.

The difference between you and I, lefty, is that I want to teach the guy to fish. You want to hold him back and just give him fish, so he remains dependent upon the Borg Collective.

Wonder when the book comes out?

(AP) A U.S. soldier who said he left his unit in Iraq to protest an "oil-driven" war was convicted of desertion Friday and sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge.

A military jury met for about 20 minutes before giving the maximum sentence to Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, an infantry squad leader with the Florida National Guard.

Hey, dude. You wanted out, you got out. With three hots and a cot, with a/c. And you aren't going to owe any more time after you get out, either.

Meija may well feel exactly as he expressed himself at the courtsmartial proceeding. If so - good for him. He had a greater courage of his convictions than did John Kerry Waffles when he left combat early to go protest the war. Yes, there are parallels. Neither man seemingly left out of cowardice. But Kerry Waffles weaseled out. Meija, while he may not have approached this in the best fashion, met it head on. He's *always* going to have more 'street cred' than Kerry Waffles, now.

Defense lawyer Louis Font said in his closing argument that Mejia made "an honest mistake of fact."

"This case clearly is about what was in the accused's mind," Font said. "He had an honest and reasonable view that because he had become a conscientious objector, he would not be required to serve in Iraq anymore."

Well... no, it doesn't quite work that way. And even more so for officers he said, brining Kerry Waffles back into it... Soldiers in a Republic don't get to decide who and when they will fight. When they start doing that, you start having a banana republic, where the military decides what it wants to do, not the civilians. The only honorable approach when your disquiet reaches that level is to declare yourself openly, and face the music. Whether he realized it or not, however he got to that point, Meija took the only 'honorable' approach he had to his dilemma. Which, if I accept the arguments about Kerry's Waffles motivations put forth in comment streams elsewhere, cannot be said of Kerry Waffles.

The whole article is here.

What he said!

I got this from two sources, both military.

Since one of them was my father, who *was* bayoneted in Korea (his attacker did not survive the experience, as in the classic sense, he "brought a knife to a gun fight," I'll credit him...

Mark Steyn:

...If you're used to smart bombs, unmanned drones and doing it all by computer back at HQ, you're probably wondering why a modern Western army is still running around with bayonets at the end of their rifles. The answer is that it's a very basic form of psychological warfare.

''If you're defending a position and you see someone advancing with a bayonet, you may be more inclined to surrender,'' Col. Ed Brown told the British newspaper the Guardian. ''I've never been bayoneted, but I can imagine it's pretty gruesome.'' Or as Cpl. Jones, veteran of the Sudan, used to say every week on the ancient BBC sitcom ''Dad's Army'': ''They don't like it up 'em.''

By comparison, a Cruise missile, an unmanned drone, even a bullet are all antiseptic forms of warfare. When a chap's charging at you with a bayonet, he's telling you he's personally willing to run you through with cold steel. The bullet may get you first, but, if it doesn't, he'll do it himself. To the average British squaddie in the 21st century, the bayonet's main practical purpose is for opening tinned food. But when you need it on the battlefield, it's still a powerful signal of your resolve, your will.

Steyn's big point is this: Militarily, we have the gumption to fix bayonets.

Politically and diplomatically, the Sadr-ites and their ilk are betting we don't have the gumption to metaphorically 'fix bayonets'.

I think this President does. But I do not think his State Department does, nor a significant chunk of the political class. Which is odd - because the Dems fight that way politically all the time. The Republicans? They're like the Artillery - always trying to "lend dignity to what is otherwise a vulgar brawl" - and if you allow them to close, infantry just about always disembowels the artillery.

In this regard, Republicans are idiots, and don't fight for what they believe in.

Democrats may sometimes seemingly only believe in power for power's sake - but by gosh, they'll fight for it. Now if we could only turn some of that energy to Iraq. But therein lies the paradox, eh? The Dems will just turn Iraq over to the UN and run.

That worked before, right? Well, Kofi's son thinks so, anyway!

The rest is here.

May 23, 2004

Most of you have already seen this, I'm sure.

But Bill Whittle and I agree, if his expression is classier than mine.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Root and branch.

Twig and Leaf.

Leave no Wahabist ideological stone standing upon another.

Plow this 'ism' under and sow the field with salt.

Break wahabism's bones, grind them to powder. Scatter the dust to the wind.

Make the fertile crescent fertile again. Fertilize it with the broken dreams of the adherents of this plague who won't turn their face from it.

They mean to kill and enslave us.

Kill them until they quit coming, and their ideas die with them. That's how they view us, we should respect that view. Only then do we stay our hand.

When they change their ideas, or they are gone, then, then we can rest.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Today, I may find time...

To bloviate a bit about these...

but first, another linkfest.

Matt weighs in on Abu Ghraib, again, since the media won't turn down any of the volume. He also takes a shot at the Air Force. Not like that's hard or anything...

I added a blog to the Microbe Microscope. Slings and Arrows. Go here, then hit 'main' and read the rest. Nicely focused, unlike this place.

Eric, at Classical Values, tries to take on the "Invincibly Ignorant." Does a pretty good job, too.

Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

So, if the gods themselves find this exercise impossible, I may well be wasting my time.

But I am still pissed, and I have my blog, so where else can I go but here?

The rest is good, too.

Eric Aaron (Sorry!) at Pardon My English smacks on Kerry for his snarkiness. I find the press' angst over reportage amusing. I suspect the mission would be clear to them if the roles were reversed.

Been here. Done this.

The dogs like us!

Goldie has bloggerblahs. No worries, girl. We all go through it. More'n once, too.

My first linker, An Old Saab, are finally back at work. Lazy bums.

Over at Bastard Sword... an attack on Kerry! Whee!

Last, but not least, Aaron examines more tales of abuse in jail.

by John on May 23, 2004 | Ammunition
» Pardon My English links with: Mountain Biking Towards Reelection

An interesting day in history...

1533 King Henry VIII declares marriage to Catherine of Aragon null &
void. Ended up founding his own church, too. The Church of England, Well, the Anglican Church, really. Catholic Light, 1/3rd the guilt, More fulfilling!

1618 The Defenestration of Prague sets off the Thirty Years War. Toss a few politicians out a window into a dung heap, not hurting them, and start a war that lasts 30 years. And the Dems think we're over-reacting to 9/11? Oh, wait - these people weren't democrat politicians, so only a police response is appropriate. Before the commenters weigh in - I'm still in favor of the Iraq war and do not believe we should have limited ourselves to Afghanistan. And that doesn't mean I support the torture crap either.

1775 Patrick Henry says "Give me Liberty or give me death!"

1873 Canada's North West Mounted Police force established - Happy Birthday to the Mounties!

1958 Mao Tse tung starts "the Great Leap Forward" in China, millions
. Just like just about any well-run communist dictatorship of the proletariat... millions die. But lefties don't give a flying flip. Because they 'meant well' so it's okay. They had good motivations. And its all Bush's fault, anyway. Boy, I'm grumpy this morning. Gotta quit reading the news, I guess.

1960 Israel announces capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. I don't remember people squawking when they hung this mass-murderer, though.

Hat tip: Strategy Page

by John on May 23, 2004 | Historical Stuff
» Sgt Hook links with: Castle of Argghhh!!!