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June 26, 2004

SCOOOORRRRRE!

...and the crowd goes wild! Woo-woo! Am I excited!

Looky what I just got! One of the Holy Grails!

Wanna guess what it is? Something more specfic than the d-uh comments, now!

by John on Jun 26, 2004 | Ammunition

June 25, 2004

This would be a fun place to work.

Project Manager Soldier, PM Soldier, for short. As before, click the pic to see the rest.

June 23, 2004

Movie Meme

Seen over at LeeAnn's, a new meme running about the 'net where you bold-off the movies you have seen of the Top 100 Grossing Movies of All Time. Like LeeAnn, I also did a strike-through of (in my case only one) movies on the list that I won't see unless coerced and kept bound during the screening. It happens to be Numbah 1, GI. Hey, 100 movies - that's only about 18 months worth of movie-going...

Since it's a long list - I've put it in the extended post.


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Jun 23, 2004 | General Commentary
» TacJammer links with: Meme Rampant

More new Army stuff.

One of the problems with current military vehicle weapon stations is that many of them require the gunner to be fully or partially exposed to enemy fire. Another problem is if you have to abandon the vehicle, you can many times be abandoning a serviceable weapon system which may get turned back on you, either in the fight you are in, or in a subsequent fight.

One way to address this is a remote weapons station. The Army is currently developing one call CROWS, the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station. It addresses, at least in a partial fashion, both problems. The gunner is not exposed, and, with the removeable joystick, the crew can 'un-ass' the vehicle, take the joystick with them, and the weapon can't be used with the 'under armor' protection and fire control. The weapon is still designed to be dismountable and useable by the crew, so a captured weapons carrier could still yield a useable weapon, but not with the sensing/targeting/engagement enhancements provided by the mount itself.

Downside? More things to break. One thing about a M-2 or Mk19 on a pintle - pretty simple. Click the pic to see the rest of the brief.

June 22, 2004

One more to the tally.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

Godspeed, Kim Sun Il, you have understanding company awaiting you.

It doesn't change our minds, assholes. It does harden our hearts - and that is *not* to your advantage.

You would *not* like it if the Koreans were to respond in kind, believe me.

Rip his heart out, or trash his network?

Ralph Peters asks the question. And the answer is: both. If you aren't willing to rip his heart out, however, you're probably just dancing with the rainbow.

Even though I do (hock, ptui!) defense contractor work revolving around net-centric warfare, I agree with Ralph.

Net-centric is just another tool. It's not a palliative. But Ralph says it better than I do.

Here's a teaser.

This essay does not suppose that warfare is simple: "Just go out and kill 'em." Of course, incisive attacks on command networks and control capabilities, well-considered psychological operations, and humane treatment of civilians and prisoners matter profoundly, along with many other complex factors. But at a time when huckster contractors and "experts" who never served in uniform prophesize bloodless wars and sterile victories through technology, it's essential that those who actually must fight our nation's wars not succumb to the facile theories or shimmering vocabulary of those who wish to explain war to our soldiers from comfortable offices.

It is not a matter of whether attrition is good or bad. It's necessary. Only the shedding of their blood defeats resolute enemies. Especially in our struggle with God-obsessed terrorists - the most implacable enemies our nation has ever faced-there is no economical solution. Unquestionably, our long-term strategy must include a wide range of efforts to do what we, as outsiders, can to address the environmental conditions in which terrorism arises and thrives (often disappointingly little - it's a self-help world). But, for now, all we can do is to impress our enemies, our allies, and all the populations in between that we are winning and will continue to win.

The only way to do that is through killing.

It's long, so it's in the extended post. This and other good stuff are available from Parameters, The Quarterly of the Army War College. This specific article is here, if you'd rather read it there.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

A story! A story!

JMH sent a probably apocryphal bunch of snippets of commercial aviation-speak. It's been around before, but I'm sure some of you haven't seen it, and it's funny, even if you have. Of course, I especially like the "Yes, Twice in 1944, and I didn't land."

But number three always brings to mind a war story. Defined as starting with "This is no sh*t" and having no connection to a shooting war.

Young Second Lieutenant Donovan got off the airplane in Frankfurt, was picked up by 1LT Pete Hansen and whisked off to Monteith Barracks, near Nueremburg. Young Lt. Donovan was a tad surprised at this, being assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery of the 1st Armored Division, which he knew to be stationed at Pinder Barracks, Zirndorf. Having been born and half-raised in Germany, young Lt. Donovan knew that something was up - he could read the road signs.

Pete Hansen allowed as how the battalion was at Graf, and the battalion commander thought it would be a good idea for young Lt. Donovan to join the battalion in the field, first thing. All that settling in stuff could wait, so we were on our way to CIF (Central Issue Facility) where I could draw my TA-50 (field gear) and we could go to Pinder, drop my stuff in the HHB (Headquarters and Headquarters Battery) arms room, change into fatigues and catch a jeep to Graf. My wife? Well, she'd cope, Pete was sure.

So, off to Graf and the FST TOC (Fire Support Team Tactical Operations Center)at Bleidorn Tower (an OP- observation post - overlooking the impact area). Where the now slightly punchy, been-up-for-36-hours Lt. Donovan gets introduced to the junior members of the Mess. And gets informed he has radio watch in the TOC for the evening, welcome to Germany and the One-Two-Zoo, and we're going to bed, see ya in the morning.

Recognizing hazing for hazing, young Lt. Donovan busies himself meeting the Sergeants and other troops on duty in the TOC, getting oriented to what the battalion has going on tonight (lots of coordinated illum missions), finding out which teams were on which OPs, etc. Then, settling in at the field desk, crack open the range regs since I'm apparently supposed to get range safety certified by tomorrow night or my commission is forfeit or something.

Fine.

But there's this asshole on the radio. Engaged in what is *still* one of my pet peeves. Blowing into the microphone before talking. It really really really is an annoying habit. Like the radio handset you used thirty seconds ago is likely to have failed, or will fail in the next thirty seconds.

Fine. I'm net control. That means it's my net. Let's have a little discipline on the net. And I'm tired. Pushin' 40 hours now. So I neglected to check something before I picked up the handset and said,

"Last calling station, last calling station, it is *not* necessary to inflate your radio prior to operation."

Silence in the TOC. Mixed stunned and amused faces in the suddenly very interested TOC crew. Especially since it wasn't my net. I told you I was tired.

The radio crackles to life.

"Last calling station, this is Lima-3-Charlie-45. Identify yourself!"

Hmmm. Probably ought to check who this guy is. The silence in the TOC, and on the net, are deafening. Lessee, callsign board, callsign board, where's the - oh! There it is, being pointed to by kindly SFC Carter. Better yet, he's pointing to the callsign!

Lima-3-Charlie= 1-22 FA
45= Bn Cdr.

Hmmm. Lt Donovan picked up the handset and replied:

"Charlie45, if you don't know, I think I'm not going to tell you. I may be coming in broken and stupid, but I'm not an idiot, out."

Much hilarity ensued in the TOC. I'm told much hilarity ensued in TOCs and BOCs (Battery Operations Center) all over Graf, since I had done it on the DIVARTY (DIVision ARTillerY) fires net.

Based on my first OER(officer efficiency report), no one ever told the battalion commander who the smartass was. Or he has a sense of humor.

Nah. No one told him.


The aviation stuff so kindly provided by the Canadian Tanker are in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Moorebabble 911

Chris Hitchens, whose politics I don't share, does share a fairly congruent view of the GWOT. And a fully congruent view on Michael Moore and his silly movie.

A teaser:

Nonetheless, it seems that an answer to this long-felt need is finally beginning to emerge. I exempt Al Franken's unintentionally funny Air America network, to which I gave a couple of interviews in its early days. There, one could hear the reassuring noise of collapsing scenery and tripped-over wires and be reminded once again that correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins. With Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

If that tickled your fancy, you'll love the rest.

Praised with faint damns...

This is an interesting little blurb from Strategy Page today. Interesting because it talks about what I do for a living right now, and while a positive article, still manages to portray a sense of 'icky!' about the subject.

Which is true.

I have never worked with as dedicated a group of smart people as I do now (and I'm on the lower half of brain power meter here - something I'm not used to 8^D ) who are as focused on the soldier-level results of their work. These guys are as far away from McNamara-style of ORSA (Operational Research/Systems Analysis) as you can find. They are a mix of active duty, retired, former military, and never-served people who recognize BS when it slaps 'em in the face, yet are grounded enough in reality that they would *never* make the recommendation that McNamara's Whiz Kids did - like eliminating the half-size boot.

And given that I expected them to be exactly that - I am both chastened and heartened by these guys.

Okay, enough backslapping.

COMBAT SUPPORT: The Invisible Secret Weapon in Iraq

June 22, 2004: One of the more revolutionary weapons developed in the last century is being widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it little known even within the military. It’s called Operations Research (OR), and it’s basically the application of mathematical and statistical tools to determine optimal resource allocation. During World War II, OR was first used to solve military problems, and it had a major impact. Developed mainly by British scientists in the 1920s and 30s, it’s first major success was in developing the British air defense system used with great success during the Battle of Britain. OR was used to determine the most effective way to deploy the new radars, and where to put Britain’s outnumbered fighter squadrons, and when to send them off to fight oncoming German bombers and fighters. OR was later used to figure out optimal ways to deploy anti-submarine forces in the Battle of the Atlantic, how to best defend formations of American heavy bombers over Germany, and much, much more.

OR continued to be used, operating in the shadows mainly because few people, besides the practitioners, understood exactly how it worked. Few college students study the statistics and advanced math courses needed to become an OR practitioner. While the U.S. Army has always been a big user of OR, only about five percent of army officers are trained in the use of OR techniques. This is changing as more computers are used on the battlefield, for OR problem solving routines is installed into the many computers that pilots, tank crews, sailors, and even infantrymen use.

For example, OR capability will be available for the combat PDAs that hundreds of infantry platoon and company commanders will be carrying in Iraq later this year.

What is OR doing in Iraq? A lot. Saddam Hussein was tracked down using OR
techniques. Usually, the OR people like to keep their work secret, but in the case of Saddam’s capture, some of the techniques (collecting lots of information on those who worked for Saddam and building a picture of the relationships to determine who was most likely to still be working for him, and hiding him) did get some publicity. During the invasion itself, a lot of OR work went into the planning and execution of the combat operations. Logistics (supply) uses a lot of OR, and it was needed to keep too troops during the frantic two week march on Baghdad.

While most of the OR experts are able to stay back in the United States, some are stationed in Iraq (and Afghanistan), where they supervise the collection of data (to make sure it’s as clean, or accurate, as possible) and doing a lot of the analysis. The OR people in Iraq are also needed to present their findings, and where they got them from, to senior commanders. This has to be done in plain English, because not all the senior people know what regression or factor analysis is.

OR has been used a lot since the Spring of 2003. Much of the fighting since then has been called like police work, and OR teams applied the same techniques that brought the New York City crime rate down over 70 percent. They called the tool "CompStat." But it was pure OR.

OR is also becoming an invisible part of many civilians lives. Those “smart braking systems” many new cars have were developed by OR people analyzing how people drive and how cars respond in accident situations. Having computers in a car, or a tank, is not enough. The computers have to be programmed to make a good decision nearly all the time, and it’s the OR people who make it happen.

There are some OR specialists in plain sight. These are the MBA crowd. Reviled as heartless bean counters, MBAs practice OR under a different name; “Management Science.” But the two disciplines are the same, and many business schools have one OR Department that teaches the tricks of the trade to the apprentice captains of industry. There’s nothing particularly evil about OR, except that all the math and geeky buzzwords tends to put off most people. However, life as we know it would not be possible without OR. Everything we touch, from the brake pedal to a new anti-cancer medicine, was made possible by OR. And modern war is no different. The two week march on Iraq was possible only because of brave soldiers, powerful weapons, and Operations Research.

Hat tip to Donnie at Ain't Done It for pointing out the Combat PDA article.

June 21, 2004

Pull! & "Firers, watch your lanes!"

Americans Sharpen Shooting Skills Sunday, June 20, 2004 LOS ANGELES — Shooting for sport is becoming more and more popular across the country.

Along with Pilates and windsurfing, clay target shooting (search) and handgun target shooting (search) are some of America's fastest growing sports. Some 20 million Americans participate in recreational gun activities.

Those who shoot clays call it "golf with guns."

"It is being looked at more as a sport and recreation, it is not all about hunting," said Rick Matulich of the San Diego Shotgun Sports Association (search).

Target shooting dates back to the 14th century, and it became an Olympic sport in 1896. And while some worry about recreational gun safety, the government says a person is more likely to get hurt riding a bike, playing basketball or swimming.

"It is a great sport," said Bret Erickson (search), 2004 U.S. Olympic shotgun team member. "It is a sport for all ages; it is a sport for the whole family and it is a huge growing sport."

From Fox News.

by John on Jun 21, 2004 | Gun Rights
» The Bejus Pundit links with: M-16 in the Jungle? Hardly.
» Who Tends the Fires links with: Rubber roads that lead nowhere! Digital Brownshirts that won't melt!

Some things that make ya go, hmmmm.

IRAQ: Baghdad is Safer than Washington, DC

June 21, 2004: The anti-government violence in Iraq is causing a annualized death rate of 15 per 100,000 population for terrorist activities alone. That compares to a murder rate in the United States of 5.6 per 100,000. European nations have an average rate of about four per 100,000, while Russia is 20 per 100,000. Some nations are particularly violent. South Africa has a murder rate of 59, and neighboring Namibia is 45. Colombia, in South America, was over 50 a few years ago, but is now down to the 30s because a crackdown on armed militias. The Middle East tends of have low murder rates, with Turkey having a rate of 2.3. Israel also had a rate of 2.3, until the Palestinians began their terrorism campaign in late 2000. The deaths from suicide bombings and other
attacks doubled Israel's murder rate to about 4 per 100,000, although that has
been coming down in the past year.

But Iraq has become accustomed to a high murder rate. Saddam's police forces were the cause of many murders, and as far back as the 1970s, the official murder rate was 12 per 100,000. The coalition forces and Iraqi security forces have gotten the non-terrorist murder rate down to about five per 100,000. This, combined with the deaths caused by terrorists, produces a rate of about 20 per year. The murder rate in Washington, DC, is over 60 per 100,000.

One thing that jumps out there... "easy availability" of firearms does not seem to be a consistent factor, does it? Criminal and political violence seems to be a better, if not fully consistent, index. Yet, the middle east abounds with criminal activity, just not as vicious (though the political violence more than compensates). Hmmmm.

INFANTRY: New Helmet for Australian Infantry

June 21, 2004: Australia, after studying four different helmet designs, accepted one from an Israeli firm and is introducing it as the Enhanced Combat Helmet (ECH). Some ten ounces lighter than the current helmet, the ECH also offers better protection and is much more comfortable. The Israeli proposal is a modified (to meet Australian specifications) version of the RBH 303 helmet (itself a modification of the RBH 103 helmet currently used by the Israeli armed forces.) The main modifications were improved ballistics protection, changes to the padding system, the elimination of the front brim and a reduction in ear coverage to enable troops to use “Active Noise Reduction” equipment. The ECH comes in four sizes (small, medium, large and extra large), with the heaviest one weighing 2.6 pounds. The RBH 303 only had three sizes, but it was found
that many Australian troops, well, had big heads.

The current Australian helmet, the PASGT, is similar to the Kevlar model adopted by the United States in the early 1980s, and by many nations after that. The Kevlar design was a third generation combat helmet, and nicknamed the “Fritz” after its resemblance to the German helmets used in both World Wars. The German World War I design, which was based on an analysis of where troops were being hit by fragments and bullets in combat, was the most successful combat helmet in that war. This basic design was little changed during World War II, and finally adopted by many other nations after the American Kevlar helmet appeared in the 1980s.

Most of the second generation helmets, which appeared largely during World War II, were similar to the old American “steel pot” design. The fourth generation helmets, currently appearing, use better synthetic materials and more comfortable design.

The Aussies have big heads? Say it ain't so, Vern! Trivia note on the 'fritz' helmet design. Deliberate decision made in the 50's when the steel pot got relooked to *not* go with the 'fritz' helmet shape. That shape was just too identified with german militarism and Nazi excess to even think about adopting it. A splinter argument, if you will, of the discussions about whether or not to use the Nazi concentration-camp-derived medical data, which was a mixed bag of yes and no, regarding it's use.

SURFACE WARSHIPS: Naval Gunfire Support Questions

June 21, 2004: The debate over naval gunfire support has raged since the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships in 1991. While the revolution in precision-guided munitions has made air support much more reliable and effective, there are still people who raise questions about adequate fire-support for Marine operations.

With the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships and their 16-inch (406mm) guns, despite superb performance in Operation Desert Storm, the largest guns for fire-support has been the 5-inch (127mm) guns on the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and the Spruance and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The Spruances are headed for retirement, though. This leaves the Navy arguably short on bombardment capability, particularly due to the troubled development of the Extended-Range Guided Munition, which was to have a range of 100 kilometers. The 155mm shells for the Advanced Gun System on the Zumwalt-class destroyers will have a range of 180 kilometers. However, these are relatively small shells, weighing about 260 pounds (118 kilograms) for the 155mm and 110 pounds (50 kilograms) for the 5-inch shells.

While better than nothing, the United States Marine Corps is not convinced there is enough fire support to do the job, even with the shift of carrier air wings to an all-Hornet strike wing (consisting of F/A-18E/F and F/A-18C Hornets) . While aircraft with smart bombs can deliver ordinance (sic) cheaply ($18,000 for a GBU-31 based off of the Mk84), and on target (currently within 40 feet, but in reality it is much closer – a new version promises hits within ten feet), there is a lengthy turnaround time to fuel and re-arm the aircraft. Tomahawks or other land-attack missiles (like the suspended Land-Attack Standard Missile, which has a speed of Mach 3.5, and a range of 280 kilometers) are expensive ($500,000 per Tomahawk, roughly $420,000 for the Standard missile). Naval gunfire support (and artillery) doesn’t have the drawback of a lengthy period of time for a follow-up attack or high cost.

These perceived shortfalls in fire support are the reason that there has been a lobbying effort to reactivate at least two of the Iowa-class battleships, led by the United States Naval Fire Support Association (USNFSA). The two ships that would return to service should the USNFSA get its way are the Iowa (the #2 turret has been nearly repaired, and the parts to complete the repairs are stored in that turret) and the Wisconsin. These ships would be equipped with shells developed from the HE-ER Mk 148 program (cancelled after the 1991 decommissioning of the battleships). The Ex-148 was slated to have a range of 91 kilometers using a 13.5-inch (343mm) shell in a sabot. An 11-inch (280mm) version would have had a range of 180 kilometers (equivalent to the 155mm AGS). These shells, at 1,400 pounds/635 kilograms and 694 pounds/315 kilograms respectively, are much larger than the shells from the 127mm and 155mm guns. For targets close to shore (within 15 miles/25 kilometers or so), the Iowas could use their regular shells, either the 2,700-pound (1,225-kilogram) armor-piercing shell or the 1,900-pound (862-kilogram) high-capacity shell. This is possible due to the fact that the Iowa-class battleships carry much more armor than the Burke and Zumwalt-class destroyers, and are thus much more resistant to damage.

The controversy will not go away, even after the last Iowa becomes a museum. If anything, a new era of the big gun could be dawning as the United States Navy seeks to address the concerns of the Marines – or at least to quiet the complaints before Congress takes note of them and makes the Navy do something. – Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com)

USNFSA website: (a number of links on that site are broken)

The Iowas were retired because they were expensive to crew and operate, and the cost to try to refit them with more automation was consdered prohibitive. And, just like the Army, when we retired the 8inch cannon for similar reasons (and the impact the ammo has on the logistics system - artillery ammo is very heavy in log terms, and takes up a lot of carry capacity for its volume) the guys on the ground still wish for something that gives as satisfactory a bang at the delivery end, in all weather, all the time, in ways that aircraft just can't. We tried going without artillery in Afghanistan... and found out we still need it.

This and other good stuff is available from Strategy Page.