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October 30, 2004

A little more about the CETS.

Today the Armorer is going to go to Andersonville. Before I head out, however, I thought I would clean up a loose end regarding the Cost Effective Targeting System (CETS) that I mentioned in a previous post. Dave, the Heartless Libertarian and serving soldier, makes this comment to that post:

Looks like a neat and potentially very useful system. One thing I'd do, (besides painting it green/tan): put some sort of protective covering on it. Not bullet/shrapnel proof, just something to protect it when PVT Snuffie bangs his rifle/web gear/elbow on it, so it's not knocked off zero.

Well, as the week goes on, I've learned more about it, and done a little poking around - making sure I'm not posting anything that isn't already on the 'net and giving away info that isn't mine to give! That's why my postings from Benning will probably develop themes over time, rather than dump info out in a rush - because I am making sure everything stays kosher, for the soldier, my client, the Army, and my employer! And you bet that's selfish. I like my current job and the salary and don't want to be asking people if they want fries with that or not...

Sooo, let's expound on Dave's thoughts. The CETS we have here is a developmental version, that has the rough performance of the objective version, which you can read about here. What we are doing here is using this version to test the concept in a real-world but low risk environment (in terms of getting troops killed - it's still high-risk of failure for the intstrument and it's designers!), seeing how troops use it and like it, testing the C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance ) architecture (i.e., all the other gizmos and data paths it has to work with) and as importantly, see how, under the stress of a problem-solving environment, the troops adapt and modify their use of it.

All that information feeds back into the development process for integration into the evolving final product. And can kill it, if it fails miserably and/or the troops don't see a use for it. All of this will help speed the getting of good things in the hands of troops, and as a side benny, provides work to keep the Armorer off of welfare.

Dave was talking about a cover. As I mentioned in the earlier post, the CETS wasn't complete in the picture, not having its Low Power Uncooled Infrared camera (LPUIR) camera installed. Dave will be happy to note that it does have a cover. The off-the-shelf rifle sight does not - but then it doesn't in normal usage, either, and, as the link to the developer's site shoes, it will all be a single lens in the objective system.

There has been one slight problem (and maybe, Dave - they DO need a ballistic cover, at least during Drivers Training!) the drivers of the vehicle when entering the woods, tend to forget the turret up there, and trees can be hard on the optics.

But that system has to be able to operate in a wooded environment - so that has to be accounted for in the overall design and in the training of the soldiers in the use of the gear, which is all a part of the data-gathering and analysis during these development spirals.

Here's a picture of the sensor when completely assembled and ready for use.

Another view. In that picture you can see some of the antennas and aerials used for some of the other systems. More on that later.

Off to Andersonville.

October 29, 2004

By permission of the Imperial Armorer

Announcing the 11th Carnival of the Recipes!!!

This advertisement brought to you by She Who Will Be Obeyed!

(aka Mrs. Armorer)

Working at Fort Benning...

Even though this experiment is beset by all the demons normally associated with trying to integrate live, virtual, and constructive entities in a controlled experiment... where the boffins outnumber the troops probably close to 5-to-1, where retired Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels, and Sergeants Major like myself are a dime a dozen... and no one was paying attention to the start-up stuff because they came here directly from another event somewhere else... except the two or three guys who always prove to be the keys in an event like this and are abused mercilessly (punishing the innocent with more work)...

The Armorer

Had a Very



Yes, indeedy.

Because it involved being out in the woods with Soldiers.

Aside from family, it just don't get better than that.

But, by the end of a sweat-soaked day, I can relate to this troop:

I am privileged to move among 'em. And I hope that what we're doing here makes a difference down the road.

But it was a Good Day!

October 28, 2004

I know you were wondering...

...what the eclipse last night looked like from down here.

Like this:

Meet your Army...

I spent yesterday going through the demographic surveys of the troops participating in the experiment. Let's meet your Average Infantry Platoon out fighting the GWOT...

They range in age from 21 to 32. They come from all over, but the South and West so far predominate (that's not a survey question, that comes from talking to them). They are a mix of races (minorities do NOT predominate in terms of proportion to the population). They have the eagerness of youth, but the insouciance of veterans. They aren't twitchy, but you can tell they've seen the Elephant.

Most have 'some college,' two have degrees (but that includes the platoon leader). The average rifleman has 2-3 years of service. The Squad Leaders vary from 3.5 to 12.

One squad is led by a 12 year service NCO who has no combat experience. The rest of his squad have Combat Infantrymen Badges and a minimum of 8 months of time in a combat zone. Two of those did the Thunder Runs into Baghdad. There's a leadership challenge. He's up to it.

One soldier, another squad leader, has been in the real Fun, Travel, and Adventure Army. His overseas deployments include Korea, Thailand, Australia, Okinawa, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Djibouti. No, he's not an SF guy, he's a standard light infantryman.

Most have done at least one tour in a sandbox. Over half have been to both sandboxes. One troop with a little over two years of service has been to Iraq and Afghanistan, twice each. For a minimum of 6 months per trip. You do the math - this soldier has been in combat zones from the month he left AIT until he joined this unit. Chew on that.

We range from kids who will profess to being experts in just about any area of home/office computing use, to kids who say they never use a computer - but they aver they are experts at video games. One member of this platoon says they never use a computer at all. That's changing. They're all using computers now. Part of the experiment. One of the interesting things to check will be to see if our complete naif is actually easier to train, or harder.

Talking to them, half intend to re-enlist, half intend to finish out and go back to Fort Living Room. No one expresses any bitterness about the war (and none of them are shy about expressing themselves, save one). No idea of their politics, and ain't asking. Not appropriate in context.

Another interesting tidbit - the younger ones know more about what's going on in the world outside the army... and about Army Transformation, than do the more senior NCOs.

These kids are tough and sharp. It would be a privilege to lead 'em, and comforting to know they had my six.

The Republic is well served.

This is their world for the next few weeks (that's a tech in there doing some integration work). They still dismount to fight. One of the interesting things will be to see how these soldiers feel about these tools which will suck their attention inside the vehicle vice outside the vehicle. I have my own predjudices in that regard (I'm not fond of it) but it's a phase we have to go through to get to what to me is a better implementation - visors or monocles, so you can keep eyes on the ground around you. These guys have a better experience base than I do to judge that. It will be especially interesting to interview the guys who did Major Combat Ops and SASO (what's going on now) to see if they think there is a particular difference in the utility, pluses and minuses, between the two types of combat ops. I do also wonder who is doing the battery analysis...

This is my world. (No, I'm not in the picture).


This could be good news, but the WaTimes is probably going the only one to carry it.

This (top entry, Cliff May's Wed, 10:48 PM input, "November Surprise?") could be bad news, and you can bet the MSM will be all over it.

The first item is probably going to be a conundrum for Bush--Putin has come out with an "endorsement" of sorts and W is not one to point out the shortcomings of any leader, much less one that has said relatively nice things about him (sort of). Let's see how he plays it. Of course, the fact that it's been released is probably a good indicator that W has a solid tone and is about to call Fox 2.*

The second may be a last attempt by outside players, in this case the UN, to influence the election. Hell hath no fury like a corrupt bureaucracy scorned.

*solid tone=good lock; "Fox 2=IR missile shot, usually at close range with a time of flight of about 2 time for your opponent to do much but die all tensed up.

(HT: The Corner)

October 26, 2004

A Little Hooah (for the clueless among us)...

This is pretty cool. May God go with him.

The Daily "Screw 'em" Kos would mock this father...and, no I won't provide a link to Zuniga's site.

HT: Drudge

by Dusty on Oct 26, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston Review, No. 17
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston Review, No. 17

Good Morning Campers...

I'm sure y'all have heard about this by now.

Well's two entries that I think will have serious implications for the KErrynistas.

Little John went on Larry King last night and lambasted the Bushies for not "securing" munitions...before they got to the site during the ground war. Bad Bushies! BAD Bushies!


A couple of thoughts.

1) The blogosphere is already tearing this story to shreds
2) NBC is taking the first bite in the feeding frenzy that follows a major gaffe by a competitor.
3) Fox News will shoot holes in it (if they haven't already done so) and they have a pretty large viewership
4) If the Bush team is smart enough to publicize the tie between El Baradei and the NY Times/DNC, that's going to resonate with the same people that reacted to the clumsy attempt by the UK Guardian to influence the election.

I think this may be the October surprise the Bush folks have been waiting for. Like an experienced fighter pilot conserving his energy and waiting for his opponent to make a mistake, they've been waiting for something like this, I'll wager.

(HTs: The Corner; Drudge; Professor Bainbridge)

Gratuitous Gun Pic

Here, while I'm in photo-defilade, ponder the lines of the rifles of Russia, Finland, and Sweden. Since I currently can't edit pictures (due to high speed internet that isn't) here's a link, instead.

by John on Oct 26, 2004 | Rifles

Life is good.

I wouldn't want to live down here, but I wouldn't mind working at Fort Benning. This being a quintessentially light infantry war, this is the current Center of the Universe.

The project I'm working is wrapped up in getting things to the troops quickly, escaping the traditional development cycle, and creativity is encouraged. And, by side-stepping the formal process, cheaper, 70% solutions can be tested, that would otherwise be engineered to B2 Bomber quality and comparable costs, while providing not much better performance for the buck. The last bit isn't a dig at the B2, I don't have an opinion in that regard... yet. Mebbe Dusty does.

An example of what I'm talking about would be the (I may have the acronym wrong, I just saw the thing for the first time yesterday) Cost Effective Sight System, CESS, which literally consists of a standard rifle-mounted night sight, on a bare-bones steerable turret mounted on the HMMWV, which is then data-linked to the C2 system the soldiers are using. All off the shelf components that need only green paint to finish up - and voila! you have shared night vision data between the vehicles for that last update before dismounting and doing your thing - and the feed of course, can go to higher.

That's simply one of the ideas being tested here.

The other thing that's a little different is the latitude for free-play the platoon has. While the missions sets are fixed, how they use the gear to accomplish the mission is left up to them. So, rather than try to make them fit the concept designer's view - we're giving them the stuff, and training in how it works and how the boffins think it might best be employed, and letting this Second Lieutenant and his platoon figure out how best to use it. And we're looking at how they do that and we're going to try to figure out why they use it the way they do - especially if they get really creative - and that info will feedback into the development process. These guys will potentially be able to kill bad ideas early, if only because there are not huge amounts of dollars already invested.

But the most fun is working with the troops, a mix of brand-new-to-the-army and steely-eyed killers from Afghanistan, Iraq, or both.

These are some sharp troops. The Republic is well-served.

I'm having some technical issues with downloading pictures to the laptop, but we'll get that fixed and you military vehicle junkies will have some more pics to harvest!

The Armorer

by John on Oct 26, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Brain Shavings links with: Ah, movement!

October 25, 2004

Any Hungarian speakers in the house?

The Castle was linked to today by a Hungarian website, to this post where I talk about what I think of Senator Kerry's Vietnam issues. The linkback to the site doesn't work properly, this is the main page to the site.

This is the post title, by an Istvan Irta:

többség fogják közös wehman

2004. október 25., hétfő
istván írta 16:42-kor

One of the words in the hotlinked text, "szolgálja" refers to being "true to one's salt" - I'm just curious what Mr. Irta has to say on the subject.

If you can help, thanks!

Monday Morning Post...

No morning is complete without checking in with Wretchard. His reference to VDH is interesting...Hanson's namesake was a casualty of Okinawa and that loss was/is still deeply felt. In short, Hanson was unimpressed with how that battle was fought, and Belmont Club's compare and contrast gives one hope amidst all the defeatism that defines the MSM and modern-day Democrat Party's worldview.

Matt at Blackfive is having difficulty hiding his contempt for JFK's hunting technique. To be fair, the highest scoring ace in history's rule-of-thumb open fire range was 50 meters. That's a little closer than the gun/HUD firing solution indication for an F-15--2000 feet--and mirrors the Senator's technique. That said, Hartmann didn't need any help finding his "geese." Heh.
Then there's the LtCol Mark Smith's ode to a fallen hero. This kind of thing, to some, is worthy of nothing but contempt. And these people vote, early and often. (HT (again): to LILEKS)

I hope this guy gets hid Ph.D. But, mthinks if the guys giving him his orals foind about about this, he's toast (Ph.D.-wise). Personally, I think Bush is going to lose thanks to massive voter intimidation and ballot fraud. The Left has hijacked one of the two major political parties in this country and its classic Marxist-Leninist ends-justifying-the-means philosophy is mounting the most aggressive attack on the world's oldest and best republic since the Founding. Have too much hair? Buy this book--you'll tear most of it out while reading.

Hugh Hewitt watches NBC so we won't have to. Here's an excerpt...

Couric: The Bush campaign is planning to spend the final days of this election saying you are weak on terrorism. Dick Cheney has talked about the fact that you voted against the first Gulf War [and] Saddam Hussein would still be in power, the Soviet Union would still exist if it [laughter] were up to you. You voted against intelligence funding after the first World Trade Center attack in '93. You don't have the record to be commander in chief, and this weakness invites more terrorism.

Sen. Kerry: Now let me just look you and America in the eye and tell you this. Unlike Dick Cheney and George Bush, I put my life on the line for my country when it counted. I fought for this nation and I defended it as a young man, and I will defend America as president of the United States. I have supported the biggest military budgets in American history. I’ve supported the biggest intelligence budgets in American history. I'm not going to take a second seat to anybody about the passion that I bring to defending America.

Oh, please...

Finally, here's one of the best arguments I've heard to date on why our strategy against Islamofacism must concentrate on preemption and an unrelenting offense. (HT: Michelle Malkin)


It's not Veteran's Day...

But I'm writing like it is, as I prepare to head off to the in-brief.

On this day in 1415, King Henry V whacked the flower of french nobility at Agincourt, giving Shakespeare inspiration to write some oratory that has since floated over many a gathering of old soldiers remembering hard times:

Westmoreland: O that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work today!

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.

God's will! I pray thee wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous of gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It grieves me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith my cousin, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honor
As one more man methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. Do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say, "Tomorrow is Saint Crispian."

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with added luster,
what feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so lowly,
This day shall enoble his rank.
And gentlemen in England, now abed,
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Hail my band of brothers!*

One of you, during the 2nd hour of the clock Eastern, was the quarter-millionth visitor to Castle Argghhh! How ironic if it was Larry, making a Kerry-supporting statement on this post.

*Brothers in this context also means sisters!

by John on Oct 25, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» E-nough! links with: St Crispin's Day

October 24, 2004

"Far across the Chattahoochee, to the Upatoi..."

Today the Armorer heads for Fort Benning, home of the Benning School for Wayward Boys and Girls, the Infantry School, and other ground-pounder related stuff. I'll be spending near a month there to do some analysis on equipment and doctrine, and capture how the troops really use the stuff, vice how the idea-guys thought they should use the stuff - and try to determine who has, or what mix is, the best approach.

You won't hear much about that, since that data is the client's to use, not mine to share. But I will be taking the camera with me, and will hopefully be able to get pictures of soldiers doing Cool Things. Or just being soldiers. It will be nice to be out in the open again, and away from constructive simulations. A nice break.

Dusty will hopefully be able to pick up some slack, since the other two guys I invited to guest blog (both active duty) declined, preferring to continue using me to channel their thoughts.

However, in times like this, you the reader can have a great impact - send me stuff! I'll have time to post, I just will have much less time to surf. So feel free to feed me stuff - like this gem that landed in the inbox this morning - Greg C in Minnesota sent me a picture of a very well preserved (especially for an outside display) german WWI 250mm Minenwerfer (trench mortar, literally, "mine-thrower"). Unusual to see these with their wheels and drag bars. There is definitely room at the Arsenal for this, should Two Harbors ever decide to rid themselves of it! Last night, some other cool stuff arrived, subject of a later post. Feel free to send along stuff you think the readership might find interesting!