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November 20, 2004

Dream Job...

It's no secret I'd like a job with the majors, but I'd settle for this one in a heartbeat...

Heh.

Instapilot

More stories from Fallujah.

I've got some professional quibbles with the perfomance of the artillery in this story, it does point out some of the difficulties in employing the guns. It's a good look at the mind of the warrior, too. At least American warriors.

And I feel sorry for the dogs, too.

And just where is the Muslim outrage about using the Mosque as a firing point? Oh, wait, I forgot. In the apparent way of much of that world, within certain rules (rent-a-clerical-dispensation), whatever they do is okay, and almost anything we do is wrong. Right.

The Watchdogs of Fallujah How the Pioneer robot plane helped win an artillery duel. By Bing West 11 November 2004 The daytime optical camera on the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, yields rich colors, and so the quick red flashes from the mosque courtyard instantly caught the Marines' attention. The operation to seize back Fallujah was going well on the afternoon of Nov. 8. Seven battalions were advancing from the north, and the Pioneer was circling a four-square kilometer district to the south, called Queens. Long the lair of criminal gangs, terrorists, kidnappers, and jihadists, Queens was a jumble of a few thousand drab cement two-story houses and dirt roads, with scant vegetation.

Spotting insurgents was not a problem for "The Watchdogs"-Marine Air Wing unit VMU-1 that operated the Pioneer. Based in a tent next to a runway a few miles outside Fallujah, the Watchdogs had flown several hundred surveillance missions over the city during the past five months. The insurgents had no place to hide. When they came out of doors, they were seen, tracked, and attacked-day after day. Several times the Watchdogs had seen pickups suddenly swerve into empty lots, the occupants jumping out, setting up long tubes, firing a few rockets and scurrying off before a response attack could be launched.
"We followed one pickup after it fired some rockets," Staff Sgt. Francisco Tataje, the intelligence chief, said. "It swung up onto the main highway and we had it intercepted. The driver had a perfect ID. No incriminating stuff. We gave the interrogation team a copy of our video. They called back to say the guy confessed."

The rest is in the Flash Traffic (extended post)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

November 19, 2004

It's National Ammo Day!

If ya haven't yet, ya better go buy some! 100 rounds. Any caliber, any mix of calibers. More than 100 rounds. If you don't own a gun - go get one - or buy ammo for someone else! (In keeping with all the laws, folks, in keeping with all the laws!)

The little guessing game on "What is it?" is going well. Lots of good analysis going on. Montieth and Samuel are closest, though I was tempted to say it was a prop shaft coupling on an aircraft carrier... (you'll have to see the comments in the post below to understand why I might be so tempted...)

Here's another hint.

by John on Nov 19, 2004 | Artillery | Gun Pr0n - A Naughty Expose' of the fiddly bits
» Aaron's Rantblog, aka Aaron the Liberal Slayer links with: Celebrate!

November 18, 2004

Oh, BTW -

Anybody wanna take a stab at identifying the weapon two posts down? Just for fun.

Just in case you need a hint.

Soldier's Letter Home

Two soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery, Kansas National Guard, were killed in Iraq recently. The Battalion draws from around where I live. This letter is from an officer from Indiana who works with the battalion, and was written to his daughters back home. It originally appeared in the Daily Journal, I received it via email.

Veteran's Day Letter to Mary, Laura & Sarah

Hello girls, I have something very important to tell you about this war and the meaning of Veteran's Day. We should never forget that Memorial Day used to be called Armistice Day. This particular day was chosen because that was the month, day and hour that WWI ended. November 11, 1918 at 11:00am. This was supposed to be the "war to end all wars", but of course we know that it was not the last one.

Sometimes on Veterans Day, we lose connection to the real meaning of the day. I've written a few words that may help you to understand what it is all about. Sweethearts, I've just returned from the memorial service that was held for two very special soldiers. These two men were taken from this world on Monday of this very week protecting our unit. They were very brave men who protected generals and your dad too.

The first man's name is Specialist Don Allen Clary. He would have celebrated his 22nd birthday on the last day of this year, December 31. His mother must have wondered if she was to have a New Year's baby when he was born in 1982. That's the same year as your big brother John. Specialist Clary had a girlfriend, but they hadn't married yet and so that part of the story will never be known. What we do know is that he built a house before he left and that he loved to fish. He was a tall man who worked with his hands and he was good at most everything he did. He was excited for the future, but first he wanted to serve his country.

The second hero's name is Staff Sergeant Clinton Lee Wisdom. This hero just turned 39 in August. He was married and had three children who attended three different levels of school, namely: high school, middle school and elementary school just like our family. He also loved to fish even more than Specialist Clary, but he always took one of his children along so they could have 'quiet time' with dad. He wanted to run for mayor of his town once he returned to Kansas.

Both men had the job of leading convoys and protecting generals and other high ranking people so that they would be safe. This was a frequent mission to take several high ranking people to the American Embassy in the International Zone. A suicide bomber aimed a truck for the convoy and the VIP vehicles. These two soldiers placed their own vehicle between the suicide truck and the rest of the convoy to protect the riders. The truck detonated and instantly took these two soldiers away from this world. One of the men who was saved was appointed by President Bush and who is now returning to submit testimony before the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. This high ranking man said that he owes his life to these two heroes and hopes that he can live to be worthy of the great sacrifice these two men made. I am sure that neither he nor the people with them that day will ever forget these two heroes.

Sooner or later all of us will pass on from this life, but those who willingly give their lives for others certainly are true heroes. Jesus once taught the world that, "Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. That is one way to know that these two men were real-life heroes.

We had a memorial this morning for these two heroes. You might think that Army soldiers are tough and don't need to have time for this. It is exactly the opposite sweethearts. We too, need time to grieve over the loss of friends and family. A British soldier played the bagpipes as we assembled for the service. The memorial stand had a pair of empty desert combat boots with M-16 rifles pointed down beside the shoes. Their Kevlar helmets were placed on top of the upturned rifles. The unit that lost the men was called to attention and then role call was made. Each man responded to their individual names. Only silence responded to the names of the fallen heroes. The names were called out three times according to custom before the name is marked as 'not present'. Shortly afterward, a wonderful trumpet played the mournful notes of "TAPS" while the entire unit saluted. Upon conclusion, each soldier in the entire unit then had a chance to march up to the temporary memorials and render one final salute to their dear friends. Some spent time on their knees in quiet remembrance of their friends. There were many tears among this 'band of brothers' today. Yes girls, soldiers cry too.

Within another week, there will be another similar memorial, back in the state of Kansas. The difference this time will be the individual families that will say, "Goodbye." Specialist Clary and his girlfriend and family along with the wife and children of SSG Wisdom and their close friends and family will say their final farewells. There will be a military funeral which includes a 21-gun salute. Once that is over, the respective families must then adjust their lives without their real heroes being with them anymore.

This is what we memorialize on Veteran's Day. We remember the sacrifice of the soldiers themselves along with their grieving families. These men were just two of the more than a thousand heroes who have been taken during this conflict. This is the day to also remember all wars that have been fought on behalf of our country. It is important that we remember who these heroes are and that they are not forgotten. It is not just words spoken softly on one day of the year, but that we remember each time we see the wonderful flags flying along the light poles in Greenwood. Each one helps us to remember others who are no longer with us to enjoy the freedom that was given to us as a gift from those who sacrificed earlier in our country's history.

I am nearing the end of my time here in Baghdad, Iraq and I am so looking forward to seeing you three as well as your brothers again and being together. I will give you extra hugs and kisses because I know that there are children who will not get them from their dad who was taken away on Monday.

Maybe we can visit the Soldier's and Sailor's memorial downtown Indianapolis and remember the other families and heroes so that they are never forgotten too.

Love you,

Papa


It's National Buy Ammo week, and I'm almost late for a meeting...

So, we'll default for now to a gratuitous gun pic, and a plug for National Buy Ammo Day - which is tomorrow!

November 17, 2004

UN Savagery...

Ben Shaprio over at Townhall.com has a superb article on the band of brigands and their looter-in-chief at 1st Avenue and 46th Street. Here's a taste:

Most people would probably consider the genocide in Rwanda, ignored by Kofi Annan, “tragic.” Most people would probably consider the continuing genocide perpetrated by Arab Muslims against black Christians in Sudan, ignored by Kofi Annan, “tragic.” And anyone with a smidgen of morality would consider suicide bombings against civilians in Israel “tragic.” No one but a savage would describe Arafat’s death as “tragic.”

Go read the whole thing.

Instapilot

If you haven't seen this already...

over at USA Today, you should go now.

Interesting the use of the old Russian Sarin ampoules (used in training, I have no idea of effective potency or age). Not the smoking gun WMD find - but it does show the level of desperation these guys are at... and the fact they are willing to gas their own people should continue to drum up support for the insurgency among the locals...

The mujis have been getting creative with trying to enhance warhead effects by adding the odd chemical. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just makes for a dud.

Now, if that isn't scary enough for you... mebbe John Kerry does still intend to fight. He's just doing it with more class than Gore did.

Sigh. I do not want to wake up to a bad day...

I've mentioned this elsewhere...

...when dealing with people who think there aren't enough troops being used in Fallujah (I'm still open to the argument about the overall troop levels, but there's a lot of onion to peel back in the logistics of that).

I offer up this little bit:

`Hard to maneuver'

"It's hard to maneuver against [the insurgents] because we have so many guys and vehicles, and there's just a few of them, who can drop their weapons and run," Emery said. "Every time we do a mass invasion, it seems like most of them are gone."

Enough troops, moving fast, are better than too many troops, falling all over each other. Not to mention, fewer juicy targets are presented.

Then there's this bit, same article ('bout my 1st Infantry buddies):

Jump out. Kick in door. Spray machine-gun fire. Run to rooftop. Kill enemy. Jump back into armored vehicle. Move to new location.

Repeat.

So goes the battle for Fallujah as experienced Friday by the exhausted and bewildered soldiers of the 3rd Brigade of the Army's 1st Infantry Division. Flanked by Marines, the bleary-eyed troops led the southern push to corner die-hard Sunni Muslim insurgents who were the last obstacles to full American control of the city.

Ya know who's really, really, really tired? The insurgs. And they are dying tired. And with this ringing in their ears, hopefully.

The soldiers shared laughs during the more surreal moments, such as when a psychological-operations truck rolled through the city blaring the theme song to the movie "Team America: World Police." In the film, Rambo-like puppets hunt terrorists and blow up the Eiffel Tower in the process. There is no need to thank us, the puppets tell outraged Parisians.

America, F*ck Yeah!

The whole article is here.

Ht tip to the Heartless Libertarian, who's into some gunblogging today.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

I'm busy, thank heaven Dusty showed up!

But here's a gratuitous gun pic, in anticipation of National Buy Ammo Day.

A close-up of the action of a Colt Revolving Musket, actually a key weapon (even dangerous as they were to the user), in Colonel Grenville Dodge's 1st Brigade, 4th Division holding the line on the first day of the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern to you Lost Cause adherents).

This weapon is in the collection of the National Infantry Museum. I know of one locally, and I'm trying my damndest to get in the owner's will.

November 16, 2004

Yeeee Haaawwwww!

Ooof. Know what would be going through the pilot's mind in the boost phase of this little number?

Oh...
His eyeballs
His nose
His visor
His mask
...and anything on the glareshield not nailed down.

That muffled bang you hear when the scrammer lights is your a**hole slamming shut as you accelerate at a Mach a second. That is SO cool. Frickin' American engineers rock...

Maybe Jonah's volcano lancing procedure can be rendered moot by one of these babies fired at the lava dome...heh.

Instapilot

by Dusty on Nov 16, 2004 | Plane P0rn

Random Thoughts While Holding at the CP...

I love reading CounterColumn (aside from John of Argghhh!, of course). Here's what he wrote:

Another reader emails:

[Casualties in Fallujah have been]Remarkably low for a week of
urban fighting. Any idea what is going on?

Low numbers of enemy?
All the urban combat training paying off?
Massive firepower?
Corpsmen in the right place at the right time?

What do you think?

It's a variety of things, although "low" casualties is always a relative term. Casualties can be above or below your expectations, and above or below what you planned for. But if it's you bleeding out...or worse yet, one of your troops...then casualties will seem unbearably high.

Nevertheless, military doctrine does provide some guidance regarding casualty expectations. As an assistant Brigade 4 (very briefly) and a Bn S-1 (twice), when I was doing planning and manpower projections, I used an operating assumption of 25% casualties in the offense, and 10% in the defense for a given battle, plus an assumption that on any given day, infantry in the field would suffer 2% casualties from illness, sprained ankles, car wrecks, heat exhaustion, etc. You HAVE to do these progressions, because you have to anticipate your casualty figures BEFORE the battle, in order to order your replacement troops (by rank and military occupational specialty.

The 2% a day figure was usually pretty good. Fortunately, the 25% casualty estimate was far too high in Iraq (although far too low at the National Training Center.

Given the amount of time the insurgent had to prepare the Fallujah battlefield, casualties are about what I thought they might be in Fallujah. Perhaps a little higher...it's tough for me to get a sense of how big the fight is. I.e., are the battalions in the fight reinforced with additional companies?

But then again, this is no Stalingrad for US forces. Casualties are very low by historical standards. There are several reasons for this.

1.) Most importantly, the Iraqi insurgent is a terrible marksman. The AK 47 is a fine assault rifle, but often the insurgent will use a sawed off stock and engage using the 'spray and pray' method. The Marines, in contrast, are excellent marksmen. And as a result, any given engagement will turn one-sided very quickly.

2.) Air power is being used in lieu of close assault. In WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, it was almost unheard of to devote a 500 lb. bomb on a building occupied by a measly two squads of irregulars. Now it's a matter of course. As it should be. Bombs are cheaper than Marines and soldiers. I believe in reconnaisance by fire, the forgiveness of sins, and the chemlight everlasting.

3.) Body armor. We have body armor, they don't. Which means that a good number of marines and sailors who would have been wounded or killed in past wars now just have collectors' item ceramic plates. And in an engagement, our guys who might have been wounded in past wars keep putting rounds down range. Which contributes to fire superioriority.

4.) Good troop quality. In Viet Nam, urban warfare was the exception. In Iraq, urban warfare is the norm. The platoons have competent infantry who've been around the block a few times, and TTPs for urban operations have already been well developed.

5.) Overwhelming firepower.

6.) Better communications than we've ever had,coupled with GPS and satellite imagery, and troops down to the squ allowing better articulation of forces, and quicker maneuver to the decisive point. If the insurgents take a stand anywhere, they will quickly find themselves pinned down by Yankee .50 cal fire, and an element from out of nowhere appearing in their flanks and rear. So he must withdraw. But when he withdraws, he exposes himself to be hit again.

That's how things went down in Najaf. That's how things are going down in Fallujah.


Splash, out

Jason

Here's what I wrote:

From my position (holding at the Contact Point itching to kick some ass*), I'd add:

-Operational training unparalleled in modern times. The Navy started it with Top Gun, the Air Force followed with Red Flag. In both cases, the Aggressors were peers in smaller, harder-to-see jets that did everything they could to kill you. Yeah, they had red stars on their helmets, but they were Americans with all the aggressiveness, skill and independent decision making that entailed. Shooting one made you feel like King Kong...'cause it was so haaard! But it boosted our kill ratio in Vietnam from 1:1 to 14:1 by the end of the war. The Army followed with NTC with aggressors who knew the Peanut like the back of their hand (the CAS guys know what I'm referring to) and fought Blue as a team for at least three years before PCSing. Think about that...only training better than that is war.

-A learning ethos. Act. Evaluate and analyze. Adjust. Train. Repeat as necessary. It's being done just as aggressively in MOUT as in force-on-force training.

-A free society. See "a learning ethos" above. Add liberal dose of initiative and creativity and a command structure's willingness to entertain suggestions and alternatives.

-A technological demographic. Comfort with Xbox = comfort with laser range finders, targeting and tracking systems and the need for speed. Pacman is responsible for a generation of frighteningly efficient, agile and adaptable killer kids. And, no, don't try to apply that to the Marine who popped the Muj...not the same thing.

-Lots of other cultural-political dynamics in Iraq proper, but that's for another day.

Active, Guard, Reserve..these guys and gals are just tremendous. If they were any less adept at their jobs, Michael Moore would enrage me. But these kids are so good that his ilk just make me laugh. Hard to explain...basically, the ground-truth performance of these troops is the most effective counterpoint imaginable to the Loopy Left.

God Bless them all. God Bless them all.

Instapilot

*retired Hog Driver's fantasy...

by Dusty on Nov 16, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston Review, No. 20

Now here's something to ask Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Explain away this, race-baiters. Oh ye of "minorities are cannon-fodder" faith...

From a bit by Doug Mohney at Strategy Page today, on the post-service earnings costs of military service, and something you aren't likely to see in the MSM until Michael Moore decides he can use it to counter recruiting pitches...

...Results are similar when looking at the post-Vietnam all-volunteer force from 1976 through 1980. Applications for military service were compared to applicants who didn't serve, but had the same education and test scores.

White veterans earned about 5 percent less than their non-veteran counterparts when they came out of the service and it took about 10 years for them to catch up with their peers. However, nonwhite veterans earned almost 10 percent more when leaving the military and the pay advantage persisted for at least a decade afterwards. [emphasis mine] Researchers speculate that military service helps nonwhite vets to partially overcome discrimination in the labor market while military service amounts to a loss of civilian work experience for white veterans. – Doug Mohney

You can read the whole thing (which discusses costs of service in several eras) by going here.

November 15, 2004

Sigh. I give up.

The ACLU comes off the Charity list.

Sigh.

And here I thought Rumsfeld was tough. Not too tough for the ACLU.

This actually will have a large impact - especially overseas, if taken to it's logical conclusion.

However, in better news, we now have the answer to the question:

"What makes the blood flow?"

Wanna find out? Read this story about ammo dogs. Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics.

IYAAYAS. Those who know, know.

One last question. It's about the 72 virgins. If we created 1500 good muslim martyrs in Fallujah last week... where do the 108,000 virgins come from? Are they recycling up there? Are there reports of mass infanticide in the Muslim world to provide the fodder? Just how does that work, anyway?

Personally, I hope it's the alternative view - raisins. I can just imagine all those jihadis arriving in Paradise, getting their Sunkist boxes. Heh.

Stories from the Front.

1. Not all the casualties are young soldiers. The Senior Leaders are dying, too.


In Iraq, CSM Faulkenburg conducted a combat patrol with every platoon in the task force. He followed the platoons through the orders process, rehearsals, precombat checks and inspections, execution, and AARs. He knew that was how he could best understand the strength and weaknesses of each platoon, its leaders, and Soldiers. Never backing down from a fight, Ramrod 7 was involved in Task Force 2-2’s first firefight in March 2004 on the day of the transfer of authority. CSM Faulkenburg lived for maintaining contact with the enemy once the snake raised his head. During the Battle of Muqdadiyah Market Place on 08 August 2004, he fearlessly roamed the battlefield. A soldier described him as, “the Robert Duvall character in Apocalypse Now” and he inspired those around him.

CSM Steve Faulkenberg, Ramrod 7, TF 2/2 Infantry, KIA 4 Nov 04.

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

2. Payback is hell, motherf*ckers. Get some, Marines.

3. A little more payback. More of that good reporting from Toby Harnden I mentioned in an earlier post.

70 insurgents killed in mosque battle By Toby Harnden in Fallujah (Filed: 11/11/2004)

Fight for Fallujah

American troops scored one of their biggest successes in the battle for Fallujah when an estimated 70 foreign fighters were killed in a massive precision artillery strike on a building in a mosque complex.

Military intelligence officers were last night trying to confirm that a "high-value target" or HVT died in the attack. The man is suspected of being a key lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, and responsible for marshalling hard-line insurgence from other Arab countries.

The strike took place on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the invasion of the rebel-held Sunni bastion began, after an Abrams tank commander from Phantom troop, part of the US Army's Task Force 2-2, observed large numbers of men converging on a building next to a mosque. "Guys with short brown hair, dark pants and carrying AK-47s were moving in groups of between two and five across the road to a yellow building," said Lt Neil Prakash, the tank commander.

"Then some started throwing Molotov cocktails and pouring gasoline on the road to create a smokescreen."

They apparently thought the smoke would obscure them from view.

Lt Prakash, whose call-sign is Red 6, observed the scene through the optical sight of his tank, 2,400 metres away in an "area of responsibility" or AOR covered by the 1st Company, 8th Marines, west of Task Force 2-2's AOR on the eastern edge of the city.

The constraints of firing into another AOR, where US marines might be operating, and the danger of damaging the mosque, which would have provoked outrage in the Arab world, meant attacking the building had to be authorised at a very senior level.

A Humvee from Phantom troop fitted with a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) was moved to within two kilometres of the mosque, well inside its maximum range of 15km, to get a second opinion on what was happening. "The strike was so sensitive that it took more than an hour to approve it," said Maj John Reynolds, operations officer for 2-2. "Normally it happens in minutes."

Lt Prakash was asked to provide a grid co-ordinate, accurate to within a metre, to minimise the chance of hitting the mosque, about 50 metres from the building.

At about 3pm, the higher authorisation came through and Lt Col Pete Newell, commanding 2-2 and with the call-sign Ramrod 6, gave the order to fire a barrage of 20 155mm high-explosive shells from howitzers about three miles away from the mosque.

Specialist James Taylor, manning the LRAS, watched the burst of shells hit.

"They landed on the left side of the building and I saw three bodies fly into the air," he said. "It was awesome."

Lt Prakash radioed that the rounds were right on target and requested 10 more to ensure maximum killing effect.

"One of the men was in a sniper position on the building," said Lt Prakash. "I saw him fall off, hit the ground and bounce up. There were about five bodies that went three, four, five storeys up in the air. I'd already counted between 40 and 50 men going into that building. There were men running out, coughing and doubling over. The second lot of rounds took them out and all those who had been crossing the road.

It is believed that Task Force 2-2 hit fighters gathered to discuss how to retreat after US forces had pushed the insurgents down from the north and in from the east.

Mobile phone intercepts and reports from Iraqi informants suggested there were 70 gunmen in the building and indicated that the very senior Zarqawi lieutenant had perished. A final assessment on who died has yet to be made.

"We are hearing reports saying that the enemy is withdrawing to a central place for a final stand," said Maj Reynolds. "It's like a Gettysburg. We have urrounded the whole area."

Make it like the Germans in the Falaise Gap, or Stalingrad. The French at Dien Bien Phu. The Romans at Cannae. Too much of the Army of Northern Virginia escaped from that crossroads in Pennsylvania.

That is some fine soldiering going on there.

4. Now let's let the Marines have their turn - and pay attention any moonbats - look at how hard we are trying to make sure that the only dying is being done by bad guys.

The Watchdogs of Fallujah

From: Bing West

Subject: If a "Muj" Blinks, the Marines of VMU-1 See It

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004, at 11:34 AM PT

In a small ops center inside a tent, a dozen Marines peered at two 26-inch flat-panel displays. On the screens, the black edges of the hospital roof stood out in sharp contrast to the white thistle clumps of palm trees in the courtyard below. A line of white ghosts snaked around the trees and flowed onto the roof.

"Those guys are wearing packs. They're friendlies," Lt. Col. John Neumann, the mission commander, said. "It's the 36th Iraqi commandos."

"Concur," said Lt. J.P. Parchman, the watch officer. "The movement's too disciplined to be muj."

A few miles away in Fallujah, Operation Phantom Fury had commenced at dark on Nov. 8. Inside the tent, the Marines of unit VMU-1, which flies the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV, were looking at video taken from the UAV by a Forward-Looking Infra-Red (or FLIR) camera. The pictures were bright as day.

"The raiding party wants us to scan across the river," Cpl. Robert Daniels said, reading a chat-room message that had popped up on his computer monitor. "Someone's firing."

"Take us east," Neumann said over his shoulder. "Shift from white-hot to black-hot."

Behind him, the pilot of the UAV adjusted the flight path as his partner tightened the zoom on the plane's camera. The images on the screen jumped slightly and focused on two black spots hopping from place to place behind an earthen berm.

"I confirm weapons," said Sg. Jenifer Forman, an imagery analyst. "Watch their right arms when they run. They're shooting across the river."

When the black spots bobbed together, the screen suddenly bloomed white, then settled back into focus, showing a thick gray cloud and a scattering of small black spots, like someone in the cloud had thrown out a handful of rocks.

"Tank gun got them," Neumann said. "Picked them up on their thermals. They're scratched. Scan up the street."

The camera tracked up a wide, empty boulevard bordered by ramshackle warehouses, tin-roof repair shops, and dingy apartment buildings. Four dark spots—presumably insurgents—were splayed against one corner of a large concrete building, with three similar spots on the other corner

"One's lying down," Neumann said. "They're manning a crew-served weapon pointed at the bridge. Tell Fusion we have targets for Basher."

Neumann's VMU unit flew the UAVs and analyzed the video for targets but rarely communicated directly with the shooters. Matching targets to shooters was the specialty of the Fusion Center located on the other side of Fallujah. There a staff pulled together information from Marines on the front lines, UAVs, electronic intercepts, agent reports, and other sources. The Fusion Center compiled target lists, tracked battle damage, prioritized targets, and assigned shooters.

Cpl. Daniels typed in and sent the center a grid location accurate within a few meters. The center sent a one-line response: Basher on the way. Marines doing various chores around the op center stopped what they were doing and clustered behind the screens. A minute went by. The four dark spots moved slightly but stayed in the shadow of the building next to the street. On the screen a ball of black hit the edge of the building, sending black chunks flying out. Another black ball and another and another, enveloping the dark spots crouched along the side of the building.

"Basher," an Air Force AC-130 aircraft, had illuminated the ambushers with its huge infrared spotlight and was pounding them with 105 mm artillery shells, each round packing 50 pounds of high explosives. Gray smoke rose from the scene.

"Watch for squirters," Neumann said. "There's one now, heading north. Stay with him."

A black spot broke out of the smoke. Against the background of the macadam on the street, the man's silhouette stood out plainly. He was running with the speed of a sprinter.

"Ten to one he's headed for the mosque up the street,'" Neumann said.

"Same as always," Lt. Parchman said as he watched the runner climb over a wall. "He's made it. Can't hit him there."

The camera tracked back to the damaged building. Basher had moved on to another target. The Pioneer UAV circled the building to assess battle damage. A large door in the back of the building slid open and two men ran around the side and quickly returned, dragging something behind them. The Marines watched as this was repeated a few times.

"Are they carrying a heavy weapon or a body part?" a Marine asked.

"Don't know. We can confirm four down, though," Lt. Parchman said. "Mark this as a safe house. We'll come back later for a relook."

The Pioneer flew on for a look along the river's edge. The "Watchdogs," as the Marine UAV crew called themselves, were the scouts out in front of the troops assaulting Fallujah. It was impossible for the insurgents to move out of doors without being seen and tracked.

"Those muj are out there to kill our soldiers or Marines," Lt. Col. Neumann said. "We're in here to find them so our shooters kill them first."

Bing West is a former Marine who is writing a book about Fallujah. This is his fifth trip to Iraq. His writings can be found at www.westwrite.com.

This is one of the enabling technologies that make this fight so much different from Mogadishu, much less Hue, Seoul, Stalingrad...


11/06/04 - Spc. William Pasiechnik with 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, launches an unmanned aerial vehicle, known as the Raven, to locate insurgents attacking Patrol Base Uvanni in Samarra, Iraq.


Meanwhile... back at home - the Marines are disrupting the fun of anti-war protestors... hee hee hee. Good job, Smash!


National Ammo Day.


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Don't forget - there's still time to follow the Baboon Pirate's example... if ya don't have a gun - buy one!

That particular piece is too new for my taste, but is based upon a design of acceptable age... 8^D

by John on Nov 15, 2004 | Gun Rights

Sometimes, life is rough as an embed...

Some armies being tougher than others... this is from an email going around. From what I've been able to verify, it's true.

Gents,

There is a legitimate, credentialed, Iraqi Reporter named Fathi Ghanim Al Iraqia attached with 4th BN, 1st Bde of the Iraqi forces (with 6th Plt?).

Earlier today he took some pictures of 4th BN Iraqi wounded. The Iraqi soldiers he was with took exception to him doing this. He says he deleted the photos from his camera, but the Iraqi soldiers were still incensed and locked him in a closet somewhere in their zone.

He is calling the MEF PAO on his cell phone from the closet.

We need to get him released.

Please get a hold of the LNO there and work the issue. Let us know your progress and when you find him.

Semper Fidelis,

[name withheld]


Worth a read.

From David Warren (with a hat tip to CAPT H for pointing him out):

War does solve problems. It is what removed Saddam Hussein from power, uncovered his mass graves, failed to uncover specific nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, did locate and remove mountains of the "conventional" sort, and is now removing the Jihadis from Fallujah. It is what has brought elections to Afghanistan, sent little girls to school, brought food and hope to millions of starving, and as an unintended side-effect, increased the opium harvest and given the Afghan warlords a new lease on life. Nothing in life is perfect -- not even war -- but if there is going to be liberty anywhere in the world, there are going to be wars to obtain it.

Read the rest, here.

November 14, 2004

What an Army! (Marine Corps, too.)


A Marine Sniper waits, patiently, in Fallujah. Day or night, it's not safe to stick your insurgent head up in that town.

Now here is something cool. Raw video of combat in Fallujah. These are my brothers-from-another-mother in TF 2/2 Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division.

Drudge links to this, and it still works, so I assume the gentleman's server can handle it. If not, I've saved it off, and if I can find a way to contact the siteowner, I'll see if he won't mind me hosting it.

Do the host a favor - right click and save as, rather than stream it. You'll see it better, too, depending on your connection speed.

Why am I bringing this up? Coupla reasons. You don't see any of the troops just holding their weapons above their heads and spraying (as in the famous video clip from Saigon during Tet) - they are up and aiming. Well trained, well led, well motivated. Everything Michael Moore says they aren't. A$$hat.

You don't see artillery and mortars pounding the city.

Or bombs.

You do see a missle. Guided. Precision.

The troops on the roofs are covering the armor on the roads. The armor isn't just shooting at everything and blowing it up.

You see how hard it is to find your targets. With a Mark 1 calibrated eyeball, anyway.

And you don't see the city on fire, or in ruins.

In other words, it doesn't look like this.

And ya hear a little 'battle talk.' Heheheheheh.

And that is a testament to the American warriors and their Iraqi allies who are taking have taken the city.

Regardless of what the Prince of Darkness says - who has certainly sold his soul, if, I have to admit, his comments aren't entirely out of line - just taking the city isn't enough. Let's see what they have in store. The POD isn't optimistic (but he might be looking for a summer home in Canada, too).

I am. I'll put my trust in General Sattler and Prime Minister Allawi. And the Shia Iraqis and Kurds, if given a chance. I've worked for the POD, and found him lacking.

Update: I've been gently rebuked in the comments by a Vietnam Vet. Deserved, too, I might add, though my reference to the Vietnam photo wasn't intended to be quite the slight some of you might take it - it was still poorly worded. So, I'll move Bill's comment up top, and let his words shine forth.

John,

Now that you mentioned it, there were a couple more differences between
the fight in Fallujah and the fight in Saigon...

In Fallujah, our ground guys were usually engaged by single terrs or groups of five or six. In Saigon, our ground guys were usually engaged by squad-to-platoon sized groups.

In Fallujah, our ground guys had k-pots that'll stop an AK round and nylon armor with ballistic inserts to protect their bods. In Saigon, our ground guys had steel pots that would deflect BBs and rolled homogenous cotton to protect their bods.

In Fallujah, our ground guys were usually engaging the nasties at distances measured in tens of meters. In Saigon, our ground guys were usually engaging the nasties at distances measured in "other side of the wall."

In Fallujah, our ground guys were backed up with air-dropped precision weaponry accurate enough to routinely go through the bottom-left pane on a standard window and make the entire building go someplace else. In Saigon, our ground guys were backed up with air-dropped weaponry that would only be guaranteed to hit planet Earth--and no guarantee that it would always o "boom" when it did.

But the most compelling difference between the two is that after the fight was over in Saigon, our guys could get a friggin' beer!

Amen on the beer part, too. I also suspect we *wish* the insurgents were fighting more conventionally - easier to kill 'em in wholesale batches. Of course, they know that too. Most of the really stupid ones are dead.

Update: Welcome to my mini-lanche from Mike the Marine! (overcompensating, aincha, Mike?) Don't forget to look around at the other stuff!

by John on Nov 14, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» murdoc online links with: Raw Fallujah Video

I am up to my keister...

...in this.

Some days are diamonds. Some days are dust. The potential is immeasurable. The challenges are daunting. But if we succeed, we'll be doing for communications what DARPA did for the Internet - push it over the next big hill.

If we fail. Well, we'll still have pushed the technology, and kept lots of geeks off of the streets.

On life in the sandbox.

Jeff Quinton points us to this post from a Chaplain serving in Iraq who's asking some understandably hard questions...

And my simple-minded answers ("more boots on the ground with weapons and hostile intent") have been ruled out. They are not needed. Because all of the important people say that we have plenty of troops and the NCA [National Command Authority, ed.]says there has been no request for additional troops. And they are all honorable men.

Well, there is room for argument about more troops, certainly. And I will agree the Pentagon hasn't made it's case effectively (really, mostly choosing not to make the case at all, from what I've seen, but I've had my head down in work for a long time) but a hint of why there aren't more troops on the ground in contained in this nugget from Strategy Page:

IRAQ: Turning Victory Into Defeat at Fallujah

November 14, 2004: The major fighting in Fallujah is over, with about 30 American and Iraqi troops, and over 1,000 anti-government gunmen, dead. There are still several hundred gunmen hiding in different parts of the city, trying to get out. But the night vision devices, and large numbers of American sensors out in the desert surrounding Fallujah, make it very difficult to sneak away. The Arab media are already looking for editorial angles they can use to turn Fallujah into an Arab victory. Despite the fact that phone and cell phone access to the city was cut off when the fighting began, some Arab media are claiming "massive civilian casualties" and a "catastrophe" inside the city. Most Iraqis wanted Fallujah destroyed, seeing the Sunni Arab city as a source of support for over three decades Baath Party tyranny. Fallujah has always been a very religious city, providing support for al Qaeda and the idea of religious war with the rest of the world. This is also unpopular with most Iraqis. But most nations in the region are run by Sunni Arabs, and their media will portray Fallujah as a "martyr" to Sunni Arab ideals (which include persecution of Shias and Kurds, who comprise 80 percent of the Iraqi population.)

Months of intelligence work had concluded that there were some 3,000 armed, hard core fighters in Fallujah. Only about half of those have been killed or wounded. The rest either got away before the battle began, or are among the few hundred gunmen still playing hide and seek with American troops inside the city. Many of the rest went to other cities and attacked local police stations, and set up roadblocks. This has caused a momentary loss of control in some neighborhoods. But these hard core fighters are, like their buddies in Fallujah, going to die out in the open. The death of so many gunmen in such a short time makes it difficult to recruit more of these guys. This has been seen happening before. As a result, the battle of Fallujah is about more than just one city.

Part of the reason there aren't more boots on the ground may be because of the relative success of those already there. 30 Good Guys Dead, vice 1000 Bad Guys dead. Piling more Blue into that fight would probably not have helped, though you can make the arguments about having more troops in the cordon operations around Fallujah would have plugged holes, and certainly would have allowed for simultaneous ops in multiple cities... but there may not be enough reliable Iraqi troops to support a deliberate plan like that (though events in Mosul certainly forced an ad hoc response).

There's no doubt that more troops on the ground would spread the load. Whether or not we would be more effective is a more tenuous question.

I suspect another big reason we don't have more on the ground is an assessment that things wouldn't progress a whole heckuva lot quicker (driven by the intel-gathering process) and we're stretched pretty thin logistically now. Add to that the political decision that apparently was made some time ago to not put the nation of a true war footing. And before you go making disgusted noises, people were going to die anyway, and just throwing more people probably would not have changed that number much - and keeping the economy humming along actually decreases the long-term costs of the war, as long as it's possible.

Now - that's talking about the here and now, I think there are still plenty of arguments about whether or not we should have gone in with more people during the 'major combat operations' phase back in March 2003, though the logistic realities of calling up and training Guard and Reserve troops, the actual through-put of the log system, etc, would have delayed the start of OIF by months... and who knows what Hussein and company might have concocted in that time frame. They were faced with the choice of 'just enough, let's go now' or overwhelming force, lets go later. Many times, the 70% solution, now, is better than the 100% solution, later. History will make that judgment in time.

There's not doubting, however, that planning for post-war was not our finest hour. On the flip side, we haven't had to plan like that since 1945, so we were a little rusty, eh?

Now, to change subjects, well, really, tangents. The Chaplain closed his piece with this:

So, I cease my ponderings and musings for the night. Provided I don't get a mortar in MY trailer tonight, see you tomorrow! From the semi-paradise that is LSA Anaconda, I am your truly confused chaplain, pondering all these imponderables!

Sometimes, it's not mortars. It's rockets. Last week, I got a PowerPoint presentation from a reader, which is a photographic essay on a rocket attack on a 1st Cav installation in Iraq. The rocket failed to arm properly, and didn't explode on contact, but rather went careening through the sandbagged trailers the soldiers live in. I've converted those slides to jpegs and stuck 'em in an album for your perusal. One note - the rocket warhead ended up an a wall-locker. The troops *appear* to have picked it up themselves and moved it outside. Boys and girls, I know something about UXO (unexploded ordnance) and I collect the stuff - but I would leave things like that to the EOD guys - and not pick it up and dump it outside! Click the picture to go to the album - select the first picture in the album and then select slideshow from the menu. Or whatever ya want.

Hat tip to he who asked to be Not Named.

Monteith provides this dope about the Ferret.

You asked, Monteith answers. Between the two of us, we have the makings of a pretty good museum! Bring in Chris, and heck, we could probably make money!

Where do I start...

The Daimler Ferret is an outgrowth of the WWII Daimler Dingo and Daimler Armored car. The Dingo, being a LMG (light machine gun) armed scout car (2 man crew, 3 tons, wireless set, etc) and the Daimler Armored car being a 'wheeled light tank' as the role was envisioned at the early stage of it's design.

The Dingo came first and was used by the BEF in France. It was a purpose-built vehicle with a chassis and drive line arrangement built for war from the start vs a civilian light truck chassis being adapted by fitting an armored body (ala the Humber Light Recce cars or earlier Lanchester/Rolls/Crossley armored cars). The power plant was a Daimler 2.5 liter straight 6 engine driving through a fluid coupling, Wilson pre-selector gearbox and separate transfer box for forwards and reverse capability. Thus the vehicle had 5 gears forwards and reverse (get out of trouble as fast as you get into it, you know).

The Daimler Armored car was largely an expansion of the existing Daimler Dingo chassis to a 7 ton size and with a 3 man crew. The armament was a 2 pounder (40mm) AT gun and a coaxial BESA 7.92mm MG. There was also a Bren LMG for AA and close in defense work plus personal weapons. The Daimler armored car had a similar drive line to that of the Dingo including the 5 speeds forwards and reverse but instead had a larger 4.5 liter engine.

At war's end the Daimler Dingo and Armored Cars soldiered on, but around the end of the 40's a replacement was sought. The Ferret was an expansion of the basic design with some refinements and a larger engine. Daimler was approached to carry out the development of the prototype and production after the prototypes were approved. There were two main variants, a liaison vehicle that had no turret (pintle-mounted MG) and a scout version that had a 1 man manually traversed turret containing a MG. The drive line was just as similar as it's two predecessors, just updated in a few areas for details and easier servicing. The engine in this case being a 4.25 liter straight 6 Rolls Royce design.

All three vehicles have an individual drive shaft running to each wheel station allowing a lower overall profile as there is less requirement to fit crew and other kit above a large front and rear mounted differential. The transfer box is what contains the differential. The two WWII era Daimlers have standard frames with the armored bodies fitted to them whereas the Ferret has the drive line components directly mounted within a monocoque body(meaning the body is built to be a single unit), this allows a low height, but increases noise as the drive shafts and other running gear are with in the enclosed space of body with the crew. Power is transmitted to the 4 wheels which have reduction gearing in the hubs for a lower amount of torque exerted on the drive shafts for a correspondingly higher amount of torque where the rubber meets the road.

Normal crew is 2 men for the scout car version and 2-3 for the liaison version. Internal stowage arrangements are dependent on which role the vehicle is assigned. Wireless sets were standard kit with 2 sets and an intercom component as part of the radio sets. Early ferrets used WS 19 sets with WS 88's for liaison with infantry units. Later on they used the Larkspur series C42/45 and B47/48 depending on arm of service. Ferrets in the 80s used the Clansman series of radios and intercom sets.

The Ferret had two larger siblings for the heavy armored car role and wheeled APC (armored personnel carrier) role. Those being the Saladin and Saracen. The Saladin and Saracen have 6x6 arrangements that follow the ferret's configuration with individual drive shafts for each wheel station. The Saracen swapped the engine from the rear to front for reasons of easy debussing (dismounting, 'un-assing' in US miltary parlance) by the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) carried in the back area.

As John stated in comments, the Ferrets were built from '53 to '71 and were used up through the first Gulf War. The British used them everywhere their forces needed reconnaissance and scouting including, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Germany, Aden, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Several Commonwealth nations also operate Ferrets to this day. The last Ferrets were disposed of following the Gulf War and make a very good choice for wheeled armor by the average collector. Prices range from $10K up in the US.

Photo's of all three are available here.

Plus details and movies of the Daimler Armored
car are at this place.

There is also a parallel set of movies on the Humber Armored Car.

Photos (with lots of interior shots) of Monteith's Ferret, as well as some of the more interesting vehicles that took part in the Veteran's Day parade are available here.

Oh, and did I mention... I WANT ONE!