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January 08, 2005

Coupla things...

Want a free gun? Gunner has some suggestions.

Gunner also notes that the Brady Campaign wants to immediately ban all semi-auto firearms. Except the Ruger Mini-14.

Beth is just envious. I got the better end of the deal. Ask any woman standing in line at a public restroom, which they'd rather have. Of course, as Bill the Rotorhead observes... some women thought God said trains, and they missed theirs, and got these instead.

The military usually goes to great lengths when naming things and developing acronyms to avoid obvious goofs. We still got Operation Allied Force for Kosovo, however. Ever notice how the military in particular, but even the press never referred to it as OAF? Think that would be the case with OIF and OEF - acronyms you see all the time in military documents and even in the press?

Anyway - sometimes you just can't avoid it - those funny combinations. Click the picture below to see some engagement/wedding announcements that I'm sure the involved parties did not have a long discussion about whether or not they were going to hyphenate their name... Click the pictures in the album to see them in a readable size.

Hat tip - Rich B!

Here's a sailor who's career just ended, most likely. But at least it probably wasn't a complete act of dumbass like the good Colonel below.

Hat tip - Rich B!

Reason you didn't get promoted #134

Trip to Afghanistan: Free
Battledress uniform: $100
Cover charge for party: Free
Picture of you "Dirty Dancing" with a female Sergeant younger than your daughter published in your hometown paper: Priceless!

No, wait - I'm wrong.

Household 6 sees picture. Divorce lawyer.
Daughter sees picture. Unpriceable.
Your boss sees picture. You've just had your last promotion, and after Household 6's lawyer is done with you, your pension will be less than a retired Captain's, as far as what you get to spend of it.


Ya see that little red light blinking in the corner of your eye? That's your career destruction light!

Hat tip - Chris C.

January 07, 2005

What is it?

This ain't a contest. I've been asked to help ID this bullet, and I haven't a clue, nor a reference that mentions anything remotely like it.

Anybody out there got some idea of what it is?

Another shot here.

From the email asking for help:

So now that I have the bullet in my hands I can tell you a few more things about it. The rear of the bullet is not solid copper like Tom told me. The "wires" are also not steel like he thought. They are not lead nor aluminum, they appear to be a stiff alloy that is not magnetic. I tried to scrape them with a knife blade and they are very hard. I also measured the bullet diameter with my calipers and took several readings at the base and about 1/4" from the base, I came up with three readings of .350, .351 and .352. The jacket is scored by the 5 groove rifling from the base to approx .365" forward of the base. By now you've noticed the "wires." This bullet consists of 7 "wires" forming the core which is spirally wrapped by 5 more "wires" that are the wire fingers you see sticking out, one of which is broken off. The bullet as you see it weighs 92 grains.

So, what about it smart guys? Got any ideas?

Update: Right now the working hypothesis is a Ballisticlean round.

Like this description.

If that holds up, SangerM wins the non-existent prize! Oh, heck, I've got the Arsenal Store - Sanger, pick a pic of something you like, mug or mousepad on the Castle!

Update 2. I think we can move beyond working hypothesis. The Sheepdog found this (and you should go there to see it - so he can have the traffic bump!)

Having gone the extra mile and found confirmatory photographs - I'll extend him the same offer I did SangerM.

by John on Jan 07, 2005 | Ammunition
» Airborne Combat Engineer links with: Name that bullet 07JAN05
» links with: So John what do I win? ^_^
» Les Jones links with: Gun Links #29

You guys are too smart for me.

Bill the Rotorhead ferreted out the truth. In his comment to the "Chia Tank" post he opined:

ALCON--Now that we've posilutely ID'd it as an M48A2, John's first post at dawn will reveal that it's actually an M60A3 hull that's been PhotoShopped three degrees laterally with an Aussie immersion heater from Gallipoli cut'n'pasted on a T-64 turret... =]

He got it right except it was a US Army immersion heater from Bastogne and this is my second post.

So, to do that, I started with this shot:

The I grabbed this and this.

Then I threw the elements onto a clean canvas, doing some stamps and blending of grass from the backyard to get the 'chia' part.

Slapped 'em together....

Adjusted some more...

And the rest is just little details. Some smoothing, some blending, adding some Koreans using Illustrator, cutting and pasting some roadwheels return rollers. modifying the fenders, and a pixel by pixel rework of the background of the original pic.

Then, Voila'! You have this.

See how easy that is? The hardest part was paying for Adobe Creative Suite!

Little blivets in the arts.

ANNOUNCING THE FOURTH ANNUAL WAR POETRY CONTEST Enter the fourth annual War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Prizes of $1,500, $500, $250 and 10 honorable mentions of $75 each will be awarded. Submit 1-3 original, unpublished poems on the theme of war, up to 500 lines in all. $12 entry fee, payable to Winning Writers. Postmark deadline: May 31. Judge: Jendi Reiter. Submit online or mail to Winning Writers, Attn: War Poetry Contest, 351 Pleasant Street, PMB 222, Northampton, MA 01060. More information

First I'd heard of this contest. I went to the site, there's some interesting work there. I don't agree with the judges, but then I rarely do on issues of 'art'. But if you've a taste for war poetry, go take a gander - or submit! Not surprisingly, it's more Wilfrid Owen than Kipling - which is fine by me.

Past winners can be seen here.

Matt at Blackfive has already run with this, but I'll pander to my ego and assume you *all* don't read Matt before you read me... there's an artist doing free portraits of KIAs/DOWs (died of wounds). Michael G. Reagan (not to be confused with President Reagan's son). Even if you don't have a subject for him consider a visit to say thanks, and if you're a blogger, link it so more people know about it.

Lastly - Carnival of the Recipes #21 is up at Physics Geek.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

January 06, 2005

We interrupt all this military stuff...

...for something funny. Of course, with three dogs and 8 cats, I live this. Note - it takes 8 cats to overcome the impact of 3 dogs, whatever that means. But I do note that while the Good Lord has been allowing a decline in the canine population, the feline population holds steady, or increases, even with losses.

Perhaps some navel gazing is in order...

And God Created Dog and Cat

A newly discovered chapter in the Book of Genesis has provided the
answer to "Where do pets come from?"

Adam said, "Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me every day. Now I do not see you any more. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me."

And God said, "No problem. I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself."

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and it wagged its tail.

And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal."

And God said, "No problem. Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him Dog."

And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that Adam's guardian angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but perhaps too well."

And the Lord said, "No problem. I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not always worthy of adoration."

And God created Cat to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat's eyes, he was reminded that he was not the Supreme Being. And Adam learned humility.

And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Dog was happy.

And Cat didn't care one way or the other.

Hat tip: Rich B.

Two words.

Chia Tank.

by John on Jan 06, 2005 | Tanks and AFVs
» Right Thoughts links with: HA!

Public Service Announcements

PSA1. In a discussion of new/updated/modified equipment, CAPT H mentioned he'd start paying attention to "new and improved" when the discussion included the new 6.8mm rifle cartridge. Strategy Page today has a pretty good update on that - available here. Aside from bringing it to your attention, I bring it up because I essentially accused CAPT H of not caring so much about the new round (or it's competitor, the 6.5mm Grendel) but just wanting to watch the bureaucratic infighting when the NATO standardization committees tried to hash out a caliber change. The Strategy Page article shines a little window into what that will be like - using the controversy the whole caliber thing is causing in the US service.

SOCOM has been using the 6.8mm round in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the users like it. But there is resistance from senior (non-SOCOM) generals to any consideration for replacing the 5.56mm round with the 6.8mm. To further complicate matters, there’s a new 6.5mm “Grendel” round being tested as well, and some troops prefer it to the 6.8mm SPC. This is because the 6.5mm round is more accurate than the 6.8mm one at ranges beyond 500 meters. At the moment, no decision has been made about any replacement for the 5.56mm round.

SOCOM is out doing what the Army Materiel Command and Ordnance would take decades to do. Anyone remember the saga of the M14, M16, Military Ball powder, Improved Military Rifle powder, and getting the 5.56 round developed? Not that I think the current PM Small Arms has the pathologies of Springfield Armory and the Ordnance bubbas who ran it... but one reason McNamara shut down the Arsenal was to kill the culture.

Speaking of the XM8, there is a thread at Strategy Page full of people that swim in the same pool that you sceptics of the program drink from. I recognize some comments and commenters.

PSA2. I generally try, though I'm not always successful, to spell out acronyms the first time or, when posting things like the Marine Tank Company Commander's Fallujah AAR, I'll insert the meanings. The field campaign phases of the GWOT (heh, Global War On Terror) have produced a whole new slew of them, that some of you non-military or retired/been away from it guys may not know. I recently had to put together a dictionary for my father, who served 27 years - but has now been retired 30.

I find there's a virtually identical list at Strategy Page too, which I'm reproducing here (any linkage should also credit SP, please). I'm putting this list up here because there are some funny ones in it - like SIDPERS - and I'd like to solicit other funny ones, from any war or era, you guys remember or know. (The real meaning of SIDPERS is Standard Installation Division PERsonnel System)

AIF- anti-Iraqi forces. Angels- KIAs that die in a military hospital while undergoing care. AO- Area of Operations AOR- Area of Responsibility ASR- Alternate Supply Route BIAP- Baghdad International Airport CASH- combat support hospital. CPA- Coalition Provisional Authority CPIC- Combined Press Information Center. EPW- Enemy prisoner of war FRE- Former Regime Extremists HVT- high value target IDP- Internally Displaced Person (like Fallujah refugees) IED- improvised explosive device, usually a roadside bomb. IIG-Iraqi Interim Government, which took over from CPA ING- Iraqi National Guard IP- Iraqi Police KIA- killed in action. LSA- Life Support Area METL- Mission Essential Task List MNF- multinational forces (coalition troops). MSR- Mail Supply Route ORMP- Off-Duty Risk Magnification (what personnel -- both officer and enlisted -- often indulge in when not on duty; stuff like drinking 17 beers and then trying to drive home, etc.) PBIED- person-borne improvised explosive devices POW-prisoner of war (American) RCIED- Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device RTD- returned to duty. SAF- Small Arms Fire SIDPERS- Silly Idiots Desperately Pretending Everything's Running Smoothly, or SIDetrack PERSonnel (maybe they'll go away)… SORT- Senior Officer Rest Time TAL- Transitional Administrative Law, interim constitution, to be created by the TNA TF- Task Force TNA- Transitional National Assembly, to be elected this month VBIED- vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices WIA- wounded in action WMD- weapons of mass destruction

I'm talking anything funny or interesting (we can skip SNAFU and FUBAR) and remember to 'modify' any that have Net-Nanny sensitive words in 'em (don't want to get on those services 'autoblock' lists! Things like LBRB and RBRB, Little-Bitty Rubber Boats, Really Big Rubber Boats, for example. Let's see what you have! Not limited to military, either. Anything funny or clever is cool too.

PSA3. Speaking of new/updated/modified gear, here's installment three of the update brief. This part covers mostly weapon sights - and the reinvention of a Vietnam-era magazine clip (as in clipping two mags together for easy access) it'self a reinvention of a WWII clip for M1/M2/M3 carbine magazines...

Download Part 3

You can get Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

January 05, 2005

Moonbat alert!

Ya gotta see this.

Did New York Orchestrate The Asian Tsunami?

With Afghanistan and Iraq already lost, the Wall Street bankers were all desperately looking for other ways to control our world, when suddenly and very conveniently, the Sumatran Trench exploded. Trick or Treat?

Copyright Joe Vialls, 5 January 2005


"Others are engaging even in an eco type of terrorism, whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes or volcanos remotely, through the use of electromagnetic waves." American Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, April 1997.

Big surprise! Presumably Cohen already knew that a nuclear weapon generates what he refers to obliquely as "electromagnetic waves". Despite having a huge number of tsunami victims in its own State of Tamil Nadu, India completely converted the survey ship INS Nirupak into a 50-bed floating hospital in less than 72 hours, then sent it unarmed to help the desperate people of Aceh in Indonesia. . By direct comparison, America sent combat ships and armed Marines. The US Navy has two 1,000 bed hospital ships, the 'Comfort' and the 'Mercy', but neither one was dispatched. Though the USNS Comfort was deployed to New York when 3,000 Americans died in September 2001, this current lack of action sends a strong signal that 150,000 (mostly Muslim) dead in South East Asia, and half a million injured, are of no concern whatever to the power brokers in New York.

The Indian Government knew full well that this was not a "normal" earthquake. On 27 December India refused to join George Bush's planned exclusive 'club of four', which would have effectively pulled this Asian nuclear power out of its new coalition with Russia, China and Brazil. On 28 December the Indian Government politely warned the American military to stay clear of Indian sovereign territory, and on 29 December the India Daily Editorial publicly questioned the nature of the event: "Was this a showdown by a country to show the region what havoc can be created?" ... "Given the level of devastation and given the fact India is a regional power in South Asia, [the] Indian Navy has an obligation to investigate and tell the world what they found."

Yep, boys and girls. *We* did this. On purpose. To keep the teeming hordes in their place, and let them know who the big kid on the block is.

Really. It says so here. And it's nice and technical, so it must be true.

Moonbat? Or misunderstood man who has single-handedly penetrated the corridors of power of the New York Power Brokers, Illuminati, and Masons? You be the judge.

Please Help To Maintain the Flow of Intelligence

Predictably perhaps, I remain permanently barred by American multinationals including Yahoo and PayPal, and more recently have had completely unacceptable restrictions placed on my web page layouts and graphics by others, who for the present will not be named. All seem intent on removing my content from the Internet completely, or in gaining 100% editorial control over my work.
Life is never easy for a former combat veteran living on a miniscule disabity pension, but it has to be admitted that these multinational and other strangleholds havemanaged to make life even harder still. If you appreciate these intelligence reports and would like to help their continuation by assisting financially, please click on the donate button below, which will redirect you to my donations page and an online payment provider.
For those who do not like online donations of any kind, I can personally process Australian Dollar or Pound Sterling checks, and convert almost any banknote into usable currency. My snail mail address is "J. Vialls", 45 Merlin Drive, Carine, Western Australia 6020. If anyone out there has online Internet banking and the desire to donate, please direct the funds to my Western Australia bank account shown here. Thank you for caring.

Hey, I'm a combat veteran on a disability pension, too. Mebbe I'll see if Paypal stops me from putting up a donate button.

Hat tip to CAPT H, whose surfing is ranging far afield these days!

by John on Jan 05, 2005 | Pugnacious Stupidity
» links with: Too stunned to speak

Meet Sgt. Herbert B. Hancock...

...chief scout sniper, sniper platoon, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

"After we had called in indirect fire and after all the adjustments from our mortars, I got the final 8-digit grid coordinates for the enemy mortar position, looked at our own position using GPS and figured out the distance to the targets we dropped to be 1,050 yards," said Flowers with a grin. "This time we were killing terrorism from more than 1,000 yards."

1,050 yards. With the standard sniper rifle. Hathcock's 2250m kill was from a scoped, pre-sited, tripod-mounted .50 cal machinegun (firing single shots). Hey, Carlos got a moving target (ammo carrier on a bicycle) but this 1K shot certainly puts Sergeant Hancock in my Hall of Fame, along with those Canadians who got the long shot in Afghanistan.

Full story here.

Hat tip to Mike L.

by John on Jan 05, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Brain Shavings links with: USMC sniper makes 1000 yard shot
» Brain Shavings links with: USMC sniper makes 1000 yard shot
» TexasBug links with: America's Best Sniper?
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: One Weekend a Month, My A**!
» Brain Shavings links with: USMC sniper makes 1000 yard shot

Shipping over the '113s.

This issue having generated some interest, I thought I'd post a comparison shot of the standard (i.e., no anti-RPG armor) M113 and Light Armored Vehicle (LAV), which the Marines use and from which the Stryker is descended.

Bill T. mentions the ACAV, and riding on top in Vietnam. Pretty good story on that with lots of pictures is available here. Here's a site covering Canadian M113s, of interest being the bottom photos of a M113 damaged by mines during operations in Bosnia. Mike Sparks, a big fan of the M113, might just have the most comprehensive overview of what's going on with getting them to Iraq, and includes a discussion on the up-armoring of the vehicles.

Welcome to the Ice Storm.

Feather-merchants that we are who work at Fort Leavenworth - the impending (now all around) ice storm closed the Fort at noon yesterday, to reopen at noon today - and it's now closed all day because of the ice, and ain't nothing we're doing there worth dying for or denting the empennage of the transport.

It was the Castle's turn to lose power. We've dodged that bullet in all the previous winter/wind storms, but our number was up. Working from home is tough, too, when the power is out - and when it comes on, the cable is still down (broadband access at the Castle) and you don't remember the number for the alternate dial up... obviously, we're back now, it only took about 3 hours - much better than the tens of thousands in Kansas City still without.

Anyway, while SWWBO and I were waiting for the power to come back and the sun to come up, we played Scrabble in the kitchen - by the light of the Brit Airfield Lantern in the Castle's collection - which also provided some heat as our temps went (and are still going, outside) south. Who said militaria can't be useful? Think what I coulda done with a flamethrower!

Yeah, yeah - SWWBO won. She always does at Scrabble because we don't play with a time limit on turns, so she sees the tricksy ones. If we played speed-Scrabble I might have a chance!

This is no sh*t!**

Bill the Rotorhead, frequent commenter that he is (he's gonna graduate to guest-poster if he keeps providing gems like this) told a story in a comment to this post that is just too good to leave in the basement like that!

One of the first UH-1Ms (oh, go ahead, google it--I have no idea what you're gonna get, but it's a UH-1C gunship with a UH-1H engine) in the Delta dropped by our refuel/rearm point in Can Tho for a bit of last-light go-juice. The AC hopped out for some kidney relief while the crew chief and gunner pumped the fuel, leaving a--gasp!--newbie lieutenant on the controls (yes, the aircraft was running--us Huey drivers never did "cold" fuel). The crew chief mashed his mike button and asked Peter Pilot to check the fuel gauge to see how much fuel they'd pumped, and PP promptly pressed the trigger switch to reply.

Now, in the UH-1D or H, the trigger switch controls commo--first detent activates intercom, second detent keys the radio(s). In the UH-1M (it's a gunship--remember?), the trigger switch is--a trigger. Who sees what's coming next?

Yup. One 2.75-inch Mk 40 rocket with 10-pound warhead promptly departed each launcher. The rocket from the right launcher speared a revetment before the fuze armed and just sat there smoking; the rocket from the left one zipped down the runway, missed the hood of a fuel truck returning from the 'Hook hangars by a good six inches, went past my right ear and smacked into our ammo dump.

The fuze functioned properly.

We had a BIG ammo dump.

I wound up in a drainage ditch with the fuel truck crew on top of me (they had farther to run). I didn't complain about their lack of military courtesy (neither one saluted before he landed), because the rain of debris bounced off them instead of me.

When the smoke cleared, the Mike-model crew remembered a pressing social event and departed post-haste, the fuel handlers wobbled off to recover their truck (which was still sitting in the center of the runway) and I did a quick weather check--I discerned a severe drunk-front heading in my direction, so I strode off to meet it head-on... =]

**Milspeak for "Official Notification That I Am About To Tell A War Story"

January 04, 2005

For those of you who have been suggesting...

...that we just send the M113s over to Iraq and quit worrying about up-armoring the HMMWVs... guess what?

We are.*

Perhaps more important, perhaps George Soros or Michael Moore could give this guy a hand. Someone should. Stanislav Petrov, I salute you, sir. Doing your true duty to your nation, not the reflexive one. I, too, was sitting in alert sites babysitting my battalion nukes during those dark days of 1983, when the NRAS (Nuclear Release Authentication System) messages weren't just training messages.

For those of you dropping in from Mudville - you might also be interested in this follow-up.

*If you can't get into the link - go to the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Jan 04, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Observations on things Military | Tanks and AFVs
» Mudville Gazette links with: More on Armouring Up!
» Mudville Gazette links with: More on Armoring Up!
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MILBLOG'S HOME
» Mudville Gazette links with: MilBlogs Archive - Jan 05'
» Mudville Gazette links with: MilBlogs Archive - Jan 05'

Now it can be told...

...the real reason that the AIM-9 Sidewinder series of air-to-air missiles have rollerons at the rear corners of the rear fins.

Oh, sure, you can buy this argument, that they are for missile guidance.

Yeah, right. You buy that argument, I've got a bridge for sale.

The real reason that Sidewinders have rollerons is Naval Aviators. They look like wheels because they are wheels. The Air Boss doesn't want those bubbas bunging up his flight deck!

Gratuitous Militaria Pic

Working on some gun stuff, don't despair!

One of the "honey-do's" (happy Mike?) from last week was moving the dry bar from the kitchen into the living room. You remember the bar - it's the one with the New Zealand-capture Boer Mauser on it - that caused one of my few moonbat explosions.

I lied! I did put up a gun pic!

Anyway, one of the things we've been doing is demilitarizing the living room (pulling out the cannon balls and such) but obviously, we haven't completely disarmed. We took the opportunity to put some of the more interesting bits of militaria out there - on the bar. It's very Anglosphere, with some German and French to add a touch of flavor. Brit rum jug with Aussie drinking cup (from Tobruk! - the cup, not the jug), the Boer Mauser, brit gun sight (the telescope thing) two lamps made from 2inch mortar rounds, Brit and US trench lanterns, things like that.

In addition, we have a candy dish/peanut dish that is a bit of French trench art - a WWI 75mm shell casing with an Artillery cap badge on the front, and "Verdun 1918" on the back.

The one bit of that stuff I like the best though is a WWII era bud vase (we're using it for swizzle sticks) that I call my "ABCA" vase. ABCA meaning the America-Britain-Canada-Australia alliance formed in WWII and still in force today.

Why do I refer to it like that? Simple. It's comprised of a Canadian-made 2pdr shell casing, with US-made .50cal rounds, Brit MkVII .303 rounds, and an Australian cap badge. It came from Australia, and it kind of encapsulates the effort required to prosecute WWII. It's also a nice conversation piece, should we start entertaining the ISO's (International Student Officers) around here.

Coupla things of note.

First, Powerline notes that Pablo Paredes, that darling of the left who 'missed movement' also missed a chance to do something he avers he wants to do - Support Life.

e-Claire is a touch grumpy with the world. She's also in new digs.

Blackwater has an interesting article up of a draft study by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies regarding the Iraqi Insurgency. There are some hard slaps at the Administration here, some undoubtedly deserved, though Cordesman I think willfully ignores the problem of being too candid when dealing with a hostile press.

What I found most interesting about Cordesman's analysis is that his description fits (not perfectly, but with many seeming congruences) the situation in Weimar Germany... which simply means that mebbe we need to pay attention to both history and the future, like Tom Friedman and General Abizaid suggest in the post from yesterday (third post down). Lest the evil rise again.

The study is available here. Bear in mind, it's in draft, and seeking comment, so some conclusions may not stand up under review. Hat tip to Dave M. for the link.

Equipment update, part 2.

This edition covers the Bunker Defeat Munitions, improved AT-4 (fireable from an enclosed area), a bunch of stuff to assist the infantry in city-fighting, and, what literally looks to be miltary paintball ammo. Really.

Download file here.

January 03, 2005

Serving a Nation At War.

The Year In Photos 2004.

While the Navy serves nations in need. (and I mean that in a good way - I'm just being frugal with posts)

In case you wondered what could ever cause a military career to be worth the costs... watch this. It was worth it to me. There just aren't too many jobs (Fireman, Cop, Paramedic, Smoke Jumper, hell, all the First Responders) that generate memories like this. Though I would guess rafting guides and folks like that would come up with 'em. Maybe high steel construction work, and oil rigs and such? Anything where there is life and death trust in the group, I suppose.

I like my current job - but it ain't generating these kinds of memories.

Update: from the comment below, from an email apparently not received. We're always interested in giving credit where credit is due. "Guys, Don't know your level of interest here; full disclosure, other bloggers, mil & civvy, haven't had any. Like an idiot tho', I'll keep on. This video, and a number of others, were produced/created by

They have allowed a number of websites to offer the videos, all in
keeping their bandwidth down I'd imagine. Check out the website, as I
said, there are a number of other equally moving video presentations,
including the latest on those who served in Korea.
They're also requesting photos to enable them to produce more videos.
Anyway, would seem to be good people going pretty much unrecognized
except by their end product, for which they're not receiving any credit.
Mike D."

Thanks for the info, Mike.

by John on Jan 03, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» Speed of Thought... links with: Around the 'Sphere
» Pass The Ammo links with: 2004 Year in Photos

Two important views on what is happening in Iraq.

Those of Tom Friedman, center-left opinion maker and General Abizaid - US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the length of the post below this one, I'm putting the bulk of this one in the Flash Traffic (extended post).

Tom Friedman of the NYTs gets it, he understands the stakes - and while he may not like how we got there, he understands the criticality of winning this fight - and the nature of the enemy. But he's nervous about our commitment, as he should be - for as General Abizaid points out - this isn't a short war. Not really.

Friedman's crie-de-coeur was crystallized by this incident, shown in this picture:

There is much to dislike about this war in Iraq, but there is no denying the stakes. And that picture really framed them: this is a war between some people in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world who - for the first time ever in their region - are trying to organize an election to choose their own leaders and write their own constitution versus all the forces arrayed against them.

Do not be fooled into thinking that the Iraqi gunmen in this picture are really defending their country and have no alternative. The Sunni-Baathist minority that ruled Iraq for so many years has been invited, indeed begged, to join in this election and to share in the design and wealth of post-Saddam Iraq.

As the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum so rightly pointed out to me, "These so-called insurgents in Iraq are the real fascists, the real colonialists, the real imperialists of our age." They are a tiny minority who want to rule Iraq by force and rip off its oil wealth for themselves. It's time we called them by their real names.

However this war started, however badly it has been managed, however much you wish we were not there, do not kid yourself that this is not what it is about: people who want to hold a free and fair election to determine their own future, opposed by a virulent nihilistic minority that wants to prevent that. That is all that the insurgents stand for.

The whole thing is in the extended post.

Mr. Friedman also answers a question recently asked by a friend of mine:

Abizaid was a plebe in my company when I was a firsty. He stood out for being particularly bright, earnest, and committed to being the best cadet he could be. I hardly remember any of his classmates, but I remember him.

As I was reading this analysis, I asked myself, "Don't the Europeans get it? Where are they when the need is so pressing and the stakes so high?"

Mr Friedman observes:

We may lose because most Europeans, having been made stupid by their own weakness, would rather see America fail in Iraq than lift a finger for free and fair elections there.

This is not a Neocon speaking. On to the General.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post did a piece on General Abizaid, the US commander in Iraq. The General has some persepctive the somewhat nervous Mr. Friedman does not, and wherein lies the danger when democracies go to war - the danger that Mr. Friedman does recognize.

Abizaid believes that the Long War is only in its early stages. Victory will be hard to measure, he says, because the enemy won't wave a white flag and surrender one day. Success will instead be an incremental process of modernization of the Islamic world, which will gradually find its own accommodation with the global economy and open political systems.

America's enemies in this Long War, he argues, are what he calls "Salafist jihadists." That's his term for the Muslim fundamentalists who use violent tactics to try to re-create what they imagine was the pure and perfect Islamic government of the era of the prophet Muhammad, who is sometimes called the "Salaf." Osama bin Laden is the best known of the Salafist extremists, but Abizaid argues that the movement is much broader and more diffuse than al Qaeda. It's a loose network of like-minded individuals who use 21st century-technology to spread their vision of a 7th-century paradise.

The rest of that bit is in the extended post, below Friedman's.

Wahabism Delenda Est.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

USMC Tank Company Commander's AAR from Fallujah

Battles, and wars, can be lost by any level of command. In the current era, they are only won at the Company level, in my view. If your companies can't fight, it doesn't matter if you are Napoleon or Patton. Of course, Napoleon and Patton made sure they had companies that could fight... And if you are MG Lloyd Fredendall, commander of II Corps in North Africa, you can train pretty good companies, but lose the fight at the higher levels. Remember - Patton picked up Fredendall's Corps and took it across North Africa.

Our companies can fight. And learn. Let's hope the higher echelons are doing their bit. This is an AAR from a Marine Tank Company Commander that is making the rounds.

In light of the post below of "Baddest of the Bad," and CAPT H's comments - especially regarding Auxiliary Power Units (EAPUs in the bit below), I find the discussion of the loader's machine gun instructive. Obviously, what may well be a plus in open country isn't so in urban terrain. And the "grunt phones" we lost the knack of using in the 70's and 80's and 90's need some more thought as to positioning and ease of use

But what I find interesting here is the level of quick adaptation and development of TTP's that are a mixture of the old (infantry/armor cooperation), with the new (Blue Force Tracker and other situational awareness technology), the level of team building going on - and the fact that the higher headquarters were apparently not micro-managing the fight.

Look at the task organization that developed, where vehicles were used according to their utility for a mission - not necessarily based on their location in the Table of Organization and Equipment.

Like I said - Companies win the fight. And in this combat environment - all through Iraq and Afghanistan, not just Fallujah, company grade officers (lieutenants and captains, and their NCO counterparts) are shouldering far greater burdens of responsiblity than we usually ascribe to them. Fortunately, with the highly professional officer and NCO Corps we have via the volunteer army, they are handling the load better than their less well prepared, far more over-supervised, counterparts during Vietnam. Leaders like Captain Bill Jacobsen. Which isn't a slam on the people who served in Vietnam, it's a slam on the Army and the government who created the system. Like I said - any level can lose a war.

USMC Tank Ops in Fallujah

TANK AAR from Phantom Fury

My platoon commanders and I are still working through our AAR but I wanted to at least push out some observations that ya'll may find useful.

Task Organization: My tank company (14 tanks) was distributed among 2 infantry battalions, 6 tanks composed of 3rd Plt and the Bravo Section from 2nd Plt attached to 3/5 and 8 tanks composed of 1st Plt, the Alpha Section from 2nd Plt, and the HQ section attached to 3/1. I will speak from my experience of fighting with 3/1. Usually we had a section or platoon of tanks attached to a rifle company along with 2 AAVs and 1 to 2 D-9 dozers. The tanks would lead down the streets as a section which allowed for overwatch and quick tow if necessary. The infantry would clear along both sides of the street from the trail tank back providing close-in security for the tanks' overhead, flanks and rear while other grunts were tasked to clear buildings as required. The AAVs and infantry HMMWVs would travel further back along with the D-9s.

TTPs: Tanks would be used to soften enemy strongpointed buildings using tank main gun (120mm HEAT was the preferred choice). For particularly stubborn strongpoints, the D-9 dozer would then further reduce the building after tanks finished engaging with main gun. Tanks would then provide overwatch for the dozer's reduction while the infantry was poised to continue clearing operations. Tanks were often the weapon of choice against enemy in strongpoints are taking cover behind walls. We even had situations where artillery forward observers and even ODA sniper teams requested tank support and talked on the tanks as the maneuvered into firing positions to kill insurgents hiding behind walls with main gun.

When operating in the urban environment, location of your position, enemy targets, etc become very important due to the geometry of fires (we had multiple battalions operating in the same city). 6 digit grids were never accepted, only 8-10 digit grids were used for all locations and all requests for fires. The rifle companies were very good about providing dedicated dismounted security for the tank sections, especially critical in the urban environment as we were buttoned up and when that happens, we have lots of deadspace around the tanks. My tankers never felt vulnerable with the 3/1 and 3/5, we were fully confident that they were always in position to protect our flanks, topside, and rear.

AAVs were used for a variety of tasks, as logistical and ammo carriers, security for escorting D-9s or other softskinned vehicles going back to the Firm base, BAS, etc, or for medevacs. [Firm Base is a secure site the infantry 'forted up in to rest. BAS is Battalion Aid Station. ed] They were also used when possible to provide suppressive fires with MK-19 and .50 cal. AAVs expended a lot of ammo, speaking of ammo...

Ammo/Weapons: MPAT-OR was not really used too much during clearing operations as it tended to make a smaller breach and would often penetrate through several buildings, in this environment where friendly units are everywhere, geometry of fires often determine round selection. Although my 3rd Plt Cmdr didn't necessarily have this same experience. MPAT-OR in any case was designed to reduce rubble and we tried to use all of this ammo up front at the beginning of the attack, reducing the jersey and hesco barriers that blocked our avenues of approach. HEAT still proved to be better for those types of targets with regular MPAT effective as well.

Remember the word about the HEAT round needs at least 30m to arm when leaving the guntube? Well many of my tankers due to the nature of the city were forced to engage at distances even closer than that, and for nearly all engagements less than 30m, HEAT still seemed quite effective and proved to have a lot of killing power (combination of the explosive punch and overpressure). Nearly all engagements throughout the operation were below 200m and section volleys were employed when practical to achieve as much shock effect as possible. All battlesights were set for 200m. We thought we might get the APERs round (this would definently have been useful). This round has over 1000 tungsten steel balls and is designed to take out entire squads of enemy formations with 1 round.

It is essentially a 120mm shotgun shell. The amount of ammo we have fired since the operation kicked off is staggering and continues to climb. My company has fired close to 1600 main gun rounds, over 121,000 7.62mm, and over 49,000 caliber 50 rounds. Nearly all the tanks have exceeded well over 120 operating hours and this continues to climb. The loader's M240 was pretty much a non-player, in fact when mounted will reduce the TC's visibility when buttoned up (as we were nearly all the time!) and prevented the TC from traversing the .50 cal over to the left side of the tank. One of my Master Gunners fortunately pointed this out early in our training and nearly all loader's 240s and mounts were removed before the operation, of course this freed up an extra gun for the COAX which in some cases was needed. For .50 cal reloading, many TCs traversed the CWS toward the loader's hatch, the loader would keep his hatch just barely open enough to load the box of ammo into the weapon and the TC only needed to charge the weapon. This helped minimize exposure outside the tank when in a "hot" area. One thing about the .50 cal, I really wish it had a thermal sight built into it for employment at night. The grunts loved our weapons systems, more importantly they saw us as having precise weapons systems, the most accurate on the battlefield by far.

Comms: The Grunt Phone was a money-maker. The grunts used it all the time to talk us on to targets. About the only place we tac-marked the tank [put markings to identify the vehicle. ed] was on this piece of gear so the grunts knew who they were talking to. Unfortunately, the grunt phone is at a vulnerable area in the rear of the tank and the box is fragile. The latch is cumbersome and grunts almost never were able to secure it properly. Hopefully MARCORSYSCOM and improve this. Due to the narrow streets and architecture of the buildings and walls literally lining the streets, many of them were damaged or completely lopped off as the tanks had to manuever or pivot steer to reorient. Other effective means of target marking for tanks included M203, sniper rifles and smoke grenades.

You're about half-way through it. The rest is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

New Equipment updates.

I recently got sent an update brief on some of the new, or newly modified gear, being fielded or scheduled for fielding. I'll be posting it in chunks over the next couple of days.

First installment includes updates on the XM107, the Semi-Auto Sniper Weapon System (SA-SWS), updates to the M249, Mk46 and Mk 48 machine guns, Shotguns, grenades, non-lethals, and the TOW Bunker Buster.

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