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May 06, 2005

Coast Artillery

The pictures of the stuff in the Phillipines having made JTG giddy, let's try this.

Canadian Coast Artillery - thoughtfully provided by CAPT H. If you want a hi-res version, click here.

Anybody know what (I'm guessing perhaps a sight) went in that dovetail on top of the breech?

by John on May 06, 2005 | Artillery
» Dog Snot Diaries links with: Home Defense

Scattered notes.

Thanks to all the emailers informing me that Colonel (ret) Hackworth died. Really long time readers will know that I am *not* a Hackworth enthusiast. I run in a circle which includes several officers and soldiers who served with Hackworth in Vietnam, and suffice it to say, I do not hold his theatrics there and subsequent to that in the same high regard that many readers seem to. Which is okay. Your mileage can vary.

That Colonel Hackworth was a lion of a man as a warrior there is no doubt, and I honor his courage and committment. That he saw himself as a soldier's champion, and worked for their betterment and benefit in his subsequent career is also true.

And he could tell a hell of a war story.

Moving on...

Abu Ghraib. Finally, an officer scalp of sorts. Former Brigadier General, now Colonel Karpinski got busted for incompetence. Good. Oh, well there's also that shoplifting thing.

Neal A. Puckett, Karpinski's attorney, told The Washington Post that the Army is saying "she's the only senior leader that had any part in this, but they're saying she didn't have a direct part in it." The Army is severing the chain of command "right at her eyeball level, and not letting it go higher," Puckett told the newspaper.

The Army did not explain the specifics of the allegations, but a number of previous investigations of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses have accused Karpinski of failing to maintain order and prevent the abuses. She has said publicly that she was not given full authority over Abu Ghraib and that when photographs of the abuse became public she was made a scapegoat.

A U.S. government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Karpinski was accused of shoplifting a cosmetic item from a shop at a domestic Air Force base while she held the rank of colonel. Karpinski did not report her arrest for this misdemeanor on a later background check, the official said. In an interview with CBS News last year, Karpinski denied shoplifting.

Regardless of culpability of more senior officers, Karpinski looks like she got what she had coming. And her conduct before, during, and after were embarassing to the Officer Corps, much less herself. One wonders how she slipped through the ceiling, in a sense. Her pension is *still* going to be larger than mine, and I kinda resent that... well, mebbe not, I don't know how many points she has.

Then there are the bizarre twists of the PFC England case. She's small potatoes, mostly notorious because of the photos, and it's the photos which make it easier to go for the low-level players in this drama. Smoking guns are hard to come by on the senior people - but it's good to see the Defense teams are still pushing that envelope. There are a string of Non-Commissioned and Commissioned officers between now-Private Graner and BG Karpinski who probably should still dangle from the rope of public scrutiny and judicial or non-judicial action. But you have to have those smoking guns to get at them via the UCMJ, and evidence that satisfies journalists doesn't always satisfy Courts Martial panels. In her case, they're going to start over, from scratch, with a new Article 32 hearing (kind of a Grand Jury equivalent in purpose, if not at all in conduct).

Moving on...

Al-Qaeda has some whiners, too.

Many potential recruits have backed off because they do not want to get themselves killed while murdering civilians, or in futile attempts to kill Americans. Al Qaeda has become like a cornered beast, mad with rage and snapping at anything within range, including its own young. Al Qaeda in Iraq has no future, and a present that is increasingly unpalatable to its own members.

More details on the melt-down and moral bankruptcy of the Wahabist Insurgency is in the Extended post.

H/T, Strategy Page.

Still some major operations occuring in Afghanistan, too. Keep your scan running, MSG Keith!

Keeping with the 'accountability theme - the Blackhawk pilot cited in an earlier post, has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. Good for him that he takes responsibliity, and I think this answers your questions, Cricket. Very odd quirk of the system that he's going to do 120 days visiting us here at Fort Leavenworth, then retire with his pension, and, one assumes, a "General" discharge. Weirdness.

Moving on...

The Senior Leadership of the Army paid attention to the soldiers doing the taking the risks and doing the dying, and approved the Combat Action Badge, vice the originally proposed Close Combat Badge, which was going to be more restrictive, inaptly so, thought many, including yours truly. From General Schoomaker, Chief of Staff, Army:


The new Combat Action Badge (CAB) has been approved by Army leadership, who created the badge to recognize all Soldiers who are in combat with the enemy. The new badge is in keeping with the Warrior Ethos displayed by all Soldiers, regardless of rank or military occupational specialty. The badge recognizes the reality of today's 360 degree battlefield.

The Combat Action Badge design is still pre-decisional. The requirements to be awarded the badge are as follows.

- Be a U.S. Army Soldier.
- Rank, Branch and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) are immaterial.
- Performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.
- Not eligible for award of the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB) at the time of the action cited.
- Personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.
- Battle or campaign participation credit alone is not sufficient; the Soldier must engage or be engaged by the enemy.

Commanders at the rank of Major General will have award authority.

Although a Close Combat Badge (CCB) was considered as an option, Army leadership decided the CAB best meets the intent of field commanders to fully recognize Soldier actions in combat.

For more information about all the Army's badges, symbols and insignia, visit

Moving on... frequent commenter Monteith has asked about this before. Gun Trucks. Here's your answer.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Continuing Bill’s theme of Good News, Bad News…

First, the Good News. Last night I represented my Rotary Club at the Leavenworth High School JROTC Awards ceremony, where we sponsor an award… (d-uh). LHS has had a Corps of Cadets for 108 years, and was the*first* official JROTC program in the country – still going strong 88 years after the founding of the program. One of the things I *liked* about Leavenworth Public Schools is that I live across the street from a public school with a rifle range in the basement, and weapons and ammo stored there. And no one worries about it. More on *that* later.

Lots of STRAC*-looking (okay, there were a *few* for whom the uniform is *still* a mystery), well-behaved kids getting recognized for doing Good Things, from Most Improved This, Best That, etc. I got to hear the Theme from Star Wars played by the buglers of the Drum and Bugle Corps (amazing what you can do with a bugle), and a simply *excellent* performance by the Unarmed Drill Team.

We met two soon-to-be West Point Plebes, an AF Academy Doolie, and whatever the Coast Guard Academy calls a first year Midshipman. I lost count of the 3 and 4 year ROTC scholarship awardees, and we gave a standing ovation (initiated by spring-butt Yours Truly) to the 5 kids going directly into military service after they graduate this year. We heard about some of the projects the cadets worked on as a part of their 5500 hours of community service activity during the academic year. Some during class time, most before, after, and on weekends.

Rotary of course was not the only organization represented. The Lions, VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the World Wars, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonists, Optimists, Sons of Union Veterans, and probably some others I don’t remember. Via the American Legion I got to meet a rare bird… a holder of a two-star Combat Infantryman badge – a soldier who fought his way across Northern Europe, up and down the Korean peninsula, and in the A-Shau Valley.

It was long, but fun.

Now for the Bad News. Stupid General Officer decisions. While I can’t find a linkable story – one of the college ROTC programs in Missouri had a shooting accident on their indoor range, which led, I’m told but can’t verify, to the death of a student. Okay, things happen. In the service, when things like this happen, as Bill can attest, we stand down, examine the incident, and determine what, if any changes need to be made as a result. Often, the only change that needs to be made is to summarily execute some people who were not following established procedures. In other cases, the incident uncovers systemic problems that need to be addressed. You take the appropriate action, and then resume training.

Not in General Byrne’s TRADOC. Even though Cadet Command went in with a brief suggesting exactly that, retrain, re-emphasize, and restart – GEN Byrnes has said JROTC cadets can’t shoot anymore.

Wrong message General. Set aside the fact that we’re at war, this is the wrong message to send regardless. Simply Wrong. Rumors of the NRA trying to weigh in to get the decision changed are floating around. GEN Byrnes hands over TRADOC to LTG Wallace this summer. LTG Wallace is the current Commander of the Combined Arms Center here at Fort Leavenworth, and commanded V Corps during the March Upcountry. I wouldn’t bother with GEN Byrnes, I’d wait until LTG Wallace assumes the duties. Note to NRA: I’ll finally buy that Life Membership if you go after this aggressively and succeed.

Time for some letter-writing to the Congressinal delegation. I haven't bothered them in, oh, weeks.

*STRAC= STRategic Army Command, one of the several incarnations of what is now called Forces Command, FORSCOM. Back in the day of STRAC, spit shined boots and laquered helmet liners, blood-drawing creases in starched khakis and fatigues were the order of the day - and "STRAC" evolved from all that as a way of saying "Squared Away".

I date myself.

TINS! "First, the good news..." that Denizen Dbie AFSister got all excited last night over a post at ALa's that hasn't been posted at this time of the morning, but probably will by the time you guys get here.

*checks watch, winces*

Ummmm--make that *might* be, by the time you guys get here. But since she hit 50,000 yesterday, drop in anyway and give her a boost to 100,000, okay?

To the TINS. Caveat omnes: After reading most of this, you might construe it as a slam against A-10 drivers. It isn't. R-e-a-d the whole thing...

First, the Good News--when the new Commander of our ARNG Aviation Brigade decided he wanted a detachment of his AH-1F (C-Nite/FLIR) Light Nightfighters to deploy to Annual Training with his UH-60 Air Assaulters for a fairly aggressive series of NVG Aerial Escort Security missions, he shook out some additional flying hours for our trainup two months before “Show Time.”
Now, the Bad News--because our original Flying Hour program only allowed 1.5 hours per crew, per month, only two of us, the Battalion SP (Standardization Instructor Pilot) and yours truly, had been maintaining NVG currency--but not proficiency. In other words, we were good, but we needed to be perfect.

First, the Good News--my Company Commander sat down with us and we set priorities for Refresher Training and after a month of Tuesday-, Thursday- and Saturday-night goggling, we had our required five mission-trained crews.
Now, the Bad News--two weeks before Show Time, Brigade discovered that the Air Force essentially owned the skies over Ft. Postage Stamp, VA, and, since DivArty would be hub-to-hub on the ground, decided that the situation was tailor-made for daytime Joint Aerial Attack Team (JAAT) missions. The way a JAAT works is, artillery fire buttons the armor up, then the Cobras pop out of the trees to fire up the Air Defense systems, then the A-10s nip in to bust up the tanks, then the Cobras beat up the Air Defenders again while the A-10s skedaddle, then the tubes suppress while the Cobras duck back into the trees. Repeat until white flags sprout in the kill zone or the Cobras run low on ammo. If it's done right, it's a thing of beauty. If it's not, it's a recipe for suicide.

First, the Good News--since our tactical training area is sandwiched between R-5001 and R-5002 (oh, go ahead, Neffi--look at the Washington Sectional), we’ve got a lot of JAATs under our collective belt--mostly “wet” (for the non-mil Denizens and Visitors, "live fire").
Now, the Bad News--due to “resourcing constraints,” none of us had done a JAAT in at least two years and it had been a full year since any of us had put any rounds downrange.

First, the Good News--we had a Range Window on R-5001 the day before we were to deploy and the Battalion Master Gunner’s gunnery matrix gave us priority so we wouldn’t fall behind schedule.
Now, the Bad News--between holding the pace of the range to a crawl and a shortage of gunnery IP’s, I would have to stay on the range an additional day to get our last two detachment shooters current--with one Tuna Surprise MRE to last me from supper to breakfast to lunch to supper...

First, the Good News--figuring that nothing we do in training is worth killing somebody, my CO revised his original plan; he and I would fly a single-ship penetration of the Mason-Dixon ADIZ, do a zone recon of our little corner of Ft. Postage Stamp (we always do a hazard recon--see “Why I Hate Wires” March 29, 2005. No, I'm not gonna link myself and you need the practice researching the archives...) and figure out our options on-site. And I’d already 'phoned the Safety Officers for Post and Brigade; they were a wealth of information on our three-grid-square maneuvering area and range fans, active artillery firing points and gun-target lines, current laser operations and the ingress/egress routes of our A-10 JAAT-mates. After we were satisfied, we’d link with our other four crews at the Air Assaulters’ home station for a complete sitrep.
Now, the Bad News--the original AMC got the flu, so we'd have to break in a new one during the mission, and, in addition to DivArty shooting indirect from the south-through-west quadrants, Marine TOW LAVs were doing direct fire from the north. Oh, and just to keep us from getting complacent, two OPFOR Stinger teams were roaming our corridor, ready to engage all comers, i.e., "us." The situation was starting to grow fur.

First, the Good News--we got a solid face-to-face brief and new hazard maps from Brigade’s ASO, and did a thorough recon of our maneuver area. We were able to get two-days’ worth of plan, brief, rehearse, fly two dry JAATs, debrief, refine, rebrief and rehearse some more. Since we were the A-10s’ final exam for a Balkan deployment, their FAC Evaluator, Hard Rock, took the onus of the Nine-Line brief, our AMC (Air Mission Commander) briefed target ID and the JAAT clock while I controlled the Cobras. Since the fast-movers’ attack corridor was our western “no-fly” line, we had to settle the nagging question about their “hard-floor” of 500 feet (MSL? AGL?); sitting in the treetops of our battle position put us at about 430 MSL (our own “hard floor” was rock). The ground-attack guys would be cueing on the laser spot from a GLID/COLTS, so we did a final laser-protective glasses showdown.
Now, the Bad News--I got the Tuna Surprise MRE for lunch both days.

It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view)--click on Extended Entry for the rest.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on May 06, 2005 | This is no Sh*t!

May 05, 2005

The Soul of the Murdered Girl.

Commander Salamander brought this to my attention. In turn, this comes from Michael Yon, an embed with the Stryker Brigade. Cassandra of Villainous Company weighs in from a different angle.

Picture released by the U.S. Army Tuesday, May 3, 2005 shows a U.S. Army soldier comforting a child fatally wounded in a car bomb blast in Mosul, 360 km (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 2, 2005. 15 Iraqis were wounded in the combined suicide bomb attack. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

It brought to mind this poem, from WWI, by Herbert Read. While the imagery is Christian, the author British, and the location France - it's not hard to fit the little girl in the picture into the poem, with no disrespect intended to her, or to her faith.

Major Bieger - my heart goes out to you, too.

Wahabism Delenda Est!

I speak not from my pallid lips
but from these wounds.
Red lips that cannot tell
a credible tale.
In a world of martyred men
these lips renounce their ravage:
The wounds of France
roused their fresh and fluid voices.
War has victims beyond the bands
bonded to slaughter. War moves with armoured wheels
across the quivering flesh and patient limbs
of all life's labile fronds.
France was the garden I live in.
Amid these trees, these fields, petals fell
flesh to flesh; I was a wilder flower/
Open and innocent. So is the heart
Laid virgin to my voice. I filled
your vacant ventricles with dreams
with immortal hopes and aspirations that exalt
the flesh to passion, to love and hate.
Child-radiance then is clouded, the light
that floods the mind is hot with blood
pulse beats to the vibrant battle-cry
the limbs are burnt with action.
This heart had not lost its innocence so soon
but for the coming of that day when men
speaking a strange tongue, wearing strange clothes
armed, flashing with harness and spurs
carrying rifles, lances or spears
followed by rumbling waggons, shrouded guns
passed through the village in endless procession
swift, grim, scornful, exulting.
You had not lost your innocence so soon
but for the going of men from the village
your father gone, your brother
only the old left, and the very young
the women sad, the houses shuttered
suspense of school, even of play
the eager search for news, the air
of universal doubt, and then the knowledge
that the wavering line of battle now was fixed
beyond this home. The soil was tilled
for visionary hate.
Four years was time enough
for such a seedling hate to grow
sullen, close, intent;
To wait and wonder
but to abate
no fervour in the slow passage of despair.
The mind grew tense.
My mind flesh was caught
in the cog and gear of hate.
I lay coiled, the spring
of all your intricate design.
You served me well. But still I swear
Christ was my only King.
France was your Motherland:
To her you gave your life and limbs.
I gave these hands and gave these arms
I gave my head of raveled hair.
You gave your sweet round breasts
like Agatha who was your Saint.
Mary Aegyptiaca
is the pattern of my greatest loss.
To whom in nakedness and want
God sent a holy man.
Who clothed her, shrived her, gave her peace
before her spirit left the earth.
My sacrifice was made to gain
the secrets of these hostile men.
I hover round your fameless features
barred from Heaven by light electric.
All men who find these mauled remains
will pray to Mary for your swift release.
The cry that left your dying lips
was heard by God.
I died for France.
A bright mantle fell across your bleeding limbs.
Your face averted shone with sacred fire.
So be content. In this war
many men have perished not blessed
with faith in a cause, a country or a God
not less martyrs than Herod's Victims, Ursula's Virgins
or any massed innocents massacred.
Such men give themselves not to their God but to their fate
die thinking the face of God not love but hate.
Those who die for a cause die comforted and coy;
believing their cause God's cause they die with joy.

by John on May 05, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Physics Geek links with: Around the horn

A crying shame.

This little movie is going to make Sergeant B break into tears.

Click here for the horror.

Update: Due to extreme bandwidth theft, I have blocked the videos. Please drop me a line at the Armorer's contact email, and I will be happy to provide this video.

The attached note made *me* grind my teeth.


Please take a moment to look at this short video clip and feel free to use it for training, was put together by one of our Senior TACOM Small Arms Equipment Specialists at Rock Island who operated our Small Arms Support Center(SASC)in Balad, Iraq; essentially a "mini Depot" repair facility for all Small Arms...his comments are below.

This was done at the Ware Lab here at Rock Island to re-create the mistakes that continue to occur in Iraq. The troops screw the barrel into the 50 without pulling the bolt back to release the locking spring.

They then loosen the barrel up 3 to 4 clicks and attempt to fire it.

I would see between 5 to 8 of these guns a week at the SASC in Balad.

It destroys the gun, and can injure the soldier.

Dammit, it *ain't* rocket science. It's a failure of leadership. There is simply *no excuse* for blowing up a Ma Deuce because you don't follow proper headspace procedures.


Sergeant B sez (pulled up from the comments):

There are horror stories of M2s blowing up because of a failure to set proper headspace... Headspace is the "gap" between the face of the bolt, and the beginning of the chamber. The case of the round (the brass part that holds the gunpowder) is supported by the walls of the chamber (located in the barrel)... To comply with the laws of explosive force, the pressure of the gas created by the burning gunpowder in the round after firing will attempt to escape using the path of least resistance, normally down the barrel, pushing the actual bullet before it. This is the way it is supposed to work... Unfortunately, if the headspace has not been set, that force will blow out of the side of the cartridge.

As each round contains the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite, this causes devestating damage to the gun, and normally to the gunner and team leader as well.

I have seen guns where the receiver walls have been blown out, or severely deformed, cooling blocks shredded, and Marines flat on their backs as the Corpsman tried to disengage the backplate assembly from their chests...
In one instance, we were firing a "mad minute" also called a "Final Protective Fire" at 29 Palms. We were firing our M2s from tripods, and had our supporting AAVs beside us, with their turret mounted M2s. In the midst of the firing, I heard an explosion in the turret of the nearest AAV, and saw a three foot long bar go spinning down range. I grabbed the Corpsman, and ran into the back of the AAV, where I saw the track commander (who happened to be the brother of one of our platoon sergeants, sliding out of the turret. The track was filled with smoke. The turret M2 had exploded, and the bar that we had seen was the barrel of the gun. We grabbed the sergeant and dragged him out of the vehicle, and began checking him for wounds... He got lucky, and had minor burns, but no new holes.

Turns out that during the movement over rough terrain, the locking lug on the barrel extention (that holds the barrel into place) had broken off, and the vibration of the vehicle had unscrewed the barrel from the gun. The sergeant hadn't checked it before firing, and derned near blew his head off. This was one of the few times when a sergeant got his butt chewed by a corporal.

The very first thing you do after screwing the barrel into the receiver is check headspace and timing... This is Gunner's Law... Not perfroming this is a failure in leadership, and is almost criminal negligence, especially with the M2...

Thanks for the word, John.

May 5, 2005

Busy day in history.

If you're a conspiracy fanatic - Napoleon died this day in 1821.

If you're Mexican - or an Gringo who looks for an excuse to Party - it's the 143rd opportunity to slam Tequila in celebration of the Cinco de Mayo. How many of your partyers actually know what's being celebrated?

If you are an Italian Patriot, 145 years ago today Garibaldi and The Thousand landed in Sicily

If you like Gun Pr0n, 63 years ago, in 1942, the Japanese landed on Corregidor, capturing these guns.

Hi-res, click here. (take a look at the tube)

Hi-res, click here.

The Mortars, I believe, are the only M1890 12-inch seacoast mortars left in existence. If I ever win the lottery or somehow gather a Gatesian fortune - I'll see if the Phillipine government won't let me buy one of those mortars and return it to the US, probably to install it someplace like Fort Monroe, where the mortar pits are still in pretty good shape... Barb will like this - Battery Way. Hat tip to John S for sending along the pictures from his trip!

If you are an Oregonian, you can commemorate your WWII civilian casualties caused by the pointless Japanese weapon, The Balloon Bomb. Lesson learned here - leave UXO alone. Even if you don't know it's UXO (UneXploded Ordnance).

44 years ago - Alan Shepard became the 1st American in space. Yuri Gagarin holds the title for Humanity, chinese claims notwithstanding...

But perhaps, most importantly in my little window on the world, from last night at sundown until today at sundown, it's Yom Ha-Shoah Ve-Hagevurah. The Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism. The Heroism being the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Charles Simmins, of the blog You Big Mouth, You! notes that 60 years ago today, the soldiers of the 89th Division overran Ohrdruf.

I'm not jewish. But I believe the Holocaust happened. And I, too, should like that "someone remember there once lived a person named David Berger."

Not because David should be exalted above other names and deaths just as worthy - including anyone you know who has died - but because by putting a name, and a face to the David Bergers of the Holocaust, we help to combat the reality of Stalin's observation: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

Nie Wieder.

"Towards the end of the trip, we visited Ohrdruf and, to our surprise (although we had been forewarned) found nothing, absolutely nothing. All traces of it had disappeared. There is only a graveyard for POWs and a German Army Training Camp. It was like it never existed. But it did and we can testify to it personally." All of the horrors of the last sixty years have numbed us. A bombed wedding party in Afghanistan becomes the equivalent of the German camps, and so on. You cannot put a qualification on evil, but acts such as these cry out to us through the passing decades to be remembered.

May 04, 2005

Some thoughts on things militant...

...not from me, but from other people. Some critical observations on the current state of affairs in the Army, and especially in the Transformation arena.

First up, Illusion of Change by Colonel(r) Douglas MacGregor (of Breaking the Phalanx fame), from his recent testimony before Congress. Colonel MacGregor's point is diluted a touch because he's selling his own product - but as I said, the internal debate rages, and COL. MacGregor's viewpoint has many champions inside, too.

I don't wholly buy all of MacGregor's points - but what he says rings true in the main through the work I've been doing. I'll also tell you there is a lot more dissent and discussion inside the Army on the issues of Transformation than you see out in public. But since a lot of it hinges on operational experience, OPSEC keeps it in-house. Let's just say that the experiments and analysis, layered in with operational experience is keeping Transformation a moving train... which is a Good Thing, though the senior guys find themselves compelled to act sometimes as if that's not the case. More on *that* in a later post.

Next up, another retired Colonel, Bob Killebrew, offers some thoughts on Warfighting - pay attention to the picture captions. They tell a story in themselves. A little taste:

Of course the Iraqi insurgency is different, just as all wars are different from their predecessors. Despite the mountains of paper expended in recent decades on theories about asymmetric enemies, the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces by and large saw only the war they wanted to fight in Iraq, and did not anticipate that the enemy might not cooperate. A DoD committed to transforming the armed services orchestrated a conventional attack into Baghdad and other Iraqi cities that, however brilliantly executed, in retrospect looks like a strategy out of the 19th century-seize the enemy's capitol and the nation falls into one's hands like a ripe fruit. As we know, the present insurgency took root in the instability that followed the conventional campaign, threatening not only the rebuilding of Iraq but the success of the U.S.-led war itself. There is reason to believe that part of the insurgency was either preplanned or improvised by the previous government as their conventional forces were defeated, but confirmation awaits historical inquiry. At present, hard fighting by troops on the ground, the success of the Iraqi elections and the accelerating organization of Iraqi security forces have swung the tide. While the eventual outcome of the war is still not assured, strategic momentum in the theater seems to be shifting back toward the accomplishment of U.S. war aims. What lessons can we draw thus far from the Army's counterinsurgency experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom? Five candidates appear below.

Now, go back, click the link, and read.

I'm reading Andrew Bacevich's new book, "The New American Militarism" which has been raising such a storm in some circles. As usual, I find that many of the initial reviews seem based more on the blurbs and advertising vice a read of the book. I'll have some thoughts on that this week maybe, after I've had a chance to read and digest. Of course, that's why I'm never going to make it in the pundit business - sometimes I just won't jump on the wagon when the topic is hot!

May 03, 2005

Waist Gunner

So, Sergeant B - a B-17 waist gunner during a pass by a FW-190, eh? Like this?

(reputed to be a photo of the former Marine while waiting for Engine Start)

Hi-res, click here.

If this post doesn't make any sense to you... read the comments in this post. I just felt like I needed to get something up (Thanks for covering, Dusty!). Due to a massive changeover in client IT structure today, all my planned posts are in email limbo... I don't post from the office - but today it didn't matter - email is locked up tight due to, well, unanticipated problems. Or perhaps they were anticipated... but we're just gonna live with 'em while they work through this reconfig!

SGT B - I *am* interested in the simulated pass by the FW-190's - I know of one that is in restoration to flyable condition - but I didn't know of any that were flyable... was this one of the 3/4 scale kit birds? Or has that 190 gotten into the air and I just missed it?

BTW - if you didn't already - go back up and click on the link to SGT B's post about his private motor pool. Oh heck. Just click here!

Update: Castle Neophyte MCart (thanks, Barb!) proves you don't have to be a Denizen to have Good Stuff to contribute. Yanked up from the comments because it's a good story I hadn't heard before:

There are many incarnations of the B-17. For instance the prototype YB-40 saw actual combat. It was an attempt at providing long range escort for the bombers. P-38's were having cold weather mechanical problems with their Allison engines, and no other long range escort craft were forthcoming. Overall the program was considered a failure, but a interesting attempt none the less. They removed the bomb carrying capacity, added a chin and top turrets, dual .50 waist gunners, and armor plating for the crew. Unfortunately it couldn't keep up with the regular 17's after they had dropped their payloads.

One of them was involved in an interesting encounter. It bagged an Italian ace, Guido Rossi. In 1943 a P-38 ran out of fuel and ditched outside Sardinia. The pilot was overwhelmed by locals before he could use his pistol to ignite the tanks and burn the craft. Rossi had the clever idea of using the captured P-38 to kill wounded B-17's returning from bombing missions as stragglers. He bagged several bombers this way. One B-17 Pilot, Lt. Harold Fisher survived an attack, and had trouble convincing others that he was shot down by a 'friendly'.

Fisher was persistent and obtained command of a prototype YB-40 gunship, and flew several missions lagging behind the rest of the bombers trying to lure out the 'Phantom' P-38. As intelligence was gathered in Italy, they discovered Rossi and his captured '38 did indeed exist and had a wife in Constantine. Allies occupied this city, so when the nose art was applied to the YB-40, the artist used a photo of Rossi's wife, and named the gunship after her, 'Gina'.

Fisher flew a mission on August 31st that year, and was actually damaged in the bombing raid, so with two engines out, the YB-40 was even slower, and flew back completely solo. Sure enough, a P-38 approached, one engine feathered, and asked to join up for the trip back in very good english. Fisher almost fell for the same trap again. With the extra firepower of the friendly P-38 along, everything was being unloaded, guns, ammo, armor plate, anything to keep the YB-40 in the air. At this point Rossi came over the radio with an innocent question. "Gina, nice name. Your girl?" Fisher froze and ordered his men to keep their guns, and started baiting Rossi with details of his 'relationship' with Gina of Constantine.

Rossi became enraged, fired up the 'dead' engine, and circled around, intending to fire right through the nose, cockpit and the entire length of the YB-40. The '40 had an innovation that was later added to all B-17's, a chin turret. As Rossi came in, he faced down a total of 8 forward firing .50's. As the P-38 came apart Rossi even tried to ram the YB-40, but could not maintain flight. He ditched and was picked up by Allied pilot rescue and remained a prisoner for the remainder of the war.

Lt. Harold Fisher received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the encounter, and Major Fisher was killed during a crash in the Berlin Airlift. Former Lt. Guido Rossi attended his funeral out of respect.

I found a website with pics. Keep it up, MCart, you may find yourself on the Denizen roster... and the cancer in Shaitan-in-Redmond will grow deeeeper!

by John on May 03, 2005 | Aircraft

Another good justification for capital punishment

Oh, crap...

I've heard of only one thing worse than this. The even-more-heinous act was middle-of-the-night phone calls to Air Force wives whose husbands were flying in Vietnam, callers masquerading as USAF casualty notification officers telling them their husbands had been killed over Hanoi. That happened to our next-door neighbor. Even though she knew this was a harassment tactic by the anti-war crowd (probably parents of today's average Daily Kos denizen), she was momentarily panicked...and who can blame her?

Now, most of the ladies knew that this wasn't how the process worked and it sounds like today's family members are savvy enough to not fall for this sort of thing, but what kind of mind dreams this shite up?


May 02, 2005

Looking around the world today...

Feeling a little better, thought I would venture out.

First, via CAPT H - The Aussies stand Tall.

Second - some Cannoneer Zen, from West Point.

Moving on - Ry sent me a great picture, but rather than post it - I'm going to link to Neptunus Lex, where Ry found it - and you can follow Lex's link to Joatmoaf - for a great story about Convertible Tomcats.

CAPT H, trying to cheer me up, sent along three more wonderful Brit obituaries. John and I both were amused at how Wing Commander Briggs made his way into the Coldstream Guards. "Eh?" you say? *Wing Commander Briggs* of the Guards? That's why you need to read the obits!

Lastly from CAPT H comes this little bit - by someone who shares my view exactly of the Airbus 380 (and any American product Boeing chooses to develop to compete) and its impact on air travel. I said in this space before - shoveling more people into the aircraft for airports which are not structured to handle the throughput is *not* going to be an improvement for the traveler.

SWWBO wants some kewl bobbleheads... and while watching a CSPAN interview of Charles Krauthammer - discovered she was a Neocon. And took this quiz to prove it to herself. My, she's come a long way from being a Democratic Party Block Captain and Ward Boss...

Castle Philosopher Kat has been out tilting at Moonbats. She's being challenged by an atheist... and responding. Then, like that Academic Submariner at Unconsidered Trifles, she's been taking on Andy Bacevich and his meme of the New American Militarism. Yes, I have an opinion, but I've got to read the book, first!

Cassandra on "governing by poll" and her favorite (not) columnists!

Castle Proletarian Alan on Marx, Menshevic and Civic Republicism.

Punctilious looks, sez, "No thanks!"

Barb finds out she's, well, not quite what we'd expect!

Bad Cat Robot channels Shiva... She also questions how much Sapience resides in Homo Sapiens.

AFSister just stopped in for a Coke - but got a lesson in life.

Chief Contrarian Jack weighs in with subtlety. Extra credit if you don't have to think about it. He's also keeping an eye on the French and the upcoming vote on the EU constitution. (He lives in France). Jack thinks Chirac will probably pull it off.

To wrap up this Denizen(+) link-fest, we'll close with SGT B suffering a bout of empathy, and doing a little spotlighting....

May 01, 2005

Roadside Kansas

Still too much under the weather to wanna put a bunch of effort into posting (have caught up on sleep, however). Frequent photo contributor Larry K. sends this.

Roadside Kansas.

Hi-res? Click here.

by John on May 01, 2005 | Artillery