Author Archives: xbradtc

About xbradtc

Kicking poon and taking names since March 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear readers. I’ve so very much to be thankful for, this year, as so many years before.  And much like my turkey, I’m about to get stuffed!

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Filed under army, history

Thanksgiving dinner in the field

The Army has traditionally gone to somewhat great lengths to try to ensure every soldier has a traditional Thanksgiving dinner whether at home station, or deployed to war. And for the most part, they succeed. I’m sure every career helicopter pilot has a tale of flying a mermite can of turkey and dressing to some remote hilltop.

At any given time, there are bound to be some detachments of soldiers in isolated areas where regularly supplying them with hot meals is a logistical challenge. At the same time, the size of the detachment is too small to justify sending a cook and kitchen forward to feed them.

And so, the bright minds at the Army’s Natick Laboratory came up with the Unitized Group Ration- Express. We’ll talk more about the family of UGRs later. But for now, we’ll focus on the Express.

Most of you are already familiar with the self heating pouch supplied with an MRE to warm that ration. The UGR-E takes that idea to another level. The UGR comes in a box, with all the food, compartmented trays, utensils and condiments needed for the meal. Even better, it’s self heating. Pull  a tab and the same technology that heats an MRE will heat the UGR-E. Each ration is a complete meal for 18 troops.  Here’s a typical breakfast menu:


And here’s a typical dinner menu:


There’s also a special issue holiday meal specifically for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Designed to be grunt proof, and not needing any food service specialist support, the UGR-E means troops won’t have to subsist solely on MREs for extended periods of time even when situated far from their parent unit.

There’s a good chance that Thanksgiving dinner for some remote Combat Outpost in Afghanistan will come from a box. I’ll remember that when I’m struggling with roasting my turkey.



Ebola isolation at US base ‘pretty much vacation’ – U.S. – Stripes

HAMPTON, Virginia — With plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.

The Defense Department is requiring military service members to undergo 21 days of isolation and monitoring as a precaution, but that doesn’t mean the troops are sitting in a hospital or even just one building. At Langley Air Force Base, one of five U.S. bases designated to house returning service members for monitoring, a wooded section of the base near the runway has been turned into a small village.

via Ebola isolation at US base ‘pretty much vacation’ – U.S. – Stripes.

I hope no one saw the Duffel Blog’s piece saying the 21 days would be charged as leave.  :)

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The Armored Multipurpose Vehicle

The M113 entered service as the primary Armored Personnel Carrier for mechanized infantry formations around 1960. It also quickly became clear that its fundamentally sound design would be useful for many, many other roles, either in specialized variants or just for general usage. For instance, there are ambulance variants, and command post variants. The M113 was replaced as the prime carrier of the mechanized infantry by the M2 Bradley beginning in the early 1980s, but the M113 still soldiers on in these support roles. In fact, in the Armored Brigade Combat Team of today, there are more M113 variants in use than there are tanks or Bradleys.

M1064 120mm Mortar Carrier based on the M113A3 chassis

But even though the upgrade of the fleet to the current M113A3 standard greatly improved the mobility of the carrier, it is rapidly becoming clear that the power, speed, cross country mobility, and ability to support command and control systems has reached the practical limit. It is time for a replacement vehicle.

The Army sees a need for roughly 3000 new vehicles. They want a new general purpose carrier, a mortar carrier, an ambulance, a command post, and a couple other versions.

What the Army doesn’t want is a clean sheet design, leading to a long, drawn out development program. The Army’s Future Combat System and Ground Combat Vehicle programs were disasters, costing billions of dollars in development, but not leading to any actual production contracts.

In fact, the Army knows exactly what it wants. It wants the basic hull and machinery of the Bradley, minus the turret.  A simple armored box, into which the appropriate mission equipment can be mounted. This stuff isn’t rocket science. In fact BAE Systems, the maker of the Bradley, has been trying to sell the Army various Bradley derivatives for years. And the basic Bradley chassis is quite sound, also serving as the basis for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. Further, Bradley suspension and powertrain components were used to upgrade the AAV-7A1 Amtrac fleet, and are upgrading the M109A6 Paladin Integrated Product improved self propelled 155mm howitzer. Sharing that basic platform eases the supply and logistics train.

Of course, the DoD acquisition system is a nightmare. The Army can’t just pick up the phone and order what they want from BAE. They instead have to go through the internal acquisition process justifying the need for an M113 replacement, which takes time, manpower and money to realize something that everyone already knows. Then comes the fact that, when you start talking about spending a couple billion dollars, you have to take bids for contracts. So the Army published a Request For Proposals, or RFP. And in spite of very narrowly tailoring the RFP to pretty much say “we want to buy turretless Bradleys from BAE” the Army still ran into some trouble. General Dynamics, makers of the Stryker family of vehicles, protested to the Army that the RFP unfairly excluded Stryker variants from the competition. And they do have at least some point. At least one heavy BCT deployed to Iraq with Stryker ambulances in place of its M113 ambulances. But while a Stryker ambulance might have been suitable for Iraq, the Army can very easily see scenarios where such an ambulance would not be able to keep pace with tanks and Bradleys. That’s the whole point why it wants turretless Bradley vehicles.

General Dynamics has recently decided it won’t tie up the issue with a protest to the GAO (which would tie the program in knots for years). Instead, it will likely lean on friendly representatives in Congress to at least give them some small slice of the pie in future budgets. After all, the Army may want turretless Bradleys, but it can only buy what Congress tells it to.

Here’s the original “industry day” flyer on what the AMPV objectives were.



Filed under armor, army

Post World War II Amphibious Operations. BJ Armstrong on the evolution of vertical enevelopment.

I’m not an outside the box thinker. I’m very much a color inside the lines guy. On the other hand, I used to be pretty damn good at knowing exactly what was in the box. Hours and hours pouring over various field and technical manuals and regulations taught me that very few problems I would face in the Army hadn’t been addressed at some previous point, and usually by someone a good deal smarter and more experienced than myself.

On the other hand, sometimes, there are truly game-changing events, and organizations need to blaze new trails to address  them. BJ Armstrong, author of 21 Century Mahan, spoke recently at the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum. Here he looks at the challenge to amphibious warfare in the post World War II environment, and how the Marines, both as individuals, and as an organization, actively sought innovation to address the threat of nuclear warfare.

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Filed under marines

BRILLIANT! I-594 Requires Background Checks For Nail Guns, Flare Guns – Bearing Arms

Will Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s, Cabela’s and countless other sporting goods and hardware stores, as well as construction companies in Washington and even the state Department of Transportation, comply with Initiative 594 when it becomes law, and will this state’s prosecuting attorneys prosecute those who don’t?

via BRILLIANT! I-594 Requires Background Checks For Nail Guns, Flare Guns – Bearing Arms.

“Here, hold this for a second” is, by law in Washington, cause for a transfer and background check.

Bad laws make criminals of innocent men.

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Are you Koalafied?

Sergeants do not punish their soldiers for their misdeeds. Punishment is a specific term for the penalties awarded either through Non Judicial Punishment (by ones commander) or via a court martial.

Instead, Sergeants motivate, correct, instill a sense of discipline, alacrity, and attention to detail. They make on the spot corrections, and they provide corrective training, and extra military training to bring their soldiers up to the expected standards of behavior and performance.

Now, how they do that… can be sometimes somewhat creative.


And yes, I’ve both had my troops do this, and done it more than once myself.