Category Archives: army

The Army is looking to replace its Mike boats.

You do know the Army still operates a fleet of about 38 LCM-8 class medium landing craft? Well, they do. And they’ve been in service almost as long as I’ve been alive. They were intended to have a service life of 25 years, and retire in 1992. Yet they’re still plugging along. They’ve only marginally improved over the LCMs of World War II.

DoDBuzz tells us the Army is looking to buy a replacement for them as the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light).

As it rethinks its global posture for a possible shift to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army wants to buy a new fleet of small boats and upgrade existing watercraft, an official said.

The land force and largest branch of the U.S. military has more than 100 vessels in its inventory — including the Cold War-era Landing Craft Mechanized-8 “Mike” boat, as well as the larger Logistics Support Vessel, LSV, and Landing Craft Utility, or LCU-2000 — to support combat and humanitarian missions.

The Army is gearing up to solicit proposals to replace the so-called Mike boats as part of a new acquisition program to buy three dozen craft called the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light), or MSV(L), according to Scott Davis, who heads the service’s Combat Support and Combat Service Support office in Warren, Michigan.

I took a look at the RFI, and it’s pretty damn ambitious. MushDogs? You’re our small craft expert. What say you?

What’s interesting is that, while the Army has almost exclusively used its landing craft in a lighterage and intratheater transport role, the RFI envisions using the MSV(L) additionally as a maneuver asset for Brigade Combat Teams in the littoral or inland waterways. That’s not quite poaching on the Marines forcible entry/over the shore assault role, but I’m pretty sure it is something a BCT staff hasn’t planned for a while.

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‘Jeopardy’ As a Contact Sport

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Our dear friend Boston Maggie damn near made me spit coffee this morning with her outrage at the ignorance of the contestants.   She is all about the Revolutionary War, having lived most of her life amidst the historical geography of Boston.   So when she gets the category of “American Revolutionaries” she is guaranteed to be all but crawling through the television screen.   Of course, she calls it “Jeppidy”, but she excels at it.  No surprise, with her quick wit and impressive intellect.  Mixed with the educational boot camp of Catholic school.

And she is, of course, correct.  Jeppidy contestants are sposta be smaaaahht.  Smart enough to know George Washington wasn’t in the Navy, for cryin’ out loud.

But what happens when the category is “Civil War”?   Or “Mayberry”?    “Who is….  Mayor Pike”?

This is Johnny Gilbert speaking….

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Panetta Jumps Ship

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Former SECDEF and CIA Director Leon Panetta has released an excerpt from his memoirs, Worthy Fights, in which he lays out precisely what nearly everyone who paid any attention at all (to someone other than Chris Matthews, at least) in the last four years knew to be true.  Obama cut and ran from Iraq for domestic political reasons.  The WAPO, of all places, has the story.

(Michele) Flournoy argued our case, and those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.

Barack Obama threw away a victory paid for with the blood of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.  He did so with the cavalier disregard of someone discarding old socks.   Obama rendered the blood and sacrifice of our service men and women moot.   Watching ISIS roll over Anbar Province, taking control of places whose names evoke such strong emotion in those who were there, Ramadi and Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit, engendered in me a seething anger that has not really dissipated.   Anger at Barack Hussein Obama for his dereliction of duty, and for the Useful Idiots who believed his far-fetched fabrications, and who yet refuse to place responsibility for ISIS and Iraq’s current troubles on the man whose blithe and egregious neglect of his responsibilities brought on precisely what he was warned about.  It must be akin to a Vietnam Veteran watching the fall of Saigon.

Maybe it was Leon Panetta’s time in uniform (He was a United States Army Intelligence Officer) that would not allow him to ignore the despicable falsehoods perpetrated by his boss, especially when he knew the price that had been paid for the gains Obama was throwing away.  Whichever, Panetta puts paid to the lies of this Administration regarding ISIS and his headlong skedaddle from Iraq.  Panetta goes further.

To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country.

Barack Obama has not told the truth about a single act or decision he has made.  His is the most malignant, corrosive, dishonest, and damaging presidency in the history of our nation.   The blood of the mass murders committed daily in Iraq is largely on his hands.  Not that he cares.  He got re-elected.  Much to this great nation’s detriment.

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world.”     – Ayn Rand

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Salvage

An interesting and informative look at the truly herculean effort sometimes overlooked in the epic that was World War II.

Salvaging and reclaiming tanks and vehicles destroyed in combat was sometimes a disturbingly gruesome task, as the late Belton Cooper wrote so eloquently about.   But the salvage effort was truly impressive, and saved the cost of manufacture, transport, and time to supply the gigantic American arsenal in Europe and the Pacific with the spare parts needed to keep fighting.

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Is the Bradley due for upgunning?

Developed in the 1960s and 1970s, and entering service in the 1980s, the M2/M3 Bradley series of fighting vehicles was designed to counter first generation Soviet BMP and BTR series vehicles. As such, the Army equipped it with the 25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun. The M242 performed very well against Russian and Chinese built armored vehicles in Desert Storm, and later in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But the threat is not static. More and more, infantry carriers and other armored vehicles are getting bigger and bigger, and carrying more and more armor. And small anti-tank missile teams are employing longer ranged missiles. The armor piercing ammunition for the M242 has been improved, but there is little room for growth. To achieve more armor penetration, the Bradley will simply need a larger gun. And to that end, the Army is experimenting with a 30mm autocannon.

The 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II gun isn’t new. It’s been around in various forms for almost as long as its little 25mm brother. It was intended to be the main armament of the cancelled Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. And it is mounted as secondary armament on the Navy’s LCS and LPD-17 ships. Various foreign powers have evaluated or adopted it. So adapting it to the Bradley would seem to be a simple matter.

But it isn’t quite that simple.

The Bradley was designed with the smaller 25mm in mind. The size of the gun here wasn’t so important. The gun and its mount are in the gunhouse portion of the turret, above the hull of the vehicle proper. The size of the gunhouse itself wasn’t critical.

But the ammunition cans for the gun are stored inside the turret basket. That’s the part of the turret, the ammo system, turret drives, and support that extends down inside the vehicle, and rotates on a roller path on the bottom of the hull.  And the turret basket size, essentially its diameter, went far to fixing the exact size of the Bradley.

You can simply put a new turret on the Bradley, with the same size turret basket. The 30mm round isn’t that much larger than the 25mm. 25mm ammo is 13.7 centimeters long. The Bushmaster II 30mm ammo is 17.3cm long.

But that extra inch or so of length cuts into the crew space of the Bradley. Already fairly cramped when designed, the turret crew space has further been crowded by installation of additional electronics, fire control, and networking equipment. An inch doesn’t seem much, but even my relatively small 5’10” frame, when seated in the commanders seat, had my knees in uncomfortable contact with the ammunition cans.

We’ll see if the Army decides to pay to upgrade the Bradley, search instead for a whole new vehicle, or just continue to move along with what we have and hope for the best.

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TDB: Chinese Hacker Complains About ‘Perverted’ American Military

Oh good Lordy.  From our laugh-till-you-cry funny friends at The Duffel Blog.

BEIJING, China — According to Chinese news agencies, the head of a People’s Liberation Army unit of military hackers is planning to file a formal complaint today with the United States Department of Defense after a number of what were called “disturbing” conversations with “American military perverts.”

Senior Colonel Bo Wang of the People’s Glorious Facebook Battalion is one of thousands of Chinese military personnel who spend all-day attempting to infiltrate the social media profiles of US military and intelligence personnel with fake accounts.

Once a target is identified, the hacker will create a false profile, usually of an attractive member of the opposite sex, and ‘friend’ the target.  Over time, a successful hacker can friend almost an entire unit and learn valuable information about military or intelligence plans.

The problem, as Colonel Wang soon found out, is that the majority of his targets are young American servicemen, most of whom only agree to friend requests because they expect sexual favors at some point.

The rest is definitely not safe for work.  Or most anything else.  But jee-ZUS is it funny!

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Counterbattery!

We’re used to seeing clips and stories of artillery pummeling enemy fortifications or troops. Goodness knows we’ve shown more than a few ourselves.

But one of the major roles of artillery is attacking an enemy’s artillery. This counter artillery role is known as counterbattery (even when engaging formations larger than a battery).

In the days of the American Civil War, counterbattery was directed visually. But in the era of breechloaded guns with smokeless powder and explosive shells firing from over the horizon, locating enemy batteries was infinitely more difficult.

Forward observers could spot some mortar and light artillery batteries. And there were acoustical detection devices. In fact, from about 1916 well into the 1950s, sound location, or MASINT (Measure And Signature INTelligence)  was the primary means of locating enemy firing batteries. By measuring the difference in the Time of Arrival (TOA) of a gun blast along a baseline of sensors, the enemy location could be triangulated. Similarly, lines of bearing from multiple points could point to an enemy battery. Calculating the firing point could take as little as three minutes.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of World War II, the US Army was just staring to explore the possibilities of using radar to control anti-aircraft fire. The first Army radars operated with frequencies in the meter range. That was relatively adequate for long range search, but for precise control of gunfire, it was rather disappointing. When the British shared the discovery of the cavity magnetron, the US was able to very quickly develop centimetric wavelength radars. One in particular, the SCR-584, was extremely effective. Not only was it very precise, it was quite versatile as well. It could act as a search radar out to respectable ranges, as much as 35 miles. Incredibly, given the infancy of radar development, it was capable of automatically tracking targets within about 18 miles.

The SCR-584 was so fundamentally sound, during the development of the M1 90mm Anti-Aircraft gun it was intended to work with, the radar was used to confirm the ballistic profiles of the shells fired from the gun. Ballistic tables were normally devised by computers- that is, hundreds of women with slide rules- mathematically. By confirming the calculations with empirical observation provided by the SCR-584, the complete tables were validated more quickly than normally possible. That is, the 584 was precise enough to track a 90mm shell in flight. By measuring the range and angle from the mount to the shell over a handful of times during the flight of the shell, the ballistic parabola could be derived.

It didn’t take long for some bright operators to realized that if you could determine the ballistics of an outgoing shell, you could also determine the ballistics of an incoming shell. And with a map and a little math, you could plot the parabola back to its point of origin, that is, the enemy firing battery.

Having discovered that radars could be used to track artillery fire, it wasn’t long before the service sought out a radar optimized for the mission. Nor was the US Army the only force to develop a dedicated counterbattery radar. Today, almost every army has at least some counterbattery radar capability.

For the past 30 years or so, the US Army and Marines have fielded the TPQ-36 and TPQ-37 Firefinder radars in the Target Acquisition Batteries of their artillery units. Recently, the Army has also fielded the TPQ-46 Lighweight Counter Mortar Radar. While the Q-46 does calculate the firing point of enemy radars, it’s primarily used to warn troops of incoming mortar and rocket fire. It can also cue the Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar (C-RAM) system to intercept mortar rounds.

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