Category Archives: guns

Centennial of ANZAC Landings at Gallipoli

Today marks another significant centennial of the Great War.  (Yesterday marked the centenary of beginning of the Armenian Genocide.)  The ANZAC landings at Gallipoli took place on 25 April 1915.  It is a very special ANZAC Day.  From last year:

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Today is the 25th of April.  It is ANZAC Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landings of 31,000 men of The Australian Division, and the Australian-New Zealand Division (reinforced with two batteries of mountain guns) on the crescent-shaped portion of beach known as Ari Burnu, forever after known as Anzac Cove.

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The ANZAC landing began before dawn on 25 April 1915, and was initially unopposed,  By mid-morning, however, Turkish troops under LtCol Mustapha Kemal had reacted strongly and taken the landing beaches and the precariously shallow Dominion positions under rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire.  Unable to move forward, and hanging onto hillside rocks and scrapes, ANZAC Commander MajGen Sir William Birdwood asked to have the beach-head evacuated.

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The Royal Navy argued that such an evacuation, particularly under fire, was impractical.   So Birdwood was ordered to stay, with the advice given by General Sir Ian Hamilton to “dig, dig, dig!”.  It is from this message, many conclude, that the ANZACs became known as the “diggers”.    Despite herculean efforts and near-suicidal courage, including the tragically costly landings at Sulva Bay in August of 1915, the stalemate was never broken.  Unable to advance, with no evacuation possible, the ANZACs remained locked in their initial positions, enduring conditions even more horrendous than those on the Western Front, until finally pulled out as a part of the general evacuation of the Gallipoli Operation in December of 1915.

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ANZAC Day has become a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand war dead, but remains especially poignant for the nearly 13,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who gave their lives in the foothills of the Bari Sair Mountains, in the eight months of hell on Earth that was Anzac Cove.

At the going down of the sun,

and in the morning,

we will remember them.

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Filed under army, Artillery, engineering, guns, history, infantry, leadership, logistics, navy, Russia, ships, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

General Mattis Speaks to Veterans

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From remarks at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, April 16th, 2015:

Our country gives hope to millions around the world, and you – who knew that at one time your job was to fight well – kept that hope alive. By your service you made clear your choice about what kind of world we want for our children: The world of violent jihadist terrorists, or one defined by Abraham Lincoln when he advised us to listen to our better angels?

I searched for words to pay my respects to all of you here tonight and had to turn to others more articulate than I to convey what our service meant. Someone once said that America is like a bank: If you want to take something out, then you must be willing to put something in.

For the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – poorly explained and inconclusive wars, the first major wars since our Revolution fought without a draft forcing some men into the ranks – the question of what our service meant may loom large in your minds. You without doubt have put something into the nation’s moral bank.

Rest assured that by your service, you sent a necessary message to the world and especially to those maniacs who thought by hurting us that they could scare us.

No granite monuments, regardless of how grandly built, can take the place of your raw example of courage, when in your youth you answered your country’s call. When you looked past the hot political rhetoric. When you voluntarily left behind life’s well-lit avenues. When you signed that blank check to the American people payable with your lives. And, most important, when you made a full personal commitment even while, for over a dozen years, the country’s political leadership had difficulty defining our national level of commitment.

You built your own monument with a soldier’s faith, embracing an unlimited liability clause and showing America’s younger generation at its best when times were at their worst.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., arguably the most articulate justice in the Supreme Court’s history and himself a combat-experienced infantry officer in our awful Civil War, said: “As life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”

You, my fine veterans, are privileged that you will never face a judgment of having failed to live fully. For you young patriots were more concerned in living life fully than in your own longevity, freely facing daunting odds and the random nature of death and wounds on the battlefield.

So long as you maintain that same commitment to others and that same enthusiasm for life’s challenges that you felt in yourself, your shipmates, your comrades and buddies, you will never question at age 45 on a shrink’s couch whether you have lived.

Veterans know the difference between being in a dangerous combat zone and being in close combat, seeking out and killing the enemy. Close combat is tough. Much of the rest of war is boring if hard work. Yet nothing is mentally crippling about hard work in dangerous circumstances, as shown by generations of American veterans who came thankfully home as better men and women.

Close combat, however, is an “incommunicable experience” – again quoting Holmes. Then there was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Union general, who spoke of war’s effects, distinguishing the impact of close combat from military service in general. He said that such combat is “a test of character, it makes bad men worse and good men better.”

We are masters of our character, choosing what we will stand for in this life. Veterans today have had a unique privilege, that of having seen the tenacious spirit of our lads, like those young grunts preparing for a patrol by loosely wrapping tourniquets on their limbs so they could swiftly stop their own bleeding if their legs were blown off. Yet day after day they stoically patrolled. Adversity, we are told, reveals a man to himself, and young patriots coming home from such patrols are worth more than gold, for nothing they face can ever again be that tough.

Now, most of us lost friends, the best of friends, and we learned that war’s glory lay only in them – there is no other glory in warfare. They were friends who proved their manhood at age 18, before they could legally drink a beer. They were young men and women taking responsibility for their own actions, never playing the victim card. Rather, they took responsibility for their own reaction to adversity.

This was something that we once took for granted in ourselves and in our buddies, units where teenagers naturally stood tall, and we counted on each other. Yet it is a characteristic that can seem oddly vacant in our post-military society, where victimhood often seems to be celebrated. We found in the ranks that we were all coequal, general or private, admiral or seaman. We were equally committed to the mission and to one another, a thought captured by Gen. Robert E. Lee, saying his spirit bled each time one of his men fell.

Looking back over my own service, I realize now how fortunate I was to experience all this and the many riotous excursions I had when I was privileged to march or fight beside you. And a question comes to mind: What can I do to repay our country for the privilege of learning things that only you in this room could have taught me? For today I feel sorry for those who were not there with us when trouble loomed. I sometimes wonder how to embrace those who were not with us, those who were not so fortunate to discover what we were privileged to learn when we were receiving our Masters and Ph.D.s in how to live life, and gaining the understanding and appreciation of small things that we would otherwise have never known.

How do we embrace our fellow citizens who weren’t there? America is too large at heart for divisions between us. If we became keenly aware of anything at war, it was what is printed on our coins: “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many, one.

We veterans did our patriotic duty, nothing more, certainly nothing less, and we need to “come home” like veterans of all America’s wars. Come home stronger and more compassionate, not characterized as damaged, or with disorders, or with syndromes or other disease labels. Not labeled dependent on the government even as we take the lead in care of our grievously wounded comrades and hold our Gold Star families close. We deserve nothing more than a level playing field in America, for we endured nothing more, and often less, than vets of past wars.

For whatever trauma came with service in tough circumstances, we should take what we learned – take our post-traumatic growth – and, like past generations coming home, bring our sharpened strengths to bear, bring our attitude of gratitude to bear. And, most important, we should deny cynicism a role in our view of the world.

We know that in tough times cynicism is just another way to give up, and in the military we consider cynicism or giving up simply as forms of cowardice. No matter how bad any situation, cynicism has no positive impact. Watching the news, you might notice that cynicism and victimhood often seem to go hand-in-hand, but not for veterans. People who have faced no harsh trials seem to fall into that mode, unaware of what it indicates when taking refuge from responsibility for their actions. This is an area where your example can help our society rediscover its courage and its optimism.

We also learned the pleasure of exceeding expectations. We saw the power we brought when working together as a team. We learned alongside one another, in teams where admired leadership built teamwork, where free men and women could change the world.

Now having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world and having worked with others of many cultures, having worked in one of the most diverse teams on earth – that of the U.S. military – and having faced down grim circumstances without losing our sense of humor or moral balance under conditions where war’s realities scrape away civilization’s veneer, we have learned that nothing can stop our spirit unless we ignore Lincoln’s call to our better angels.

American colleges and businesses know your pedigree for commitment, reliability and loyalty. This is why so many corporations and startups aggressively recruit veterans. As San Francisco-based Uber sums it up: Veterans deliver higher value. Bellwether companies like Microsoft, Uber, Starbucks and more act on that premise.

I will close with words again borrowed from others.

From Alexander Dumas: You should be satisfied with the way you have conducted yourselves, “with no remorse for the past, confident regarding the present and full of hope for the future.” When you retire to bed you should sleep “the sleep of the brave.”

If Jackie Robinson, a sparkling ballplayer and veteran of World War II, could write his own epitaph on leadership by saying “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” then you who are fortunate to have learned so much living in the greatest country on earth while making an impact so young – you should recognize that our country needs your vigor and wisdom. It was gained at great cost to our comrades and to our Gold Star families, who need to see their sons’ spirits live on in your enthusiasm for life.

I am reminded of Gen. William Sherman’s words when bidding farewell to his army in 1865: “As in war you have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make good citizens.”

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Filed under Defense, guns, history, leadership, SIR!, veterans, war

Muslims Murdering Christians in Kenya

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Or, as this Administration would couch it, this is either another tragic college campus shooting that highlights the need for stricter gun laws, or just some folks shooting at other folks, in which no one religion is responsible.   NBC News has the story.

Al Shabab, an al Qaeda-linked terror group based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack. Sheik Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman, said many Christians were being held by the militants. “We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” he told Reuters.

Witnesses corroborated the Al-Shabab claims:

When the gunmen arrived at his dorm he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians. “If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” Wetangula told The Associated Press. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

Prayers for the lives of the Christians who are hostages to these muhammedan monsters.  And for the souls who died because of their faith.  It is likely too late to pray that our Islamist sympathizer of a Chief Executive would have a pang of conscience about the massacres perpetrated by the radical Islamists whom he refuses to name as America’s enemies.   Reverend Wright got his wish.  God did damn America, with lazy, media-brainwashed voters who twice elected the empty-suit charlatan whose “hope and change” has eroded liberty, alienated our allies, and emboldened our enemies.

By all means, however, let’s avoid calling these filthy animals what they are.  Let’s instead make a deal with Iran to facilitate their nuclear weapons efforts.   Understanding that some things are not negotiable.

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Filed under army, Around the web, Defense, guns, history, islam, nuclear weapons, obama, Politics, stupid, terrorism, Uncategorized, war, weapons

LOVE Day, 1 April 1945

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Seventy years ago today was an Easter Sunday.  On 1 April 1945, elements of the United States 10th Army, under General Simon B. Buckner, landed on the island of Okinawa.  The landings were almost unopposed, but the 110,000 Japanese defenders soon resisted with the savagery and skill familiar to every US combat leader in the Pacific.  Half a million US troops would come ashore in Operation ICEBERG, beginning 82 days of brutal, unrelenting combat for the island.   When the battle was finished, General Buckner and one other US General were dead, along with nearly 100,000 of the island’s defenders, and 13,000 US soldiers, sailors, and Marines.  (Near the end of the battle, US Marine MajGen Roy Geiger would temporarily command US 10th Army after the death of General Buckner, until Joe Stillwell’s arrival.)

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The Japanese had fought furiously, employing in massive waves the kamikaze tactics against the invasion fleet that were first revealed off Leyte.  Among the US killed were 4,900 sailors, as the US Navy lost 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged by the suicide onslaught.   One in three Japanese civilians were killed or committed suicide in the fighting, nearly 150,000 in total.  The battle, which ended with the island being declared secure on 22 June, was a terrifying harbinger of what the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would be.

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The “Saipan ratio” used to compute casualty estimates for the invasion of Japan, was proven a dramatic underestimation by US casualties on Okinawa, which were almost four times the earlier calculations.  In addition, Allied intelligence of Japanese air strength on Formosa (within range to help defend Okinawa) had pegged the number of operational aircraft at under one hundred.  There was, in fact, eight times that figure, as the US and British Naval forces would discover to their dismay.  Okinawa (and Iwo Jima) weighed heavily in the decision to employ atomic weapons against Japan as an alternative to invasion.  With what occupation forces found on the Home Islands, the men destined for the invasions Honshu and Kyushu likely breathed a great collective sigh of relief.

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Farewell, Concrete Charlie

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Sad news out of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.  NFL great Chuck Bednarik has passed away at age 89.  Bednarik was the last of the “60 minute” players, starring at both center of offense, and middle linebacker on defense, for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-1962.  He played on the 1950 and 1960 championship teams, and was known as a fearsome tackler.  Nicknamed “Concrete Charlie” for both his tooth-jarring hits and his off-season job selling cement (imagine an NFL player today having to work?), Bednarik most famously crushed the New York Giants’ Frank Gifford with a clean hit, knocking him out of football for a year and a half.

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Here’s a little treat where another tough guy, Sam Huff, and Bednarik, talk about the play, courtesy of NFL Films:

He also made the game-saving tackle of the Packers’ Jimmy Taylor on the final play of the 1960 NFL Championship game.  When Bednarik retired in 1962, he had his number 60 retired, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

Chuck Bednarik grew up as a son of Slovakian immigrants, who worked in the Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem PA.  He starred at Penn, where he also played both ways, and even punted on occasion.  He was a three-time All-America, and was drafted Number 1 overall by Philadelphia in the 1949 NFL draft.  He was incredibly durable.  Despite being on the field for nearly every play of every game, Bednarik only missed three games in fourteen seasons.  His fingers became almost famous, as well, pointing in all directions because of injury during his college and pro career.

Bednarik fingers

For his part, Bednarik did not think much of the modern game, believing players pampered and out of shape.  He lamented that nobody played both ways any longer, and that “specialists” who substituted on certain downs and situations showed how over-coached and under-skilled the game had become.

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Chuck Bednarik was also a decorated Veteran of World War II.  He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces upon graduating High School in 1943, and flew thirty missions as a waist gunner in a B-24 with the 8th Air Force over Germany, earning three Air Medals and four battle stars.  He was a legend, an icon, the prototypical American tough guy.  His like will not come along again.  Ever.  He will be missed by those who know the value of such men.

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Filed under Air Force, army, Around the web, Defense, guns, history

155mm Direct Fire

Well, here’s a pretty pic. I think I heard URR squee all the way across the country.

#USArmy Soldiers, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Iron Brigade), fire a M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer at Udari Range Complex, Camp Buehring, Kuwait Mar. 12, 2015.
U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Gene Palka

The M109 is, of course, primarily an indirect fire weapon, used to support the direct fires of maneuver forces. On occasion, however, they might be called upon to deliver direct fires. That’s usually  a very bad thing, having to fight for the guns, as it were.

As such, it certainly makes sense to train for it from time to time. Plus, it’s fun to watch big shells go boom at a relatively close range.

The US doesn’t issue anti-tank rounds for its howitzers, but the Soviets did. Typically, two or three HEAT rounds would be included in the basic load of a Soviet howitzer.

The rule of thumb for HEAT round penetration is diameter of the round, multiplied by six, is the rough equivalent in RHA. So a six inch (152mm)  round should have a penetration of about 36″ of RHA. Not many tanks can handle that.
Of course, direct fire in a howitzer is pretty short. Like, around 1000m. Tanks have a somewhat longer effective range.

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Those Who Know, Know… Part 2

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I almost spit out my coffee.  Carol is awesome.  Just awesome.  These days, she makes Shane look like Stuart Smalley.

H/T to Boston Maggie via Twiddah.

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Filed under Around the web, Defense, girls, guns, Humor, leadership, Personal, recruiting, Uncategorized, weapons