Category Archives: history

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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Filed under army, history

September 1st, 1939

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Much rightful attention will be paid to the events of the First World War as we mark the centennial of the events of the “War to End All Wars”. 

Not to be lost in those observances of the Great War is tomorrow begins the marking of the 75th anniversaries of the events of the Second World War.  It was seventy-five years ago tomorrow, September 1st 1939, that the Wehrmacht of Hitler’s Third Reich crossed the Polish border and unleashed the savagery and bloodshed of that global conflagration. 

A great deal of what is in the news today can lead one to believe that the world is literally going to hell.  Perhaps it is, but the last century shows us that it has been there before.  Imagine in 1939 being a man or woman in your early 40s, who experienced the war of 1914-18, lost family and loved ones, perhaps your home and possessions, only to see war again come to your land and your people.  Again, for the second time in your short life, you may send a loved one (a son, or a husband) to war. Millions of men who fought in the Second World War had done so in the First.  Even without yet more personal participation as a soldier, the horrors of war were again manifest in the lives of hundreds of millions of souls, many of whom would perish before the uneasy peace ended the carnage. 

In 1914, the world was plunged accidentally into a bloodletting that spiraled out of control, by incompetent and irresponsible leaders in the nations of Europe.   In 1939, the world was again plunged into bloodletting, this time deliberately so by monsters who spewed their hatred and made no secret of their plans for conquest and subjugation.  Following a half a decade of weakness and appeasement from the Western democracies, whose desperation to avoid war only fueled the appetite of the dictator.

There are lessons aplenty from 1914, and many more from 1939.   Which are most applicable to 2014?  As the storm clouds gathered in the late 1930s, the words of Berthold Brecht must have echoed forlornly across the great cities of Europe.

Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

If one listens to the cries of “death to the Jews” in the Muslim protests all over Europe, and watches the death squads murder thousands in Iraq, those words should echo still. 

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Filed under army, guns, history, infantry, Politics, veterans, war

Maybe She Should Just Burn Them…

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Seems the intolerant intellectual fascism of the American Far-Left remains in full flower.  Erica Payne, the vulgar uber-“liberal” progressive strumpet whose Agenda Project is yet another conduit for mega-wealthy leftists to disparage anyone who deigns to disagree with them, has decided that the way to combat Paul Ryan’s legal free expression is through vandalism.

Erica Payne, founder and president of the left-wing Agenda Project, is encouraging people to deface the cover of Paul Ryan’s new book, which is hitting shelves today.

Not a new paradigm, to be sure.  

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Erica Payne provides a representative sample of the extreme prejudice and closed-minded intolerance of a bankrupt intellectual philosophy.  Disagreement with the far-left ideology will not only be brutally suppressed, but those who espouse such heresy will be flagged as threats.  This should come as a surprise to nobody, not after the machinations of the IRS and other government entities, including the race-mongering Justice Department, now in the sway of the most malignant administration in the history of our Republic.  

Time was, books would be burned, instead of merely vandalized.  But that probably involves a carbon footprint which will accelerate Global Warming.  (No estimate on the environmental impact of burning the homes of Global Warming skeptics.)  So the Erica Paynes of the world will have to settle for defacing private property in lieu of providing cogent counter-argument.  Which demonstrates just how illiberal those who consider themselves the most “liberal” truly are.   

Perhaps instead of the coarsely vulgar slogan adopted to disparage the Tea Party, Ms. Payne’s Agenda Project could find a more appropriate one.  Sieg Heil comes to mind.  

 

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Filed under Around the web, history, obama, Personal, Politics, Uncategorized

So what are you reading?

I just finished “The Weed Agency” by National Review’s Jim Geraghty. It’s the 30-year story of a fictional agency created by Jimmy Carter and the true attempts over the years to cut spending. Sure, the Democrats are tax-and-spend, but the Republicans are only too willing to blink first in the budget battles. While it’s a little frustrating to read, knowing there’s billions of dollars wasted in the federal gov’t, there’s enough funny bits to keep you turning the pages.

The part that hit home for me was the young go-get-‘em employees bogged down in red tape and “It’s not my idea, so I don’t like it” attitudes, especially the part about setting up a website. My group set up its own website in the 90’s to show off our unique capabilities and try to bring in outside business. This was soon followed by, “You can’t do that, we need all our websites to look the same.” Okay, uniform website coming up. This was followed by, “You can’t do that, it’s not 508 compliant.” Okay, we did that. Next was, “You can’t do that, it’s technical information, and that has to be cleared the same as papers and presentations.” Okay, we filled out the forms and sent them up the management chain. We have to do this every time before we can change the website? Okay. Finally, the spambots and hackers found us, so we said screw this and took it down. Somewhere in there, our secretary went through months of training to learn how to code HTML. She thought web designer skills would be the fast track for a raise. They contracted out the official webpage support.

Next in the reading queue is “The Girls of Atomic City” by Denise Kiernan. I picked this up when I was in Oak Ridge earlier this month.

So what are you reading?

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Filed under history, Humor, Politics

A Lesson in Information Humiliation

Seems the vaunted cyber-warriors at US CYBERCOM were matched up recently against some US military reservists whose civilian jobs centered around IT security.   The outcome, the UK’s Register reports, was decidedly grim for the DoD’s concept of a “cyber” command.

“The active-duty team didn’t even know how they’d been attacked. They were pretty much obliterated,” said one Capitol Hill staffer who attended, Navy Times reports.

Bear in mind that the opposing force to CYBERCOM did not consist of true hackers, but IT security people.  The best of those IT security professionals will readily admit that the bad guys, the black hats and hackers, are way ahead of them in the ability to penetrate networks, exploit operating systems, and do so with very little chance of detection and virtually none of attribution.

DoD and the respective services are quick to point to someone or some group and label them “cyber experts”, when in reality those people may merely have some insights into network operations or limited experience with network security.  In actuality, while those people may know considerably more than the average person, their depth and breadth of knowledge is woefully inadequate for even the very basics of what DoD claims it can do in what it euphemistically calls the “cyber domain”.

Retired Marine General Arnie Punaro, commenting as a member of the Reserve Policy Board, had a salient observation:

“It defies common sense to think that industry, in particular our high-tech industries, are not moving at light speed compared to the way government works.”

While Punaro was commenting about the 80/20 active duty/reserve mix in these “cyber” units, he is also seemingly laboring under some illusions about the ability of the US Military to recruit “cyber warriors”.  The kinds of people who will stay up all night eating pizza and smoking grass, pulling apart this or that operating code just for the fun of it, are largely not the types of people whose sense of patriotic duty will put them on the yellow footprints at Parris Island, or have them running PT with a shaved head at 0600 while drawing meager pay and having to field day the barracks every Thursday.  They are a free-spirited counterculture which often operates on both sides of the line of legality.

And those are just the “script kiddies”, whose motivations are often driven by some sense of social cause and are far less sinister than some.  From those groups come those who are hired by some very bad people, nation-state and non-state actors, who mix the technical knowledge of the kiddies they hire (or develop indigenously) with a considerable knowledge of the targeted network(s) and their importance to critical infrastructure which is central to America’s industrialized and automated society. It is  among that latter mix from which our most serious security threats emerge.

The concept of “information dominance”, so cavalierly and arrogantly thrown about, is a thoroughly bankrupt one.  The whispered assurances that “Fort Meade knows all” when it comes to network security and the ability to conduct what we used to call “offensive cyber” are so much wishful thinking.  The adversaries, the dangerous ones, are way ahead of them.   Read any report written by McAfee or other security firm in the last five years and the tale is always the same.  Network exploits and the hemorrhaging of sensitive information have often been ongoing for YEARS before a breach is even detected.  And, without exception, attribution in any meaningful way has proven impossible.

DoD is way behind the eight-ball in all things “cyber”, including a realistic understanding of the problem set.  Some F-16 pilot does not become a “cyber expert” in a ten-month IT course.  He becomes just dangerous enough to overplay his hand.  The depth of technical knowledge required for such expertise is years and decades in the making.  We would be off to a good start in recognizing such.

I will finish with a football analogy.  When you have just scrimmaged a freshman team and lost 63-0, you have a very long way to go before you are ready to play your conference schedule.

Oh, and you FOGOs who might vehemently disagree with what I wrote above?   You may be doing so on a computer that is jump number 384,262 in a 600,000-machine bot-net that will shortly be bombarding the US State Department with hostile packets, or displaying “Free Julian Assange” on a Pentagon website.

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Filed under Air Force, army, Around the web, China, Defense, history, marines, navy, recruiting, space, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

Where’s Preston Brooks When You Need Him?

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Apparently, Nancy Pelosi forgot that the Dems controlled both houses of Congress for four years, and the White House along with it for two of them.  And when Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino pointed that out in regards to the border crisis, Pelosi actually walked across the aisle to scold him.

A Pelosi staffer told us Nancy accepted Marino’s apology.  But Marino’s people said no such apology was given, and Marino had this to say via “twiddah”:

“Rep. Pelosi called me an ‘insignificant person’ on the Floor of the House. I’ll ponder that for a while driving to Williamsport tonight. Of course I’ll be driving myself, with no staff or security. And I’m just a country lawyer who worked in a bakery until he was 30,” he said in three separate tweets.

Of course, Minority Leader Pelosi seems to be mostly polystyrene these days.  So maybe going all “1856” on her wouldn’t do much.  Also, Brooks was a Democrat like Pelosi, the party of slavery and segregation, Dixiecrats and discrimination.  So maybe Pelosi would be Brooks and Marino would be Sumner.

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Filed under Around the web, girls, history, Humor, Uncategorized, weapons

…The More They Stay The Same.

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Brad’s excellent piece about the weak-minded simps on the far-left being anti-Israel, and openly sympathetic to Hamas, can be corroborated around most any college campus on either coast.  Leftist Progressive “intellectuals” of all ages rail against Israel and the Jews so vehemently that it would make Julius Streicher blush.  They are too dogmatic and stupid to figure out that Hamas would perpetrate on Israeli men, women, and children precisely what ISIS did this week, when it massacred some 1,500 young Iraqi men (filming much of it) in scenes reminiscent of SS Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front.  All Hamas lacks is the means.  Which leftists in this country (which include Mssrs Kerry and Obama) seem ever so willing to give them.  To those who would recoil at such a comparison, I would ask, just what do you think “destruction of the Zionist Jews” means?   Hamas is also supported wholeheartedly with weapons and money (so much the more since sanctions were lifted) by our old friend Iran.  (Whom we are told we should trust not to build a nuclear weapon.  They don’t mean what they say about annihilating Israel, either.)

This willful blindness is, however, not a new paradigm.  Obama’s, and the American media’s, pandering to Muslims and outright sympathy for Hamas and its soulless butchers in Gaza, have a familiar ring to them.  Who else but the incomparable Kipling tells us of such a precedent?

Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
His sword and his rifle were bossed with gold,

And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.

He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:

He crucified noble, he scarified mean,
He filled old ladies with kerosene:

While over the water the papers cried,
“The patriot fights for his countryside!”

So there you have it.  That said, rather than seeing members of Hamas squashed by a fat railroad employee, I would be ever so happy to see some fuel-air explosive dropped on one of their parades.   Same with ISIS.   Too bad Obama, the media, and the far-left are so sympathetic to the former and indifferent about the latter.   T’ain’t much new under the sun.

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Filed under Around the web, guns, history, Iran, iraq, islam, israel, nuclear weapons, obama, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons