Category Archives: marines

Poll of the day

We buried my father-in-law the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He was a WW2 veteran, 15th Army Air Force. The local chapter of the VFW did a great job as honor guard. Minutes before the service at the cemetery, the funeral director asked, “Who’s the oldest?” And so it was that the flag was presented to my sister-in-law.

At my maternal grandfather’s funeral, the flag was presented to the second-oldest aunt, and there was a great deal of squawking about it. Consensus seemed to be that the oldest uncle (also a veteran) should have received it.

At my oldest brother’s funeral, the one who received the flag was not the oldest, but the son currently serving in the Army. Everyone was fine with this.

So my question is this:

Just to keep the record straight, I think it’s fine that my sister-in-law received the flag. She had the lion’s share of caring for my father-in-law. I plan on giving her a display case for the flag. I just wondered if there’s a dominant tradition out there.

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Filed under Air Force, army, marines, navy, Personal, veterans

Osprey APKWS

Aviation Week & Space Technology has the story, but it’s behind the paywall.

A Marine MV-22B fires an APKWS guided rocket during trials.

The APKWS is the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. You have to look fairly closely to see the rocket leaving the pod mounted to the port cheek of the fuselage.

APKWS takes an unguided 70mm Hydra rocket. Hydra rockets are modular. There are various motor and warhead configurations that can be mixed and matched.  The APKWS is a guidance section. Unscrew the warhead from the motor section, screw the APKWS to the motor, and the warhead to the guidance section. Suddenly, you have a guided missile that’s very precise, and has a much longer effective range than an unguided rocket. It has a small warhead, but its quite sufficient to take out a truck, other unarmored vehicle, gun emplacement or similar target. And it is comparatively cheap, as opposed to say, a Hellfire missile.

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Domestic Enemies: 2014

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If you read here more than a little, you are familiar with my use of the term “enemies, domestic”.  For the uninitiated, those words are a part of my oath of office as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps.  They define, in part, those from whom I have sworn on my life to defend the Constitution from.  Just who are those people?  Well, DaveO among our friends at Op-For provides some superb erudition to the subject:

In August of 2013, I posed the question “Who are ‘Domestic Enemies?’” This question stemmed from comments in an earlier post provided by Mike Burke and Slater. In September of 2013, Colonel Joseph L. Prue, USAF, in his post  “Identifying the domestic enemy” pulled this definition from our Constitution:

Amendment 14, Section 3 states, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” As a military officer, I honed in on the words military and insurrection. To me, this meant that any insurgent against the United States shall not hold any public office to include civil or military.

The Constitutional parameters of: 1) engaging in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution; or 2) to have given aid and comfort to the enemies of the Constitution.

By that definition we’ve got a  LOT of domestic enemies in America. Folks love to argue that President Obama’s [still unsigned?] amnesty is the very definition of rebellion against the Constitution. Others, myself included, believe Senator Reid of Utah and the anti-war groups such as Code Pink did gave aid and comfort to AQ and its offshoots and the Taliban up until Obama won the presidency, and then the groups were quickly hustled off to rest and recuperate until the next Republican POTUS appears.

But the folks in and behind the anti-war crowd were never anti-war, just anti-America and if hampering the war effort hurt America, they were all for it. Once Obama won, these people could turn to more productive pursuits. They are working on an “American Spring.” Legitimate protests of law enforcement are being hijacked to bring about rebellion. There are problems with race in America, as well as problems enforcing the an unknowable and incoherent body of law. Domestic enemies don’t care about race or relations with the police – domestic enemies wish to supplant the Constitution and become their own law and engage in mass murder. The NSA knows who they are, where they live, and who is paying them. January 20, 2017 can’t come soon enough – we need to cut out this cancer of domestic enemies.

Every link Dave puts in his post is worth the read.  This Administration has embarked on a systematic shredding of our Constitution, and with it, our liberties protected thereby.  The 14th Amendment has already been a casualty, when the Attorney General defined just who would face prosecution for crimes, based on skin color.  DaveO is entirely correct.  January of 2017 cannot come soon enough.

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Filed under Air Force, army, Around the web, guns, history, marines, navy, obama, Politics, terrorism, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

MERs and TERs.

This is the AD-6 Skyraider.

http://www.skytamer.com/1.2/2006/6138.jpg

You’ll notice in addition to four 20mm cannon, it has three large weapon stations, and twelve smaller ones along the wing and under the centerline.

That meant it could carry quite a few weapons. The AD-6 was used by the Navy primarily as a medium attack platform. The other prime operator of the Skyraider in the 1950s, the US Marine Corps, used it primarily as a Close Air Support (CAS) platform.  The large number of weapon stations helped it excel at the mission.

But by the late 1950s, the AD series was clearly becoming obsolete, and the the replacement for the Skyraider, the light attack A4D-2/2N (later, A-4B/C Skyhawk) was entering service to replace it in both US Navy and Marine Corps service.  As an aside, while designing the Skyhawk, Ed Heineman also designed a new series of conventional bombs to go with it.

The Skyhawk is rightly revered as one of the best light attack aircraft ever designed. Indeed, it’s still in frontline service in Argentina! But in its earliest incarnation, a bright young Marine test pilot realized it wasn’t much of a CAS platform. It flew well, and could bomb accurately. It just didn’t carry much.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7256/6877313996_5b911fe3de_z.jpg

The A4D-2 and A4D-2N only had three weapon stations. That meant a total of, at most, three bombs. For the Navy, that wasn’t a huge issue. They envisioned using the Skyhawk in the nuclear strike role. Two drop tanks, as seen above, and a nuclear weapon on the centerline station was just what they had asked for.

But our bright young Marine test pilot, correctly guessing that future wars were more likely to resemble the recently concluded Korean War than Armageddon, sought a way to improve the Skyhawk as a conventional bomber. And the answer was, why not hang more than one bomb on a station? A simple steel rack and cabling harness would be the interface between one pylon, and six bombs.

Captain Fitch set about designing just such a Multiple Carriage Bomb Rack.

The Aero 20 pylon on each A4D-2 wing and the Aero 7 centerline pylon were part of the basic aircraft and were installed at the factory. The MCBR for the A4D-2 would simply attach to each of those pylons. The wiring system for the MCBR would be set up so that if the need arose during an emergency, you could jettison the MCBR with its bombs attached. That jettison would be accomplished by firing the secondary cartridge within either the Aero 7A or Area 20. With the MCBR attached to a pylon, the primary cartridge within the Aero 7 or Aero 20 would never be hooked up. Talking with the VX-5 avionics officer, he said that the wiring system for the MCBR could be done by VX-5 avionics with a simple wiring harness to be installed in the MCBR. . I had told him that the MC BR on the Aero 7A pylon would have six (6) HE or inert bombs attached to it. While at first I thought that there could be six (6) HE or inert bombs on each A4D-2 wing station MCBR, interference of the wheel well door would dictate that there would be only five (5) bombs for the wing MCBR.. All bombs on the MCBR would be suspended independent of the other bombs on the MCBR, using the Aero-15 racks from a crashed AD Skyraider.

Fitch even received the patent for his design.

Eventually, Fitch’s rather crude design would be improved, and produced as the Multiple Ejector Rack, or MER, capable of carrying six Mk82 500lb bombs. A similar Triple Ejector Rack could carry three Mk83 1000lb bomb, or three Mk82s.

By using MERs, and A4D-2 suddenly went from carry three bombs to as many as 16.* And it wasn’t just the Skyhawk that benefited. Virtually every tactical aircraft in the Navy, and soon the Air Force, would be carrying bombs in multiples of three or six.

http://cdn.globalaircraft.org/media/img/planes/lowres/a-6_2.jpg

Instead of just five bombs…

The widespread use of precision guided munitions has actually lead to the near demise of the MER. Whereas before a strike plane might carry a load of, say, a dozen Mk82 bombs, today that same strike plane might only carry two or four JDAM bombs, mated directly to the parent pylon.

But Fitch’s story of innovation and the support he received to develop a low cost solution to a problem the service didn’t even really know it had, should serve as a lesson to today’s leadership of how to empower junior officers.

*Because of weapons clearance issues with the gear doors, the MERs on the wing stations could only carry five weapons apiece.

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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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SECDEF Fired: Hagel Goes Under the Bus

Chuck Hagel

Big news this morning that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been fired by President Obama.  Big news, but not surprising.  Hagel has openly contradicted the President several times, especially regarding the Administration’s rather childish assertions regarding the necessity of ground forces in the fight against ISIS.   You will hear various stories about how this was Hagel’s idea, and of course, the media will dutifully report as fact the White House’s version of events.  But that version will be as accurate and honest as WH proclamations on Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, ISIS intelligence failures, etc.

Though Hagel was not known as a deep thinker, the idea that he somehow couldn’t grasp the deeper and more complex defense issues smells like the intellectual elitism of the self-proclaimed far-left “ruling” class.  It is far more likely that Hagel attempted to keep Obama and his National Security Council grounded in reality, only to be poo-pooed and brushed aside by the overwhelming cacophony from the Marxist ideologues that have the President’s ample ears.   I was never a big Chuck Hagel fan, as he was a Global Zero guy whose viewpoints at various times bordered on the curious, but as SECDEF I thought he was one of the few at the top of the Defense structure with the spine to stand up to the rampant amateurish stupidity that emanated from 1600 Pennsylvania.  We could have done far worse.  We certainly might going forward.

Whether talks were “initiated” by Hagel or not, the nature of those talks were probably discussions about whether Obama was going to keep tossing aside wise counsel or not in favor of the childlike and naive rantings of his fellow-travelers.  And, the answer today seems to be a resounding YES.  Obama will continue to march forward in secular progressive lockstep to the Internationale, wreaking the concomitant damage on US security, foreign relations, and national power.

Funny that the Secretary of Defense that HE chose, to replace another that had had enough (Panetta), is now thought not to be up to the job.  One has to wonder who is.  Michele Flournoy has been mentioned, along with Ash Carter.  One has to think Bob Work is in the mix.  All are far too talented to want to serve out the last two years of the military train wreck that is the Defense Department under Obama.   It is like being hired to coach the Washington Generals, and being told you are expected to win.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, army, Around the web, budget, Defense, guns, history, iraq, islam, marines, navy, nuclear weapons, obama, Politics, Syria, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Amtracs in Action

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to ride in (and even occasionally drive) quite a few different armored vehicles. For the most part, riding in one is pretty much like another. Loud, fairly uncomfortable, and rather bumpy. One that I’ve always had a hankering for, but never achieved, was the USMC’s AAV-7A1 Amtrac.

The AAV-7 family has been in service since the early 1970s, and is descended from a series of amphibious tractors, or Landing Vehicle Tracked from World War II. They bring the unique capability of landing assault forces ashore from the sea. While several Army armored vehicles, such as the M113 were technically amphibious, they were only capable of swimming in calm waters such as lakes or slow moving rivers. Amtracs, on the other hand, are quite comfortable swimming in open water, and can handle surf as high as eight feet.

http://www.enemyforces.net/apc/aav7_2.jpg

From the earliest days of armored infantry, the Army has always tried to tie one vehicle to one rifle squad.* For instance, in World War II, an Armored Infantry squad would all be mounted on one M3 halftrack. Similarly, the later M113 equipped units would have one rifle squad tied to one carrier.

Space is always at a premium on amphibious shipping. That is, there is never enough room for all the things the Marine commander embarked wants to carry. Since the capacity of an armored vehicle increases quite a bit for relatively modest increases in size, the Marines have always had a somewhat different philosophy toward how their troop units integrate with their armored personnel carriers. Rifle companies and battalions don’t own their own carriers. Instead, the amtrac battalion belongs to the division, who parcels out companies and platoons as needed to support the various infantry units.

Whereas an Army M113 platoon would have 4 carriers, and the three rifle squads of the platoon, a Marine amtrac platoon has 12 carriers, and their crews, but no infantry troops of their own.

http://images.military.com/media/equipment/military-vehicles/aav7-amphibious-assault-vehicle/aav7-amphibious-assault-vehicle-07.jpg

Each AAV-7, in addition to its crew, can carry 18 Marines. Given that Marine rifle squads have 13 men, that means some creative task organization goes into loading each AAV. Each AAV has a driver, and a vehicle commander. The commander’s station also has a cupola armed with a .50cal machine gun and a Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. There is a third topside hatch for the troop commander as well.

http://battleforearth.com/military/nations/us/vehicles/land/aavp7/images/04.jpg

In addition to the basic carrier, there are other versions built on the same basic hull, including a recovery vehicle version and a commanders version.

The fleet of vehicles has been upgraded over the years. Interestingly, the last round of upgrades saw much of its suspension and powertrain replaced with Bradley components.

The Marines have a fleet of about 1300 AAVs, in two active and one reserve battalions, as well as prepositioned in various theaters and war reserves. The AAV-7 is also in service with South Korea, Brazil, Italy, Taiwan, Chile, Spain, Thailand, Venezuela, and others. Argentina used 20 of its AAV-7s in the initial assault landings in the 1982 Falklands War, but they returned to Argentina before the British counterattack.

The AAV-7 was to have been replaced in Marine service by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle beginning in 2013, but the cancellation of that program has left the Marines looking for a new, cheaper replacement, and struggling to keep the AAV-7 fleet operational for some time to come.

 

*With a few very minor exceptions that resulted in only very limited production.

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