Tag Archives: armor


Esli has a set or two. I used to have a couple. They’re popular with tankers, but only rarely have I seen mech infantry crews wearing them.

Armored vehicles are playgrounds for fire. The armor itself doesn’t burn, but just about everything else inside a track loves to burn. Fuel, ammo, furnishings, cables, rubber seals, grease, hydraulic fluid,  people….

And burns are one of the major causes of injuries and wounds for armored crewmen. And because armor vehicles are often quite messy to work on and around, the traditional uniform for tankers was a set of coveralls.  But cotton coveralls, especially with petroleum products smeared on them, gave little protection against fire.

And so, the Army, in its wisdom, developed the Combat Vehicle Crewman’s Uniform, or CVCU.

The basis of the design was the traditional CWU-27P flight suit. Like the flight suit, it is made of fire resistant Nomex fabric.  But there are quite a few differences.

First, it is substantially thicker than the thin flight suit. That helps minimized tearing.

Second, while a pilot might only wear his flight suit for a few hours, vehicle crews can expect to spend days wearing their suit. For that reason, there’s a flap at the seat of the CVCU to make defecating easier. Not dignified, by any stretch, but easier.

Third, armored vehicles don’t have ejection seats. If a wounded crewman has to be pulled from a vehicle, it’s quite difficult. To make it just a little easier, there’s a velcro flap across the back. Opening the flap reveals a nylon tape that forms a harness under the wearer’s shoulders. The tape makes lifting or dragging the wounded much easier.


In my day, the CVCU was issued in a olive drab color known as OG106.


Today it is issued in the very unattractive UCP pattern.

In addition to the coverall, the CVCU came with some accoutrements such as leather and Nomex gloves, a Nomex cold weather balaclava, and, in the past, a lightweight flexible body armor vest similar to what police wear.

Outside of actual live fire gunnery, CVCUs were unpopular with most of the mech infantry I knew. But personally, I loved them. As a crewmember, anytime we went to the field, I wore them.

You see, CVCU were organizational clothing, issued to the soldier when he was assigned to a crew, and turned back in when he was transferred to another post.

And since they were OCIE, if they were damaged or worn out, or otherwise unserviceable, they could be exchanged at no cost for a new set.

BDUs, on the other hand, had to be replaced at the expense of the soldier.

Now, why would I wear out a perfectly nice $60 set of BDUs in the field, when I could risk $0 by wearing the CVCU?

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Syrian Rebels use a TOW Missile to snipe a tank

Via Funkers 350.


Where did the FSA get the US made TOW missile system? Probably not from us. But there are literally dozens of nations that use it, and it can’t have been too hard for someone to slip pretty fair numbers of the TOW system and some older missiles to the rebels. You could fit the whole thing in a car.

And you’ll notice it’s pretty dirt simple to assemble and operate (at least, during daylight, against a single stationary target).

Notice also the relatively long time of flight for the shot. The TOW is a fairly slow missile, with a time of flight of up to 23 seconds out to its maximum range.

And finally, notice also that the tank (my eyes are failing, I can’t tell if it’s a T-55 or a T-62) has plenty of secondary explosions in the aftermath. Tanks may be a steel box on treads, but they’re also packed with stuff that loves to burn.


Filed under armor

An interview with LTG H. R. McMaster

Just prior to departing Ft. Benning, H.R.  McMaster gave an interview with the local newspaper, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. A lot of it is geared to the local community, but quite a bit of it is applicable across the board, and worth a few minutes.

Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster is a combination of warrior, intellectual and leader. He was recently recognized by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

McMaster earned a reputation for his 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty,” which questioned political and military leadership during Vietnam.

Dave Barno, a retired lieutenant general, described McMaster this way: “I watched senior Army generals argue over ways to end his career. But he dodged those bullets and will soon take over command of the Army’s ‘futures’ center. After years as an outspoken critic, McMaster soon will be in the right place to help build the right Army for the nation.”

McMaster has spent two years as commander of Fort Benning. He has been selected for promotion to lieutenant general, and has been reassigned to Fort Monroe, Va., where he will serve as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, Training and Doctrine Command. He has been in charge of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning for two years. McMaster recently sat down with Ledger-Enquirer reporter Chuck Williams.


One of the key strengths of our Army is what we call the “philosophy of mission command,” which is basically decentralized operations based on mission orders. It means, “Hey, I’m going to ask you to accomplish a mission, but I’m not going to tell you how to do it. You can figure it out.” That’s the strength of the American Army. It’s that kind of initiative and the ability to apply your imagination to solve problems. What I’ve found here at Fort Benning and across my career is if you give people the freedom to take initiative and help give them the resources they need to accomplish the mission, they’re always going to exceed your expectations.

When you’re a company commander or platoon leader at a remote Combat Outpost in Afghanistan, it’s hard for your commander to micromanage. There are some that are sure to try, but sheer distance has imposed Mission Command philosophy to some extent. Harking back to the WaPo piece on the challenges the Army will face in peacetime, one thing I suspect we’ll see quite a bit of is junior officers, used to operated well away from their chain of command, will increasingly chafe under the daily stress of the battalion commander being right across the street, and the multitude of taskings his staff generates that, to our hard charging officer, have no correlation to success in combat. These officers, who are just as capable of being successful as entrepreneurs as they were combat leaders, will walk out the door. The ones left behind, by and large, will be the ones that need more supervision. And the higher echelons of the unit will give it to them in ever increasing doses.  This “brightsizing” happens to every army in the transition to peacetime. And frankly, I don’t know how to mitigate it. And the worst part is, eventually those micromanaged leaders become senior leaders who, while fully capable of mouthing the philosophy of Mission Command, have internalized the lessons of oversupervision and micromanagement. Let’s hope enough of the cream of the crop can tolerate the avian excrement long enough to rise to senior leadership.


In the comments on a recent post, Byron asked about McMaster being passed over for Lieutenant General the first time.

While then COL McMaster was passed over for promotion to Brigadier General by the first promotion board, there is no promotion board for Lieutenant General. LTG is a nominative rank, and a rank of office. That is, only those positions authorized and required to be filled by a three star general, all of which require the advise and consent of the Senate. If you aren’t serving in one of those positions, you don’t get the three stars.


Filed under Afghanistan, ARMY TRAINING

More Tank Biathlon

In spite of the tensions between Russia and the US over Ukraine, as far as I know the invitation for US forces to participate in a “run and gun” tank competition hosted by Russia is still on.


I think we could take ‘em.



OPFOR VISMOD waits patiently at NTC

1 Comment

by | June 24, 2013 · 2:08 pm

Saturday Links of Interest

Japan and China face off in the air.

Tensions continued to escalate between Japan and China over disputed islets in the East China Sea on Thursday, with Japan reportedly sending two F-15s from Naha, Okinawa, after several Chinese military aircraft crossed into its Air defense identification zone (ADIZ). China responded by scrambling two J-10s of its own.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force spotted the Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ over the East China Sea at about 12pm on Thursday, Kyodo quoted a senior Defense Ministry official as saying, adding that the Chinese aircraft never entered Japanese airspace. Kyodo said the Chinese aircraft penetrated Japan’s ADIZ on three occasions.

It’s not illegal for China to fly into the Japanese ADIZ. But it is understood that any non-scheduled flight into an ADIZ will trigger an interception. So sending military aircraft into the ADIZ is considered rather rude, and provocative. And sooner or later, it will get ugly. It only takes a moment for something like this to turn into a shooting incident.


The Navy’s Task Force Uniform spent 5 years and untold millions coming up with the Navy Working Uniform. It’s ugly, expensive, and best of all, highly flammable!

The U.S. Navy’s standard-issue blue digitized camouflage fatigues are highly flammable and will burn ‘robustly until complete consumption,’ a report revealed last month.
The findings show that the digital-print camo, which is made from 50 percent cotton and 50 percent nylon, will drip as it burns, causing potentially hazardous burn injuries.
But the Navy’s top spokesman said that the government organization is aware of the report findings, and added that sailors had asked for a fade-resistant uniform that was also comfortable.

Big Navy’s response is that sailors who will be in direct contact with fire will have appropriate fire resistant clothing. The problem is, aboard ship, every sailor is a firefighter.

When the USS Stark was struck by two Iraqi Exocet missiles, sailors didn’t have time to change out of their dungarees into firefighting clothing. They fought as they were dressed.  The old cotton dungaree pants and blue chambray shirts might not seem very suitable for firefighting, but in fact, with one hose team spraying fog, and another hose team attacking a fire, the 100% cotton clothing provided excellent protection for most flashover situations. I know, I’ve been in a massive pool of burning jet fuel wearing them.  The blended materiel in the NWU not only burns, it melts, clinging to the wearer’s skin, causing horrific pain, and greatly complicating treatment for burns.

NWU- Making the Army’s ACU fiasco look sensible!


The latest version of the Army’s AH-64 helicopter was developed as the AH-64D Block III. In a move that shows a stunning bit of common sense, the Army finally decided to follow the actual stated policy with regards to Tri-Service aircraft designations and redesignated it the AH-64E.  But just to add to the fun, they also decided that this sub-type of Apache also needs a sub-name. And as usual, they picked a dud. The Guardian. We certainly can’t have a weapon designed to hunt down and kill our foes having an aggressive name, now can we. On Outlaw 13’s Facebook page, he was looking for better names. Given the PC trends of the services, I suggested it should have been named the AH-64E Apache Fluffy Kitten.


The Army is justifiably proud of its networked combat systems, where every vehicle and most troops have instantaneous access to the battlefield internet. Locations of friendly and enemy forces are plotted in real-time, and shared across the battlefield, providing levels of situational awareness that were simply unimaginable in my time. Orders are transmitted digitally, reports are similarly sent across the ether. Logistics, medical support, maintenance and fire support all are managed through this battlefield network.

But what happens when the network fails? Armed Forced Journal has an article that explores this problem. It seems the article is focused a bit above the Brigade Combat Team level, but the questions apply there as well. Our soldiers have spent a decade using these digital tools to facilitate their operations. Can they still execute the mission without them? One wonders if Esli’s rotation at NTC will see a mission or two where the Force XXI Brigade and Below Command and Control System (FB2C2) will be degraded or denied.

Via Bryan McGrath at Information Dissemination


Roamy should like this. It’s got both splodey, AND rocket science!


Filed under armor, army, Around the web

Thursday Links of Interest

There’s some good stuff on the web today that I’m just not gonna have the time to get around to writing about.

From Small Wars Journal, A Future For Armor In An Era Of Persistent Conflict.


At USNI, CDR Sal has some thoughts on the Royal Navy vs. the Japanese Navy Maritime Self Defense Force.


Only magicians should use coin tricks.


The reason Democrats have a reputation for cutting and running in wartime is they have a habit of cutting and running in wartime.


USS Freedom, LCS-1, may finally deploy. She’s only about a quarter way through her life expectancy.


It’s Thursday Random at Hookers&Booze. (a bit NSFW, but a lot funneh)