Tag Archives: 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.

About these ads



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)



The Man Purse

I never claimed to be the most macho guy around, but I do at least claim to be a manly man, complete with man card, a member in good standing of the Order of Men, as it were.  Never shall Meggings grace my legs.  My hair color is whatever the good Lord gives me, not Clairol.  I’ve never had a mani-pedi. I shave my face, not my legs.  I’ve got John Wayne posters on the wall, not Justin Bieber. When filling out forms that ask “Sex:_______?” I always answer “lots!”

So I’m a little ashamed to admit one of my prized possessions is…. a purse.


Every soldier, of course, has a helmet. From the old soup plate of World War I, to the classic steel pot of WWII, Korea and Vietnam*, to the Kevlar of my days, up through todays ACH, there’s  a helmet for every noggin’. But quite a few soldiers have a second helmet. Aviators, of course, have their flight helmets. And the crews of armored vehicles have helmets that combine intercom/radio earphones and microphones with padding against the bumps and bruises of cross country travel as well as ballistic protection against the hazards of war.  This Combat Vehicle Crewman’s Helmet is universally known as the CVC.

Unlike most uniform and equipment items, the helmets aren’t generally issued to individuals, but rather exist as part of each vehicles equipment. And to protect the helmet when it’s not being used, the Army issues a padded helmet bag to hold it, again, as part of the vehicles equipment list. This same bag is issued to aviators to hold their helmets.**

Now, in addition to issuing these bags with the vehicles. the Army also makes them available for purchase by individuals at Army Clothing Sales Stores. And just about every troop in a mech or armored unit eventually buys one.  Because, as it turns out, while it does a decent job of holding a helmet, the helmet bag does an outstanding job of holding all the odd bits of stuff and junk you end up carrying with you to the field. Rather than having to climb outside the vehicle and dig through your rucksack to grab an extra pair of socks, pack of smokes, or shaving kit, spare batteries for your Walkman***, your poncho liner or sleep shirt or your paperback book****,   you could just dip into your helmet bag by your side and there it was! Oddly, virtually no one used the bags that were issued by the vehicle. In my unit, we actually stored them in the unit Conex box so they wouldn’t “walk off.” The helmets were either on someone’s head, or tossed onto the floor of the vehicle.  But pretty much everyone, crew and dismount alike, took a helmet bag with them, either to the field, or just about anywhere they went on Army business. Since there were seven or eight bags on each Bradley, most guys personalized their bag at least a little.

Lazy guys just wrote their name on the bag with a permanent marker. The slightly more industrious had a name tape sewed onto theirs. Others made a bit more of a vanity statement, with a name tape, rank badge, and unit patch sewn on, or even more stuff. I was usually more toward the vain end of the spectrum.  Sadly, just about the time I was getting out of the Army, some bastard broke into my car and stole, among other things, my vanity helmet bag. My “vanilla” spare bag, I still have. And use constantly.

As an added bonus, the same bag design has been in use for many, many years. And so I also have the personalized bag my father used when he was still flying for the Navy.  I’m not going to let that one get ripped off.

*Actually, I spent pretty much my first year in the Army wearing a steel pot. It looks funny seeing pics of them now.

**Apache pilots, like our friend Outlaw 13, wear specialized helmets, and so have a specialized bag.

***kids, back in the day, our phones played music too, they just didn’t make phone calls.

****Our Kindles also came in an eco-friendly, organic, recyclable format that didn’t even need batteries!



BMP-3 (with a little shooty and splodey)

The Russian BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicle family has been around since 1967 in various forms. The current production model, the BMP-3, has a very formidable suite of weapons, including a 100mm main gun capable of firing both conventional ammunition as well as a guided missile, a 30mm gun, and a 7.62mm coax gun. As an added bonus, it also features two hull mounted 7.62mm guns.

Before you dismiss the BMP-3 as just more Russian junk, ponder this- when Greece, a NATO ally of ours,  was looking to replace its older Armored Personnel Carriers, they passed up the opportunity to buy US M2 Bradleys, and instead bought the BMP-3.


Filed under armor