Tag Archives: army

Sierra Army Depot

Yes, it’s RT, but it’s a straight news story. Worth watching a couple minutes.

The Army is roughly half the size it was at the height of the Reagan years. In addition to shedding almost half a million people from the active ranks (and who knows how many from the reserve components) the Army has also slashed the numbers of combat units. But of all the tanks and trucks and whatnot are still valuable assets. Waste not, want not. So, while a lot of equipment is sold to allies, there still remains a healthy stockpile.

A lot of equipment returned from overseas needs depot level maintenance. That maintenance is done at other depots. The advantage to storage at SAD is much like that at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base- you can store equipment outside for long periods with little deterioration.


The main warehouses.


Each little tiny dot is a truck or armored vehicle. The lumps to the right are “igloos” or ammunition storage bunkers.


Towed artillery pieces.



Very Bad Bradley Tactics

The only other nation to buy the Bradley Fighting Vehicle is Saudi Arabia. They bought 400 after seeing its performance in Desert Storm. And they are currently using them in Yemen against Iranian backed Houthi rebels. Unfortunately, they’re not using them well.

That first attack is simply inexcusable.  The dismount team should have been providing local security.  As for the ATGM attacks, again, crews need to be alert and scanning their sectors.

Another point. Compare this video of a Russian built vehicle immediately bursting into flames. Think back to the video of the Bradleys.  You’ll notice they don’t instantly brew up. The vehicle might be inoperative, or even beyond repair, but the fire suppression system works, at least long enough for the crew to escape.

And take a look at this video of US forces training in Ft. Irwin. Vehicle commanders are up and scanning. They’re also using their weapons to suppress any possible missile teams.


Filed under armor, ARMY TRAINING

About Armed Civilians at Recruiting Centers

In the wake of the Chattanooga shooting, we’re seeing several places where well meaning civilians have taken upon themselves the duty of standing guard over recruiting stations.

While we admire the intent, the fact is, it will have some unintended consequences. US Army Recruiting Command has issued guidance to the field regarding this.  Via TAH.

Subject: USAREC Policy – Armed citizens at recruiting centers ATO’s,

Situation: The USAREC COC has received reports from two Brigade ATOs, social media and TV coverage that law abiding armed citizens are standing outside of our recruiting centers in an attempt to safeguard our recruiters.


1) Recruiters will not acknowledge the presence or interact with these civilians. If questioned by these alleged concerned citizens; be polite, professional, and terminate the conversation immediately and report the incident to local law enforcement and complete USAREC Form 958 IAW USAREC 190-4 (SIR)

2) Do not automatically assume these concerned citizens are there to help.
Immediately report IAW USAREC 190-4 (Suspicious Behavior)

3) Immediately report any civilians loitering near the Station/Center to local police if the recruiter feels threatened. Ensure your recruiters’ clearly articulate to local police the civilian may be armed and in possession of a conceal/carry permit. Ensure recruiters include any information provided by local police in their SIR reporting the incident.

4) Ensure all station commanders implement FPCON Charlie 6 (Lock and secure entry points) addressed in previous email.

5) I’m sure the citizens mean well, but we cannot assume this in every case and we do not want to advocate this behavior.

*** The timely and accurate submission of 958s (SIR) is imperative to track these incidents and elicit support from TRADOC, ARNORTH and NORTHCOM.

As with Jonn, I agree that this is a mostly reasonable policy. The Army cannot endorse the actions of the citizens. Nor can they simply assume they mean well. Furthermore, should some untoward action occur, say, these citizens mistakenly take another American for a threat and engage them unlawfully, it is imperative that it be known that the Army had nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, FPCON Charlie 6 (Force Protection Condition) basically shuts down the recruiting station. And therein lies a problem, as the sine qua non of recruiting is engaging with the public.

While informing local law enforcement, and filing SIRs makes sense, it also increases the odds of an unhappy encounter between these citizens and LEOs.

I think as a first step, USAREC might have directed station commanders to share this guidance with those citizens who are attempting to both provide a service and made a statement. One presumes that senior NCOs have enough judgment to discern the likelihood that a party of armed citizens outside have no ill intent, and sharing this guidance would cause them to reconsider if their actions were truly in the recruiter’s best interests. And if they choose to continue their vigil, well, provided they are within the bounds of the law, that is their right.


Filed under ARMY TRAINING, recruiting

Arming the Guard

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, in addition to a few other governors, has directed his state Adjutant General to authorize arming National Guard members at armories and recruiting stations throughout the state.


You’ll note, until such time as they are called to federal service, Guard members answer to the state governor as the Commander in Chief.

It should be noted that recruiting for the National Guard is wholly separate from recruiting for the regular active duty and federal reserve components. That is, in my Army recruiting station, we had a mix of active and reserve recruiters, and the local Indiana Guard recruiter was just as much direct competition to us as the Air Force recruiter was.

Arming the local Guard Armory shouldn’t pose too many challenges. Armories by definition are a location for the storage of weapons. And most will have at least a handful of sidearms allocated. Having the duty NCO strap on a weapon makes sense. We’ve argued before that the duty NCO in most units in the active forces should sign for and carry (or at least be immediately able to access) a weapon.

The issue isn’t quite as simple as the governor issuing an edict, however.  Policy and guidance on such things as physical security for weapons and ammunition, rules of engagement, instruction on the law of self defense will need to be instituted. Will privately owned weapons be permitted, or only issue government property? If privately owned weapons are permitted, what types? Will recruiters be permitted to carry a weapon outside the confines of the recruiting station?

Will every Guardsman suddenly start carrying? Will they be open carried or concealed? Will the Guardsmen have to abide by relevant Indiana law concerning either concealed carry or open carry?

Believe it or not, most people in the service don’t spend a lot of time working with firearms, particularly pistols. The guy that enlists to serve as a supply clerk will, understandably, spend most of his time doing supply clerk stuff. In fact, recruiters, for instance,  simply don’t deal with weapons at all in a duty capacity. 

There will be consequences. There will be negligent discharges, and lost or stolen weapons. And sooner or later, a member of the armed forces will shoot an American citizen.  Planning, training, and leadership must address these concerns.



SMA Daley polling on possible uniform changes

First, SMA Daley wants to see what interest there is in adding an Ike jacket as an optional purchase to go with the Army’s Class B service uniform.


I’m…. uncertain. It looks really weird without the usual US and branch insignia pinned on it. One wonders what the AR 670-1 guidance would be for such insignia. The article doesn’t say.

Should the female Drill Sergeant hat be ditched in favor of using the male Smokey the Bear campaign hat for both sexes?


Sure, why not?

SMA Daley is also looking to whether both sexes should wear the same “bus driver” cap for the Army Service Uniform. Which, I say yes. The current ladies hat is stupid.

He’s looking at a few other changes, but those are the high points.


Filed under army

The Maintenance Team

When I went from Light Infantry to M113 APC mounted Mechanized Infantry, one big cultural shift I wasn’t prepared for was the obsessive attention paid to mechanical maintenance on the company vehicles.  An H-series TO&E M113 equipped Infantry company had three platoons of four M113s, plus an M113 for the Company Commander, and one for the Company XO. It also had a Humvee for the CO, and one for the company 1SG. The company also had two M35 series 2-1/2 ton trucks, one with a 3/4 ton trailer, and one with a 400 gallon water trailer.

And every Monday morning, the vast majority of the company would head to the motor pool, and spend the day performing maintenance on the vehicles. For instance, I was in the 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, and my squad “owned”  the M113 marked with the bumper number A-11. The assigned driver and I (I was the track commander) would whip out the operators technical manual (commonly called the ‘Dash 10’ from the alphanumeric TM number assigned) and visit the chapters on daily and weekly Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, or PMCS. All deficiencies found (and there were always deficiencies) were carefully annotated on DA Form 2404.

Much like caring for your family car, a great deal of the work is done by the operator. But sometimes, there are issues that you need to take it to the shop for repairs.  For instance, if the automatic transmission is slipping, you probably would let your mechanic work on that.

You’ll notice in the brief discussion on the organization of the company, no mechanics were mentioned. That’s because the maintenance platoon belongs to the battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company.  The maintenance platoon provided organizational level maintenance to all the tracked and wheeled vehicles in the entire battalion, about 130 pieces of rolling stock. Further, the maintenance platoon tasked a Maintenance Contact Team of five or six mechanics, typically under a Staff Sergeant, to habitually support each company. So, while our mechanics were always in another company, they were also always our mechanics.

Our mechanics were also the folks in charge of ordering parts as required for the vehicles. For instance, if I needed to replace a headlight on my M113, I’d write up the deficiency on the 2404, take it to the mechanics, and have them issue me one. The issue, from stocks on hand, also generated an order to the Division Main Support Battalion to requisition another part, to replace the stock. 

When deployed to the field, the Contact Team collocated with the supported company.  The team had an M113 APC, an M578 Light Recovery Vehicle or VTR, and an M35 series duece and a half, which had a plywood shelter on the back, and was used to carry the spare parts, known as the PLL or Primary Load List.  The PLL truck was usually located at the field trains, with the battalion kitchens and other logistics were, leaving just the M113 and the VTR forward with the company.

The VTR was fine for virtually all maintenance and recovery chores for the M113. The problem was, Mechanized Infantry companies typically swapped out a platoon of infantry for a platoon of tanks. The VTR was far to small to tow a tank. And the arrival of the M2/M3 Bradley exacerbated matters. The VTR was also underpowered to tow a Bradley.  And so, with the introduction of the Bradley, the VTR was set out to pasture, and Mechanized Infantry battalions were issued the recovery vehicle Armor battalions had long been using, the M88.

The M88 had been introduced to support (and built on the chassis of) the old M48 and M60 Patton series of tanks. It had only the thinnest margin of performance to support the much heavier M1 tanks, and later M1A1 and M1A2 tanks were just too heavy for it. And so, the Army procured the upgraded M88A2 Hercules variant for its Armor battalions. And indeed, the Army has decided that all heavy battalions will be equipped with the M88A2. 

The mechanics don’t exactly have the most glamorous job in the Army. Virtually every wrenchbender I knew was always covered in grease and grime. But they also, as a general rule, took great pride in the work they did, and put in long hours in the field repairing the vehicles that careless grunts had managed to break.

I did learn to embrace the Army’s obsession with maintenance. It costs a lot of time and money to keep a vehicle well maintained. But it also means that the Army can routinely expect its vehicles to last a quarter century or more, even when subjected to some of the harshest treatment possible.


Filed under armor, army

240 Years of Army Uniforms

With the rollout of the new OCP uniform replacing the hated UCP pattern, IJReview has a brief video showing the evolution of the Army uniform.


With the increasing costs of combat uniforms, I have a couple of thoughts.

Enlisted personnel are issued free of charge their first uniforms, everything from socks and underwear to the blue Army Service Uniform. Thereafter, enlisted soldiers are required to replace components on their own. They are, however, paid an annual allowance based on the cost of uniform items, and their expected useful lifetime for each component. For instance, the typical grunt will go through socks at a faster rate than the blue coat of the ASU. Unfortunately, the allowance rarely accurately tracks the real lifetime of uniform components, particularly the Army Combat Uniform. Thus, the ever increasing costs of the ACU costs enlisted soldiers out of pocket expenses.

The costs of combat uniforms will only increase, as the Army continues to improve the technology of textiles. Eventually, the replacement costs will become prohibitive for the average soldier.

Further, we’ve already reached a point where the ACU a soldier wears while at his home station is not the same as the uniform he wears when deployed overseas to a combat theater.  Prior to deployment, each soldier is issued a variant of the uniform that has been treated to be more fire resistant.

Probably 90% of the time in garrison, soldiers don’t really need to be clad in camouflage. Time spent in the company area cleaning weapons, or sitting through SHARP training, or in the motor pool performing maintenance on the vehicles is the norm. So why issue an expensive uniform for that? Why not issue a simple, inexpensive uniform for day to day wear that comprises the vast majority of a soldier’s time?

That uniform could be similar to the simple green fatigue uniform issued in the 1970s and early 1980s.  For those times when training at the home station calls for an actual combat uniform, the ACU in OCP (or future combat uniforms) could be issued as organizational clothing, similar to much of the cold weather gear issued today.