Tag Archives: army

Happy Birthday, Flashy!

From a few years back:

DAMN YOUR EYES!

This morning, let’s wish Happy Birthday to perhaps England’s greatest and most decorated military hero. No, not the Duke of Wellington. Nor Lord Kitchener of Khartoum. Not Lord Nelson, nor Viscount Slim, Haig, Mountbatten, nor Montgomery. None of them.

Happiest of Birthdays to Colonel Sir Harry Paget Flashman, VC KCB KCIE CdLH MoH, born this day, 1822. The erstwhile bully of Rugby School went on to unlikely fame (if not fortune) in Afghanistan in 1842, the Sikh War, the 1848 revolution, the Crimea (where he participated in the Charge of the Light Brigade), the Indian Mutiny, John Brown’s Harper’s Ferry raid, both sides of the American Civil War, Maximillian’s Mexico, Little Big Horn, Natal (at Isandlwana), the Peking Legation, and a few other places. The tall, dark, handsome soldier left a trail of accidental heroism, scandal, and empassioned paramours across just about every continent.

Each and every account of his adventures is worth the read.

Happy Birthday, Flashy.

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Filed under ARMY TRAINING

Please quit losing your mind over Jade Helm 15.

Probably 95% of people who have heard about Exercise Jade Helm taking place in their communities understand and support it, or, if they do have issues, they relate to genuine, if misplaced concerns, such as noise and other possible disruptions to their daily lives. Fair enough. But you  cannot look for basic information on the exercise without dozens, hundreds of “experts” telling you that JH15 is simply a pretext for martial law, seizing guns, and rounding up “patriots” in reeducation and concentration camps.

Brad Taylor took the trouble of writing up this issue, so I don’t have to:

I grew up in East Texas, running around the woods, camping, hunting and generally getting into trouble. I haven’t been home in a while due to twenty-plus years in the military and now living in South Carolina, but I still have family there. From what they’re telling me, something has clearly changed from my childhood days. Jade Helm, a USASOC Realistic Military Training event, is coming to certain Texas locales, and the population is losing its mind over “sinister” implications. FEMA concentration camps, UN gun-grabbers, and anything else that can be extrapolated, has been. Why? I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out why this exercise has generated such controversy, as it’s truly confusing. How can a state that breaks its arm trying to congratulate veterans, that declared a Chris Kyle day, assume that those same service members they’ve been cheering in the Dallas Airport are now out to enslave the entire state? Truthfully, that’s what really burns me. The men who planned the exercise, and the men who will execute the exercise, are me. Texas, the land I grew up in, is basically saying I – and the men I served with – are willingly planning to round them up and put them into concentration camps. Why? How has the Internet been able to leverage such unfounded paranoia? When did we go from supporting the troops to denigrating them as oppressors?

Let me add this- if the Special Forces community suddenly wanted to confiscate your guns, set up reeducation and concentration camps, and otherwise impose martial law, would they announce their plans in advance? Would they send a contact team to EVERY county and municipality briefing them on when the exercise will take place?

Here’s a video of one such briefing. Of course, the comments section is nuttier than a Snickers production line.

Jade Helm is simply Robin Sage writ large. And North Carolina somehow hasn’t fallen under the sway of martial law, in spite of some 60 years of hosting off post exercises. Maybe SF is just really bad at martial law.

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I normally don’t like to send you, dear reader, to the nuttier corners of the internet. They don’t really deserve the traffic. But this is the kind of crap that is out there:

Katy Whelan serves as the medical advisor and reporter for The Common Sense Show. As such, she is privy to much of the information on topics which we have not yet published for one reason or another. With regard to Jade Helm 15, Katy has had access to some of the most sensitive information that is in our possession. Therefore, when Katy decides to assert herself in the field by confronting an official about Jade Helm, she can do so with an air of authority.

This past weekend, Katy had occasion to confront a Lt. Colonel Gallegos in a chance public meeting and the following represents the summary of her encounter.

“On Saturday April 11, I (Katy Whelan) was coming out of a Denver area Restaurant and saw a National Guard officer in the parking lot and decided to stop and chat with him about the Jade Helm training drill going on across the country”.

“I introduced myself to a Lt Colonel Gallegos from Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colorado. Below is a summary of the exchange”.

Katy:  “I am aware of the Jade Helm drill and I am concerned as to why this drill was being conducted”.

Gallegos:  (He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous). “We have had drills like this before, like one we had before one 10 years ago”.

Katy: “There has never been a drill to this extent in size and scope”!

Gallegos: (His body language, again, was extremely nervous as he stumbled to find the right words as he chose to look down, smile and concede that I was correct on that point). “Yeah, that is true but it’s not a big deal”. (Editor’s Note: Not a big deal? Various factions of the military are preparing to impose martial law in the Jade Helms drills while extracting dissidents, and death squads will be planted in order to practice their “infiltration techniques” and this is “not a big deal”? This is an act of war against the American people and it is not a big deal?).

Katy: “I know the Jade Helm15 drill is in over 30 states”.

Gallegos: (He became increasingly nervous) and asked “How did I know this (as if I should not have this information)”?
Katy: “Isn’t this a joint a joint military and national guard operation and doesn’t this violate posse comitatus”.

Gallegos:  “No, that is not true because the National Guard will be the only ones running the drills”.  (Editor’s note: This is a bold faced lie uttered by Lt. Col. Gallegos! On the original Jade Helm 15 document, Special Operations Forces state that the 82nd Airborne and Special Operations Forces such as the Green Berets, Navy Seals will be a part of the drill. Therefore, Gallegos knows what he is participating in is illegal and is not limited to the National Guard. We further know that the Department of Defense is hiring people to play the role of detainees and incarcerated Americans under martial law).

Katy: “Then why, if it is a joint operation, why would the National Guard have the authority to be the organization to be running the drill”?

Gallegos: (Like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar, the nervousness of the body language was peaking as he stumbled around looked down and was rubbing his keys nervously). Katy took that to mean that her challenging statement was true.
“But nothing illegal will be done in the drill”, muttered Gallegos. (Editor’s Note: Despite the fact that the forces of Jade Helm will be extracting people without due process of law, and Gallegos thinks there is nothing wrong with this?). 

Katy: “Our current administration is violating the US constitution every day, so how can you guarantee that the orders coming down would be any different”?

Gallegos: (Again, displaying nervous body language as exemplified by looking down to avoid contact and nervously smiling, he stated, “I assure you it would all be legal. The Governor would be in command of the drill as only the National Guard would be conducting the drills and I cannot say much more than that”. (Editor’s Note: Since the passage of the John Warner Defense bill, the civilian authority exercised by the National Guard was transferred from the Governor of a state to the President and we are supposed to believe that a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard would be ignorant to that fact?).

Katy: “Isn’t Jade Helm about the extraction drills? In other words, what does the military know that we don’t know to train for this type of operation?”

Gallegos: (He further displayed more nervous body language to an incredible degree as he became increasingly and nervously evasive). “I assure you that it is all on the up and up and legal”.

Katy: “If there was an illegal order that came down from the chain of command, what would you do”?

Gallegos: “That would be up to the individual to decide”.
Katy: She pressed the point and again asked “Why would we need an extraction drill and what are they specifically training for?

Gallegos: He remained evasive and said “it is all legal”.

Yeah, random weird people coming up and ambush interrogating some Guard LTC at lunch.

He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous).

No kidding. I’d be a little nervous too. Weird people tend to have that effect on me.

The chances this guy knows any more about JH 15 than he’s seen in a newspaper headline are virtually zip. Here’s a little secret. People in the Army, even Lieutenant Colonels, don’t know what every other element of the Army is doing at any given time. That’s because we’re paying them good money to focus on what their unit is doing.

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Spall

Courtesy of Think Defense.

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When armor is struck by a projectile, the kinetic energy is transferred through it. Depending on the type of projectile, that can cause armor on the far side of the impact to detach and turn into projectiles on the protected side. In fact, during the 1950s, a type of projectile called HESH was designed and fielded to exploit this possibility. HESH was a High Explosive Squash Warhead. Basically a lump of plastic explosive would flatten out on armor then explode. It was never intended to actually penetrate the armor, but instead generate a lot of spall on the inside.

Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple way to counter spall, called, amazingly enough, a spall liner. A prime example is on the M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicle. Bolted to the inside of the hull’s armor is about a half inch thick layer of Kevlar sheeting. Kevlar has only modest capability against HEAT rounds and kinetic penetrators, but it is more than sufficient to stop spall (which both HEAT rounds and kinetic penetrators also generate). A Bradley might suffer badly from  a hit, but minimizing the spall tends to make the crew much more likely to survive.

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Filed under armor, army

A Good Place to Cut the Budget

John Q.  Public is juuuust about the only blogger out there focused on the Air Force. Sometimes, he strikes me as a bit of a gadfly, but mostly it is obvious he loves the Air Force, and is troubled by the institutional shortcomings he sees therein. Fair enough. We criticize all the services frequently, but do so in the hopes of correction, not spite.

One of his favorite targets is a little Air Force dog and pony show called Tops In Blue.

Take, for example, the service’s traveling show choir, Tops in Blue (TiB). At an opaque but reasonably estimated annual price tag of $10 million, TiB generates zero operational benefit while leaving the work centers of three dozen airmen short-handed for a year at a time. It is a mobile monument of waste, showcasing the unwarranted frills that became normalized deviations in the huge Cold War Air Force but are entirely hostile to the notion of fiscal responsibility in an era of austerity. Yet, despite SECAF’s insistence that every dollar must count, TiB persists, surviving sequestration even as needed aircraft and airmen are liquidated to save money.

Yes, the Air Force has a traveling Broadway style song and dance review. Airmen already in the service can audition for the program, and then spend a year traveling to various bases giving their performances to audiences consisting of senior leadership, prominent local civilians, and the general population of a base.

But JQP points out a few issues with this.

  1. It costs money. Most of the money actually comes not from the taxpayers, but from Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds, which monies are collected from post exchanges and other similar sources for the benefits of troops, well, morale, welfare and recreation. Obviously, the money used for TiB is not available for other, likely more pressing MWR needs. And the logistical needs of TiB also impose hidden costs, such as transportation, lodging and allowances for rations per diem that could be used elsewhere.
  2. It takes Airmen away from their parent unit for a year at a time. Units are always shorthanded. And when an Airman is seconded to TiB, it is for one year of what the services call “permissive TDY.” That means they’re still technically assigned to their parent unit. And because of that, the unit cannot receive a replacement for the touring Airmen.
  3. No one likes the show. Seriously, most people don’t even know about it. But it’s the most trite, awful “entertainment” around.
  4. JQP has several sources telling him that being a part of TiB is no bed of roses itself, and that the troupe is routinely treated poorly.

Now, before you think I’m just kicking the Air Force when they are down, lemme tell you this. The Army has a nearly identical touring show, and at a minimum, items 1-3 apply every bit as much to the Army’s troupe.

Worse,  our show isn’t named “Tops in Green.”

No, dear friend, the show is The Army Soldier Show. Yes, the ASS.

It’s Army entertainment like you’ve never experienced before. The Soldier Show is a live Broadway-style variety performance featuring our best talent. It’s singing, it’s dancing and it’s amazing!

You may think I’m being a tad harsh on the dedicated Airmen and Soldiers who go through a lengthy audition period, and face a year of separation from their homes and families to bring you this fantastic entertainment. Maybe. Or maybe I’m not being harsh enough on what is clearly an outdated institution and should be put out to pasture.

By the way, I loathe that Lee Greenwood song.

Addendum- /snerk/ a friend a few years ago mentioned that the Soldier Show was the only place for openly gay soldiers before the repeal of DADT/

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Filed under Air Force, ARMY TRAINING

Vulcan/Chaparral

This film is from circa 1965. Even in 1990, the Vulcan/Chaparral/FAAR team formed the backbone of the armored/mechanized infantry division’s Air Defense Artillery battalion, though by that time, there were also several FIM-92 Stinger missile teams available.

Some of the platoon and company life fire gunnery ranges at Graf in Germany were especially fun when, as a dismount grunt, I could stand right next to an M163 Vulcan, and watch it dispatch bursts at targets.

By 1990, both systems were clearly obsolete, and would be hard pressed to successfully engage most any Soviet aircraft, and even struggle with helicopters such as the formidable Mi-24.  The Vulcan had been slated to be replaced by the M247 SGT York 40mm gun* but the failure of that program meant the Vulcan and the Chapparal eventually were both replaced by the Stinger missile, and a lot of hope that Stinger would be enough.

*Which, the Vulcan itself replaced the earlier M42 40mm gun carriage, popularly known as the “Duster.”

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60mm Mortar Live Fire

The M224 60mm mortar is the smallest crew served indirect fire weapon in the US arsenal. US Army light Infantry companies have a two mortar section, while each Marine Rifle company has a three mortar section.

When I was stationed in Hawaii, my company’s mortar section was critically short of people once and I was tapped to assist them for a few days during a field exercise. It was awful. That tube and the baseplate (and the associated equipment) is heavy!

Note that there are actually two baseplates. The mortar can be fired in a hand held, trigger fired mode with a small baseplate, and no bipod. The gunner aims by, essentially, Kentucky windage. The 60mm can also be fired from a more conventional baseplate and bipod configuration, in association with elevation and azimuth calculated by a fire direction center.

While a platoon patrol may often carry one mortar with them (usually without the big baseplate and bipod) in a defense, or in a deliberate attack, the full mount would be used, and normally both (or all three) tubes would fire on the same target, to achieve concentration of effects.

Also, this was almost certainly filmed at Twenty-Nine Palms, up the road a bit from me. Though legend has it, twenty-nine is something of a gross exaggeration of the number of palms around…

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Filed under army, Artillery

JAAT

Joint Air Attack Tactics.

I posted this a couple years ago, I think. Later we’re going to look at some doctrinal stuff that’s coming up, and how the past provides the intellectual framework for this latest initiative. How is that relevant? JAAT was associated with AirLand Battle, which itself was closely associated with Assault Breaker, which is the model that Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is invoking in his call for a Raid Breaker.

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Filed under Air Force, ARMY TRAINING