Friday, September 22, 2017

Towed vs Tracked?...Or perhaps wheeled?

Saw this system mentioned at Defense Tech.  So am wondering what opinion FDChief, the old redleg, thinks of it as well as Sven or anyone else who wants to comment:

https://www.defensetech.org/2017/09/19/humvee-mounted-howitzer-dazzles-modern-day-marine/




It uses a US Army M20 howitzer mounted on an M1152 expanded capacity hummer.  It has also been demonstrated at an AUSA conference.  Mandus Group teamed up with AM General for this effort.  Mandus is a fairly new company formed in 1998(?).  They got their start in the hydraulics business and claim to have the best hydraulic engineers and techs in the country working for them.  They claim a 70% reduction in recoil.  They also claim you can shoot and scoot in 30 seconds.

Below are the specifications.   As it stands now traverse limits are 180 degrees, elevation -5 to +73 degrees.

http://www.mandusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Mandus_Hawkeye-HMMWV-Brochure.pdf

More videos below.  Check out the one on an F250 Ford pickup truck:

http://www.mandusgroup.com/hawkeye/videos/

I'm leery, but also impressed.  If the Air Force can fire a 105 from an aircraft then why shouldn't this be viable?  And why not mount it on a Stryker - or the LAV-25?    Could a HEMTT or another platform possibly be used for a 155?

Fire away!

Monday, September 18, 2017

"What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Time changes but events that affect us day to day always seem to be the same thing be it politics, religion, or death. For me, my absence, and occasional appearances in the comments is because of those very changes.

It started off with my father-in-law fighting cancer...six years, multiple myeloma...and it was in the sixth year, his body being eaten away where he finally said enough was enough...he was at the end of his strength, and he had chosen his end. Renal failure or
peptic ulcer ...one was a quiet, painless death, the other would be a messy, blood-bath of pain, and death.

Fortunately for all, the doctors prediction was on the mark, and he passed quietly in his sleep.

My father in law died of renal failure on the tenth day. Sadness enough that affected family for years, but then fate has a way of up-ending the "moving on" that so many counselor's say will come after a death.

What we didn't know because known as she, my mother in law, kept her own decline in health a secret the whole time while her husband passed on in quiet...she was suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer. Inoperable, painful, oh so very painful way for one's life to end...and she didn't want to die...who does?

She fought an inevitable end...I could see it as I held her hand in the hospital...family was hopeful, but I've been around the dying way to much...I've seen it too much, and I could see her life leaving her...but I kept quiet so that the family could live in hope.

She died a year and half after her husband...the day after I held her hand, seeing the future clearly for her, and realizing I will have a very upset wife soon.

My wife, and my sons were devastated, and there are no words of comfort I could conjure, nor if any came to me would I boldly speak them...silence was the best thing...that...and just me being there.

It's been three years now since those dark days, and it seems the bad times have passed; but I have had my own struggles...nothing serious, though me being in the midst of it means I have to account for myself...I have kidney stones.

Large ones, and to quote the Pathologist who jauntily showed the x-ray of a bullet shaped kidney stone lodged tightly in my ureter, "Your body is trying to pass a 30.06 through a .22 caliber bore."

Funny guy with a smile.

I'm juiced up on morphine. More on that in a sec.

Uric acid kidney stones. Five times...or is it six...I've kind of lost count, now.

The best kind of kidney stones there are...if one is looking to get kidney stones.

Big, soluble bundles of salts that hardened into a nasty little mass and plug the ureter, backing up the urine into the kidney, swelling the kidney to three-to-four times its normal size, pushing up against all the nerves radiating from the spinal column into my body, and lighting up my brain in a bright white, screaming wave of pain...

Level 10+ pain is what I'm told...it locks the body up in a rigor-mortis like contortion, with a jacked up blood pressure peaking at 180/120, or the one time 190/140 and the only thing to bring all that down to a comfortable state is morphine.

Juice him, and keep him juiced till that stone passes.

No long term effects for me to worry about other than a week and half of deep depression to work through the with-drawl as they pump me full of the good stuff...

I have had injuries from football that shocked the doctors...I played with a broken elbow, fractured ribs, fractured neck, broken ankles, dislocated shoulders, and more knee injuries than I can remember...also, concussions...count your fingers and toes...my concussions are plenty...all of those painful injuries are nothing compared to the pain of kidney stones.

The thought of kidney stones now cracks my will to live, and the mere thought of that pain strips away the pretension of courage...making room for the want to die, allowing that want to overshadow any and all desire to survive the moment...and somehow, I did...I've come to learn that a good wife is hard to find, a strong wife who grabbed my will and shielded it in my weakness, helped me through my darkest thoughts...I am blessed and humbled by my wife.

Also, I don't recommend level 10+ pain...it leaves me with a bad outlook on life...not good for the spirit.

So now I grumble about religion and politics...I'm done with death, thank you very much...and so I've turned my attention to Mr. Trump...and the Republicans.

Trump's desire to be something he could never be even if he wanted to is his perennial quest to be a man of integrity, character, a President...and he can't help but fail at it.

So he struts his ignorance, he mutters his limitations, and through it all he curses the heavens in rage that reality is constantly impinging on his delusions...

Presidential...Obama was Presidential, but Mr. Trump is failing at it...failing because that is all he knows how to do...so, he signals his intention to throw more US military lives into the grinder called Afghanistan...but maybe he won't, maybe he will, might not....probably will...or call it all off.

See, the problem we have is the same problem I have with my kidney stones...inconsistency...if I knew my kidney stones would appear once a year...okay, I can prepare myself for that...but they don't...they form whenever they please...and Mr. Trump is the same way...this uncertainty is what keeps people on edge, stresses them, chokes them with concern, and stresses plans for the future...

Trump says this is what he intends, that he is the creator of this uncertainty. Though I agree he is the source of the uncertainty, I doubt his creativity is purposeful of aforethought...as it is apparent to me based on his very public frustration that no one seems to get or appreciate his touted, yet non-existent genius. The uncertainty he creates isn't intentional or willful, but an inevitable result of his inability to judge circumstances and/or make sound decisions.

He's is a self-made victim of the Law of Unintended Consequences...the unfortunate reality for us is...we're going to be suffering from those Consequences as well.

And like my kidney stones...we will feel those Consequences, unsure of what we are feeling, sensing, but we know whatever it is it's coming...and the worst part is...we know intuitively that it is not going to be a good thing.

I have the seen the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 in history...unfortunately, the want and will to learn from those recurring events in history doesn't seem to be of much interests to those who should be interested.






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

SIGINT - Backpack Style



Last Saturday the 2nd was VJ Day.  I was at a luncheon and sitting next to a 93 year old veteran, quite an interesting guy.  I stayed for hours after the lunch was over to hear his sea stories.  

Originally from a small valley town in the coastal range of Oregon.  He was playing football in the University of Oregon at Eugene when the war broke out.  He and several others on the team dropped out of school and enlisted in the Marines.  He and his football team buddies served with a Radio Intelligence Platoon in the Pacific.  Those platoons were one of the forerunners of National Security Agency (NSA) of today.

They had to backpack radio direction finders (the 1st generation DAG-1 model they carried weighed 100 pounds with batteries) on islands of the South Pacific.  Primary job was to locate Japanese radios and therefore possible enemy forward observers or unit headquarters.  They also carried receivers to intercept message traffic and they had Nisei Japanese-Americans with them to translate those radio calls.  There were no jeep mounts back then so everything had to be carried on their backs.  He said the Nisei with them wore USMC uniforms, but even so there was always the danger that they would be mistaken as enemy by other US units, so they had to be escorted everywhere to prevent blue-on-blue casualties.


He himself was in the Marshall Islands and the Battle of Okinawa.  Prior to deployment he did his training at Wahiawa in Oahu.  Wahiawa was the main stationary direction finding center in the Pacific during the war and was still there in 97 the last time I visited Hawaii and may still be there.  Wahiawa was the station that received the IJN message traffic decoded at Pearl Harbor that led to the decisive victory at Midway.  There was little if any classroom instruction.  It was 99% on-the-job training working a shift with a salty old Navy Chief standing behind and nit-picking the trainee’s every action and giving him a sharp rap on the knuckles for any false move. 
 
In the Marshalls, after the Battle of Kwajalein, they helped the Navy assemble a permanent DF & Intercept site there that had been dismantled on Guam just prior to the Japanese takeover.  They also worked shifts at that site until mobilized for Operation Iceberg the Okinawa invasion.  By this time he was a corporal leading a section of the radio intelligence platoon.  He had three DF sites each a mile apart set up just one ridge north of Hacksaw Ridge featured in the recent Hollywood movie.  G2 apparently forgot about resupplying them as they went without rations for ten days.  Says They scrounged empty foxholes for C-Rations that had not been opened.  Could always find unopened cans of ham&limas, which they scarfed down even though nobody liked them.   Plus he sent out a scrounger to make midnight requisitions on another unit ration dump, but they were alone and far from other units so pickings were slim.  In addition to transcripts of Japanese radio traffic they were able to triangulate on an IJA light tank platoon, which soon became scrap metal after a battery TOT mission.

After VJ day, he says Uncle Sam exercised the 'for-the-duration-plus-six-months' clause in his enlistment contract and sent him and his unit to Tientsin China.  They were being used to help accept the surrender and repatriation of Japanese troops, and also to track down units of the Kwangtung Army that did not initially surrender.  Some small Japanese units in Mongolia or other remote areas never got the word, or had refused to believe it.  So they had to find them and the Nisei interpreters in his platoon had a tough job convincing them that Emperor Hirohito had surrendered and wanted them to come home.

He mentioned Atiyeh, a Governor of Oregon in the 1980s, was also a member of his platoon.  Many guys in his platoon were former football players who dropped out of the University in Eugene to enlist for the war.  Those 1st generation backpacked DF sets were damned heavy he said, it took a big guy to carry those plus weapons and their other normal load. (Note -  I looked online and found smaller ones from that era, for instance the Austrian made <i>’Gurtelpeiler’</i> worn as a vest, but I believe it was for short range work by the SD or perhaps the Gestapo.)

After the war he settled down in Rainier, Oregon.  But retired from there 28 years ago and moved to the great state of Washington, near a golf course.  No golf carts for him though, he walked the course every day up until a few years ago, which is probably why he is still healthy at 93.  (Note to myself: do more walking)!



UPDATE:

I neglected to mention that this particular veteran and his platoon were not the only ones sent to China after the war.  III Amphibious Corps received orders to ship out to China within forty-eight hours after the Japanese surrendered on 2 September.  There were many hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Korean soldiers and civilians in China needing repatriation.  Neither the Japanese nor the Chinese had the assets to make that happen.  So POTUS #33 directed the 7th Fleet and the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions of IIIAC to northern China with orders to accept the surrender of the Japanese and repatriate them.  And also to ”help the Nationalists reassert their control over areas previously held by the Japanese.”  IMHO this last was probably in reaction to Soviet Operation August Storm into Manchuria.  Preliminary plans had been issued in August.  Army LtGen Wedermayer was in command of the China Theater at the time and it was at his urging that the orders were issued.

They took up positions in Peking, Tsingtao, Tangku,

and Chinwangtao in addition to Tientsin.  Protecting railroads that delivered Japanese internees, coal, and Nationalist troops was part of their tasking.  So squad and platoon size detachments went many places in between those five major cities as train guards and bridge security.  They were not to take sides in the fighting between the Reds and the Nationalists, but sh!t happens so they defended themselves.  They negotiated directly with Zhou Enlai over many of these incidents.


 They provided security for US Fleet Repatriation Centers in various Chinese ports, many of which came under sporadic attacks.  They provided six-man security detachments to 39 LSTs transporting the repatriated internees home in case there was any difficulty with the ~1000 Japanese soldiers on each ship.  BTW there were no difficult incidents, the Japanese were happy to be going home.  The photo on the lower right is of Japanese soldiers on their way home saluting the Stars and Stripes upon boarding an LST returning them to their home islands.  The saluting was not forced on them by the US, they did it at the order of General Nagano, former Commander of Japanese troops at Tsingtao.  And they were probably happy to not have been in Manchuria ‘repatriated’ by Stalin to the Siberian Gulag or to the forced-labor Karaganda coalfields of Kazakhstan  -  or happy to not have been the victims of mob violence inspired by local guerilla political cadre.  Altogether <i>”more than 540,000 Japanese had been repatriated from North China under Marine supervision”</i>.  Another 1.7 million were repatriated later by NGOs working with the Japanese Merchant Marine, whose shipping was 99% comprised of US Liberty Ships, LSTs, and Hospital Ships.

The 93 year old who I got the story from was released in late 1946.  He went back to University at Eugene, married his high school sweetheart, and raised two doctors, a schoolteacher, and a fourth he describes as the mellow child happily living in a jackrabbit paradise.
 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hiding Cards in the Great Game

So apparently the Fraudulency Administration is going to continue to try to hustle the East.
(And I should add to any readers out there who said, or believed, this: No. Donald Trump didn't ever mean what he said when he talked about "disengagement" (or whatever fourth-grade word he used for "getting the fuck out of Southwest Asia") on the stump. He...well, to call it "lied" would be to presume that he even bothered to put the effort into giving a fuck about whatever word salad came out of his piehole...didn't have the slightest idea or care the least bit about the pointless military farkling about west of the Khyber Pass any more than he really meant that you were going to have the best medical coverage, waaaay better than Obamacare. Donald Trump isn't some sort of pacifist, or even an isolationist. He's a conman and, like any good conman, he said what he needed to to get you poor, dumb bastards to buy his snake oil.)
Now this is all the same-shit-different-Groundhog-Day that the U.S. has been doing in the Grave of Empires ever since Dubya's day. IT didn't work when we had damn near 100,000 guys in theatre and it won't work now. I can talk forever about how it's going to be impossible without Pakistani buy-in and how the Pakis won't buy in because of the Kabul government's coziness with India, about how Trump's nonsensical rejection of "nation-building" leaves the problem of Afghan government corruption and malfeasance in place and, thus, ensures the worthlessness of any sort of military success.

But that's not what gets me about the latest round of this idiocy.

It's Orange Foolius' ridiculous obsession with not telling who he's going to direct the Pentagon to send as reinforcements.
(Oh, and another note: I'm hearing people talk about how "serious" and "presidential" the oaf sounded Monday night. Look. Regardless of how "presidential" he sounded his Afghan "plan" is a ridiculous mess of pottage that wouldn't produce a successful toddler's birthday party, let alone a solution to an intractable colonial war in one of the least-hospitable parts of the globe. Focusing on how The Idiot sounded lets the punditry elide what a mess he and his best, "the very best" military advisors have devised. As I noted; over 100,000 troopers complete with horse, foot, and artillery couldn't suppress the Pashtun. Now a couple of new brigade rotations is gonna work. And we're not "nation building" when every swinging richard who has taken a look at this has concluded that one of the single biggest problems is the regime in Kabul, which is loathed when its not ignored by every Afghan outside those leaching off it? So...no. He wasn't "serious" Monday night. He may have sounded "serious", but what he actually SAID was just the same Trump nonsense.)
A combat brigade, like love and a cough, is hard to hide. Trust me, the Talibs have people inside our log facilities in-theatre. When a new unit is due to arrive their advance party is on the ground making coordinations days, weeks, sometimes even months before the main body arrives. The muj will get intel on, at the very least, when and who is showing up long before they get there.

And the muj will also have people shadowing the units in the field AOs. They'll notice when the ADVON guys show up to coordinate the relief with the departing unit (or set up FOBs for a new AO). They may not know exactly which outfit is going to show up, or exactly where and when...but they'll have a pretty good idea that SOMEbody is coming.

But this all fits with Orange Foolius' ideas that war is like some sort of game where you "win" by hiding your cards or something, and, sadly, it also fits with our geopolitical infatuation with tactics as strategy. Every Great Power that has ever meddled with the Central Asian highlands has eventually figured out that you 1) choose your most ruthless local satrap, arm and equip him, and 2) declare victory and leave. Then, when your proxy falls to the inevitable coup or rebellion or whatever you shrug and move on. The whole damn place is pretty worthless.

"Killing terrorists" is just going to end up killing...more people. More Afghans. Meaning that we'll end us sowing Cadmus' teeth and making one or two new muj for everyone we kill. If you want to go Full Roman and make a wasteland? That's pretty much the only way that works. But, hopefully, Trump and his merry band of neoNazis aren't ready to tap their Inner Reinhard Heydrich.

Yet, anyway.

So the only people that this idiot is fooling with his secrecy are the people he's supposed to be straight with; the U.S. public. The Talibs will know before any of us civilians where and who he's sending to slay Afridis where they run.

Which will work just as well as is has for the past 17 years.

I know I've said this before. But, apparently, it's worth repeating; no Great Power has ever solved Afghanistan.

The only way to "win" this Central Asian Game of Thrones is not to play.

But being convinced that you're fooling your enemies by hiding cards in plain sight?

That's a whole new level of derp.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NORK Nukes II - Fire and Fury Boogaloo

So for some bizarre reason we're back to fiddling with these damn DPRK nukes again, largely, I suspect, because the Tweeter-in-Chief has got a whole lot of people clenched up to Pucker Factor 11 by promising "fire and fury" if His Porkulency Kim Jong Un cocks another nuclear snook at the Land of the Free and the Home of the B-52s (seeing as the current objet de furor seems to be principally the U.S. installations on Guam).
(And let me note in passing that...what the hell is it with U.S. politicians and chest-beating military rhetoric? Trump, in particular, seems pretty damn partial to bluster for a man who had a fistful of deferments from getting within sniffing distance of harm's way back in the day. Whenever I run across this stuff I'm forcefully reminded of yet another of the wonderful bits of writing from Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons". In particular, where Thomas More, having been arrested for treason and under "examination" by the current Chancellor of England Thomas Cromwell, is reminded by the latter of the government's capacity for causing More physical pain.

"You threaten like a dockside bully." sniffs More.

"How should I threaten, then?" snarls Cromwell, angry at being chided by a man that he can have tortured or killed and who, therefore, should be fearful instead of caustic.

More looks Cromwell up and down (and, remember, More was Cromwell's predecessor as Chancellor) and observes dryly: "Like a Minister of State.")
Perhaps the MOST frustrating thing about this is that we know, His Porkulency knows, and Trump knows that there really are no good military options for dealing with the NORK nukes. Keep in mind I'm not saying there are no options - just that there aren't any really optimal military ones.

So the Tangerine Tweetmonger's bluster is really just that, unless he's actually stupid enough to consider the loss of life in our Korean ally outside of consideration. But whenever the custodian of one of the globe's biggest nuclear weapons stockpile is flapping his gums like a schoolyard bully that sort of bluster is hard to ignore, regardless of the uselessness of the blustering.

Or maybe it's just me. I came of age at a time when the "enemies" my country was supposed to confront were global powers armed, as we were, with ginormous armies and fleets and swarms of aircraft and glowing piles of nukes.

All this sound and fury over raggedy-assed jihadi wannabes and upstart Korean tinpot dictators seems immensely tiring.
Perhaps we should all just relax and have a nice sandwich.

Monday, August 7, 2017

End of the runway for the SPAD II?

David Axe at War is Boring has a summary of the current situation at the USAF higher with regard to close air support.

The tl:dr version is that:

1. The USAF still doesn't really enjoy doing CAS, and
2. The USAF still doesn't really like having to fly slow ugly-ass crates like the A-10, the post-midcentury version of the old Vietnam era "SPAD", the A-1 Skyraider.

As a history buff I can kind of understand why the USAF hates being in the CAS business. It had to fight hard to shake loose from Army control because the Army thought that the best use for aircraft was low over the troops. It's also goddamn dangerous, even moreso with improvements in AAA such as shoulder-fired SAMS as well as longer-range, higher-altitude counterair systems such as the Russian S-400.

That said...upgrades and improvements in the U.S. FA branch have been underwhelming in the past half-century. We're still using legacy systems from the early Cold War and, particularly, the fire support base in the light infantry units (including light mechanized outfits like the Army's Stryker brigades) is dependent on towed gun systems such as the M119A1 and the M777A2 that have some fairly significant issues.

So for the foreseeable future the U.S. Army is going to lean heavily on USAF CAS missions for heavy fire support. The problem appears to be that the USAF is still really unenthused about those missions.

As a former earthpig veterinarian I have a deep emotional fondness for the new SPAD, and so I can't be objective about the USAF's apparent eagerness to 86 it. But perhaps the real problem isn't so much to "Save the SPAD" but to try and avoid sending U.S. infantry to farkle about in places where the need for close air support is essential? Or to rethink the tactical/operational setup so as to provide more fire support in the form of FA fires rather than from the Wild Blue Yonder? OR, as both Sven and Ael mention in the comments, would an entirely new mix of armed drone platforms and improved FA systems be a better solution? Would the USAF be willing to accept an armed Army-controlled CAS drone as an exception to the Key West Agreement..?
Feel free to discuss...

Monday, July 31, 2017

PLA 90th Anniversary

Celebrated with a one-hour plus parade at the Zhurihe Training Base in Xilin Gol of Inner Mongolia.  Only a hundred miles or so from the Xanadu, the Mongolian capital of Kublai Khan and later his summer palace.

The PLA was born on 1 August 1927 in the Nanchang Uprising led by He Long and commissared by Zhou Enlai.  The uprising failed and they took 50% casualties.  And in the aftermath, out of the remaining 50% many left and went home or deserted to the Nationalists.  But the PLA endured, escaping from Kuomintang encirclements like Harry Houdini; and eventually making their Long March of 5600 miles.   They made their bones against the Japanese, and they ultimately drove Generalissmo Chiang Kai-shek into the sea and won their country in 1949.

President Xi Jinping was there in Zhurihe wearing pixellated cammies.  He reviewed the troops and gave some pep talks.  They needed it as PLA Ground & Air Forces have been getting shorted on publicity recently compared to the PLA Navy.   Xi showed off publicly for the first time many new war toys including the Shenyang J-16 fighter jet, Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter and the new-generation Dongfeng-31AG intercontinental missile.  President Xi called for the formation of "elite" forces.  Hmmm, I thought they already had Special Ops troopers?  Their first public mission was in 2008 when they accompanied PLAN warships in anti Pirate patrols.  And they have competed in and won various international "elite warrior" competitions.  Perhaps Xi's comment was meant to enlarge the current Special Ops?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vVOXlgHC1U