Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Third Gulf War and the Poison Gift that Keeps on Giving

As His Fraudulency thumps himself on the back for not completely goatscrewing relief efforts to Puerto Rico and farkles about tweeting about football players the poison tree that his GOP buddies and his fellow-idiot Dubya planted in Iraq back in 2003 continues to bear bitter, poison fruit.

The latest in sectarian strife there is ripening this week after the Kurdish minority voted overwhelmingly to secede and now the Shiite majority legislature in Baghdad is striking back with a measure to shut off air traffic to the landlocked Kurdish provinces.

The problem for Orange Foolius is that, due to the rank idiocy of Dubya's crew in knocking the secular Baath stopper off the Iraqi bottle, the sectarian genie is out, uncontrollable, and uncontainable. One of the favorite Republican "kwitcherbitchin'!" talking points back in the Oughts was to insist that Saddam is Evil and if you're against war in Iraq you are For Saddam and therefore For Evil.

The argument was transparently moronic then and looks even stupider now that the deposition of Saddam and the destruction of secular government has empowered every religious nut with an AK-47 to tear up what little bridgework allowed construction of the 20th Century over this already-bottomless post-Ottoman sinkhole. Evil?

Sheesh.

An administration headed by FDR and a military overseen by George Marshall would have a nearly impossible task trying to put this Iraqi Humpty Dumpty together again. The current passel of mouthbreathers, grifters, morons, reality-show carnies, egomaniac adolescents, and Trump (but I repeat myself) couldn't manage to do anything constructive with this mess if they had ten centuries, a magic 8-Ball, and a license to print money.

Oh, wait. They have the latter. They'd just sooner use it to fund Amway scamsters and give away cash to plutocrats.

I don't know if there's a point here, other than "Don't elect morons" and "WASF".

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.