Road Trip

We’ll be out of town the next day or two, so no posting. Sorry.

In the interim, here’s a little something to tide you over. Our best tour in the Army was in the 4th Infantry Division, rising to the position of a section leader for a section of two Bradleys. In garrison, we were responsible for the crews, training, and maintenance of both vehicles. In the field, the Platoon Leader took command of the other Bradley, and we worked as his wingman.  Here’s a good look at some of the firepower and mobility of a Bradley. Lots of nice shots of the 25mm and the TOW missile system.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhQnvrCkSHM]

There’s some obvious Iraq footage, and some from operational units, but a lot of the footage seems to come from the 29th Infantry at Ft. Benning. The 29th is the demonstration unit at the Infantry School. They provide the vehicles for basic training for infantrymen, and troops for young infantry officers at school to practice with. They also periodically provide firepower demonstrations to VIPs to show what the taxpayers are getting for their money.

We own the night…

We’ve mentioned the Nightstalkers before, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). They’re the Army’s dedicated unit to provide aviation support to special operations. They are the most highly trained helicopter unit in the world.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxeiG8IGN1c]

Load HEAT

Sorry we’re a little late this morning. We had a late night and kinda forgot what day it was. Never fear, however, as we are now prepared to continue looking at beautiful redheads from Hollywood.

Kate Walsh first came to our attention on The Drew Carey Show, where she played Drew’s love interest. She’s also been on the wildly successful Grey’s Anatomy, and has now spun off onto her own show, Private Practice. Private Practice is set in sunny Southern California, but I can assure you, our doctor doesn’t look anything like this.

Click each pic to see the full size.

The French?

As we’ve mentioned before, we like bashing the French as much as the next guy. But they really do have an army, and they really are in Afghanistan. I’ll leave it for the folks that have been there/done that to comment on any interactions they may have had with our Gallic cousins. In the meantime, here’s a  quick clip of the French on the ground.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDzRptZYHJc]

I’ll note without snark that the air support is from A-10s, none of which are in French service, but only operated by the US Air Force.

Joint Air Attack Team

We’ve talked before about how the post-Vietnam era Army found itself facing down an enormous Soviet Group of Forces in East Germany, and struggling to find a  way to deter them from rolling over NATO forces.

The standard Soviet tactic was the echelon attack. A US brigade might find itself under attack by a full Soviet Motor-Rifle Division. Fair enough. As a rule of thumb, units in the defense are expected to be able to handle an attack by a force up to three times their size. The problem came when the second echelon of Soviet forces would slam into our US brigade, before they have had time to reset after the first attack. And if the second echelon didn’t break through, there was a third echelon behind that. Sooner or later, our US brigade would be overwhelmed.

The key to defeating the echelon attack was  to disrupt the follow-on second and third echelons. We’ve discussed the Cobra and Apache attack helicopters in the deep strike role. And the Air Force would do its part by performing interdiction missions, dropping bridges, disrupting supply and fuel depots.

But there was another tactic, designed to compliment the strenghts and minimize the weaknesses of attack helicopters and close air support aircraft like the A-10. That was the Joint Air Attack Team, or JAAT. Utilizing artillery, scout and attack helicopters, Airborne Forward Air Controllers, and close air support aircraft like the A-10, a JAAT could overwhelm the air defenses of a Soviet unit and pound it into the dirt. Even if the unit wasn’t destroyed, it would be so disrupted that it couldn’t keep to its schedule. This would buy our defending ground brigade time to reset from the first echelon and prepare for its attack.

Here’s a training film from either the late 70’s or early 80’s showing the basic concept.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VboKISx11Tk]

With the exception of the A-10, all the platforms shown have been replaced. The M-60 tanks have been replaced by M-1s, the OH-58 scouts by updated OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, the AH-1Qs by AH-64s, and the OV-10 by modified OA-10A’s.  Still, the basic concept is still a viable one.

There were a couple of real challenges to making a JAAT work. First, airspace management. It can be a real challenge making sure artillery rounds and airplanes don’t occupy the same airspace. For obvious reasons, the aviators, both Army and Air Force are kinda picky about that. There’s also the challenge of making sure the helicopters and fixed wing air know where each other are, to avoid collisions.

The other challenge was timeliness. It takes some time to put a JAAT together. If the JAAT takes too long to assemble, it can miss its chance to catch the follow on echelon. But if units have trained together before, and have worked out the kinks, it can be put together much more quickly.

D-Day

I’ve been looking for good video of the D-Day landings. There isn’t much to choose from. I mean, there’s tons of clips, but most of the footage is the same. So I said what the heck- to give a more visceral impression of just how rough it was on Omaha Beach, go with the dramatic interpretation.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHXTbBdcfEg]

For the most part, the Army was confident it would get ashore in Normandy. They’d had the experience of four major landings in the war-  North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio. They knew what they were doing. The real challenge would be to build up troops in the beachhead faster than the Germans could be reinforced.

But of the troops originally scheduled to land, none had seen combat. Gen. Bradley, the American ground force commander, decided to use the 1st Infantry Division, to ensure that at least some combat-blooded troops were on hand. The 1st, The Big Red One, wasn’t very happy about it. But they understood why it had to be.

Of the two major beaches the US troops landed on, Utah was a fairly simple matter. Only a little over 200 casualties were inflicted on the 4th Infantry division.

It was over at Omaha beach, where elements of the 1st and the 29th Infantry Divisions landed, that the Army expected trouble. And did they ever get it. It wasn’t till well after noon that the first troops on Omaha even made it to the top of the bluffs. Omaha was critical because it was the beach between the British/Canadian landing on Gold, Sword and Juno beaches, and Utah beach. If the landings at Omaha failed, the Germans could attack down that seam and turn the flank of the British and defeat them in detail, then turn and defeat the Americans at Utah.

In the end, the great leaders of the war, the Generals and the Admirals could exert no influence on the battle at Omaha. It was up to small unit leaders, Lieutenants, Sergeants, Corporals, and the individual initiative of Private soldiers to overcome the fierce German resistance on Omaha. Men had to make the decision to flee the false safety of the seawall and assault into the teeth of the guns. They did. And they overcame. And we owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

Cross posted at The Hostages

Hulu – PBS Specials: Medal of Honor

We had planned an extensive post on this, the 65th anniversary of the invasion of Europe. There’s no shortage of things to write about. The heroism of the soldiers of the 1st, 4th, 29th, 82nd(Abn.) and 101st(Abn.) Divisions, the struggles of the Engineer Special Brigades (half of all soldiers landed on D-Day were engineers dedicated to clearing the beaches for follow-on elements). The valor and sacrifice of Navy and Coast Guard small boat crews plunging through intense fire to deliver troops. The efforts of thousands of Airmen to clear the skies of the Luftwaffe and provide support.

But we were distracted by PBS. Specifically, we came across this video on Hulu.com regarding the Medal of Honor. It has been our privilege to meet several Medal of Honor recipients. In fact, I used to work for one. I told him that I didn’t think I could ever do what he did. He said, “Neither did I”.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2676437&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Hulu – PBS Specials: Medal of Honor“, posted with vodpod

Rockets on Target

Here’s a little video, courtesy of Right Wing Video, showing the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) in action.  I’m pretty sure the second rocket set off a large secondary explosion. For sure, that’s a lot bigger bang than a regular 250# warhead would normally make.

So, what’s a GMLRS? Here’s an earlier post on it…

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2672522&w=425&h=350&fv=]

So, what’s a GMLRS? Here’s an earlier post on it

Midway

Today is the 67th anniversary of the turning of the tide in the Pacific Theater in WWII. For the first 6 months of the war, the Japanese had their way in almost every battle. They seemed almost unstoppable. They weren’t.

100 Seconds that Changed the World
100 Seconds that Changed the World

We’re an Army blog, but the son of a Naval Aviator, and we grew up not just knowing about Midway, but knowing veterans of Midway. We’ll leave it to the huge collection of excellent Naval bloggers to tell the story. Today is their day. Hats off to the heroes of one of the most desparate naval battles of all time.

NepLex

SteelJawScribe

Information Dissemination

USNI Blog

EagleSpeak

Your Air Force at War… And Play

We spent a fair portion of our military service making fun of the Air Force. I’m pretty sure it’s in the regulations somewhere that troops are required to…

But the Air Force isn’t all just hanging around the pool and collecting per diem. There’s a fair number of folks in the Air Force who are filling  jobs in Afghanistan or Iraq that might rightly be considered Army jobs. That’s one of the problems that having such a small army causes. And many folks in the Air Force aren’t happy about it. If they wanted to play soldier, they would have joined the Army. There’s a lot of folks in the Navy in the same boat (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Not surprisingly, some of these folks blog. Mike at “A Year in the Sandbox” is an Air Force Staff Sergeant blogging about his tour with a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Ground units, including PRTs of course have a basic load of ammunition for their weapons. But over time, ammo collects dirt, dust, grease, you name it. When possible, troop units rotate their ammo, receiving a fresh load, and using the old load for some live fire training. Here’s an example from Mike of what that can look like.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu_WTwWKVuM]

Mike’s got several more along the same lines, so go here and check them out.