Op-For: “Where is the Case for Co – Ed Ground Combat?”

Indiana Guard Fires Historic Artillery Mission Adds M777 Digital Artillery Piece to Arsenal

Alte kamerad LTCOL P, Marine artilleryman extraordinaire, has a great piece about a great piece.   He points out some pretty sobering stats from the continuing effort to make ground combat a co-ed sport.

In the 155 mm Artillery Lift and Carry, a test simulating ordnance stowing, volunteers had to pick up a 95 lb. artillery round and carry it 50 meters in under 2 minutes. Noted the report, “Less than 1% of men, compared to 28.2% of women, could not complete the 155 mm artillery round lift and carry in the allotted time.” If trainees had to “shoulder the round and/or carry multiple rounds, the 28.2% failure rate would increase.”

As LTCOL P points out, such a test is in no way, shape, or form anywhere near realistic.  The HE M107 projectile is 95 pounds, a tad heavier with lifting eyebolt.  I would posit that making the test the moving of ten or twenty of those projectiles over, say, 100 meters, BEGINS to get to what kind of heavy manual labor is involved in being a field artilleryman.  I would doubt severely that any female tested could get anywhere close to passing that particular test.  And that is simply a beginning test.  Try it after several days of 3 hours’ sleep in the snow or in yesterday’s rainwater, or in the 115 degree heat, after displacing twice in four hours and digging in spades each time.

You can be guaranteed the feminists and their spineless apologists in uniform will continue to find ways to obfuscate and slant results such as these and continue to scream for she-warriors who are the physical equivalent of men, when they are not being helpless victims, of course.   Our present and future enemies must be awfully impressed.

Seasonal, Pumpkin Spice MREs Set For Release

Fall is arriving early as the Pentagon’s Combat Feeding Directorate announced the nation’s service members will be able to enjoy new seasonal versions of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs), Duffel Blog has learned.

“The Directorate has worked continuously to update MREs to reflect the current preferences of our armed forces,” said Phyllis Ray, a senior food technologist. “We’ve seen an odd trend recently showing our warfighters prefer foods that actually taste good and reflect seasonal foods American’s enjoy back home.”

Ray went on to elaborate that a breakthrough in food preservation and barista technologies have allowed the Directorate to concoct the next generation of MRE flavors.

The following seasonal MREs are scheduled to be rolled out this fall:

Pumpkin Spice Taco Pasta

Spiced Chai Black Beans

Lasagna Latte

Venti-tarian Delight

via Seasonal, Pumpkin Spice MREs Set For Release.

ATAC

Yesterday, ATAC lost another pilot and Hawker Hunter in a mishap near Pt. Mugu. It’s too soon to speculate what the cause might be. But the incident is drawing attention from the public, so I’ll share what I wrote two and a half years ago.

 

Airborne Tactical Advantage Company. Lex was flying for them when he was killed. And tragically, CAPT Thomas Bennett was killed on May 18 flying for them as well. Now, anytime two accidents occur, heightened scrutiny of the organization is justified. But an automatic assumption that there is something wrong with the company would be an overreach.

I have to be honest here, I really hate writing anything having to do with the loss of an aircrew, but having done two of these with the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company in the headline within the last three months is pretty miserable. I have spent multiple days with the ATAC team at their NAWS Point Mugu operating location. These visits were in preparation for writing and shooting a large expose on the company for Combat Aircraft Magazine. I am lucky to be able to get around to quite a few military units across the US and I have to say, what ATAC does and how they do it is pretty damn amazing.

ATAC utilizes older fast jet aircraft than those that you would find in the active duty military, yet despite their age they are in pristine condition. Further, the ATAC fleet does not consist of just a few vintage jet trainers, it’s literally a full-sized aggressor wing, with aircraft based around the globe. As far as the talent involved in ATAC’s operations, the firm is stocked with decorated fast jet pilots with thousands of hours of flight time. Many of which served as weapons instructors, commanding officers, or even as CAG during their active duty military careers. Additionally their pilot corps also contains reserve officers who are still flying regularly mainline aggressor squadrons. The maintenance folks at ATAC also clearly display a high level of expertise, many with long and distinguished military careers under their belt before joining ATAC. I am not an NTSB investigator, or claiming to have any knowledge of what caused the May 18th crash of the ATAC Hawker Hunter that was on approach to land at NAWS Point Mugu. Nor did I directly know Thomas Bennett, the highly decorated Navy Captain killed in the crash, but I can tell you that after many interviews with their staff and observing their day-to-day operations that I cannot praise this company’s professionalism and apparent commitment to safety enough. The whole team seemed very confident in their mission and were fully cognizant of the risks involved as well as what is at stake on a daily basis for the company.

Go take a gander, and see what this company provides to our country.  Two fatal crashes in less than three months is a bit of a red flag. But two different types, in different locations, under different weather circumstances tells us that there was likely little in common between the incidents. And you can be sure ATAC is doing an awful lot of internal looking to ensure that they are not setting themselves up for accidents.

I had the opportunity to briefly speak with the CEO of ATAC at Lex’s memorial. I was pretty impressed with him and his company’s dedication, both to their mission and to their people. ATAC has a prospective pilot applying for a flying position similar to Lex’s.  In fact, he was an acquaintance of Lex’s. So almost immediately after the crash, ATAC hired him with the mission to serve as a “Casualty Assistance Officer” to the family. Think about that. How many companies do you know that would provide that kind of support?

The B-1 vs. The A-10, and a very misleading headline.

On June 9, 2014, confusion and poor tactics led to a B-1B bomber dropping two 500 pound bombs on US and friendly Afghan troops. Five Americans and one Afghan soldier were killed in the incident.

Yesterday’s Washington Times published a lengthy piece by Rowan Scarborough about the incident:

The “friendly fire” airstrike that killed five American soldiers in Afghanistan on June 9 is the first known case of a battlefield catastrophe that can be linked to automatic defense spending cuts that greatly curtailed prewar training.

A review of the worst American fratricide in the long Afghanistan war also shows that the military’s official investigation faults a Green Beret commander, an Air Force air controller and the four-man crew on the B-1B bomber that conducted the errant strike.

But the investigation, headed by an Air Force general, does not question the use of a strategic bomber for close air support, even though experts say the tragedy illustrates why the big plane is misplaced in that role.

The Washington Times has reviewed the investigation and interviewed knowledgeable sources to compile a picture of the doomed operation in southern Afghanistan’s Zabul province, as well as the political and military missteps that precipitated it. Key among them, according to defense experts, was the use of the strategic bomber.

Scarborough’s angle is that the B-1B is an obviously poor choice for the Close Air Support mission, and apparently, the Air Force is stubbornly refusing to admit that in spite of the opinions of “experts.”

And of course, there’s a political battle about the future of the A-10.  From further down in the article, John McCain has to make an appearance. From Senate hearings in April, questioning the Secretary of the Air Force, Debra Lee James:

Mr. McCain, not afraid to bluntly question generals and their civilian heads, stopped her right there, asking her to detail the “so forth.”

She said it included the B-1B: “It is my belief that the B-1 bomber has done some close air support in Afghanistan.”

Sen. McCain expressed amazement.

“That’s a remarkable statement,” he told her. “That doesn’t comport with any experience I’ve ever had, nor anyone I know has ever had. See, this is an example. You’re throwing in the B-1 bomber as a close air support weapon to replace the A-10. This is the reason why there is such incredible skepticism here in Congress.”

Gen. Welsh jumped in to say the B-1B had been doing close air support for some time.

Incensed, Mr. McCain said those had been “a very limited number of missions of close air support. General, please don’t insult my intelligence.”

Senator McCain, for all his military aviation experience, seems to have not noticed that B-1Bs have been flying Close Air Support missions in Afghanistan for thirteen years now, and this is the first friendly fire incident in which one has been involved.

In fact, while there are potential issues with using the B-1B for CAS, it also brings some very good attributes to the fight. First, persistence. It has the endurance to stay on station for hours on end, far longer than any tactical fighter bomber, even the A-10. Second, compared to any other platform, it can carry a much greater payload of ordnance. That gives it the ability to reattack targets as needed. Additionally, it can carry a wide variety of weapons on each mission, allowing it to tailor the the weapon to the target. The B-1B, originally intended as a nuclear bomber, is restricted by treaty these days to a purely conventional mission. And the community has invested a lot of time and money to optimize the platform for the CAS role.

Of course, “experts” have to weight in.

“The A-10s would not have been orbiting five miles away,” said William Smith, a retired Air Force officer who logged more than 3,000 miles on the A-10. “They would have been right over top of the fight.”

He further explained how the A-10 and pilot do the job: “Being right over the fight, with the A-10’s tighter turn radius, gives us the ability to stay right on top of the target, allowing the pilot to have constant eyes on the fight. A-10 pilots know you can’t see the infrared strobe in the sniper pod. You need to look out the window, through the NVGs. A-10 pilots wear the goggles continuously.”

Mr. Smith is now part of a coalition trying to save the A-10. He grimaces when discussing the B-1B as a stand-in.

Here’s the thing, yes, the expert cited is indeed an expert. But n0te that he has a strong bias to advocate for the A-10. Let’s also note that the A-10 has been involved in several fraticide incidents, including an attack on the British Army in Iraq in 2003.

Fraticide is not a platform problem, it’s usually a tactics and communications problem, often exacerbated by “buck fever” where someone is overly eager to contribute to the fight.

And sometimes, the real reason is staring you in the face. From this very same Washington Times article, there’s this stunning bit:

In addition, The Times review found that the Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), a critical player who made a major miscalculation that night, had a checkered career.

Upon arriving June 1 in Afghanistan, he had been told before the operation that he had been selected for “involuntary separation,” meaning his Air Force career was over.

This JTAC also had been demoted in rank for misconduct. On another occasion, he was kicked out of a special unit because he twice called in close air support directly over friendly positions during training. Yet he was allowed to participate in the operation on relatively short notice.

The Times has learned the JTAC showed a lack of basic knowledge about close air support when interviewed afterward by investigators.

Emphasis mine.

A JTAC who was so incompetent that he should never been allowed to touch a radio, combined with the fog of war lead to this tragedy. All the other factors cited in the Air Force investigation are simply contributing factors, not causal ones.

Many people, McCain, Smith and others, are using the deaths of these soldiers for political ends. Mr. Scarborough should be ashamed of himself for playing along.

Orbital Sciences begins accident investigation, recovery

It’s the morning after, and Orbital Sciences, NASA, the NTSB, and the FAA are trying to figure out what happened. (In the immortal words of Ben Ramsey, “I know what’s wrong with it, it’s broke!”)
launch-pad-looking-south-after-failure
First, thank God no one was hurt or killed. The damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island.
From today’s Orbital press release

The overall findings indicate the major elements of the launch complex infrastructure, such as the pad and fuel tanks, avoided serious damage, although some repairs will be necessary. However, until the facility is inspected in greater detail in the coming days, the full extent of necessary repairs or how long they will take to accomplish will not be known.

And from NASA’s press release

A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.

The Monday morning quarterbacking around the coffeepot at work focused on the age of the Soviet AJ-26 engines, how they were stored, how long they were stored, and what was involved in refurbishing these engines. Broken turbine blade? Something couldn’t handle the vibration load? It could even be something used that was not compatible with LOX.
We shall see.

Underway, Undersea, Under the Russian Flag

CDR Salamander has a neat post about an encounter with a Russian submarine. As an added bonus, it has this fascinating “home video” about life aboard the Russian sub in question, the Orenburg.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN61DmHeLc4?feature=player_embedded]

Roughly the first half is exterior shots. You can skip forward to the interior stuff.

As others have noted, there’s a very different feel, atmosphere, to the Russian sub. It looks lived in and comfortably inhabited, as opposed to the almost sterile aesthetics of a US submarine.

“Maneuver warfare is not a doctrinal choice, it is an earned benefit” applied to the Civil War? | To the Sound of the Guns

Well DePuy’s quote touched upon something I’ve long weighed in regard to Civil War operations. While the Civil War generals didn’t name it “operations” as we do today, they still practiced operations at the same level (just called it “strategy” or “grand strategy”). So mull over this notion:

Maneuver warfare is an earned benefit.

Robert E. Lee earned the benefit of maneuver after fighting seven days of hard battles in June 1862, and that benefit paid out with an advance into Maryland. Lee again earned the benefit of maneuver in the spring of 1863, which he used to advantage during the first half of that summer.

via “Maneuver warfare is not a doctrinal choice, it is an earned benefit” applied to the Civil War? | To the Sound of the Guns.

Craig weighs in on maneuver warfare.  All you fans of the American Civil War could learn a lot from following him.

Ex-NYPD Officer Frank Serpico: Police Still Out of Control and Unaccountable

An excellent article in Politico Magazine.  Serpico has lots to say about the unaccountable, self-protecting, unionized, arbitrarily violent, up-gunned, over-armored, arrogant, power-mad police problem in our country.   Worth the read.  Here are some highlights.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

And an increasingly common malady, the appearance of an occupying army rather than that of protecting and serving:

Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Serpico also lays out some measures for getting at the root of the problem:

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;

2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;

3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;

4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;

5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;

6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

All in all, some fascinating insights.  From a cop whose moral courage is legendary.  What say we?