Now, I’m not a touchy-feely kind of guy. I’m certainly not a New Age guy. I’m pretty much of the old school “suck it up/walk it off” school.  Back in my day, any hint that you had mental or emotional problems was cause for shunning.

You’ve no doubt seen various news stories in the last year or two that show that mindset is changing, slowly, in the Army.  A great deal of emphasis is being placed on the mental well being of soldiers.

Let’s face it. There aren’t a hell of a lot of jobs that are more stressful than being a combat grunt. Just one day is enough to emotionally drain you. The stress can fatigue you even if you aren’t physically exerting yourself. Add in the stress of repeatedly going on patrols in hostile territory, and it is no surprise that some soldiers have difficulty maintaining the edge, or have trouble fully adjusting when they get home.

The Army has been placing more and more emphasis on mental health for its troops. And one way of reducing the stigma of what has traditionally seen as a sign of weakness is to rebrand mental health as a tool of the warrior, almost a weapon of sorts.

Enter the samuri:

The benefits of Warrior Mind Training, students have told instructors, are impressive: better aim on the shooting range, higher test scores, enhanced ability to handle combat stress and slip back into life at home. No comprehensive studies have been done, though a poll of 25 participants showed 70% said they felt better able to handle stressful situations and 65% had improved self-control.

Read the whole thing. I don’t think they’re all the way there yet, but maybe they are on the right path.

More Gunships

We’ve covered briefly before the history of gunships as a close air support platform. The Marines have never used the C-130 as a gunship, mostly for reasons of cost. The current cost of an Air Force AC-130U is somewhere around $140 million, making it one of the most expensive planes in the inventory.

But the Marines would really like to have access to some form of very persistent overhead gunship platform, if only for the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconissance (ISR) capability it provides.

There’s news out that the Marines are looking at a “bolt-on” gunship capability for their KC-130J SuperHerks. Under a program called “Harvest Hawk,” this would entail replacing one of the drop tanks with a sensor package, the other with launch rails for Hellfire missiles, and bolting a 30mm gun package to one of the troop doors.

It may not be a perfect solution, but the Marines think it would be better than none.


We usually leave the air-defense discussion to Chockblock, since that’s his area of expertise. But we thought we’d toss this one up because we were a little surprised to see it.

Air Defense Artillery in the Army has been getting a lot of funding and attention for its role in Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), focusing mainly on the Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) programs. The only other program getting attention for a long time was the Stinger and its variants.

US forces have pretty much been free from interference from enemy air attack for 50 years, so Air Defense doesn’t always get a lot of budget attention. So, we were somewhat surprised to see even this small $30 million budget allocation for long lead items for a program that’s been around awhile. The SLAMRAAM is basically what its name says, a surface launched variant of the primary US air-to-air missile, the AIM-120 AMRAAM or Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile. Likely changes to the missile include a different motor better suited to ground launch. Whereas the AMRAAM normally works with a mid-course update from the launching aircraft’s radar, it is likely that the ground launch version would only be used in the “fire and forget” mode.  The press release is unclear wether the program is intended for the Army, the Marines (the Army buys missiles for them) or for foreign purchasers.

Sorry there’s no sound to the clip, but I think you get the gist of it.