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]

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.

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