A brother in arms

ICYMI, Bruce MacKinnon, the editorial cartoonist for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, created one of the most moving tributes I’ve seen since the Challenger accident.


The unknown soldier aids the unarmed guard.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was just 24. Rest in peace, sir.

The Attacks in Canada

The news is still breaking on an attack  in Canada, including the Parliament.

Multiple gunmen opened fire at the Canadian Parliament complex, shooting at least one soldier and spraying as many as 30 shots inside the government building just two days after a terror attack in Quebec shook the nation, officials said.

The shots rang out just before 10 a.m., and were quickly followed by reports of “several shooting incidents in downtown Ottawa,” including at a mall, according to a tweet from police. The shooting at the government complex came after witnesses said they saw two men jump out of a Toyota Corolla and run toward the National War Memorial, where one opened fire on a soldier, officials told the Ottawa Sun. The gunmen then ran to the Parliament building, where witnesses later said they saw one gunman down near the library. Bernard Trottier, a Toronto-area MP, tweeted that the gunman inside Centre Block “has been shot and killed.” The other was reportedly being sought.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess it wasn’t the Methodists.

This comes two days after a radicalized Muslim convert attacked Canadian soldiers with his car.

We’ve spent a goodly portion of our life gently teasing our northern neighbors. But we’ve also always liked Canada. A huge nation with a small population, Canada has produced some of the heartiest, most successful warriors the world has known. They’ve stood side by side with the US through multiple campaigns and wars.

This attack this morning certainly fits the template of the call by ISIS for individuals to attack the West at home. Individuals and small groups making random, spectacular assaults to sow fear. And we should expect some of the same here.

Prayers for our cousins to the north.


Colt is taking over the world.

Visit virtually any gun blog, and one of the most contentious issues is the 5.56mm Colt M4 carbine. Thousands of people will argue against it and push for the adoption of another weapon, and often another caliber.

Oddly, however, surveys of active soldiers are almost universally supportive of the M4. Of course, most soldiers, even Infantrymen, have little experience with military small arms outside of their own issue weapons. Still, the level of satisfaction suggests that while the M4 may not be perfect, it isn’t so egregiously flawed as to require immediate replacement.

And another little secret is that while other nations developed their own 5.56mm weapons about the time the US lead NATO to shift from 7.62mm to 5.56mm as the standard rifle round, many have quietly adopted the M16/M4 platform, at least for certain applications.

Israel equipped its soldiers with the indigenous Galil rifle, but has since seen most of its troops shifted to the M4.

In the mid-1990s, Canada, then equipped with a variant of the FN FAL rifle in 7.62mm, worked with Colt and the US Marine Corps to develop their own version of our 5.56mm M16A2. Introduced into service as the C7 rifle, it and the carbine C8 series (very similar to our own M4) have been the standard service rifle of the Canadians, and have been adopted by several other NATO members, such as Norway, Denmark, and even Iceland.

When the US lead the shift to 5.56mm, Britain developed their own rifle, the fairly exotic looking SA80.

It has not been particularly successful competing in the small arms export market. 

Britain steadfastly claims the SA80 (L85A1 in UK service) is superior to the M16/M4 family.

But the truth is, special operations forces of Great Britain don’t like it, and never have. And they’ve been buying C8 carbines from Canada.

One of the great strengths of the Colt rifle is that it can be customized in an almost unlimited number of ways.

Our friends across the pond at Think Defence have two posts on the Colt in British service (where it’s known as the L119A1).

A Mid Life Colt Canada C8 Upgrade


The upgraded, customized version will be known as the L119A2.

L119A2 – Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

L119A2 C8 SFW 640x304 L119A2   Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Great Britain quietly, slowly makes the Colt the de facto standard weapon over the next few years.

410 Cougars

The Canadian Forces were, IIRC, the first foreign force to operate the F/A-18 Hornet (though they designate it the CF-18). They operate a fairly small, but highly respected force. Learning to fly takes time. Learning to fight a Hornet takes 9 months, and a lot of hard work, as well as some natural aptitude.

410 Squadron (Cougars) is the equivalent to what our Navy would call the Fleet Replacement Squadron. That is, it provides transition training into the Hornet, and refresher training for folks that have been away for a while.

A few years ago, an American network debuted a show called American Fighter Pilot, about students transitioning from the T-38 into the F-15C Eagle. It only aired one or two episodes before it was yanked for low ratings. But Canada, having subsidized television production, doesn’t really have to worry so much about ratings. So I came  across an 8 episode series called “Jetstream” that follows the fortunes of a class of students spending 9 months at the Fighter Pilot Training Course. Lot’s of good photography.


There’s Episode 1. If you watch it at youtube, you should be able to easily follow up with the rest of the episodes.