Video Monday

We’re not going to get around to writing much today, so here’s some clips cribbed from Right Wing Video.

There’s some NSFW language, so turn the sound down.

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No. Not the new Star Trek movie. M163 and M167 Vulcan Air Defense Systems. Both have been replaced by the Stinger in the US, but why not watch some cool videos. Both versions were basically the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon on a ground mount, with the M163 being mounted on a modified M113, and the M167 being a towed version for light units.



Posted mostly because Kevin at ExUrban League wants one…


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.


Combat Engineering, Marine Corps style

We haven’t given the Engineers much love here, and that’s an unacceptable oversight on our part. Traditionally, Engineers have had three main roles on the battlefield: 1. Mobility; 2. Countermobility; and 3. Force Protection.

Mobility refers to removing or reducing any obstacles the enemy may have placed in the intended path of movement for our forces.  The obvious example would be minefields, though other obstacles may include wire obstacles, anti-tank ditches or abatis, or more frequently, a combination of these.

Countermobility, is of course, just the opposite, placing obstacles to the enemy’s mobility in his path, either to deny a route to him, turn him to a different route, delay him (both for buying time and to make him an easier target) or to channelize him into  terrain that can serve as a kill zone. The same techniques are used.

Force Protection refers to building and improving fighting positions, either for vehicles or for dismounted troops. As a rule of thumb, most units actually had to provide their own positions. I’ve spent many an hour digging a two-man fighting position. But sometimes you get lucky and the engineers were able to help out. As for vehicles, some tanks had a dozer blade, or the unit recovery vehicle had a dozer blade, and could at least start a fighting position for the vehicles. But the best positions are dug by real, honest to goodness bulldozers. There’s always a shortage of bulldozers, and never enough time, so you do what you can. Other force protection measures might include building berms, or filling Hesco barriers to provide protection from small arms fire and artillery and mortar fragments.

Engineers also have the capability to fight as infantry when needed. Normally, this is avoided except in emergencies, as there are always plenty of engineering tasks to do. And there’s damn near always a shortage of engineers to do them. In the Army, typically, engineers in heavy units ride in either M113 APCs or in Stryker vehicles in Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. In the Marines, Engineers are mounted in AAV-7 amphibious vehicles.

That’s fine for most tasks, but sometimes, there’s a need for a more specialized vehicle. In the Marines, one of the specialized vehicles will soon be the Assault Breacher Vehicle. Based on the M-1 Abrams tank, the ABV is designed to breach minefields using the Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) and its plow, and to breach roadblocks either with the plow or a dozer blade.

The MICLIC is a string of high explosives dragged in front of the vehicle and across a minefield by means of a modified 5″ rocket. Once in place, the charges are detonated and the blast overpressure detonates any mines in the path. After that, the ABV plows the ground to push aside any mines that were missed by the charge.

There’s a pretty awesome video below the fold showing some of the testing of the ABV, showing the MCLIC in action, how the ABV integrates with the Navy’s amphibious warfare ships the Marines operate from, and just how handy the dozer blade can be clearing a roadblock.  If you ask me, it looks like a lot of the testing was pretty fun.

Continue reading “Combat Engineering, Marine Corps style”

The Canucks Get Some…

We like to make fun of Canada as much as the next guy, but we also know the Canadians have been one of the few stalwart allies in the war in Afghanistan. The Canadian Forces are small, but very professional (in the early days of the conflict, our Army specifically asked for Canadian sniper support, since ours was lacking).

Much of the Canadian public isn’t too wild about their ongoing commitment to Afghanistan. If you think our troops sometimes don’t get the respect they deserve, remember this- it is often worse for the Canadians.

The Canadians are an interesting bunch. They combine much of the organization and tradition of British forces, with the arms and doctrine of American forces. And while they have a great reputation as peacekeeping forces, no one should doubt their ability to punch above their weight in combat.

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H/T: Theo, of course


What can we say, but that we have a real weakness for redheads. How red? How’s Alicia Witt strike you? Well, she strikes me dumb…

Why her? Eh, I saw her do a guest spot on the season finale of “The Mentalist” and saw that red, red hair. Looking through her IMDB, I realize I’ve seen some other stuff, but I’ll have to go back and look closer now.