No, that’s not my share of the national debt.

As of right now, this slightly more than three year old blog has had 3,002,167 page views.

It has been very rewarding and informative writing this, and I would like to say thank you  to you, the reader, for making it all worth while.


Ig Nobel Peace Prize

Roamy here. The Ig Nobel Prizes are a spoof of the real Nobel Prizes, meant to pique interest in the sciences as well as make you laugh. It’s held every year at Harvard with real Nobel Prize winners sharing in the festivities. Some of the previous winners are Ivette Bassa, the inventor of bright blue Jello, Yuri Struchkov, for writing 948 scientific papers in one decade, Donald L. Unger, who cracked the knuckles on one hand but not the other every day for 50 years as a possible cause of arthritis, and Edward A. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law fame.

This year’s Ig Nobel Peace Prize winner is Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, who demonstrated that “the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.” (Youtube commenter says it’s a BTR-60 armored personnel carrier. Readers?)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fWN0FmcIU&w=420&h=315]

And here I thought any problem could be solved with a suitable application of high explosives.

3” guns, one last time

We covered the history of the Navy’s 3” guns up through the immediate post World War II era. But that isn’t the end of the story.

While 3” guns may have been displaced as anti-aircraft weapons by guided missiles, early guided missile systems were terribly large and expensive. Further, there are a lot of navies that use small combatant ships that needed a cheap, simple weapon to deal with other small combatants. These ships were too small to mount heavier guns like a 5” mount, so a rapid fire 3” gun was still attactive. Reducing the size of the crew needed, improving fire control, and upping the rate of fire would make up for the shortcomings of the 3” gun.  In the 1960s, quite a few NATO nations, and even the US, also saw the cost and logistical benefits of collaborating to built a series of common warships, and using common weapon and sensor suits. National priorities and competition by defense industries often meant this goal was more honored in the breach, but one system was so successful it was widely adopted- the OTO Melara 76mm (3”)/62 gun.


First built in 1963, the 76 Compact was a lightweight gun mount with a very high rate of fire (85 rounds/minute) with an 80 round ready service magazine. The mount was unmanned and controlled entirely by remote fire control from a ships combat center.

How successful is the 76mm/62? Well, it and a modified version with a higher rate of fire is in use with 53 different navies, and several hundred have been produced. Currently, in US service,  it is the main battery on FFG-7  Oliver Hazzard Perry class frigates, and two different classes of US Coast Guard cutters.

Here’s a vid:


The next generation of US frigate sized ships have gone with the even smaller Bofors 57mm automatic gun, reflecting a great concern with defending ships against swarm attacks by small boats, as described in the ONI appreciation of the Iranian Navy we posted yesterday.

We’ll skip that gun, and discuss the 5” family of guns next.

New military chief seeks balance in US power – Yahoo! News

Even before taking over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military office in the land, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey made one thing clear. He differs with his predecessor on one of the most important issues of the day: the threat posed to national security by a growing national debt.

Dempsey was to be sworn in Friday as successor to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who is retiring. At his Senate confirmation hearing in July, Dempsey was asked whether he agrees with Mullen’s oft-repeated assertion that the debt crisis is the single biggest threat to American national security.

“I don’t agree exactly with that,” Dempsey said.

via New military chief seeks balance in US power – Yahoo! News.

We certainly hope GEN Dempsey can protect the services from the worst budget cutting impulses of certain folks in Congress.

Anwar Al-Alwaki remains in stable condition

The deliberate targeting of an American citizen for military action is, to my knowledge, unprecedented. The President, in the course of authorizing direct action against specified members of Al Qaeda, included Al-Alwaki as a valid target.  And just today, we learn that he and Samir Kahn, another American citizen, were killed in a Predator strike.

Rather predictably, the ACLU (and doubtless others- I haven’t had a chance to read the entire internets yet) bemoan this as extrajudicial killing and liken it to imposition of the death penalty without benefit of due process.

While I’m certainly libertarian enough to always be wary of any expansion of government power, particularly when it is unilaterally assumed by the executive branch, the reaction of the ACLU overlooks the fact that the President must operate in the real world. Al-Alwaki hasn’t exactly been shy about his membership in, and allegiance to Al Qaeda. Further, he has been explicit in his calls for the killing of his fellow citizens. That’s not to mention his complicity in multiple attempts to kill Americans, here on American soil, such as the Detroit Christmas Underwear Bomb plot.

Had Al-Alwaki been resident in the US and vulnerable to arrest, the ACLU might have a point.

But having fled US territory, and assumed a leadership position in an non-state organization with the state goal of killing Americans, can’t we agree that for any practical purpose, he was an “outlaw” in that he, by his own actions, could not be brought before any court?

Imagine taking the ACLU’s position to an extreme. Shouldn’t President Lincoln’s Justice Department have issued indictments to the entire leadership of the Confederacy, and rather than fighting the South on the field of battle, arrested every member of the insurrection? Where was the due process for the hundreds of thousands of Southern men felled in battle? After all, in the eyes of the US, those soldiers were US citizens.

It is right and proper that we remain skeptical of any president who targets citizens for military action. Vigilant oversight both by Congress, and the American people is called for.

But in this case, quite clearly, the President acted in the best interest of the American people, and his oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign… and domestic.


Interesting video.


The real reason I’m posting is just to note- the shipping container is one of the most versatile things around. You’ll notice the target was a relatively simple barge with shipping containers used to simulate the superstructure of a normal warship. Cheap. And easier to come by than the dwindling supply of mothballed warships.

The Iranian Navy

So we mentioned yesterday the Iranian Navy has announced plans to deploy off our coast. I doubt any of you suffered from the vapors upon hearing this. It’s not and never has been a power projection force.

The Office of Naval Intelligence has published a brief overview of the Iranian Navy.

[scribd id=66838942 key=key-cl4jol8lwutvfej9aok mode=list]

The Iranian Navy has focused instead on denying use of neighboring seas to us, and to the ability to close the Straits of Hormuz to commercial traffic.

While the Iranians are unlikely to be able to fully deny us access, they do have an ability to seriously disrupt commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Final note on UARS and here comes another one

Roamy here. The AP reported that UARS entered the atmosphere somewhere close to American Samoa and fell to Earth in a 500-mile swath near Christmas Island. This is far better than the coverage last week when they gave the time of impact plus or minus 53 minutes. Umm, that’s more than a full orbit, guys. There were reports of debris falling on Canada, but this has not been confirmed and seems unlikely if the debris path was entirely in the Pacific Ocean.

Co-blogger Craig pointed me to this article. Another satellite built in the 1980’s with no end-of-life disposal method will fall to Earth later this year. The German-built ROSAT X-ray telescope was launched in 1990 and will meet its end in late October or early November this year. I don’t think this satellite is tumbling, so the reentry should be more predictable.