U.S. troops take over air base in Syria, local reports say

U.S. special operations troops have reportedly taken over an airfield in northeastern Syria, potentially clearing the way to flow more American military support to friendly militias fighting the Islamic State group.A small team of U.S. troops is setting up a base camp at Rmeilan Air Base in the Syrian Kurdish region near Syria’s Iraqi and Turkish borders, according to local reports.

Source: U.S. troops take over air base in Syria, local reports say

From what I can tell, it’s not really an airfield so much as a dirt strip. Still, US forces operating inside Syria on the ground is a significant issue.

Russian knock-off Skeet warheads

The US developed the Skeet “brilliant” BLU-108 anti armor warhead as the the Sensor Fuzed Weapon, the splodey part of either the CBU-97 or the AGM-154 JSOW.

Half the challenge of designing a weapon like that is configuration control. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s relatively easy to copy. Which, surprise, the Russians have done.

Most of the video is a mish-mash of various old clips from Syria. And the first cluster munition they show is actually a runway denial weapon. But you can very clearly see a Russian knock off of the Sensor Fuzed Weapon early in the video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1He2McPpJ3g]

AF Reminds Commanders: Authorized Conceal-Carry, Open-Carry OK on Base | Military.com

The attack last July on a recruiting office in Tennessee has prompted the Air Force to remind commanders they may authorize qualified airmen to carry weapons on base while off duty and out of uniform. The Air Force on Wednesday said its review of “active-shooter incidents across the country” found that many ended without police intervention because someone present with a weapon stopped the shooter.Three programs authorize commanders at all levels — as long as they have authorization from the base commander — to allow conceal-carry or open-carry on the installation.

Source: AF Reminds Commanders: Authorized Conceal-Carry, Open-Carry OK on Base | Military.com

I find it rather interesting the Air Force is taking the lead on this. I haven’t seen anything from the other services in line with this.

The Unit Marshall program seems rather sensible.

Do I think every PFC should be packing heat during the working day? Not really. I think that would likely lead to more problems than solutions. But should the Staff Duty NCO at Battalion headquarters have access to a piece in case of an active shooter? Absolutely.

Essay: An Acquisition System to Enable American Seapower – USNI News

In order for a coherent vision of modern American seapower to move forward in providing the lion’s share of this nation’s peacetime presence, shaping, deterrence and assurance needs, the Department of the Navy must become more efficient in its acquisition processes. It must be more nimble, more flexible, more accountable and faster.

Because it is currently not these things, the true value of American seapower is muddled and somewhat drowned out by the noise associated with the expense and waste of maintaining it. We believe that for a new vision of American seapower to deliver on the promise of efficiently and effectively delivering security and prosperity to the nation, radical changes to the acquisition system are required. While these changes could or even should apply across the Department of Defense, our concern here lies mainly with the Department of the Navy.

Source: Essay: An Acquisition System to Enable American Seapower – USNI News

A great look at some much needed reform. I’d personally burn DoD5000 to the ground, but that’s not happening any time soon.

Some programs really are complex, and should be supported by a very complex acquisition program.

Others are something of a no brainer. For instance, if the Army decides it wants a new pistol, it should take PEO Soldiers around a month to hold a shoot off and recommend a winner.

Not Just Classified, but Special Access Programs.

Which, there’s three levels of classification- Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. Then there Special Compartmented Information, wherein Top Secret Information is held to a close group of cleared individuals. And then there’s Special Access Programs– information that is under an additional set of protocols for information security assurance. Or you could just let it sit on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Emails from Hillary Clinton’s home server contained information classified at levels higher than previously known, including a level meant to protect some of the most sensitive U.S. intelligence, according to a document obtained by NBC News.

In a letter to lawmakers, the intelligence community’s internal watchdog says some of Clinton’s emails contained information classified Top Secret/Special Access Program, a secrecy designation that includes some of the most closely held U.S. intelligence matters.

Two American intelligence officials tell NBC News these are not the same two emails from Clinton’s server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret.

Hillary Clinton deliberately went to the trouble of setting up her own email server for herself and her closest associates at State. Why? A lack of secure facilities at State? Hardly.

Because she knew she was trading influence and favor in return for donations to her so called foundation (which, let’s face it, that’s pretty much a money laundering operation) and having her own email system would remove all her communications from oversight by Congress.

Indulge me in the fantasy that Clinton is indicted and brought to trial for mishandling of classified information, obstruction, and evidence tampering.  One fun aspect would be the jury pool. Every American has a right to examine the evidence against them. And the SAP evidence would likely end up being presented to the jurors. Which would mean they, as well as the judge, prosecution, and defense counsel, and a host of others, would have to be screened for a security clearance, and authorized limited access to the very programs the SAP is designed to protect.

Fairey Gannet

Spill can have his F-14. Growing up in an A-6 family, I learned early on to love ugly airplanes. And let’s face it, our British cousins managed to come up with quite a few very effective, but ugly, airplanes. One, the first turboprop designed to operate from carriers, was the Fairey Gannet anti-submarine aircraft.

First flown in 1949, the Gannet entered fleet service in 1954, and would soldier on in various roles including Airborne Early Warning, Electronic Countermeasures, and Carrier Onboard Delivery until Great Britain retired their carriers in 1978.

348 Gannets were built, with small numbers exported to Australia, Germany and Indonesia.


One very unusual aspect of the Gannet is that, despite it’s appearance, it is a twin engine airplane. The powerplant was the Armstrong Siddley Double Mamba. Basically, two of the earlier developed Mamba gas turbines were built side by side, and ran a common gearbox. Each turbine powered one of the two contra rotating props.


In flight, for economy, one engine could be shut down. Its associated propeller would be feathered to reduce drag.

The Gannet AEW.3 used the APS-20 radars taken from Fleet Air Arm early warning Skyraiders and mounted them on a heavily modified Gannet fuselage.


When the Royal Navy decommissioned the last of its fleet carriers, those same APS-20s would go on to serve in RAF Shackeltons.



[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfz_4D7gLsQ]

Incidentally, the French, with a similar need for a carrier based ASW aircraft, came up with the generally similar in configuration Breguet Alize, though it used a single Rolls Royce Dart turboprop for its power.

The US Navy, after having used the large single engine AF Guardian, instead went with the rather conventional S2F Tracker for its sea based ASW platform.

LCAC Replacement Comin

ARLINGTIN, Va. — Textron Marine and Land Systems, builder of the next generation of landing craft air cushions (LCACs), expects to begin full-rate production of the new LCAC in 2017, said Jan Baudoin, the company’s director for the Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC)program.The LCAC 100 class will supplement and eventually replace the older LCAC class, also built by Textron, on the Navy’s well-deck amphibious warfare ships.Speaking Jan. 13 to reporters at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, Baudoin said that the first new SSC, LCAC 100, will be a test and training craft for the program. LCAC 101 will be the first one intended for fleet use.Tom Rivers, of the Navy’s landing craft program office, said that LCAC 100 is 27 percent complete and will be completed in 2017. LCAC 101 is 16 percent complete and will be completed three months after 100. LCACs 102 and 103 are scheduled to begin their construction phase later this year.The Navy is expected to exercise options for four or five more this year as well, Baudoin said.

Source: SEAPOWER Magazine Online

Well, there’s some good news on the shipbuilding front. The SSC is primarily an improvement over the older LCACs because it can carry the weight of an M1A1 tank without having to strain its engines and lift fan.

In other news, the Navy is also getting ready to replace its very, very old fleet of Landing Craft Utility.

The Navy and industry will soon begin work on the Landing Craft Unit replacement program two years ahead of the original schedule, forcing some concurrent design and model testing but delivering a much-needed replacement sooner.

The new LCU 1700 program, to replace the legacy LCU 1610 craft, was supposed to start in Fiscal Year 2018, but Congress included funding in the current FY 2016 budget to accelerate the delivery of the new landing craft.

The LCU fleet is well over 40 years old, and was intended to have a 25 year service life when built. The Navy plan is to have the new LCU with the same general size as the old ones (since they have to fit in the same amphibious shipping, after all) with a modest improvement in load capacity. The goal is to be able to carry about 160 tons, that is, two M1A1 tanks.

The metric of measuring movements by numbers of tanks is useful, but given that the average Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed only has a four tank platoon attached kind of obscures the real majority of what needs to be moved via LCU. Marines ashore need to be supported by a lot of trucks carrying fuel, ammunition and food and water. Moving all those supplies by air or LCAC is difficult and expensive. Sometimes, cheap and slow is just fine.

Grad Rockets

We talked about Russian artillery yesterday.  The Russians are tactical masters at the use of artillery, with a very strong doctrinal base of knowledge in the use of indirect fire for maneuver warfare. But first and foremost, they’re also in the “shoot ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” camp. And not surprisingly, so are their client states.

The BM-21 “Grad” 122mm multiple rocket launcher is a rather crude, but spectacularly effective weapon system, capable of spreading mass destruction over a wide area at low cost, rapidly. Under Russian doctrine, a battalion of launchers (say, 18 trucks) would quickly mass and launch on a target, then drive off to reload.  In Syria, a single launcher might attack a target. As you’ll notice, the BM-21 is hardly a precision weapon.  If the US did something like this, our own political left would be screaming about war crimes for weeks. But the fact is, this is the norm for war.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udpyAu33cZU]

The myth vs. legend of the Air Force’s purple water fountain

The fountain is said to bring “enlightenment” to those whose lips touch its water, the description continues. It stands outside the Air Force Council room “as testament to war-fighting common sense.”

Source: The myth vs. legend of the Air Force’s purple water fountain

So of course, they put it behind glass.