No crash and burn this time, but a couple of really interesting camera angles.
URR here. I maintain that junior Marines are the funniest people on the planet, bar none. They see the humor in their leaders, in each other, in their situation, in civilians, in everything. And their talent for imitation and sense of the absurd is positively unmatched.
Here's to ya, Marines.
H/T USMC Vets
Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector, a Seventh Day Adventist, drafted into the Army during World War II. The tenets of his faith forbade him from carrying a weapon.
But that didn’t stop him from earning the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 77th Infantry Division during the Battle of Okinawa.
Doss’ actions in that battle, over a sustained period, are some of the most remarkable in the entire war.
And now, Mel Gibson is directing a movie about Doss.
While I’m sure some of the drama is less than wholly historically accurate, Gibson knows how to tell a good tale, and I have high hopes for this movie coming out November 4th.
At a time when the US Navy is looking to field a light frigate variant of its troubled Littoral Combat Ship, with a main battery of a single 57mm Mk100 automatic gun, our cousins across the pond, the Royal Navy, have decided that their next frigate, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, will be armed with a 5” gun.
For generations, the primary gun of the Royal Navy has been the 4.5” gun, in various mounts. In contrast, the main US gun has, since well before World War II, been a 5” gun. But the last class of US frigates, the FFG-7 Oliver Hazzard Perry class, dating back to the late 1970s, were armed with a single automatic 3” gun. And as noted, the follow on to the FiGs is armed with a 57mm.
The gun the RN chose for the Type 26 is an American gun, the Mk45 Mod 4. The Mk 45 first entered US service in the mid 1970s on the Spruance class destroyers and the Tarawa class amphibious assault ships. That variant, still in use on a great many ships of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, had a 54 caliber barrel. That is, the bore (5”) time 54, for a barrel length of 270 inches, or about 22 and a half feet.
The Mod 4 variant of the Mk 45 has a barrel 62 calibers long, for 310 inches, or just shy of 26 feet. That longer barrel gives the gun a significant boost in range, and the more modern gun also has the ability to fire extended range projectiles, and growth potential to fire guided projectiles. It may not be the 16”/50 of an Iowa battleship, but it is a decent weapon.
An interesting little video.
And, per the comments, the pilot is John Walton. I can’t swear to it, but it is certainly plausible. Walton was an interesting fellow. Son of what became the wealthiest family in America, Green Beret, pilot, philanthropist, and flutist.
The 737 was originally something of a flop, and it wasn’t until the switch to the CFM56 engine that it became a truly successful design. The latest iteration of the 737, the MAX, is probably about as far as the basic design can grow, but we can expect to see them rolling off the production line (at a rate of up to 2 or even 3 a day) for many years to come.
The flight is presumably staged out of Moses Lake airport, in central Washington state, where Boeing does much of its flight test, and takes place over the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge.
We have, over the years, discussed any number of times the organization of various Army units, for instance the organization of a Heavy Brigade Combat Team, with its maneuver battalions, fire support, and what not. We’ve discussed the generally triangular organization of most echelons of the Army. We’ve often discussed the relationship between a unit commander and his subordinate and superior commanders.
What we haven’t gotten around to is discussing the staff.
Let’s take a moment to consider the Combined Arms Battalion (CAB) of an HBCT. Per FMI 30-9.5, the interim field manual that first described the CAB of the HBCT. The CAB primarily consisted to two companies of Armor, and two companies of Mechanized Infantry. And so, our Battalion Commander, a Lieutenant Colonel, had four* immediate subordinate company commanders, who are Captains.
While each company has a headquarters element, the battalion is the lowest echelon in the Army that has an actual staff. The staff is responsible for planning and monitoring the execution of the mission under the direction of the Battalion Commander, and his guidance.
Unlike, say, the department heads of a warship, who both have a staff planning function, and exercise leadership over their departments and subordinate divisions, the staff does not exercise command over the subordinate companies.**
So who are the staff officers?
Our Battalion Commander has three different types of staff-
Personal Staff- The Battalion Commander has at least two personal staff, though he may have more. The Command Sergeant Major is on his personal staff, and is his key advisor on issues regarding the NCOs and enlisted personnel of the command. He is also very often his eyes and ears throughout the command, and advises on issues of morale and command climate. The other personal staff is the Battalion Chaplain. The Chaplain, in addition to his religious and counseling duties to the members of the battalion, has a staff responsibility to the Bn CDR to advise on unit morale, as well as moral and ethical issues the Bn CDR faces. In addition, the BC might also have a Personal Security Detachment, and an interpreter as personal staff.
The Coordinating Staff are what we tend to think of when we actually think of the Bn staff. They are organized along functional lines, and while there have traditionally been four staff sections, there are now routinely five, or even more, even at the battalion level.
The staff sections at the battalion level are:
Quite often, the battalion will, depending on its mission, also be authorized an S-5 Civil Affairs staff section.
In addition, of course, the Battalion CDR has an Executive Officer (XO). The XO serves as the Chief of Staff, supervising their work.
The S-1 Section is generally concerned with what your employer would call HR issues, such as ensuring the troops get paid, evaluated, promoted and decorated. On a darker side, they are also responsible for the administrative issues relating the casualties and replacements. The S-1 officer is typically a Captain, and also serves as the unit Adjutant. He is assisted by the Personnel NCO in Charge (PNCOIC), typically a Sergeant First Class, and several personnel clerks.
The S-2 Section both collects and analyses information from the subordinate units, and receives and disseminates intelligence from higher commands. The S-2 Officer is typically a Captain, and is assisted an S-2 NCO, typically either a Staff Sergeant or a Sergeant First Class, and perhaps another Intelligence officer, and one or two enlisted personnel. Depending on the unit mission, the S-2 may also be augmented with additional teams for specific roles, such as a Human Intelligence (HUMINT) exploitation team.
The S-3 Section is by far the largest and most influential of the coordinating staff sections. It is concerned with planning operations during wartime, and a comprehensive training plan during peacetime. The S-3 Officer is a Major, the third most senior officer in the battalion. He has a number of subordinates:
The S-4 Section coordinates the logistical support of the battalion. The S-4 Officer, typically a Captain, designating routes for resupply, times of LOGPACs and working with the Forward Support Company and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander to establish the combat trains, and sustain the battalion with fuel, ammunition, rations, and parts. The S-4 Officer is assisted by an NCO, generally a small section of enlisted personnel, and occasionally by an assistant S-4 Officer.
If assigned, the S-5 Section is responsible for Civil Operations, and coordinating Civil and Military Operations.
The S-6 Section is the Signal Section of the Coordinating staff, and is responsible for establishing voice and data networks for the battalion, to include retransmission sites and Local Area Networks, and establishing the datalinks for the various Army battle control networks, such as B2C2 and Blue Force Tracker.
In addition to its own organic assets, our battalion will normally have access to outside supporting fires, either from supporting artillery, or tactical airpower. And that brings us to the third type of staff, the Special Staff.
There are generally two Special Staff Officers assigned to the battalion.
The Fire Support Officer (FSO)is assigned to the staff, but associated with the artillery battalion of the parent HBCT. He is responsible for planning and coordinating not just the fires from the artillery battalion, but all supporting fires from outside the battalion, be it from the HBCT’s artillery battalion, units outside the HBCT providing supporting or reinforcing fires, allies or even Naval Gunfire Support.
The Air Liaison Officer (ALO) is an Air Force officer assigned to the staff who leads the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and coordinates all Air Force support to the battalion, and all close air support.
So, how does all this work?
Typically a mission begins with the Battalion Commander receiving a Warning Order from his higher headquarters- That is, the HBCT commander gives him a heads up that a mission will be ordered soon. For instance, Attack OBJ Budweiser to seize the terrain No Later Than 2400 hours 30JULY2016. The Bn CDR quickly passes this information on to both his staff, and to his subordinate company commanders, so they can begin preparations.
Upon receipt of the HBCT Operations Order, the staff will receive guidance from the Bn CDR as to the general outline of what he has planned. Importantly, the CDR will issue his Commander’s Intent- that is, what is the end state goal of what he wants to achieve.
Based upon that, the S-3 and his assistants will begin the Military Decision Making Process, and formulate a plan. They’ll take advice from the various assistants, and from the other staff sections as to what is possible, what is likely, and what is likely not possible. The FSO and the ALO will plan to synchronize all available fires with the plan of maneuver to maximize combat power, while the S-2 tells just what the threat forces likely are. The S-4 will begin planning how much fuel and ammunition is needed, and how to get it to the maneuver companies, before, during, and after the attack. The S-1 will let the staff know just how many troops are available for the mission,and in coordination with the battalion medical platoon, arrange for care and evacuation of wounded, as well as the disposition of any Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW) taken.
The XO will coordinate all these activities, ensuring that the staff is staying true to the CDR’s guidance and intent, and then the staff will generate a tentative Operations Order (OPORD) for the CDR’s review. Upon approval, or revision, the OPORD will be published, and the CDR and the staff will brief the OPORD to the subordinate companies, who will in turn generate their own OPORD for their company’s role in the mission.
During the actual attack, the CDR and the S-3 Officer will place themselves on the battlefield where they can best observe and influence the fight while the Assistant S-3 serves as the “battle captain” at the CP, ensuring the various moving parts are staying in synch.
Staff sections at the battalion and BCT level are numbered with the prefix “S” for “Staff.”
Those at the division, corps, and field army level, are prefixed with “G” as in “G-3” or “G-4” because they represent a “General Staff”, that is, a unit lead by a general officer. Those staffs supporting a Joint Command are prefixed with “J”. So the Operations and Training Officer for CENTCOM would be the J-3.
A typical Army officer might spend as much as half his career serving in one staff position or another at the various level of commands, and almost certainly more time as a staff officer than as a unit commander.
*There’s actually quite a bit more to the CAB than just the four companies, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll save that for another time.
**Though sometimes, it dearly feels like they would like to try.
In the 1950s, the US went a bit crazy about the whole atomic age. Of course, there were the hundreds of above ground weapons tests, and that sort of thing. But other applications for nuclear power were envisioned as well. For instance, the Army saw small nuclear reactors as a means of prime power generation for remote bases.
One possibility seen was actually using a nuclear reactor to power an airplane. At first, that sounds a bit nutty. But what is the output of a nuclear reactor? Heat, or, if you will, thermal energy. If you take a look at a jet engine, what is the purpose of jet fuel, other than to provide thermal energy? If the heat from a nuclear reactor could be used in place of the heat of jet fuel, theoretically, you could design a plane with essentially unlimited range.
But before the Air Force could begin to design a nuclear powered airplane, they had to learn what it would be like to actually operate a nuclear reactor in flight. And so, they contracted with Convair, maker of the B-36, to design a test reactor, and to fly a series of tests to investigate shielding, operation, and handling procedures.
In the event, the improvement in jet engines, the weight, shielding and handling issues of a reactor, and the widespread acceptance of aerial refueling showed the Air Force that nuclear propulsion was an aviation dead end. Still, it was, if a somewhat futile effort, a certainly interesting one.
In 1943, the US Navy assigned Commander Edward J Steichen USNR, along with a team of combat cameramen, to document the actions of the newly commissioned USS Yorktown, CV-10. USS Yorktown, second of the Essex class fleet carriers that would form the backbone of the strike force of the Pacific Fleet, was named in honor of the previous Yorktown, CV-5, lost at the Battle of Midway.
Steichen and his men, filming in gorgeous 16mm color, provided some of the best visual documentation of carrier operations of the Pacific war. And in 1944, with some careful editing, and after running the film through Technicolor, a one hour propaganda/documentary film titled The Fighting Lady was released.
Mind you, not all the footage was shot aboard Yorktown. Film from various other Essex class carriers was used. And, likely for wartime operational security reasons, the film is kinda fast and loose with the actual ports of call of the ship.
Yorktown herself would survive the war, and soldier on, being converted to an anti-submarine carrier until her decommissioning in 1970. Since 1975, she’s been a museum ship at Patriot’s Point, North Carolina.
Two officers attempting to settle a disagreement by duelling with flares at a British Army base have set fire to the officers mess, according to Forces TV sources.The officers decided the solution to their argument was to each take a kayak into the swimming pool and fire flare guns at each other at the Allenby Barracks in Bovington on Friday night.
NOT the Duffel Blog.
WASHINGTON – The VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program successfully passed a major Pentagon test, Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky subsidiary announced today, with completion of a Critical Design Review (CDR). The milestone means the manufacturing and assembly of the helicopters can take place.
The joint Sikorsky/Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) VH-92A helicopter program team met in July with key collaborators from government and industry for the in-depth design review, Lockheed said in a statement.
The previous program to replace the ancient fleet of VH-3D Presidential helicopters was a disaster, with costs spiraling out of control, and an absolute inability to avoid gold plating the requirements. The basic helicopter selected, the H-71, based on the EH101, wasn't the problem, but turning it into a flying White House was. The airframes that were bought, at stunning cost, were eventually sold to Canada for pennies on the dollar.
One hopes that between the White House and NAVAIR, some lessons were learned, and strict attention was paid during the requirements phase, so that revisions to the contract won't again cause costs to explode.
Even so, it's rather embarrassing that a basic airframe such as the S-92, which has been in civilian service for decades, won't be available for actual Presidential lift missions for at least another 7 years.
Technically, a ration is not one meal, but rather, all the foods provided for one soldier for one day. In essence, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and perhaps a snack such as soup and coffee.
Before the era of processed and canned foods, meat was generally issued either as salt pork, or perhaps dried beef. The daily ration was specified by the Militia Law of 1775 was:
One pound of beef, or 3/4 of a pound of pork or one pound of fish, per day. One pound of bread or flour per day. Three pints of peas or beans per week, or vegetables equivalent, at one dollar per bushel for peas or beans. One pint of milk per man per day. One half-pint of rice, or one pint of Indian meal per man per week. One quart of spruce beer, or cider, per man per day, or nine gallons of mollasses per company of one hundred men per week. Three pounds of candles to one hundred men per week, for guards. Twenty pounds of soft, or eight pounds of hard, soap for one hundred men per week.
Whenever possible, even in the field, the Army strives to avoid using MREs. When in garrison, meals are prepared like at any other institutional kitchen, with commercially procured foodstuffs.
Speaking of commercially procured foodstuffs, it was time to hit Costco and stock up on meats again.
As to combat rations, I *hope* to be able to make a video review of one of the rations I’ve long been fascinated by, the K-Ration.