Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, February 27, 2006


This is coolbert:

Further thoughts on the combat arms TO&E elements of the M113 equipped Ghurkha brigade.

Such a brigade will consist of these combat arms elements:

1. Four mechanized infantry battalions [infantry square].

2. One fire support battalion.

3. One reconnaissance troop [company sized unit].

4. One air defense battery [company sized unit].

As of this juncture, there will be no:

Armor [tanks] organic to the brigade.

Aviation organic [attack and transport helicopters].

1. Each battalion mechanized [mech] infantry will consist of four rifle companies [infantry square] and one weapons company. [all APC equipped]

1A. Each rifle company will consist of three rifle platoons of three squads of twelve men each and one weapons platoon of three squads, two teams per platoon.

1B. Each weapons company of a mech infantry battalion will consist of three platoons of three squads each, two teams per platoon.

2. The fire support battalion will consist of: [all tracked vehicles]

2A. One battery [company size unit] of 155 mm self-propelled [SP] howitzers. This battery will consist of three platoons of two tubes each. A total of six howitzers. Primary role will be long-range fire support for the entire brigade.

2B. One battery [company sized unit] of M113 APC's configured for task tailored fire support This company will consist of three platoons of three squads, two teams per squad. Each team occupying one APC. That is a total of eighteen M113 per fire support company. Configured for anti-tank-guided missile [ATGM], 120 mm mortar, 40 mm cannon, or 106 mm recoilless rifle, at the discretion of the brigade commander.

3. The cavalry troop [company sized reconnaissance unit] will consist of: [all APC equipped]

3A. Three Scout platoons of three squads each of two teams. Each team M113 equipped. Eighteen scout teams, APC equipped, per troop.

3B. A weapons platoon of three squads each of two teams. Each team M113 equipped. Six weapons teams per troop.

4. The air defense battery [company sized unit] will consist of: [all tracked vehicles]

4A. Two platoons of three squads, two teams per squad, each team consisting of one SP AAA [anti-aircraft-artillery] track. The SP AAA may be:

The Swedish CV9040.

The Japanese Type 87.

Or the German Gepard.

Twelve SP AAA total. SP AAA will operate under the command of the brigade commander and provide support for the entire brigade.

[after the demise of the American Sgt. York gun, American military designers are apparently not interested in further work on a self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery weapons system.]

4B. Two platoons of three squads, two teams per squad, each team consisting one Stinger SAM [surface-air-missile]. Stinger platoons M113 equipped. Twelve Stinger firing units total.

I am making some assumptions here.

This TO&E is for a conventional warfare scenario. Brigade can be task tailored for other scenarios as required.

A basic infantry squad level M113 will twelve troops. A gunner, driver, and ten infantry, headed by a squad leader [E6].

NO armor [tanks] or aviation [helicopters] needed. Ghurkhas are troops that make do on their own with elan, strength, and just plain ordinary superior soldiering. Immense organic firepower built into the brigade will make up for a lack of armor and aviation.

The 106 mm recoilless rifle [RR] can be retrofitted to the APC with some sort of remote control firing system. Perhaps a SABOT type round can also be developed for the RR to go with the already fielded HEAT, anti-personnel, and spalling rounds [HESH/HEP]. Gunner of the RR will be able to aim and fire while under cover from small arms fire.

[this SABOT round will resemble the APHSFSDS [armor piercing-high speed-fin stabilized-disgarding SABOT] round currently fired by main battle tanks of all self-respecting armies. I assume such a round can and will be developed!!

Task tailoring will be done by each commander that has his own organic fire support elements. Tailored as the commander sees the mission and what he will need to accomplish the mission.

For example:

In the conventional warfare environment, against an enemy that can deploy armor in abundance, the combat commander of the Ghurkha brigade and his subordinate commanders with their own fire support elements might want a LOT of APC's equipped with anti-tank-guided missiles [ATGM].

Or if in an environment where the Ghurkha brigade faces what is essentially a light infantry type of enemy, the combat commander might want a lot of heavy mortars [120 mm] to employ as fire support.

In an unclear combat environment, fire support can be tailored by having a mixed configuration. I.E., ATGM's, 106 mm RR, 40 mm cannon, 120 mm and 81 mm mortars, at the discretion of the combat commander.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


This is coolbert.

Here is an interesting web site on the topic of the berserker.

This specific article shows a level of scholarship that is just amazing. The author is obviously a person of learning.

The word "berserker" is of course a word of Norse origin.

A person who in battle rushes heedless and headlong at the enemy, to close with same and inflict the maximum amount of damage, spurning death in the process. A person possessed by super-human ferocity and an almost out-of-body mentality. A warrior, not a soldier.

The action of a berserker is a world wide phenomenon however. NOT strictly a Norse tradition.

From the article cited above, this tradition of berserker is found among the Indo-European peoples, the peoples of the Malabar coast [India] and the Malay ethnic group, and also perhaps among the Zulu, who are known to have had units of what can only described as berserker "commandos".

In the movie "Kingdom of GOD", the actions of the berserker called only our "German friend" are shown in one of the opening scenes. This German crusader receives an arrow through the throat. A mortal wound that he instantly knows is a mortal wound. The "German friend" then picks up a second sword [he already had one broadsword in his hands], and rushes forward at the enemy, barechested and hair in a ponytail, the sole remaining purpose of his now over life to inflict upon his tormentors and enemy the maximum punishment possible. And this he does with panache'. His enemy knows that he was there, the "German friend" berserker having killed and wounded a number of his enemy before he too expires!!


Thursday, February 23, 2006


This is coolbert:


We are familiar with the end of World War Three [WW3].

The United states was the winner, the Soviet Union the loser.

In the end, the Soviet went out with a whimper, not a bang. To the betterment of the world, the end was not shadowed by a nuclear holocaust or a mushroom cloud [s]!!

Light prevailed, darkness was held at bay.

And the reasons for this?

In a nutshell, both the United States and the Soviet Union were MILITARILY strong, but the United States was societal very strong, the Soviet very societal weak.

[I would state that the Soviets WERE militarily strong. The western governments were correct in their appraisal of Soviet military might. The Soviet military was a definite threat to the survival of the west in case of all-out war. This cannot be denied!!]

I am sure such an appreciation would surprise some, and infuriate others.

"Surely the Soviets WERE NOT societal weak?", many would say.

Consider the rate of defection to the west, however, of the elite from the old Soviet Union alone

In my opinion this one indicator alone tells us something very significant.

The rate of defection of elites from the United States and the west in general to the Soviet Union was considerably less than the rate of defection from the Soviet side to the west. Elites from the west by and large JUST DID NOT defect to the Soviets.

Elites from the Soviet system DID defect to the west. During some periods, in considerable numbers at that!!

Elites in the old Soviet Union DID enjoy privileges that set them markedly apart from the rest of the population.

These privileges included a general exemption from the stifling, overbearing, draconian and repressive governmental watchdog systems most epitomized in the Soviet Union by the internal security apparatus of the KGB [and it's many forebears.]

Soviet elites also enjoyed an access to consumer goods that was totally absent among the average-run-of-the-mill Soviet citizen. A markedly better standard of living for the elites was obtainable that WAS NOT even dreamed of being possible for the average Soviet citizen.

And yet the elite Soviet citizenry on many occasions did defect to the west, again, from time to time, in numbers.

This should have told the western governments, the intelligence services in the west, and the average western man-in-the-street that something was very wrong with the Soviet system. Elites should NOT BE motivated to defect!! As simple as that!!

Consider the life of the child of privilege Vladimir Sakharov. A child of a Soviet elite [the father was a diplomatic courier]. According to Sakharov, after his defection:

"virtually everything in the commodious Sakharov apartment near the American embassy came from abroad. Most of the furniture was Scandinavian; the refrigerator Finnish, the vacuum cleaner a Hoover, the stereo a Philips, the television from RCA, the short-wave radio a Grundig, the shower head from Sears, Roebuck. The first coffee Sakharov ever tasted was Nescafe'; his first cigarette was a Winston and his first whiskey White Horse. His best suit came from Brooks Brothers and his favorite tweed jacket from the English Shop in Copenhagen. He boasted a collection of nearly five hundred American records."

Such were the Soviet elites enamored with American and western goods and the "western way of life" in a big way. Period!!

Also consider the comments of that other Soviet defector who I quote in blog entries on a pretty regular basis. The man who writes under the nom de plume' of Victor Suvorov. Writing of Soviet science and technology, Suvorov says:

"But what sort of science is it, if the Soviet Union can produce the first automatic satellite destroyer in the world, but cannot produce an ordinary compact small-engineered car? The Soviet Union has to buy all it's technology for the production of small cars from Italy. What are Soviet scientists up to if the Soviet Union has first-class military poisons but has to buy fertilizer technology from the United States? What are the sixty billion roubles spent on if the USSR constructs gigantic trans-horizontal radars, ultra-high frequency transmitters for communications with submarines whose underground aerials amount to thousands of kilometers in length - - but has to buy technology for the production of ordinary household television sets from France?"

[Not only auto production was purchased from Italy. Truck manufacture as well. This was the Kama river works. Highly touted in it's day. A city called Togliatti [an Italian communist] was built just to accommodate the workers for the factories to manufacture autos and trucks for the Soviet "market". Never heard how successful this project was, but at the time it was considered to be very major!!]

[military poisons are of course poison gas of the most sophisticated variety!!]

[trans-horizontal radars are of the over-the-horizon type. As was most exemplified by the "Russian Woodpecker" that bedeviled the high-frequency bands in the 1970's. This stuff disappeared too as did the Soviet Union!!]

Visitors from the west to the Moscow often commented on how the Soviets were not "at a par" materially with the west, but "did not have it that bad!!". This was an observation made by many observers. Alexander Solzhenitsyn even wrote a book entitled, "Moscow Is Not Russia!!" Meaning that in the whole of the country, things were not as they seemed in Moscow. Moscow was the showcase. Outside of Moscow, watch out!!

[not so long ago there was a series of television programs called, "Fifty Miles Outside of Moscow". An American television journalist would randomly travel fifty miles outside of Moscow to see what the rest of Russia was like. What was found was a standard of living and a way of life considerably less than what was found in Moscow. American and other western "observers" just had a view of the Soviets obtained from Moscow that was vastly and incorrectly skewed.]

It should also be appreciated that the Twentieth Century is deservedly called the "American Century". Meaning that the U.S. was dominant in the world in a military, economic, and intellectual sense as was say Britain in the nineteenth century. A dominance that was of course challenged by the Soviets.

How pervasive was the American dominance? And how serious was the Soviet challenge, not only in the military sense, but also in say the intellectual sense?

The awarding to Nobel prizes could well be an excellent indicator of how competitive the two nations were. In the arena beyond the military sphere.

With regard to Nobel prizes, the U.S. had no peer.

In this regard the Soviets were far outclassed.

That is NOT to say that the Soviet did NOT have excellent scientists and intellectual thinkers. Far from it. They had those types of persons and in significant numbers. But it is very clear that the REAL innovative intellectual ferment existed in the U.S. So much so that it is not even a contest.

For instance, during the period of 1945-1990.

In the awarding of Nobel Prizes in the field of medicine, Soviet doctors won NONE . Nada, nil, zilch, nechovo [Russian for nothing!!]. U.S. researchers won thirty three during the same period.

In the awarding of Nobel prizes in the field of economics, Soviet economists won ONE! That is ONE [1]!! Of course, one can reason that with Marxist/Leninist thought explaining the world and economics in particular to begin with, why would the soviets even NEED to study economics. U.S. citizens won the Economics prize eleven during the same period.

In the awarding of Nobel Prizes for peace, the Soviets had TWO awards given. American citizens won the Peace prize eleven times during the same period!!


The other Soviet citizen awarded the Nobel Peace prize was Gorbachev. This I consider to be a joke in the extreme. Gorbachev was a man just ALONG FOR THE RIDE!! A caretaker who just was there at the shutdown and nothing more. NOTHING he did influenced things to the degree that it has been thought. He did NOT deserve this award!!

In the awarding of Nobel Prizes for literature, the Soviets did pretty good during the period 1945-1990.

Four Soviet citizens won the prize for literature during this period. American writers won five times during this period.

In three of those cases, however, the awards were tainted. And possibly the fourth award too!!

Tainted??!! How so!!??

Joseph Brodsky the poet was a political prisoner and an exile. Told to go!

In the case of Boris Pasternak [Dr. Zhivago], Pasternak was told if he left the country to accept his award, DON'T BOTHER TO RETURN!!

In the case of Alexander Solzhenitsyn [First Circle], Solzhenitsyn was actually stripped of his Soviet citizenship and tossed out of the country for good. Expelled for his writings.

Brodsky, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn all were dissidents that in a very mild way, protested the Soviet regime and all it's trappings. For this they became pariahs and exiles, not tolerated!!

In the case of Mikhail Sholokhov [Quiet Flows the Don], it is questioned as to whether Sholokhov EVEN WROTE THE BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE. The rumor is that Quiet Flows the Don is based upon a manuscript taken off a White Army officer during the Russian Civil war!!

Consider this regarding Mikhail Sholokhov:

"The story of Mikhail Sholokhov's rise to his reign as king of Soviet literary officialdom is none other than a supreme farce. Decade after decade his pen failed to create anything worth reading. Meanwhile, his mouth created nothing but propagandistic banalities." (Vassily Aksyonov, an exiled Russian novelist in the New York Times, March 10, 1985)

Quiet Flows the Don is Sholokhov most controversial work and it has been alleged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn among others, that much of the novel was plagarized from the writer Fyodor Kryukov, a Cossak and anti-Bolshevik, who died in 1920 of typhoid fever. Several studies has been published on this subject: R.A. Medvedev's Problems in the Literary Biography of Mikhail Sholokhov (1977) was criticized in Slavic and East European Journal in 1976 by Herman Ermolaev. Additional information is in A Brian Murphy's studies of Tikhiy Don in the New Zealand Slavonic Journal (1975-77) and the Journal of Russian Studies, no. 34 (1977). Sholokhov's other works are not on his masterwork's level, but the accusations remain largely unproven. Critics have argued, that he could not have written all or part of the novel because of his young age and because Quiet Flows the Don described atrocities on both sides impartially. In 1984 Geir Kjetsaa and others published their study The Authorship of the Quiet Don, where computer study supported the authorship of Sholokhov. Most of the manuscripts were lost when the Germans occupied Veshenskaya , but in 1987 some two thousand pages were discovered and authenticated.V.P. Fomenko and T.G. Fomenko have applied quantitative analysis to the works of Sholokhov, concluding that parts of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as a large section of the part 6 of the novel were not written by Sholokhov. (see History: Fiction or Science. Chronology 2, by Anatoly T. Fomenko, 2005)"


In the area of chemistry, one Soviet citizen was awarded a Nobel prize during he period 1945-1990. American chemists won the Chemistry prize twenty four times during the same period.

In the area of physics, the Soviets did pretty good. Four awards for physics during the period 1945-1990. During the same period American physicists won the prize twenty eight times.

From this indicator, the awarding of Nobel Prizes, we can see that American citizens were WAY OUT in front of their Soviet counterparts in the intellectual sphere. You had persons from all over the world immigrating to the U.S. to further their academic and research careers. YOU DID NOT HAVE such persons going to the Soviet Union!!

Militarily the Soviets presented a threat to the U.S. and the western world in general. From an overall societal standpoint, this threat was mostly a MIRAGE!!

With the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, the most serious threat to the ideals of the western world became a shell that was for the most part hollow to begin with.

The Russians are said to have a saying, "in struggle, truth is found!!". This is true, is it not!!??


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Monday, February 20, 2006


This is coolbert:

Here is an interesting idea regarding TO&E from the era of World War Two [WW2].

As used by the U.S. Marines during that conflict. A structure for infantry, the organization of which allows for sustained combat of a high intensity for a prolonged period without exhausting the troops to the point where they become combat-fatigued and are no longer "effectives".

The infantry-square!

The "infantry-square" concept has a lot of merit to it.

This is clearly enunciated in an article by the editor of the G2mil web site.

According to the editor - - Carlton Meyer of G2mil: [quoting in entirety to large extent]

"The Infantry square - -

Few infantry officers understand how to manage sustained close combat operations, like those found in urban environments and dense terrain where progress is measured by meters a day. This heavily favors defense since ambushes and booby traps are easy to employ. Advances are slow to minimize casualties since few armies are willing to employ suicidal "banzai" charges. The most effective method is for grunts to dash forward a few meters at a time while others provide cover fire and attempt to locate enemy shooters."

"Infantry leaders instinctively employ all their forces into the attack hoping to overwhelm the enemy. However, locating and destroying an entrenched and concealed enemy requires patience, especially if they move about within buildings, tunnels and sewers [three dimensional warfare]. Infantry officers must accept this constraint, and understand that infantrymen will no longer advance after 48 hours of close combat due to fatigue and a lack of decent food, sleep, and sanitation. In addition, heavy casualties convince survivors that death is imminent since fighting never ends."

"This is rarely understood because peacetime urban warfare and assault course training lasts just a few hours [and the aspect of fear is missing. As Dupuy would state, training exercises can never emulate totally combat as the element of fear is missing. NO ONE is shooting back at you to kill you!!]. In addition, sustained close combat is quite different from open warfare where units maneuver and rest between battles [if you are severely outnumbered and on the defensive, there may not be time for maneuver and rest. YOU MAY have to beat a retreat delaying. That is to say, movement by fire to the rear, while in contact with the enemy. Breaking contact may be next to impossible. Sustained long term combat will not allow for rest at ALL!!]. As a result, the US Army encountered difficulties during World War II . . . but most divisions never developed a method of maintaining a grinding offensive momentum. "

[it should also understood that training NEVER constitutes preparation for combat in the total sense. Should be understood as a preparation where learning methods, techniques, and tactics is the goal!! With the element of fear missing, combat just cannot be emulated!! This is intuitive!!]

"In the Pacific, US Marine Corps assaults into island fortifications taught them to develop a rotational system. The basic model is the infantry battalion square; two companies forward, two behind them, with the battalion headquarters and support elements in the middle. Two rifle companies fight and advance for 48 hours, then the two rear companies move forward to relieve them in place. The two fatigued companies move to the rear to eat hot chow, "use" toilet paper, receive medical care for minor injuries, hopefully get a few beers, then sleep. The next day its more hot chow, weapons cleaning, bathing and more sleep. These rearward companies also provide the battalion with defense-in-depth should the enemy mount a major counterattack and punch through a forward company."

"Since these companies return to their approximate areas, they are familiar with the battlefield and this break allows planning for the upcoming 48-hour combat phase. Replacements can be added and broken or lost equipment replaced. As they move back into the line, they are refreshed and fully equipped to fight, with the comfort of knowing they will be pulled back after 48 hours. This rotational arrangement allowed Marine Corps infantry battalions to conduct sustained offensive close combat operations for weeks . . . Attached supporting elements rotated with their rifle companies or as directed by the battalion staff . . . . Since battles are fluid, it is difficult for infantry commanders to accept their offensive has slowed into a close combat grind. They must recognize when battalions should form an infantry battalion square, before their grunts stop completely. This is not only good for combat success, but for morale as well. Tired, hungry and dirty soldiers cannot advance against strong enemy defenses. The infantry square is not really a tactic, just common sense."

Common sense indeed!! Leave it to the Marines!!

Having an infantry square TO&E from the get-go will allow the Ghurkha brigade commander to use such a method in combat, whether on the offensive or defensive, in a conventional battlefield environment or otherwise [urban warfare].



This is coolbert:

While going over the wikipedia web site for the Israeli tank of the family U.S. M48/60, [called "Magach" by the Israeli] this item intrigued me:

"'Source of the name "Magach'"

"Although as stated above, officially "Magach" stands for "Chariot of War Heroes", other versions exist. One version states that the real source of the name is the designation M48A3 (in Gematria 40 is "mem" ("m"), 8 is "chet" ("ch") and 3 is "gimel" ("g")). Yet another version says that M48A3 can be read as MAgAch (4 looks like "A", 8 like "g" etc.). According to another version, "Magach" comes from the Hebrew root "" and is akin to the verb "lingoach" - "to ram".

A popular joke in the IDF says that "Magach" means "Movil Gviyot Charukhot" - "charred bodies carrier", probably referring to the Yom Kippur War losses and particularly to the aforementioned flammable hydraulic fluid problem of the M48."

Merkava is the current name for the Israeli indigenous designed and built tank. Merkava means "chariot".

Gematria is finding word meanings in the numbers represented by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and also finding numerical meanings in the letters represented by the Hebrew alphabet. As with the Roman alphabet, letters are used also as numerical representation [X=10, V=5, etc.] It is said by practitioners of gematria that "hidden" and "profound" meanings can be found in ordinary words or numbers!!


Gematria is numerology of the Hebrew language and Hebrew alphabet. Several forms can be identified: the "revealed" form and the "mystical form". The word itself comes from the Greek word 'geometry' and the concept or system is the same as the Greek isopsephy."

[this sort of numerology can drive people crazy!! Also, the Hebrew language is not always insistent upon writing words containing all the letters. It is permissible to write a word without vowels. The word is read and understood just with consonants??!!]

During the 1973 Ramadan/Yom Kippur War, the M48 and M60 were used extensively by the Israeli.

And were found to be exceptionally susceptible to a hit by a HEAT round from an anti-tank guided missile [ATGM] of the Sagger or Swatter variety,

IF HIT IN A CERTAIN EXACT SPOT the result would cause scalding hot hydraulic fluid to course through the crew compartment of the tank, killing all the tank occupants with a horrible death!! This occurred many times during that 1973 war. Presumably the Soviets, either through espionage or examining a M48/60 tank captured in Vietnam, had determined this weakness and tipped of the Egyptians as where to shoot!!

This problem HAS been rectified!!


Sunday, February 19, 2006


This is coolbert:

Go here to see an excellent web site that describes how the M113 Super-Gavins are being armed for the Iraq conflict.

Of course, keep in mind that this site is pro-Gavin and anti-Stryker!!

This extract is most interesting: [as usual, my comments in bold!!]

* RPG pre-det bird cage all around but yet not so wide so Super Gavin can still roll-on/off USAF aircraft for 3D maneuver warfare capabilities, you can't do this in a Stryker truck!

That slat armor does not necessarily make the M113 less maneuverable!!

* High Hard Steel belts on sides, front, rear to increase roadside bomb and bullet protection to beyond 14.5mm HMG protection

Protection against the 14.5 mm machine gun is a must. Where have we heard that before??!!

* Underbelly armor to defeat land mines

Landmines are of course a big item in counter-insurgency warfare. Conventional warfare of course too.

* Extra spall liner inside

Spall liner on the inside protects against metallic fragments from a penetrating armor piercing hit from circulating at high speed around the interior of the track.

* TAGS see-thru gunshields to protect and see enemy first to shoot & kill him

This of course allows the track commander [TC] to stand up and fire the fifty caliber [.50] and not needlessly expose himself to enemy counterfire. Valuable lesson from Vietnam.

* Ability to stow troop gear, sandbags on outside beneath hull and bird cage to increase ballistic protection levels

Gear from the troops inside the track can be suspended outside the hull and allows for further protection against a variety of enemy fire. Sherman tank crews in World War Two hung sandbags on the OUTSIDE of their vehicles to act as a defense against the shaped charge of the Panzerfaust.

* Rolls on tracks that are cross-country mobile and do not puncture and burn like Stryker truck tires

A LOT of thought has been given into improvements to the Super-Gavin to make it more resistant to the type of weapons being encountered in Iraq.

MUCH of this is of course the result of good and bad experiences encountered originally in Vietnam. Lessons learned forty years ago are still applicable NOW!! The learning curve here is a lot easier than it was in Vietnam.


Go here too if you want to see some outstanding military cartoons. The BEST!!



This is coolbert:

Further thoughts on the APC [armored personnel carrier] M113 I find to be suitable for one of my Ghurkha brigades of the American Ghurkha Legion.

The idea would be to put such a mechanized brigade in the field as quick as possible. This could be done utilizing to the greatest extent the M113.

Such a brigade would be comprised to the greatest extent possible again, of tracked vehicles. Self-propelled mortars, artillery, command posts, IFV [infantry fighting vehicles], fire support combat vehicles of all types and sorts, would be tracked and accompany the basic M113 where ever it would go.

This is in keeping with the writings of the visionary British military historian and commentator Sir Basil Liddel Hart. Hart wanted to created totally tracked units that could go anywhere, unimpeded by terrain obstacles. Move as ships do on the seas, but in this case cross-country, where ever the battle is, not road bound.

Such a vision HAS NEVER been achieved. Attempted to various degrees, but never achieved.

[it should be noted that Basil Liddel Hart was an acolyte of J.F.C. Fuller. It may be that Fuller came up with the original concept, and Hart was responsible for popularizing the idea. I am not fully sure of this.]

It should be noted that the M113 DOES already exists in a whole lot of weapons configurations. Configurations adopted to meet the changing battlefield that existed since the end of 1945.

These various weapons configurations CAN BE TASK TAILORED for the particular combat operation at hand.

Among the weapons that can be found on the M113 are:

* The M240 machine gun [NATO 7.62]. The replacement for the M60. This weapon has been blogged about before. Is mounted on the M113 in normal use. But CAN BE dismounted and used by ground troops when necessary.

The above photo shows an apparently right mounted M60 machine gun with shield for the gunner mounted on a M113 during the Vietnam War. A M240 would be mounted the same way!! [note: the M60 in the above photo still has the integral bipod attached. For dismounting the weapon if necessary. Details count!!]

* The M2 fifty caliber [.50] machine gun. Mounted atop the APC with gun shield for the track commander [TC] to employ.

[this is an amazing photo. Shows the fifty caliber barrel with the gun shield for the TC and the slat armor. All this being used in Iraq, right now. Keep in mind the M113 is based upon a fifty year old design. A LOT OF REAL VALUE ADDED IDEAS HAVE KEPT THIS REMARKABLE VEHICLE GOING FOR A LONG TIME NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE TOO IT SEEMS!!]

* The forty millimeter cannon [40 mm]. Fires grenades automatically. These grenades are the same as used in the M203 rifle or the HueyCobra gunship. Fire either a anti-personnel round or the HEDP [high-explosive dual purpose] round. The latter is useful against light skinned armor vehicles or concrete walled buildings.

[shown in a ground mount mode with tripod. There IS a mount for the M113!!]

"The M430 HEDP 40mm grenade will pierce armor up to 2 inches thick, and will produce fragments to kill personnel within 5 meters and wound personnel within 15 meters of the point of impact."

* The TOW anti-tank-guide-missile [ATGM]. The original concept was to mount this weapons in an ungainly manner. Sticking out of the top of the track with the gunner exposed. This was NOT a good way to do things. Too much exposure to counter-fire from the enemy.

Another TOW version does exist. Much better. Allows for the gunner to have cover and fire and direct the missile with protection. I am assuming the launcher can be retracted for movement and reloading? Still looks ungainly. I wonder how stable this vehicle is. Maybe it is too top-heavy?

* Mortars. Mounted inside the APC. Allow for a lot of ammo to be carried. Can displace and move quickly if enemy counter-mortar counter battery fire is too intense.

Mortar calibers are 81 mm, 106 mm, and 120 mm.

The idea for a Ghurkha brigade equipped with the M113 would be to have a capability to rapidly configure and reconfigure the track weaponry for whatever the mission called for. If in conventional warfare environment, the APC would require a lot of TOW missile and mortar capability. If in a counter-guerilla environment, the APC would require a lot of 40 mm cannon and machine guns of various calibers. Etc. Task tailoring.

It might also be possible to incorporate other weapons systems into the mix as well. What about 7.62 mm or 20 mm mini-guns? What about the 106 mm recoilless rifle being mounted on the track in some manner? What about the various upgrades to the track using the newer types of Remote Weapons Systems [RWS]??

[apparently the 20 mm Vulcan cannon was mounted on APC's in Vietnam for a ground support role. This M113 with cannon was later used an air defense weapon. The expenditure of ammo was too great for it to be that useful. At least at the time.]

[the whole idea of using a 106 mm recoilless rifle would be to employ the spalling round to defeat the thick stone and cinderblock wall construction found in third world cities where urban warfare with jihadi may be encountered!!]

[RWS systems are currently being used on the Stryker vehicle. Allow the gunner to operate an integral weapon from INSIDE the vehicle without exposing the gunner to enemy counter-fire.]


Saturday, February 18, 2006


This is coolbert:

Here is a web site [and it is an excellent web site too!!] that describes in details of the differences between the Stryker vehicle and the M113 Gavin. Both currently being deployed in Iraq.

I have extracted pertinent items and comment in bold:

"M113 Gavin vs Stryker

The Army says the Stryker family of vehicles are considered less vulnerable to small arms and weapons fire than the M113 family of vehicles."

"The crew and engine compartments of the Strykers are fully protected up to 14.5mm armor piercing (AP) rounds while the crew and engine compartments of the M113s are protected only up to 7.62mm AP rounds."

As the article says, there was developed armor to add to the M113 that will defeat that 14.5 mm AP round, but not used.

There is a specific reason for defeating the 14.5 mm AP round. That is the round fired by a Soviet model heavy machine gun DESIGNED to defeat tanks and armored vehicles. That is a fifty seven [.57] caliber machine gun of formidable capability!!

"During and after the American Civil War, many military leaders looked at cavalry differently. The idea was that a horse was there for transportation and that was it."


"The experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq appeared to confirm the belief in the wisdom of transformation to meet the threats of the 21st century . . . the need arose for medium-armor units . . . heavier than the Humvee and M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier, but lighter than the Abrams Main Battle Tank or Bradley Fighting Vehicle."

I would not class the Humvee and the M113 in the same category. NOT EVEN!!

"The Stryker vehicle is an eight-wheeled infantry carrier. The vehicle is designed to get light infantry from point A to point B on the battlefield. Upon arrival, the troopers dismount the vehicle and fight on foot."

The Stryker is NOT INTENDED to be an IFV [infantry fighting vehicle]. Troops are NOT intended to fight FROM the vehicle. MUST dismount first. Same as the original concept for the M113.

"The difference between a Stryker and an M-113 is like the difference between a Yugo and a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost."

One could ask the question - - "who would like to take a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost into battle in the first place??!!"

"Maintenance is easier on the Stryker"

When enough spare parts are available. Lots of spare parts can be taken off of older M113 if needed.

"The Stryker can't go as many places as a fully tracked vehicle like the M-113"

This may very well be not a substantial advantage for the M113. YOU DO NOT need to go all places. Adequate transport is what counts if that is the case 95-99 % of the time.

"Handling characteristics of the Stryker are good, even up to 50 mph."

Again, you rarely if ever would achieve such high speeds in a combat situation.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Plain of Reeds.

This is coolbert:

There WAS another battle in the early days of American involvement in Vietnam that showed how American technology and "know-how" would not always carry the day.

The battle in question here is not Ap Bac, but rather the Battle of the Plain of Reeds.

[some folks may quibble that Ap Bac IS located also in the area called The Plain of Reeds. I would state that Ap Bac is a distinctive engagement. The Battle of the Plain of Reeds is also distinctive!!]

As was Ap Bac, also occurred in 1962.

And also involved the M113 APC [armored personnel carrier].

As has been mentioned, it was felt in the early days of American involvement in Vietnam, that all what was required was some superior American equipment and superior American military know-how, and the communist insurgency would soon be over.

This was the belief, at any rate.

Before going further, let me say that the M113 was not intended to be an infantry fighting vehicle [IFV]. A vehicle that would BOTH transport and allow for a fighting capacity. The M113 was seen by the U.S. military as being what is called a "battle taxi". Transport infantry troops across all sorts of terrain. Take the infantry to the battle. Provide protection against small arms fire and shrapnel fragments from enemy indirect fire. NOT a vehicle the infantry was intended to fight from. Infantry would dismount a distance from the objective and conduct a conventional infantry assault.

This WAS the WAY American commanders had been trained and had practiced in using the M113.

The M113 DID have a fifty caliber machine gun mounted on it. Was to be employed by the track commander [TC]. Usually the squad leader of the infantry squad being transported by the APC. This TC manning that fifty caliber WAS susceptible to enemy fire in a big way as he was so exposed with his torso sticking out of the hatch on the top of the APC.

See the below photo where this is plainly seen.

Concentrated enemy fire directed at the TC, as was seen at AP Bac, would stall an assault by the M113's employed by the South Vietnamese. With a certain percentage of the TC's dead or wounded, leadership would break down and the other enlisted would not move forward on their own initiative.

At the Plain of Reeds, the South Vietnamese DID attempt to use the M113 as an IFV. Troops would NOT dismount, but attempt to assault and overrun the Viet Cong [VC] position, while fighting from inside the APC. It was possible for the South Vietnamese to do this, regardless of what American "advisors told them. A hatch on the top of the APC could be opened, allowing the infantrymen to remain within and fire over the top of the APC at enemy targets, while still protected inside the M113.

Read the account of the "Battle of the Plain of Reeds" by clicking here:

"the APC's charged straight ahead through the flooded paddies toward the point where the Viet Cong had last been seen. Suddenly, enemy soldiers appeared all around the APC's, some firing automatic weapons and rifles and others running wildly in an attempt to evade the armored vehicles. As the APC's scattered the enemy, the South Vietnamese soldiers fired in all directions from the open hatches, with the .50-caliber machine guns dominating the fight.

After much discussion, Captain Bricker persuaded Captain Ba to order his troops to dismount, but this move proved to be a serious mistake. As long as the troops were mounted and moving the Viet Cong had been unable to fire well-aimed shots. Dismounted, the soldiers not only lost the advantages of movement, cover, and observation aforded by their APC's but they also found themselves bogged down in water that was knee-deep."

From this account, it is apparent that the attack by the APC's only failed WHEN THE AMERICAN ADVISOR ON THE SCENE GAVE ERRANT ADVICE TO HIS SOUTH VIETNAMESE COUNTERPART. Those South Vietnamese infantrymen, when dismounting from the M113's, found themselves in knee deep mud, could move forward only with the greatest difficulty, were exposed to VC fire, and were cut down with ease by the enemy!!


[please note that at this point, the VC forces evidently DID NOT possess anti-armor weapons such as recoilless rifles or the rocket propelled grenade [RPG].]

After this engagement, the South Vietnamese made expedient but very successful modifications to their American provided M113's. This was done at their [the South Vietnamese] own initiative. These modifications were:

* Provide armor protection with a gun shield for the TC manning the fifty caliber machine gun.

* Mount two [2] thirty caliber Browning machine guns on the APC. One gun to cover the left quadrant, the other to cover the right quadrant.

* Revise doctrine used by the SOUTH VIETNAMESE to allow troops to fight from inside the APC to the greatest extent possible. Use the M113 as an armored troop carrier AND a fighting vehicle.

"The application of what was then American doctrine, which called for mechanized troops to dismount and assault the objective on foot, caused the attack to falter. Because of this experience, attacks in the future were conducted with troops fighting from the carriers. The M113 quickly became a combat vehicle, used almost as a light tank. Eventually, American units adopted this doctrine and fought mounted.2 "


IT IS very interesting that when the U.S. Army became involved in the Vietnam War in a BIG way, armored cavalry regiments were sent to Vietnam as part of the American forces. These units [the ACAV] incorporated the "lessons learned" by the South Vietnamese and WERE very successful in combat against the VC and the North Vietnamese Army [NVA].


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This is coolbert:

A reprise on French military prowess.

Some of you may remember my blog entry on French military prowess. Almost a history lesson in one fell swoop.

Someone else has done the same.

See the whole web site, called "InvadeFrance.US" by clicking here.

Their description of French military prowess is also in chronological order, but from earliest time to latest. The opposite of mine. This web site is very biting and acerbic. Somewhat like mine too.

Peruse for yourself:


Gallic Wars - Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.

Hundred Years War - Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when NOT led by a Frenchman."
Italian Wars - Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars -- when fighting Italians.
Wars of Religion - France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots.
Thirty Years War - France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.
War of Devolution - Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flower pots as chapeaux.
The Dutch War - Tied.
War of the Augsburg League / King William's War / French and Indian War -Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.
War of the Spanish Succession - Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved ever since.
American Revolution - In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."
French Revolution - Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.
The Napoleonic Wars - Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.
The Franco-Prussian War - Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.
World War I - Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.
World War II - Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.
War in Indochina - Lost. French forces plead sickness, take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu.
Algerian Rebellion - Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.
War Against Greenpeace - Lost. 1985, the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior prepares to sail for Moruroa Atoll for a major campaign against French nuclear testing. Agents of the DGSE [secret service] bomb and sink the ship in Auckland Harbor. 1 tree-hugger sans tree drowns. Six weeks later agents Prieur and Mafart plead guilty to charges of manslaughter and willful damage. They get sentences of 10 years and 7 years. French Prime Minister Fabius admits to state terrorism on TV.
War on Terrorism - France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador but fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.
The Internet - France surrenders to netizens of InvadeFrance.US. Netizens drink French wine and eat frog legs in celebration."

Well, as I said. Biting and acerbic, is it not??!!

The have some wars listed I did not have. But then I did not intend to be all inclusive!!



Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ghurkha Legion.

This is coolbert:

This is going to be a thought experiment.

I have previously blogged on how a solution to the lack of "boots on the ground" could be quickly resolved by creating an American Ghurkha Legion.

Three brigades
of Ghurkhas to be recruited, organized into units for combat anywhere in the world. I had suggested that one brigade be Stryker vehicle equipped, another airmobile, and the third very light infantry.

My druthers now would be to equip one brigade with Super-Gavins, M113 APC [armored personnel carrier] rather than the Stryker vehicle. M113's such as now are seeing service in Iraq with distinction, from all that I read

Such a brigade could be more easily transported to any place in the world, and be effective in combat obstensibly QUICKER than a Stryker brigade.

And a brigade whose equipment can be configured it what would seem to be a myriad of ways. Task tailored according to the mission.

But still possessing a standard TO&E. [Table of Organization and Equipment]

That TO&E is the subject of what will be a continuing blog entry.

I will be the General Staff officer in charge of determining such a brigade's TO&E. A mind experiment.

Using for the beginning the model of one of the separate brigades that comprise the U.S. Army First Infantry Division [1st ID].

This brigade [the 48th enhanced Separate Brigade] consists of:

* HHC, 48th ESB [a headquarters company]

* 1-121 IN [a mechanized infantry battalion]

* 2-121 IN [a mechanized infantry battalion]

* E/108 CAV TRP [a cavalry troop [recon]]

* 1-108 AR [an armor [tanks] battalion]

* 1-118 FA [a field artillery battalion]

* E/179 ADA [an air defense battery [company]]

* 648th EN BN [an engineer battalion]

* 148th SUP BN [a support battalion]

* 248 MI BN [a military intelligence battalion]

For combat arms we see two infantry battalions, a combat recon troop, an armor [tank] battalion, a field artillery battalion, and an air defense battery.

This is a good starting point. Tells you what the current thinking is as to how a separate brigade must be configured. A brigade that CAN if necessary, be deployed and operate on it's own with a combat mission quite distinct from the 1st ID.

Such would also be the case with a Gavin Ghurkha brigade.


Friday, February 10, 2006


This is coolbert:

  World War Three, Part VI.

Beginning with end of the Second World War [WW2], the United States was obviously the world's foremost power, and was so by a long shot. So it seemed in the minds of folks at the time. Not only the greatest power on the planet, but without competition. All seemed to be good at that time, and for the foreseeable future too!!

This all changed of course, with the Soviet Union exploding an atomic bomb, the advent of the "Iron Curtain", the communization of China, and the Korean War.

It was realized that not only did America have a challenger for world domination, but a very serious challenger. A challenger whose appearance could not be denied. This was serious stuff!!

This war was fought on many fronts simultaneously, with guns and bullets, with words, and with constant comparisons and evaluations of both societies, both by the combatants and outside observers, involved and otherwise.

And all throughout the "Cold War", the American public seemed to have a pessimistic view of the long term end result of this conflict. A conflict that for a long time seemed to go against American interests. Even knowledgeable observers seemed to have a very poor view of American possibilities in this conflict. The "tide" seemed to be very anti-American and pro-Soviet.

As I have said, this manifested itself on a number of fronts all at once.

It would have been agreed by all observers that, yes, the U.S. populace did have a higher standard of living, and unparalleled freedom vis-a-vis Soviet citizens, but this was not without qualification.

Yes, the American populace did enjoy an enviable standard of living, but the Soviets were NOT that FAR behind the U.S. And when behind, rapidly catching up, and even in some categories, exceeding the U.S.

The Soviets were said to have a better education and health care system. A universal health care system with "free education".

The Soviets were producing more scientists, physicists, and engineers. And all trained to a more competent level than their American counterparts.

These physicists and scientists were also said to be studying science at a more "pure" and "basic" level of research. This was said to hold the promise of paying great dividends in the future for the Soviets. More discoveries of a more portentous nature would come out of the Soviet Union than the U.S.

[portentous discoveries mostly of a military nature of course!!]

Soviet children were said to be just more adjusted and all around better students and young citizens than American youth. Studying more subjects in school more diligently and with greater success than their American counter-parts. It was said that Soviet youth were learning calculus in the FOURTH GRADE!!

[this was later to be qualified to say that the students in the Soviet Union were EXPOSED to calculus in the fourth grade. A big difference!!]

Soviet youth was OF COURSE more physically fit than their American counter-parts. This has been blogged about in previous entries.

All this of course boded very poorly for American military might. The American military would NOT have the advanced equipment needed to win future wars, and not have the abundance of physically fit young men to man that advanced equipment.

The Soviets also were said to be ahead in key manufacturing and research sectors. It was always maintained by "experts" that say, "in fourteen of fifteen key research areas the Soviets were ahead of U.S. researchers!!"

The Soviets of course were also said to have an abundance of raw materials that the U.S. was lacking in. Again, it was said by the "experts", "the Soviets have fourteen of the fifteen key minerals [including oil] needed by industrial high-tech WITHIN their own borders!!' The U.S. was said to be importers of these fourteen of fifteen key minerals!!

A constant score card was kept by the news media as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of each side in this "world conflict".

When ever Soviet and American athletes competed against one another, great attention would be paid as to whose athletes were better and who one more gold medals at the Olympics, etc. And the Soviet athlete, beginning with the Olympics of 1956, demonstrated that in most athletic endeavors, their "sportsmen and women" excelled and dominated where once American athletes had ruled the roost.

[this sort of sports one-up-man-ship was carried to ridiculous extremes. I recall there used to be a yearly track and field meet pitting American track athletes, men and women, against their Soviet counter-parts. This was supposed to build up "good will" between the nations. Was a competition where the American side counted the winner one way, the Soviet counting the winner the other way. The American side counted men and women teams separately, the Soviets combining men and women teams to determine who WON more events!!]

The "space race" was another item said to demonstrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each side in the "conflict".

"Experts" were constantly evaluating the Soviet and American space programs. With regard to size of missiles, payloads, programs and progress. Who had the first satellite in orbit, who had a man in space first, who had a woman in space first, who had multiple cosmonauts in space first, whose satellite was first to the moon, etc!! America also seemed to trail in all important factors with regard to space exploration and exploitation. Exploitation that was seen as having a vital military significance.

[this was all seen as being a result of an inferior educational system in the U.S. Especially with regard as to educating American youth in the fundamentals of math and science!!!]

One-up-man-ship was also carried to absurdity in the field of weapons development too. First the U.S. had the tank with the biggest gun. Then the Soviets had the tank with the biggest gun. Then the U.S. had the fastest fighter plane. Then the Soviets had the fastest fighter plane. Then the U.S. exploded the biggest hydrogen bomb. Then the Soviets exploded the biggest hydrogen bomb. You see where this goes.

The Soviets of course were said to, "have a plan, while the U.S. lacks a plan!!" The Soviets were seen as being on the offensive. Even if the U.S. stopped the Soviet in one place, a new crisis would inevitably pop up in another world hot-spot. A crisis always detrimental to U.S. interests.

It was also said that the Soviets studied the U.S. much better than the U.S. studied the Soviets. 500,000 Soviet students were said to be studying English, but only 50,000 American students studying Russian!! The Soviets were said to understand the Americans better than the Americans understand themselves. This too was said to be an indication of the overall failure of the U.S. educational system!!

This clash of ideologies and nuclear powers was also not ignored by other nations around the world. NOT in the least. Rather the opposite.

Many of the emerging or "Third World" nations around the world looked at this conflict with interest.

It was said that the two models [Soviet and American] were compared by world leaders and the Americans were found to be lacking.

Leaders of what were called the "non-aligned nations" seemed to take a perverse and delightful enjoyment from verbally abusing the U.S. when ever possible. Leaders such as Nehru, Sukarno, and Nasser constantly criticized the U.S. and seemed to be drawn in a big way to the Soviet model, a planned, controlled society and economy that JUST SEEMED TO WORK SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE U.S. AND WHAT WERE SEEN AS GLARING AMERICAN WEAKNESSES WERE OFTEN HIGHLIGHTED AND UNDERSCORED OVER AND OVER!!

[I once heard a lecture by Colonel Choronios. This man was the military advisor to the diplomats that negotiated the treaty by which the Panama Canal was turned over to the Panamanian government. Choronios said that these leaders all throughout the "Third World" felt compelled to insult the U.S. where ever possible. These leaders foresaw that there was a good possibility of a nuclear exchange between the Soviets and the U.S., this exchange of atomic weaponry resulting to the detriment of the U.S. "Third World" leaders did not want to end up on the wrong side at the end of such a conflict!! It was as simple as that!!]

Given the situation as it presented itself to the general American public at the time, it was hard to see HOW the U.S. could EVER triumph over the Soviets in the long run. It SEEMED to many that Soviet domination of the world, with Red Chinese complicity, was almost inevitable!! A natural progression of history as enunciated by Marx was happening right before our eyes!!



Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ap Bac.

This is coolbert:

Even with the most sophisticated of technologies, please do not think that defeating an insurgent enemy is an easy task. If that insurgent enemy is determined and resolute, even advanced equipment in the hands of the "good guys" can go for naught.

Such was the case at the Battle of Ap Bac in Vietnam. 1962.

Vietnam was at the time a place on the globe that few Americans had even heard of, or could even point to on the map. It was terra incognito!!

NOT so to the American advisors leading and almost having to command the South Vietnamese troops they were trying to HELP!

The American military felt that with just the right type and amount of equipment, the Viet Cong [VC] could be overwhelmed and defeated. Give the right technological advantage to the Army of Vietnam [ARVN] and the war would be shortly over.

Helicopters [the "Flying Banana"] and armored personnel carriers [APC's] of the M113 variety were seen as a big part of the answer. Mobility and protection would allow for an overwhelming advantage. The under equipped VC enemy would be routed and fast too when faced with such weaponry!! Such was a large part of the thinking.

Ap Bac was to prove this assumption to be wrong. And big time too! NOT only were the ARVN troops, suitably equipped, NOT victorious, they got whipped, and good too!!

Ap Bac was to be fought with an air assault from helios by ARVN troops, backed up by another ARVN force in APC's. This was felt to be way more than the VC could EVER handle. NOT SO!!

This battle field loss caused considerable egg on the face of the American military. A defeat that was widely reported in the American press by some very distinguished reporters.

The supposed strong points of mobility from the helios and the armor protection of the M113's were found to be in certain cases liabilities!!

Ap Bac demonstrated this to be so!!

A VC unit, dug in and waiting, ambushed the helios as they attempted to land the air assault ARVN troops. Automatic weapons fire made short work of the unarmed choppers. The "flying banana" was just not up to the task, five being shot down and nine damaged. The air assault was a failure.

When the M113's made their assault, it too was a failure. It was felt that the approaching armor rushing toward the enemy would create something analogous to "tank fright" in the minds of the dug in VC and cause them to bolt. This too did not happen! The VC were prepared and resolute. The APC commanders, operating .50 caliber machine guns atop the APC's, were easy targets and mowed down almost with ease. The APC attack stalled and did press home the attack when it came under HAND GRENADE ATTACK!!

Read a very good wikipedia account of the battle by clicking here.

[around the same time as Ap Bac, ARVN forces riding INSIDE of APC's encountered VC equipped with RPG's [rocket-propelled-grenades]. A direct hit on the flat sides of the M113 would penetrate as if it was the proverbial hot knife through butter, killing the entire infantry squad riding INSIDE. After several encounters of this type, the ARVN ordered all their troops using APC's to ride ATOP their vehicle, negating the small arms protection of the M113, but preventing instant incineration from a RPG hit!! It became a common sight during the Vietnam to see scores of ARVN troops riding ATOP a M113 rather than inside, such was the danger from a single RPG!!]

Read another account of how the M113 was successfully employed in Vietnam by clicking here.

The above linked web site also describes how new, improved, and advanced M113 Super-Gavins are being used extensively in Iraq, with success. Improvement made with regard to the hard lessons learned in Vietnam!!

[riding atop the M113 was no fun either. It was and is a very rough ride. You can fall off and be killed or badly hurt. Sometimes run over by another APC!! When you ride ATOP, you have to hold on with all your might or it could be curtains. I know about this from first hand experience!!]

After Ap Bac, American senior commanders knew that technology and superior equipment were NOT going to make victory in Vietnam a sure thing!! New tactics for helios too had to be developed to prevent catastrophic losses as occurred.

In the end, NOTHING was able to stop VC and NVA [North Vietnamese Army] victory. Vietnam turned out to be a bad learning experience for American commanders over and over!



Sunday, February 05, 2006


This is coolbert:

A lot of authorities have commented that the U.S. military ground forces currently fighting in Iraq are reverting to old-time weapons.

Weapons that were considered to be NOT useful in modern combat. Passe' and outdated.

This is a most surprising turn of events. The Pentagon and other military thinkers around the world are supposed to be able to predict, with some accuracy, the course of military development in the areas of weapons, tactics, strategy, etc. This IS crucial. You want to be able to develop weapons, tactics, strategy that will be useful and effective in the NEXT war.

Iraq seems to be bucking the trend in a lot of cases.

I have mentioned some of this in previous blogs. Such as:

* The slat armor used to defeat the shaped charge round.

* The renewed use of the 7.62 mm NATO round as fired by the M-14 rifle [also the same caliber round fired by the M240 machine gun] as being the caliber of choice for the infantryman. With use of the M14 rifle of course as well to troops beyond those of the sniper teams.

* The reissuance of the old-time .45 caliber autoloading pistol M1911.

* The redeployment of moth-balled M113 armored personnel carriers [APC's].

* And further suggestions that U.S. ground forces need to think of going back to usage of the recoilless rifle of say the 106 mm caliber, as was found on the ONTOS Marine vehicle.

What else is there?? And what else WILL there be?

This trend seems to be due to the nature of the fourth generation warfare [4GW] facing U.S. ground forces. Such warfare, when the enemy decides, normally by their own choosing, to stand and fight, will be urban warfare. Urban warfare that negates to a great extent the very effective American arsenal so effective in conventional warfare.

U.S. ground forces will have to employ basically what they can carry and deploy in the often very congested urban setting found in the teeming "Third World city". Artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships, and Air Force close air support [CAS] are either too ponderous for effective use or are not time responsive enough.

It also seems that type of construction often found in the "Third World city" is of stone or cinder block construction. Resistant to small caliber weaponry or even the HEAT type of anti-tank weapon carried by the common soldier. Weaponry effective on the CONVENTIONAL battlefield are found wanting in the urban environment.

One suggestion to defeat the construction of buildings of the stone orcinderblock type is to resort toa recoilless rifle firing a spalling round. Called high explosive plastic [HEP] by the U.S. and high explosive squash head [HESH] by the British. Also referred to as the "dinner plate" round. Such a round can DEFEAT CONCRETE WALLS UP TO EIGHT FEET THICK!! Causes peeling off of concrete on the INSIDE OF THE WALL. The peeled off pieces circulate around the room at high velocity, turning enemy fighters located within into "hamburger"!!

[perhaps the Stryker assault gun will fill a void currently present. Or the Buford gun reconsidered. If the recoilless rifle is brought out of mothballs, that too may be part of the solution. U.S. ground forces will need something effective that they either carry with them or accompanies them WHERE EVER THEY GO!!]

I don't think anyone would have ever anticipated that this course of events would follow when U.S. ground forces invaded Iraq. The "experts" probably would not have said what has transpired would have occurred. This probably is a shock to most of the futurists in the Pentagon.

Consider the origin [etymology] of the English word war:

"war - - late O.E. "to confuse, perplex". Cognates suggest the original sense was 'to bring into confusion.'"

Well, this is true, is it not??!!



This is coolbert:

As long as I am on the subject of armor, here is an entry on reactive armor.

First developed by the Israeli. As has been mentioned many times in previous blog entries, the Israeli ordnance department is way out in front of the rest of the world in weapons development. Innovative thinkers that DO come up with some good stuff.

[In the photo accompanying this blog, the tiles plastered to the sides of the tank all over the place are the reactive armor. This tank is a U.S. M60 tank upgraded by the Israeli. New gun, new engine, new electronics and aiming systems, better ammo, and voila', you got a bad assed tank that is of an old design. The M60 was an improvement over the M48 tank. They are both of the same family [the Israeli refer to this family of tanks as "Magach"]. The M48 of course was first designed in 1948. That is almost sixty years old!! Old but dependable and a factor to be taken into account still on the battlefield.]

Go here or here to see interesting articles on the Magach series of tanks.

Reactive armor is another approach to defend armor vehicles against the shaped charge weapon. Such as the rocket-propelled-grenade [RPG].

Is an explosive armor??!! Detonates, the reactive armor does, upon impact of a HEAT round as fired by the RPG. Detonates and dissipates the pencil thin jet of extremely hot gas generated by the shaped charge. The dissipated hot gas is not able to penetrate the armor.

"Explosive Reactive armor (ERA) is a common form of add-on armor, used on many Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV). This concept is combat proven. Protection by explosive modules was deployed by the Israel Defense Forces in the late 1970s, and was first, and successfully used in combat with the Israeli Army M-60s and Centurion tanks in the 1982 War, and later, by the Russian Army by the mid 80s. Reactive armor utilize add-on protection modules conforming of thin metal plates and a sloped explosive sheath, which explode when sensing an impact of an explosive charge (such as High Explosive Anti-Tank - HEAT projectile)."

As simple as that.

This is in accordance with the demonstrated Israeli ability to take a basic weapon system, say a M48 tank, and improve that vehicle in a way the original designers never could have anticipated. Allow for a much enhanced weapons system that has an effective life span far beyond what was originally ever conceived.

Reactive armor, such as that going by the Israeli trademark "Blazer" has been adopted by militaries all over the world. Older vehicles are retrofitted with reactive armor for greater protection, and the incorporation of reactive armor into NEW vehicles is a design consideration from the start. As with the Stryker vehicle for instance.

Here is another good photo of reactive armor on a "Magach" tank. Again, those tiles on the turret and the front of the tank are the reactive armor.

Reactive armor is a means that allows a good anti-bang for the buck.