31 July 2011

A Required Book for Wargamers?

You might want to check out Gregory Spikeman's new book over at Amazon.com, Beer, Chicks and Wargames: The 6-Year College Plan.

And he's from one of my schools, too :)

By: Brant

The Complete Wargames Handbook

Yes, we've been live over 2 years and never got around to posting the link to The Complete Wargames Handbook.
Go ahead and shoot us.

By: Brant

30 July 2011

USAction! - Stryker Mortar Fire

U.S. soldiers fire 120mm mortars from their Stryker MCV-B during crew certification at Fort Lewis, Wash., May 30, 2008. The soldiers are assigned to 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. U.S. Army photo Jason Kaye

By: Brant

Platoon Operations Order

Here's a 1-sheet platoon operations order for anyone who happens to need one. It's focused on mounted units (tank / mech / cav) but can be adapted to other types.

You've got 4 sections, plus the platoon overall. So based on what events are happening in the operation (Phase 1, 2, etc; Road march, LD, breach, etc) you can specify what the platoon is doing, as well as specific instructions for individual sections.

Click the image to enlarge

By: Brant

29 July 2011

Random Friday Wargaming Bonus - Libyan Rebels Create Their Own Wargame

The Economist has a story about a board game of the revolution that's floating around the war zone right now.

WAITING for the grownups—both the rebels and NATO—to break the stalemate in Libya and enter Tripoli, a group in Benghazi called "Creative kids", whose members are children and teenagers, have come up with their own way of toppling Colonel Muammar Qaddafi; a giant board game. In "Mercenaries and Rebels" players throw dice to move from prison in Bab Alazizia, Colonel Qaddafi's home where he delivered his rant from beneath an umbrella, via Misrata and the Nafusa mountains to Tripoli. The game starts at a square in Benghazi marked February 17th, Libya's first "day of rage". It ends at a square in Tripoli marked Freedom. That one, thus far, has no date.

h/t Rex

By: Brant

War Heroes - John Weir Foote

How many chaplains do you know that were awarded a Victoria Cross?

14th February, 1946.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: —
Honorary Captain John Weir FOOTE, Canadian Chaplain Services.
At Dieppe, on 19th August, 1942, Honorary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through very heavy fire.
On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer, as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.

His biography, from a Canadians' veterans site.

John Weir Foote was born in Madoc, Ontario, on the 5th of May 1904. He was educated at the University of Western Ontario, London; at Queen's University, Kingston; and at McGill University, Montréal . He then entered the Presbyterian Ministry, serving congregations in Fort-Coulonge, Québec and Port Hope, Ontario. In December 1939, he enlisted in the Canadian Chaplain Services and was posted to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Following the action described in the citation, Major Foote was taken prisoner and was not released until the 5th of May 1945. He did not accept demobilization until 1948, remaining with the Canadian Chaplain Services until that time. Then he entered the political arena and represented Durham County in the Legislature of the Province of Ontario. He had for some time filled the post of Minister of Reform Institutions for Ontario. Major Foote is the only member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Prior to his death, he donated his medals to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. He made his home with his wife in Cobourg, Ontario, until his death on the 2nd of May 1988. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Cobourg.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming - Fleets 2025: East China Sea

Victory Point Games have a great reputation of producing some very interesting games, with a relatively low-tech set of production values. These ain't bookshelf games, folks, but they're still a lot of fun. Taking a break from ground combat for a bit, we wanted to highlight Fleets 2025: East China Sea, a near-future wargame in the vein of Red Dragon Rising.

Discuss it at ConsimWorld Forum here.

And pick up your own copy at Victory Point Games, here.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Al Qaeda Reboots? Or More Whack-a-Mole?

The SOCOM commander thinks we're facing AQ 2.0.

The top commander of U.S. special operations forces said Wednesday that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida is bloodied and "nearing its end," but he warned the next generation of militants could keep special operations fighting for a decade to come.
Navy SEAL Adm. Eric T. Olson described the killing of bin Laden by a special operations raid on May 2 as a near-killing blow for what he called "al-Qaida 1.0," as created by bin Laden and led from his hideout in Pakistan.
Olson said the group had already lost steam because of the revolts of the Arab Spring, which proved the Muslim world did not need al-Qaida to bring down governments, from Tunisia to Egypt.
"I think the death of bin Laden was an uppercut to the jaw," Olson told a packed crowd, opening the Aspen Security Forum. "It just knocked them on their heels."

By: Brant

28 July 2011

UK In Action: Royal Marines Dustoff

A Royal Marine from 42 Commando (Cdo) is pictured in a poppy field as a Chinook helicopter takes off in the background. On the 15 May 2011 J Company went on a Helo Operation which proved to be successfull and locals were very friendly and accomodating in the area. J company flew in to the area at 0400in the morning under cover of darkness just before first light. Thereafter they proceeded to do a friendly, thorough, surprise search of all the compounds in the area.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

LT Ben - The Monster of Chowkay

Want to read about a real 'red rascal'?

He's 10 feet tall. When he walks through the valleys, he makes bombs fall from the sky and controls helicopters. After a failed attempt to recruit him, the Taliban put a reward on his head: $25,000 dead or alive.

The kid's got balls, I'll give him that. An army of these guys - and the leadership to unleash them - and we'd own the freaking country.

By: Brant

Campaign Names and Their Meanings

Following up our earlier post about the phases of the different campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the NY Times At War blog has a very amusing column offering new names for the phases based on the author's experiences downrange.

Phase 1 (March 19, 2003, to May 1, 2003)
DoD Title: Liberation of Iraq
My Title: Lost: W.M.D.’s. Found: Lots of Old Def Leppard Shirts

Phase 2 (May 2, 2003, to June 28, 2004)
DoD Title: Transition of Iraq
My Title: “We Disbanded What?” A Whodunit Mystery

Phase 3 (June 29, 2004, to Dec. 15, 2005)
DoD Title: Iraqi Governance
My Title: The Last Throes of an Insurgency

Phase 4 (Dec. 16, 2005, to Jan. 9, 2007)
DoD Title: National Resolution
My Title: The Last Throes of an Insurgency, Part II

Phase 5 (Jan. 10, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2008)
DoD Title: Iraqi Surge
My Title: Counterinsurgency! It Works!

Phase 6 (Jan. 1, 2009, to Aug. 31, 2010)
DoD Title: Iraqi Sovereignty
My Title: Noncombat Operations (That Still Include Combat)

Phase 7 (Sept. 1, 2010, to present)
DoD Title: New Dawn
My Title: Another Day, Another Dollar

Phase 1 (Sept. 11, 2001, to Nov. 30, 2001)
DoD Title: Liberation of Afghanistan
My Title: Operation American Fury

Phase 2 (Dec. 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2006)
DoD Title: Consolidation I
My Title: The Five-Year Tora Bora Facepalm

Phase 3 (Oct. 1, 2006, to Nov. 30, 2009)
DoD Title: Consolidation II
My Title: We Really Should’ve Read Up on the Soviet War in Afghanistan

Phase 4 (Dec. 1, 2009, to present)
DoD Title: Consolidation III
My Title: Counterinsurgency! It Doesn’t Work! (But Who Cares, Bin Laden’s Dead!)

Now we sit back and wait for Guardian to chime in! :)
Matt, you too!

By: Brant

DoD Recruiting & Retention Numbers Thru June, FY'11

The DoD has announced the Recruiting and Retention Numbers thru June FY 2011

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through June.

Active Component

Recruiting - Year to Date. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through June.

  • Army – 49,873 accessions, with a goal of 49,000; 102 percent
  • Navy – 24,550 accessions, with a goal of 24,550; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps – 18,926 accessions, with a goal of 18,886; 100 percent
  • Air Force – 21,025 accessions, with a goal of 21,025; 100 percent
Retention. The services are on track to meet their fiscal year-to-date 2011 retention goals.

Reserve Component

Recruiting. Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through June.
  • Army National Guard – 38,350 accessions, with a goal of 39,108; 98 percent
  • Army Reserve – 22,892 accessions, with a goal of 20,901; 110 percent
  • Navy Reserve – 6,257 accessions, with a goal of 6,257; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps Reserve – 7,753 accessions, with a goal of 7,233; 107 percent
  • Air National Guard – 5,179 accessions, with a goal of 5,179; 100 percent
  • Air Force Reserve – 6,899 accessions, with a goal of 6,887; 100 percent
Attrition. All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal year attrition goals.
By: Brant

27 July 2011

Still Wrangling Over Kosovo's "Borders"

NATO is trying to defuse another Kosovo border crisis

Kosovo's special police forces that moved into the country's disputed north overnight to extend the government's writ at borders with Serbia will withdraw as part of a deal between Kosovo and Serbia and mediated by NATO, a spokesman for the military alliance said Tuesday.
The overnight operation by Kosovo's special police units was criticized by the European Union, which is currently mediating normalization talks between the former foes, and is likely to inflame tensions in the region that remains disputed over a decade after the end of Kosovo's war.
Lightly armed special police units in riot gear crossed into the Serb-dominated area and took control of one border post, before being blocked by local Serbs on the way to the other crossing point.
One police officer was wounded during the police operation launched late Monday, said police spokesman Brahim Sadriu.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has said it will not recognize the new state and Serbs living in Kosovo's north do not recognize Pristina's authority over them.
Kosovo government officials defended the overnight operation as an attempt to restore order in the north.

By: Brant

GameTalk - Computers vs Tabletop

We all have our preferences. We all have our dis/likes.
But we can also all agree that some things work better on the computer and others work better on the tabletop.
So what are your thoughts?
Tabletop gaming has what advantages over playing on a computer? How is an analog experience superior to a digital one?
Computer games shine in what ways over tabletop ones? What are their strengths compared to paper and tabletop?

By: Brant

26 July 2011

DoD's New Cyber Strategy Website

The DoD has launched a new Cyber Strategy Website

The Department of Defense today launched a new website http://www.defense.gov/cyber to highlight DoD’s first unified strategy for cyberspace announced on July 14. The website is a tool to help explain and consolidate DoD’s cybersecurity accomplishments and new way forward for military, intelligence and business operations in cyberspace.

The new website is designed to help users explore the five pillars of DoD’s cyber strategy:
- treating cyberspace as an operational domain
- employing new defense operating concepts
- partnering with the public and private sector
- building international partnerships
- leveraging talent and innovation.
Additional content includes links to cybersecurity jobs in government, key news items, press releases, and video of discussions on cybersecurity.

If I gave you 65 days before it gets hacked, would you take the over or under?

By: Brant

Anniversary: National Security Act of 1947

Today marks the anniversary of the most significant reorganization of the US defense infrastructure, the National Security Act of 1947

The National Security Act of 1947 (Pub. L. No. 235, 80 Cong., 61 Stat. 496, 50 U.S.C. ch.15) was signed by United States President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1947, and realigned and reorganized the U.S. Armed Forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus in the aftermath of World War II. The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense. His power was extremely limited and it was difficult for him to exercise the authority to make his office effective. This was later changed in the amendment to the act in 1949, creating what was to be the Department of Defense.

By: Brant

Last Week in Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos at the DoD.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during Talisman Sabre 2011 while under way in the Coral Sea, July 18, 2011. Talisman Sabre is a biennial exercise between the U.S. and Australian militaries to enhance both nations’ abilities to respond to regional contingencies. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Adam K. Thomas

By: Brant

Sound Off: Birthdays!

Who's the coolest person born today:

- Mick Jagger
- Kate Beckinsale
- Kevin Spacey
- Carl Jung
- Gracie Allen
- Stanley Kubrick
- Helen Mirren
- Gary Cherone
- Jeremy Piven
- ME

State your case in the comments below!

By: Brant

25 July 2011

At Least One Reason to Stay in Afghanistan

Hunting down wastes of human flesh.

An 8 year-old boy was hanged by militants in Afghanistan's Helmand province after the boy's father -- a police officer in the southern city of Gereshk -- refused to comply with militants' demands to provide them with a police vehicle, officials said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the hanging, saying "this action is not permitted in any culture or any religions," according to a statement Sunday, which provided details of the incident.
Karzai said he has ordered local authorities to root out the militants and arrest them "as soon as possible."
The boy was kidnapped Friday. It was unclear when he was killed.
The incident comes amid a recent wave of attacks on local officials who are considered anti-Taliban. Less than two weeks ago, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Karzai's half-brother and a provincial council chief in neighboring Kandahar, was killed in his home by a longtime bodyguard.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Prep for the Day

Army recruits prepare for a day of training in a four-man room in a new Single Living Accommodation (SLA) block built under Project SLAM at Alexander Barracks in Pirbright, Surrey.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: Canadians on Loose

Bringing back Monday Videos with BANG, here are the Canadians in the field

By: Brant

24 July 2011

Order Of Battle: The Queens Own Rifles of Canada

The Queens Own Rifles of Canada are a reserve unit, but the only one in Canada that's primarily an airborne unit.

The organization of the unit is:
Battalion Headquarters
- 60th Company
- Buffs Company
- Victoria Company (Logistics company)
- Regimental Band and Bugles
- 2881 Queen’s Own Rifles Cadet Corps

The website run by the regiment has a treasure trove of photos from all sorts of activities.

The early history of the regiment actually predates the formation of Canada.
The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada was formed on April 26, 1860. Originally the Regiment's name was the Second Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada. The cap badge still bears the number two as recognition of the unit's seniority. In 1863 the name changed to 2nd Battalion "Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto." It was under this name that the regiment fought at the Battle of Ridgeway, during the Fenian Raids of 1866. Thereafter, the unit was called the 2nd Battalion "Queen's Own Rifles of Canada" in 1882.

When Louis Riel launched the North-West Rebellion in 1885, the "Queen's Own" fought the Cree Chief Poundmaker at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill. The Regiment's first overseas action came when the Queen's Own provided thirty-three soldiers for duty in the South African War 1899-1900. These men became part of "C" Company (representing Toronto), of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

When World War I broke out in August of 1914, Canada responded by sending the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Regiment provided the bulk of the men to the Third Battalion CEF, however, Ottawa refused to allow the battalion to wear the Queen's Own cap badge. Initially, many thought the Queen's Own would be allowed to retain its Regimental identity. Instead, small groups from the 10th Grenadiers and the Governor General's Bodyguard were posted into the already over-strength battalion, making it the Toronto regiment, a composite unit. 3Bn CEF fought in Northern France and Belgium, from Amiens to Langemark. Twenty one battle honours, were won during the war. By the war's end 7,562 Queen's Own had served overseas, of these 1,254 were killed in action, died of wounds or of other causes.

Upon returning home, the officers of the Third Battalion found they could not resolve their conflicts with the officers of the Queen's Own who had not fought in Europe. The solution came with the formation of the Toronto Regiment that was officially authorized on May 1, 1920. This was also the date of the unit's last name change. It became The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, leaving out the "Second" designation.

The Queen's Own was mobilized for the Second World War on May 24th, 1940. The Regiment's first assignment was the defence of Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Eventally, the Regiment was posted to England, in July 1941, as a part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. The Queen's Own first action, was in the leading wave of the D-Day invasion. The Regiment landed on Bernieres-sur-Mer at 08:12hrs, on the 6th of June 1944. The fighting took them through Normandy and into Northern France. The Regiment fought their way north into Belgium, freeing the crutial channel ports.
There's plenty more after this, too.

The Wikipedia page has a lot of details, as well.

By: Brant

GEN(R) Shalikashvili Dies

Former Chairman of the JCS, GEN(R) Shalikashvili, has died at age 75.

Retired General John Shalikashvili, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1990s, has died. He was 75.
The Polish-born Shalikashvili, who was 75, came to the United States as a teenager and rose to become the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military.
"The United States has lost a genuine soldier-statesman whose extraordinary life represented the promise of America and the limitless possibilities that are open to those who choose to serve it," President Barack Obama said in a statement Saturday.
Shalikashvili served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, heading the U.S. role in NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb military targets in 1995.

Official statements from Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary Panetta have also been released.

By: Brant

23 July 2011

USAction! - F16s Over Iraq

A U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon, flying in a two-aircraft formation, launches electronic countermeasure flares, following an aerial refueling mission over Iraq, Jan. 22, 2008. The aircraft are part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing operating from Balad Air Base, Iraq. U.S. Central Command Air Forces

By: Brant

Another Shock in the War on Drugs

Holy crap/ A 14-year-old hitman?

The defendant was transported to the courthouse compound in a military convoy. Because he is a minor, the public is not allowed inside the courtroom in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Only the judge, defense and prosecution attorneys, family members, and a human rights observer are allowed inside.
The defendant, known as "El Ponchis" ("The Cloak") is an American citizen who is 14 years old.
A video provided to CNN by the Mexican military shows the San Diego native after he was captured near Mexico City in December, as he allegedly was trying to flee. In an on-camera interrogation by Mexican military authorities, the youth admitted to brutally killing people -- the victims all were beheaded.
The video shows a military interrogator asking the slim teenager with curly hair several questions.
"How many have you killed?" he asks.
"Four," responds the accused, who seems calm and collected.
"How did you execute them?"
"I slit their throats."

By: Brant

22 July 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Wings for the Baron

A game about defense acquisitions? Contracting? Seriously? Lemme introduce you toWings for the Baron, in which you're trying to put the best set of wings in the air during WWI.

While there's no CSW group for it, you can find it on BoardGameGeek here.

Order it at the link above.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

21 July 2011

10 Years After 9-11

A very interesting podcast about Ten years after 9/11: The world remade, from the UK organization Intelligence Squared.

The third speaker, a US CIA official, is fascinating. His personal insights over the past decade are incredible.

By: Brant

UK Rolls Army Back to the Boer War

At least in size... The coming defence cuts will result in a Queen's Army smaller than the US Marine Corps.

The reorganisation will see the Army shrink to its smallest size since the Boer War, while Britain’s reserve forces will benefit from a £1.5 billion investment programme.
Members of the Territorial Army (TA), the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Air Force Volunteers Reserve will receive better pay and conditions, but more will be expected to take part in dangerous military operations when needed.
It is understood that by 2020 the Army will be reduced from its present strength of 101,000 regulars, to 84,000. The number of territorials will be maintained at 36,000.

By: Widow 6-7

UK In Action: QE-Class Carrier, Computer Model

Computer graphic of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

20 July 2011

Surviving an IED Strike

David Axe's very sobering account of surviving an IED attack in an MRAP. Don't let the medium fool you, it's a very compelling little tale.

By: Brant

Piss Poor Pakistani Punditry

I gotta say, if the tagline is correct, and the Pakistan Oberver is "widely read & trusted daily", then articles like this one are clear evidence of the fact that the Pakistanis have no clucking foo what's going on in the world.

Living to its reputation, the US House of Representatives decided to block aid to Pakistan.

Really? What "reputation" is that? The one that expectes meaningful assistance in return for shitloads of money?
The previously approved aid would not be released until Pakistan accepts the US dictates. Also, the US Secretary of State should certify to the Congress that Islamabad is “ fully assisting the United States with investigating the existence of an official or unofficial network in Pakistan for Obama bin Laden, including by providing the United States with direct access to Osama bin Laden’s relatives in Pakistan and to Osama bin Laden’s former compound in Abbotabad.”

I know, right? I mean, how unreasonable of the Americans to demand that several billion dollars in aid get us an ally who actually, y'know, helps us with stuff.

(more after the jump...)

GameTalk - Professional Wargaming

In the world of wargaming, there are hobbyists who play games for fun, or for personal educational value.
There are also professionals who deal with wargames on a very serious level for training, exercises, and professional development.

What are some of the key differences you see between professional and hobby wargames? What are your experiences with professional wargames for training?

By: Brant

News From the Front in Libya: Brega Encircled, Next to Fall?

Libyan rebels say the town is surrounded.

Libyan rebels have encircled the eastern oil hub of Brega and control parts of the town, whose capture would mark a major boost for their campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi, a rebel spokesman said on Tuesday.
The insurgents were dug in to the south and east of Brega and controlled its eastern residential area, said the spokesman.
"Members of the revolutionary council saw some Gaddafi forces inside Brega but numbers are very, very low compared to the few last weeks," he said.
France said the rebels were taking over the town completely, but Tripoli denied this and the Libyan leader vowed to fight on, saying it was time to decide the battle for Libya.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

Battalion TOC Charts - Adjacent Unit SITREP

Leftover from the maneuver days of the '90s, here's a battalion-level adjacent unit situation chart for tracking operations from the command post. You need to maintain awareness of your adjacent/higher units, because you never know when you're suddenly going to be in charge.

As always, click to enlarge the image. More charts, orders, and other handy tools to follow as we get them converted and uploaded. We may take a few weeks off before we come back with more of these, though, so give us some slack :)

By: Brant

Remember when...?

the ode to Guardian...

Remember when you and your friends were out in the yard playing Army growing up? Yeah, we seemed to have glossed over being up all night working on powerpoint staff briefings, or theorizing the appropriate strategic applications of the rules of engagement, or trying to start a micro-loan program for illiterate women whose husbands were maimed by IEDs...

By: Brant

Leave No Man Behind: WWII Edition

Several soldiers from World War II have been identified.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of three servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., Cpl. Judge C. Hellums, of Paris, Miss., and Pvt. Donald D. Owens, of Cleveland, will be buried as a group, in a single casket, on July 20 in Arlington National Cemetery. In late September 1944, their unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was fighting its way east to France’s eastern border, clearing German forces out of the Parroy Forest near Lunéville. On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Hellums, Harris, Owens and two other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer. Two men survived with serious injuries but Harris, Hellums and Owens were reported to have been killed. Evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location.

In November 1946, a French soldier working in the Parroy Forest found debris associated with an M-10 vehicle and human remains, which were turned over to the American Graves Registration Command. The remains were buried as unknowns in what is now known as the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. A year later the AGRC returned to the Parroy Forest to conduct interviews and search for additional remains. Investigators noted at that time that all remains of U.S. soldiers had reportedly been removed in the last two years and that the crew was likely buried elsewhere as unknowns.

In 2003, a French citizen exploring the Parroy Forest discovered human remains and an identification bracelet engraved with Hellums’ name, from a site he had probed occasionally since 1998. The information was eventually sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). In April 2006, the man turned over the items to a JPAC team working in Europe. A few months later a second JPAC team returned to the site and recovered more human remains, personal effects and an identification tag for Owens.

Historians at DPMO and JPAC continued their research on the burials at the Ardennes Cemetery, and drew a correlation to those unknowns removed from the 1944 battle site. In early 2008 JPAC disinterred these remains and began their forensic review.

By: Brant

19 July 2011

War? For Kids? Yeppers!

Gotta love this one... The Children's Illustrated Clausewitz.

By: Brant

Last Week In Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos.

President Barack Obama awards Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry the Medal of Honor at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 12, 2011. U.S. Army photo by D. Myles Cullen

More photos at the link above.

By: Brant

Anniversary: The Farewell Dossier

30 years ago today, French President François Mitterrand made the Farewell Dossier known to President Reagan. Wikipedia's summary is pretty basic and factual:

The Farewell Dossier was the collection of documents which Colonel Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB defector (code-named "Farewell") gathered and gave to the French DST in 1981–82, during the Cold War.

An engineer, Vetrov had been assigned to evaluate information on Western hardware and software gathered by spies ("Line X") for Directorate T, the directorate for scientific and technical intelligence collection from the West. He became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist system and decided to work with the French at the end of 1980. Between the spring of 1981 and early 1982, Vetrov gave almost 4,000 secret documents to the DST, including the complete list of 250 Line X officers stationed under legal cover in embassies around the world.

Western nations undertook a mass expulsion of Soviet technology spies. The CIA also mounted a counter-intelligence operation that transferred modified hardware and software designs to the Soviets. Thomas Reed alleged this was the cause of a spectacular trans-Siberian pipeline disaster in 1982.

Vetrov's story inspired Bonjour Farewell: La vérité sur la taupe française du KGB (1997) by Serguei Kostine. It was adapted loosely for the French film L'affaire Farewell (2009) starring Emir Kusturica and Guillaume Canet.

The more extended article in the Central Intelligence Agency archives gives a much deeper history, as well as some of the deeper operations.

As was later reported in Aviation Week and Space Technology, CIA and the Defense Department, in partnership with the FBI, set up a program to do just what we had discussed: modified products were devised and "made available" to Line X collection channels. The CIA project leader and his associates studied the Farewell material, examined export license applications and other intelligence, and contrived to introduce altered products into KGB collection. American industry helped in the preparation of items to be "marketed" to Line X. Contrived computer chips found their way into Soviet military equipment, flawed turbines were installed on a gas pipeline, and defective plans disrupted the output of chemical plants and a tractor factory. The Pentagon introduced misleading information pertinent to stealth aircraft, space defense, and tactical aircraft.(4) The Soviet Space Shuttle was a rejected NASA design.(5) When Casey told President Reagan of the undertaking, the latter was enthusiastic. In time, the project proved to be a model of interagency cooperation, with the FBI handling domestic requirements and CIA responsible for overseas operations. The program had great success, and it was never detected.

In a further use of the Farewell product, Casey sent the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence to Europe to tell NATO governments and intelligence services of the Line X threat. These meetings led to the expulsion or compromise of about 200 Soviet intelligence officers and their sources, causing the collapse of Line X operations in Europe. Although some military intelligence officers avoided compromise, the heart of Soviet technology collection crumbled and would not recover. This mortal blow came just at the beginning of Reagan's defense buildup, his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and the introduction of stealth aircraft into US forces.

Or, as William Safire reported in the New York Times...

Weiss said: ''Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what they want, we can help them get it.'' The catch: computer chips would be designed to pass Soviet quality tests and then to fail in operation.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Cybercriminals or Cyberwar?

Do we treat cyber attacks as criminal acts or acts of war?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Looking Back at Biafra, Part II

Continuing our look back at the war in Biafra 50 years ago, this article from Time Magazine details how a Swedish adventurer built an air force from scratch. There were some crazy dudes fighting for Biafra back then...

Von Rosen, 59, is a Swedish nobleman with a passion for airplanes and a penchant for underdogs. "Once I get into a plane," he says, "I feel that I can do just about anything as long as I believe in it." As a young man he flew a Heinkel air ambulance in Ethiopia, helping victims of Italian aggression. When Russia attacked Finland, he signed up as a lieutenant in the Finnish air force. In the Congo in 1960, Von Rosen flew supplies for Swedish troops on United Nations peace-keeping duty. Now a senior pilot for a charter flight service called Transair Sweden, Von Rosen last summer hauled relief supplies to Biafra.

The plight of the Biafrans rekindled his sympathies for the outgunned and inspired an improbable, wildly romantic scheme: to marshal pilots and planes and create an instant air force for the planeless Biafrans. Last week, as the Biafran rebellion against Nigeria neared its second anniversary, Von Rosen and his flyers attacked the Nigerian airport at Benin, reported damage to one MIG and several civilian planes sitting on the ground. That raid and two earlier forays, which damaged British- and Russian-made Nigerian planes at Enugu and Port Harcourt, eased the pressure on Biafra's landing strip at Uli. With no Nigerian bombers overhead for a change, transports were shuttling in.

Von Rosen's air corps, which includes two Biafran pilots, has also given a psychological lift to Biafran troops fighting on despite the loss of their capital. Soon after Umuahia fell in April, Biafrans retaliated by recapturing the junction town of Owerri following a lengthy siege. Last week Biafran units were moving slowly southward from Owerri toward the oilfields around Port Harcourt. The Biafran strategy is not so much to regain lost territory as to prolong the standoff and inflict federal casualties until the Nigerians agree to peace talks and grant them independence. Toward such a goal, Count von Rosen's air force, however Lilliputian, is a significant help. As soon as his squadron has effectively disabled Nigerian airpower on the ground, Von Rosen intends to use his planes in close-up tactical air support of the Biafran troops.

By: Brant

18 July 2011

Expanding the Content

We've got a new permanent page we're pinning to the top, where we'll collect references for doctrine and operations. An advance apology to the international audience: this is likely to be very US-centric. That doesn't mean we're not happy to post links, refs, or tools from other nations/services, just that what's in the archives are the tools we all used coming up through the service, and that's focused on US forces.

By: Brant

Libyan Rebels Gaining Ground

Somewhere in the current campaign for regime change in Libya is an update for Toyota Wars. Or maybe VPG's States of Siege series with the players as the Libyans.

Libyan rebels have routed most of Muammar Gaddafi's militias from the oil town of Brega but its streets are littered with landmines, making it harder to secure full control of the area, a rebel spokesman said Monday.
The rebel fighters have encircled Brega, a key oil export terminal with a refinery and chemical plant which for months marked the eastern limit of Gaddafi's control, the rebel spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah said.
"The main body (of Gaddafi's forces) retreated to Ras Lanuf" to the west, Abdulmolah said by telephone. "I am told they (Gaddafi's forces) have some four-wheel drive trucks with machine guns spread out between Ras Lanuf and Bishr."

By: Brant

UK In Action: Mercian Machinegunner

A soldier of the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment is pictured with a GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) on Operation Omid Haft in Helmand, Afghanistan. Hundreds of Afghan soldiers, supported by British and coalition forces have taken part in a major operation in Central Helmand to clear out insurgents from one of their last remaining strongholds. Operation OMID HAFT has been planned and executed by the Afghan National Army (ANA) partnered by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

GEN Petraeus Hands Over Afghanistan; Rides off to CIA Sunset

GEN Petraeus has held his change of command in Afghanistan. Next stop, CIA!

Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing top commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, formally transferred authority Monday to incoming commander Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen.
Several senior Afghan and NATO officials, including U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, attended the change-of-command ceremony in Kabul.
"Throughout, we will keep our eyes on the horizon -- the future of Afghanistan, " Allen told the audience, " a nation of free people at peace, governed under its constitution, pursuing economic enterprise and development, in a secure and stable environment free from the extremism and terrorism that has plagued this wonderful country and its people for more than a generation.
In the end -- together we will prevail."

By: Brant

Missile Warheads Stolen from Romanian Train

And not just a few, either... 64(?!)

Authorities say they are investigating the theft of 64 missile warheads from a train transporting military equipment to Bulgaria.
Interior ministry spokesman Marius Militaru said Sunday the components are not dangerous on their own — only when integrated into missile systems. Prosecutors said Monday they are investigating the theft.
Railway workers on Saturday noticed the seals on a carriage door were broken, and it was not properly closed when the train reached Giurgiu, a Danube port that borders Bulgaria.
Tohan Zarnesti, the Romanian company that was shipping the warheads, produces artillery ammunition, ground to ground missiles and air to ground missiles and warheads for 122mm missiles.

By: Brant

17 July 2011

Afghan Forces Now Responsible For Bamiyan Province

Only time will tell how well prepared Afghan forces are to battle the Taliban on their own.
Nato has handed over control of the central Afghan province of Bamiyan to Afghan security forces.

It is the first of seven areas to be passed to local troops under a plan announced by President Karzai in March.

Bamiyan is one of the country's most secure provinces but it is a poor region, heavily reliant on foreign aid.

The handover is seen as a critical step in a transition of power before foreign troops end combat operations in 2014.

Senior Afghan ministers and foreign ambassadors flew down from the capital, Kabul to take part in a transition ceremony that for security reasons was not announced in advance and was not broadcast live.

International forces from New Zealand will remain in the area for the time being, but they will be under Afghan control.
By: Shelldrake

Afghanistan Blazing a Trail for Female Muslims

Afghanistan is training women as military pilots in the US.

For women in Afghanistan, said Masooma Hussaini, it's not like "it was in Taliban times." Her sisters are in school, women work in offices and, by next year, Hussaini and three other young women could be among their country's first females piloting military helicopters.
Their training in the U.S. is significant. The Afghan military has a small but growing female rank, yet the skies are almost an exclusive province for men, except for one Afghan woman trained in the Soviet era.
Afghanistan remains a male-dominated culture — Afghan President Harmid Karzai spoke out as recently as last fall about women in his country still being oppressed. Hussaini, a second lieutenant, acknowledges that some Afghan men think "it's not good" that women are breaking new ground in the military, but she and her colleagues said Wednesday that they weren't joining the Afghan Air Force for themselves.
"We're going to open the door for ladies in Afghanistan," second Lt. Sourya Saleh said. "It's a big deal for us to open this door for the others. That these other ladies who have the dream and think they can't do it, we want to show them."
The four women, all in their 20s, arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio last week to continue their training. They'll stay in Texas until they master English — the international language for aviation — and are scheduled to transfer to Alabama early next year for actual hands-on piloting.
By September 2012, the women could have their wings.

By: Brant

Cue the Updates to Persian Incursion!

Iran's got a new nuclear site! Someone update the target folders from Persian Incursion!

Iran is preparing to install centrifuges for higher-grade uranium enrichment in an underground bunker, diplomatic sources say, a development that is likely to add to Western worries about Tehran's atomic aims.
Preparatory work is under way at the Fordow facility, tucked deep inside a mountain to protect it against any attacks, and machines used to refine uranium could soon be moved to the site near the clerical city of Qom, the sources said.
The Islamic Republic said in June it would shift production of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity to Fordow from its main Natanz plant this year and triple output capacity, in a defiant response to charges that it is trying to make atomic bombs.
Tehran only disclosed the existence of Fordow two years ago after Western intelligence detected it and said it was evidence of covert nuclear activities. The facility has yet to start operating.

By: Brant

16 July 2011

Lessons Learned From Chechnya

This was dug up from the old NextArmy archives. I'd be particular curious to see what, if any, wargaming effects folks can conceptualize to tie into these lessons.


LTG Hendrix forwarded this to MG Grange - Good reading for all: Russian Army Lessons Learned from the Battle of Grozny
The Russian Army learned many lessons from its experience in Grozny. These include:

(1) You need to culturally orient your forces so that you don`t end up being your own worst enemy simply out of cultural ignorance. Many times Russian soldiers made serious cultural errors in dealing with the Chechen civilians. Once insulted or mistreated, they became active fighters or supported the active fighters. Russians admit they underestimated the affect of religion on the conflict.

(2) You need some way of sorting out the combatants from the non-combatants. The days of uniforms and organized units is over. The Russians were forced to resort to searching the pockets of civilians for military equipment and to sniffing them for the smell of gunpowder and gun oil. Pretty crude. Trained sniffer dogs were used, but were not always effective. Nevertheless, dogs probably best way to determine if a person has been using explosives or firing a weapon recently.

(3) The psychological impact of high intensity urban combat is so intense that you should maintain a large reserve that will allow you to rotate units in an out of combat. If you do this, you can preserve a unit for a fairly long time. If you don`t, once it gets used up, it can`t be rebuilt.

(4) Training and discipline are paramount. You can accomplish nothing without them. You may need to do the training in the combat zone. Discipline must be demanded. Once it begins to slip, the results are disastrous.

(5) The Russians were surprised and embarrassed at the degree to which the Chechens exploited the use of cell phones, Motorola radios, improvised TV stations, light video cameras, and the Internet to win the information war. The Russians admitted that they lost control of the information coming out of Grozny early in the operation and never regained it.

(6) The proliferation of rocket propelled grenade launchers surprised them, as well as the diversity of uses to which they were put. RPGs were shot at everything that moved. They were fired at high angle over low buildings and from around buildings with little or no attempt made to aim. They were sometimes fired in very disciplined volleys and were the weapon of choice for the Chechens, along with the sniper rifle. Not only were the Russians faced with well-trained, well equipped Chechen military snipers, there were also large numbers of designated marksmen who were very good shots using standard military rifles. These were very hard to deal with and usually required massive fire power to overcome.

(7) As expected, the Russians reiterated the need for large numbers of trained Infantrymen. They said that some tasks, such as conducting logpack operations, could only be conducted by Infantrymen, the logistical unit soldiers being hopelessly inept and falling easy prey to the Chechens.

(8) They found that boundaries between units were still tactical weak points, but that it wasn`t just horizontal boundaries they had to worry about. In some cases, the Chechens held the third floor and above, while the Russians held the first two floors and sometimes the roof. If a unit holding the second floor evacuated parts of it without telling the unit on the ground floor, the Chechens would move troops in and attack the ground floor unit through the ceiling. Often this resulted in fratricide as the ground floor unit responded with uncontrolled fire through all of the ceilings, including the ones below that section of the building still occupied by Russians. Entire battles were fought through floors, ceilings, and walls without visual contact.

(9) Ambushes were common. Sometimes they actually had three tiers. Chechens would be underground, on the ground floor, and on the roof. Each group had a different task in the ambush.

(10) The most common response by the Chechens to the increasingly powerful Russian indirect and aerial firepower was hugging the Russian unit. If the hugging tactics caused the Russians to cease artillery and air fires, it became a man-to-man fight and the Chechens were well equipped to win it. If they didn`t cease the supporting fires, the Russian units suffered just as much as the Chechen fighters did, sometimes even more, and the morale effect was much worse on the Russians.

(11) Both the physical and the mental health of the Russian units began to decline almost immediately upon initiation of high intensity combat. In less than a month, almost 20% of the Russian soldiers were suffering from viral hepatitis (very serious, very debilitating, slow recovery). Most had chronic diarrhea and upper respiratory infections that turned to pneumonia easily. This was blamed on the breakdown of logistical support that meant units had to drink contaminated water. Unit sanitary discipline broke down almost completely.

(12) According to a survey of over 1300 troops, about 72% had some sort of psychological disorder. Almost 75% had an exaggerated startle response. About 28% had what was described as neurotic reactions, and almost 10% had acute emotional reactions. The Russians recommended 2 psycho-physiologists, 1 psycho-pharmacologist, 1 psychiatrist, and 1 medical psychologist at each (US) Corps-sized unit. Although their experience in Afghanistan prepared them somewhat for the physical health problems, they were not prepared for this level of mental health treatment. Many permanent combat stress casualties resulted from the soldiers not being provided proper immediate treatment.

(13) Chechens weren`t afraid of tanks and BMPs. They assigned groups of RPG gunners to fire volleys at the lead and trail vehicles. Once they were destroyed, the others were picked off one-by-one. The Russian forces lost 20 of 26 tanks, 102 of 120 BMPs, and 6 of 6 ZSU-23s in the first three day`s fighting. Chechens chose firing positions high enough or low enough to stay out of the fields of fire of tank and BMP weapons. Russian conscript Infantry simply refused to dismount and often died in their BMP without ever firing a shot. Russian elite Infantry did much better, but didn`t coordinate well with armored vehicles initially.

(14) Chechens were brutish, especially with prisoners. (Some reports say the Russians were no better but most say the Chechens were the worse of the two sides) Whoever was at fault, the battle degenerated quickly to one of "No quarter asked, none given." Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of defended Chechen positions. Russians had to shoot at the bodies to engage the Chechens. Russian prisoners were decapitated and at night their heads were placed on stakes beside roads leading into the city, over which Russian replacements and reinforcements had to travel. Both Russian and Chechen dead were routinely booby-trapped.

(15) Russians not surprised by the ferocity and brutality of the Chechens, they expected them to be "criminals and animal brutes" but they were surprised by the sophistication of the Chechen use of booby traps and mines. Chechens mined and boobytrapped everything, showing excellent insight into the actions and reactions of the average Russian soldier. Mine and boobytrap awareness was hard to maintain.

(16) Russians satisfied with the combat performance of most of their Infantry weapons. T-72 tank was dead meat. Too vulnerable, too awkward, not agile, no visibility, poor weapons coverage at short ranges. Russians removed them from the battle. Replaced by smaller numbers of older tanks and more self propelled artillery, more ADA weapons, and more BMPs. Precision guided weapons and UAVs very useful. Some need for non-lethal weapons, but mostly riot gas and tranquilizer gas, not stuff like sticky foam. The Russian equivalent of the M202 Flash flame projector and the Mk 19 grenade launcher were very useful weapons. Ultimately, a strong combined arms team and flexible command and control meant more than the individual weapons used by each side.


Go back and re-read #12. Now think of all the news coverage of PTSD and other psychological problems you see. And consider how much the military is trying to ramp-up their medical care for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. How closely do you think the math tracks between the Russian suggestions and our current reinforcement of the medical field...?

By: Brant

Leopards In the Sand

The Saudi Arabian government has finalised a deal to purchase up to 200 Leopard 2 A7+ main battle tanks.
Probably not since the Second World War will the world witness the appearance of so many German battle tanks in a desert setting. But instead of the descendants of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, the tanks will be manned by Saudi military personnel.
That’s because Saudi Arabia will soon become the proud owners of up to 200 German Leopard tanks when the recent $2.5 billion deal negotiated with the German government is finalised. The Leopards the Saudis will receive are the latest model (2A7+) in the German arsenal and the best that country’s robust armaments industry can produce.

The German tank purchase is just part of the $60 billion the Saudi Arabian government has spent on an impressive array of weaponry the past couple of years. The United States has also contributed to this Saudi military build up, as the desert kingdom seeks to protect itself from what it perceives as a threat from Iran. Last year, the Saudi military bought 84 US F-15E two-seater warplanes, a special version, at about $100 million per aircraft.

Getting their hands on the German Leopard has always been a long-held, Saudi desire. In past years, the German government had always turned down Saudi requests to purchase the tank, as they could pose a danger to Israel.

“The Saudis have been asking for Leopards for quite a long, long time and the Germans keep saying no,” said Nick Brown, editor in chief of Jane’s International Defense Review, in the New York Times.

For its part, Israel has been noticeable for its silence on the sale. In the past, Israel has protested similar arms deliveries to the Saudis or issued cautionary warnings. The German publication Der Spiegel, which broke the story, said the deal was actually cleared by both Israel and the United States before Germany would proceed. For the United States, the long-desired tank sale could also be serving as means “to placate the Saudis,” who were furious when President Obama withdrew his support for Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, allowing a long-time ally to fall.

The probable reason for the lack of Israeli objections to the Leopard purchase is that Israel has become a silent associate of Saudi Arabia’s against the looming Iranian threat to both countries. In Israel’s view, any weapon that strengthens the Saudi kingdom and does not jeopardise Israeli security, such as 200 modern German tanks, also indirectly adds to its strength in regard to the Iranian danger. Besides, the Saudis have never represented a direct military threat to Israel, having taken only a very limited role in the Arab wars against her.

By: Shelldrake

USAction! - USS Reagan at Sea

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan travels through the Pacific Ocean with other ships assigned to the Rim of the Pacific 2010 exercise, north of Hawaii, July 24, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Dylan McCord

By: Brant

Iranian Anti-ship Missile?

Strategy Page is reporting that Iran claims to have developed their own anti-ship ballistic missile. Is this just the latest in overblown claims by the Iranian military or something more?
Iran announced that it had developed an anti-ship missile, with a range of 300 kilometers. The new missile, called the Khalij Fars, is said to be developed from the earlier Fateh 110. But this is where this announcement gets strange.

The Fateh 110 is a copy of the Chinese DF-11A ballistic missile, which had a range of 400 kilometers. The Fateh 110 is a 8.86 meter (27.5 foot), 3.5 ton rocket with a half ton warhead. Range is about 250 kilometers. The Fateh 110 is a solid fuel missile developed to replace the liquid fueled SCUD ballistic missiles Iran had been using since the 1980s. SCUD was developed from the German World War II era V-2.

What all this implies is that Iran is claiming to have developed a ballistic missile that can hit moving ships at sea. China is also claimed to have developed this technology (the DF-21D). But neither country has demonstrated their anti-ship ballistic missiles actually working. Moreover, Iran regularly announces wondrous new weapons, developed entirely in Iran. Very few of these weapons are ever seen in service.
By: Shelldrake

Technical Difficulties

I've got a laptop on the fritz, a desktop that needs a new internal hard drive, and a 7-year-old laptop limping through emergency duty right now while I have 2 projects to work on. If there's not a whole lot getting done over the next few weeks, you now know why. Thanks to Shelldrake for helping fill in, and here's hoping the rest of the gang chimes in.

By: Brant

15 July 2011

New Upgrades On The Horizon For USAF F-16s

Defense News reports that the USAF F-16 fleet are expected to receive additional upgrades because of delays in the F-35 program.
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va., said the Air Force will “look closely at [Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA)] radar upgrades beyond the current (V)9 program, but also ongoing engine power and reliability improvements, [electronic warfare] and cockpit mods, and of course any necessary structural work for aging airframes.”

Lockheed Martin, which builds the aircraft, has some ideas as to what the service needs to do to keep the Fighting Falcon in fighting trim into the 2030s.

The jet has to have its structural life extended from the standard 8,000 hours to between 10,000 and 12,000 hours. Certain parts of the structure will have to be modified, said Bill McHenry, Lockheed’s F-16 business development chief.

Currently, the Air Force is evaluating the structural life left in its newer Block 40 and 50 F-16s, McHenry said. Those aircraft might have life left in them past 8,000 hours because they have been flown in relatively benign configurations, he said.

The older Block 25s and 30s have been flown hard in configurations that are not conducive to extended airframe life; for example, carrying asymmetrical loads.

McHenry said retrofitting structural upgrades should not be a problem. The key to keeping the aircraft relevant is the avionics.

McHenry said that AESA radars from Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are likely to have to compete to win a contract to replace the existing radar.

Further consideration is being given to adding the Multi-function Advanced Data-Link (MADL) from the F-35 on to the F-16, which would allow the aircraft to be interoperable with fifth-generation stealth fighters. Such upgrades should be fairly simple because of the F-16’s hardware architecture, McHenry said. “We’re very proud of the fact that we offer our customers options,” he said.
By: Shelldrake

Random Friday Wargaming: World at War: The Untold Stories

Today's slice of Cold War-gone-hot goodness is World at War: The Untold Stories from Lock'n'Load Publishing.

Discuss it at ConsimWorld here.

Fans of the system love the balance of these scenarios, plus the fact that they feature the "little guys" from NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Belgians, Poles, East Germans, and others.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

14 July 2011

UK In Action: RFA Fort Victoria

RFA Fort Victoria passes Mogadishu during OP CAPRI, the Counter-Piracy effort off the Somalian Coast. Fort Victoria and Fort George combine the functions of fleet oilers and stores ships. Being large and adaptable they are equipped with an expansive flight deck, supported by hangars for three Sea King-sized helicopters. This class can embark and support both anti-submarine helicopters and troop-carrying Sea King Mk4 helicopters, which can transfer large amounts of stores to other ships. For dual-purpose replenishment rigs are fitted amidships, enabling transfer of fuel and stores to two ships simultaneously. Both can fuel vessels over the stern. The variety of tasks that these vessels can be employed upon is reflected in their complements. The ship’s company of RFA officers and ratings is supplemented by civilian Warship Support Agency staff and RN personnel who maintain the weapons.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Bomb Blasts in India, Eyes on Intel Agencies

After a set of bombs went off in Mumbai yesterday, criticism is turning toward the intel agencies who said after the '08 attacks that they would never allow another one like it.

Indian intelligence agencies received no warnings before the three bomb blasts that killed 18 people in Mumbai, the biggest attack since Pakistani-based militants rampaged through the financial hub in 2008, a top official said on Thursday.
Suspicion however fell on the Indian Mujahideen, a shadowy home-grown militant group known for its city-to-city bombing campaigns using small explosive devices planted in restaurants, at bus stops and on busy streets.
"There was no intelligence regarding a militant attack in Mumbai. That is not a failure of intelligence agencies," Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a news conference.
"Know that perpetrators have attacked and have worked in a very very clandestine manner. Maybe it's a very small group, maybe they did not communicate with each other."
He said it was too early to point the finger at a particular group, but said the "coordinated terror attacks" could be in retaliation to a number of plots recently stopped by police or the arrests, including from the Indian Mujahideen.

By: Brant

13 July 2011

GameTalk - Orders, FRAGOs, Recon, and Objectives

This idea came to me as I'm reading over previous posts in both Sound Off! and GameTalk.

(caveat: I have a Napoleonic frame of reference on this discussion, but it's more broadly applicable with some changes in terminology)

So on the real battlefield, you've got recon units and scouts and light cavalry that all play different (but similar) security roles in trying to identify enemy threats on the battlefield before you encounter them the hard way, and enable your forces to react appropriately to newly-detected threats.

On paper, you can get away with (a) violating doctrine, (b) chasing around anything that pops up, (c) ignoring the recon missions of these sorts of units and instead using them as highly-mobile, light combat units. This skews force ratios from the historical battles, changes the information available to the participants, and introduces all sorts of battlefield wackiness.

What might a system look like that has a main body with a fixed
objective, whose recon assets have some more flexibility of maneuver, but who cannot deviate from the base orders without 'knowledge' of what else is out there. So if the scouts don't get high enough on the ridgeline to see the cavalry regiment hiding behind the hill, the corps main body never reacts to it.

How do you designate that route of march? The recon objectives? The triggers between the recon units looking for the enemy and the corps HQs reacting to reports of the enemy and issuing the changes in orders to change the movement?

On a more modern battlefield, the plan in the Designing Out Loud project is to have recon assets focused on NAIs. Depending on what's detected within those NAIs, additional orders may be triggered for certain units to change the plan to react to those actions.

What sayeth the crowd? How do you keep scouting/recon units in their historical/doctrinal role? How do you limit the knowledge of the HQs such that the scouts are once again the "eyes and ears" of the command without resorting to a double-blind game?

By: Brant

Battalion TOC Charts - Enemy SITREP

Leftover from the maneuver days of the '90s, here's a battalion-level enemy situation chart for tracking operations from the command post.

As always, click to enlarge the image. More charts to follow as we get them converted and uploaded.

By: Brant

Operations Order Format

It recently occurred to me that we've never posted this, or included it in any of our references anywhere.

I. Situation
   A. Environment
      1. Terrain
      2. Weather
   B. Enemy Forces
      1. Composition
      2. Disposition
      3. Location
      4. Expected Course of Action
   C. Friendly Forces
      1. Adjacent Units (front, left, right, rear)
      2. Attachments
      3. Detachments

II. Mission – Task, Purpose, Time

III. Execution
   A. Commander’s Intent - Purpose, key tasks, end-state
   B. Scheme of Maneuver - preferably a matrix by phase
   C. Fires/Fire Support - priorities, allocations, locations
   D. Subordinate Unit Tasks - Specific tasks to individual subordinates
   E. Coordinating Instructions - Specific tasks to all subordinates

IV. Service Support
   A. Medical – Locations & Priorities
   B. Maintenance – Locations & Priorities
   C. Resupply – Locations & Priorities

V. Command & Signal
   A. Command – Locations & Chain of Command
   B. Signal – Call Signs, Frequencies, Visual Signals

By: Brant

Does This Help or Hurt?

So apparently Karzai's half brother was killed in a Taliban hit. Given the supposed depth of his corruption, this might be a good thing. Except the Taliban were the ones who whacked him, indicating that (a) they can get to people they shouldn't be able to, and (b) they get to claim credit for cleaning up a mess that Karzai refused to.

President Hamid Karzai's powerful half brother, a lightning rod for criticism of deep-rooted corruption within the Afghan government, was assassinated Tuesday by a bodyguard at his home in southern Afghanistan.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of the Kandahar provincial council, was shot twice — once in the head and once in the chest, according to hospital officials.
The motive of the killing has not been established, but his death served a new blow to U.S.-coalition efforts to curb violence and the government's quest to gain control of this Taliban stronghold.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination. A person who witnessed the killing said a member of Wali Karzai's private security team killed him with an AK-47. The individual, who declined to be identified, said that other bodyguards quickly gunned down the assassin.
Wali Karzai, who was in his 50s, was seen by many as a political liability for the Karzai government after a series of allegations, including that he was on the CIA payroll and involved in drug trafficking. He denied the charges. The president repeatedly challenged his accusers to show him evidence of his sibling's wrongdoing, but said nobody ever could.
Wali Karzai remained a key power broker in the south, helping shore up his family's interests in the Taliban's southern heartland, which has been the site of numerous offensives by U.S., coalition and Afghan troops to root out insurgents. Militants have retaliated by intimidating and killing local government officials or others against the Taliban.

By: Brant