D-Day

We’ve all seen the grainy black-and-white pictures of D-Day in June 1944.  Here are some more recent ones, in color.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
AP Photo/Claude Paris

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

 

We will remember them.

Floating Swarms

A while ago I opined that what the U.S. Armed Forces needed was not MOAR COMPLICATED weapons systems, but simpler, even old-fashioned kit that would do more or less the same tasks for much less money, with a much greater redundancy (i.e. losing one multi-million weapons system out of the dozen on hand to enemy action would not cripple either our wallet nor our force, when instead we had a hundred and fifty simpler weapons systems capable of doing more or less the same job).

Seems like some smart people think the same way about the Navy:

The Navy’s problem remains its obsession with blue-water ships and big-budget contracts instead of stepping back and rationally thinking about what is actually needed to fulfill requirements at a cost-effective level in terms of construction, use, and the risk of combat losses. The enemy of “good enough” is the desire for perfection and there is no reason to spend time and money reinventing the wheel when a proven gunboat design already exists that is good enough for the Navy’s littoral combat needs. A modern version of the Fairmile D motor torpedo boat—the famous Dog Boats of the Royal Navy’s coastal forces in World War II—is what the U.S. Navy needs today.

And the author goes on to explain how it would all work, and it’s a compelling argument.  A couple hundred of these bad boys, suitably updated, would definitely put a wrinkle into someone’s turban or Mao jacket, if you get my drift.

Read it all, and let’s hope someone in the Navy Department reads it as well, without throwing the thing straight into File 13.

Over-Complicating

I have often snarled at the .dotmil, who never seem to miss an opportunity to create weapons systems that are so laden with bells and whistles that they add all sorts of other problems, e.g. COST not to mention MORE THINGS TO BREAK.

It’s not just the military, of course.  Try this wonderful screw-up from a different government department (emphasis added):

There’s a massive shortage of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) test kits in the U.S., as cases continue to skyrocket in places like Seattle and New York City. This is largely due to the failure of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to distribute the tests in a timely fashion.
But it didn’t have to be this way. Back in January and February—when cases of the deadly disease began aggressively circulating outside of China—diagnostics already existed in places like Wuhan, where the pandemic began. Those tests followed World Health Organization (WHO) test guidelines, which the U.S. decided to eschew.
Instead, the CDC created its own in-depth diagnostics that could identify not only COVID-19, but a host of SARS-like coronaviruses.

“No, not just a test kit to address the immediate issue;  let’s make one that’s more complicated but can test for every single virus in the world, plus others that don’t even exist yet!”

And as any fule kno, when you try to make something to do one thing, but expand the mission for it to do lots  of things…

Then, disaster struck:  When the CDC sent tests to labs during the first week of February, those labs discovered that while the kits did detect COVID-19, they also produced false positives when checking for other viruses. As the CDC went back to the drawing board to develop yet more tests, precious time ticked away.

Government:  fucking it up six ways to Sunday, each and every time.

Swarms

Some time ago, I was pondering the state of our air power in terms of its being able to police Third-World conflicts.  Frankly, it made no sense to me (and still doesn’t) that we would need to spend x million dollars to send a jet fighter (or even an Apache chopper) just to drop a missile on an Afghani wedding party, when even a simpleton like me could see that the same job could have been executed by a WWII-era P-51 Mustang for about a jillion dollars less.

Seems like someone in the Pentagon has been having similar thoughts:

US Special Operations Command is moving forward with its armed overwatch plan, independent of the Air Force’s light attack experiment, inviting industry for a briefing on a proposal to buy an estimated 75 aircraft.
SOCOM will hold Industry Days March 4-5 for the Armed Overwatch program, which will “provide Special Operations Forces deployable and sustainable manned aircraft systems” that will be used for “close air support, precision strike, and SOF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in austere and permissive environments.”

And here are the stats on one of the bad boys they’re considering.

My only question is:  why only 75?  Why not five hundred and seventy-five? I mean, instead of sending a few missiles from one plane onto a target opportunity of fuzzy-wuzzies, why not go Full Dresden and rain a hundred missiles or so on their turbanned asses?  I’m not talking of big, expensive missiles here;  just some little Radio Shack-type sweeties that can get the same message across for far less money.

And let’s not forget the magic word “jobs” (pilots and navigators/fire-controllers) which would flow from this expansion — one more stat God-Emperor Trump can add to his next employment report.

By the way:  I love the paint job on these planes, although in today’s .dotmil, they’ll no doubt be outlawed because they frighten the enemy too much.  Don’t get me started.

Oh, and one last thing:  “deployable and sustainable aircraft systems”?  Whatever happened to simple expressions like “aircraft” or even better, “airplanes”?  Fucking nimrods.

Musketry

I have spoken often of my old high school, St. John’s College in Johannesburg, and of its rigorous academic- and sporting regimen.

What I haven’t talked much about was one of the extra-curricular activities called “cadets”.  This was a military course:  close-order drill, full dress uniforms and discipline.  It took place once a week during school hours, and would involve getting dressed into uniform before school started, then breaking from class, going to the armory, drawing our drill rifles (decommissioned SMLEs), then running in formation down the stairs you see in the above pic, and drilling on the “A” rugby field.  (pic is not of us, but another school)

At the end of the drill period, we would run back up the stairs to the school and to our houses, where we showered, changed back into school uniform and continued with regular classes.

Of course, discipline was harsh because private school duh (to the point where most private schoolboys, once drafted, would find actual Army boot camp not too onerous).  “Defaulters” was feared — boots not shiny enough?  uniform not pressed?  not drilling properly?  late for parade?  etc. — and Defaulters involved one hour after school or on Saturday morning spent running up and down said stairs (two hundred and twenty-seven, ask me how I know this), carrying the aforesaid rifles overhead and shouting “Coll-ege!  Coll-ege!”

Secretly, I loved cadets.  I loved the polishing of my boots (to where you could tell the time in their toecaps’ reflection), I loved the precision of the drill, I liked the camaraderie of the shared misery with my buddies;  but most of all, I loved Musketry.

Once a week, instead of drawing SMLEs, one lucky platoon would draw BSA-Martini falling-block single-shot .22 rifles from the armory and head off to the 50-yard shooting range for an hour and a half of target shooting.  Here’s the rifle we used:

…the rear aperture sights requiring adjustment (“side screw one click, top screw two clicks”) as we shot.  (The range master was a U.S. Marine Corps Korean veteran from Georgia, a.k.a. the school chaplain.)  We shot from prone, unsupported (“no dead-resting!”) and the greatest disappointment of the day was the final “Cease Fire!  Cease Fire!” command, delivered in Fr. Fitzhugh’s stentorian bellow (“Sayce Fahr!” was what it actually sounded like).

With my old and decrepit eyes, I probably couldn’t shoot this vintage thing for peanuts these days, but despite that I would head off to Collectors and get this beauty in a heartbeat, if I had the spare dollars.

Nostalgia is its own reward.

Straightening Out The Military Brass

Actually, I think the so-called “brass” need to be hammered flat like their namesake metal, but let’s move on.

During the awful Obama years, it became obvious that soldiers were not, in fact, supposed to really act  like soldiers.  And when they did, the criteria for punishment were not “this is what happens on a battlefield” but instead, “it’s not a battlefield, it’s a garden party.”

Soldiers got prosecuted for shooting bad guys because said bad guys hadn’t actually done anything bad, yet.  In WWII terms, this would have equated to not gunning down a column of advancing Nazi bastards because they hadn’t started shooting, yet.

Which as any fule kno, is ridiculous except when Obama-era senior officers say it isn’t.  Here’s the story behind the conviction of one unfortunate officer:

He ordered his men to shoot three Taliban insurgents who were charging at his platoon on a motorcycle in Afghanistan on July 2, 2012.
The Taliban did not heed orders to stop. Lorance could have let them men pass and possibly kill some of his own American soldiers by blowing themselves up with a suicide bomb (as has happened in other cases) or by gunfire. He chose to stop them and save American lives.
Sending a soldier to prison for defending his troops in a war zone should never have happened and should never happen again.

God-Emperor Trump, however, seems to know what’s what, and has pardoned or reinstated those unfortunate soldiers who fell foul of the Obama milquetoast rules of engagement.

And it’s about time.  He should have done it on Day One of his presidency, is my only criticism.

Now the next  item should be to go after the fucking officers (up to and including generals) who approved both the rules of engagement and this travesty of justice — it’s the .dotmil, there’s a signature on a document somewhere — and either demote them or toss their asses out.  And the sooner the better.

We need fighting spirit in our senior officer corps, not rules-bound wokeness and pussyfooting.