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Dad’s Army, Norwegian edition

There are lots of reasons why someone should not mess around with Norway. One is the Norwegian Home Guard (Norwegian: Heimevernet – “HV”) which today consists of some 45,000 part time soldiers.

Here is one of their rapid-reaction forces at work:

Norwegian Home Guard QRF soldiers from Vestfold on a recent training mission. Note the HV shoulder flashes and general “Most interesting man in the world” vibe of its troopers. These guys could ski circles around potential invaders and, when operating with home field advantage, bring the pain.

SOF has an interesting article from a few months back about these guys from a 1980s encounter in which the author bumped into hardlegs still armed with German WWII weaponry but ready to use it.

Norwegian reserve engineers in the 1980s with a P08 Luger and MP40 SMG. Via SOF

This jibes with my own personal Norwegian buddy, a fellow by the name of Kim that I have known for years. Back in the early 1990s he did his national service in Brigade South (also known then as 4th Brigade) and has shown me fading Kodaks of a skinnier/hairier version of him using everything from 1940s vintage M1 Carbines and Walther P-38s to HK G3s and MP5s. He said they learned to use it all and stacked it deep, just in case.

At the time, the Land Home Guard had 470 platoon-sized units stippled across Norway equipped with small arms and man-portable anti-tank weapons such as the Carl Gustav 84mm and  L-18 57mm recoilless rifle– a nice addition to any choke point.

At the end of the Cold War, with a population of 4.2 million, Norway could put up the following numbers:
Army:  19,000 (plus 146,000 reserves)
Navy:  5,300 (plus about 26,000 reserves)
Air Force:  9,100 (plus about 28,000 reserves)
Home Guard:  85,000 reserves.

In short, over 300,000 ready when the balloon went up. Those aren’t rookie numbers.

Today it seems the HV is half the size it was in the tail-end of the Cold War, but you can bet there are probably well-maintained WWII stocks still housed in a warehouse somewhere, ready if needed.

Lawrence Livermore just cleared a whole lot of boom

On Tuesday, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released 63 rare, restored, and declassified nuclear test films, saved from decomposing on fragile nitrate film. They include Operations Teapot, Dominick, Nutmeg, Hardtack, Plumbob, and others. They are short but powerful.

“For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films. The goals are to preserve the films’ content before it’s lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

(Photo via Friends of the Tank Museum)

(Photo via Friends of the Tank Museum)

“U.S. M60 and the Soviet-built T62, showing the much lower profile of the Warsaw Pact vehicle. Although armament was roughly equivalent, the lower profile of the T-62 made it a much harder target.”

The T-62, at about 40-tons, was eight feet high– three feet less than the M-60, giving it the tactical advantage. However, due to the low depression of the T-62’s gun when compared to the 105mm hull cracker of the M-60, was seen in the West as a handicap.

The T-62 carried 40 rounds of ammunition, with most of the rounds stored in the hull and the gun suffered from a very long ejection period. The M60 carried 60 rounds, with more ready in the turret, and could fire about twice as fast with a well-trained crew.

Plus, the T-62 was seen as being cramped and hard to drive.

The M60 Patton was introduced in 1961, augmenting and then replacing the M48 in U.S. service (though it should be noted that upgraded M48A5’s, up-gunned with the 105 mm M68 gun to make them basically M60s, remained in some National Guard armored units until as late as 1990). The M60 was in turn replaced after 1980 by the M1 Abrams, though Marine M60A1s fought in Desert Storm, reportedly accounting for as many as 200 Iraqi tanks including some rather modern T-72s. Though the U.S. phased out the last M60s, used as training vehicles, by 2005, they remain in service with over 20 foreign allies. Some 15,000 were built.

As for the T-62, armed with the 115 mm U-5TS “Molot” (2A20) Rapira smoothbore tank gun, it was the go-to tank of the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact partners, and overseas commie friends. The Soviets alone produced 20,000 variants through 1975 when they moved on to the T-72, though the simplified “monkey model” as former Soviet military intelligence officer Viktor Suvorov called them, are still produced in North Korea as the Ch’ŏnma-ho I with upgraded 125mm 2A46 guns complete with autoloaders.

T-62s and M-60s met at least three times in combat: In the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Syrian and Egyptian T-62 was an effective adversary for Israeli Pattons, though better training and more ammo carried the day for the IDF; Iraqi T-62s under Saddam clashed with Iranian M-60s in the 1980s, and of course the story of the Marines from Desert Storm.

Though both of these MBTs were a product of late 1950s tech, they will both continue to be encountered worldwide for the next several generations.

And for a great throwback, here is a 1977 Army film on how to best kill the T-62, likely shot with the use of some captured Syrian vehicles as well as intelligence footage.

Bringing the M1’s back from the ROK

m1 garand

A House measure introduced last week would override the Obama-era State Department’s embargo on thousands of M1 Carbines and Garands long blocked from import.

The legislation comes as the latest installment in an effort by Republican lawmakers to change the 2009 decision to block the importation of no less than 87,000 rifles donated to South Korea and now surplus to that country’s needs.

“These M1 models represent a significant piece of our military history and should be available to collectors in America to the extent that other legal firearms of the same make are routinely bought and privately owned,” said bill sponsor, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., in a statement.

More in my column at

Have a ripple


A combination shot of two screen frames of Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, 53-1793, as it ripple fires 24 × 2.75 in (70 mm) FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rocket) unguided rockets from its missile bay doors.

The world’s first supersonic, all-weather jet interceptor and the U.S. Air Force’s first operational delta wing aircraft, the F-102 used a very complex fire control system for the time, the Hughes MG-3/10 series, which would automatically fire the onboard air-to-air rockets and missiles. Besides the FFARs shown, the Dagger could carry a mix of a half-dozen semi-active radar homing (the AIM-4A Falcon) and infrared homing (the AIM-4C Falcon) guidance air to air missiles as well as the brutal AIM-26A Nuclear Falcon, which sounds like a classic Air Force weapon.

F-102A-5-CO s/n 53-1793 served in the following Fighter Intercepter Squadrons:

*USAF 18th FIS.
*USAF 37th FIS.
*USAF 460th FIS.
*USAF 16th FIS.
*USAF 509th FIS.
*10/1965: Stuck off charge at Clark AB, Philippines.

USCG awards not 1 or 2 or 3 but 5 (five!) contracts for heavy polar icebreaker industry studies

USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) at anchor probably in the vicinity of San Pedro, CA., in July 1944 sometime before or after her commissioning on 15 July 1944. Photo by Navsource

USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) at anchor probably in the vicinity of San Pedro, CA., in July 1944 sometime before or after her commissioning on 15 July 1944. Photo by Navsource

This just in:

The U.S. Coast Guard awarded five firm fixed-price contracts for heavy polar icebreaker design studies and analysis Wednesday. The contracts were awarded to the following recipients: Bollinger Shipyards, LLC, Lockport, Louisiana; Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, Washington, District of Columbia; General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California; Huntington Ingalls, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi; and VT Halter Marine, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi. The combined total value of the awards is approximately $20 million.
The objective of the studies are to identify design and systems approaches to reduce acquisition cost and production timelines. In addition to a requirement to develop heavy polar icebreaker designs with expected cost and schedule figures, the contracts require: the awardees to examine major design cost drivers; approaches to address potential acquisition, technology, and production risks; and benefits associated with different types of production contract types.

The heavy polar icebreaker integrated program office, staffed by Coast Guard and U.S. Navy personnel, will use the results of the studies to refine and validate the draft heavy polar icebreaker system specifications. The use of design studies is an acquisition best practice influenced by the Navy’s acquisition experience with the Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) amphibious transport ship and T-AO(X) fleet oiler, which are being acquired under accelerated acquisition schedules.

“These contracts will provide invaluable data and insight as we seek to meet schedule and affordability objectives,” said Rear Adm. Michael Haycock, the Coast Guard’s Director of Acquisition Programs and Program Executive Officer. “Our nation has an urgent need for heavy polar icebreaking capability. We formed an integrated program office with the Navy to take advantage of their shipbuilding experience. This puts us in the best possible position to succeed in this important endeavor,” said Haycock.

“The Navy is committed to the success of the heavy icebreaker program and is working collaboratively with our Coast Guard counterparts to develop a robust acquisition strategy that drives affordability and competition, while strengthening the industrial base,” said Jay Stefany, Executive Director, Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift Office, Program Executive Office, Ships. “Our ability to engage early with our industry partners will be critical to delivering this capability to our nation,” said Stefany.

The studies are expected to take 12 months to complete, with study results provided incrementally during that time. The Coast Guard plans to release a draft request for proposals (RFP) for detail design and construction by the end of fiscal year 2017, followed by release of the final RFP in fiscal year 2018. The Integrated Program Office plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019, subject to appropriations.

For more information: Polar Icebreaker program page

You know Grafe looks like Hoth in winter

So there was a photo dump of the VALEX of the 2nd Dragoons in Germany’s Grafenwoehr Training Area last week by the very talented photojournalist Michał Zieliński and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn among others which I compiled for Well surprise, surprise, the Dragoons’ social media picked it up, which I thought was cool.

Anyway, click on the photo to get your cold blast of fresh air from Grafe.


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