It isn’t about the 1,000 sales emails you get this weekend.
Category Archives: rants
I grew up reading books like WWIII: August 1985, Red Storm Rising, and Team Yankee as a kid. After all, I was a military brat growing up in a coastal town that was mass-producing destroyers, cruisers, and LHAs as fast as they could hit the water because the Russians– led by Ivan Drago— Were Coming.
Now we have this conflict in Ukraine, the closest thing to a modern near-peer war since 1982, and while it is many things, it is not entertaining.
I don’t have the space, intestinal fortitude, and energy to detail what is already being termed the Russo-Ukrainian War, encompassing an estimated 180,000 Russian ground troops against a mobilized 240,000 Ukrainian army and paramilitary forces.
But I do have some interesting notes that I have noticed while watching a war unfold on my phone in real-time.
While “official” losses in terms of human life are slim compared to World War daily figures– the Ukrainians claim to have inflicted 800 casualties while suffering under 450 of their own, the images and video coming from the region would seem to belay that as a gross underestimation on both accounts.
According to the Pentagon:
The assault started in darkness this morning, Ukrainian time, with a Russian missile barrage of around 100 intermediate-range, short-range, and cruise missiles, the official said. Missiles came from land, sea and air platforms.
The Russians used roughly 75 fixed-wing, heavy and medium bombers as a part of their assault. The targets were primarily military bases and air defense nodes.
The British MOD said:
In the early hours of the morning, President Putin launched a major unprovoked assault on Ukraine, firing missiles on cities and military targets. The invasion came despite weeks of Russian claims that they had no intention of invading.
Then later in a day-end update, remarked that “It is unlikely that Russia has achieved its planned Day 1 military objectives. Ukrainian forces have presented fierce resistance across all axis of Russia’s advance.”
The Ukrainians claim to have knocked out 30 much more modern Russian tanks, 130 assorted military vehicles, and 14 aircraft as well as capturing a handful of Russkis, while the Russians claim to have totally neutralized the Ukraine air defense net, made in-roads into the country from at least five points, and have shot down nine aircraft that managed to get off the ground.
In another, it looks like the Western NLAWs and Javelins rushed to the country by NATO have taken their toll on Russia’s most advanced combat vehicles, defeating stand-off cages and other countermeasures, leaving lots of broken armor and blunted convoys in their wake. Their recently-withdrawn British, Canadian, and American (Florida National Guard’s Task Force Gator) training cadres are no doubt nodding into their whisky as they watch the footage.
While the Russian VDV and Spets guys are fanatical, a lot of these Russian troops, especially those driving trucks and recovery vehicles without adequate top cover, are likely conscripts. Cannon fodder. I almost feel bad for them.
Regardless, depictions of Ukraine’s two newest patrons, of our ladies of the top attack, St. Javelin and St. NLAW, are circulating widely.
Further, while the Russians have steamrolled Ukraine’s airfields and at least one (some reports say damaged) SU-27 made an emergency diversion to Romania, there does seem to be a Fulcrum driver that is– and this could be wild propaganda– been holding his own around Kyiv, downing a reported six Russians. The feat would make him the first attributed European air ace since Korea.
They call him the “Ghost of Kyiv,” and there is a ton of buzz and memes floating around about him even if he doesn’t exist.
I can vouch that there is a stirring video purporting to be a low-flying Ukrainian MiG-29 dogfighting with a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 (but looks to me just like two Fulcrums working high-low).
The David and Goliath struggle has been exemplified by the reported lop-sided stand on Snake Island by 13 Ukrainian border guards against the Russian cruiser Moskova, with the words “Russkiy voyennyy korabl’, idi na khuy” now ringing around the globe.
Finally, in a return to low-tech, with both sides fielding much the same kit– after all, Ukrain inherited most of its equipment from the old Soviet Union– the Russians are using an “Invasion Stripe” recognition stripe in the form of a painted-on “Z” despite the fact there is no such letter in the Cyrillic alphabet, something that had been noticed by reporters in Belarus as far back as the 19th.
Either way, if you’re the praying sort, the Ukrainian people could use some.
Going back to my old Tom Baker Dr. Who days on a black & white 10-inch TV in my room in the early 1980s, I’ve always been a sucker for anything time travel and have used the device in a few different short stories over the years.
So naturally, I had to watch The Tomorrow War, in which the losing military of 2051 catapults back in time to today to gather hastily mustered and invariably untrained conscripts to send forward 30 years, where they will lend their mass to try and defeat some very scary alien creatures that have all but overrun the planet.
Lots of issues. Spoiler alerts ahead.
First, instead of coming to get draftees to serve as cannon fodder in a future in which they are already dead (so as not to bump into yourself in the future), why not just send an intel package back to the current age detailing all that is known about the aliens to include future dates and locations of their initial strikes and biological research/samples to develop an insecticide (yes, they are big bugs) against?
Even if you go with the so-called “Let’s Kill Hitler Paradox” which erases your own reason for going back in time because if the traveler were successful, then there would be no reason to time travel in the first place, and you still had to go with the standby of getting future-deceased draftees to come to 2051 and fight aliens, at least give said draftees a fighting chance.
In the film, most of the humans face off with the “White Spikes” armed with short-barreled 5.56 NATO weapons, to ill effect. A vet of two past jumps, meanwhile, runs a 12 gauge tactical shotgun to better success while a grizzled old man with an AR10 lays out several in short order.
The solution? Send these poor devils to the future with 7.62 battle rifles such as the HK G3/HK91, AR10, FN FAL, and M1A1/M14. There are surely a few million in storage or in local gun shops around the world and more could be cranked out very rapidly.
If they can’t figure it out, give em a shotgun. I can vouch that I have run one-day tactical riot gun courses with great success for novice users.
Anyway, more on my feelings on The Tomorrow War-– which is actually a fairly good if confounding sci-fi film– check out my piece at Guns.com where I talk about the on-screen weapons.
Keep in mind today the real reason why the mail doesn’t run, public employees have a three-day weekend, and why your mailbox is full of tasteless fliers.
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is returning after operations in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility. It was the first carrier strike group to deploy under COVID-19 protocols. By the time the carrier strike group reaches home, the sailors and Marines aboard will have been gone for 321 days.
The Nimitz, the cruiser USS Princeton, and the destroyers USS Sterett and USS Ralph Johnson made up the group.
Overall, the carrier strike group steamed more than 87,300 nautical miles during its deployment. The carrier launched 10,185 sorties totaling 23,410 flight hours logged.
I’m not sure the value of wearing out ships and crew on year-long deployments when there are no major conflicts underway, but you damned sure don’t see other fleets able/willing to pull off this type of crap, which is a statement of deterrence all its own, I suppose.
Of note, Nimitz is our oldest active warship in fleet service– and the oldest commissioned aircraft carrier in the world– slated to celebrate the 46th anniversary of her commissioning in May. Princeton is no spring chicken either, as the early Tico left Pascagoula for the fleet in 1989.
On my bookshelves right now, I have a number of excellent volumes on military history by British historian/correspondent/author Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, best just known as Max Hastings.
His The Battle for the Falklands is the best I’ve read on the subject and is drawn from first-hand reporting as he was there on the ground dodging Argentine A-4s and was the first civilian in liberated Port Stanley.
Then of course there is Overlord, Bomber Command, The Korean War, et. al.
Sir Max in an opinion piece entitled “American Universities Declare War on Military History: Academics seem to have forgotten that the best way to avoid conflict is to study it.” hits the nail on the head.
The revulsion from war history may derive not so much from students’ unwillingness to explore the violent past, but from academics’ reluctance to teach, or even allow their universities to host, such courses. Some dub the subject “warnography,” and the aversion can extend to the study of international relations. Less than half of all history departments now employ a diplomatic historian, against 85% in 1975. As for war, as elderly scholars retire from posts in which they have studied it, many are not replaced: the roles are redefined.
As a certified firearms instructor for the past 20 years, I have seen hundreds of female shooters on the line, many of which never touched a gun before one of my classes. Some of those women are my own family. Despite the going trope of offering a hard-to-control .38 snubby or a pink/Tiffany blue .380 pocket gun to woman looking to get into gun ownership, how about offering them a more standard line of pistols and see what they like, are most comfortable with, and shoot the best? For reference, my wife’s favorite is a Beretta 92F Inox while my 25-year-old daughter has used a P229R her entire adult life.
In a similar vein of thought, check out Lance Bombadier Natalia Hudson-Carrier and Gunner Georgie Jones, of the British Army’s 3 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, pitch in working their L118 gun during Exercise Cypher Spear in the below video. The light 105mm howitzer is known as the M119 in U.S. service and has seen extensive use around the world including, perhaps most notably, in the Falklands.
In the British Army, the only Guards unit to feature women, King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, is made up of about half female soldiers, who man the battery’s Great War-era QF 13-pounders in modified Crimean War uniforms.
The U.S. Army, followed by the Marines, opened the field artillery MOS to women in 2015.
The new AR 670-1, covering the changes for the grooming standards in uniform, is full of good stuff culled from a 17-person panel of enlisted men and women.
Short take: Men get to wear nail polish. Females get to wear lipstick and have ponytails and highlights in their hair. The latter is great news as it happens all the time anyway.
As for beards, the thing that the enlisted have asked for repeatedly for the past two decades as number 1 on the “want” list where it comes to AR 670, that’s a big, fat, nope.
Literally “a nonstarter.”
Sure, you can argue it’s for NBC/CBW gear fitment. A safety issue. However, we are talking about grooming in garrison– the same place where you see a guy in every formation rocking a shave profile for face bumps. Why not just do away with the profile and roll with the facial hair. Sure, it will mean a longer line for CAC cards as guys decide to move to and from the face fuzz, but there is always a line for CAC cards.
On the final day of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management issued guidance to its local, state, and district offices to preserve and expand recreational shooting opportunities on the millions of acres of public lands under the agency. When I say millions of acres, I should actually clarify that it is hundreds of millions, as BLM controls some 245 million acres, with some 99 percent of it open to some sort of recreational shooting.
This, of course, is a good thing as there are some 50~ million American sports shooters and hunters, most of whom are always looking for a good place to shoot.
This brings me to my soapbox. As someone who regularly visits a public range in DeSoto National Forest, provided by the USDA Forest Service, please, please leave it as or better than you found it.
For instance, this was the trash area at the Black Creek Range this weekend:
These ranges belong to everyone, so please make sure they are useable for your grandchildren as well.
Hey guys, I got drafted into representing Guns.com in the American Suppressor Association’s Silencer Stache contest.
If you haven’t heard about the ASA, they are the trade organization for the suppressor industry and have really been working for the past few years on expanding gun laws concerning the devices nationwide, from a hearing protection standpoint.
Long story short, they are running a facial hair contest this month and I am running neck-and-neck (see what I did there?) with my opponent and could use your vote to put me over the top. So if you could give me an assist, I would appreciate it.
You don’t have to sign up for anything, join anything, or buy anything. You do have to vote in each heat (just scroll down the page) then enter an email addy at the bottom (feel free to use a burner one) to make sure you aren’t a bot, then click enter.
That’s it. Help me from getting shellacked! The contest is here.
I thank you for your consideration.