Last week, the French military purchasing agency announced they are picking up 75,000 new Glocks to replace older MAS G1 (Beretta 92) and MAC 50 (Sig P-210ish) pistols. The new handguns will be two-toned (black over Coyote) Gen 5 G17s with Marksman barrels, suppressor-height night sights, ambi slide levers, a lanyard ring (G19X, is that you?) and forward slide serrations.
Additionally, to replace the 1980s-era FR F2 bolt-action rifle, the French will be issuing the SCAR-H PR, essentially a SCAR-17 with a heavy barrel. It will be issued with an FN-made QD suppressor, a cleaning kit, four 20-round magazines, and two 10-round magazines.
More details, including videos, in my column at Guns.com.
The French military has flirted with modern semi-auto pistols for longer than most. During the Great War, thousands of Spanish-made Ruby and Star pistols augmented the country’s rather lackluster Modèle 1892 revolvers.
This cleared the way for the later FN 1922-inspired MAB Model D pistol and Charles Petter’s famous Mle. 1935, the latter design one that went on to morph into the Swiss SIG P210, arguably one of the best handguns of the 20th Century.
After WWII, the MAC Mle 1950, itself very P210-ish, was adopted and, coupled with the PAMAS G1, a domestically-made clone of the Beretta 92F, is still in service today.
Now, 115 years after the Ruby was first ordered, the French defense ministry has placed an order for 75,000~ new Glocks.
Besides the Austrian polymer pistols, the French are also going FN when it comes to a rifle to replace their venerable FR F2 (itself a souped-up MAS1936).
More in my column at Guns.com.
Portugal has a long and treasured military history. For more than 115 years the Portuguese Army (Exército Português) has issued German-made 9mm steel-framed pistols starting with the DWM Luger in 1906 and moving to the Walther P-38 after WWII.
Dubbed the M1961, the single stack P38 saw lots of service in places like Angola and Mozambique during the African bush wars of the 1960s and 70s, and still equips soldados in Afghanistan and Mali today.
Now, at the end of an era, Lisbon has gone Glock, adopting the Austrian-made polymer-framed G17. The model selected by the Portuguese Army, a Gen 5 variant, includes several features from the G19X such as a Coyote Tan scheme, night sights, and lanyard ring.
More in my column at Guns.com.
You just can’t ask for a better international pack of greyhounds than this.
The image shows the Greek frigate Elli, French FREMM-class frigate FS Auvergne (D654), Royal Netherlands Navy De Zeven Provincien-class frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805), Spanish Navy Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate Blas de Lezo (F-103), and the Turkish Navy’s Oliver Hazard Perry-class (Gabya-class in Turkish service) frigate TCG Gelibolu (F-493)— ex-USS Reid (FFG-30).
They are a part of NATO Advanced Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) Exercise Dynamic Manta19 started off the cost of Sicily last week. Including Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, ships and aircraft from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Great Britain, and the U.S. are involved. A total of 5 submarines, 9 ASW surface ships, 6 MPAs and 11 Rotary Wing Aircraft (Helicopters) are slated to participate in this exercise through early March.
Pretty sweet photo spread here
Sniper teams from eight NATO countries recently visited Austria to use the Alps for some specialized training at Austria’s Hochfilzen Training Area. In such a beautiful part of Europe, the released photos from the event look like they came right from a postcard, but with a bonus sniper team inserted.
More in my column at Guns.com
The above video is pretty interesting if you know the history of the guerrilla war in the Baltic states that was fought by as many as 50,000 Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans against the Red Army from the tail end of WWII through the early 1950s. It’s an unsung war, and the various “Forest Brothers” groups (whose members included several former German soldiers as well as Waffen SS members of the various Baltic legions, a facet often glossed over) that were backed in part by Western intelligence agencies.
The above video was put out this month by NATO, which, especially when combined with other similar videos about modern equivalent of stay-behind units, is probably meant to provide a moment of pause to the big bear on the Baltic states’ Eastern border.
And cue the Russian butt hurt, which is rich considering the little green men running around the Ukraine and Crimea, and the fact that they annexed the Baltics in 1939 by force.
An interesting interview published through NATO’s channels of Lieutenant Silje Johansen Willassen, Norway’s Telemark Battalion’s first female tank platoon commander, in charge of a quartet of German-built Leopard MBTs. Telemark is the Army ‘s rapid reaction force and is equipped with Swedish CV-9030N infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard 2A4NO tanks, the latter picked up slightly used from the Dutch Army in 2001.
Norway will be sending a mixed force company to Lithuania in May to support NATO’s enhanced forward presence. The company, of around 200 troops, will be drawn from the Telemark Battalion– and Willassen will command half of the tanks slated for the force. They will provide combat support to the German-led multinational battalion. The deployment will be for six months.
NATO’s last counter-piracy surveillance aircraft is flying her final mission, as part of the now-shuttered Operation Ocean Shield. The Royal Danish Air Force crew a Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, a modified Bombardier Challenger 604, and talks about how much the coast of Somalia has changed since the height of pirate activity in the Horn of Africa.
The operation, which began in 2009 as part of a broader international effort to crack down on Somali-based pirates who had caused havoc with world shipping, was conducted alongside Operation Atalanta— the EU operation in the area which current have a frigate each from Holland and Spain supported by a German P-3– and the 25-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, both of which are on-going.
At the height of piracy in January 2011 over 700 hostages and 32 vessels were being held by Somali pirates, with huge ransoms demanded for their release. Today, no vessels or hostages are being held by Somali pirates. The most recent pirate incident occurred on 22 October 2016, when a chemical tanker, CPO Korea, was attacked by six armed men 330 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia.
“The global security environment has changed dramatically in the last few years and NATO navies have adapted with it,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement. “NATO has increased maritime patrols in the Baltic and Black Seas. We are also working to help counter human smuggling in the Mediterranean.”
As for the EU operation, on Friday 25 November 2016, the European Council extended Operation Atalanta’s mandate to deter, disrupt and repress acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, until 31 December 2018.
A U.S. Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank fires its main gun as it takes part in a live-fire exercise in Rena, Norway. The Marines are preparing themselves for Exercise Cold Response 16, which will bring together 12 NATO allies and partner nations and approximately 16,000 troops in order to enhance joint crisis response capabilities in cold weather environments.
More on Cold Response 16 including a bunch of videos in my column at Guns.com.
SOFREP has this really interesting take on what it was like as a foreign volunteer soldier of fortune in the Ukrainian Army during the late great hate there in recent years.
As a former professional soldier in my own country’s NATO army, I found myself embroiled in the conflict in Ukraine by my own choice in late July, 2014. While technically I was a “volunteer,” I viewed myself as a professional soldier serving in a foreign country’s armed forces. Far from trying to make this some kind of dramatic personal narrative, I will attempt to portray a picture of the Russian soldier from my own limited point of view—that of an opponent.
At this point, I’d like to sidetrack a bit so as to make some things more clear to the reader. The Ukrainian “volunteer battalions” should not be seen as militias or irregulars, but rather as a sort of “Rough Riders”-style unit, a unit formed by volunteers, yet armed and supplied by the Army and subjected to the regular command structure, having normal combat duties at the front line. The foreign volunteers themselves, again, should not be seen as the like of all these colorful characters that join the Marxist and Arab irregular militias in the Middle East, but rather like the Swedish volunteers during the Winter War, integrated normally within their unit and most of the time taking up a front-line role either in operations or training. The opposing forces can be divided easily in two parts: the bandits who initiated the rebellion and the Russian regulars who intervened later that same year.
The bandits, no matter what the pro-Western propaganda claims, were not mercenaries or Russian regulars posing as rebels. Many Russian nationals flocked to their banner from the onset of the rebellion out of pure patriotism. Of course there were exceptions, but these were just that—exceptions. That doesn’t mean that Russian military advisors or SOF units didn’t directly aid them in the beginning of the conflict. The military effectiveness of said bandit militias was horrendous.