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Thanks for Keeping Me Informed

I appreciate your honesty and facts. I saw Bill Moyers' Now broadcast of Aug. 1 with Chuck Spinney so I found you via site links. I have written Northrup which via Vinnell will be training Iraqi soldiers. I told them I will be watching them and not to profit off the troops sacrifices without consequences. Keep me informed of your progress and if you need help at some point with a donation, I will do what I can.

                                                                                 Mark Isenberg 

Ed: The best way to donate is to subscribe to the G2mil library for $29.95 a year. Click here to subscribe.

Joint Universal Spotters

I suggest you add our Air Commandos web page link to our excellent JUS web page since they share similar ideas.


The Ultimate APC

Hopefully this is something along the lines of what you were thinking.  I couldn't find any m1108 gifs, so have done it "KIFV" style, which I think is more practical. One version has a simple Russian style turret. the other a modified M60z type.  A Soldier can sit in his pod, and above him with comfortable headroom is a individual hatch that opens back.  In front of him, at chest or shoulder level is a firing port set in an armoured window -this window may have armoured sutters. He can fire through the port or open the window and fire from this without leaving his seat. He can also crack open the hatch to fire upwards, or get his buddy to do this while he uses both hands. 

Individual hatch is lighter and quicker to open, and the divider will be a useful hand hold when clambering in and out. It also allows one man in the pod to watch his assigned quadrant heads up while the other rests, but does not leave a big hole for a molotov to enter. To shoot or operate heads up, the hatch is thrown back, the soldier puts his feet on a "fire step" such as an ammo box and hikes his seat up. He is still sitting but his shoulders are level with the hull top and he can rest his weapon on the hull top. 

There is no need for the outward folding hatch since his front is shielded by the armoured window etc -if you want we can build crennels into the top of the window. Pulling a "panic handle" drops his seat (and head) down. The rear opening hatch does, however, protect the rear or the soldiers head from plunging fire (a tactic my father encountered in Malaya, and why he maintains that any armoured truck needs a steel divider between the men's backs.  For debussing you can throw the hatch back and the window down -a middle support added to the tank roof would provide a useful handhold.

                                                                                                       Phil West

Ed:  This is a great depiction. Phil thought two turreted machine guns would be better
                                                                                                       Phil West

Ed:  This is a great depiction. Phil thought two turreted machine guns would be better, with the M-60 type cupolas (although preferably with scopes rather than vision slots) and a provision for fitting .50 HMGs, 40mm AGLs or  30mm ASP cannon if more firepower is needed.  This requires they be placed farther back, behind the driver.  All four window hatches are closed, with two of the top hatches open. The canopy on top is an steel "tank roof" to provide overhead protection from artillery frags, top attack munitions, hand grenades, snipers high above, and the sun and rain.

Adapt old M-60 tanks

Here's an idea.. you know all those old tanks? m60s and the like,? remove the turret, magazines etc.  Stick a tank roof on it, some hatches, I dont know what position would be best for that. beef up the armour a tad, say apply some refractory ceramics- to resist HEAT, you'd have an APC that was almost as tough as a tank, if it needs weapons how about a remote turret on the roof, unmanned just give it a pair of M2 .50 cals- that should prevent the vehicle commander trying to use it as a tank. seeing as these older style tanks are a lot cheaper, diesel, and with all the ammo outside the hull catastrophic fuel fires and ammunition detonations would not occur.  And I think that by removing that dirty great turret the silhouette would be much lower < harder to hit> and you should get a lot more speed out of the thing. I'm unsure of the weight of a turret and gun but its got to be several tons.

Ed: I agree, these would allow for some instant well-protected APCs.

In response to "the ultimate APC", I have a few thoughts to consider.

>>The big threat to APCís on most battlefields are RPGs.

Donít forget landmines, they are a big threat to an APC too. However, we should not forget the point of the exercise is to protect the soldier/infantryman/commando, and that is protection not only from RPGís and mines, but from enemy snipers, machinegun fire, indirect artillery, and so on. This may seem like Iím stating the obvious, but consider that the mounted up mechanized infantryman will need to face these types of threats, sometimes while under different types of fires, simultaneously: for instance, indirect artillery fire coming in while trying to search and kill a sniper that is perhaps killing civilians or dismounted soldiers from another vehicle. Somehow, this APC needs the ability to protect itís guys, be aware of RPG guys sneaking up even at night, and search/hunt the sniper.

>>Even 33-ton Bradleys are penetrated upon impact by a simple RPG striking on its side.

Urm, well, that may be true in some cases, but I think this stems from the nature of the role it was first intended, during the cold war. Meaning, itís primary threat wasnít considered RPG ambushes or landmines, but in thousands of T-72ís and BMP-2ís in a game of "Chicken" in Western Germany.

>>APCs must be designed so that all soldiers can fire from the vehicle.

This is probably an impractical goal to attempt, and I would also question the effectiveness of the accuracy of it. More to the point, your infantrymen will likely have to debark at some point, and close with and destroy the enemy, under fire, using just his/her own ammo on the web gear.

Now, I hope you arenít proposing that the defense of this vehicle would deplete the infantrymanís web gear load? Or instead carrying all sorts of extra magazines in ready bins inside the vehicle? So many extra "loose" magazines and brass casings flopping about, after a quick engagement inside the vehicle, could snag themselves on door hatches at inopportune times. This is perhaps a larger consideration than it first seems. Iíve read about SADF engagements using similar thoughts, and the result is hot brass everywhere, a layer an inch thick on the carrier floor. Casings going every which way, burning exposed skin surfaces, causing guys to yelp and pull their rifles back into the carrier while in mid-burst (same during a bump in the road as the carrier goes about), and bullets bounce about INSIDE the carrier.

I propose to you that systems that reside permanently outside the vehicle might be a better solution. Having one single huge, expensive, slow and nearly blind turret is not the only solution, and in fact would be counter-productive if we are to accomplish something different from the Stryker and Bradley. But there are good alternatives, for instance as seen in Israel and South Africa.

>>APCs should have "tank roofs" mounted three feet above the top to provide overhead armor protection, and shield the sun, rain, and infra-red signature from above. They should be easily removable for ship transport or storage of the APC.

Totally agreed. But it doesnít need to be very thick at all, just something to deflect an RPG or thrown grenade, really. Top attack weapons that we face are very few, and very far between. There has only been ONE such loss for US troops ever. While this will increase, for every top attack weapon in a cretinís hands, thereís 10,000 RPGís, landmines and indirect fire shells.

>>The ultimate APC should be an APC, with no weaponry, just a driver and room for a ten man squad. This will make them much lighter, smaller, cheaper and reliable.

I agree that IFVís are too much of a compromise to do anything wellÖbut NO weaponry? I disagree with that approach: the dismounted infantryman provides the eyes and ears, the carrier armament provides the extra firepower and attention magnet (soaking up enemy attention that would otherwise be focused entirely on the killable dismounted personnel).

Also, the carrier should be able to blow holes in walls for the infantry to make an entry. Itís easier for such systems to be carried by the carrier than by already overloaded and dog-tired grunts.

>>Rather than one big coffin, this APC would carry four two-man pods; two facing outward on each side.

So instead you will have four small coffins? I fail to see the upside in this.

I think this is the single big flaw in this plan: they are isolated. They are Spam in a can. I canít even begin to imagine what this would be likeÖisolated in your own 55 gallon drumÖin a steel foxhole. If the SEALS have a hard time getting their own divers to get inside their mini-subs, this is going to be even more difficult. Being isolated like this would mean that the "strength" of the other soldiers would be non-existent, so your most scared soldier would scare his "drum" partner, and no one would be able to properly reassure them. All of these issues are bad enough already inside an APC or IFV as it isÖfurther dividing them like containerized cargo would be potentially disastrous (open container in case of war!). it truly would be "an Army of one", as the lone remaining soldier who wasnít scared witless, wasnít killed by an RPG through the glass, exited the vehicle.

In all seriousness, the Canadian Army has had quite a bit of experience with RPGís and the M113 in Bosnia. At least 20 carriers had solid hits. We were using the OLD M113A1 and A2, and at the time they were bone stock, no spaced armor, no spall linings, no ceramic plates. Precious few soldiers were killed, despite so many hits. Most of the soldiers of ours that died there, died from driving unarmored vehicles over, stepping on, or unsuccessfully disarm landmines. The RPG hits rarely killed more than one guy.

In any case, the RPG isnít the boogie man that we make it out to be. In Task Force Ranger, we found that despite being totally unarmored, the lowly Humvee did manage to get from A to B. 1964 M113ís were able to do much better than that. Current Israeli Zeldaís are far more formidable today, and should be virtually impregnable to the lowly RPGist. An advanced Ď113 with ceramic spaced armor should provide all the APC protection we need.

>>The upper one foot of each pod is heavy duty bullet proof glass, allowing the two soldiers a 360 degree view.

Sounds like a major flaw in the plan: first, bullet proof glass is great for banks, where just one or two pistol rounds are expected to be stopped. But intense GPMG fire? I donít think so. An RPG shaped charge? Never. In fact, this would become the aim point for every RPG gunner around: aim for the glass.

Now, have you considered maintenance issues? Replacing this glass is going to be expensive, to install, time-wise. Itís also very heavy for the supply system to carry. The slight fragments from nearby artillery could damage it enough that the unit commander will order the glass replaced. It will tie up badly overworked maintenance people (I know, I was one, before which I was infantry).

>>There is also a two-man size hatch on top which opens outward. This permits plenty of fresh air, and allows the two soldiers to sit on the roof of the APC, or fire from the hatch while standing on their seats.

A good thing. Actually a needed thing considering the incredible claustrophobia that would result.

>>The bulletproof roof hatch also serves as a shield for two grunts standing on their seats as it opens toward the side of the APC.

Facing oneís back I hope? Because if itís in front of the guyís face, he now has to raise his head and upper torso outside to see anything. This leaves the vulnerable upper half of his backside (where he isnít looking) completely exposed to any enemy weapon.

By contrast, having the shield behind, you only raise your head just enough for the eyes to peer over the side of the vehicle, and the entire back of your head, where you arenít looking, is covered by the shield. If thereís incoming fire, you simply duck your head down and close the hatch.

>>So these two soldiers can close up their hatches completely while under enemy mortar or artillery fire, in cold weather, or in chemical environments, and fire from inside by opening their window hatch if they need to. Or they can pop up and fire in any direction from their roof hatch, or sit on top

Ability to have 360 degree vision and field of fire is great. Sitting on top is so counterproductive, so 1966. There should be no need at all. Any exposed soldier should either just expose their heads, or be on foot outside, crouched, prone or running.

>>The pods also provide better protection should the APC chassis suffer a hit, like from a mine.

This I totally disagree with. On the contrary, I think the pods have several risks for mines. First, a pod might be broken free and tossed 70 feet in the air, emulating the monkeys and dogs we tested space rockets with. Landing would likely kill them even if the launch didnít already.

Second, for the pod system, there would be all sorts of mounts, couples, and such that could sustain so much damage during the blast as to render the vehicle totally inoperable. Inoperable is ok if everyone survives, I suppose, but on the battlefield, you now have to cram the survivors into another carrier, and some of those pods are now going to have 3 or four guys in them. It's structural integrity would be compromised, unlike a more or less 1 piece hull (even if welded aluminum).

Instead, you go with what has been proven effective: decent armor around the track/wheel areas. Hull shaped to deflect and exhaust the gas plume out and away from the vehicle, avoiding high pressure areas by angling it, similar to the lower hull of an M48 or M60 tank, for instance, that were proven virtually immune to anti-tank mines in Vietnam. Both our Canadian Grizzly (a 6 wheel old version of the USMC LAV) and the M113 were really quite well protected from AT mines. The M113 only required to have a small 2 foot by 1 foot ceramic plate added under the left hull to protect the driverís butt. The "old LAV" needed to have spare tires to replace the damaged tire/wheel from the blast. Either way, pretty minor.

>>Pods will also be more comfortable since they will afford some privacy.

There is NO, and I mean NO privacy in the infantry. There certainly isnít any need for it in the vehicle, that much is certain.

>>It's difficult to read, think, or sleep stuck in a single box with eight guys.

You canít and wonít be reading anything in a moving carrier, that much is certain. But sleeping??? Thatís the biggest reason this wonít happen: with your situation, you WILL end up with 8 sleeping infantrymen, and the driver will be all on his own, taking route directions from the vehicle commander.

In a normal carrier, the guys take turns sleeping, on the rare occasions where even that would be allowed. But at least all you would have to do is shake the guyís shoulder to wake him up. Also, when parked, being in one cabin also means you can all chat, tell jokes and stories, greatly building morale.

>>Enemy guerillas will be intimidated by this APC since they will see five soldiers with weapons ready looking at them from each side of the APC.

Your enemy will either be not intimidated at all (whether he sees faces or not), or be running down alleys and ditches, not even looking at the vehicle except to aim.

Combat is intimidating, faces in glass arenít.

>>For protection against RPGs, armor spacing can be provided with metal mesh storage racks attached to the sides, front, and rear of the APC.

Instead of mesh storage racks, why not dedicated ceramic spaced armor?

>>Overall, this ultimate APC will be very inexpensive to develop, build and maintain.

Agreed. However, be sure to include RELIABLE, dependable and robust.

>>New rubber "band tracks" can allow light APCs to operate better on hard surface roads.

As long as it wonít cause any increase in the propensity to throw a track when making a pivot turn, or even just a hard 90degree turn.

As for me, I have 6 years army vehicle maintenance, 4 years infantry. A few more things: splitting the cabin up also introduces all sorts of other problems. For instance, we often used an APC to simply carry supplies out to observation posts and whatnot. We often used them as war zone taxis for visiting VIPís, news/documentary crews, UN policemen. On one occasion we even used it to ferry an enemy brigade commander from a checkpoint to the treaty negotiation building. That required bringing our driver, our two soldiers, vehicle commander, and the enemy leaders and their bodyguards in a single APC! In other words, your apparent "swell capacity" is very limited, I would think.

By contrast, in your design, you canít simply toss 4-8 stretchered battle casualties in the back and drive off to a CCP (casualty collection point), at least not without re-configuring the pods (unless I misunderstand again). Also, if you are taking fire from one side, you would only be able to dismount one half of the grunts (the side not taking fire), where with a normal door, you could simply face the door away from the fire (pivot turn) and dismount them all. Strength in numbers after all.

Look I donít mean to be overly critical, Iím just pointing out some of the things that would be viewed from the perspective of experienced soldiers. While many would disagree with me, I think the M113 is a fine platform to start from, and still has plenty of potential for development, and by the looks of your site, it seems you tend to agree. I just donít think the pod idea is the way to go.

PS: I really like the "tankita" page and concept!

Dispersing MCAS Miramar

Intriguing article about dispersing Miramar.  Thought I would bring up a couple of points.  I have heard rumors about a possible move to March AFB, Edwards AFB, MCAS Yuma, and 29 Palms.  If I had to guess, I would say it would be March or Yuma.  The big problem I hear about the Stumps [29 Palms] is a lack of available water.  I don't think Pendleton can handle anymore aircraft.  With 2 training squadrons there now (the FRS's for the 46's and skids), the one runway is overworked as it is - and the skids are using the grass area beside it for most of their work.  Maybe move those 2 FRS's (and the 53E FRS at New River) all to Edwards AFB where the Marine reserve 46 and 53E squadrons are.  Also, HMT-164 isn't going anywhere for at least a decade due to the need not only to train new pilots but also refresh those coming back to the fleet.  Likewise, New River has a problem with ramp space that became a problem when VMMT-204 stood up.

I don't think you will see a 53E squadron decommissioned at New River (You have 461 and 464 there now.)  Even with only the standard 4 aircraft det to an HMM when deploying, you are going to need 2 squadrons of 16 - 18 to handle the normal MEU rotation.  When the MEU's get plussed up with 6 or even 8 of the "Big Irons", you definitely need 2 squadrons.

You are spot on about the 53D's in Hawaii.  The aircraft have never been SLEP'ed and are in horrible condition (bad enough that none went to Iraq - or even the last Gulf War).  Likewise, the minimal amount of hours that they fly mean that the pilots are not current, much less proficient in their skills - no knock against the pilots, they just are not getting enough flying time.  They are simply place holders for Osprey squadrons - and if I remember correctly, they are the last scheduled to be replaced by the MV-22.

I do think there are solutions that are overlooked.  Switch the 53D's in Hawaii to the Reserves and send the Reserve 53E's to active duty.  The total number of aircraft should be roughly the same.  Activating the reserves 53E's to augment the MEU's while you have 4 squadrons of 53D's in Hawaii and never deploying is ludicrous. 

Secondly, if you need more 46E airframes, there are 2 solutions: One is to pair down the 2 Marine reserve squadrons from their T/O of 12 aircraft to 8.  This happens often at New River when a returning squadron is stripped of people, planes, and parts.  Likewise, the Navy is retiring their 46D's.  These can either be reworked and brought up to 46E specs, or can be sent to the reserves and the remainder of the 46E's sent to the fleet. 

 Finally, with the number of helos on the East and West Coasts, you are going to need 2 MAG's per coast.  Matter of fact, MAG-16 just returned from Iraq and they fought as a MAG.  Interesting to note that on the East Coast, the MAG's are mirror-imaged (1 53E, 3 46E, 1 skid  each) while due to all of the skids being at Pendleton, the West Coast MAG's are somewhat different.

Anyway, good job keeping everyone on their toes and thinking.

                                                                                            Phrog Driver

Ed:  If the Corps moves to March AFB, it would have to become the host and pay for all that overhead.  Then there may be encroachment problems there by 2020.  I've heard the USAF plans to move more units there anyway after the 2005 BRAC.  Its a great spot for reserve units, with 12 million people living within a two hour drive.  Thanks for the water tip about 29 Palms.  However, four squadrons would add just 1000 Marines to a base with 11,000.

The easiest solution is for the Corps to snap up the 43 MH-53Es, which the Navy has begun to retire in favor of cheap MH-60S.  Just scrap the old Deltas and put the MHs there.  They were built after the Corps Echos, so they are newer.  The big problem with the CH-53Ds is that they have to spend huge amounts to special order custom made parts.  They did that a few years back to stretch them to 2006, but the V-22 won't show up until 2010 at best.  They are very secretive about how many Deltas are in service, but I suspect they've begun major cannibalization to keep some flight worthy. I doubt the Corps wants to touch the old Navy 46Ds, but then they plan to reengine all their Es anyway, so they could include the old Ds.  

     That article is making the rounds.  Everyone agrees the fixed-wing part makes sense.  But the rotary-wing is up in the air as the V-22 drags on and the 53E SLEP is put off. MCAS Miramar should close!  It will benefit the Marines and 99% of San Diegans.  Let's hope the selfish minority who make money off the base and a few hardheaded retirees don't block progress.

Dear General Shoomaker,

Ed: A retired Army officer offers this advice to the new Army Chief of Staff

General, if you expect to make radical changes in the Army then start with the force design process.  By this I mean an immense reduction in the numbers of government agencies and official DoD people involved.  In other words, decapitate your internal opposition before it can fight back.  This has to be done before you can even consider attempting anything else.  

If you simply toss another ROC into the existing TRADOC/AMC swamp you will get business as usual back out.  I don't care how artfully your ROC is written.  It could even be of Nobel Prize literature quality.  I have seen lots of people on G2mil and elsewhere on the net say General Shinseki didn't listen at all in designing the new medium brigade.  Au contrare, I think he listened very well to TRADOC/AMC.  Everything that existed in General Myers' old heavy brigade is represented in the new medium one.  In other words the bureaucracy was on autopilot and  just divvied up the development and procurement funds according to their current internal balance of power. 

The gnashing of teeth in Armor branch is merely helping persuade Congress something different is really being done this time.  From this idea they're leaping to the conclusion the new medium design is rapidly deployable as advertised when in fact it isn't. 

The same thing will happen to any further new initiatives proposed to the old system.  The branch chiefs will all start meeting to decide their positions and protect each other's turf.  Meanwhile the  AMC bureaucrats and their existing contractors will all start lobbying Congressmen and Congresswomen and Congresshermaphrodites.  People who've never been on an Army base will suddenly press release their entire districts because the widget sub-sub-sub contractor, a major political donor, told them changes are brewing that threaten the existing pork barrel ecology.

Branches in danger of being reduced to the point where their bases become BRAC candidates will get entire state delegations opposed to your changes before you yourself are sure what they are.  Meanwhile on the strength of 'victory' Vth Corps staff will appoint itself to optimize the Army to refight the last campaign.  PM Abrams has already contracted engineers and started this process.

After a few months your boss will be so busy answering Congressional questions he'll forget what he initially set out to do.  Meanwhile your fully staffed 'answer' will return probably about the time his replacement is being confirmed by the Senate.  Some existing variables x in the 'new force equation' will be 0.75x, others will be proposed to be 1.2x.  But not one of these variables will order itself out of existence or initial its concurrence on the staff study that points things in that direction.  And not one of them will support the addition of a brand new variable, i.e. a new competitor for resources.

I'll take just one example of our RDTE condition. 

Small arms.  You have a huge nest of termites inside TRADOC and AMC who still think the next generation infantry weapon will also shoot 5.56mm.  They think this, work on this assumption and spend money in this direction despite the certain knowledge body armor proof against 7.62mm NATO is already being fielded to the Army and has already worked in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Body armor with this performance is commercially available from South Africa and elsewhere around the world.  We will not be the only ones with IBA quality armor next time.  But TRADOC/AMC's bureaucratic intellectual armor is impervious to such simple public domain facts.

Result:  We're issuing emergency buys for Barrett 50 cals any place we can find them and hauling M-14s back out of depot storage.  Probably armor piercing bullets jazzed with teflon will get us through to 2010 but the RDTE ovary is barren thereafter as far as I can see.

The last new infantry weapon the Army developed in house that was good enough to type classify was the M1 Garand.  Garand designed it at Springfield Arsenal in the 1920s.  I make that 80 years since a usable personal weapon emerged from our internal system.  The M-14 represented an incremental development on the M1.  The weapon that became the M-16 was designed in the 1950s by a Marine veteran named Eugene Stoner working in his garage.  M4 is to M-16 what M14 is to M1.  Stoner's design is a contemporary of the B-52 and will probably outlast it for longevity.  There has never been another era of stasis in small arms of such length in our Army's entire history.

For the majority of the 20th Century US infantry battalions were armed by one designer, John Browning.  Browning did the .45 cal pistol, the M-1917 and M1919 .30 caliber machineguns, the M2 .50 caliber and the Browning Automatic Rifle.  Go find the next Browning and five competitors.  Just tell them the force required to kill the enemy you expect to meet in 2010 and 2020.  This is how the .45 was designed.  And also fire the hundreds of government funded lotus eaters writing emails and power point briefings about future infantry weapons.

With pistols we screwed around for several decades until Congress finally ordered us to license a design from Beretta and find a domestic manufacturer.  I don't know the annual cost of the pistol RDTE bureaucracy in that era.  But it was probably more than Browning got from us in his entire career for all his designs.

The rest of your force development and RDTE establishment is of equal or lower quality and loyalty.   Many imagine TACOM is the Army's representative to Detroit.  If this were true it would be based at Fort Knox instead of Selfridge.   TACOM is Detroit's representative to HQDA.  And it will join with existing industry and its heavy political connections to abort any initiatives that might lead to dollars flowing towards new industries or to small companies that will quickly grow large because they have novel technologies that are suddenly of military importance.

As you consider realignment consider this.  Take away equipment RDTE proponency from AMC and give it to TRADOC.  AND MOVE THE DEVELOPERS YOU DECIDE TO KEEP TO THE BRANCH SCHOOL POSTS.  The infantry branch chief should become a LTG.  This is because he ought to take over everything Natick does and also everything concerning small arms development.  Same for Boss Armor and TACOM.  AMC should devolve into a procurement contracts administration and material manager of existing type classified material.  This is the biggest single change that might possibly start insulating the Army's future from current political patronage.

Good luck.  Been There Done That.

                                                                                                 Mark Gallmeier