There’s more to this holiday than cold beer and barbecues. Remember that, please.
So, finally, long after my time in Uncle Sam’s colors, the U.S. Army is finally going back to a uniform that doesn’t make you look like a traffic cop or… ugh… a sailor. (Just kidding, all you present and veteran squids out there.) Excerpt:
The United States Army wanted a spiffy new service uniform, one that would stand out in a tough recruiting environment and polish the Army’s image after a generation of grinding and divisive wars.
So it turned the clock back. Way back.
It chose a new uniform that looks almost exactly like the old green gabardine wool field coat and khaki trousers that officers wore in World War II. Probably not by coincidence, that’s what the Army was wearing the last time the nation celebrated total victory in a major war.
“We went back and asked, when is the most prominent time when the Army’s service to our nation was universally recognized, and the answer came very quickly,” said Daniel A. Dailey, the sergeant major of the Army, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier in the service. “That victory, that impact on the nation, is still felt today by the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the ‘Greatest Generation.’”
Army Greens will be the military equivalent of a business suit, which the Army largely stopped using during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as civilians have been dressing more casually in professional and social settings, troops have been wearing camouflage fatigues in situations that used to call for a jacket and tie, like office work or travel between bases. Even in the Pentagon, officers spend a good deal of their time in combat boots.
With far fewer troops deployed in combat operations now, though, the Army has signaled that it wants to get back to the old spit and polish. It is hoping that reintroducing an iconic service uniform from the days of the Band of Brothers and Rosie the Riveter will help reframe its public image.
This does have the distinct look of the WW2 uniforms, although the difference between officer and enlisted uniforms will be less pronounced, it appears. Dad used to comment that in the Forties, you could tell an officer from an enlisted man from across the parade ground; not a good thing in combat, but possibly handy in garrison.
Honestly, though, I like the return to a bit of spit and polish. It’s part of the soldier’s discipline to keep one’s self strack; back in my Cold War days, when in garrison, we took a great deal of pride in looking high-speed, low-drag, with pressed OD’s/BDUs, spit-shined boots and blocked caps. And boy howdy, the yarns you’d hear spun in those late-night boot-shining parties.
A soldier should look soldierly. You’re representing the entire U.S. Army when you wear that uniform, and more than that, you’re representing your country. You should wear the uniform with pride.
Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!
Being something of a rifleman and an adherent to the school of “You Can Shoot Little Stuff With A Big Gun, but You Can’t Shoot Big Stuff With A Little Gun,” I’ve always wondered why the U.S. Army adopted the M-16 platform as a primary weapon instead of the jungle carbine it was more suited to be. There is still a true Main Battle Rifle (MBR) in U.S. inventories, that being the M-14.
Nowadays it seems my thoughts on rifles are gathering some steam in the U.S. military. Excerpt:
The M-14 was the U.S. military’s last battle rifle. It appeared in 1959—the contemporary of the Pentagon’s first jet fighters and ICBMs. With its heavy steel parts and walnut stock, the M-14 looked positively archaic.
It was hardly a Space Age weapon. And it only endured as America’s battle rifle until 1970, when the M-16 completely superseded it—the shortest service record of any U.S. military rifle in the 20th century.
Yet, the M-14 has come and gone and come back again. Its accuracy and power—it fires the 7.62 x 51 millimeter NATO round—have given it a new lease on life as a weapon for snipers and designated marksmen.
The M-14 refuses to surrender.
“The M-14 has re-appeared in recent years in the hands of U.S. troops,” Alan Archambault, former supervisory curator for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, tells War Is Boring. “The sniper version is designated the M-25 and has proven to be very effective in Iraq and especially Afghanistan.”
“I believe the M-14 was a better weapon for combat where accuracy and range are more important than volume of fire,” says Archambault, an Army veteran. “This is why some troops in Afghanistan have used the M-14.”
The M-14 is, of course, the modernized, select-fire version of the venerable M1 Garand. But it remains today something I think the U.S. military needs, a full-power Main Battle Rifle, far better suited to open-country mechanized warfare than the M-16/M4 platform.
I see that the reissued M-14s have been modernized with synthetic stocks and optical sights. While I remain skeptical of the value of an optical sight in direct combat, as long as they are backed up by stout iron sights and the troops are trained in the use of those iron sights, that’s not much of an issue. Getting troops to the range more often will count for a lot more than any particular kind of sighting equipment.
I’ve long thought about buying a Springfield Armory M1A, the semi-auto civilian version of the M-14. In National Match trim the M1A runs about two grand, not an insignificant investment even in a hobby not known for being economical. One of these days, maybe.
While it isn’t often described as such, this strikes me as an issue of equal treatment under the law, as well as a big helping of sauce for the goose. Excerpt:
A federal judge in Texas has declared that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military.
The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that the male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles.
But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service.
The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued the all-male draft was unfair.
Men who fail to register with the Selective Service System at their 18th birthday can be denied public benefits such as federal employment and student loans. Women cannot register for Selective Service.
I’m not in favor of allowing women to serve in Combat Arms units. Mrs. Animal, who had a military career spanning eight years and has a Bronze Star among her effects from that service, agrees. Women as a rule simply do not have the strength, endurance and tolerance of trauma that men do. There are also hygiene issues involved in having women in the field for prolonged periods, and in combat, there is also the issue that men will do reckless things to protect women. Deny it all you like, but that’s a fact. I’d have damn little time for any man who wouldn’t take risks to protect a woman.
But since we do have a Selective Service law, and since prominent women activists have been demanding access to women in traditionally all-male branches like Armor and Infantry, then fine – if you want that, you have to take all that comes with it, including a draft in the event of a major war.
What government does for anyone it must do for everyone, or it must do for no one.
Personally I would be in favor of doing away with Selective Service altogether. In our era of a high-tech, modern military that requires a fair amount of training to make soldiers proficient, a two-year conscription isn’t really enough time to produce a troop who is technically and tactically proficient. Further, the big advantage of a volunteer Army is that we have people who are serving not by order but by choice. Early in my own career in Uncle Sam’s colors there were plenty of NCOs and officers who remembered what it was like dealing with draftees, and to a man they never wanted to go back to those days.
But equal treatment under the law means just that – equal treatment under the law. I’m still not in favor of putting women in Combat Arms roles. But that doesn’t mean, should circumstances call for it, that we couldn’t conscript them into other roles, freeing up men to serve in combat. If we’re going to have a Selective Service law at all, then yes, it should apply to both sexes.
But life goes on, and as my parents were both history buffs, they would have found this interesting. Alexander of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, having conquered much of the known world, was renowned as one of the greatest generals of the classical world – until he died at age 32. Legend has it that his body lay uncorrupted by decomposition for six days, which was cited as proof of his status as a divine figure.
Now one researcher has a more plausible theory; Alexander may not have decomposed for six days because he wasn’t dead.
The death of Alexander the Great – general, king, conqueror – has been a mystery for over 2,000 years. Was he poisoned? Too much booze? Or actually malaria or typhoid, both rampant in ancient Babylon at the time?
Now, a new theory has been put forward that is somehow even worse than all of those. Legend has it Alexander’s body didn’t show any signs of decomposing for six days after his death, a sign the ancient Greeks took that their warrior hero was a god. A new explanation is that he suffered from a rare autoimmune disorder that rendered him paralyzed and unable to communicate, although still compos mentis, right up until his death six days later than thought.
Dr Katherine Hall of the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand, argues in The Ancient History Bulletin that Alexander may have suffered from Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rapid weakening of the muscles caused by the immune system damaging the nervous system, and that may explain the conflicting evidence of how and when he died.
“His death may be the most famous case of pseudothanatos, or false diagnosis of death, ever recorded,” she said.
Here’s the onion:
“I have worked for five years in critical care medicine and have seen probably about 10 cases [of GBS]. The combination of ascending paralysis with normal mental ability is very rare and I have only seen it with GBS,” Hall told Fox News.
“His sight would have been blurred and if his blood pressure was too low he would have been in a coma. But there is a chance he was aware of his surroundings and could at least hear. So he would have heard his generals arguing over the succession, hear the arrival of the Egyptian embalmers, hear that they were about to start their work.”
Now, just for a moment, put yourself in Alexander’s sandals here.
You’re paralyzed, likely unable to see, unable to speak, but you can hear, and you will certain still feel pain – including the pain of those wacky Egyptian embalmers when they start cutting you open to remove your organs.
One suspects this sort of thing happened more often than we might imagine, given our modern medical sciences. The legend of vampires, after all, may well have begun by burying a comatose patient, who recovered underground, in the coffin; some time later, for whatever reason, the coffin was disinterred and opened, only to reveal the desperate scratch marks on the lid made by the “undead” person trying to get out.
Honestly – one wonders if having history venerate you as a demigod would really be worth all that.
Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!
I found this interesting. Ever wonder what would happen if mainland China took over Taiwan? Excerpt:
What would a post –invasion Taiwan look like?
The occupation of Chinese military forces on Taiwan would basically turn the tables on the United States. The “wall” would now be a U.S. problem in terms of line-of-sight.
China has radically shifted the power balance in the South China Sea with the same island occupying philosophy. Islands are taken, then armed, and territorial lines are expanded via dubious “legal” declarations, such as exclusive economic zones, fishing grounds, historical claims that go back hundreds of years.
The declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is only a matter of time for both the South China Sea and eventually Taiwan airspace. Taiwan’s fighter capabilities are not being renewed at a rate to stop Chinese advances in fighters and electronic warfare. Even if Taiwan procures new F-16Vs it will still face a significant problem in air power projection as China increases fighter patrols that are performing circumnavigation patrols of the island.
If Taiwan fell tomorrow, the Chinese navy could use the northeast naval base of Suao as a submarine base. Not just any ordinary base, but a far better one than Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island, where Chinese nuclear submarines leave their mountain cave facilities to enter the shallow waters of the South China Sea. At Suao the waters off the coast drop into the abyss, giving submarines a far better ability to drop below thermal layers and vanish.
To be sure, China’s Communist government doesn’t harbor a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings towards the United States. But I can’t really see them invading Taiwan, and not just because of America’s long-standing policy of protecting Taiwan.
No matter how modern a military force is, they can’t take and hold land without putting lots of men in boots with rifles on that land. And China, the size of their army notwithstanding, would have a lot of damn trouble putting enough men on that big rock called Taiwan to effectively hold it against the resistance that the Taiwanese would put up; they would have to cross the strait against a swarm of missiles, establish beachheads, and bring in enough troops to effectively control the rocky, mountainous island. And that’s presuming no naval support from the United States (and maybe Japan.)
But China has bigger problems. They are facing a demographic crisis, the fruits of their former “one child” policy; their economy is moribund, and their balance of trade is changing to be less overwhelmingly in their favor.
A successful invasion of Taiwan by China, yes, would be bad news for the United States, Japan, the Philippines and likely Australia. I just don’t think it’s very likely.
The United States is fortunate to have a staunch ally in the western Pacific, even if it is one that my late father and his fellow WW2 veterans would have found bemusing: Japan. And now Japan, reacting to a resurgent China and an increasingly belligerent Russia, is dialing their military in. Excerpt:
In January 9, 2007, JSDF activities abroad was revised from “miscellaneous regulations” to “basic duties” fundamentally changing the nature of the JSDF because its activities are no longer solely defensive. JMSDF ships can be dispatched worldwide such as in activities against pirates. The JSDF’s first postwar overseas base was established in Djibouti, Somalia in 2010.
Japan and the United States conducted their biggest military exercise in the biennial Keen Sword from 29 October to 2 November 2018 including a total of 57,000 sailors, marines and airmen. Some 47,000 service members were from the JSDF and 10,000 from the U.S. Armed Forces. A naval supply ship and frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy also participated in simulations of air combat, ballistic missile defense and amphibious landings.
In 2004, at the behest of the United States, the Japanese government ordered a deployment of troops to Iraq in order to assist the U.S.-led Reconstruction of Iraq. This controversial deployment marked a significant turning point as the first time since the end of World War II that Japan had sent troops abroad except for a few minor UN peacekeeping deployments. Public opinion was sharply divided
In December 2018, the Japanese government approved an initial budget plan for fiscal 2019 that includes a general account exceeding 100 trillion yen ($900 billion) and spending on tax-hike preparations.
There is no secret about what motivates Japanese policy to turn its back on the postwar professions of neutrality and rejection of any military establishment. It is the growing perceived threat from Communist China.
Nations do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests; it’s important to note that nations also do not have permanent enemies. From 1941 to 1945 Japan was clearly and unambiguously an enemy of the United States, but now they are our best and most reliable ally in the Pacific, save perhaps Australia; and there is still a fair amount of bad blood between Japan and revanchist China.
It’s interesting to see this happening. Post-WW2 Japan, like post-WW2 Germany, is a largely pacifist nation. But in the case of Japan, certain elements (including PM Abe) are remembering that Japan once had a proud martial tradition which predates the Second World War by quite a ways (just ask Russian Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky.) And when it comes to developing high-tech weapons for an advanced, 21st-century military that will be more rapier than club – well, I suspect that Japan may well show the U.S. a thing or two.
Mrs. A and I have traveled in Japan quite a bit, for business and pleasure. We love the Land of the Rising Sun, and would like to see them developing the means to protect their way of life, as is the right of any sovereign nation.
The next decade or so could see the western Pacific becoming a very interesting place.
Do we need a space force – a space navy, if you will – to protect commerce from Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond? The serving Top Man at NASA thinks so. Excerpt:
NASA’s administrator is a strong defender of President Donald Trump’s proposals for space — including an armed force and a permanent presence on the moon — and says he wants Americans to realize how much their well-being depends on what happens far above Earth.
“Every banking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing,” Jim Bridenstine said in an interview. “You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking.”
“If you look at what space is, it’s not that much different than the ocean,” added Bridenstine, who made 333 aircraft-carrier landings as a Navy pilot. “It’s an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected.”
Bridenstine was in his third term representing a congressional district in Oklahoma when Trump nominated him to lead the $21 billion space agency. He was confirmed in the spring despite criticism over his lack of scientific or engineering experience and his previous statements questioning climate change science — though he said in hearings that human activity was the chief cause of global warming.
Last summer, when he was still in Congress, Bridenstine supported a measure that would have created a “space corps.” It passed the House but was removed from the final defense spending bill. Then last month, Trump called for the Pentagon to develop a sixth branch of the American armed services that would protect national and commercial interests in space.
I’m of mixed feelings on this one.
- The kid in me, who loved Star Trek, thinks the very idea is just cool as hell. Were I younger, I’d join up.
- There will eventually be commerce in space; there are just too many riches out there (asteroid belt, for example, a wealth of rare earths and precious metals) and that commerce will need to be protected.
- If the United States isn’t the first to do this, someone else will be.
- We’re broke. How the hell are we going to pay for it?
- We’re broke. How the hell are we going to pay for it?
- We’re broke. How the hell are we going to pay for it?
I have a novel idea, though; there’s another way to skin this particular cat. As noted, there are a wealth of resources around the Solar System, much of it inside the orbit of Jupiter, that private enterprise will eventually want to go get. OK, I’m in favor of private enterprise, and have long held that when practical space travel is developed, it will be private enterprise that does it. So, OK, let those private organizations develop their own armed ships and security forces, as a cost of doing business in, say, the asteroid belt.
“But Animal,” you might ask, “what happens in the event of a conflict with another nation, a nation that has their own forces in space?” Simple answer, one that goes back to the 18th century; give the private ships a letter of marque to conduct offensive operations under the U.S. flag. Resurrect the concept of the privateer.
Seems like the answer to me. Thoughts?
I’ve discussed the likelihood of a possible breakup of the United States before in these virtual pages before, but here’s a pretty interesting take on the topic. Excerpt:
The problem? In short, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are instead, counties and neighborhoods and streets and the couch versus the bedroom after an argument with a spouse or significant other over political matters.
“And so what?” asks the Pollyanna-ish reader. He (or the rarer idiot she) observes, “We split up and then there’s no more reason to fight?”
That’s wrong for several reasons. One is that it is the moderate and right-wing tendency in the red areas that politically constrains the left-wing tendency of the blue. Remove the red from the blue and the real reds of the bluest blue states run amok, with moderates and moderation suppressed.
Think here: Stalin in Birkenstocks, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh coming down from his gas tank in Boston,4 or a Pol Pot cognate with a degree in journalism from Harvard or Yale, rather than École Française d’Électronique et d’Informatique. Remember, too, that Bill Ayers’ Weatherman expected and, I daresay, wanted to kill twenty-five million Americans, one in eight of the population, one in five adults, to create their preferred society.
It should not need to be said, in a world of bright people, but, sadly, we don’t live in that world: I am pretty sure that the same happens in the red states, where the removal of the political Left leaves all kinds of wingnuts, to include of the white-sheeted, pointy-hatted variety, to create or recreate their own particular fantasies, and run roughshod over moderates there.
Yes, it’s true; a major societal collapse, and a civil war sure as hell would be one of those, would be a shitshow beyond imagining; and yes, it’s very likely that in plenty of areas the nuts would rise to the top. Plenty of areas would be run, not by elected leaders, but by warlords who managed to accumulate enough guns and followers to cow the rest of the population.
It’s just too bad that some folks have some weird idea that a civil war would be some glorious reclamation of the United States’ founding principles. It wouldn’t be the beginning of a renewed U.S., it would be the end of the U.S. in any recognizable form. I’m not saying it will never happen; I am saying I hope I don’t live to see it.
The decay of Germany’s military continues apace. Excerpt:
The German magazine Spiegel recently revealed that most of the Luftwaffe’s—the modern German air force’s—128 Eurofighter Typhoons are not flightworthy.
In fact, only about ten of the aircraft are ready for operations, Spiegel said. This raises doubts about Germany’s ability to meet its NATO defense commitments.
“The problem is complicated,” according to Spiegel.
“Put simply, all Eurofighters have a sensor on the wings that detects enemy jets or attacks and warns the pilot. About half a year ago, it was discovered that the pod is no longer properly cooled. Since it is central to the self-protection system and this must be active in all operational flights, the number of operational jets drops.
In addition, “although the technicians could replace the defective pods on the wings, they needed a specific spare part to seal the cooling circuit. However, this, according to the sobering response of the industry, is currently unavailable because the manufacturer has been sold.”
Somewhere, Carl Von Clauswitz is spinning in his grave.
Germany has been, for better or worse, the pivot on which European history has turned since they were unified in the nineteenth century. That’s probably ending now, but honestly, Europe is probably ending now – certainly within a generation or two. Frau Merkel has already let the barbarians into the gates, and ethnic Europeans are losing the demographic battle through apathy.
The decay of Germany’s once-proud military tradition and, incidentally, their shirking on their NATO obligations, is a symptom of a much greater collapse in progress.