Archive for the 'Weapons and Tactics' Category



Electrical Grid Attack

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

If you’re ready for some serious reading and study, read the following, in order:

Herschel Smith, A Terrorist Attach That America Cannot Absorb

Bob Owens, Shock The System

Herschel Smith, Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

Now you’re ready for your assigned reading today.

Bob Owens, Shock The System? Electrical Grid, Comms Attacked Near San Jose

There’s not much for me to add, except that this will tie up law enforcement and utility workers for some time to come, and this was a small scale attack.  Was this proof of principle?

Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 1 month ago

In this article I have three objectives.  First I want to discuss what would happen to a lone wolf fighter if he tried to be effective without aid and assistance.  Next, I want to distinguish between thinking tactically and strategically concerning survival.  Finally, I want to describe things that might catalyze the need to invoke such plans, from rogue, illegitimate groups to patriots who will not relinquish their second amendment rights, regardless of the consequences.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we saw how good tacticians can provide broad outlines for tactics, equipment and knowledge of procedures for small unit maneuver, and can enable a lone wolf fighter to be effective for a short period of time.  But I said, and still hold true, that this is a bad paradigm for operations, and represents tactical rather than strategic thinking.

The lone wolf fighter faces a daunting set of problems.  From a small child, between riding and training horses, working, camping, hiking, shooting and hunting, I have spent thousands of days and nights in the wilderness.  I have experienced some or a lot of what I am going to describe, and seen others experience the balance of it (or in extreme cases, I simply know of people to whom this has happened or know that it can happen).

Within a couple of days of being in the wilderness, your personal stench is merely disgusting.  By the end of the first week, the putrid, toxic paste that develops around the groins of men becomes a risk to health and safety and can cause serious diseases.  Within another week your feet develop a cocktail of fungal infections, and within another week the skin begins to fall off of them.

Around this time sores develop across your entire body, and the clothing you wear and carry, from underwear to socks, to pants and shirts, to boots and sleeping bags, is fit for nothing but putting into a pit and burning.  Listen carefully.  You cannot carry enough baby wipes to prevent this process from occurring.  You can only slow it down.

In the winter, the cold will sap the energy and even the life out of your body.  It is even difficult to maintain proper hygiene in harsh weather like this.  I have been backpacking in such cold weather than my toothbrush froze into a solid block of ice between the time I pulled it out of the river and the time it reached my mouth.  Without proper dental hygiene, various dental diseases can develop, and these can be debilitating to anyone, much less someone in the wilderness.

In the heat the problems only multiply.  Dehydration is a constant concern, and the time it takes to boil water is precious, if you are able to get a fire going or carry an isobutane canister.  Rarely, there is a Godsend like fresh, naturally-filtered water.

Our Nalgene bottles are sitting under moss at the bottom of a steep rock face collecting potable water.  My 80 pound Doberman Heidi is drinking.  I almost lost her that weekend at Jones Gap.  She almost went down a waterfall, and my son Josh managed to catch her collar with his trekking pole.

I have also been backpacking in such a downpour that nothing would burn, and it would have taken a gallon of gasoline to achieve a fire that lasted for longer than ten minutes.  Assuming that you can find a potable water supply at all times, food presents yet another problem.  You simply cannot carry enough freeze dried food to meet your needs.  There are no Gunny Sergeants ordering up coffee in the morning and rations all day as long as you are in the field doing training.  There is no training.  This will be for real.  The lack of food energy is debilitating, and eventually deadly.

In the summer heat, there are snakes.  I have been bitten by a Copperhead before, as has my dog.  A Rattlesnake bite almost always involves loss of limbs, and in the field without medical attention, would be deadly.

My XDm .45, Ka-Bar folder, sleeping bag and one man tent.  The tent is barely big enough for Heidi and me.  I probably need a good, small two-man tent.

Ticks bring tick-borne diseases, and they can be deadly.  After every summer backpacking trip, I and my sons strip and search each other for ticks (or I have my wife do it, but it must be done soon from the field).  Lack of a partner to perform this inspection can be deadly.  Eventually without showers, washing, and proper hygiene, the body can get lice or scabies.  Without Ivermectin this is untreatable in the wilderness.  Marines will routinely shave their entire bodies of hair before deployment in order to avoid lice, but without this possibility in the wilderness in the absence of water and other sanitation, lice will be hard to avoid.

There are the very rare cases of those who become beached on a deserted island and live long enough to tell their story, or survive on the open ocean by drinking turtle blood.  But in the main, you simply cannot last for long as a lone wolf fighter, and if you think so, you’re delusional and like to nurture fantasies.  You can stay out for several days, but eventually you and your family must ensconce somewhere.  It might be in your neighborhood, it might be in the mountains or wilderness somewhere else, or it might be with multiple families.  But you cannot stay lone wolf for long.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we discussed standing down a SWAT team on your front porch, ready to breech.  This is a highly controversial issue, and there are those who will perish defending their second amendment rights, or more correctly, God-given rights.  They will choose to perish in their own home during an armed standoff with governmental forces.

But it must be remembered that those who advocate such measures are thinking tactically.  The SWAT team is also thinking tactically.  But the SWAT team reports to supervisors, and those supervisors report to managers, and they are all thinking strategically.  A thousands deaths at the hands of SWAT teams means only one thing.  Losses.  That is a losing strategy.

I’m not advocating against this sort of approach, so much as I’m observing reality.  I’m not saying that it should not happen this way, so much as I’m saying that it won’t happen this way.  The first bloody corpse dragged from a home invasion by government forces hunting for firearms will be the occasion for some deep soul searching by millions of firearms owners across the country.  This may happen sooner, when confiscatory plans are announced.

Americans are generally very adaptable.  Turning for a moment to a warning I had about foreign terrorists in the country, I observed that there are deep vulnerabilities in our infrastructure.

The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV.  They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike.  They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication.  It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas.  These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation.  Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time.  In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants.  Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack.  With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

Bob Owens takes this down the grid to the next components.

They don’t understand asymmetrical warfare in the slightest, much less how it would be waged here. Let me give you just one small example of how a lone wolves or small teams can strike well beyond their size against a near defenseless leviathan.

After the Dot Com bubble burst in the early 2000s, I took a job in upstate New York for a subcontractor of Central Hudson Gas and Electric. I was part of a crew sent out to map electrical transmission line power poles and towers via GPS, check the tower footings for integrity, check the best routes for access, etc.

It meant I rode quads (ATVs) through mountains, swamps, forests, neighborhoods and farms all over southern New York, in winter’s icy chill and blowing snow, and in summer’s melting heat. It was exhausting work, often in beautiful scenery.

We probably averaged 20 miles of line a day, and that over the course of the contract I easily rode a thousand miles. I can tell you stories of flipping quads, sinking quads, going down a mountain without brakes, almost hitting deer at top speed, and parking on the remains of an electrocuted bear, but that isn’t really what I remember most about the job.

No, what I remember most about the job were the days we spent up near the Rondout Reservoir. What I remember in specific was discovering how powerless the government was to protect key utilities.

[ ... ]

Substations like the one above could be accessed not just from surface roads, but from access trails under the power lines by people with UTVs, ATVs, and motorcycles.

Just like the residential transformers in your neighborhood, the transformers in substations are cooled with a form of mineral oil. If someone decides to blast a transformer at its base as prepper Bryan Smith did, and the oil drains out, then the transformer either burns out catastrophically, or if the utility is lucky, a software routine notices the problem and shuts the substation (or at least the affected portion) down. The power must then be rerouted through the remaining grid until that transformer can be replaced and any other resulting damage can be repaired.

Were an angry group of disenfranchised citizens to target in a strategic manner the substations leading to a city or geographic area—say, Albany, for example—they could put the area in the dark for as long as it took to bring the substations back online. Were they committed enough, and spread their attacks out over a wide enough area, perhaps mixing in a few tens of dozens of the residential transformers found every few hundred yards along city streets, they could overwhelm the utility companies ability to repair the damage being caused or law enforcement’s ability to stop them. The government could perhaps assign a soldier or cop for every transformer, substation and switch, but they’d run out of men long before they ran out of things they need guarded.

It’s even more vulnerable than Bob hints.  The utilities in America don’t belong to the government (except for TVA), and the government isn’t duty bound to protect them.  They are private assets.  Even if the government could protect those assets (and they can’t), they wouldn’t.

If the DHS had a trillion rounds of .40 pistol ammunition it wouldn’t matter.  With America in the dark for two years, confiscation of weapons would be the last thing on the minds of law enforcement (that is, the LEOs who left their families alone and without protection in order to come to work).

And there you go.  Smart New Yorkers who don’t want to watch their friends perish on their doorsteps might choose to act strategically rather than tactically.  And that brings in a whole host of issues that need our attention.

When such a scenario occurs, are you prepared?  Do you have a place to ensconce your family?  Do you have the weapons and ammunition that you need?  Do you have means to make potable water?  Do you have freeze dried and canned food?  Do you have means to generate power when you need to, to plant seeds for crops, or provide covering and clothing to stay warm?  Are you allied with like-minded families who will assist each other in dealing with a scenario like this?

The questions run deeper than you think.  I sat across from the dinner table with a very dear friend of many years a few days ago, and heard him lament the fact that they hadn’t been able to afford to purchase firearms for family protection.  This family operates on a thin budget.

My thinking began: “Do I give him my .45, no, that’s my premier personal defense weapon … do I give him my .40, no, I have that one because it’s the same caliber as Josh’s gun … do I give him my .357 wheel gun, no, that’s the best CQB weapon ever invented my mankind … I cannot give him my rifles … ” and so on, and so forth.

Should I go buy a relatively inexpensive polymer frame semi-auto handgun and some ammunition in order to be able to assist friends and loved ones in their time of need?  We need to think through these issues.  Are you a diabetic?  Do you have the insulin you need for a protracted period of time?  Are there other medications you need?

And it might not take firearm confiscation to pull off catalyzing a scenario such as this.  Mr. Obama has created an America that is as bifurcated as it has been in more than 100 years.  More than 40 million people are on food stamps.  This roll is growing at more than 11,000 per day.  We owe so many trillions in unfunded liabilities that we will never be able to meet our commitments.

Ben Bernanke, the most notorious Keynesian economist in history, has clearly said that his printing money like he was drunk will not recover employment.  Translation: Keynesian economics is failing, and I am admitting it to the Senate today.  Yet I will keep doing what I’m doing.

Even states that think they are rejecting Obamacare because of opting out of the plan aren’t really opting out.  I know these things because my daughter is a Nurse and lives in this world.  She knows that the smaller hospitals will cease to exist.  They will be driven out of business.

The larger ones will stay in business, but they will bear the brunt of the penalties.  The penalties that America doesn’t yet know about involve penalties for treating and releasing homeless people, only to have to re-admit them later, or any of a large group of things that cause the hospital to have to pay the federal government money.  Obamacare will get its way, and we will all pay the price for it even if we opt out of participation.  States have no say-so, regardless of what the talking heads are telling you.

If you think that the austerity measures in Greece caused a backlash, wait until we implement them in America.  And we will, after hyperinflation hits, price controls are put into place, the supply of goods dries up and your money is worthless.  Gangs will roam the streets looking for anything they can take, the elderly may as well have targets on their backs, and the apocalypse will be upon us.  The government won’t be able to do anything about it.  The government will have caused it.

Are you ready?  Have you thought through the salient questions?  I haven’t thought through all of them either, and we all have some soul-searching to do.

As always, everything I have said in this article has been for educational purposes only.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Western Rifle Shooters Association for the attention.  Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 1 month ago

Max Velocity Tactical has an interesting and thought provoking article up entitled Tactical Considerations For The Long Wolf (hat tip Western Rifle Shooters).  This is must reading and well worth the time he has put into this.  I find it improbable that you read his article without picking up something that you need to think about.

The article sets the stage with a clear and present danger to your family, and rather than being coupled with other like-minded defenders and partners, you are alone in your quest for self defense and family safety.  A bit of his article is reproduced below.

Area of Operations: you need to consider that if the enemy is in any way switched on, and are keeping any sort of incident map, then if you simply operate close to your retreat they will build up a picture that may well lead them to your home and family. Thus you should be unpredictable and move further away or from unexpected directions in order to prosecute your attacks.

Navigation: you will need to be able to accurately move by map and compass across rough back country terrain to get in and out of your objective. You will take separate routes in and out and use deception.

Movement: You must use cover and concealment to move. You will have to move slowly, at a jungle patrol pace, in order to effectively scan ahead and around. Cover means using the ground (hard cover) to conceal you, such as moving in draws or behind terrain features. Concealment means using vegetation to hide you from any observers. You will need to plan a route accordingly, also avoiding any settlements where there is an increased risk of compromise and where dogs will bark at you.

However, do not move on obvious features or along trails and tracks. You can handrail (parallel) them at a distance if you need to or if you need to use them for navigation. It is often best to ‘cross-grain’ the terrain thus making your moves hard to predict. Valley bottoms and trails/streams are good places for you to walk into an ambush. Use techniques for avoiding ambush such as hand railing and moving partway up a valley side (contouring), thus giving you the benefits of cover and concealment but avoiding natural ambush sites and places where others will travel.

You must be very careful at any kind of obstacle, vulnerable point, channelizing feature or linear danger area. Examples of a channelizing vulnerable point include crossing a bridge or moving through a track or trail junction. A linear danger area is any kind of open feature that you have to cross such as a road, river or trail, even a power line through the woods. You must be very careful to observe in detail prior to crossing and find a point where the crossing is best concealed, such as in a depression or even by crawling through a culvert, for example.

As you move, you need to stop regularly for listening and observation breaks. Scan and listen. Do this before moving through the next natural part of the terrain, cross it then stop again. A real game changer would be having a portable FLIR thermal imager (such as the FLIR Scout), with which you can scan around and into the brush to spot anyone concealed.

He makes you consider whether you or your enemy have FLIR or night vision, he covers the concepts of enfilade and defilade, food, water purification, firearms, concealment while sleeping, etc.  Again, the article is well worth the time and if you don’t read anything else today you should read this article.

He discusses taking multiple weapons with you: “You may carry two rifles, a hunting rifle slung on your pack and an AR-15 style for while you are patrolling and for closer range self-defense.”

Here I break ranks with him.  It seems to me that you select a rifle, not two or more.  That one rifle needs to sustain your mission.  If you choose a bolt action scoped rifle, then ensure that your shots are stand off long range shots under concealment and that you have a means of egress and evasion.  If you choose an AR-15, then ensure that you have Travis Haley-like skills and you can make your shots count at 800 meters.

If you must take two rifles, one for long range and one for short range, then you’ve already planned poorly for the mission.  You are counting on a combination of stand off shots and CQB, and adding to the weight and ammunition you must carry.  My choice would be to choose your rifle well, and then carry your favorite CQB pistol or revolver.  If I carry more than two firearms, I might carry a backup handgun in an ankle holster.

My only other comment about this article is that the assumption behind some of the considerations is an abundance of wealth.  Who has the kind of money necessary for infrared capabilities, night vision, expensive firearms, optics (e.g., a high end EOTech Holographic sight plus shipping will run nearly $600), backup firearms, and so on and so forth?  You can even invest in fully body armor if you wish, including SAPI plates.  In contrast, hopefully I have given you an inexpensive option for cover if you need to be in the elements for a protracted period of time.

On the whole, though, I am really not a fan of the lone wolf paradigm.  I think such a defense needs two or more men, and I probably wouldn’t make the choice to leave my family alone in order to effect these kinds of operations.  The risk to my family would be too high.

That brings me to another article by Mike Vanderboegh on his fourth installment of William Diamond’s Drum.  As always, Mike is good reading and worth the time.  David Codrea weighs in with the following:

… it can be smart to have a hidden cache and it can be self-defeating to shoot it out when the team shows up at your door.

Living to fight another day, at a time and place of your choosing, not theirs, seems like an option we’d want to leave ourselves, and if we’re taken out of commission, it’s a legacy to leave our children.

Bottom line — there’s no one size fits all response, and different scenarios present different potentials.

David is referring to Mike’s opinions regarding burying weapons rather than fighting now.  Mike prefers the later and eschews the former.  I understand Mike’s point, but frankly, if gun confiscations ever do start, any team entering my home will find a few range toys to confiscate because “I forgot to turn them in.”  The rest were buried at the bottom of lake Keowee in that horrible boating accident several years ago.  I cried buckets of tears over that accident.  “Have a nice day, SWAT team.  I hope you enjoyed tea and crumpets.”

There is no virtue in engaging a SWAT team in your home, endangering your family for no good reason, and fighting a battle that you cannot win.  If gun confiscations ever start, believe me when I tell you that they will never find me again – but they will see the results of my handiwork.  They won’t know it’s from me, and they will never see it happen.

I agree with David.  A SWAT team at your doorstep means they’re dictating the terms.  Live to fight another day.  Do it at a time and place of your choosing, not on their terms.  And thus I see battling down a SWAT team at your doorstep as a fixture in the lone wolf paradigm.  I don’t like the lone wolf paradigm.  There are better ways to do this.

UPDATE: Thanks to WRSA for the attention.  Remember the swamp fox.  I will become a phantom.  As far as they know I will disappear from the face of the earth.  But I will ally with a few like-minded individuals, and they will know what the phantoms do.

U.S. Deploys Hideous Weapon of Mass Destruction in War Against Islamists

BY Glen Tschirgi
1 year, 7 months ago

TCJ readers, listen up.   We have had a major, strategic breakthrough in the War against Islamofascism.

It is so unexpected and so unconventional, so inadvertent that it can only be considered something of a Divine intervention.

America has stumbled upon the Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction against the Islamist foe:  cheezy, low-budget films with horrible production and grade-school dialogue launched via that irresistible weapons delivery system known as “YouTube.”

Yes, I am referring to that military masterpiece unleashed upon the unsuspecting Islamists called, The Innocence of Muslims.

Consider just this one example in al Jazeera of its destructive power:

At least one person has died as demonstrations against an anti-Islam video erupt across Pakistan, a day after protesters tried to storm the US embassy in the capital, Islamabad.

Angry demonstrators set fire to two cinemas in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police and witnesses said on Friday, as the country began a day of protests.

One protester was wounded when a cinema guard opened fire as crowds armed with clubs and bamboo poles converged on the Firdaus picture house, “smashing it up and setting furniture ablaze”, according to Gohar Ali, a police officer.

Witnesses said a separate rampaging crowd stormed the Shama cinema, notorious locally for showing films considered to be pornographic.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis were expected to take to the streets across the country after the government called an impromptu public holiday to let people protest.

****

Friday was designated a “day of expression of love for the prophet” by the government, which called for peaceful protests against the Innocence of Muslims video produced in the US.

All the major political parties and religious groups announced protests, as did many trade and transport organisations.

Large crowds were expected to turn out after Friday prayers.

The previous day, the US embassy became the latest target of protesters angry at the YouTube video. The total number of protesters touched 5,000 with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of anti-American Islamist groups.

At least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds towards the crowds.

This New Secret Weapon, according to the article, has the mysterious ability to induce widespread madness in the Islamist population, compelling them to irrational behaviors like attacking porno theaters and embassies that are merely obscene for their obsequious behavior.

What’s more, the U.S. government is augmenting the frightful power of this new weapon with a psychological campaign of such cruel calculation that it is almost a crime against humanity.   It’s true.  The Islamist will soon be begging for the merciful Drone Strikes before too long.  Consider this diabolical game of deception and denial waged by the Administration as quoted in the al Jazeera article:

Against this tense backdrop, the US has bought time on Pakistani television stations to run a series of ads in an effort to assuage Muslim feelings of hurt.

The US hopes the ad would show that the country had no involvement with the controversial internet video.

The US embassy in Islamabad spent about $70,000 to run the announcement, which features clips of Barack Obama, the US president, and Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, underscoring US respect for religion and declaring the US government had nothing to do with the video.

Obama is shown saying: “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

Clinton then says: “Let me state very clearly, the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”

“In order to ensure we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand it in this case with
these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it.”

Addressing a media briefing on the ad campaign, Victoria Nuland, state department spokeswoman, said the aim was “to make sure that the Pakistani people hear the president’s messages and the secretary’s messages”.

The announcement aired as the US asked its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Pakistan.

Oh the savagery!  Oh the mental ruin this will visit upon the poor, helpless Islamists!

Imagine the Islamists, weary from the YouTube Bomb-induced fury against porn theaters and embassies, seeking some solace in their television re-runs of “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” only to be bombarded– yes! bombarded!– with relentless messages from Barack Hussein Obama that the U.S. loves and respects all faiths, especially ones that do not have a crucifix that can be plunged into urine or a virgin mother that can be smeared with elephant feces.

This, my friends, is the ultimate in psychological whiplash!  A veritable jiu-jitsu of mental pain!  Surely, the Islamists will think, the President of the United States has the power to stop this horrible YouTube Bomb if he chooses.  But he does not!  Instead he claims respect for Islam while insulting its Prophet!  And, to add injury to insult, he allows the horrible Clinton woman– a woman of all things– to deliver the one-two punch:  the U.S. had nothing to do with the video (when it clearly did) and America believes in “religious tolerance” (when those very words are a red-hot poker in the Islamist soul).

But you may well be asking, How can we be sure that the normally spineless suck-ups in the Obama Administration and the Pentagon will find the courage to continue using a weapon of such fearsome, destructive power?  There is evidence of more bombs in the making.

The U.S. government cleverly brought in the filmmaker for “questioning” based upon “parole violations.” Uh huh.   Wink, wink.  Nudge, nudge.   That ought to throw the Islamists off the scent, eh?  No one suspects (but we know better) that this was a clever ruse for the government to plan and coordinate the next series of YouTube Bombs that will continue to drive the Islamists over the cliff.

Victory is at hand, friends!  All the U.S. need do now is just let the YouTube Bombs wreak their radioactive havoc upon the Islamists until their societies are so riven with mad self-destruction that they collapse in upon themselves like a laptop computer placed upon a wet, cardboard box.  Yes, we here in the U.S. may be called upon to make sacrifices: exposure to these YouTube Bombs has been known to cause fits of derisive laughter and mild nausea in infidels, but we must not shrink back from even these sufferings.

Instead, let us console ourselves with the magnificence of this new Wonder Weapon.   This is the evil genius of the United States of America at its finest.  Stand in awe and fearful amaze.

Advanced Hypersonic Weapons: Has a New Age of Remote Warfare Arrived?

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 5 months ago

News out today that the U.S. Army successfully tested what is being called, “the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon.”   The reports are, at some points, conflicting, but the essence is captured by AFP in this report:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.

Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the “Advanced Hypersonic Weapon,” or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific “at hypersonic speed” before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.

Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.

Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour.

The test aimed to gather data on “aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies,” said Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Wired has additional details:

For a test of a hypersonic weapon flying at eight times the speed of sound and nailing a target thousands of miles away, this was a relatively simple demonstration. But it worked, and now the military is a small step closer to its dream of hitting a target anywhere on Earth in less than an hour.

The last time the Pentagon test-fired a hypersonic missile, back in August, it live-tweeted the event — until the thing crashed into the Pacific Ocean. This time around, it kept the test relatively quiet. The results were much better.

To be fair, this was also an easier test to pass. Darpa’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 — the one that splashed unsuccessfully in the Pacific — was supposed to fly 4,100 miles. The Army’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon went about 60 percent as far, 2,400 miles from Hawaii to its target by the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. Darpa’s hypersonic glider had a radical, wedge-like shape: a Mach 20 slice of deep dish pizza, basically. The Army’s vehicle relies on a decades-old, conventionally conical design. It’s designed to fly 6,100 miles per hour, or a mere eight times the speed of sound.

But even though the test might have been relatively easy, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon effort could wind up playing a key role in the military’s so-called “Prompt Global Strike” effort to almost instantly whack targets half a world away. A glider like it would be strapped to a missile, and sent hurtling at rogue state’s nuclear silo or a terrorist’s biological weapon cache before it’s too late.

At first, the Prompt Global Strike involved retrofitting nuclear missiles with conventional warheads; the problem was, the new weapon could’ve easily been mistaken for a doomsday one. Which meant a Prompt Global Strike could’ve invited a nuclear retaliation. No wonder Congress refused to pay for the project.

So instead, the Pentagon focused on developing superfast weapons that would mostly scream through the air, instead of drop from space like a nuclear warhead. Those hypersonic gliders may cut down on the geopolitical difficulties, but introduced all sorts of technical ones. We don’t know much about the fluid dynamics involved when something shoots through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. And there really aren’t any wind tunnels capable of replicating those often-strange interactions.

And Digital Journal reports this interesting tidbit:

According to AP, Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, Pentagon spokeswoman, said the missile was launched at about 11:30 a.m. from Hawaii. Daily Mail reports the weapon glided westwards through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific and reached Kwajalein Atoll in Marshall Islands, about 2,500 miles away, in less than half an hour. The test follows U.S. Air Force announcement that it has taken delivery of eight 15-ton bombs called Massive Ordnance Penetrator “buster bombs” that can blow 200ft of concrete.

(Emphasis mine).

(What was Digital Journal trying to say here?  That AHW’s could be used in conjunction with MOP’s to take out nuclear silos or, perhaps, Iranian nuclear research facilities?  Hmmmmm.)

This development should stir our thinking in possibly profound ways.

First, there is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding this subject.    It is not entirely clear just what the Army launched.   Was it a missile that boosted some other type of craft into the upper atmosphere?  Is an AHW more of a missile itself or more of drone or craft of some kind that can carry munitions and deliver them to the target at incredible speeds?   There is some confusion about the actual speed of the AHW.    At the very least it can travel more than Mach 5 or 3,728 miles per hour.  According to the article in Wired, the AHW can travel over 8 times the speed of sound or more than 6,000 miles per hour.   And the Air Force’s HVT-2 apparently achieved speeds of an unbelievable 20 times the speed of sound which is roughly equivalent to over 14,000 miles per hour.   It is not clear from the articles what, exactly this particular AHW looks like.   How does it achieve such fantastic speeds.  All questions that the Chinese are no doubt studying (and spying on) very intensely.

Still, it seems to be  a bit of a misnomer to call this a “weapon” or as AFP refers to it as a “flying bomb.”  This is a delivery vehicle.   To call it a “flying bomb” seems almost a deliberate obfuscation designed to disguise its potential effects.  And those effects may very well be game-changing.

The article talks about the aim of the Army’s Global Strike Program as being the delivery of “conventional weapons” to any place on the globe, but presumably there is no technical limitation to conventional weapons.   A nuclear payload could be substituted just as easily.    And there is the rub.  According to the article in Wired, the design of the hypersonic platform had to be altered, for geopolitical reasons, so as not to be mistaken for a nuclear missile.   But this seems to beg the question.  Hypersonic delivery systems tipped with nuclear weapons, regardless of the shape or shell, breed the ultimate insecurity.   They do not travel into space but rather glide along the upper atmosphere, so the ability to intercept in the long, slow, initial boost phase is eliminated.   Does this raise the possibility that a first-strike nuclear attack could be unstoppable and, therefore, successful?

Consider, for example, that an AHW launched from Seoul, South Korea could travel the roughly 121 miles to Pyongyang, North Korea in a mere 108 seconds at Mach 5 and possibly as fast as 54 seconds at Mach 8.  At Mach 20, the strike time is virtually instantaneous.   There is simply no time for any defensive system to shoot down or intercept incoming AHW’s at these speeds.

What does a delivery system with this kind of fantastic speed and range portend?

One item to contemplate is the extent to which such a capability renders other weapon systems or platforms (or even branches) obsolete.  None of the various articles report the cost of a single AHW, but it appears that the platform is an unmanned drone of sorts that can be navigated remotely or pre-programmed to its target.   As such, assuming that the cost of an AHW is less than the various, manned bombers (and we must always include the cost of training, housing and paying the human pilots), is it possible that we are looking at the end (or at least the severe re-definition) of the U.S. Air Force?  Do we need a separate branch to preside over what seems at first blush to be the equivalent of hypersonic artillery?

There is no doubt that modern warfare is moving toward unmanned systems.   With the mass production of AHW’s, it is conceivable, at least, that entire bomber fleets and even missile systems could be discarded.   An AHW that can travel more than five times the speed of sound does not require any, expensive stealth technology.

Clearly one of the critical questions to be answered is whether there is any defense against attack by an AHW.   Are they traveling at such high speeds that there is simply too little time for either human or electronic systems to respond effectively?   If so, the entire concept of a Navy consisting of large ships of any kind becomes suspect.   Once the technology spreads to China, for instance, hypersonic weapons would seem to make an aircraft carrier a proverbial sitting duck.

Could it be that the Army and Navy (and, of course, Marines) simply have their own complement of AHW’s to use in lieu of piloted bombers?   If a Marine Captain in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for instance, could call in his own, devastating barrage with pinpoint accuracy from the Marine base at Okinawa, Japan (a distance of 3,423 miles) with 10 minute delivery time, the need for expensive bombers with expensive pilots with expensive logistics with limited fuel to stay on station may be nonexistent.

And speaking of bases, does the rise of hypersonic platforms render much of the thinking on military basing obsolete?   With the exception of bases that are designed to put American ground forces in place, much of the strategy for basing rights involves the requirement to have naval and air assets close enough to trouble spots to quickly deliver ships and planes.   With a bristling arsenal of AHW’s, it would seem possible to have overwhelming firepower without risk to a human pilot delivered with pinpoint accuracy to any location on the globe in less than one hour.   And, with the example of North Korea, a devastating barrage could be delivered in seconds.

Perhaps the most troubling question to ponder is whether this new technology renders the U.S. defenseless.   Not in the immediate future, of course, but eventually this technology will spread to other nations.  What possible doctrines could be developed to counter the threat of hypersonic attack by near peers such as China or the Russians?   Even third-rate countries like Iran and North Korea pose substantial risks with single-shot EMP attacks.

Finally, does an AHW system allow the U.S. to construct a more potent military capability on the cheap?  Assuming that AHW’s can be successfully developed and adapted to a variety of tasks, could the U.S. dramatically scale back its spending on expensive naval forces and air forces and re-direct spending to enhancing ground units that carry with them the tremendous punch of AHW’s?  Perhaps we are seeing the sunset of the age of large armies, navies and air forces.   The art of war may be changing yet again and it may be our fiscal salvation to adapt to this new world sooner than later.

Should All Infantry Soldiers and Marines Carry a Pistol?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From the BBC:

Five UK soldiers killed by a “rogue” Afghan police officer did not have enough pistols to defend themselves, one soldier’s father has said.

Adrian Major, of Cleethorpes, North East Lincs, whose 18-year-old son Jimmy was shot last year in Helmand, said he had been told it was too expensive to issue every soldier with a pistol.

“If I had known that, I would have bought him a side arm myself,” he said.

The MoD said cost was not an issue and not all troops carried a pistol.

But the BBC has learned this policy has now been reviewed.

Five servicemen died in the attack by Gul Buddin at a police outpost in Helmand, southern Afghanistan last November.

Radio 4′s File on 4 programme has also learned that the gunman should not have even been at the police post.

He had been employed unofficially by the local police commander, who is now under arrest.

The Taliban subsequently claimed they had carried out the attack.

The soldiers, who had been mentoring the Afghan police, had become concerned about their inability to verify the identity of some of the people they were working alongside.

The troops from the Grenadier Guards and the Royal Military Police had just returned from a morning patrol.

Once inside their defended compound, they put down their main weapons and removed their body armour, as Army rules allow.

A policeman known as Gul Buddin, who was on guard duty, stepped aside from his position and opened fire at close range on British soldiers sitting in a group.

Mr Major, from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, and other bereaved families have been briefed by British military personnel.

“Jimmy was on guard on the roof. He had just been relieved for five minutes and they were sat at the end of the building on a step and the Afghan policeman was in the corner and he just walked over and just opened up on them all as they were all just sat down chilling out,” he said.

“[The soldiers] are there to help the people. It’s like any soldier – if you are going to die, you want to die in combat. To be murdered in cold blood, it beggars belief,” he added.

“I think if they’d had side arms and body armour on, I don’t think he would have done it.

“He had the ideal opportunity – they were sat and relaxed and he took great advantage of it.”

The MoD said: “This is absolutely not an issue of cost – not all British troops routinely carry side arms.

“There are enough side arms in theatre, should individuals require them, and they will be carried if individuals are trained to do so and their roles require it.”

However, the BBC understands the MoD has investigated the possibility of issuing all its soldiers with side arms, with priority being given to troops involved in mentoring operations. It’s understood extra pistols have been bought and sent to Afghanistan.

It would seem questionable whether pistols would have stopped the attack if the attack was premeditated and it was conducted inside the wire.  Maybe so.  But let’s put aside that issue for a moment.  The MoD has a point, at least as it concerns standard protocol for issuing pistols.

Pistols are issued in the U.S. to fire team members who carry the SAW, of Squad Automatic Weapon.  It is also issued to squad leaders, even though those squad leaders also have their carbine (M4) or rifle (M16A4).  All of the Soldiers or Marines in infantry have the same MOS (military occupational specialty), but for those who have duties which require them to carry a SAW or be a squad leader, they also qualify on the pistol before being formally issued that pistol.  Soldiers and Marines who are infantrymen who do not carry a SAW or have the duties of squad member are not typically issued a pistol.

But what would be wrong with issuing a pistol to every Soldier or Marine who has the infantry MOS?  If we limit this to infantry, a small fraction of the overall force given the bloated ratio of support to infantry, cost is not a prohibitive concern.  Qualification on a pistol is not that time intensive or attention consuming.  Furthermore, being in infantry, they have been taught muzzle discipline and fire team and squad member responsibilities.

There is no good reason that I can think of not to issue pistols to all Soldiers and Marines who have the infantry MOS.

Weapons and Personal Security

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From National Review Online’s Corner comes a must read on the drop in violent crime and how it is inversely proportional to the number of weapons in circulation.  Note that I said inversely proportional, not proportional.  More precisely for myself, I have layers of security.  The first weapon I have is a living beast.

Her name is Heidi, and she is a red and rust Dobie, still growing at 70 lb.  She worships me, and she gets a mouthful of anyone who becomes a threat to me.  The next girl with which an intruder must contend is this one.


She is my Rock River Arms Elite Car A4, and so far it has been kitted up with rear iron sights, a PMAG, a military-issue forward vertical grip, a tactical light, and an offset mount for that light (so that the same hand that holds the forward grip can illuminate the light without use of a pressure switch because of the proximity of the light).  I still have a laser and optics to go.  If anyone from Trijicon wants to offer me a free set of optics (an ACOG with the Scripture still on it) for a review on TCJ, let me know.

In the first case, my baby gets a mouthful of the intruder.  In the second case, the intruder gets a mouthful of my baby.  In either case, the intruder gets what he deserves, and my babies still love me.

The Five Hundred Meter War

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

In Korengal, the fighting often happened at several hundred meters.  In fact, Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Wall states that “we know that 52% of the fights in Afghanistan begin at 500 meters and go out from there.”  He laments the poor state of long distance rifleman skills and training, and recommends a return to that very basic training that creates riflemen.  The Marines are in better shape regarding this concern, every Marine having to qualify at 500 yards.

Yet there is something unstated here – an assumed precondition that sets the framework for this problem.  It is assumed that it will remain a 500 meter war, that we must increase rifleman skills (which we must), and that the only solution to this problem is to perform long distance shooting of the enemy.

But this presupposition only points us to a deeper problem.  We are not manned to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.  We are engaging in long distance fire fights until then are completed by calling in air strikes or artillery, rather than engaging in small unit (fire team, squad, platoon, company) maneuver warfare.

Squad rushes, distributed operations, development of enfilade fire and so forth are being done in some circumstances, but unless we chase the enemy they will go unmolested to kill and maim again.  This 500 meter war also becomes problematic for IEDs and ambushes.  The Taliban wouldn’t be able to plant IEDs if they were continuously under fire and surveillance, but of course, this requires more troops.

Eastern Afghanistan (Kunar, Nuristan, etc.) is still an important cornerstone in the campaign in Afghanistan, regardless of the population-centric approach being employed by current command (with which I strongly disagree).  An important report on a recent ambush in the Kunar Province demands our attention.

The ambush I recorded on video for GlobalPost Aug. 26 was not particularly unique.  Unfortunately, it’s an all too common occurrence for the soldiers patrolling here. Soldiers from Monti have been ambushed from the nearby steep mountainsides at least three times. The Taliban are known for being creatures of habit, using the same ambush spot if it proves effective.  The difference is that this time the first truck was hit with a “lucky shot” which disabled it and the driver.  I don’t want to go into more detail per Army operation security rules for embedded reporters.

When Pvt. Justin Greer got hit in the helmet, at first it didn’t seem real. I’ve noticed this immediate reaction in myself before. The mind, for several seconds, acts like it’s watching a movie.  If this lasts for more than several seconds, one could freeze and really put themselves in danger.  I’ve never seen an infantry soldier freeze. They’ve been trained to react to contact and in Kunar, their buddies’ lives depend on it.

Greer also appeared amazed with how close the bullet came to killing him. He showed me the bullet hole and the round he found in his helmet, before tucking it in his pocket as keepsake.  Most likely it was an indirect shot, those Kevlar helmets rarely can stop a direct AK-47 7.62 round.  A reporter told me that the layers of Kevlar in the U.S. helmet are actually designed to split and channel bullets, like Greer’s seemed to do.

Since this position was a suspected ambush site by the Taliban, wouldn’t it have been nice to have brought enough troops to chase the insurgents, or perhaps pre-deployed snipers, or both?  Isn’t it a shame that they were left alive?  The ambush cost us a lost arm, a concussion, a head wound, and a destroyed vehicle.  Isn’t it worth it to deploy enough troops to do the job?  In the end, from the perspective of a cost-benefit analysis, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to have anticipated this and brought enough firepower to chase and kill the enemy instead of sustaining the losses?

Prior: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer

Rock River Arms Elite CAR A4 – My New Friend

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

As all patriotic, God fearing, freedom loving Americans should be, I am a member of the NRA.  During the recent NRA convention in Charlotte, I inspected the Rock River Arms exhibit, and decided on a new RRA Elite CAR A4.  I ordered through Hyatt Gun Shop, America’s largest independently owned gun store.

Hyatt doesn’t just have salesmen.  They have legitimate, highly qualified gunsmiths working there.  David Benfield worked with me for a good while with the new weapon, and Hyatt Gun Shop was very generous to me.  My new friend?

A Rock River Arms Elite CAR A4, free floating quad rail for attachments.  I feel that it will become a close friend, and I intend to attach at least a front vertical grip and my Surefire tactical light.  John Bernard wants me to attach a Trijicon ACOG (you know, one with the Scripture still on it), but at the present that would require generous donations.

Parts Problems with the M249 SAW?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

Are there parts problems with the M249 SAW?

A former employee of an Indiana defense contractor has filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming the company ordered him to approve parts for machine guns used by U.S. troops that didn’t meet quality standards, and that he was fired for complaining about it.

In his lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Evansville in February 2009 and unsealed in March, Andrew T. Pool accuses Dugger-based Northside Machine Co. of fraud and wrongful termination. He is seeking reinstatement with back pay and unspecified damages.

In a court filing Wednesday, the company contends that it never told Pool to falsify test results and that Pool never complained to management before he was fired. It asked a judge to dismiss his lawsuit.

Northside Machine supplies trigger assemblies and other components to defense contractor FN Manufacturing for use in its M240 and M249 machine guns, which are widely used by the military. FN Manufacturing is not accused of wrongdoing.

Attorneys for Pool and the company declined to comment Wednesday, and a spokesman at FN Manufacturing in Columbia, S.C., did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

According to a 2006 report by the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research group that studies military matters, 30 percent of troops surveyed reported that the M249 had stopped firing during combat, a higher percentage than with any other weapon included in the report. Problems with the light machine gun and other weapons were reported during the July 2008 battle in Wanat, Afghanistan, in which nine U.S. troops died and 27 were wounded.

U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings Jr. declined to comment on any possible link between such weapons failures and alleged substandard parts, citing the ongoing litigation. The Virginia-based Center for Naval Analyses also declined to speculate about any such connection and said its report hadn’t diagnosed the underlying causes of complaints about the M249.

There are two issues here.  First off, if substandard parts are being manufactured and accepted as meeting specification, then this is both an ethical and legal problem.  Any industry that accepts failure to meet specifications for parts deserves to go out of business.  This allegation should be run to ground, so to speak, and either the company or the employee punished, depending upon who is telling the truth.

But there is the second issue of reports of the M249 failing to operate in combat, apparently up to 30%.  All I can do is report what I know from a certain Marine.  According to his reports – and he saw a lot of combat – his M249 SAW never once jammed or stopping firing for any reason during combat, period.

But then, he was properly trained to operate the SAW, and he properly trained his boots just like he was trained.  He carried a paint brush on patrols, and when they stopped for a water break, the first thing he did (before water) was to clean his weapon with brush, Q-tips, fingers, etc.  This required disassembling his weapon, at least partially.  Then, he would remove every inch of belt from his SAW ammunition boxes and check to ensure that every round was seated properly in the belt (because they can rattle loose during fast movement on patrols).

For the M16A2 and M4s, he would assist in stretching out the ammunition clip springs to ensure that they had the capability to feed ammunition without jamming after they cleaned each weapon of dust.  Finally, each and every clip was checked to ensure that it wasn’t completely loaded (each clip was loaded minus a few rounds to prevent deformation of the spring).

Before deployment, he demanded new action for his SAW, as he had monitored and cataloged its behavior for months, and refused to deploy without new action.  He got the new action, and thus he knew that the weapon was reliable if correctly maintained and properly employed.  It was correctly maintained and properly employed – and given a name that I will not repeat over this blog.

His view?  Well, simply put, those who complain about the M16A2, M4 and SAW are either lazy or not properly trained.  The system of weapons is just fine, says he.  He killed many bad guys with them.  Oh, and by they way.  The M249 SAW is an area suppression firearm, but he deployed with an ACOG on his SAW.  The 2/6 Battalion Weapons Warrant Officer was awesome, said he.


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