Monday, February 29, 2016


This is coolbert:

As was noted in a previous blog entry:

"The death toll rose to 57 with more than 100 injured Sunday from the two car bombs that exploded Sunday morning in the center of the city of Homs in central Syria - the city's deadliest suicide bombing in recent years."

Homs! Third largest city in all of Syria. Much of the urban landscape now in ruins and desolation. NOT merely from the latest Islamic State suicide bombing but from five continuous years of civil war.

Without further adieu and from a variety of sources both photo-essay and slide showing the ruins of Homs on display:

1. "Rare photos from Homs, Syria

2. "Syria in pictures: On the front line in Damascus and Homs as refugees flee"

3. "These Stunning Images Depict The Destruction Of Homs, Syria's Third Largest City"

4. "Syria's heritage in ruins: before-and-after picture"

5. "Rubble and sad remembrance greet Syrians returning to Homs – in picture"

Ruins of a modern city as a result of urban combat those images a topic to which this blog is not a stranger. See those blog entries for Grozny here, here, here and here.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

ISIL Syria.

This is coolbert:

The Islamic State seems to regard the massive Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War with an almost casual indifference? ISIL combatants continue their offensive operations, not merely content with consolidating ground already within their domain?

Yet once more from the DEBKAfile newsletter:

1. "ISIS claims suicide bombing attacks killing 140 people in Homs, Damascus"

21 February.

"The death toll rose to 57 with more than 100 injured Sunday from the two car bombs that exploded Sunday morning in the center of the city of Homs in central Syria - the city's deadliest suicide bombing in recent years. A few hours later, two bomb cars and two suicide bombers killed 83 people, left 180 injured in southern Damascus near the Shiite shrine of Sayeda Zeinab."

2. "ISIS launches two-pronged Syrian offensive"

22 February.

"The deadly ISIS bombing attacks, which Sunday claimed at least 140 lives and injured more than 300 people in Damascus and Homs, were accompanied by a parallel battlefield offensive by the Islamic State, DEBKAfile's military sources report. Monday found jihadist forces on the march north of Aleppo, snatching small towns and villages from various rebel militias, and advancing in the eastern Deir ez-Zour region - despite Russian aerial bombardment - against pinned-down Syrian army forces. On the eastern front, ISIS is intent on seizing control of the Syrian-Iraqi border region."

3. "ISIS in surprise attack cuts off Syrian army supply line to Aleppo"

23 February.

"The Islamic State Tuesday seized from rebel forces the important northern Syrian town of Khanaser southeast of Aleppo with surrounding hills . . . ISIS, which now controls a 20-km section of the Aleppo highway to Hama, is able to cut off the government supply line between Aleppo and central and western Syria."

4. "ISIS attacks city of Aleppo with missiles; over 20 killed"

24 February.

"More than 20 people were killed and dozens were wounded when Islamic State fighters fired several salvos of missiles at the al-Zahra neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday morning."

Combatants of the Islamic State resilient and still remain on the offensive and sending a message, the Russian aerial onslaught notwithstanding.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Jebel Druze.

This is coolbert:

Once more the Druze connection to Israel within the context of the fighting in Syria. As reported  by the latest edition of the DEBKAfile newsletter.

"Russia air strikes seal Jebel Druze against attack and refugees"

21 February.

"Over the weekend, Russia ramped up its air bombardment of southern cities and towns, especially Daraa and Nawa. Moscow aims to restore Bashar Assad's control to the South and defeat the rebels and seal the Jebel Druze villages off from attack. Thousands of fleeing rebels with their families and other civilians, turned away from the locked Jordanian border, are headed towards the Golan on Israel's doorstep."

See previous blog entries the topic of which was Israel and the Druze "connection":


ISIL Libya.

This is coolbert:

From the latest edition of the DEBKAfile some indication the combatants of the Islamic State or those affiliated with same active and on the move. NOT deterred by the presence of the MNF Libya.

"ISIS captures Libyan port city used by refugees heading to Europe"

24 February.

"In a rapid strike, ISIS forces on Wednesday seized the center of Sabratha in northwest Libya, near the Tunisian border, and thereupon decapitated 12 Libyan soldiers defending the town. A key point of departure for refugees heading for Europe, Sabratha is a major strategic acquisition."

See previous blog entries the topic of which is Libya, the Islamic State, the MNF Libya:


Friday, February 26, 2016


This is coolbert:

Where in the world is Tinian?

Thanks to War is Boring and the tip from Freeper.

"The Pentagon Readies Backup Island in Case of Chinese Missile Onslaught"

"Threat prompts the U.S. military to prepare a fallback option"

A "fallback option" in case of a massive Chinese missile attack, those American air bases located on Okinawa [Kadena] and Guam [Andersen] rendered INEFFECTIVE!

"Fallback" better defined as DISPERSAL!

"The United States can no longer count on its Pacific air bases to be safe from missile attack during a war with China"

. . . .

"Enter Tinian. The lush, small island near Guam is emerging as one of the Air Force’s backup landing bases. On Feb. 10, the flying branch announced that it selected Tinian as a divert airfield 'in the event access to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, or other western Pacific locations is limited or denied.'”

"In the Pentagon’s 2017 budget request, it asked for $9 million to buy 17.5 acres of land 'in support of divert activities and exercise intiatives,' . . . In peacetime, the expanded Tinian airfield will host 'up to 12 tanker aircraft and associated support personnel for divert operations,' according to the Air Force."




Thursday, February 25, 2016

Coastal IV.

This is coolbert:


Yet one more solution to the problem of coast defense as germane to the defense of Filipino integral territory? Their confrontation with China requiring response perhaps one remedy a blast from the past literally so. Coastal artillery but not land-based?

In this particular instance think again the oceanic-going barge, green-water capable. A barge sporting a pair of M777 howitzers, 155 mm, firing that High Velocity Projectile.

Three such barges comprising a battery of six firing tubes. Each barge either having an organic and autonomous C^3ISTAR capability or able to function within a centrally controlled net-centric apparatus. "Fire support staff", Fire Direction Center".


C^3 = Command, control, communications.

ISTAR = Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance.

Coastal artillery barge-based an idea from the era of the Vietnam War. The American army employing such vessels as part of the riverine flotilla contingents.

"Riverine artillery refers to artillery employment on a river, generally on floating barges."

. . . .

"A complete battery of riverine 105mm artillery consisted of three howitzer barges, and five LCM-8s for support staff such as the Fire Direction Center."

A rather poor image from the Vietnam era shows tube artillery mounted on a riverine barge. Constituting a single platoon [two firing units of tube artillery, 105 mm]. Three such howitzer barges comprise a firing battery. This is what I have in mind but with the 155 mm M777 consider a much more robust arrangement. These barges too when preparing to commence fire would be run aground? Beached? When moored their stability for a fire-mission that much better/ Modern technology can mitigate such difficulties?

See this YouTube video of a M777 howitzer in action. Impressive. Six such tubes can fire a total of thirty-six rounds per minute. Terminal guided projectiles of whatever type allowing for unprecedented accuracy.

My ideas are unworkable or absurd? Devoted readers to the blog your comments invited. Keep in mind the Philippines is a relatively poor nation but needs defensive stratagems, needs, cheap ones, and needs them NOW!!


Coastal III.

This is coolbert:

The U.S. naval gun Mark 45 firing that high velocity projectile allowing for afloat coastal artillery a possible solution to the security dilemma of the Filipino in their confrontation with the Chinese over contest territory in the South China sea?

"The 5-Inch/54-caliber (Mk 45) lightweight gun is a modern U.S. naval artillery gun mount consisting of a 127 mm (5 inches) L54 Mark 19 gun on the Mark 45 mount . . . The latest 5-inch/62-caliber version consists of a longer barrel L62 Mark 36 gun fitted on the same Mark 45 mount. The gun is designed for use against surface warships, anti-aircraft and shore bombardment to support amphibious operations."

 "For sustained use, the gun mount would be occupied by a six-man crew (gun captain, panel operator, and four ammunition loaders) below deck to keep the gun continuously supplied with ammunition." This image with the female sailor included to provide a sense of scale.

Oceanic-going barges [towed or self-propelled] or monitors [all monitors by their very nature are self-propelled] in various configurations equipped with the Mark 45 gun alone  Such vessels, green-water, operating either autonomously or as part of an entire battery and firing that terminal guided high velocity projectile a serious deterrent. A CHEAP AND DIRTY BUT EFFECTIVE WAY AND AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE BRAHMOS MISSILE?

Configurations to include two gun mounts per barge or monitor. A battery consisting of three barges or monitors, C^3ISTAR again either autonomous or centrally controlled as the situation warrants.

C^3 = Command, control, communications.

ISTAR = Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance.

See this YouTube video of the Mark 45 in action.

As an alternative to the Mark 45 the Italian Oto Melara gun system LW Vulcano also adequate. See that entire YouTube video dedicated to the LW Vulcano and round.

Once more, coastal artillery but green-water capable and not land-based. This idea has merit?


Coastal II.

This is coolbert:

"Can we really field ground breaking disruptive technology fast?' . . . 'We need this type of capability…We realize it’s a high risk.'”

"Army Explores Anti-Ship Howitzers and Anti-Air Strykers


Coastal artillery but with range far beyond the horizon. Guided munitions also a solution to the problem as faced by the Filipino in their confrontation with China in the South China Sea. Net-centric capable.

"The 155 mm howitzer is just one weapon being considered for 'coastal artillery'."

"Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP), a BAE Systems cannon shell with precision guidance that can be fired from Navy 5-inch deck guns or Army 155 millimeter howitzers. The Navy side is further along, but the Army has test-fired the 155 [mm] version of the HVP"


HVP compatible with:

* Mk 45.
* Advanced Gun System (AGS).
* 155-mm Tube Artillery.


* 50 nmi (93 km) from Mk 45 Mod 4 [58 miles].
* 40 nmi (74 km) from Mk 45 Mod 2 [46 miles].
* 70 nmi (130 km) from AGS [81 miles].
* 43 nmi (80 km) from 155-mm Tube Artillery [50 miles].

Maximum Rate of Fire:

* Mk 45 20 rounds per minute
* AGS 10 rounds per minute
* 155-mm Tube Artillery 6 rounds per minute

See previous blog entries the subject guided artillery munitions:


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Coastal I.

This is coolbert:

The Philippines as confronted by China, the Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] as declared by the former being poached by the latter.

NO remedy easily found, the Filipino having to rely on second-hand naval assets in an effort to exert and maintain sovereignty over territory as within their dominion.

Land-based BrahMos a possible "solution"?

"Philippines: India Has A Solution To The Chinese Threat"

BrahMos a long-range anti-ship missile of formidable capability. But not cheap!

As described in an article found at Strategy Page:

"One way to do this is by using land based anti-ship missiles with enough range and heft to hit Chinese ships. One of the best candidates is from India, which manufactures and offers for export the PJ-10 BrahMos . . . The 3.2 ton BrahMos has a range of up to 300 kilometers and a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic is its high speed, literally faster (at up to a kilometer per second) than a rifle bullet. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The BrahMos is designed to go after high value targets that require great accuracy and a large conventional warhead . . . at the moment the Philippines doesn’t have too many workable defenses against the Chinese takeover of Filipino offshore waters, reefs and small islands, which makes new ideas, like land based anti-ship missiles a possibility"

Coastal artillery as it was in the past but now missile based, range much more significant? See a You Tube video of BrahMos in action! Impressive!

BrahMos is expensive? NOT ONLY missiles but associated hardware and impedimenta creates a cost that will be prohibitive for the Filipino?


Monday, February 22, 2016


This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog regarding the use of the flechette round:

"My father told me they came across an NVA [North Vietnamese Army] soldier that had been nailed to a tree by a beehive. If the military don't use this anymore, they should. My dad was with the 173rd at camp LZ English, 1968-69. I want to personally thank every veteran that has ever served our armed forces for there service and to let each one know that they are all my hero. Also I want to thank the person that wrote this great piece of information."

ONLY vaguely was I familiar with this episode from the Second Indo-China War for which the recoilless rifle was apparently an important factor.

The Battle of Saigon [1968] during that period of the Tet Offensive.

Urban warfare conducted under the most difficult of circumstance. In particular American and South Vietnamese troops clearing the Cholon district, as inhabited by ethnic Chinese. Those American soldiers part and parcel of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade.

"Tet Offensive: 7th Infantry Regiment in Saigon"

Read that account of American troops during the combat action and at this web site see an embedded video of troops from the 199th light infantry clearing a section of Cholon.

This YouTube video also showing combat in the Cholon district. What I believe are South Vietnamese Marines participating in urban combat: "War in Vietnam - Cholon fighting"

Some observations regarding the city fighting in the Cholon district:

* Army Captain Antonio Smaldone leading that foremost unit of the 199th into Cholon described by an American general as: "the best damned company commander I've ever seen". BEST!

* The 106 mm recoilless rifle very useful in city fighting. Firing either that HEAT or the flechette round.

* Up until at least 1972 it was reputed as many as one thousand American deserters were being harbored by the ethnic Chinese of the Cholon quarter. That number based on observed remittances as issued and forwarded by family members in the states..

Those military personnel from various periods described as BEST to include:

* General Fonseka. Sri Lankan military. BEST army commander.

* Lieutenant Rick Rescorla. BEST platoon leader.

* Captain Antonio Smaldone. BEST company commander.

BEST a subjective judgment of course. Such pronouncements to a large extent however probably based on fact!


Saturday, February 20, 2016


This is coolbert:

Red Beard! Abu Omar al-Shishani. Abu Omar the Chechen!

A senior ISIL combat commander whom devoted readers to the blog are already familiar with now active in Libya.? So says the latest edition of the DEBKAfile newsletter:

"Senior ISIS leader al-Shishani surfaces in Libya" 

17 February.

"Tarachan Batirashvili aka Omar al-Shishani has relocated from Syria to the Libyan city of Sirte to expand the ISIS foothold there. He is one of the most wanted terrorists by both Western and Russian intelligence services. The ISIS presence in Libya has recently doubled to about 6,500."

See previous blog entries regarding Tarachan:

Omar open and notorious but always with a smile in his face!


Thursday, February 18, 2016


This is coolbert:

Before there was Dien Bien Phu there was Na San. And before Na San there was Chipyong-ni?

Chipyong-ni an episode from the Korean War.

Besieged American and French troops engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese ground forces.

As I am fond of mentioning prodigious numbers of an adversary [the Chinese] using their manpower advantage in a profligate manner, almost totally heedless of losses.

American infantry regiment [24th Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division] reinforced by the French battalion and other combat arms assets, told to stand their ground. Retreat not an option.

Construct and defend battalion size strong points. Close-air-support to include nighttime illumination and aerial resupply air drops will be guaranteed.

Overland relief can be counted upon. NO possibility of retrograde movement and abandoning your position unless permission requested and granted first!!

Fight strictly a defensive battle always however with the possibility of counter-attack if necessitated.


Chipyong-ni was the model the French had in mind when they planned and executed first Na San and then Dien Bien Phu?

Monclar the French commander at Chipyong-ni might have said: "this worked in Korea, let it work in Indo-China too!"

French strategy in both instances [Na San and Dien Bien Phu] to fight a strictly defensive battle, inflict prohibitive losses on the Viet Minh, create favorable circumstances for a negotiated end to the First Indo-China War.

Na San a success, Dien Bien Phu NOT!

Some key points:

* Chipyong-ni however not a protracted siege. Lasting only two days. Dien Bien Phu for comparison lasting almost TWO MONTHS!

* The French placing their combatants in both circumstances beyond the hope of overland relief or even retirement from the battlefield.

* At least at Dien Bien Phu the Viet Minh possessing overwhelming artillery and anti-aircraft assets. Unlimited and unrestricted close-air-support either difficult to near impossible.

The case of the hedgehog or strong point defense of course NOT merely confined to the Korean or First Indo-Chia War.

The British in Burma during World War Two using the "Box" stratagem. Establish strong points consisting of ad hoc units, fight a strictly defensive battle, hold your position, aerial supply mandated, no line of retreat possible!

The "Box" concept also successful!

Chipyong-ni YES. Na San YES, Dien Bien Phu NO!



This is coolbert:

Sverge active!

Swedes on the move.

The Russian of course not alone in being able to fly intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions. The Swede can too. And does!

"Swedish Spyplane 'caught' flying off Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast"

"A Swedish Air Force Gulfstream IVSP Electronic Intelligence plane could be tracked as it flew in the airspace off Kaliningrad Oblast, where some of the most active Russian bases in the Baltic region are located."

"The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of S102B Korpen, modified Gulfstream IVSP aircraft used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) missions. These aircraft are equipped with sensors capable to eavesdrop, collect and analyse enemy electronic emissions."

I am not sure what they mean by such headlines? An intelligence gathering and reconnaissance warplane flying in international airspace hardly is espionage as that term generally, commonly, and normally understood!

Once more, Sweden and Swedish military activity suddenly is all over the place and so quick too!



This is coolbert:

Thanks to the Internet freeware Flightradar24 and some astute observers this item!.

Russian Tu-214R an almost ONE OF A KIND reconnaissance aircraft active over the Middle East. Reconnaissance and intelligence gathering warplane the it seems that everyone a subject of interest!

"Tu-214R reconnaissance aircraft deployed to Syria"

"J.Hawk’s Comment: The flight route is interesting when one considers the qualities of the aircraft in question. The Tu-214R is equipped with a synthetic-aperture radar (whose flat antennae are visible on the sides of the fuselage) capable of tracking moving ground targets at ranges of several hundred kilometers and providing targeting data to aircraft and ground-based missile systems. It is, in effect, the airborne component of the 'reconnaissance-strike complex' that enables enemy land movements to be detected and interdicted practically in real time. The Tu-214’s flight path would have enabled it to take a very close look at ground movements in ISIS-held territory, including the all-important Raqqa area, and to examine the goings-on in Jordan, where Saudi forces are demonstrating their presence and the British military is holding an exercise. Last but not least, it likely sneaked a peek into Turkish territory to as it was approaching Hmeimim.'"

Flightradar24 freeware allowing the amateur "spotter" to military aviation operations while in progress. Extraordinary!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sverge & Dansk.

This is coolbert:

More Sweden!

Suddenly, Sweden is everywhere!

"Leadership: Nordic Unity Against Russia"

  Sweden and Denmark together as hand in glove. And in what is obviously as perceived in response to the Russian threat.

"February 13, 2016: Sweden and Denmark have agreed to increased defense cooperation to improve the defense capabilities of both nations (which together control the entrance to the Baltic Sea) and make the most of shrinking Defense budgets. This agreement will involve joint maintenance and basing arrangements as well as new rules that make it easier to ships and aircraft from both nations to easily operate in each other’s territory. Sweden has a larger problem because it, unlike Denmark, does not belong to NATO and is also a lot closer to Russia."

From the Soviet era defector Suvorov [as written in 1987] that appreciation of Sweden and the Swedish military:

"In the past Sweden was lucky; she always remained on the sideline in a conflict. But at the end of the twentieth century the balance of the battlefield is changing. Sweden has become one of the most important strategic points in the world. If war breaks out the path of the Aggressor will lie across Sweden. The occupation of Sweden is made easier by the fact that there are no nuclear weapons on its territory, so that the Soviet leaders risk very little. They know, however, that the Swedish soldier is a very serious opponent - - thoughtful, disciplined, physically strong and tough, well armed, well acquainted with the territory he will have to fight over, and well trained  for action in such terrain."

What was germane in 1987 is as pertinent in 2016 as well? Perhaps even more so in the case of Sweden!

See previous blog entries regarding the Nordic nations and the military situation vis-a-vis the Russian:


Char B1.

This is coolbert:

 "While the tank battle was in progress, I attempted, in vain, to destroy a Char B with a captured 47-mm anti-tank gun; all the shells I fired at it simply bounced harmlessly off its thick armor. Our 37-mm and 20-mm guns were equally ineffective against this adversary. As a result, we inevitably suffered sadly heavy casualties". - - Guderian.

Guderian as describing an encounter with a French Char BI tank during the Battle of France, 1940. The Char B1 seemingly impervious to anti-tank weapons as fielded at the time.

Items of interest regarding the French Char B1 from that era of the Second World War:

1. "In direct meetings with German tanks the Char B1 usually had the better of it, sometimes spectacularly so as when on 16 May a single tank, Eure (commanded by Captain Pierre Billotte), frontally attacked and destroyed thirteen German tanks lying in ambush in Stonne, all of them Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs, in the course of a few minutes. The tank safely returned despite being hit 140 times"

It is reputed that the Char commanded by Captain Pierre sustained one-hundred forty hits without being either destroyed or disabled. [an Internet web site forum suggest a preponderance of those hits from 20 mm cannon fire.]  This somewhat reminds me of the German encounter [1941] with a Soviet KV tank as was the topic of a previous blog entry.


2. "The fighting compartment had the radio set on the left and an exit hatch in the right side. All vehicles had the ER53 radio telegraphy set, which used Morse Code only."

Command and control of a Char and French armor at various echelons cannot have been easy. NO voice [AM modulation] radio communications available. Everything manual Morse and necessitating a dedicated and highly trained operator WHOSE ROLE AS A FIGHTING COMBATANT NOT DIMINISHED ONE BIT!

During that era of the Second World War the single most common reason for pilot washout during aviator training was an inability to copy manual Morse code at even the slowest of speed!


Lee & Char B1.

This is coolbert:

Yet more French armor.

Here with an instance of  parallel armor development? French and American tank design in accord? Logical thinking minds arrive at the same logical conclusions. Make the comparison yourself.

French Char B1 from that period prior to and during the Second World War. Fires a 47 mm gun for anti-tank and also equipped with that 75 mm howitzer for supporting the ground troops. French armor designers favored the cupola atop the turret? Gave the tank commander an all-around view. That howitzer could be used in the anti-tank role but with difficulty!

American Lee M3 tank from the same period as the Char B1. Also that 75 mm howitzer, the turret with cupola. For the anti-tank role carries and insufficient 37 mm gun. Even at the time that caliber as an anti-tank round  known to be insufficient!



This is coolbert:

More French armor!

Some clarification regarding those French Light Armored Divisions [DLM] the legacy of which pre-dates the Second World War.

"1st Light Mechanized Division (France)The 1st Light Mechanized Division (French: 1ère Division Légère Mécanisée, 1ère DLM) was a French Army formation during World War II. It was the first of the armoured divisions of the French Cavalry."

Armor [all tracked and not wheeled] organic to a DLM to include:

French AMR35. Light tank sporting only a heavy [13 mm] machine gun. Analogous to a German Panzer I.

"The name of the unit is most often translated as 'Light Mechanized Division' [DLM], but a better translation, both from a military point of view, would be 'Mechanized Light Division'. In French the adjective mécanique qualifies légère, not the other way around; and thus: 'light' here is a synonym of 'mobile'. While any 'mechanised' division was 'light', not every 'light' division was 'mechanised': motorised infantry divisions without tracked vehicles would also be called 'light divisions'"

French Souma tank with 47 mm gun. Cupola standard.

French Hotchkiss tank with 37 mm gun. Cupola standard.

DLM units their mission reconnaissance, scouting, screening.

That word screen as defined:

"screen 4. A security element whose primary task is to observe, identify, and report information, and which only fights in self-protection. 5. (DOD only) A task to maintain surveillance; provide early warning to the main body; or impede, destroy, and harass enemy reconnaissance within its capability without becoming decisively engaged"

Screen and nothing more needed. It is generally accepted that the French prior to WW2 had more tanks than the Germans and more tanks of better capability! As was with DLM.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Wheels V.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français


Panhard wheels on rails! Some images of French wheeled armor from that era of the Second World War with an  interesting application.

A French Panhard Type 178 as captured by the German and put to good use. Road wheels replaced with railroad wheels and the bed spring radio antenna added. That 25 mm cannon useful in anti-partisan operations.

A Type 178 apparently as captured by the Soviet and also put to good use. You are looking at a rear view of the vehicle.

German wheeled armor vehicle of the same period. Also with the bed spring radio antenna. 

During that era of the Second World War the German very good at using captured enemy equipment. Units quite often comprised of second-rate personnel possessing second-rate gear of all sorts but suitably commanded able under the right circumstances able to give a good account of themselves on the battlefield.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wheels IV.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français 

Here with images of French wheeled armor no longer in the inventory.

An EML-90. Five ton vehicle. Very fast and mobile. That 90 mm gun can defeat a main battle tank under the right circumstances.

An EBR. Those center wheels lowered only for off-road use. Different versions have either a 75 mm or 90 mm gun. A drawback to this vehicle being that maintenance of the engine accomplished only by removing the entire turret first.

Before EBR there was Panhard AM-40P. Two man armored vehicle with 47 mm gun. ONLY a prototype. That caliber gun standard for anti-tank of the period just prior to the Second World War.

Panhard Type 178. As was developed by Panhard prior to WW2. That is a 25 mm cannon. It all started with this vehicle?

A distinct advantage of wheeled armor that cost? You can proliferate the battlefield with such vehicles. If used within constraints they are effective.


Wheels III.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français 

Here with some images of currently inventoried and in-use French wheeled armor.

An AMX10-RC. That is a 105 mm gun. NOT a tank. Weighs only 15 tons.

A VAB. Armored personnel carrier. Able to carry a squad of ten men.

An ERC 90. Three man crew with 90 mm gun.

A VBCI. An infantry fighting vehicle. Carries an infantry squad and armed with a 25 mm cannon.

Vehicles such as the AMX10-RC not a replacement in totality for the main battle tank. Wheeled armor that mission primarily that of reconnaissance, scouting, screening.


Wheels II.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français

Continuing with the topic of French wheeled armor from a web site forum in the proverbial nutshell but much more than the proverbial nutshell that question asked with answer:  

"Why does the French military prefer wheeled armoured vehicles over tracked?"

Q: "Why does the French military prefer wheeled armoured vehicles over tracked"

Q: "Considering most conventional armies rely on tracked APC/IFV and reconnaissance vehicles, why is it that France uses wheeled equivalents?"

A: "Lower cost and less maintenance. Wheels are cheaper than tracks and they last longer. They can also "self deploy" using existing road infrastructure where tracked vehicles would need to be transported on tractor trailers. The only downside is mobility in certain terrain (mud) and maximum weight capacity."

A: "There are actually two reasons - economic and historical."

A: "As for the economic rationale . . . The best answer can be seen in lists of logistical equipment in US and British armies and the Army 2020 reform in Britain. One of the reasons for choosing a model where there's just one heavy brigade being rotated between three is cost but also limitations on logistical equipment necessary to move heavy tracked vehicles from one point to another. For every Challenger tank, Scout SV and upgraded Warrior there must be one heavy equipment transporter. So that's two vehicles for the sake of having one. British Army currently has problems with fielding enough vehicles to carry a full brigade around. Britain has less than 200 HETs  [heavy equipment transporter] (the US has over 2500!) which means that they can carry a battalion of tanks, a scout battalion and an armoured infantry battalion...and that's it. Britain is an island nation so it doesn't have to rely on land forces so much but in any other case it would be a serious issue. France avoided the problem by relying on wheels and has to worry only about LeClerc MBTs and their older self-propelled artillery and some specialist vehicles. That not only makes it easier for the army to mobilize properly as France is a large country (one of the largest in Europe - twice the size of Germany for example) but also to move them from one place to another."

"As for mobility it is greatly overstated with regards to standard tracked vehicles now that modern 8x8 came into use - with individual hydraulic suspension, modern transmission etc. Unless you are dealing with rasputitsa there is no significant advantage a 20t tracked vehicle has over a 20 t wheeled modern 8x8.But then even tracked vehicles have it rough. The problem boils down to friction coefficient (tracks are larger area than wheels) and pressure. Notice that for really rough terrain even tracked vehicles have special design - compare a regular tracked APC and the articulated Bv206/210 with wide tracks. The only real advantage is mass. A wheeled vehicle is rapidly losing its mobility as it approaches the 30 tonne range. Currently France has managed to squeeze 32t from their newer VBCIs and Boxer APC has a maximum weight of 32t. But anything more than that and the vehicle becomes really unwieldy. Tracks can carry twice the mass so as armour becomes more relevant you will see tracked vehicles used more and more. When it isn't an absolute priority you will see wheeled vehicles."

"But there's the historical reason - "most countries" meaning WP and NATO armies have acquired large numbers of tracked vehicles when wheeled technology wasn't well developed and widespread."

"So the real reason why France seems to have over reliance on wheeled vehicles mostly comes from the fact that they had to replace their outdated AMX-10P APCs as France never built heavy tanks and IFVs. So when they had to replace their old vehicles they had a tough choice - either go for the heavy IFV or continue their current doctrine and go for 8x8. They chose to former"


* French wheeled armor not a total replacement for the Main Battle Tank. The main mission of wheeled armor reconnaissance, scouting, screening.

* Rasputitsa their period in Russia where the severe rains of the spring [?] and fall make dirt roads impassible.


Wheels I.

This is coolbert:

à la manière des Français

Here begins a series of blog entries the topic of which is French wheeled armor.

As is the topic of a web site forum:

"Why does the French military prefer wheeled armoured vehicles over tracked?"

* Understand the French not alone in the development and fielding of wheeled armor vehicles. Far from it. The French however are MORE in the habit of using wheeled armor and seem to PREFER for a variety of reasons the use of wheeled armor.

* French wheeled armor to an extent a legacy [?] even of that period prior to the Second World War [WW2]. The French deploying DLM [Light Mechanized Divisions ] the mission of which was reconnaissance, scouting, screening. Current French wheeled armor continues in the same role!

"France used them [light armor] in accordance to the tactics of the day [WW2], laying entirely on the Light Mechanized Divisions (DLM). These had the duty to cover and range over a large battlefield area, well in advance from the main concentrated armoured division. Each vehicle could perform not only reconnaissance, but also flanks covering and 'offensive protection' which includes repelling enemy incursions or advanced elements"

To be continued!


Thursday, February 11, 2016


This is coolbert:

As perpetrated by the Islamic State suicide bombings continue in the Syrian capital

From the Sheldon Adelson Internet web site Israel Hayom as originally reported by Reuters:

"ISIS car bomb in Syrian capital kills 10"

"Suicide bomber strikes near police officers' club in Damascus, also wounding 20, A suicide car bomber dispatched by the Islamic State group struck near a police officers' club in the Syrian capital on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and destroying a number of cars. Syrian state TV reported the toll and showed footage of the aftermath in Damascus, including several damaged vehicles and a burned-out car. The police officers' club was next to a vegetable market."

See previous blog entry the topic of which was ISIL suicide bombing of another target sensitive and important to the Shia and the Alawite:


Wednesday, February 10, 2016


This is coolbert:


Thanks to Jungle Trader for the tip. CLICK ON ALL IMAGES TO SEE AN ENLARGED VIEW.

"Foreign Minister: China to Build Navy Base in Djibouti"

"JOHANNESBURG — China is to build its first naval base in Djibouti, the Djiboutian foreign minister said Friday, in the latest sign of China's growing international security presence. . . . . A former French colony, Djibouti guards the entrance to the Red Sea and, ultimately, the Suez Canal, and has been used by international navies as a hub in the fight against piracy from neighbouring Somalia."


Rather think Admiral Zheng He and the String of Pearls!

"Voyages of Zheng He 1405-1433"

"The ships of Zheng's armada were as astonishing as its reach. Some accounts claim that the great baochuan, or treasure ships, had nine masts on 400-foot-long (122-meter-long) decks. The largest wooden ships ever built, they dwarfed those of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Hundreds of smaller cargo, war, and supply ships bore tens of thousands of men who brought China to a wider world."

"The String of Pearls theory is a geopolitical theory regarding potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region. It refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan."

"The emergence of the String of Pearls is indicative of China’s growing geopolitical influence through concerted efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, expand and modernize military forces, and foster stronger diplomatic relationships with trading partners."

See other web sites and also from the blog regarding the String of Pearls:


Monday, February 8, 2016

Crisis Management.

This is coolbert:

Heeding the admonitions and warnings of the British Admiral Parry from that time beginning in 2012 and until now I have been keenly aware of those events or disturbances that might result in a breakdown of the existing world order as we understand it today.

To clarify a break down of the existing world order as we understand it today but not necessarily a breakdown in totality of the world order, just a DIFFERENT type of world order as a consequence.

Events and disturbances as having made my list but to include:

* Cyclone Nargis.

* The capture of Mosul by ISIL.

* Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

* The Ebola epidemic.

* The European mass refugee crisis.

* A precipitous drop in the price of oil.

"Events and disturbances" as described having the possibility of setting off a chain reaction of unforeseen and calamitous nature. Mass migrations of people, WAR, chaotic conditions, everything a crisis management situation without any hope of peaceful, orderly, and lawful resolution.


With regard to that "drop in the price of oil" consider that three nations acknowledged as potentially unstable and also highly reliant on a much higher price for a barrel of oil. Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia. National budgets predicated on a price/barrel of $100 USD.

ANYONE care to add to my list?


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Johnson CoS.

This is coolbert:

I was mildly surprised to see the name of this man as associated with the actions of the First Cavalry Division in Korea.

General Harold K. Johnson. Chief of Staff [CoS] of the United States Army during that most important phase of the Vietnam War.

Having survived a very long and cruel captivity as a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War [WW2] and also having been present at the Phase One and Phase Two of the Chinese Communist ground offensive in Korea [1950] I would  have had to think if there was any man that fully understood the danger and peril of the American army engaging in an Asian ground war it would be General Johnson.

That "danger and peril" being an adversary able to deploy into combat prodigious numbers of ground troops and using same in a profligate manner, almost totally heedless of losses.


Concerns such as:

1. A war of attrition would not work in Vietnam.

2. A general mobilization of American resources and manpower not occurring.

"Harold Keith 'Johnny' Johnson  was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1964 to 1968. Regarded as a premier tactician, Johnson became skeptical that the level of resources given to the Vietnam War, much of which went into 'find, fix, and destroy the big main force units' operations, could deliver victory."

". . .  In his later years Johnson said it had been obvious that US national mobilization was required to win in Vietnam, and he regretted not resigning in protest at the government asking the army to fight a war without hope of ultimate victory."

Part and parcel of army basic training during that time of "Vietnam being required to memorize your chain of command. As it was at the time:

* President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
* Secretary of Defense Robert S. MacNamara.
* Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor.
* Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson.

See, I can still do it. Even fifty years later. And am so much the better for it too!



This is coolbert:

Also the Swedish commanding officer General Anders Brännström has these events in mind when he predicts the possibility of a new European and world war in the near future?

Sweden for many decades [centuries now?] one of the three internationally recognized neutral nations in the world. Austria and Switzerland the other two. Sweden now not so neutral?

From British sources thanks to the tip from Freeper.

1. "Russian menace pushes Sweden towards Nato"

. . . .

"After more than 20 years of strategic irrelevance, and thanks to increasingly unpredictable Russian behaviour, Gotland is back in the spotlight."

2. "Russia 'simulated a nuclear strike' against Sweden, Nato admits"

"Russian bombers targeted military and intelligence installations in 2013 war game that caught Swedish airforce unprepared"
. . . .

"Two Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bombers escorted by four Sukhoi Su-27 jet fighters crossed the Gulf of Finland and came within 24 miles of Swedish territory off the island of Gotland, 100 miles from Stockholm, on March 29, 2013."



для ГРУ офицеров. Пожалуйста, скажите товарищ путин остановить!!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sunni & Alawite.

This is coolbert:

The Islamic State continues with offensive action in Syria?

As reported by the latest edition of the DEBKAfile newsletter:

"More than 45 killed in ISIS suicide attack at Shiite shrine in Damascus"

31 January.

"ISIS brought the Sunni extremist war on Shiites to a new peak Sunday with a multiple suicide attack in the compound of the Shiite shrine, the Sayyida Zeinab tomb in southern Damascus. At least 45 people were killed and 120 injured by two suicide bombers and a third who drove a bomb car at the guarded gate."

1. The incorporation of the suicide bomber or multiples of suicide bombers into all military operations a trademark of the Islamic State.

2. ISIL striking at holy places of the Shia in a deliberate, perverse and malicious manner. The Alawites of the despot Assad aligned with Shia. Shia to the Sunnie worse than the kuffar?


Friday, February 5, 2016

MiG-31 Foxhound.

 This is coolbert:

Continued difficulties and problems for another MiG warplane. Foxhound.

As seen at Strategy Page:

"Warplanes: MiG-31 Miasma"

"January 31, 2016: In late January a Russian MiG-31 jet fighter was lost due to unspecified equipment failure. The air force grounded all 120 MiG-31s until the exact cause could be determined. The most likely culprit is age which is why in late 2015 the air force received $378 million to upgrade another 50 of the older MiG-31s to the MiG-31BM standard. Unfortunately the recent crash was of a BM model as were some previous crashes. The latest crash was not unexpected. There have already been problems with recently refurbished MiG-31s. The most common problem has been the engines although one crash was due to landing gear problems. The refurbishment includes the D30F6 engines, which were tweaked and upgraded to make them more powerful, efficient and reliable. Yet there have been several crashes involving these upgraded engines. In December 2013 Russia grounded all 122 of its MiG-31 fighters after one of them crashed because both of its engines failed."

MiG-31 an air interceptor. Foxhound a stretch fuselage two-seater warplane based on the original MiG-25 Foxbat. Strictly an interceptor for air defense and not an air superiority fighter plane.

MiG warplanes for some time found to be lacking.

To be absolutely 100 % fair the difficulties in this instance is with the D30F6 engines and not with the MiG designed airframe. Those engines NOT a product of the MiG design bureau.

See previous Strategy Page articles dealing with the MiG problem, historical and present:


Thursday, February 4, 2016

K-19 V.

This is coolbert:


Han class down!

During that period of the Cold War it was not only American and Soviet submarines colliding underwater. Others too!

Continuing with extracts and commentary from the book: : "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen.

1983 June.

"Pacific Fleet Victor III-class SSGN, K-324 from the Pacific Base of Rakushka collided with the Chinese Han-class SSN  . . . the Han sank to a depth of one Km [about 3,000 feet] near Ashkold Island with the loss of its entire 70-man crew. A Soviet survey in 1989  . . . commissioned by the  Pacific Fleet, detected extremely high radiation levels measuring 1,000 roentgen per hour [877 rad/hour] within a five-mile radius of the broken hull of the Han SSN."

An exposure of 500 rads per hour a lethal dose to a human for which there is no remedy! A dose of 250 rads per hour not necessarily lethal but enough to instantly incapacitate a human!


[all bold my emphasis]

Further regarding the Han class Chinese nuclear submarine:

"The Han-Class is well known for having a noisy reactor and poor radiation shielding, which causes health hazards for her crew as nuclear radiation levels are higher than they should be aboard the submarine." 

Again, the loss of so many senior design personnel their specialty submarine design creating a problem not easily remedied. Institutional memory and experience not easily replaced!


K-19 IV.

This is coolbert:

Continuing with extracts and commentary from the book:  "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen.

The topic the submarine either sinking or severely damaged, while in port, moored, not sailing. This phenomenon more common than we might think. NOR was the submarine fleet of the Soviet Union immune to such disaster.

1. 1962 11 January.

"Northern Fleet Project 641, Tango-class, B-37, diesel submarine. A torpedo exploded while the submarine was at home port, and it sank."

This sub rather a Foxtrot class?

2. 1965.

"Northern Fleet November-class K-11. Suffered a reactor accident in Severodvinsk . . . the reactor suffered an uncontrolled power surge while charging the plant."

3. 1968 25 August.

"Northern Fleet Yankee II-class SSBN, K-140 suffered an uncontrolled reactor power surge while in port."

4. 1970 Late.

"Alpha-class [Alfa] submarine suffered a reactor meltdown."

This actually was the K-62 and the event occurred in 1972?

5.  30 November 1980.

"Northern Fleet prototype Project 661, Papa-class,  K-162, nuclear- powered submarine suffered an uncontrolled reactor power surge in the Severodvinsk shipyard."

Also referred to as the K-222

6.  10 August 1985.

"Pacific Fleet Project 675, Echo II-class SSGN, K-431, while refueling in Chazhma Bay, the fuel rod assembly was accidentally lifted. In the ensuing explosion and fire, ten men were vaporized and the reactor cover blown off."

7. 1991 20 January.

"Pacific Fleet Project 641, Foxtrot-class diesel attack submarine, sank while docked at Vladivostok."

In the old Soviet Union ships did not sink, automobiles did not collide, trains did not run off the track and planes did not fall out of the sky!!


K-19 III.

This is coolbert:


Continuing with extracts with comment from the book: : "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen.

That subject once again the major surface warship spontaneously exploding and sinking, all the while in port, moored, not sailing. The Soviet too were not immune to such disaster!

"In 1955 . . . The Novorossysk, a 24,000 ton battleship, flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, exploded, capsized, and sank in the Soviet's primary Black Sea port of Sevastopol with the loss of 608 seamen . . . The battleship, originally an Italian ship named the Giulio Cesare [Julius Caesar], was transferred to the Soviet Navy in February 1949 in accordance with the terms of the Tehran Conference . . . which dismantled the wartime Italian Navy . . . the sinking . . . was the 20th century's largest peacetime naval disaster."

"Shortly after returning from sea . . . the battleship exploded in Sevastopol harbor. A thousand men were able to leap to safety from the decks and superstructure, but two hours and forty-five minutes after the blast, the massive battleship rolled over and settled into the three-meter [10 foot] thick mud . .  . she settled bow down in 50 feet of water [15 meters] with hundreds of crewmen entombed inside the hull . . . rescuers retrieved only nine survivors from her bilges by cutting through the thick armored skin of the ship."

This sounds more or less as with the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. Ship rolls over and sinks to the bottom with men trapped inside. Fevered efforts to retrieve those "entombed" time-consuming and laborious, few survivors brought to the surface alive.

Warships spontaneously detonating and sinking while at home port, not sailing, moored and at dock a rather surprisingly a more common occurrence than what you might expect.


In the old Soviet Union ships did not sink, automobiles did not collide, trains did not run off the track and planes did not fall out of the sky!!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

K-19 II.

This is coolbert:


Continuing with extracts and commentary from the book: "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen.

"On August 12 2000 . . . the Russian super-submarine Kursk exploded and sank in 350 feet [about 100 meters] of water in the Barents sea . . . taking 118 Russian sailors and engineers to the deaths . . . Forty-nine top submarine officers, 36 more than the normal complement, were aboard the Kursk that day. They had come to observe a test firing of a remarkable new undersea weapon called the Shkval torpedo-missile. A super-cavitating missile capable of underwater speeds of more than 200 miles per hour [320 kilometers per hour] . . . The Kursk was testing an improved version of the Shkval that had a longer range and used liquid fuel, replacing the earlier solid-fuel system."

Liquid-fuel from the torpedo having leaked and reacted with other metals, causing a spontaneous fire with secondary explosions responsible for the loss of the Kursk.

As suggested an alternative theory the explosion of a conventional torpedo and not an improved version of the Skhval.

Mere firing of the Shkval torpedo creating an over-pressure within the torpedo room necessitating the opening of bulkhead hatches rearward in the boat, danger from accident that much greater, watertight
integrity of the submarine in a combat and in this case peacetime situation compromised.

That loss too of so many senior Russian submariners exacerbating the situation that much more! Such personnel hard to replace, years of institutional memory and experience gone in an instant!


K-19 I.

This is coolbert:

Here begins a series of blog entries, extracts with commentary from the book: "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen. Peter a retired American naval Captain and an acknowledged anti-submarine warfare expert.

I recommend this book [2002] highly and without reservation or qualification. Pertinent to many unrevealed aspects of submarine operations during the Cold War. Chock full of interesting tidbits probably not found elsewhere.

"Drawing on Zateyev's own outspoken diary, author Peter Huchthausen, a former U.S. Navy antisubmarine expert, tells the story of the K-19 and as he does, he also presents a capsule history of the U.S.S.R's desperate race to keep up with American submarine technology."

K-19 of course the story of which has been made into a movie. A near nuclear meltdown on the Soviet atomic powered submarine, crew members subjected to dangerous levels of radiation, those charged with containing the disaster even receiving lethal doses.

This book to a degree reminds me of the Penkovskiy Papers from forty years earlier.

"During his entire career Zateyev kept a meticulous diary which in his later years he used to compose a memoir. He regularly recorded his thoughts and feelings about the navy, the system, and detailed his experiences. His insights into the life of naval officers, specifically the navy culture, are unique. That most valuable parts concern his experiences during the crucial formative years of the atomic submarine force."

"'We had to try to drain the reactor compartment lower-level sump., The main stripping pump for Compartment Eight had failed; it was out of order. We decided to drain the sump with the main drainage pump for the central post . . . I felt my gorge rise. I went off to my cabin and lay down on my berth. Thoughts of all kinds were racing through my head. I knew I had to take action. The problem was how to save the crew and the ship. My main worry was the men.'"

To a degree I am surprised that Captain Zatayev maintained a diary/journal during his long military career. That sort of thing I would have thought strictly forbidden during the Soviet era.

 But there it is! 


First Cav.

This is coolbert:

The American First Cavalry Division during that period of the Second World War retained state-side for some period in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and not deployed overseas in an expeditious manner for what was apparently good reason to the Pentagon planners.

"The reason that the Army had a continuing interest in horse cavalry operations in 1942 was simply that there was no fully developed strategy for fighting the war in the event of an invasion of the western hemisphere. If the Army, in a tactical situation such as the invasion of France by Germany, could have been guaranteed networks of good roads, ample fuel supplies, gentle familiar terrain and constant air superiority, it might have decided to get along without the horse cavalry operations. However, chances were, that the US defenses might be challenged on less than ideal terrain; perhaps an enemy landing in Western Mexico or along the coast of Brazil, that was friendly to Germany. In such an event mounted soldiers, using sturdy, sure footed-horses, could prove invaluable."

An "enemy landing" on the west coast of Mexico I presume to be the Japanese. An "enemy landing" on the Atlantic coast of Brazil I presume to be the German. Possibility of such events transpiring low but not to be totally precluded from war plans.

"An important operational factor of the horse cavalry was that it could quickly get around and over hazardous terrain such as hills, rocks, trees or desert, but the majority of actual enemy engagement is done fighting dismounted. On such ground, supported by its own artillery and armored units, the 1st Cavalry Division could lick its weight [???] in enemy tanks."

Cavalry also to a large degree while in the field self-sustaining, foraging freely! There is advantage to this!
"Near wartime 'full strength' levels, the 1st Cavalry Division was equipped with one hundred forty-five armored reconnaissance cars, six hundred trucks of all sizes, and three hundred seventy motorcycles along with thirteen light tanks. Horses combined with the pool of vehicles could pull or carry a complete mobile arsenal "

At the insistence of Mac Arthur, the division relinquishing all horses when deploying to the Pacific theater.