I’d hate to go to war in a ship like that – but men did

Following on from our discussion yesterday about a shipwreck discovered deep beneath the Baltic Sea, and comparing its size to Columbus’ three ships that he used to cross the Atlantic, I was taken with the story of USS Providence in the Revolutionary War.  She was a sloop-of-war, approximately 65 feet in length, with a crew of 54 and carrying 12 four-pounder cannon (just about the smallest naval cannon of their day).  Since each cannon usually required a crew of six or more gunners, a crew that small meant that she could fire only one broadside (i.e. the guns on a single side of the ship) at a time, but

Continue reading

ISIL terrorists are still having an effect, even after their deaths

ISIL has been defeated as an occupying power in Iraq.  Its “conventional” forces are almost all dead, and the survivors have disintegrated into small cells, which are still active in Iraq and elsewhere and trying to maintain what influence they can by terrorism.  However, Strategy Page reports that ISIL terrorism isn’t limited to current actions.  It’s also affecting millions through its earlier incarnation. The Iraqi government has encountered a major problem with people who fled their homes to escape approaching ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) forces. Many of these civilians have been refugees for nearly five years. Overall more

Continue reading

Destroying an Iraqi nuclear reactor, 38 years ago

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.  It was known as Operation Opera (also called Operation Babylon in some circles).  It put an end to Saddam Hussein’s hopes of developing his own nuclear weapons. 38 years later, the pilots who undertook that mission have been reminiscing about it. Thirty-eight years after Operation Opera — the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak — surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history”: that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran. When Israel discovered

Continue reading

It’s about time!

For some time, the US military has been investigating medals awarded for valor in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s been postulated that some actions should have been recognized at a considerably higher level than the medals that were actually awarded.  Military.com tells us that several Medals of Honor may be conferred as a result. Four Medals of Honor. Thirty Service Crosses. Twenty-three Silver Stars. After a three-year review of medals for military heroism in conflicts following Sept. 11, 2001, the Pentagon has upgraded 57 awards for valor — and so far, sailors are the biggest beneficiaries. Officials told Military.com that the

Continue reading

“Write us, as we are, were, and shall be, not your assumptions”

Writing at Mad Genius Club, reflecting on Memorial Day, Jonathan LaForce (whom I’m pleased to call my friend) examined the way writers (and, by extension, other entertainment content creators) portray military service personnel and veterans.  Like myself, he finds many such portrayals to be lacking.  Here’s an excerpt. I grew up listening to the stories of the men who went ashore at Omaha and Utah.  I wondered how they could summon the very wherewithal to commit such acts of heroism.  I had those, the stories of those American boys drafted in Korea; my first Cub Scout Master was a brown water sailor

Continue reading

The first Memorial Day

Memorial Day, celebrated today in the United States, wasn’t always called that.  It was named Decoration Day by the man who started it, General John A. Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of veterans of the Civil War Union forces.  The celebration was first observed on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery.  It was renamed Memorial Day in 1967. Here’s the original Proclamation that started the ball rolling. General Order No. 11 Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868 I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the

Continue reading

“A meteor filled with swords”

That’s what Task & Purpose calls the recently revealed R9X version of the Hellfiremissile.  The Wall Street Journal described it thus: The U.S. government has developed a specially designed, secret missile for pinpoint airstrikes that kill terrorist leaders with no explosion, drastically reducing damage and minimizing the chances of civilian casualties, multiple current and former U.S. officials said. . . . A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and

Continue reading

Will vehicle cannon become obsolete?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve published two articles about the increasing use of larger cannon aboard infantry fighting vehicles (IFV’s) and armored personnel carriers (APC’s): A bigger gun for lighter armored vehicles? More about larger cannon for infantry fighting vehicles There’s an impressive amount of effort being put into the development of such weapons.  Trouble is, on the horizon is another development that may make them all redundant.  I refer, of course, to the vehicle-mounted laser. Lasers have been vehicle-mounted for some years already, but in low-power configurations that might take out a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at

Continue reading

Revisiting the Rhodesian War

Earlier this week, I analyzed a New York Times article about Rhodesia and its influence on white supremacists.  In that article, I noted: The visceral response of many Rhodesian servicemen was to “do unto others what was being done to them”. They became as much terrorists, in the way they treated their own people, as the guerrillas against whom they fought. I know they did – I saw them do it. (If you don’t want to believe that, read some of the literature that’s come out of the security forces since then. I can list some books here, if there’s enough interest.

Continue reading