This is rather fun

A record-breaking British Army sniper who killed Taliban insurgents from more than a mile and a half away has revealed it took six seconds to find out if his hit was successful.
In November 2009 Sergeant Craig Harrison, 40, recorded the longest confirmed kill ever made when he shot two militant assassins from a range of 2,475 metres – more than 900 metres beyond his rifle’s effective range.

The fun being that the bloke he took the record from, a Czech sniper, was part of the group chatting in the pub last night.

And the Americans follow the Royal Navy

I wouldn’t say that this is the whole story but it probably is part of it:

The largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy cut an imposing figure as it drifted down the Kennebec River in Maine and toward the open ocean on Monday.
The USS Zumwalt, a 610-foot, 15,000-ton behemoth, will undergo sea trials before joining the US fleet some time next year.

Its pricetag of $4.4 billion (£2.9 billion) is almost as astounding as its bulk, but Navy Captain James Kirk, the ship’s skipper, said he was “fired up” for the Zumwalt to finally set off for the Atlantic Ocean.

Back when, the UK politicians weren’t all that keen on paying the price for more battleships. Do we really need them?

So the Navy went off and bought things that were pretty much battleships but called them cruisers. And then the politicians, a decade or more later, started to ask, well, do we actually need cruisers? Do we have to pay for them in this modern world? So the Navy went off and bought things that were pretty much battleships but called them destroyers.

Not entirely and absolutely true but sorta.

And of course the final end result of this will be corvettes, sometime in the 2200s, carrying a full air arm.

Yes, and?

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by Left-wing MP Andrej Hunko, Angela Merkel’s government admitted that it was still paying out over €100,000 (£71,000) a year in pensions to survivors and relatives of troops from the so-called Blue Division, in whose ranks Spanish volunteers fought on the Eastern Front.

So?

Mr Hunko, of The Left (Die Linke) party, said it was “a scandal that 70 years after the war, Germany is still paying more than €100,000 a year to Nazi collaborators”.
He added: “At that time, those people volunteered to join the German fascists to fight on their side in the war of extermination in eastern Europe. For me it is incomprehensible that the German government should stick to those payments when so many victims of the war are still waiting today for their rightful compensation.”

The United States stopped paying the last of the Confederate war pensions in the 1980s. Russia still pays Soviet pensions to those who manned the Gulag. Germany is still paying pensions to those who shot people trying to get over the Berlin Wall.

Err, no

Death in Helmand: Is Alex Blackman murderer or merely mortal?

No, really. Whatever the facts of the case (and I know too few to be able to judge) the point is not that Blackman is mortal or not, but that the people he shot turned out to be all too mortal.

Some women can do this but not many

According to a U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center study released in 2004, the average fighting load carried by an infantry rifleman operating in Afghanistan was 63 pounds before adding a rucksack. The average approach-march load in combat, which includes a light rucksack, was 96 pounds. The average emergency-approach-march load, which includes a larger rucksack, was 127 pounds.

True, it’s not the majority of men that can do it either but…..I think I would say that physical differences do mean that outcome equality in the military is unlikely at best.

Surprise!

surprise!

They’re the ultra-Nationalist swastika-loving battalion which is openly against the ceasefire agreed with pro-Russian separatists.
Now extremists from the Azov unit, a far-right neo-Nazi militia defending the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, are teaching children as young as six how to fire guns in an attempt to entice them into the country’s bloody conflict
Disturbing pictures have emerged from a military summer camp held on the outskirts of Kiev which show members of the voluntary group teaching so-called ‘Azovets’ how to behave as young fighters. 

If that thing’s actually loaded he’ll learn soon enough to lean into the stock, not back from it.

Yes, Owen Jones is an idiot

More than half of the top 100 media professionals in Britain hail from private schools, even though only 7% of Britons are privately educated. Amongst court judges, the figure surges to 71%; in the senior armed forces it approaches two thirds.

Officering in HM Armed Forces is rather a familial affair. There really are such things as “Army families” and “Navy families”.

And one of the ways that British officers are paid is in a substantial subsidy to boarding school fees for their children. So, the combination of inheritance by choice of serving, plus the way the previous generation get paid, leads to a substantial increase, above that of the general population, of public schoolboys in the senior ranks of the services.

Sigh.

All hail the editor

We should cancel our order for A400M European transport planes, and buy more C-17s and C-130s cheaply from the US.

The Navy should not be allowed its new frigates: instead it should purchase basic ships to act as floating bases for helicopters, Marines and Tomahawk missiles. The Army should likewise move away from tanks and artillery, and towards integrated air support. If the soldiers really feel a need for Apache helicopters once they have F-18s and Reapers, we could replace them: but we should buy straight from Boeing this time, rather than a job-creation scheme in Yeovilton.

If you really don’t want to close down the RAF, then fair enough – we can probably postpone that for a while. But the really important thing is to stop using the defence procurement budget as an industrial subsidy, and start using it for defence.

Reasonably brusque summary, no?

While I normally like Tim Collins he can fuck off here

Those first five weeks involve spartan living, extreme cleanliness of accommodation, equipment and individuals. Figuring out the need for mutual support is left to the recruits, but they learn fast. The reward is sleep – precious oblivion between the frenzy. Sandhurst reckon that they squeeze 11 days of extra consciousness out of the Officer Cadets in the first 35 days.

Muster at 05:30 expects that you arrive on parade having washed, shaved, dressed in immaculately ironed clothes and parade-shined boots, with the correct gear – and that you have made your bed, complete with ironed fold-downs and pillow cases. Those below the standard may find their beds and gear fired out of a window and represented that evening in a more acceptable state at a grid reference on Barossa common, the military training ground near Sandhurst. Breakfast follows, then duties, then physical training – with a run across the training area, through streams and bogs, before another shower – gear into the wash to be dried, ironed and ready for inspection for the next day – those chores to be completed in the short periods between normal training. The training in the first five weeks requires one to master military skills, first aid and theory, including military history. It takes a lot to stay awake, and falling asleep in a lecture is normally rewarded with another run for all 30 men and women of the platoon.

Riiight.

Yes, I can see the value to the military of people working as a team. What I can’t see is the value to society as a whole of everyone submerging their individuality in said team.

So how do you cope? Well, you can’t. That’s the point. Only by dividing the work between teams can it ever be done. A team does the wash, a team irons – and everybody keeps everybody awake in lectures. In the field, a team makes the tea and cooks the scoff while others put up the shelters. If anybody is unlucky enough to be summoned to Barossa in the evening with their bed and locker to be presented immaculately, then it takes a whole section of eight to get the bed, locker gear and victim there on time and acceptably dressed. A ratio of eight or 10 to assist one, normally, for a pass. Oh, and then there is the foot drill – hours of it, learning to move as a squad in pace and in time.

The point is that by minimising the extra runs and visits to the common you get to sleep. Those who get to sleep a little do so by helping each other. By week five the exhausted recruits can deliver themselves and gear to the right place at the right time, like clockwork. They are a team – and that is when the military starts to train them for real.

And this also doesn’t work. Because that societal pressure only works upon people who wish to remain within the society. Or, as the economist would point out, free riding is all too easy. Simply don’t shave, or even fake falling asleep in a lecture. Everyone gets that run. Do it again that afternoon, again the next day. You are now hated….which is the point of doing so. You’ve destroyed the very team that the process is trying to build. You will, of course, be thrown out.

Which is the point and purpose of doing it. And what’s the point of compulsory basic training if it’s easy enough to get thrown out by day three? Hardly compulsory then, is it?

And what rate do you need of that sort of bolshieness for the whole system to come falling down? 2%? 10%? 20%?

You think current day society doesn’t contain 20% of the people who would simply tell the Army to fuck off? What’s the current fall out rate among volunteers?

If someone tried this with me I do know what I would do. Not that they are at my age but still. So, once I’ve worked out the game, collective punishment for my individual falings, then I fail at each and every possible opportunity. Everyone gets punished for those failings: until either I’m a complete free rider on their efforts, the entire team does nothing but the punishments, someone murders me or I’m thrown out.

But I’ll tell you the things I won’t be doing: shaving, polishing boots, ironing creases in blankets and all that malarkey. Because I’ll be aiming to get thrown out. And that’s the thing Collins has forgotten here. All the people this is currently being done to want to be there. And those sorts of collective punishments just won’t work when some goodly proportion are willing to tell everyone to fuck off.

As I would.

And let’s be honest about this, say we did bring basic training back. We going to have jail sentences for those who don’t complete it? Shoot people who take the piss? Jail them?

No, not going to happen is it: so what power does the Army have?

Well, be quick I suppose

Defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol was brutally executed in Pyongyang
He was killed after falling asleep in meetings and talking back to Kim
Officials killed him with an ZPU-4 anti-aircraft gun in front of hundreds of bloodthirsty officials at a military camp near the capital
Likely to have been shot from just 100 feet – despite gun’s 26,000 feet range

You’re not going to stay conscious long with anti-aircraft fire hitting you now, are you?

Well Laurie

Last night Miss Penny, of London, said she did not realise that the George Cross awarded to Malta was different to the medal awarded to her grandmother.

She said: ‘The George Cross was awarded to the island of Malta, and my grandmother got a special commemorative medal. I didn’t realise the distinction and made a mistake. That does not give anyone the right to abuse me or my family.’

Actually, this does give us the right to abuse you for being an ignorant git.

Not that I’m biased or anything being the grandson of someone who did receive such a gallantry medal in that war (GM from memory, could have been Albert or Edward, wasn’t GC). A GP in Birmingham who operated on people trapped in burning basements, delivered children in the collapsing shells of bombed houses.

Isn’t this what spies are supposed to do?

Documents released by American whistle-blower Edward Snowden claim that Britain spied on the Argentine government for several years.

British agents are alleged to have been actively spying on Argentina between 2006 and 2011 as part of a large-scale operation.

Err, yes? It’s rather the point isn’t it? Keep an eye on people who claim your sovereign territory, the people you’ve recently been to war against?

And?

Russia has gone on the offensive in the Baltic, warning Denmark that if it joins Nato’s missile defence shield, its navy will be a legitimate target for a Russian nuclear attack.

“I don’t think that Danes fully understand the consequence if Denmark joins the American-led missile defence shield. If they do, then Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” said Mikhail Vanin, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, to the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.


Given that
Denmark is in Nato this is already the case, isn’t it?

Calling you military types

So, Army to have a unit to deal with Twitter:

The Army is setting up a new unit that will use psychological operations and social media to help fight wars “in the information age”.

Head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter said the move was about trying to operate “smarter”.

The 77th Brigade, made up of reservists and regular troops and based in Hermitage, Berkshire, will be formally created in April.

OK. But do they actually mean “brigade”? Something above regimental formation? With a Major General in charge? To do Twitter?

Well, yes

Buried deep in the Ministry of Defence’s latest accounts is the startling fact that Richards has amassed a retirement hoard worth £4 million.

It is thought to be the largest sum ever racked up by a public servant and is likely to raise eyebrows at a time when the Army has been forced to sell off its crown jewels such as the Old War Office in an effort to raise money.

The pot, which stood at £3.99 million last March, includes a lump sum payout of up to £445,000.

The accounts state that he receives a gold-plated annual pension as high as £150,000 before tax. However, a source says that due to Coalition tax changes, his pension will now be £117,107.


The reason
that pension has such a high value is that it’s likely to be paid out for a long time. He’s 62. Actuarially, that’s going to be paid for 20-25 years.

Also, interest rates are currently low so that actuarial value of the lump sum that equals such an income is high.

Bit of a non-story really.

Title inflation

A woman who has become the first to command an RAF fast jet squadron is expected to lead bombing missions over Iraq this summer.

​Wing Commander Nikki Thomas​, who took charge of the newly reformed No 12 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk​ ​on Friday​,

Wasn’t there a time when squadrons were led by Squadron Leaders and Wings led by Wing Commanders?