A little reminder of past poverty and the army

He recalled the overpowering sense of “pull” from the office and how ten days later he was at Catterick, the Royal Signals training regiment, marvelling at being fed three square meals a day.

I’ve heard similar from one of our fellows here. The one who spends his retirement in the hills overlooking my own place of birth – well, close to Strete anyway.

Hmm, why?

The report said: “Navy surface ships would use high-energy solid state lasers initially for countering small boats, UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and potentially in the future for countering ASCMs [anti-ship cruise missiles] and ASBMs [anti-ship ballistic missiles].

“They would be short-range defensive weapons. They would counter targets at ranges of about one mile to perhaps eventually a few miles.”

Why short range? Ah, yes, obviously, silly me. Since the days of the big battleships much of a naval battle takes place beyond the horizon, out of the line of sight…..

Just one of those things

On April 14, 1945, Dole’s company was ordered to take Hill 913. It was soon trapped by withering machinegun fire from a nearby farmhouse. Dole was cut down as he led a charge on the German position. Bullets broke his spine, destroyed his shoulder and all but severed his arm from his body.

I’ve always thought it worse – when it isn’t of course, death is death, injury is injury – when it’s right at the end. There were what, 3 weeks to go at this point?

As with All Quiet on the Western Front, it’s the death being in the last month (?) of the war that increases the poignancy. And I’ve long had a deep, deep, revulsion over the events of the morning on Nov 11, 1918. As is remarked in many a place, there was a last and extended salvo of artillery just before the ceasefire.

Why? What’s the damn point of killing a few more an hour, two, before it stops?

Having a drink is one thing

The British military is perfectly happy with that:

The Defence Secretary is to complain to the leaders of Labour and the SNP after three MPs were “drinking heavily” on their way to an official visit to Gibraltar.

Ben Wallace said the MPs showed “a lack of respect for the enduring work of our Armed Forces” and risked “undermining respect for Parliament” after drinking on a plane carrying MPs, defence staff and members of the public.

Charlotte Nichols, a Labour MP, and the SNP MPs David Linden and Drew Hendry were said to have been drinking before and during the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Gibraltar on Tuesday.

It is claimed that when the flight landed, Ms Nichols required a wheelchair to get from the baggage reclaim to a military minibus, while Mr Linden and Mr Hendry were “lairy” and “rude” when their Covid passes did not work at the airport gates.

The British military very much frowns upon drunkenness. In the officer class that is. RN rules at sea for example. Have as much as you like of whatever. Duty free too. Just sign your own chitty. No, go on.

Be drunk at sea and that’s one career gone. I’d imagine the Army’s the same and who cares about the Crabs?

Tsk. Actually getting pissed means you’re other ranks.

Yes, obviously

Military chiefs encourage a “laddish culture” in the army because soldiers have to go and fight the enemy, the outgoing head of the armed forces has said.

The army is that little bit – lots maybe – different. In that it really is all about “unit cohesion”. Ghastly phrase but there it is. Folks just won’t march toward machine guns unless there’s some pressing reason why they should. Having the NKVD behind them shooting those who retreat is one management technique. Another is having that unit cohesion. I’m not going to let down my mates. Or even, I couldn’t deal with the social shame of having done so.

It’s all about ingroup and outgroup. And another name for men creating an ingroup is “laddish”.

Amazing that we’ve ended up with a body politic too stupid to understand what every other society has known since phalanx was the cutting edge of military technology.

Not wholly and really, no

China’s hypersonic missile test ‘close to Sputnik moment’, says US general
Gen Mark Milley says reports about breakthrough missile have ‘all our attention’, and says US working on same weapons

I did some work on the US hypersonic scramjets 25 years ago……



Joan Wingate Lamb was born in Chicago in 1940, to Deborah (née Bent), a housewife, and Theodore, an architect who died in a plane crash in Portugal in 1943.

American, plane crash, Portugal a neutral state, 1943?

Architect? Possibly, but probably not the reason for that flight.

Umm, well…..

I served with the Nato mission in Afghanistan – it was a bloated mess
From relying on outsourced contractors to failing to tackle corruption, the west’s military presence was not fit for purpose

The military aren’t the group you rely upon to tackle corruption. Further, the military always rely upon outside contractors. There’s no point in spending years creating a trained killing machine to then use it cooking omelettes. Or, as my brother did, ordering in flavoured grits.

Well, yes, OK

China has developed the world’s most advanced wind tunnel, capable of simulating 30 times the speed of sound and handing Beijing an edge in the race for hypersonic weapons.

The JF-22 facility in Beijing could replicate speeds of up to 23,000mph, far outstripping its rivals in the United States. It is due for completion this year.

Although myself I might wonder whether it’s actually going to work. “Due for completion” and “could” are little signals there.

Re a recent obituary

Did you note that remarkable fact in Harding’s obit, that he was retained on half pay after his enormity with Lady Buck – a service tradition?!

Remarkable? Marshals – whether Field or Air Force – plus Admirals of the Fleet never do retire. So they don’t get pensions, just go on half pay.

OK, so it is remarkable, but I thought all knew it already?

This isn’t as big a problem as you might think

Sophisticated military equipment gifted to the Afghan National Army by British and US forces could be used by the Taliban, experts have warned.

For years, US, British and Nato forces have supplied the Afghan security forces tanks, weapons, armoured vehicles, helicopters and sensitive communications equipment so they could resist the insurgents without Western help.

However, now the Afghan National Army has been routed, huge quantities of military hardware has been found, often in pristine condition, after its soldiers fled their bases.

Equipment meant to be used against the Taliban has instead now become part of their arsenal.

Experts warned that although the equipment was of limited use without training, maintenance and spares, the Taliban could either be given help from Pakistan or they could coerce former pilots by threatening their families.

Well, yes. Except this sort of hardware requires a lot of maintenance. A lorra lot.

I even know someone, have been mildly in business with for decades, someone who supplies such spare parts and maintenance. To, actually, these very bits of kit often enough.

It’s not even that they’ll not be able to get those spare parts to do the maintenance. It’s that the economy simply won’t support their doing so. Not, even, on cost grounds. There’s simply not the depth of knowledge and skill to keep complex kit operating.

To take just the one example, to keep those helicopters in the air they need maintenance teams from the US or ex-Soviet states (depends on which bird is being talked about). Local knowledge ain’t enough.

So, those birds are gong to fly for weeks, maybe at a push months and certainly not years.

An interesting prediction

The US president said as recently as 8 July that there was no likelihood of Afghanistan being overrun.

Hmm. And here’s a problem that afflicts any at all hierarchy that tries to do stuff:

The Sigar report also lambasted the tendency for politicians and senior military to look for good news. It says there is a “natural desire for good news to pass on up the chain of command”.

“In the words of one former senior military official: ‘As intelligence makes its way up higher, it gets consolidated and watered down; it gets politicised. It gets politicked because once policymakers get their hands on it, and frankly, once operational commanders get their hands on it, they put their twist on it.

“Operational commanders, state department policymakers and Department of Defense policymakers are going to be inherently rosy in their assessments. They will be unaccepting of hard-hitting intelligence.’”

All factories report that the Plan is met being, Comrade!

As to the specific problem:

It also raises the question of why the Biden administration ever thought it was safe to leave Afghan forces on their own after decades of dependence on the US for key skills, including air cover, logistics, maintenance, and training support for ANDSF ground vehicles and aircraft; security; base support; and transportation services.

So anything complex wasn’t to be done locally by locals.

At the outset, the US began transforming the Afghan National Army from a light-infantry force to a combined-arms service with army, air force, and special forces element.

The local economy – in the broad sense, in that sense of capabilities and technical competence, not just money – couldn’t support a complex military. Thus, perhaps, it would have been better to simply remain with what could be supported locally, a light infantry force.

It’s worse than this, it’s an error

The plight of hundreds of Afghan interpreters who have served alongside British forces over the past 20 years is becoming increasingly desperate. They are hunted by a resurgent Taliban. They are executed for “collaboration”. They are ignored by a Home Office refusing to grant many of them a right of resettlement. Our national failure to acknowledge our obligation to these men and their families is a moral catastrophe. In putting things right, we might begin to rescue not only them, but also ourselves.

Incentives matter.

They have helped our military. Therefore, in order to gain help from indigenes for our military in the future we should be flying planeloads of them here. Right now. And being liberal about it too. Better that we bring too many than too few.

Not doing so is worse than being illiberal or whatever, it’s an error.

Erm, hellooo?

Bring in Army to solve migrant crisis, former Border Force boss says

You know that liquid bit that goes up and down? Tanks and horses don’t work well there. It’s the other lads you want, with the blue uniforms. The Navy. They too have guns to sink the boats, it’s just their guns float…..

The tank is now a century old technology

And yet government procurement still gives us:

It comes after trials of the vehicles had to be suspended from November 2020 to March of this year, after it was found troops had suffered swollen joints and tinnitus while being inside the vehicles.

In a Government report seen by The Telegraph it states that safety limitations on the tanks include “speed restrictions of 20mph” as well as “limiting time in the platform to 1hr 30mins before crew change”.

The report warns that due to the speed restrictions, which are understood to be caused by design flaws that have resulted in excessive vibrations that prevent cannons being fired on the move, the Household Cavalry regiment “cannot conduct effective collective training on the platform”.

Meanwhile, it states that due to safety limitations the current design means “the vehicle cannot reverse over an obstacle more than 20cm high”.

You should have seen the food in the Soviet rations shops after only 70 years of government procurement.

Still, this is fun:

The programme to deliver a new family of armoured fighting vehicles was decided in 2010, with 589 different variants of the vehicle ordered in 2014.

Gonna be fun with spare parts, isn’t it?

How very cool

On the banks of the Stossensee there was a stand-off between British and Soviet troops, who tried to secure the crash site but failed. They watched suspiciously as the British ostensibly started the task of salvaging the fighter and returning the wreckage and the bodies of the airmen to the Soviet authorities.

Attlee had called in navy divers from Britain to examine the Soviet aircraft. The British and Americans were particularly interested in the Yak’s secret radar, which was known as Skipscan, which was more advanced than anything operated by the western air forces, as well as the fighter’s turbojet engines.

On the surface of the lake the British appeared to struggle to raise the jet or find the bodies of the crew. On the bed of the lake Attlee’s divers removed the Yak’s radar and engines and dragged them to a secure location far from prying eyes. The latest Soviet technology was then put in crates and flown from Berlin to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in Hampshire for analysis.

Less than two days later the radar and engines were returned to the wreck of the Yak, which was then raised and passed to the Soviet authorities along with the bodies of the Soviet airmen. It was a remarkable operation. Within a year the British and Americans had reduced the critical gap in radar technology.