Category Archive 'US Army'
01 Dec 2016

US Army: Attention, Mad Scientists…

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madscientist

Small Wars Journal:

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is pleased to announce its first Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest and will accept submissions between November 22, 2016 and February 15, 2017.

The topic for this competition is “Warfare in 2030 to 2050.” Writers from all walks of life have the opportunity to contribute ideas that are outside what the Army is already considering about the future. These stories are being used to explore fresh ideas about the future of warfare and technology. Writers are asked to consider (but not limited to) how trends in science, technology, society, the global economy, and other aspects could change the world in a meaningful way, with implications for how the Army operates in future conflicts.

The winning contestant will receive an invitation with most expenses paid to the concluding 2017 Mad Scientist Conference co-hosted by Georgetown University, Center for Security Studies, School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C. Submissions selected as runners up will be published in one of several professional military journals.

For more information and guidelines for the competition visit the TRADOC G2 2017 Mad Scientist Conference Science Fiction Writing Contest Page or contact Allison Winer at allison.d.winer.civ@mail.mil.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

29 Sep 2015

People: The Two Women Graduated Ranger School (With Plenty of Help)

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FemaleRangers
1st Lts. Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest

People Magazine (not exactly a rabid conservative source) reports that the two female candidates successfully passing US Army Ranger School for the first time last April had more than a little special help.

[T]he women got special treatment and played by different rules,” sources say.

Ranger School consists of three phases: Benning, which lasts 21 days and includes water survival, land navigation, a 12-mile march, patrols, and an obstacle course; Mountain Phase, which lasts 20 days, and includes assaults, ambushes, mountaineering and patrols; and Swamp Phase, which lasts 17 days and covers waterborne operations.

But whereas men consistently were held to the strict standards outlined in the Ranger School’s Standing Operating Procedures handbook sources say, the women were allowed lighter duties and exceptions to policy.

Multiple sources told PEOPLE:

• Women were first sent to a special two-week training in January to get them ready for the school, which didn’t start until April 20. Once there they were allowed to repeat the program until they passed – while men were held to a strict pass/fail standard.

• Afterward they spent months in a special platoon at Fort Benning getting, among other things, nutritional counseling and full-time training with a Ranger.

• While in the special platoon they were taken out to the land navigation course – a very tough part of the course that is timed – on a regular basis. The men had to see it for the first time when they went to the school.

• Once in the school they were allowed to repeat key parts – like patrols – while special consideration was not given to the men.

• A two-star general made personal appearances to cheer them along during one of the most challenging parts of the school, multiple sources tell PEOPLE.

The end result? Two women – First Lts. Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver – graduated August 21 (along with 381 men) and are wearing the prestigious Ranger Tab. Griest was surprised they made it.

“I thought we were going to be dropped after we failed Darby [part of Benning] the second time,” Griest said at a press conference before graduation. “We were offered a Day One Recycle.”

At their graduation, Maj Gen. Scott Miller, who oversees Ranger School, denied the Army eased its standards or was pressured to ensure at least one woman graduated.

“Standards remain the same,” Miller said, according to The Army Times. “The five-mile run is still five miles. The 12-mile march is still 12 miles.

“There was no pressure from anyone above me to change standards,” said Miller, who declined to speak to PEOPLE.

Instructors say otherwise.

“We were under huge pressure to comply,” one Ranger instructor says. “It was very much politicized.”

The women didn’t want or ask for special treatment, says one who attempted the program.

“All of us wanted the same standards for males and females,” Billi Blaschke, who badly injured her ankle only six days into a required pre-assessment program, tells PEOPLE. “We wanted to do it on our own.”

On September 2, the Army announced that Ranger School is now open both to men and women.

Read the whole thing.

09 Jul 2014

Firearm Experts Told the Army So

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ColtArmyRevolver
The Colt M1892 Revolver chambered in .38 Long Colt was found inadequate to stop a hopped-up, charging Muslim terrorist during the Phillipine Insurrection.

Russ Chastain observes that we seem to have a US Army that can’t learn from history, and is therefore obliged to repeat it.

Dear U.S. Army: We told you so.

When 38 bullets (actually .357 caliber, which is pretty much 9mm) failed to stop its enemies, the U.S. Army went in search of a bigger, better cartridge. The result was John Browning’s M1911 semi-automatic pistol and the 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge for which it was designed.

As you can guess from the M1911 designation, the 45 ACP was adopted into military service 103 years ago.

In 1985, the U.S. Army took a huge step backwards when it summarily dumped the 45 ACP in favor of the underpowered 9mm Luger cartridge (a.k.a. 9mm Parabellum). Irony: The 9mm is not quite as powerful as the cartridge which the 45 ACP replaced about 75 years earlier.

Now, things have apparently come full circle. Citing combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, authorities are once again recognizing the advantage of using a more powerful cartridge.

True to form, the government won’t look back at what once worked well and embrace it. Instead they plan to spend billions of our dollars creating and adopting something they’re calling a Modular Handgun System (MHS). And they’re not just tossing out the 9mm ammo and firearms. They’re ditching whole heaps of gear, holsters included, and starting over.

They haven’t yet settled on a caliber, and are looking just about anything better than a nine. This would include a faster same-caliber round (357 Sig) as well as larger-caliber cartridges like the 40 S&W, 10mm Auto, and 45 ACP.

Devotees of the diminutive 9mm Luger cartridge are going to have a hard time swallowing the fact that their Precious has been found to be a bit, er, weak. …

Anybody think they’ll end up with some jazzed-up version of a 1911? Hmmmm…

Read the whole thing.

1911kit
John Browning’s Model 1911 design, chambered in .45 ACP, was consequently adopted to replace the too anemic .38 revolver.

05 Jul 2014

Army Wants a More Potent Sidearm

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1911A1-10
The sidearm they need has already been invented.

Military Times:

The U.S. Army is moving forward to replace the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun that also meets the needs of the other services.

As the lead agent for small arms, the Army will hold an industry day July 29 to talk to gun makers about the joint, Modular Handgun System or MHS.

The MHS would replace the Army’s inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols with one that has greater accuracy, lethality, reliability and durability, according to Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga.

“It’s a total system replacement — new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything,” Easlick said.

The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years. If successful, it would result in the Defense Department buying more than 400,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions. …

One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm, weapons officials said. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.

Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have complained that the 9mm round is not powerful enough to be effective in combat.

“The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects — or cause more damage — when it hits enemy combatants. “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

It shouldn’t take a long time to figure out that pretty much the ideal design already exists and dates back 103 years.

18 May 2014

What Would Obama’s Army Do If It Found the Contemporary Equivalent of Major Lawrence Enlisting the Tribes on its Side?

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JimGant

Answer: It would court martial him, reduce him in rank, and force him to retire.

Aaron MacLean, reviewing American Spartan by Ann Scott Tyson.

The indictment of Jim Gant, a major in the U.S. Army Special Forces until his reduction in rank and compulsory retirement as a captain in 2013, is as follows. While leading the American effort to mobilize Afghan tribes against the Taliban in the Konar valley during 2011 and 2012, he drank alcohol. He used prescription pain medication that was not, in fact, prescribed for him by a physician. He stored explosives in his room, rather than in an approved space. He kept inappropriate materials of a sexual nature in his room. He exchanged government funds, and his own personal money, with Afghans for goods and services in a series of transactions that were not approved by his chain of command. He provided the Afghan tribal militias he was training with U.S. government gasoline, again without authorization. He falsified numerous documents in support of these unapproved transactions.

Additionally—and notably—during his time living among the Konar tribes he also regularly cohabited with his now-wife, Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson, who participated in operations with the tribes and was granted access to classified information pursuant to those operations. Finally, to quote from a memo by a Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas and sent to Gant in April of 2012:

    During your time in command, you purposely and repeatedly endangered the lives of your Soldiers. You taught, and ordered executed, [SIC] unconventional and unsafe ‘figure-8’ immediate actions in response to enemy contact. You painted inappropriate and unauthorized symbols on Government vehicles, painted the symbol on your vehicle a different color, then challenged the enemy to try and kill you without consideration to your Service Members’ lives or well being. [SIC] You sent ‘night letters’ to the enemy, further drawing dangerous attention to yourself and subordinates. These are the same Soldiers that you have the duty to properly train, mentor, lead, and most importantly, defend.

In March 2012, when the curtain finally descended on Major Gant’s operation in the Konar, his superiors sent a U.S. Army Special Forces team to seize his camp and to arrest him and his second-in-command. Yet Gant’s soldiers—young infantrymen from a regular battalion, earlier provided to Gant instead of the seasoned special operations team that he had been promised—wept openly. The Afghan tribesmen who maintained the position jointly with the soldiers warned the newly arrived team not to handcuff Maj. Gant. Things might get ugly. Shortly after his removal, several Konar tribes sent a deputation of dozens of elders to petition the provincial governor, Fazllulah Wahidi, to ask Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. Army to allow Gant to return to the valley.

With such an extensive list of charges against him, what had Jim Gant done to be so popular with his own soldiers, and with the Afghans among whom he lived?

He had won.

————————————–

But David Axe doesn’t care about Gant’s success. The man violated chickenshit Army regulations. He drank, used drugs, and armed his girlfriend. We can’t have our wars won by men capable of breaking rules.

Tyson took a leave of absence from The Washington Post and joined Gant in Kunar in late 2010, ostensibly in order to write American Spartan. But Tyson’s experiences with the Special Forces in Kunar were more intimate than a typical media embed—something Wood fails to point out.

Gant taught Tyson to use Special Forces’ weapons, presumably including, at a minimum, assault rifles and handguns. “On missions with Gant and his team, she wore U.S. military fatigues and tucked her hair up under a ballcap,” Wood writes. “Her job in a firefight was to pass ammunition to the turret gunner.”

I’ve embedded dozens of times with a dozen different armies—once even with Army Special Forces. My hosts never offered to train me on their weapons. In several firefights, no one ever assigned me the job of handing out ammo. I never wore military fatigues, in part because I didn’t want anyone to mistake me for a soldier.

Because I’m not one. It seems that in the company of a warrior she greatly admired—and was growing to love—Tyson forgot that she’s not a soldier, either.

The Pentagon doesn’t authorize journalists to participate in combat. When reporter Michael Yon, himself a former Green Beret, picked up a rifle and opened fire to help protect a wounded American soldier in Iraq in 2005, it whipped up a bureaucratic shitstorm inside the Pentagon—and what one news report described as “a stern reprimand from the Army” for Yon.

But Wood gives Gant a pass for more or less enlisting Tyson. “They argue in the book that her presence was a useful link to village women and helped cement ties between the Americans and the Afghans,” Wood writes.

It doesn’t occur to him that, in fact, the mere presence of an unmarried woman in a formal setting might be highly offensive to conservative Afghans.

Besides arming his girlfriend journalist, Gant broke lots of other Army rules in Kunar. He drank alcohol and took sleeping pills, painkillers and “other pharmaceuticals,” according to Wood. Gant kept classified documents in his room, in violation of specific government guidelines for securing secret information.

“Yes, I broke those rules and I never say I didn’t,” Gant told Wood. “But I mean, we’re not talking rape, murder, stealing property.” …

Most Green Berets don’t take their girlfriends, booze and drugs to war with them. They certainly don’t need lovers and gullible reporters to write elaborate defenses of their combat records.

Gant is no hero. His behavior in Afghanistan was unacceptable. And no hagiography… can redeem the man’s shameful legacy.

Hat tip to Sarah Jenislawski.

01 Jan 2013

Military Award Proliferation: US Army Versus Communist China

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David Petraeus wore regularly a lot more awards than Dwight Eisenhower did many years ago.

Marines have long remarked humorously on the proliferation of awards, badges, and decorations worn by members of the US Army. General Petraeus’s resignation as CIA Director recently even provoked comment from left-wing commentators, like Andrew Sullivan, on the questionable taste of contemporary doggie custom.

The Marines, of course, are a lot better qualified to criticize in areas of this kind than are foreign poofter journalists who make professional careers of Dolchstoß-ing those who protect them from big bad sand monkeys who would do them harm.

I was reminded of the criticism of General Petraeus’s uniform’s collection of shiny hardware by a photo of even more heavily be-medalled Chinese officers that has been floating around on Facebook. The original was sufficiently profuse with badges that it provoked some wag to use Photoshop to multiply them, and even to extend the medals to some Chinamen’s trousers. (see below)


The legitimate, original photo of Chinese officers.


Photoshopped parody. There are medals even on the sleeves and trousers.

15 Nov 2012

Duty

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1960s US ARVN advisor

For Veterans Day, Major General Jerry R. Curry shared a memory from the War in Vietnam.

It was the spring of 1971 and Captain Larry McNamara, one of my advisors to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), and I were sitting across from each other on a hot, sparsely covered jungle hillside sipping bitter Vietnamese tea. In between us was a fold-up wooden military campaign table.

My other advisors sat silently apart from us under a clump of pine trees pretending not to be eaves dropping on our conversation. They were cleaning and oiling their weapons, preparing for combat, deep in the jungle. Occasionally their eyes wandered toward us.

A week before, Larry had been deserted and left to die out in the jungle by the Fourth ARVN Battalion commander, Major Uy. Uy was a first class coward and Larry’s returning alive was an embarrassment to him. If Larry had died as Uy intended, Uy could have fabricated a story about the fighting having been so intense that he and Mac had been forcibly separated and he had risked his own life trying to find him.

But because Larry had defied all of the odds and come back alive, Uy was forced to explain why they had become separated. According to Uy’s version of events, he had become so deathly sick that he was unable to lead his battalion. So he was forced to make his way back to the rear to find medical help. Most of the other ARVN officers and senior sergeants had followed him. Larry had ended up commanding the encircled ARVN remnant and was able to lead them to safety.

“Larry,” you’ve studied the plan and you know that we’re committing every available combat unit to this fight.”

“Yes, and you want me to go back out with the Fourth Battalion again. Is it still commanded by that coward, Uy?”

“Yes it is,” I said.

“Colonel, you know as well as I that at the first shot fired, he will turn tail and run and the battalion will fall apart, just like it did last week.” He was stating simple, unemotional fact.

After a long pause he added, “If I go, I won’t come back. The North Vietnamese Army won’t let me get away twice.”

“I know,” I replied looking away, feeling pain deep down inside. “Do you want me to go in your place?”

“No,” he countered sharply. “You’ve got your job to do and I’ve got mine.”

Simultaneously we pushed our metal folding chairs back, stood, and shook hands. “Goodbye, Colonel,” he said. “We won’t meet again … at least not in this life. Write my wife, tell her I love her.” I nodded and he was gone.

Read the whole thing.

09 Jul 2012

$5B Later, the Army Gives Up on Camo Competition with the Marine Corps

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The Daily:

The Army is changing clothes.

Over the next year, America’s largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern. The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake.

Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn. Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a “fiasco.” …

“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” said an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq, wearing UCP in Baghdad and the deserts outside Basra. “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.” …

“You’ve got to look back and say what a huge waste of money that was,” said Lawrence Holsworth, marketing director of a camouflage company called Hyde Definition and the editor of Strike-Hold!, a website that tracks military gear. “UCP was such a fiasco.”

The Army’s camouflage researchers say the story of the universal pattern’s origins begins when they helped develop a similarly pixilated camouflage now worn by the Marine Corps. That pattern, known as MARPAT, first appeared in 2002 after being selected from among dozens of candidates and receiving plenty of input from Marines on the ground at the sniper school in Quantico, Va. …

“Brand identity trumped camouflage utility,” [Eric] Graves [editor of the military gear publication Soldier Systems Daily] said. “That’s what this really comes down to: ‘We can’t allow the Marine Corps to look more cool than the Army.’ ”

Hat tip to Amy Alkon.

11 Jul 2011

New US Primary Long Arm Trials Scheduled

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The US Army has invited gun makers to submit candidates for the next US primary long arm, which they intend to be a carbine.

The Army has given gun makers that want to build your next carbine 90 days to throw their hats in the ring. The message is clear: The Army isn’t looking for the lowest bidder, it’s looking for the most accurate, efficient, quiet, lethal and reliable weapon available.

Service leaders detailed what they want — and how they plan to get it — in a June 30 request for proposal. It seeks “an assault weapon that will provide accuracy, lethality, minimized visual and aural signature and survivability enhancements to all Army formations. … This weapon will possess the capability, in offensive and defensive operations, to destroy or neutralize the adversary and their capabilities, at any time and in any place.”

The RfP allows competitors to submit only one weapon for consideration. There are no caliber restrictions. Although many modern carbines are multicaliber weapons, they will compete with one caliber. And if a weapon’s caliber is not 5.56mm or 7.62mm, the manufacturer must provide 234,000 rounds to cover all tests.

Top performers will be identified by way of two down-select phases that will start this fall. Phase I will grade the weapons in three key areas:

• Technical aspects, such as the ability to mount existing weapons, optics and suppressor kits;

• The company’s ability to produce 2,000 and a surge of 4,200 carbines per month;

• Cost. The Army says performance factors are more important than price.

It is interesting to note that the Army specifies that they want a carbine.

Carbines are shorter, characteristically somewhat less accurate, versions of a rifle, used traditionally by mounted cavalry which would find carrying a full-length rifle awkward and inconvenient. Infantry are normally armed with rifles. Besides being more accurate, the full-length rifle is superior to the carbine in some other crucial respects. Inevitably in war, there are occasions when hand-to-hand combat occurs in which the infantryman’s rifle is required to be used in the capacity of a spear or a club. The rifle is more suitable for use with the bayonet, and being heavier than the carbine is more effective as a blunt weapon.

The current US Army does not expect any longer to march to battle on foot, and instead functions as motorized or air mobile infantry. The modern infantryman has, thus, become the equivalent of the 19th century dragoon who rode to battle on horseback, but dismounted and fought with carbine on foot.

Experience in the Middle East has demonstrated the inadequacy of the 5.56mm service round. Let’s hope that the Army comes to its senses this time and opts for a more serious cartridge.

23 Jun 2011

US Army Gives Up on the Girl Scout Hat

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Ten years ago, General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, decided to improve the morale of the ordinary soldier by allowing him, too, to don the chic and sporty black beret, previously worn only by elite Ranger units.

But, as Gilbert and Sullivan noted in their Savoy opera of 1889 The Gondoliers: “If everybody’s somebody, then no one’s anybody.”

Apart from all that, berets are pretty silly looking and they don’t keep the sun out of your eyes. They are fussy to put on, needing a lot of adjusting, and they really look goofy with the digital pattern desert camouflage Army Combat Uniform used operationally every day.

Soldiers didn’t like it and Army Secretary John McHugh decided to bow to their wishes and pulled the plug on the beret on June 14th.

The headgear of French poets and girl scouts will be replaced by the patrol cap.

CNN story

Army Times story

Berets in US Army history

07 Jun 2011

Army Coveting Marines’ Camouflage Pattern

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The doggies have concluded that the Marine Corps has developed the best camouflage pattern and they now are considering going ahead and simply adopting MARPAT (MARine PATtern) camouflage for use by the US Army, but the Marines have proprietary rights to the pattern and object to sharing uniforms with the Army.

Army Times:

Army officials have said they want soldiers to wear the best possible camouflage — even if that is the MARPAT. But Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent says don’t count on it.

The Corps owns the rights to MARPAT and wants to retain it for its own use, Kent said late last year. Marine officials said they have no beef with anyone researching and testing MARPAT, but they want Marines distinguished from other service members on the battlefield.

“The main concern for the Marine Corps when it comes to other services testing our patterns is that they don’t exactly mimic them,” said Kent, who is scheduled to retire June 9. “The MARPAT design is proprietary, and it’s important those designs are reserved for Marines. We just need to make sure each of our designs is unique to each service.”

Brig. Gen. (p) Peter Fuller, the former Program Executive Office Soldier, dismissed the territorial stance. If the pattern proves to be the best, the Army would simply remove the Corps’ signature anchor and move forward, Fuller told Army Times in his last interview as PEO Soldier.

The Corps has always tried to look different. When everyone wore the Battle Dress Uniform, the Marines rolled their sleeves differently. There are no unit patches on their sleeves. They wear different covers and boots.

But the Corps’ efforts to stay unique hit new levels late last year when the Navy — the department to which the Corps belongs — looked to MARPAT to develop its own new uniform. The new working uniform looked similar to MARPAT, but the Navy fielded the desert variant only to about 7,000 personnel assigned either to Naval Special Warfare Command or to units supporting it after Marine officials raised objections that the uniform was too similar to the Corps’.

09 Aug 2010

Whom Do You Make An Intelligence Analyst?

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If you are the US Army, you pick a gay, self-medicating, emotionally-unstable computer hacker, who harbors extreme liberal opinions, and who has “the personality of a bull in a china shop.”

Despite being apparently completely recognizable to acquaintances and associates as gay, and despite displaying a fairy wand on his desk, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy did not cause Pfc. Bradley Manning to be separated from the service. Manning had a drag queen boyfriend, hung out in politically-motivated circles of computer hackers, and had been reprimanded for assaulting an officer, but none of that kept him from having a Top Secret clearance providing access to what the New York Times describes as “some of the most secret information on the planet.”

07 May 2010

Testing the Army’s Latest Weaponry

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video frame shows XM25 round exploding just inside window target

The Army’s equipment development and procurement office, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, was kind enough to invite Wired’s Nathan Hodge to the Aberdeen Proving Ground to test a variety of toys including the XM25 (25mm) grenade launcher, a non-lethal green laser, improved night-vision goggles, a new easily-changed (no headspace or timing adjustment needed) barrel for the ever-popular M2 .50 caliber Browning machine gun, and a Modular Accessory Shotgun system, consisting of a straight-pull bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun that can be used as a standalone weapon or as an under-barrel accessory on a rifle or carbine. The shotgun makes a useful tool for opening locked doors and is an effective close-range definitive argument as well.

Let’s hope PEO Soldier adds NYM to its list of journalist invitees next time. I’m not too far from Aberdeen.

17 Mar 2010

AP Confused By Bayonets

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Some news agency says the Army is dropping bayonet training, and informs its readers that soldiers no longer carry bayonets on their automatic rifles.

Heeding the advice of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, commanders are dropping five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and exercises that hone core muscles. Battlefield sergeants say that’s the kind of fitness needed to dodge across alleys, walk patrol with heavy packs and body armor or haul a buddy out of a burning vehicle.

Trainers also want to toughen recruits who are often more familiar with Facebook than fistfights.

“Soldiers need to be able to move quickly under load, to be mobile under load, with your body armor, your weapons and your helmet, in a stressful situation,” said Frank Palkoska, head of the Army’s Fitness School at Fort Jackson, which has worked several years on overhauling the regime.

“We geared all of our calisthenics, all of our running movements, all of our warrior skills, so soldiers can become stronger, more powerful and more speed driven,” Palkoska said. The exercises are part of the first major overhaul in Army basic fitness training since men and women began training together in 1980, he said.

The new plan is being expanded this month at the Army’s four other basic training installations—Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Knox, Ky.

Drill sergeants with experience in the current wars are credited with urging the Army to change training, in particular to build up core muscle strength. One of them is 1st Sgt. Michael Todd, a veteran of seven deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On a recent training day Todd was spinning recruits around to give them the feel of rolling out of a tumbled Humvee. Then he tossed on the ground pugil sticks made of plastic pipe and foam, forcing trainees to crawl for their weapons before they pounded away on each other.

“They have to understand hand-to-hand combat, to use something other than their weapon, a piece of wood, a knife, anything they can pick up,” Todd said.

The new training also uses “more calisthenics to build core body power, strength and agility,” Palkoska said in an office bedecked with 60-year-old black and white photos of World War II-era mass exercise drills. Over the 10 weeks of basic, a strict schedule of exercises is done on a varied sequence of days so muscles rest, recover and strengthen.

Another aim is to toughen recruits from a more obese and sedentary generation, trainers said.

Many recruits didn’t have physical education in elementary, middle or high school and therefore tend to lack bone and muscle strength. When they ditch diets replete with soda and fast food for healthier meals and physical training, they drop excess weight and build stronger muscles and denser bones, Palkoska said.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, the three-star general in charge of revamping all aspects of initial training, said his overall goal is to drop outmoded drills and focus on what soldiers need today and in the future.

Bayonet drills had continued for decades, even though soldiers no longer carry the blades on their automatic rifles. Hertling ordered the drills dropped.

“We have to make the training relevant to the conditions on the modern battlefield,” Hertling said during a visit to Fort Jackson in January.

Except that the Army is continuing Pugil Stick training and the Pugil Stick was invented during WWII as a method of training to fight with rifle and bayonet.

And the reporter is obviously confused about “carrying blades on automatic rifles,” not realizing perhaps that bayonets are not normally attached to rifles and are only mounted in extremis. The M9 Bayonet was adopted in 1984 and is designed for use with all of the M16 series rifles.

This kind of error should not be surprising. How long has it been, do you suppose, since a professional journalist working for a major news organization was a veteran?


M9 Bayonet mounted on the muzzle of an M4 carbine

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