Friday, April 08, 2005

Comments . . . we get comments

Some recent comments on the blog I wanted to respond to. In no particular order:

Several people commented about my thoughts on the Air Force ad campaign - Hey, I'm certainly not championing the recent Army ads (I haven't seen the minivan ad yet, but it sounds pretty lame, too. What with the call-up of guard and reserve units lately, a lot of guys in Iraq right now left the trappings of middle aged life - like minivans and mortgages - behind to fight the war, while the young stay here and protest a nonexistent draft - go figure.) The last Army ad campaign I liked was the "Be All You Can Be" campaign - and that was just because after a new recruit got into the army, you could tell him "Hey, it was be all you can be - not be what you want to be!" As far as I can tell, the one common thread in the whole "Army of One" thing was that nobody ever carried a gun. The only military ad I ever liked was the (before even my time) Be A Man Among Men - although that's probably too susceptible to misunderstanding these days.

I just watched Operation Night Strike, and all I can say is that it's about time that The Army of One got some weapons. As far as accuracy, it's a highly stylized account of an op where everything went right. The biggest thing that I noticed about it is how compressed the timing is. Remember, in the real world, you do your part of the op, and then you wait for the rest of the synchronization to catch up with you. We had an (Air Force, let's give credit where it's due) Combat Camera crew film an op we did once, and that, in conjunction with some video shot by an aircraft, gave a pretty good overview of the action - such as it was. The thing that struck me was how long everything took, and how much time was spent waiting around for the next phase. In the film, the surveillance team goes in and bang! they recognize the HVTs, so perimeter security goes in and bang! cut to the entry team - they find the HVTs and bang! cut to the extraction. You don't see the surveillance team freezing for three nights, and peeing in ziploc bags, until the targets finally show up, or the perimeter team maintaining security for twelve hours in the rain with nothing happening, or the entry team spending the entire night searching the building the HVTs were found in, or the month of intel gathering that went into knowing about where the bad guys would be when. (And I notice the HVTs got exfiled by ground - probably because the choppers didn't show up because the air liaison missed a filing deadline or something.)

Kristy asks about the phrase "lock and load," and actually gets quite a good explanation, and learns the difference between a bullet and a round. Later, maybe we can cover the difference between an automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon, or between a magazine and a clip. Everyone who's seen Full Metal Jacket should have the difference between a rifle and a gun down already.

The only thing I'd add to the lock and load discussion is that it can be used in a general way to mean "get ready." When you lock and load, you're prepared to go and kill people. The order to lock and load is generally given at some point before you cross into indian country. The first time you hear it in a combat zone is a pretty significant event in your life.

Some good comments on the CIB. One point that came out from Yankee Tech: to get a CIB, you have to have an Infantry or Special Forces specialty. One quirk to that rule is that if you don't have one of those specialties, you don't get a CIB. It's designed to set a strict standard for who gets to wear the CIB, but it sometimes leads to some real unfairness. If you're a MOS 25C radio operator assigned to an infantry battalion, you get in an ambush, then everyone around you will get the CIB - but you won't. Even if the guy in your vehicle on the .50 cal gets wounded, and you grab the gun and fight as infantry - you might get a decoration for valor, but you won't get the CIB. At first glance, the new award will make that quirk even more unfair for our hypothetical radio operator. He doesn't get the award, even though he's in an infantry unit and possibly performing an infantry job, but the tanker who engages an enemy from inside his tank will get an analogous one.

Finally, I don't mean to imply or reinforce the idea that the AF isn't a combat branch - I've worked with to many CCTs and TACPs to think that - but it does have a flavor that's a bit different than the ground forces. In the AF, most - not all - enlisted jobs are there to support the aircraft, so the aircraft can do the killing. That means you've got to attract and retain some very technically savvy, switched-on people in the enlisted ranks - but they don't necessarily have to be the kind of people who enjoy sleeping in the mud. Also, you don't need the sheer numbers of enlisted personnel that the Army needs to accomplish its mission. So, it's true, you're recruiting a different pool of people - although I still am not convinced that staring at an incoming tornado is a good idea. But, I want to make it clear that I have a great deal of respect for anyone who chooses to wear the uniform, regardless of service. (And, to Kristy's point about the post, "We get screwed by the Air Force", I hope the second part of the story made it clear that it was one fairly clueless aircrew that created the problem - the aircrew that was flying the same mission in Afghanistan earlier was exceptional, so it really was luck of the draw that led to the problems. )

For the record, if I'm ever really in trouble and desperately need help, there's nothing I want to hear over the radio more than "This is Viper Two-Two. I'm a flight of two A-10s in from the west." (Unless maybe it's "This is Viper Two-Two. I'm a flight of two Marine F-18s in from the west." Whatever - I won't quibble.)

(And I still owe Lilly on whether I miss being there - I'll talk about that eventually.)


Anonymous Lilly said...

Take your time. I'm not going anywhere :)

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the injustice of the radio operator not being recognized for having been in combat -what radio man? They may have been authorized by TO. In the rifle platoons I served in, grunts hauled the radios. We weren't doing any talking anyway -just giving the handset to the LT.
When we got into fights, the only Americans around were grunts and Medics.
Other people had their problems -I knew of a couple of artillery positions where the bad guys got through the wire.
Understand from talking to folks in the current conflict, that the bad guys try to target support troops in preference to combat troops.
Who goes out looking for trouble? Infantry and SF.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Kristy said...

Thanks for the additional clarification on "lock and load." Haven't seen Full Metal Jacket or Platoon or any of those. I did see the Black Hawk Down DVD (from between my fingers cause I kept putting my hands over my eyes) and that was a very tough movie to watch. If that's what combat is really like, I have even more respect for the members of the armed forces.

If by any chance that was a genuine offer, I'd be happy to have a tutorial on automatic and semi-automatic and clips and magazines and such at some point. It would be helpful in keeping up with the conversation 'round here. :-)

The intra-service stuff makes me laugh. My father's best friend back in his service days was a Navy pilot and they give each other grief about their respective branches of service to this day. When he saw on the news that the Air Force had to rebomb some Navy targets back in the first Gulf war, he absolutely leaped to the phone to call his Navy pal. Purely for informational purposes, needless to say.

In your post above you seem to imply that you've already written the second half of that story that I asked for. Could you provide a link to that? Or if it's just that you have trouble with verb tenses and you haven't written it yet, hurry on up. Um...please. :-)


11:48 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...


Back in the day, LLRPs got help from anybody and everybody, sometimes just not as quick or as accurate as we would have liked.

Its no fun to almost get waxed by your calls for fire. The Air Force guys seemed to be on the spot quicker, but you had to get in a hole so as not to be killed by their near misses (some of the time). The Navy sometimes helped but we were off their AO a bit. They were good.
The Marines were always on time, on target and waited around to see if you needed any thing else done.

Sometimes too long, one guy ran out of fuel and had to eject. We found him and got him home.

Our (Army) Puffs, Magic Dragons and Gunships were sometimes spread way too thin and were too long getting in, but they knew how to shoot.

The supply choppers and extraction/insertion guys were made of steel, with B@lls of STAINLESS steel.

Anything that flew and anybody that flew them were our best buds.

But for them, a lot of us (including me) would never had made it home alive.

Papa Ray
West Texas

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an Army commercial that shows some trucks meeting under some mountain, then it zooms in on the mountain, then on some hidden operatives who have the guys in their sights. It goes on to say, "You had supplies for three days, it's day ten, do you have what it takes?"

Tom M

5:58 AM  
Anonymous DedEye said...

A clip refers to a stripper clip like that used in an SKS, where you put it in and pull it out, leaving the ammo in the weapon and throwing away the clip. A magazine contains the actual rounds, such as in a pistol or M16.

An automatic weapon fires fully automatic - that is, hold down the trigger, the weapon fires. Semi automatic weapons require you to pull the trigger every time you want to fire a round.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Synova said...

So I mentioned "lock and load" to a friend (the one who took great pains to explain to me the difference between a clip and a magazine) and almost the first thing out of his mouth was, "it's backward you know... because if it's locked you can't load it." So I thought that was pretty funny. Then he said that the reason it's "lock and load" is because it rhymes with "rock and roll" and that it started to be used during Viet Nam when "rock and roll" was used in a similar way.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Kristy said...


Thanks very much for the explanations. I have a couple of follow up questions, if that’s ok. I have this image in my mind (from movies, maybe not accurate) of bullets feeding through a gun on some kind of a strip. So, you’re saying, a strip like that would be placed completely into a gun and pulled out, and the bullets left in the gun? Is that a newer way of doing it as opposed to the strip thingie feeding through?

I understand about automatic – that’s what I would have thought it meant. But if semi-automatic means you pull the trigger every time, isn’t that just the same as a regular gun? Or would all non-automatic guns be considered semi-automatic?


That’s exactly what I was thinking – that the expression is “lock and load” because it sounds crisper than “load and lock” and crispness is everything in the military. : - )


8:46 PM  
Anonymous Justin said...

kristy, there are actually a couple ways clips are used. Stripper Clips, used in the Springfield 1903A3 (Rifle used by the United States in WW1) and SKS hold the rounds until you load the rifle but does not stay in the gun. The M1 Garrand (used by the United States in WW2)also uses clips but they stay in the rifle until the last round is fired, at which time they are ejected.

All the guns that use clips have internal, (usually) non-removable, magazines, as do most non-military rifles. The M1 Garrand is one of the few that needs the clip in order to hold more then one round, most others, like the 1903A3 can have their magazines loaded by hand, one round at a time.

I dont have any clips for my 1903A3 right now but if you would like I can send you some pictures of the clips and action for my Garrand.

Or I just did a quick search, I dont know anything about the rest of this site but this page has explains it well (and has pictures)


12:10 AM  
Anonymous Spc. Skorka said...

Since Alphageek's a busy guy and can't always comment here's an answer from another soldier.

It's called "lock and load" because the magazine is first locked into the magazine well of the rifle, and then a round is loaded into the chamber.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Yankee Tech in Germany said...


While you are right most of the time, and I understand that in Vietnam there were not enough signal pukes (you can talk about us, but not with out us :P) (74B in da house) to properly fill out the TOE, but now days most of the signal operation is done properly by signal pukes, that’s why SF has a signal slot. Granted most signal slots are filled by people that have it as a secondary MOS.

My problem was that as a signal puke, if I was ever attached to an INF unit, I would not be able to get a CIB or even be able to earn an EIB. And the adding of a new award, I think, removes some of the glory for the CIB, now I dont thing you should be able to earn an EIB, but thats another issue. Personally I think every MOS should be able to earn the EIB if they meet all the other requirements, such as, being attached to any infantry unit, engaged in active ground combat for 30 or more days, and finally must actively participate in such ground combat with honor expected of all members of the US Military. Personally I cant think of any other award that is restricted to just a few MOS's but I might be wrong.

And I know of a lot of people that served in supporting units and I understand that they were the main targets in OIF's and OEF's simply because when the Goblins attack the "combat MOS's" they lose, and lose big time.

and to Kristy, just to add some more confusion your way, a magazine can be internally fixated, or removable, and all magazines have a clip in them. and Clips can be used to charge (to put ammo in to in this case) both a Firearm and a Magazine. and for the really picky people out there, stripper clips are used on a few weapons to load anther clip such as on an SKS. but the box around the clip on an SKS is still a magazine. Hope that helps some. The thing you are seeing hanging out the left hand side (at least of most machineguns) that is a loose flexible string of rounds, is properly called a belt. Now days all of them are metallic and are properly called a self-disintegrating belt, since it falls apart in to links small steel pieces that connect the brass of the rounds together, but in the past they have been made from cloth. Here is a link to a picture that shows the links (the grey parts) still attached to the brass (the copper/brass parts) of the rounds. hope this helps some.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Kristy said...

Oh my. Sooo...some weapons get charged instead of loaded, and magazines have clips IN them, and some magazines get loaded by hand a bullet at a time (which does NOT sound like a very efficient process.) And I never did find out if all non-automatic guns are considered semi-automatic.

Ok, guys, I surrender. I’ve got sensory overload here. I think I’ll have to give up on becoming a munitions expert in a couple of easy internet lessons. Tell you what though, I’m awfully glad there are a lot of people out there who know more about it than I do, and who are on my side. :-)

Thanks for the follow ups.


3:08 PM  
Anonymous Spc Skorka said...

It's a little less complicated than it seems Kristy, it's just hard to explain it simply without showing the process. In the modern army right now, it's quite simple: If you pull the trigger once and it fires a single round, it's semi-automatic. If you hold the trigger and many rounds come out while you hold the trigger, it's automatic. You also have rifles that are "bolt action" like the old 1903 springfield, where you have to cycle the bolt by hand to chamber a new round.

Nevermind you're right, it's all too confusing! lol.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Bullshark said...

My medic in DS/DS treated casulties along side the medic assigned to the 11B platoon I was supporting. The field medic assigned to the INF guys got a CMB (Combat Medics Badge) my medic, assigned to a CEB (Combat Engineer BN) did not. Only medics assigned to units recieving CIBs got CMBs.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Special Forces Alpha Geek said...

It's an interesting point - I wonder if they'll loosen up the CMB requirements to mesh with the CCB now, so that any medic attached to a combat arms unit could get it?

3:27 AM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

SFAlphaGeek: your idea about adjusting fire on the CMB criteria is a good one and presumably the folks at their branch are already considering it.

SPC Skorka (et al.): if you pull the trigger and it fires only one round _and_ chambers the next round ready-to-fire _then_ it's SEMI-AUTOMATIC.

If you can keep the trigger depressed and the whole process keeps cycling (and firing), then it's AUTOMATIC.

Of course, none of them are truly FULLY AUTOMATIC: you still have to pull the trigger.

The new CCB will not be for, por ejemplo, tankers fighting from tanks, but rather for tankers dismounted from tanks (possibly to lesser-armored vehicles, possibly on foot) and re-organized and tasked as infantry.


3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

9:38 PM  
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Quick And Easy Holiday Planning. software There's a lot to think about when planning a holiday and no matter how hard you try, you almost always forget something. The solution...

3:09 AM  

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