- Hits: 2010
Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. (July 31, 2022): These are the most chilling words a soldier can hear crackle over the radio; “We are being overrun!” A squad is pinned down with multiple wounded, unable to move as the enemy closes in. Their survival depends on the skill and bravery of U.S. Artillery Cannon Crewmembers.
For over two centuries, American artillerymen have delivered close fire support for infantry units like these saving countless lives and deciding many battles. U.S. artillery came of age in the 1830’s when smaller, lighter cannon with longer range were produced, the most famous being the Model 1841 Mountain Howitzer. The term Howitzer comes the German word “Haubitze” or basket and refers to a cannon with a shortened barrel and a breach shaped like a funnel increasing accuracy and portability.
Today, Army Cannon Crewmembers (MOS 13 Bravo) are responsible for firing howitzers in support of infantry and tank units during combat. These troops load and fire howitzers, set fuses and charges on multiple munitions, and must make split second decisions, often while under fire themselves.
- Hits: 501
Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. (August 2, 2022): First you see a flash. Then comes a rumbling beneath your feet until the thunderous explosion rattles your entire body. Ears ringing, gun smoke fills the air as the next round heads down range with similar ferocity. The first thought that comes to mind is “Dear God, it must be awful to be on the receiving end of that.”
Anyone who has witnessed American artillery can attest to its awesome, almost life altering, power. When the Russians invaded, little did they realize their troops would be on the “receiving end” of American might, wielded by a brave and determined Ukraine.
- Hits: 610
Queensland, Australia. (August 2, 2022): Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines Terror as “ a state of intense, overwhelming fear”, which is probably an accurate description of Russia’s soldiers in Ukraine right now. The Russians are getting to know HIMARS, an acronym they won’t soon forget.
The U.S. Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) has arrived in numbers on the battlefields of Ukraine to devastating effect on the invaders. In a recent article in Newsweek, author Jason Lemon describes HIMARS as a ‘game changer” in the Ukraine War quoting retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling, the former Commander for U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, as saying HIMARS delivers “greater range, precision accuracy with fewer rounds” than anything on the battlefield.
America has delivered upwards of 16 HIMARS units so far and intelligence experts say the Ukrainians have used them to successfully target enemy airfields, ammunition dumps, and command headquarters deep into Russian occupied territory. In fact, HIMARS is so effective that the Russian Army has lost 14 Generals in Ukraine, an unheard loss of senior officers not seen since World War II.
So, what is this HIMARS, and what makes it so effective in this conflict?
- Hits: 379
Only a tiny fraction of Americans will ever know what it is like to live aboard a warship, be it an aircraft carrier, a destroyer, or an amphibious assault vessel. A sailor’s life is often filled with stress, monotony, boredom, homesickness, frustration, and fatigue while experiencing new cultures and visiting exotic locales around the world. Life aboard “the Boat” as sailors say, is anything but ordinary.
Each day begins with reveille at zero dark thirty followed by the daily announcements blaring over the ship’s communications. You wait in line for breakfast, stuffed into cramped spaces, for what seems like an hour. Next, you begin your 12-hour (often more) shift that includes constant training, spot checks, team meetings, and examinations on ship maintenance. The ship will often go into “Alert Mode” where sailors face simulated attacks, practice fire control and evacuation procedures, and train for medical emergencies.
- Hits: 362
Philippine Sea (July 28, 2022): It is true. Everyone hates a bully. For the Philippines, one of our longest and most faithful allies, that bully is China and its aggressive actions in the South China Sea. As China flexes its muscles in the waters off the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Malaysia, the American military must reassure its allies in the region that we have their back.
China (wrongly) lays claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, based on historical grounds, and has attempted to assert control over international navigation in violation of international law. Filipino fishermen, for example, have clashed with Chinese rivals who routinely violate their territorial waters while tacitly protected by the Chinese Navy. China has transformed seven barely submerged atolls, dubbed the Spratly Islands, into military bases directly in the path of international shipping lanes. Now established, China has used these islands to encroach upon its neighbors and to illegally challenge the right of vessels to navigate in the South China Sea. Both the Philippines and Viet Nam have also claimed ownership of these islands.
- Hits: 555
Aboard The USS Ronald Reagan, South China Sea (July 28, 2022): In addition to rising tensions over Taiwan, America and China continually battle for control over strategic economic and military “maritime choke points” in the world’s oceans.
Much of the world’s maritime traffic occurs at four choke points: The Malacca Strait, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Bab al-Mandeb Straits, which are the gateway between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, and the Suez and Panama Canals. The U.S. military is increasingly alarmed at increased Chinese naval activity near these choke points that may give them the ability to interfere with both military and commercial traffic. Of particular concern is China’s only overseas military installation located near the Bab al-Mandeb Straits which can threaten access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
In April, a large commercial vessel got stuck in the Suez Canal which disrupted world trade and serves as a reminder that even brief interruptions at these choke points can be disastrous.