F-35 better at close air support than originally thought?

Everyone knows I’ve been pretty critical — and quite skeptical — about the F-35. And I’ve also been a big supporter of keeping the A-10, given its superb close air support function.

But a comment on a thread I’ve been following helped molify some of my concerns. (Key word “some.”)

Dark Peasant:

For A-10 jockeys out there who haven’t been able to grasp the concept that things change, here are some comments from the F-35 ‘Myth Busting” sites:

———————–

Ground support; Pierre says you need to be able to turn slowly, have a large gun and be on station for 4-6 hours. First up; if you can see through your aircraft, using 360 degree thermal (IR) imagery, as well as receive realtime footage of the fight from UAVs, friendly air and ground assets, why do you need to have the pilot flying slowly over the dangerous target area, gawking through through his canopy?

And as for the gun; when the A-10’s GAU-8 fires; 80% of it’s rounds will land within a 12m diameter circle. That assumes that you’re not trying to hit a moving target and are firing from 1.2km away. With a SDB II (GBU-53), an F-35 or other fighter with the right sensors, can hit within 1m of a target from up to 72km away and will will destroy or disable vehicles within a 10m radius. It’s kill radius will naturally differ based on environment, but you could easily expect soldiers to be incapacitated or killed at twice that.

Furthermore, on the topic of CAS; one issue that soldiers face when ordering air support is that when they order it, they need to retire or take cover. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have learned to recognise this, and in response, will go into hiding / take cover, only to strike again later. By being able to have CAS available at least 3 times faster (even more so considering how the F-35 is going to saturate future airspace), you can cut down or eliminate the problem. If you need endurance or overwatch, get a UCAV and have it supply CAS for a couple of days at a time.

A lot of you guys are smarter than me. What are your thoughts?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

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Marine Corps looks to field new sniper rifle

It looks like there’s finally some movement in the Corps to adopt a new sniper rifle.

Marine Corps looks to field new sniper rifle.

From the article:

The current rifle, the M40A5, has an effective range of around 1,000 yards and fires a .308 caliber bullet. The Mk.21, on the other hand, can be fitted to fire a .338 caliber bullet and hit targets at more than 1,600 yards. The Mk. 21 is also currently in use by various special operations units.

The Marine Corps is currently the only branch in the U.S. military and in NATO, still fielding a .308 caliber rifle as its primary sniper rifle. In 2011 the Army upgraded to the M2010, a rifle chambered in .300 caliber that can fire accurately to 1300 yards.

And huge props to Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a former infantry Marine, who wrote the first article that helped get this ball rolling. See here: “Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years.“

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Can Russia even afford its new tough-guy image?

The New York Times had an excellent article yesterday: “As Putin Talks More Missiles and Might, Cost Tells Another Story.”

Here were some of the major highlights from the story:

  • “Everybody should understand that we are living in a totally different world than two years ago,” said Alexander M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst. “In that world, which we lost, it was possible to organize your security with treaties, with mutual-trust measures,” he said. “Now we have come to an absolutely different situation, where the general way to ensure your security is military deterrence.”
  • Russia feels alone and besieged, a sentiment that continuously provides fresh inspiration to overhaul a military once better known for the drunk, ill-equipped conscripts who fared so badly during two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s.  “The Russian Army is returning to normal combat activities and training,” said Igor Korotchenko, the editor in chief of National Defense, a monthly Russian magazine. “We are doing exactly what our Western partners are doing.”
  • “Russia has been making aggressive statements, insisting that it lives in a world of mutual military deterrence, while thinking that the West will not pay attention,” Mr. Golts said. But the West paid attention, he said, and Russia is not ready. It is one thing to use a force of up to 100,000 well-trained, well-booted soldiers to seize Crimea or even to destabilize a neighbor, but it is a very different matter to take on NATO, he noted. Russia, lacking both the manpower and the weapons systems, will not be ready to do so any time soon, which is why Mr. Putin resorts to asymmetrical responses like nuclear weapons, analysts said.

The article goes on to discuss new tanks, whose orders have already been reduced. So, too, fighter jets, such as the T-50.

One thing the article didn’t discuss, which I thought it should, was a comparison of the two economies, America and Russia, side-by-side.

Here are those figures (from Wikipedia):

  • GDP: United States equals $17.4 trillion.
  • GDP: Russia equals $1.8 trillion.

And here are military expenditures (from Wikipedia):

  • U.S. $581 billion.
  • Russia $70 billion.
  • (Also worth noting that China’s is $129 billion.)

You can click either Wikipedia link above to compare other countries. For instance, one interesting thing is that I had no idea that the U.K. has a much larger GDP than Russia.

Yes, the U.K. Crazy, right?

Anyway, I continue to think Putin will bluster and talk loud and maybe do a few stupid things, but in the end, he has to know he can’t truly bully NATO and the United States. Not once he seriously forces the usually slow to act American people and Congress to act. Just ask the Germans and the Japanese.

Fact is, we typically arrive late to the party, but we bring the Suburban loaded with all our rich, drunk friends. And I don’t care who you are, you really don’t want us showing up to the party, because we’re going to wreck the place… : )

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past fourteen years

Former infantry Marine Thomas Gibbons-Neff wrote a hell of a story for the Washington Post about the Marine Corps and how it’s failed to upgrade its sniper rifles:

Why the Marines have failed to adopt a new sniper rifle in the past 14 years.

Since I’m writing a book series on a former Marine sniper, this is is clearly a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, and I was a bit embarrassed to realize how outgunned Marine snipers are quickly becoming.

While I knew the range limitations of the Corps’s sniper rifle, I didn’t realize the frustration going on inside the Marine Corps sniper community about the weapons. I assumed — wrongly, it seems — that for various reasons they were pleased with the current .308 M40 variant.

Clearly, I was wrong, if the article is as dead on as it seems to be. Go take a quick read yourself, and let me know your thoughts.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

More on ISIS in Iraq

The Economist in its May 23rd edition discussed the fall of Ramadi and had a pretty in depth article on ISIS, and it had a couple of graphs I wanted to make sure you all saw.

These are the two final graphs in the article.

First, here’s some insight into how ISIS is actually able to hold ground — and nope, it’s not completely through fear, as I mostly assumed.

  • “(ISIS) administrators win plaudits for their efficient management, clean streets and timely payment of salaries. They have partially restored electricity to Mosul, refurbished a hotel there and opened Saddam Hussein’s palaces for weekend strolls. Debt-burdened Jordan hopes that IS might see a mutual interest in keeping its border crossing open for trade, and even recognises the receipts it issues for import duties as tax-deductible.”

So, clearly, ISIS  is actually competing with the Iraqi government — it seems, quite well — on providing services. This has been exacerbated by the pro-Shia government of Iraq, which I’m certain has short-changed the Sunni-part of its own population.

Thus the opening for ISIS, a Sunni-based organization.

The final paragraph was the nail in the coffin, so to speak. I mean, I like to be optimistic, but reading this graph helped convince me that Joe Biden was probably right all the way back in 2006 about dividing up the country. Here’s the last graph from the article:

  • “The danger is that the IS caliphate is becoming a permanent part of the region. The frontiers will shift in the coming months. But with the Kurds governing themselves in the north-east, and the Shias in the south, Iraqis question the government’s resolve in reversing IS’s hold on the Sunni north-west. “Partition is already a reality,” sighs a Sunni politician in exile. “It just has yet to be mapped.””

Colin Powell famously said “if you break it, you own it.” I think we certainly broke it, and there’s probably not any putting it back together.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

Why ISIS is winning, and how its foes can reverse that success

This is the best article I’ve seen yet — probably in two months — about ISIS. (Ignore the video, though it’s pretty good, too. Just read/scan the article.)

Why ISIS is winning, and how its foes can reverse that success(H/T Blake K. Baxter)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

Dempsey Says Iraqis Weren’t Driven Out of Ramadi, They Drove

Last week, I wrote about Iraqi units abandoning Ramadi.

Turns out, it was even worse than we thought…

Dempsey Says Iraqis Weren’t Driven Out of Ramadi, They Drove.

Okay, then…

Honestly, the BS is getting so thick over there that it’s hard to know what’s the truth or what’s not. First, a sandstorm was blamed for the terrifying loss… (Did I mention the Iraqis had a 10-to-1 advantage over ISIS?)

But the sandstorm had no effect on airstrikes, they’re now saying.

And I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news, but there are now Iranian troops, artillery, and heavy weapons taking part in operations in Iraq.

I’m increasingly convinced that Iraq is a failed state, and to restore it would take an enormous amount of American resources, including boots on the ground. What it seems we have now is a nation divided, and Iran has either expanded its borders or gained a new ally/nation-state.

What say you guys? And what would you do if you were President?

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.