You’ve Got Indirect Mail, Now With GPS!

Well, this doesn’t seem particularly fair.

Army Deploys First GPS-Guided Mortars

Finally, the U.S. army is giving this this infantry workhorse a 21st-century update, fielding GPS-guided mortar rounds for the first time.

One Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan has already received the new rounds, known as Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative cartridges (APMI), and seven more are expected to receive them in the next sixth months. The GPS-guided 120-millimeter mortar rounds will offer infantry commanders precision-strike capability, offering them an alternative to blanketing an area in indirect fire.

. . .

The APMI XM395 cartridge employs a standard 120-millimeter projectile body, but packed in the nose is a GPS receiver and controller that ensures the aerodynamic directional fins guide the shell toward the target. It also contains a multi-functional fuse that can be programmed to detonate upon impact, in the air, or after it penetrates the ground or a structure. Coordinates are dialed into the round using a computer.

See also:
US Army fields first precision-guided mortars to troops in Afghanistan
New GPS-guided mortar fires first round in Afghanistan
Army Fields GPS-Guided Mortar in Afghanistan
Army launches first GPS-guided mortars in Afghanistan
Army delivers GPS-guided mortars to soldiers in Afghanistan
GPS military weapon gives soldiers an edge
GPS Guided Mortar Debuts In Afghanistan

So, now we’ve got programmable bombs, bullets, grenades, and mortar rounds. The main thing that worries me about these systems is that they depend on batteries. If your batteries die and you don’t have spares, you’re screwed, and screwed is one thing you do not want to be in combat.

/how long will it be before we can deploy infantry robots to fight with all these precision guided armaments and we can take our human soldiers out of harm’s way?

Burning Down The Drone

Smoke ’em if ya got ’em. Can you smell what the laser is cookin’?

Anti-aircraft laser unveiled at Farnborough Airshow

US firm Raytheon has unveiled its anti-aircraft laser at the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire.

The Laser Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) can either be used on its own or alongside a gunnery system.

In May, the laser was used to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a series of tests.

Raytheon said the solid state fibre laser produces a 50 kilowatt beam and can be used against UAV, mortar, rockets and small surface ships.

See also:
U.S. Navy Laser Weapon Shoots Down Drones in Test [Video]
Anti-aircraft laser ‘more real than Star Wars’
Raytheon Unveils Anti-Aircraft Laser
Raytheon airs video at Farnborough Airshow of CIWS laser shooting down drone
New Laser Weapon Blasts Spy Drones Out of the Sky
Laser Gun! New Demo Turns Sci-Fi Into Reality
Death Ray-theon: Anti-Aircraft Laser Unveiled
Raytheon anti-aircraft laser showcased
Raytheon Company: Directed Energy

Oh look, it’s an effective new weapons system with near term practical military application.

/how long before Obama cancels it?

Operation Iceberg

It was 65 years ago today . . .

Battle of Okinawa: Operation Iceberg

When two United States Marine and two Army divisions landed abreast on Okinawa on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, they faced an estimated 155,000 Japanese ground, air and naval troops holding an immense island on which an estimated 500,000 civilians lived in cities, towns and villages. Operation Iceberg was to be, in every way, vast when compared to any other operation undertaken by Allied forces in the Pacific War under U.S. Navy command. Indeed, using mainly divisions that had already undertaken island-hopping operations in the South and Central Pacific since mid-1942, the U.S. Pacific Fleet stood up the Tenth U.S. Army under Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., consisting of III Amphibious Corps and XXIV Army Corps — the largest land command ever assembled under the Navy’s direct control.

To those Japanese who thought the war was winnable, Okinawa was the last chance. The island lay within 350 miles — easy flight distance — from the Japanese homeland and was, by American design, to be the base from which the southernmost Home Island, Kyushu, would be pummeled to dust ahead of the expected follow-on invasion. Anything short of complete victory over Allied air, naval and ground forces spelled doom for Japan — and no such victory was remotely in the cards. Thus, from the Japanese view Okinawa was and could be no more than a delaying battle of attrition on a grand scale. The few Japanese who knew that their country’s war effort was in extremis were content to fight on Okinawa simply for reasons of honor, for all military logic pointed to the same dismal conclusion: Japan was vanquished in all but name as soon as the first Boeing B-29s left the ground in the Marianas, as soon as American carrier aircraft hit targets in Japan at will, as soon as even twin-engine bombers could strike Japanese ports from Iwo Jima, as soon as Japan dared not move a warship or cargo vessel from a port in any part of the shrinking empire for fear it would be sunk by an Allied submarine. By April 1, 1945, all those events were taking place routinely.

Although the Japanese commanders counted 155,000 defenders, of whom 100,000 were soldiers of Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima’s Thirty-second Army, the rest were of widely mixed abilities, and there were not nearly enough troops to cover the ground the way 23,000 troops had covered Iwo Jima. Therefore the forces on Okinawa were concentrated in a number of sectors that offered the best prospects for a robust, attritional defense. The northern half of the island was virtually conceded, and the south was turned into four extremely tough hedgehog defense sectors. The proportion of artillery and mortars to infantry was the highest encountered in the Pacific War.

Coming to put their defense arrangement to the test was the Tenth Army. The new 6th Marine Division (1st Provisional Marine Brigade plus the 29th Marines and attachments) would land over the northernmost beaches on the western side of Okinawa a little south of the island’s midpoint. It was to strike across the island, then turn north to pacify a little more than half of Okinawa on its own. To the right, the 1st Marine Division was also to strike across the island, then become part of the Tenth Army reserve. The Army’s 7th and 96th Infantry divisions were to land side by side in the southern half of the Tenth Army beachhead and pivot south to cover the width of the island. Also on April 1, the III Amphibious Corps’ (IIIAC) reserve, the 2nd Marine Division, made a feint toward a set of beaches in southeastern Okinawa. This feint was in line with where the Japanese predicted the main landing would take place, so for once a feint actually held large numbers of defenders in place looking the wrong way. Other units, including the Fleet Marine Force’s Pacific Reconnaissance Battalion, were assigned objectives elsewhere in the Ryukyu Islands, most of which were taken or at least assaulted before what was dubbed L-day on Okinawa.

Immediate objectives were Yontan and Kadena airfields, in the IIIAC and XXIV Corps zones, respectively. As soon as these airfields could be brought to operational status, combat-support aircraft would operate from them. Also, many aircraft carriers would remain on station off Okinawa for as long as their air groups were needed. The land-based component was a Marine command named the Tactical Air Force and consisting of several Marine air groups of fighters and light bombers. Marine fighter squadrons based aboard fleet carriers and several new Marine carrier air groups (fighters and torpedo bombers) based aboard escort carriers would be available throughout the land operation.

The landings were made against zero opposition and with almost no casualties. Far from going into a state of optimism, however, the many veterans in the assault force realized that a very hard road lay before them, that the Japanese had chosen to dig deep and fight on their own terms.

Yontan Airfield fell by midmorning, after Marines overcame very light opposition along the juncture of the 1st and 6th Marine divisions. Reinforcements moved to fill gaps that developed due to rapid advances by the 4th, 7th and 22nd Marines. Marines of the 1st Division captured an intact bridge across a stream at the IIIAC-XXIV Corps boundary and overcame hastily built field fortifications all across the division front. Divisional and IIIAC artillery battalions landed routinely, and many batteries were providing fire by 1530 hours. The IIIAC advance halted between 1600 and 1700 to avoid more gaps and to help the Marines on the far right maintain contact with the 7th Infantry Division, whose left flank outpaced the 1st Marine Division right-flank unit by several hundred yards. The halt also gave artillery units outpaced by the rapid advance time to move forward and register night defensive fires.

Basically, all of L-day’s headaches arose from the light-to-nonexistent defensive effort, and not the usual spate of battle problems. Both airfields, Kadena and Yontan, were firmly in American hands by nightfall, and engineers were already at work to get them operational in the shortest possible time.

See also:
Chapter I: Operation Iceberg
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 1) April – June 1945
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 2) April – June 1945
Battle of Okinawa
Operation Iceberg – Okinawa Invasion
Operation Iceberg: The Battle of Okinawa

Although the initial landings were practically unopposed, the fight for Okinawa quickly deteriorated into a nightmare.

The Battle of Okinawa, which began on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, and lasted for three months, was a descent into hell. At no place, at no time, was combat worse than on Okinawa – not at Gettysburg, not in the trenches in World War I, not on the Eastern Front in World War II, not on Iwo Jima. Losses were dreadful: 12,520 U.S. dead, 36,631 wounded; 110,071 Japanese soldiers killed, 7,401 captured (almost all badly wounded); and 140,000 Okinawan civilians dead.

As horrific as the Battle of Okinawa was, Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese mainland, would have been far worse by many orders of magnitude.

/so, don’t let anyone tell you that the U.S. dropping of the two atomic bombs didn’t save lives, on both sides

The Noose Is Tight, There’s Nowhere For The Marjah Taliban To Go But Down

US and Afghan troops ring Taliban stronghold

U.S. and Afghan forces ringed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Thursday, sealing off escape routes and setting the stage for what is being described as the biggest offensive of the nine-year war.

Taliban defenders repeatedly fired rockets and mortars at units poised in foxholes along the edge of the town, apparently trying to lure NATO forces into skirmishes before the big attack.

“They’re trying to draw us in,” said Capt. Joshua Winfrey, 30, of Tulsa, Okla., commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.

Up to 1,000 militants are believed holed up in Marjah, a key Taliban logistics base and center of the lucrative opium poppy trade. But the biggest threats are likely to be the land mines and bombs hidden in the roads and fields of the farming community, 380 miles (610 kilometers) southwest of Kabul.

The precise date for the attack has been kept secret. U.S. officials have signaled for weeks they planned to seize Marjah, a town of about 80,000 people in Helmand province and the biggest community in southern Afghanistan under Taliban control.

NATO officials say the goal is to seize the town quickly and re-establish Afghan government authority, bringing public services in hopes of winning support of the townspeople once the Taliban are gone. Hundreds of Afghan soldiers were to join U.S. Marines in the attack to emphasize the Afghan role in the operation.

A Taliban spokesman dismissed the significance of Marjah, saying the NATO operation was “more propaganda than military necessity.”

Nevertheless, the spokesman, Mohammed Yusuf, said in a dialogue on the Taliban Web site that the insurgents would strike the attackers with explosives and hit-and-run tactics, according to a summary by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Internet traffic.

In preparation for the offensive, a U.S.-Afghan force led by the U.S. Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade moved south from Lashkar Gah and linked up Thursday with Marines on the northern edge of Marjah, closing off a main Taliban escape route. Marines and Army soldiers fired colored smoke grenades to show each other that they were friendly forces.

U.S. and Afghan forces have now finished their deployment along the main road in and out of Marjah, leaving the Taliban no way out except across bleak, open desert — where they could easily be spotted.

See also:
Outreach Precedes U.S. Offensive
Marines roll out Assault Breacher Vehicles for Marjah Afghanistan offensive
Taliban vow guerrilla warfare against Afghan, NATO troops
Taleban ‘ready to talk’ as Nato prepares for huge assault
Region known as Marjah won’t be another Fallujah
Countdown To A Battle
Washington begins new Afghan offensive
Afghan campaign seeks to avoid Iraq mistakes
Special Forces Assassins Infiltrate Taliban Stronghold in Afghanistan
SITE Intelligence Group
In Your Face Taliban, The Coalition Is Coming To Take Marjah And There’s Not A Damn Thing You Can Do About It

More than a few appropriate songs come to mind, but I like this one (unfortunately there’s no original video):

/hey Taliban, mind if we sit down right in the middle of your primary opium area of operation and kill or capture about 1000 of your “martyrs”?

It Was 30 Years Ago Today, The Ayatollah Took Our Embassy Away

And to this day, we still haven’t properly thanked Iran for this act of war.

Every year on the anniversary of the Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where 53 Americans were held hostage for 444 days, the Iranian regime sponsors mass rallies to mark the event, with bused in pro-regime crowds burning U.S. flags and chanting “death to America” for the cameras. This year, something different happened, anti-regime protesters risked their lives to take to the streets and shout “death to the dictators’, while trying to stay one step ahead of the regime police, military, and paramilitary security forces using everything up to and including reports of live ammunition to try and stop them.

Iran protesters take to streets as regime marks 30th anniversary of US Embassy seizure

Iranian security forces used clubs, teargas and paintball guns to disperse thousands of antigovernment protesters in Tehran on Wednesday who took to the streets as thousands of regime loyalists marked the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover in 1979.

While a pro-government crowd chanted anti-American slogans and burned US flags at the walls of the former embassy compound — still often called the “den of spies” – antigovernment demonstrators were caught in sometimes vicious confrontations at other locations in central Tehran in the first mass protests for six weeks.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the embassy takeover anniversary has been an important event for rallying regime support, so the scale and boldness of the opposition turnout – after weeks of warnings from security officials that any attempt to gather would be harshly confronted—was seen as a test of opposition strength.

“Greens [won] by far. They proved that no longer can the government assemble people without any incident, and [the regime] has based everything since the beginning on [large] public assemblies,” said one witness who, like others quoted in this story, asked not be named for security reasons. “Also, if you bring out [security] guards in such numbers, you know you are in deep trouble. The government as expected was scared.”

And while the Islamic Republic revitalizes the anti-American pillar of its revolution with a celebration, many of the radical students who took control of the embassy have since become reformist critics.

And the pro-democracy protesters had a message for Obama.

Opposition demonstrators, meanwhile, chanted “Obama, Obama, are you with us, or against us?” Many opposition activists have been critical of Mr. Obama for negotiating with the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom they say was re-elected in June as a result of fraud and vote-rigging.

So, it’s the 30th anniversary of one of the most humiliating episodes in American history, an act of war that Iran still hasn’t paid any price for, and Obama decides to issue a statement to mark the event. Does he lend U.S. support to the brave pro-democracy factions, risking their lives to bring freedom to the Iranian people? Hell no, he “reaches out” again to the belligerent Iranian regime that consistently spurns U.S. diplomatic overtures on a weekly basis.

Obama calls for new relationship with Iran on anniversay of embassy takeover

President Obama today called for a new relationship with Iran in a statement that marked the 30th anniversary of the takeover by Iranian militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The seizure of the embassy by radical students marked the beginning of Iran’s turn to hard-line policies. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

“This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust and confrontation,” Obama said in his statement. “I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”

Of course, Obama’s endless all carrot, no stick apologies have become something of a running joke in international circles, his weakness is palpable. Like clockwork, the Iranians rebuked Obama’s groveling with the same response they’ve used ever since Obama took office.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Rejects Engagement With U.S.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday rejected any direct engagement with the United States, stressing that the Islamic Republic will not be deceived by Washington’s “apparent re-conciliatory behavior.”

“We do not want any negotiations whose results are predefined by the U.S.,” Khamenei said Tuesday. “Iran will not be deceived by Washington’s apparent re-conciliatory behavior.”

Oh, and if Obama somehow thinks the Iranian regime is kidding when they keep telling him in no uncertain words that they have no intention of cooperating with the United States or the West, all he has to do is take a look at what Israel found today.

Israel: Commandos seize huge Iranian arms shipment

Open crates from a cargo ship seized Wednesday by Israel revealed dark green missiles inside. Containers from the vessel bore writing in English that said “I.R. Iranian Shipping Lines Group.”

Israel alleged that the shipment of hundreds of tons of rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and anti-tank weapons — the largest it ever seized — was headed for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Israel stopped the ship, named the Francop, off the coast of Cyprus and towed it to the port of Ashdod. It carried orange, red, white and blue containers piled three deep on its deck.

Rows of crates from the vessel were displayed on the dock, and inside were rockets, hand grenades, mortars and ammunition. At least 3,000 missiles were on board, the Israeli military said.

The seizure spotlighted the dangerous tensions between Israel and Iran. Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear program and long-range missile development, dismissing Iranian denials that it is building nuclear weapons.

Among the weaponry displayed were Katyusha rockets. One of the long skinny missiles sat atop a pile of storage boxes the military had labeled in Hebrew “rocket 122 mm.” The 122 mm Katyusha was the main weapon used against Israel by Hezbollah in a monthlong war in 2006. During that war, about 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and about 160 people were killed in Israel.

See also:
Iran Protests Against U.S. and Regime on Hostage Anniversary
Iran protesters hijack 30th anniversary of US embassy seizure
Protests erupt on 30th anniversary of U.S. embassy seizure
Iranian opposition and police in fresh clashes
Iranians hold anti-U.S. rallies to mark 30th anniversary of embassy takeover
Iranians Mark 30th Anniversary Of U.S. Embassy Siege, Anti-Government Protesters Dispersed
Clashes in Iran on Embassy Takeover Anniversary
Relationship With Iran Should Be Based On Mutual Interests: Obama
Obama calls for new relationship with Iran
Obama: Iran must decide what its focus is
The President Snubs Iran’s Democrats
Iran’s Courageous Dissidents Need Our Support
‘Obama Are You with Iran or with Us?’
Dialogue with Obama a trick, says Khamenei
Supreme Leader Ridicules Obama, Condemns U.S.
Iran warns US against influencing talks
Strong oil prices give confidence to Iran amid sea of troubles
Iran Boosts Output of Uranium Mine, Satellite Images Show
Israel says seized ship contained Iranian arms
Analysis: Seized arms evidence of Iran’s investment of Israel’s borders
Israel Seizes Ship Loaded With Weapons
Former Embassy Hostages Recall Anniversary of Iran Takeover
Iran hostage crisis
The Hostage Crisis in Iran
Iran Hostage Crisis
30 Years Later: Iran Hostage Crisis

/how many time does the Iranian regime have to kick Obama in the nuts before he feels the pain and humiliation, man’s up to the in your face hostility, and fights back in defense of the United States’ honor and national security?