Monday, August 18, 2014

The crap this could start...

So, it was a long, hot afternoon/evening at work, and I had just about finished a tall, cold glass of iced tea as described in the post Mmm-mm, good!, which is to say a mix of 3 parts iced tea/lemonade to one part vodka, when I saw a post on Facepsace in which someone was mocking the fact that the AT-4 rocket launcher, AKA "SMAW", has pictographic instructions on the side that basically says, like the M18 Claymore Mine, "Front Towards Enemy."

The post consisted of a photo of the instruction, with a caption that said, essentially ""This is here because someone somewhere screwed up!"

First off, I disagree.  As I commented on the Facespace thread, the way these weapons are issued (like the claymroe mine, and the AT-4's predecessor M72 LAW rocket) "as a round of ammunition."  What this means to the average soldier is that they might find themselves in the midst of the balloon going up and being handed a weapon that they know exists but never saw before the current "cluster flop", to quote the edited-for-television version of Heartbreak Ridge.1

How do I know?  Well, early one morning the Second Infantry Division had a divisional alert, and my company commander announced that we were going to hit the Ammo Supply Point bunkers --  which were conveniently located on the back 40, so to speak, of our dinky little post2, and actually practice our load-out.

Now, I haven't talked a lot about the systems I dealt with in the Army. Suffice to say, the AN/TSQ-138 Trailblazer did not belong in Korea. It was huge.  The five-ton truck itself was too big to get where it needed to go to operate in the mountains of South Korea, the generator trailer was adding insult to injury. Inspired by an off-the-cuff remark I made one day ("Getting these up the mountains here is like an orca going up a fish ladder") I was about to name the five (count 'em! Five!) systems I had Shamu, Namu, Keiko, Willy, and... I forget.  Wilma, maybe.

These things were HUUUUUGE!!!

We objected to their presence, Big Army said "The Second Infantry Division is a Heavy Division, ergo, you get Heavy Division SIGINT assets." Big Army is a bureaucracy, ergo, doctrinaire, ergo, ignored the fact that most Heavy Divisions do not consist of two mechanized infantry battalion, two armored (tank) battalion, and two light infantry battalions. (Plus, let us not forget, a National Guard Heavy Brigade, and a ROK Army Mechanized/Armored Brigade3.)

Anyway.  Come The Day, Division alert, the CO, the First Sergeant, the Platoon leaders and Platoon Sergeants all go to the ammo bunkers and prepare to walk through loading ammo...

...Holy crap.  Each of my five teams has as much ammo assigned as an infantry platoon.4  Including crates of (IIRC) four (4)5AT-4 rockets, one per team.

And we only have enough soldiers to field three teams.

Anyway, this is how I know that the reason Big Army puts stupid pictographic instructions on some weapons is that Big Army may be bureaucratic and doctrinaire, but it is smart enough to realize that, when Specialist Schmuckatello needs to shoot the Godless Communist Hordes with an AT-4, he may very well have never even have held the frigging thing in his hands before, let alone done a familiarization range with the damned thing, so he might need the instructions to take into account that he might be a little rushed...

Anyhoo, by way of making a short story long, I posted a shorter version of this to the thread on Facespace, and added something about how the girly-girl training NCO of the company also drove the company command track, and held high score for the battalion on the Mk 19 grenade launcher. Except that I had a brain cramp, and had to look up the nomenclature of the damned grenade launcher, which led me to this photo:
From Borderland Beat: Sedena Coverup Continues
That photo is of Mexican troops on a checkpoint with a Mark 19 grenade launcher mounted in the bed of a Chevy Silverado pick 'em up truck. The Wikipedia article on the Mark 19 grenade launcher says that the Mark 19 Grenade Launcher has been "Used extensively by the (presumably Mexican) army in the Mexican drug war."

And I can't help think that all you'd have to do is Tweet that pic and claim it was Ferguson, MO, or Brownsville,TX...

1. The Marine Corps keeps trying to claim they had a piece of that battle, but a quick check of maps shows that it's a specious claim.  Probably they wee afraid of having the movie makers change it from a Marine movie to an Army one. Like Hollywood would show the Army any love. 

2. Camp Essayons. The cognoscenti will recognize from the name that it was originally a combat engineer post. (Except that, like a lot of the military installation in Korea, it was originally Japanese) During my first three tours in Korea it was an artillery post, then division swapped untis around to more precisely align with wartime missions, which is only surprising when you realize that it didn't happen until the mid-1990s.
3. IIRC, it was the Fifth Mechanized Brigade,  but there is no reference to this in current Tables of Organization., Which is no surprise.
4.  The explanation seems to involve being besieged on a mountaintop, which is not exactly reassuring...

5. A crate might have held five rockets.  I don't remember for sure. 

1 comment:

Tim D said...

Ahh memories of Essayons I had the cushiest job when I was there (24 on 48-72 off). Were you there when the wall came down and CRC flooded?