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Archive for the ‘Cold War’ Category

Visit an ICBM Launch Facility

Monday, May 6th, 2024

The link below is a virtual visit to an ICBM launch capsule. Turn on the audio and listen to Emergency Action Messages, “Klaxon! Klaxon! Klaxon!”

www.aerospaceutah.org/virtual-tours/ICBM

Kickstarter’s Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War Is In Its Final Week!

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

Written by Vlad Besedovskyy of Safar Publishing, “Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War” chronicles the arsenals that the Soviet Union developed and deployed to Afghanistan.

“Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War” is a meticulously researched and visually captivating book that dives deep into the arsenal that played a pivotal role in the conflict. Unlike other books on firearms, we are not focusing on the characteristic tables and manufacturing details, but instead we write about the practical use of the weapons. A substantial amount of effort was devoted to the examination of memoirs and conducting interviews with veterans in pursuit of the completion of this publication.

Get yours on Kickstarter before they are no longer available.

Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024

Launching today on Kickstarter from author Vlad Besedovskyy is “Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War.”

The manuscript also includes weapons, which are not to be seen in any other work – such rarities as RPG-16, folding-stock RPKS-74, APB silenced pistol and others.

Each chapter is a comprehensive exploration of a specific Soviet firearm, tracing its origins, modifications, and battlefield performance. Whether you’re a military history enthusiast, firearm collector, or just curious about this era, this book offers a unique blend of information and excitement.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/345pdp/soviet-weapons-of-the-afghan-war

Blast from the Past – The Digital Message Device Group

Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

Not long after “ET” used a modified Speak & Spell to phone home*, select units within the US Army were using the OA-8990/P Digital Message Device Group (aka KY-879/P) to communicate.

I used the DMDG from the late 80s up until the mid-90s while assigned to both 3rd ID LRS and in 3rd SFG(A) on a SOT-A.

Manufactured by Racal Communications, it was a burst transmission device. Messages were formatted and encrypted via one-time pad and then entered into the device via the keyboard. The dot matrix screen could be backlit but was used only with caution so as not to give away the user’s location at night. Although, the nylon cover could be configured to partially conceal the screen from three sides, the glow reflecting off of the user’s face was noticeable, especially if he was wearing glasses.

The DMDG sent a digital burst signal when used primarily in conjunction with HF radios. Initially these were the AN-PRC-74 and 70, but I only ever used the device with the AN/PRC-104A and AN/PRC-132 SOHFRAD (Special Ops High Frequency Radio). It could also used with SATCOM systems such as the AN/PSC-3, AN/LST-5 and AN/MST-20.

In the photo at the top, you can see the cables used to connect the DMDG to the radio as well as an external battery such as the Magnesium BA-4386 (also used in the AN/PRC-77) which only provided about four hours of power.

The combination of burst transmission and HF comms was intended to thwart threat radio direction finding efforts but the baud rate was so slow (266.6 baud), messages took a really long time to transmit. At that speed, you could only transmit 27 characters a second on HF. For SATCOM shots, you could speed it up to 1200 baud but satellite time wasn’t as prevalent during the 80s and 90s.

During an International (NATO) LRRP exercise in the late 80s, I learned that the Dutch 104th Reconnaissance Co used the MA-4450 Message Entry and Read-Out Device. The MEROD looked like the DMDG, but offered onboard encryption.

By the mid-90s we began to transition to the AN/PRC-137 Special Mission Radio System which was much smaller and lighter than earlier radios and used a palmtop Data Messaging Device to transmit messages via a radio which could be queried by a base station for message traffic. When used for Special Reconnaissance missions this allowed to communicator to leave the radio a safe distance from the element. This combined with much faster data transfer rates greatly lowered the risk of threat direction finding.

The DMDG is now a relic of the Cold War. Today, handheld cellular devices provide more capability than we could carry just two decades ago. Communicators use a variety of multi-band devices which offer onboard encryption as well as data transfer rates high enough to provide live video feeds using waveforms which boast low probability of detection and intercept.

* “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” was a 1982 movie by Steven Spielberg. A famous line is “E.T. phone home.”

40th Anniversary of Operation Urgent Fury

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

On the morning of October 25th, 1983, America awoke to reports that US forced had invaded the small Caribbean nation of Grenada, in order to liberate American medical students from danger posed by political instability. Joined by Regional Security System troops from a variety of Caribbean partner nations, they swiftly overwhelmed the Grenadian and Cuban troops.

While Operation Urgent Fury was in name a joint force operation, and included the use of Special Operations Forces, it highlighted many interoperability challenges, such as use of joint operational overlays and communications issues.

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Several stove pipe problems suffered by the pre-Goldwater-Nichols military were identified during this operation. Additionally, Urgent Fury was conducted with many systems dating from the Vietnam war.

Just six years later, during the invasion of Panama, saw the first employment of several new weapons developed during the Reagan buildup such as the F-117 stealth fighter and the Marine Corps LAV-25. Grenada was a great learning experience for the US military as it highlighted issues with joint service operations, particularly in the communications arena as well as interoperability between Special Operations and General Purpose forces. For example, SOF also took a much more prominent role in operation Blue Spoon during the Panama invasion. We’ve come even further in the past three decades.

Finally, as with any conflict, lives were lost. Let us not forget the 19 Americans killed in action and the 116 who were wounded. Unfortunately, there were also 24 Grenadian civilians killed in the conflict.

AirLand Battle Emerges: Field Manual 100—5 Operations, 1982 and 1986 Editions: TRADOC 50th Anniversary Series

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s 50th anniversary is July 1, 2023. In celebration, the TRADOC Communication Directorate in collaboration with the TRADOC Military History and Heritage Office, is sharing an article series highlighting key moments in TRADOC’s history to include the evolution of training, AirLand Battle, and gender integration.

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – In 1976, TRADOC distributed 176,000 copies of the new Field Manual 100—5 Operations. This massive publication and dissemination effort marked but one of Gen. William E. DePuy’s, TRADOC’s first commanding general, purposes for the manual—to drive rapid change throughout an Army confronting an upgraded Soviet threat in Europe and contending with the aftermath of the long Vietnam War. Fresh doctrine, Depuy reasoned, would serve as a guidon for the Army, shaping everything it did, from training and education, to developing leaders and new equipment. Another no less significant purpose was to provide Soldiers with clear and practical guidance on how to fight and win on the modern battlefield against a peer opponent.

However, significant criticisms of Depuy’s brainchild emerged almost as soon as the last manual left the presses. First, many assessed that it prioritized defensive operations; the chapter on defense was indeed more robust than the one tackling the offense. Consequently, the term Active Defense quickly emerged as a shorthand reference for the manual. Second, the manual stressed the science of the application of modern firepower and force ratios, ignoring, some argued, the fundamental human element in warfare. Third, others contended the doctrine focused too narrowly on the Western European battlefield to the detriment of other forms of conflict across the spectrum of war. Finally, operational commanders worried that, in concentrating on tactical combat at the forward edge of the battle area, the manual neglected a key element of Soviet doctrine—that of echeloning forces in depth to maintain the momentum of any attack. This emphasis might commit U.S. Army ground forces to an attritional fight they could not win. Whatever their specific objections, all critics agreed with Depuy that future success started with 100—5, the Army’s capstone field manual, and that 100—5 should direct the force in all that it did.

A series of TRADOC commanders—Gen. Donn A. Starry (1977-1981), Gen. Glenn K. Otis (1981-1983), and Gen. William R. Richardson (1983-1986)—took up the challenge and led the effort to revise the 1976 document, culminating in two new Operations manuals that appeared in 1982 and 1986 respectively. Their sustained, consistent, and collective efforts saw not just revised doctrine, but the development of training and the fielding of equipment to make the doctrine work in practice.

Taken together, the 1982 and 1986 editions of FM 100—5 addressed the perceived weaknesses of the earlier manual. For example, they introduced a concept, dubbed AirLand Battle, that dealt with the problem of Soviet offensive doctrine by emphasizing attacking throughout the depth of the battlespace through synchronized effort across the joint force. While the Army primarily managed the frontline fight, the Air Force (mainly) as well as Army attack aviation and long-range fires would attrite and disrupt second echelon Soviet forces. Furthermore, the new doctrine highlighted the value of maneuver and aggressive action with both local and deep counterattacks serving to shock adversaries and enhance the morale of Soldiers, who would now hit back as well as defend.

Although thankfully never tested in Western Europe, the TRADOC-led effort to transform Army doctrine and the force in tandem with it contributed directly to success in the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Echoes may also be heard today in the Army’s current multidomain operations concept.

By Courtesy, TRADOC Military History and Heritage Office

Nuclear War Simulator

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023

The Nuclear War Simulator describes itself as a detailed realistic simulation and visualization of large-scale nuclear conflicts with a focus on humanitarian consequences.

The simulator allows you to design warheads, missiles, and carriers, place them on the map and execute attack plans to tell a credible story about how nuclear conflicts play out and what the consequences are. Using a high-resolution population density map and realistic weapons effects like blast, heat, and radiation you can make an estimate of how many people will die in a conflict.

Pretty heavy stuff.

Even in its infancy, nuclear war planning began to dehumanize the consequences by broadly mentioning the tens and even hundreds of millions of casualties, due to the sheer magnitude of damage possible.

You can plan a campaign consisting of up to thousands of warheads and target each individually or rely upon AI to help you out in the event you don’t have a massive target shop to help you out. Imagine visualizing Wing Attack Plan R.

Now this is where things get really interesting. Want to make the prospects of nuclear combat personal? Individual humans can be placed on the map, travel, and take shelter to analyze the effects and estimate injuries and survival probability. Place you, your family, or others right into the scenario.

Now available on Steam.

nuclearwarsimulator.com

Public Shelter Living: The Story Of Shelter 104

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

In this look at Cold War history, we see a training film for Civil Defense Shelter Managers which depicts what life might be like for those who find shelter after a nuclear attack.