The photo at the top of this article never fails to grab our readers’ attention. As it should. Taken on the front lines in Iraq, it depicts a v-hulled Force Protection Cougar (MRAP Class II) vehicle, shortly after a deeply buried land mine believed to contain over 200 pounds of explosives blew up under the vehicle. That’s a shocking big boom, and even MRAP vehicles do not guarantee protection against a blast that size. Indeed, US MRAP tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground are considered vicious because they use 30-50 pound charges – a test set that has failed at least 3 MRAP contenders. Amazingly, the Cougar in this picture did what it was designed to do, minimizing the impact of the blast by deflecting it to the smooth v-hull’s sides, rather than catching the full impact on a Hummer’s flat bottom and multiple “blast trap” niches. The engine was thrown over 100 feet from the vehicle – but the crew lived. The challenge then became removing the vehicle wreck, instead of finding enough crew remains to provide a burial.
This picture provides a certain level of perspective, as one contemplates the recent NY Times article “Hopes for Vehicle Questioned After Iraq Blast“. While Australia’s DoD has a standing “On the Record” section of the site that takes issue with media reports they believe to be misleading or flat out wrong, the US Department of Defense hasn’t quite caught up yet. It did issue a direct response in this case, however, and the contents are interesting…
Naval Open Source Intelligence is a good set of quick links to international navy-related stories in the news. Each year, they also add a summary of their take on the most significant trends and items to their “Naval Year in Review” set. They’ve added the 2007 list, which includes competing sovereignty claims over the Northwest Passage, the Chinese satellite killer missile test, the “Anbar Awakening” movement in Iraq, the resurgence of the Russian Navy (hence our photo of a TU-26 Backfire bomber and an F-16), US Navy recommendations re: climate change, and what NOSINT sees as a growing crisis in U.S. Navy shipbuilding, as shown by the crumbling of the Littoral Combat Ship program.
The page includes Naval Year in Review lists that go all the way back to 2000. It’s one person’s opinion, but our readers many find it interesting.
ADDENDUM: We’ve had readers go back and forth with proposed corrections re: the F-16 in the picture: Dutch, or Norwegian. Reader Adriaan van der Sluijs has the most convincing argument, however:
“It’s the markings at the tail and the absence of the Dutch roundel. Moreover, the colour of the plane is lightish grey whereas the Dutch F-16s are darker two-tone grey. Point is that Dutch & Norwegian F-16s were built at Fokker, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The reg. number also is not in Dutch inventory.”
The growth of identity theft and related fraud has turned a spotlight on security practices in all companies and organizations that deal with sensitive public data. Private sector practices in this regard are often severely lacking, but even organizations like the military have had difficulties. In May 2006, for instance, a serious American incident was covered in “ID Theft the Potential Reward for 26.5 million US Veterans.”
Now the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a laptop stolen from a Royal Navy officer in Birmingham on the night of 9/10 January contained personal information relating to some 600,000 people who have either expressed an interest in, or have joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force. In some cases, nothing more than a name would be present. In other cases, the data may include passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers’ license details, family details, doctors’ addresses and National Health Service numbers.
The UK MoD did not immediately notify the public of the risk, on the grounds that the West Midlands Police felt it might impair the investigation, and the MoD’s apparent belief that it might be better not to make the potential value of the theft clear. That latter rationale can be defensible. Bluntly put, many thieves are not terribly bright; as an illustrative example, it’s quite possible for someone looking to score a quick payoff for a drug fix to miss a detail of this kind. Media reports made those rationales moot, however, and so an official admission has been made, along with contact information for a help line (0800 0853600). In the meantime, action had already been taken with APACS [Britain’s Association for Payment Clearing Services] to inform the relevant banks and place a watch on potential accounts, and the UK MoD says that letters to the 3,500 people whose bank details were included on the database are in process. Meanwhile, the story will continue to play itself out in the media, and on the ground where investigations continue. UK MoD: “MOD confirms loss of recruitment data.”
In addition to the ongoing controversies concerning the Pinzgauers’ questionable protection against the #1 threat in theater, BAE Systems also had to deal with the vehicle’s fit into its overall land systems and wheeled vehicle strategy. It would appear that they have now found their answers, on both fronts…
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, IL recently issued a delivery order for the full amount of a $52.2 million firm-fixed-price contract with ATK’s Lake City Small Caliber Ammunition Co., LLC in Independence, MO. Work will be performed in Independence, MO and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/09. One bid was solicited on Oct 31/06, and 1 bid was received (DAAA09-99-D-0016).
The contract is slated to finance the ongoing modernization and enhancement of ammunition production at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, a legacy of World War II that remains the USA’s main manufacturing plant for small caliber (.50 caliber and lower) ammunition. In July 2005, “Pass The Ammunition: Army Taking Action on Small-Cal Shortages” explained the issues American forces have faced with ammunition shortages, and the steps that have been taken over the past few years to address this issue.