So here we are, 15 years after the most terrifying and mind-numbing day that most of us will probably (hopefully) ever endure in our life-times…
There are no words, no great speeches, no simple actions that can ever encapsulate the horrors of that day. The September 11 attacks killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others. Overall, 2,605 U.S. citizens, including 2,135 civilians, died in the attacks, while an additional 372 non-U.S. citizens also perished. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks – making the Sept. 11 terror attacks not only the most deadly ever, but also the most global. Sept. 11, 2001 was truly a day that made the whole earth stand still – and nothing has ever been the same since.
So by now you might have already seen the news that the US Navy is ditching their ridiculous camouflage duty uniform – known officially as “Navy Working Uniform Type I” (NWU-I), but nicknamed ‘Blueberry’ because of its camo pattern.
While this could certainly be considered good news, and a step in the right direction, at first glance…. The end result actually makes even less sense. For all of its faults, the NWU Type I duty uniform at least had one thing going for it – with its coloration it was pretty obvious that it was a ‘Navy’ uniform (all those blue and grey colors).
Now the Navy brass have decided that since the ‘Blueberry’ uniform was unpopular, all sailors should instead wear the jungle/woodland environment NWU Type III uniform in AOR2 digi-cam – a uniform that has been mostly associated with the SEALS, since they actually had a need for such a camo uniform.
So, as of Oct. 1, 2016, EVERY desk-bound, base-dwelling, shore-duty sea person will get to feel special by wearing jungle cammies to the office too. No word on whether every set of Type III BDUs will also be issued with a ‘special snowflake’ patch well…
For more info about the other Navy uniform changes that are coming down the blow tube, read up on Soldier Systems Daily.
The term ‘assault rifle’ has been a politically loaded term right from the start – as the origins of the German military designation “Sturmgewehr” (assault rifle) shows.
Although its commonly repeated that the term was made up by Hitler, Peter G. Kokalis actually did thorough first-hand, primary research into it and determined that in fact the term was made up by the Officers or General in charge of the German Army’s small arms development and procurement division in order to persuade Hitler to approve the production order for the StG-44. This explains why the MP-43 was called “MP” (Maschinen Pistole – submachine gun) and even the 44 was initially called an “MP” as well, before being reclassified as the StG-44.
(As a quick reminder, per its original specification, an ‘assault rifle’ is a carbine-sized, military rifle that fires an intermediate-sized cartridge from a detachable magazine, AND which is capable of full-automatic fire on demand. By this definition then, the German paratroops rifle, the FG-42, has become known as a ‘battle rifle’ rather than an ‘assault rifle’ becuase it fired the full-power 7.92mm Mauser cartridge. With the benefit of hindsight, the “Maschinenkarabiner” – Mkb – ‘machine carbine’ designation given to the prototype Mkb-42 would have been a more sensible term to stick with for the -44, or maybe something like ‘light automatic rifle’ for the -44 and ‘automatic battle rifle’ for full-power weapons like the FG-42. Interestingly though, the StG-44 was actually physically heavier than the FG-42.)
At any rate, Hitler had allegedly refused to authorize the production of the new MP-44 submachine-gun model becuase he saw the SMG as a defensive weapon and he believed that the Army should be focussed on attacking, not defending. So, the araments board came back with a revised production request for a new ‘assualt rifle’ that would help the German Army go back on the offensive again with greater firepower and Hitler signed off the production order for the ‘StG-44’ without any further quibbling – and the rest is history. Sort of….
Hot on the heels of our last article about Natick Labs came this online article from ‘The National Geographic’ about a new book by renowned author Mary Roach:
Mary Roach, a self-confessed “goober with a flashlight,” has created a niche for books with one-word titles—Gulp (on the digestive system); Bonk (on the science of sex)—that take a funny, and informed, look at the scientific secrets of everyday things. In her latest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, she goes behind the scenes of modern warfare to celebrate the unsung heroes of military science, who do everything from design high-tech clothing for the battlefield to perform penis transplants—all in the name of keeping soldiers “alive and comfortable.”
Read the full interview here: nationalgeographic.com
Located in Natick, Massachusetts, and officially known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the installation is often referred to by its common nickname of ‘Natick Labs’.
Whatever you call it though, there’s no doubt that these folks do some very important work – even if you don’t hear of it very often. One part of that important work is in developing new gear to meet the ever evolving challenges of modern-day combat and stabilization missions. Long gone are the days of lowest-common-denominator and one-size-fits-all – the modern American soldier is equipped with some of the most specially-designed and high-performance gear on the battlefield.
In the photo above, a squad from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) visit the equipment lab to discuss load carriage with NSRDEC’s individual equipment designer, Rich Landry. Their visit was part of the Science & Technology Project Integration Pilot, a collaborative program that pairs Natick scientists and engineers with paratroopers from the 82nd’s 504th PIR. Within an hour of the meeting, Landry had already begun developing the prototype for a performance enhancing rucksack based on their feedback.
Landry is also no stranger to carrying heavy loads in the field – he was once a Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division himself. In the video below, he talks about that experience and how it has helped him in his work at Natick.