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Archive for the ‘military’ Category

 

Leopard Tank – Reforger, Germany, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

An odd thing happened to me while I was in Germany. I was injured in a tank accident and I still bear the scar on my forehead.

This is me posing in front of one of the tanks – can’t remember which one it was, but some of the vehicles in the background are M113s – used for carrying the infantry sections that add to the “punch” of a mechanized brigade. We are in an armored defensive position somewhere in Hohenfels.

Being new I was still in the process of experiencing the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Grouping, understanding who does what and how it all fit together. 4 CMBG was tasked with plugging an Eastern Bloc advance if things ever came to that – thankfully they didn’t as it’s unlikely that I’d be telling this story if it had.

Shortly after this picture was taken I found myself in the gunners seat of one of these tanks (Leopard). It was nauseating as the whole turret spins both on top of the tank and in a cone down inside the cursed thing.

The Leopard tank cruises in excess of 60 kilometers an hour and so as you hit trees, holes and whatever at those speeds, going backwards,sideways and all ways with no visibility beyond this scope thing in front of you it doesn’t take you long to start feeling motion sickness. The tank can keep going forward on its own long after the crew within it has been battered to death by impacts – it is a truly terrifying machine whose purpose is to crush, incinerate and kill other people in trenches, lesser tanks, houses or wherever they may be hiding. In retrospect – being part of a tank crew – its an odd kind of career to aspire to (but someone has to do it!).

I can’t remember exactly what the reason was, but the other 3 members of the crew had these tanker helmets on and I did not. The crew commander kept shouting to get my face against the sight, but every time I tried we would hit a tree or a hole and it felt like somebody had just punched me in the nose. Incidentally, a tree in a Leopard at 65 KM/hr is not quite the shock that you’d imagine,it’s generally just a bump. I can’t imagine that anyone can actually sight onto a target like that – they had to be having some fun with me (because I was new???).

Having already thrown up I kept trying to do as instructed when suddenly the tank bottomed out into a large crater and I hit the sight full impact in the forehead. I remember the incline when the tank stopped and we were tipped well forward and then the engines gunned and the tank backed up onto a level and started off again. The crew commander and radio operator also took it pretty hard, but the driver seemed unaffected.

I couldn’t feel my face and when I reached up to see if everything was still there it was totally wet with blood. Around this time my vision started closing in and I knew I was soon to faint.

I had a head set on and I was trying to figure out how to operate the thing and I could just hear my two companions shouting and what have you.

The inside of a tank is cramped and full of nasty, sharp and explosive things. Worst of all, down near my feet there was a hatch that connected to the driver’s compartment and when the turret is lined up you can pass through the hatch, but when the turret is turning its like a guillotine – as I was passing out I was sliding down toward the hatch imagining that I was soon to be cut in two. I had heard that Russian tanks were even more difficult to operate, apparently there was some kind of hazard where the guy who operated the gun was sometimes caught up in the mechanism and loaded into the breach. I can only imagine that it would be lethal as a human being is not meant to fit into a tank barrel.

Somebody must have heard me mumbling and gagging on the headset and they finally figured all was not well within the Leopard. Apparently it took some time to stop the thing. I was too out of it by then to know anything, but I do remember trying to find ways to wedge myself in my seat so I did not slide into the scything hatch thing. While still conscious I still had some control, but as I was passing out I rightly believed with all the shaking and slamming of the journey I’d soon be sliding into the guillotine. The driver, though he had backed the tank out of the crater was actually the most messed up of all he was kind of dazed and he just kept plowing on in shock – trees, holes, whatever was in the way just got knocked down.

Anyway, when the tank was finally stopped, not from direction within, but by someone outside, I got hauled out on top of the tank where I was treated along with the others and sent off to a hospital.

Would I want to go in another tank? – absolutely not, its a real scary machine to operate (not that I was in it long enough to get used to it) and even worse to have it coming at you – 600 km range, massive gun and quick to crush anyone who’s not fast enough to get out of the way.

I believe we still have 114 of these bad boys.

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Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal

 

scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of usĀ  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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Don’t Mess with the Queen

In addition to the regular guards foot soldiers outside Buckingham Palace, the uninvited guest would be dealing with this. I’m not sure exactly what he’s carrying but it brings to mind a less security conscious time when I was sent on an exercise during a potential officer course (Sandhurst). My task was to obtain the signature of the officer of the guard at Buckingham Palace – others had all sorts of odd and diverse tasks. The idea was to show what could be done with initiative.

I had no free entry into the palace but managed to talk my way into the guard room where I learned that the officer of the guard had left for his residence at St. James Palace. I managed to intercept him en-route – he wouldn’t talk but his bat man who followed along behind carrying the squash shoes of the marching, sword-bearing anachronism explained that I could see him later.

Later, in St. James Palace I got an imperious note (with signature) “Please desist from disturbing my afternoon slumbers”. Mission accomplished.

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Life Guards – London

No visit to London is complete without some pomp and ceremony. I took this picture outside the building known as “Horse Guards”. These fellows in red are the life Guards – not the swimming kind (their cuirasses would drag them down). As one tourist in the know explained, “They stand there facing each other (blues and Royals vs Life Guards) for about half an hour and then they have changed the guard.”

As you can see it was a good picture taking opportunity.

The life Guards (in red and the blues and Royals in blue) both comprise regiments in the Household Cavalry, an actual functioning light armored formation of the British Army. When not on ceremonial duty, the Household Cavalry performs a reconnaissance function in a combat brigade; dress uniform is replaced by camouflage, swords by assault rifles.

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Me teaching the use of the GPMG – the student not listening all that well

Well – You might wonder what any of these topics have to do with caving – not much I guess except its on my caving blog.

I’ve been on a train the trainer course for the last few days in Etobicoke at the THSAO, now amalgamated with several other companies under a larger company that is somehow linked to both the Government and the construction industry.

The quality of instruction is outstanding (thanks Ivan!) and the end result is that I will have completed a course in principles of instruction (POET). Being in health and safety for a living, I would suggest the course to anyone who teaches for a living. After this initial 3 day course I am then taking their reach truck instructors course.

I did my practical presentation today – that went OK, glad to get it done with as it’s always a little stressful when you are being judged. I taught on the 4 basic principles of a safety culture.

As you can see by the above picture (me kneeling in the foreground, I think I’ve got instruction in my blood. This was 25 years ago when I was a British soldier. As you can see, I am teaching the use of the GPMG to the soldier of another country (guess which one). This guy just couldn’t grasp the concept of 3-4 round bursts – then again it was hard to explain as neither one of us spoke the same language. I remember that I physically grabbed the belt and broke it off when he went Rambo on me. The rounds were going everywhere.

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Queen’s Regiment in Portugal

If you are wondering who Col is, he is the guy with the sandbag in the middle – full name is Colin.

The Queen’s Regiment (1st batallion) was big on FIBUA and DIBUA, and we spent some time in Portugal instructing those practices to the Portuguese military. I can’t say it was all that effective as we didn’t speak Portuguese.

What we were doing here was fortifying an old abandoned farmhouse (an exercise) and if I recall correctly, it was quite a mess inside (hence the name).

The usual deal with DIBUA (defence in built up areas) is to make it real costly for the opposing force to try and take your position. There were many ways to make the battle a little slice of hell for your opponents. Walls, windows and stairways all needed to take their toll. (remember the lessons of Stalingrad). Think how can I arrange this house to kill whoever might want to visit? The defender needs to be the ultimate malicious host.

And guests, they arrive not by a polite tapping at the door, but in an unexpected showering of bricks as their mouse hole charge opens a crawl way through the wall. And don’t expect a bottle of chardonnay – it’s grenades that are coming next!

Success for the aggressor is based on, speed, momentum and a solid supply line to keep the ammunition coming and efficiency to keep the dead and wounded flowing back to where they came from.

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Training in Portugal – NBCW

My father had always said that sleeping in a hole was comfortable and warm. I beg to differ!

This is Bev, a friend of mine an incidentally also my section commander while were were serving together. This picture was taken in Portugal somewhere. (It was either a place called Santa Margarita or Pucarica)

This picture brings to mind the hideousness of “digging in” while wearing NBC equipment and then experiencing some kind of air burst attack with less than lethal gas.

Above Bev you can see the roof is caving in – there was dirt above and then the unpleasantness of sleeping in an NBC suit with dirt and sweat in every crease in your body. To top the experience off we had these primitive field telephones and in the middle of the gas attack where the stuff was streaming down from these big concussions above us the phone rang. I really hate the phone, but something unexplainable made me lift my mask to answer it. Well I soon wished that I hadn’t done that.

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