Wounded Pararescueman receives Bronze Star

The Following is Straight up from Stars & Stripes

Wounded pararescueman who kept fighting Taliban for hours awarded Bronze Star

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES

An Air Force pararescueman was awarded a Bronze Star with valor this week, following several surgeries and months of efforts to get back on duty after being seriously wounded in Afghanistan last year.

Shrapnel from a grenade blast ripped into Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger’s right arm and chest while he treated two severely injured Afghan commandos he had carried out of the line of fire during a nighttime raid against the Taliban in April 2018.

The airman put a tourniquet on his own arm, helped one of the wounded Afghans into cover in a sheep shed and readied to fight with all he had left. Then a Green Beret showed up and Metzger calmly talked him through treating his wounds.

“When he found me, I felt a sense of relief,” Metzger said last year, several months after the mission. “I had my guard up this whole time because I was prepared to fight until the end.”

Before he could be evacuated from the battlefield, he’d be wounded again by gunfire while continuing to fight.

On Monday, during a ceremony at Georgia’s Moody Air Force Base, Gen. Mike Holmes said he was proud to present Metzger the military’s fourth-highest individual medal, with a “V” device for battlefield courage, noting both Metzger’s actions that April night in Afghanistan and his efforts to return to duty since.

“I know this room understands what you did better than most,” said Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, in front of leaders from the base, as well as Metzger’s family and his fellow members of the 38th Rescue Squadron. “I’m sure it’s an honor to be able to do this in front of people who understand.”

Standing in front of a wall decorated with a large pair of green footprints, a pararescue symbol, Holmes said Metzger was the son of a security forces master sergeant, but didn’t immediately join the service after high school and had first considered the Coast Guard.

“He got interested in the rescue swimmer program,” Holmes said. “Fortunately for us, their recruiter was never in the office … but the Air Force guy was.”

Metzger enlisted to be a PJ but struggled to make it at first, spending a few years in another field before qualifying for the elite battlefield rescue specialty, Holmes said.

It was on his second deployment, assigned to Bagram Airfield’s 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, that Metzger earned the Bronze Star. He’d accompanied a joint U.S.-Afghan Special Forces team on a helicopter assault to disrupt Taliban networks, the award citation states.

Metzger didn’t speak at Monday’s ceremony, recorded in an Air Force video, but he was quoted describing the mission in a statement the service released after the USO awarded him the George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award in December.

At one point, while taking fire from a ridgeline about 250 meters away, he and another American had raced down an alley to a compound nearest the enemy position, the statement said.

“In order to maintain cover, I had to switch my weapon from my dominant hand to my [other] hand and shoot from my left side,” he said. “Bullets were piercing the walls six inches from us.”

When a grenade went off, sending an Afghan soldier tumbling, Metzger braved enemy fire to get to him, dragging the man from the upper floor of a building to cover on the first level, and putting a tourniquet on his left leg and arm.

Then someone motioned to a second wounded Afghan with his leg barely attached. After clearing a path to get to the man, Metzger found him with a weak pulse and “on his way out.”

Metzger carried him back to where he’d left the first patient, put a tourniquet on the second man’s amputated leg and reached for a bag valve mask to aid his breathing.

Then a grenade came over a wall and landed about 10 feet away.

“I didn’t have a chance to even react to it,” he said. “It blew me back on my ass and knocked the wind out of me. The only thing I could think about in that moment was, ‘Get back up, get back into it, get back up.’ And I did.”

Shrapnel had penetrated his right arm, chest and liver, the statement said. After taking cover and guiding the Green Beret through first aid, Metzger continued to fight and was later also shot.

For six hours, the assault team called for an aerial medevac. When it finally touched down, the badly wounded Metzger wouldn’t let anyone carry him so they could focus on security instead, Holmes said.

Five Afghans were also medevaced, including Metzger’s patients. The Afghan who took cover in the shed lived but it was unclear whether the second man survived.

For his wounds, he had been presented a Purple Heart while still at Bagram, said Holmes, who praised some of those gathered in the auditorium at Moody for helping Metzger recover.

“I’m proud of the team,” he said. “That’s a tough voyage.”

For his part, Metzger hoped the soldiers he fought with would also be recognized for their bravery.

“All of those men I was with worked their asses off and put their lives on the line to protect me,” he said last December.

Medal of Honor for Soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom

The Following is Straight up from Army Times.

The president will award the Medal of Honor on June 25 to a soldier who fought through a nest of insurgents during the second Battle of Fallujah in 2004, the White House officially announced Monday.
Then-Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia originally received the Silver Star for his actions, but his citation was revisited as part of a review of valor awards and determined worthy of the nation’s highest combat award.

The award will give Bellavia one of now seven Operation Iraqi Freedom Medals of Honor, and make him the only living recipient from the Iraq War.
During the battle, Bellavia single-handedly killed multiple insurgents, including one during hand-to-hand combat.
A squad leader at the time, Bellavia, now 43, was clearing a block of buildings when his platoon was pinned down on Nov. 10, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq.
The first nine buildings were found to be unoccupied, but were filled with rockets, grenade launchers and other weapons. When Bellavia and four others entered the 10th building, they came under fire from insurgents in the house, according to his Silver Star citation.

The ensuing gun battle injured several soldiers. Bellavia switched out his M16 rifle for an M249 SAW gun and entered one room where the insurgents were located to spray it with gunfire, forcing the Jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street.

Other insurgents on the rooftop of the building began firing on his squad below, forcing them to seek cover in a nearby building. Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses before re-entering the building to assess the scene.
Upon entering, Bellavia gunned down one insurgent who was loading an RPG launcher. A second enemy fighter began firing as he ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third insurgent then began yelling from the second floor.

Cache of weapons confiscated in Fallujah by Staff Sgt. David Bellavia and his unit. (Army)

Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon, the citation reads. Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Bellavia was then shot at by another insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing him as well.

Check out these Cool Gun Safes Click HERE
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“At that point, a Jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him,” the citation reads. “Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded Jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued, but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs.”

Bellavia followed the bloody tracks of the insurgent up the stairs to a room on his left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, which caused the insurgent to flee to the roof. Two more insurgents began yelling from the third story of the building.

Bellavia grabbed the wounded insurgent and put him in a choke hold to keep him from giving away their position.

“The wounded Jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47. In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the Jihadist’s throat,” the Silver Star citation reads. “Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade’s rescue, fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire.”

A final insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof. Bellavia saw the fleeing man and fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof and die.

By this point, five members of the platoon had entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining insurgent fighters, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.

The White House release said that Bellavia’s actions that day rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from possible death.

Bellavia originally enlisted in the Army in 1999 and served in Kosovo, before deploying to Iraq in 2004 with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division. After leaving the service on Aug. 16, 2005, he has engaged in New York state politics and continued to serve the military and veteran communities through various advocacy groups.

Bellavia now has his own daily radio talk show for WBEN in Buffalo.

U.S. Army gets new Submachine Gun – APC9K

Submachine guns such as the M3 grease gun and the Thompson served our military troops well in World War II and Korea. Fast forward M4 carbines have been the main service weapons.
Recently, the U.S. Army have decided to contract the Swiss defense contractor (Brugger and Thomet) $2.5 million dollars for the new APC9K submachine gun. There are 350 guns in the books as purchased with option to another thousand.

The U.S. Army have been looking for something to replace the Heckler & Koch 9mm MP5. Decisions was based on arming certain personnel that would needed something more small and maneuverable but with greater lethality than a pistol while operating in tight conditions than a rifle or carbine.
Other big manufactures such as Beretta, Colt, Heckler & Koch, and SIG Sauer have competed for this contract, until Brugger and Thomet won the contract.


Check out these Cool Gun Safes Click HERE
to Check it out.

The APC9K features a four-position Picatinny rail system on the barrel shroud, which is used for attaching accessories such as optical sights, laser aiming devices, illumination devices, and foregrips. It also features a set of fold-down iron aiming sights as backups in case the red dot sight fails. The controls are fully ambidextrous, with left and right-sided safeties, magazine release, and bolt release controls. The APC9k can also mount suppressors for quieter operation.

The APC9K is currently being used by the EKO Cobra, a counter terrorism unit in Austria. The APC9K is a blowback select fire submachine gun that has a cyclic rate of 1,080 rounds a minute. A semi-automatic version of the weapon with a longer barrel is also available, potentially for civilian sales in the future.

Army Ranger School – Age is No Limit

Soldiers Complete Army’s Toughest Schools after 40


The following story is from Stars & Stripes

A weapons expert with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Master Sgt. Jole Alvarez had completed some of the most challenging courses the Army has to offer, but Ranger School eluded him for two decades. He’d been slated to attend in 1999, but instead was sent to Combat Diver Qualification Course first. Then the 9/11 attacks kicked off years of high operations tempo that kept him posted overseas or deployed much of the time since. But, late last year, he got his chance. “They called me ‘Old Man Jole’ or ‘The Old Man,’” Alvarez said of his peers and instructors in a recent interview. For him, it was a chance to “get amongst the younger guys and see where you sit.”

Alvarez earned his Ranger tab at Fort Benning, Ga., in December at 42, nearly two decades older than the average student, about half of whom typically fall out before completing the 62-day leadership and small unit tactics course. Alvarez is one of two soldiers to recently complete physically grueling courses at a time in their lives when many soldiers might be tempted to coast into retirement.

Sgt. 1st Class John Slocum, center, is pictured here after graduating from Air Assault School at Fort Bliss, Texas, at the age of 56 in December 2018. Slocum is believed to be the oldest graduate from the school.
Also in December, Sgt. 1st Class John Slocum, 56, completed the Army’s Air Assault School — often billed as the toughest 10-day course in the Army — at Fort Bliss, Texas. Officials there believe he may be the course’s oldest graduate.

“It’s one of my better accomplishments,” Slocum said. “This one here is something I wanted.”
Students at the school learn skills for combat helicopter insertion, sling load rigging and rappelling, among others. Perhaps the only same-length Army course that’s tougher is the pre-trial for aspiring combat divers, known as the Maritime Assessment Course, said Alvarez, the Green Beret.

In April, Slocum will have served 22 years in the military, beginning as a Marine artillery observer in 1981. After a four-year hitch in the Corps and a year in the National Guard, the New York native left the service until 2003, when he joined the Army Reserves as a cannon crewmember, becoming a drill sergeant in 2004. For the next decade and a half, he sought to attend Air Assault School, but it was tough to get a seat as a reservist, he said in a recent interview. His opportunity came when he got active duty orders to Fort Bliss, where he’s now serving as an observer controller/trainer on ranges there.
Four times he completed a pre-trial, as required by his brigade, but didn’t get a slot in the school. His fifth time was a charm.
Despite the preparation, which also included twice weekly ruck marches and lots of running on his own, it wasn’t easy, he said.

“They broke me off pretty good,” he said in an email. “I think if I did this at a younger age [it would have] been better, but it was something I had my mind set I wanted to do.”

Physically, he often need more recovery time than younger soldiers, but he felt he held his own, partly because a younger soldier had “put me through the wringer” to prepare. The classroom side of the course was what challenged him the most, since he wasn’t used to cramming for tests, he said.

Some troops in their late 40s and early 50s have completed the course, and Slocum said he’d heard of one other soldier over 55 who’d attempted it, though he quit on the 12-mile ruck march, the course’s final event.

“I get that far, I’m crawling,” Slocum said.

This screenshot from a Jan. 30, 2019, U.S. Army video shows Master Sgt. Jole Alvarez (right) of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) posing for a photo with a fellow Green Beret after Alvarez, 42, completed Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., in December 2018. Photo from Austin Pope/US Army
Alvarez is also among a rarified group of older Ranger School graduates, though not the oldest. That distinction is held by Rob Fortenberry, a command sergeant major with the Fort Drum, N.Y.-based 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who graduated at age 45 in July 2016, according to an Army release.
Age has some advantages for students who train 20 hours a day with minimal food and sleep, said Col. Chris Colavita, who earned his tab a few months shy of his 40th birthday in 2009. Younger soldiers often need more sleep and may lack perspective on the course’s hardships.
“They can only hurt you so much,” Colavita said of the instructors.
About four hours was a good night’s sleep for him in his regular life at the time, he said. A more difficult adjustment was mental — he hadn’t had to lead a squad or platoon for about 15 years.
At 42, no one would have held it against him that he didn’t have a Ranger tab, Alvarez said, but completing the course was about living up to the Special Forces ethos. He’d have done the school even if it took five more years, he said.
“If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk,” he said. “I’m not going to rest on my laurels.”
Used to putting in “hard yards” in his daily regimen, he added a couple of road marches to prepare for Ranger School, he said. Years of experience as a combat diver helped keep him going whenever the course got particularly tough.
“I can breathe right now,” he’d say to himself, a reminder that he’d been through worse underwater.

The course did bring unique discomforts, too, such as bitter temperatures during mountain phase in Dahlonega, Ga., which the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.-based soldier said was probably the coldest he’s ever been.
“I’m still getting used to feeling my fingers and toes,” he said.
A 22-year Army veteran, Alvarez comes from a “lineage of duty to country” that includes grandfathers who served in the storied 101st Airborne and 1st Infantry divisions during World War II and three uncles who served in Vietnam. His younger brother, who fought in Afghanistan, served in the 75th Ranger Regiment and completed Ranger School before him.
Alvarez himself has deployed many times since 9/11, he said, and plans to continue serving as long as he can cut it.
“I’ve got a few more years,” he said. “As long as my body’s still holding up, I’m still of sound mind and I’m able to keep up with guys that are half my age, then I still want to give back to my country.”
Slocum is looking to become an Army master fitness trainer and hopes to attend Airborne School, though he’s not sure he’ll get the chance. The typical age cut off for jump school is 35, though older soldiers have earned their wings.
For Alvarez, the delay in going to Ranger School meant he missed out on a few things. He and his younger brother, Staff Sgt. James Perez, had discussed competing together in the Best Ranger competition, but they’ll never get the chance. Perez died in an August 2017 training accident in Texas at age 28.
“He was going to be the guy that pinned my Ranger tab on me,” Alvarez said.

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

Army’s new Rifle SDM-R

The following article is from Star & Stripes
Army Sgt. James Snow has carried an M-4 carbine and an M-110 sniper rifle as an infantryman on missions. With the M-4, he knew he was capable of hitting a target accurately up to only 300 meters. With a sniper rifle, he had less maneuverability and spent a lot of time breaking down and reassembling the larger weapon to carry.

Last month, Snow was given the opportunity to try out the Army’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, or SDM-R. After just a couple days handling the new weapon, he said it felt like something that could fill the needs of both his previous weapons. It had more mobility and close combat capabilities like the M-4, but also better precision at a distance like the M-110.



“It’s easy to move around, and you can do a lot of things with it,” Snow said. “Absolutely, I would carry this around every day if I was deployed. Every day, you could carry it for every single situation.”

That was exactly the type of weapon that the Army looked to create for its combat arms squads — a weapon for one member of an infantry, armor, cavalry scout or combat engineer squad to carry and provide precision fire between 300 and 600 meters without losing the capability of hitting closer-range targets.

The need for such a rifle was identified in the 2015 Small Arms Capabilities-Based Assessment that stated “squads must have an organic, precision-fire capability to engage select personnel targets from zero to 600 meters.”
With two weeks of testing completed this month at Fort Bliss, Texas, the Army is in the final stages of deciding what ammunition and accessories to field with the rifle. It will then purchase 6,612 for fielding with infantry, armor, cavalry scout and combat engineer units, said Capt. Sean McIntosh, assistant program manager of individual weapons, under Program Executive Office Soldier, which guides the development of new Army equipment.

“The challenge that we face is trying to provide as much capability as possible through one rifle system,” said McIntosh, who began assisting in management of the new rifle project in September 2017.
To compare, an M-16 is lighter at about 8 pounds and 39.5 inches long. An M-110 sniper rifle is about 16 pounds and 46 inches long. Other infantrymen carry the M-4, which is about 7 pounds and 33 inches in length.

McIntosh’s team also wanted to ensure the new rifle was something soldiers would want to carry.

“This system was completely built off what soldiers wanted. All the components on this rifle were hand-picked by soldiers,” said McIntosh, referencing feedback collected from soldiers about what they wanted in a new rifle. “We’re trying to do our due diligence to get these guys everything they’re asking for.”

Some of the soldier-chosen accessories include a Sig Sauer optic with a one-to-six variable for aiming the weapon at various distances, and Geissele brand rail and trigger systems.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Shoup, assistant team chief for the instructor training group of the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., traveled to Fort Bliss for the testing and will help prepare training manuals on the new rifle. He agrees it has strong potential to fill its multipurpose role for squads.

Squads, three of which make up a platoon, are typically divided into two teams. Within those teams, there is a soldier with a grenade launcher, another with a machine gun and a third who serves as the rifleman.

“The role of the [squad’s designated marksman] is to be an integral part of the squad, to move and fight with them, but he’s there to help them cover that gap between the rifleman and the sniper and to really provide that precision fire if they need it from that 300- to 600-meter range,” Shoup said.

As soldiers add those longer-range distances into operation, a solid foundation in the fundamentals is important, such as stance, breathing and environment, so there will be some new element of training required to transition soldiers trained on an M-4 to the new weapon. The M-4 is most effective with precision fire up to 300 meters.

“That’s a big challenge for this week,” Shoup said. “We work on fundamentals and extending and pushing out to those distances so that the guys get a chance to see that everything they do matters.

“A lot of them don’t have experience shooting past 300 meters because that’s what the Army goes out to.”

For Sgt. Marc Rittikaidachar, a cavalry scout and squad leader in Fort Bliss’ 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, shooting the new rifle was the first time he’d fired at a target beyond 500 meters, with the exception of using a machine gun. After a couple of days with the SDM-R, he felt confident aiming out 700 and 800 meters.



Even so, Rittikaidachar said, “If I had to clear a compound, I’m not handicapping the ability of [the marksman] I assign to carry that weapon system. If I need him to help clear the compound, he’s still able to engage targets up close.”

Following their time with soldiers at Fort Bliss, McIntosh said, his team will take the collected data back and PEO Soldier will finalize decisions on ammunition and make any needed changes to the equipment fielded with the rifle before placing orders “very shortly.”

The entire process of selecting and fielding the rifle has taken about 10 months, significantly less time than the projected two years for a small-arms project like this, McIntosh said. Part of that speed is credited to the fact that the rifle was originally under consideration as a new sniper rifle. When it wasn’t selected, he said, officials saw the opportunity for its use with combat arms squads.

By ROSE L. THAYER | Photos from STARS AND STRIPES
thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori

A-10 Thunderbolt drops a “Brrrt”

on a Runaway Taliban Vehicle

You can run, but you can’t hide from an A-10 Thunderbolt II and its technological advanced GAU-8 30mm weapon system.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command released a un-classified footage of an engagement between an A-10 and what looks to be “a Taliban vehicle fleeing the scene of an attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

The short video display a light-colored car speeding down a dusty desert road only to be stopped by a hail storm of 30mm rounds from the A-10.
Zooming in on the stopped vehicle you can see four basketball-sized holes punched in the top of the vehicle before another wave of shells is applied for good measure.
Unfortunately, the video has no sound, but you can imagine the many “brrrt” pounding the vehicle.

According to Centcom, the Taliban-mobile was armed with a DShK heavy machine gun, which they had been using to attack the Afghan people,” said the Air Force.

The General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger is a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type auto cannon.
It is 19-foot long 7-barreled rotary cannon that fires huge 30x173mm shells— each about the size of a ketchup bottle at 3,900 rounds per minute. Unloaded, the gun weighs more than 600-pounds.
For most grunts on the ground its a blessing to see the A-10’s come in for air support or in this case direct action monitored by drones.

WWII Aircraft Carrier found off Australian Coast

Searchers from vessel Petrel, owned by billionaire explorer Paul Allen have found the wreckage of the USS Lexington.
The aircraft carrier sunk 76 years ago near Australia.
The Lexington was critically damaged by Japanese forces during the battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942.

“Lexington was on our priority list because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen, in a statement.
One of the first US aircraft carriers ever built, the vessel dubbed “Lady Lex” was located at the bottom of the Coral Sea nearly two miles below the surface by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel on Sunday, Allen said.

The Lexington was lost in May 1942 along with 216 of its crew and 35 aircraft during what is considered the first carrier battle in history — the Battle of the Coral Sea.
“The Battle of the Coral Sea was notable not only for stopping a Japanese advance but because it was the first naval engagement in history where opposing ships never came within sight of each other,” read the statement from Allen.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen said in a statement.
“As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice.”

Sources: Wyatt Olson, Military.com, CNN

TFB Book Review: The ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser by Jonathan Ferguson

The C96 ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is certainly one of the most iconic self-loading handguns of the First World War. Osprey Publications has recently published a title about the C96, written by Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. For those not familiar with the Weapon Series from Osprey Publications, they are written to give a well organized and explained, yet easy to read, description of a particular small arm. The books are generally 80 pages in length and supplemented with artwork and high-quality photographs. The Weapon Series of books aren’t meant to be a definitive guide, but instead more of a survey for those wishing to expand their knowledge in regards to any particular small arm.

Ferguson begins his final chapter with this quote, “Overall it has to be said that the Mauser pales in comparison with later pistol designs and would be unsuitable for today’s various military, police, and civilian needs. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that in 1896 there was simply nothing in its class to touch its firepower, reliability, and accuracy potential.” Summed up in two sentences is the story of the C96 from its debut in 1896 to the end of production in the 1930s. Although it was technologically advanced at the time, it quickly became outclassed by Browning and Luger designs.

But the Mauser is unique in its historical trajectory. Similar to many iconic firearms, it was beloved and loathed by criminal, soldier, cop, and civilian alike. And for that reason, Ferguson’s book really stands out in taking the reader on this Mauser journey.

This particular paragraph was interesting about the use of the Mauser C96 during the Sydney Street Siege, giving very eerie parallels to what we often see today with media discussing civilian small arms ownership.

One important point about Jonathon Ferguson’s position at the Royal Armouries is that he was able to use dozens of C96s that exist in the National Firearms Centre reference collection as images throughout the book. It is this access that really allows readers to get to know the design changes throughout the different variants that were produced.

The artwork is trying to give a reader of a colored sense of the circumstances that these old firearms were actually used in. Note that both the Chinese Communist and his Nationalist Army foe have C96s or at least a variant thereof (possibly produced in China), illustrating the widespread popularity of the C96 on both sides of the Chinese Civil War.

Content

The book begins with the development of the C96 with the operational requirement for a self-loading handgun. An interesting fact here is that the Mauser team specifically designed the handgun to not have a single pin in the operating mechanism holding the trigger and hammer together.

Ferguson discusses partial acceptance by some elements within the German Army, mostly as an alternative to a bolt action carbine in use by cavalry. Later on, the C96 would have to bow to the Luger as a substitute standard handgun. He then goes into describing the different versions and iterations as Mauser worked on different safety and hammer designs and even carbine versions. He ends the initial chapter by discussing the end of the Mauser C96 in the 1930s after over one million were made.

The remaining chapters discuss the C96 throughout the world and this is what I really like about it. He discusses Mausers that were extensively used by Chinese warlords, rebels in Ireland and Armenia, police in South America that continued to use Brommhandles into the 1960s and 70s and even adventurers around the world that relied on the C96 for defense in the bush. He also discusses the different copies of the C96 from Spain to China, both licensed and unlicensed. Interestingly, Chinese Norinco was still producing a domestic copy of the C96 into the 1970s as the Type 80 for paratroopers. It ended up as a failure and was never really issued.

It was really neat reading this page about the dedicated carbine version of the C96, seeing that perhaps 1,100 were ever made, and then to actually hold the real deal in the Las Vegas Antique Gun Show the next week.

What’s in a Name?

As with many iconic small arms, names for them often vary from locality to locality. Ferguson makes specific mention of this throughout the book and even points out that Mauser as a company didn’t even have a standard nomenclature for the handgun throughout its production life. In China it was called the “Box Cannon”, in Ireland “Peter the Painter”, some British called it a “Bolo” for its use by a number of Communists/“Bolsheviks” after the First World War, among many other both official and unofficial terms. And of course throughout much of the English speaking world, the “Broomhandle”.

Room for Improvement

As always, I want to point out a few bits that the book could possibly have done better on. One point I would have really liked to see is in the conclusion that Ferguson could have discussed the current collector market of the C96 today, or even the subsequent reproductions and possible fakes out there. He spends time covering the image of the C69 in various Hollywood films which is important, but I would have liked at least a paragraph or two on the collector market today. Also, on page 64 there is a mismatched caption to photograph which should show the internal rate reducing mechanism of an Astra C96 copy, but instead only shows the external handgun. And this just because of my own interests but in one photo caption, Ferguson mentions that Ottoman C96s had their rear sights marked in ‘Farsi’ numerals. This is incorrect as Ottoman Turkish would have used Arabic numerals instead of Farsi ones.

Ferguson uses an inset to describe the different forms of safety catches, which is very important to identifying a C96 from afar. Early safeties were found to be quite insufficient through British experiences during the Boer War.

Conclusion

If you are a collector of German handguns, you could probably duplicate the written contents of this book yourself many times over so it wouldn’t be for you. But, if you are a student of the First World War or early 20th Century small arms, want to get a gift for someone who is, or are simply more curious about this German steampunk handgun, then I would absolutely recommend this Osprey Weapons Series book for you.

The ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is available from Amazon for $13.59 in the United States.

U.S. Army Top Enlisted is avid about hand-to-hand combat, including fighting ISIS with shovels

Originally published from Star & Stripes by Chad Garland

The Pentagon’s top enlisted servicemember has a penchant for hand-to-hand combat, a fact brought to light in recent comments vowing that U.S. troops would defeat its enemies by “shooting them in the face” or in close-quarters combat with shovels.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, senior enlisted adviser to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued the warnings to the Islamic State on Facebook and Twitter this week, telling them they have two options — surrender or die.


Senior defense officials have issued similar threats to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, but Troxell’s evocative language seems to have caused a stir online and in the media.

“If they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that be through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools,” Troxell wrote in a Facebook post published Tuesday. “Regardless, they cannot win, so they need to choose how it’s going to be.”
A photo of what appears to be Troxell holding an entrenching tool with its blade bent to 90 degrees accompanied the post. The photo seems to have been taken at a holiday USO show, where Troxell issued a similarly blunt promise.

On Christmas Eve at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, the senior enlisted adviser for 3rd Infantry Division, introduced Troxell with a series of improbable facts, not unlike internet memes about Chuck Norris’ prowess.

“He is the only one allowed to talk about ‘Fight Club,’” Hendrex said. “He has won the lifetime achievement award — twice.”

Troxell was also excused from having to take his anti-malarial medication, Hendrex joked, “because the mosquitoes respect him so much they won’t even bite him.”

Moments later, Troxel was pacing on stage in front of Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg, when he assured a gathering of hundreds of troops that they were making a difference.

“The Afghan forces are getting stronger every day,” Troxell said. “And let there be no doubt, we’re going to keep after this enemy until this enemy is vanquished. We’re going to continue to pursue them, we’re going to fix that location, and then we’re going to annihilate them, period.”

He then repeated the promise to bomb, shoot or beat the enemy to death. The crowd roared in response.


Successive U.S. and NATO leaders have vowed to wipe out the insurgents ever since the U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in 2001. Although vastly outnumbered by government and coalition forces, the guerrillas have made significant territorial gains in the past two years.

In Iraq and Syria, a U.S.-backed anti-ISIS campaign has successfully wrested back nearly all of the territory ISIS once held. Brig. Gen. Charles Costanza, a U.S. commander in Irbil, said the terrorist group has been reduced to about 1,000 fighters in small, disorganized and disconnected cells. The United Nations, however, has warned that the group could re-emerge as a force in some parts of the country.

In Afghanistan, where officials estimate around 1,100 fighters are operating as part of an ISIS offshoot, the group has carried out several high-profile attacks in recent months. The joint U.S.-Afghan counterterrorism fight in Nangarhar province was the most deadly for U.S. combat troops last year.

In a Twitter message, Troxell told Stars and Stripes he was referring to the Army Field Manual on hand-to-hand combat, which provides instructions for using the entrenching tool as a weapon. He sent an image from the manual.

“Almost all soldiers carry the entrenching tool,” he said. “It is a versatile and formidable weapon when used by a soldier with some training.”

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leads an intense, early morning workout session at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 17, 2016.

Troxell said he wasn’t aware of reports earlier this week that a British commando had reportedly beheaded an ISIS fighter with a spade after running out of ammunition during a grueling firefight in eastern Afghanistan. The incident was first reported Sunday by the British Daily Star newspaper, which cited anonymous sources who said it happened about six weeks ago.

“I had not heard of that,” Troxell said, but he noted that an American servicemember had fought with gallantry using an entrenching tool as a weapon during the Korean War, and received a Medal of Honor.

Troxell, a 35-year veteran with five combat tours, is the senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. military and serves as a principal enlisted adviser to Dunford and Defense Secretary James Mattis. His military education includes Ranger, Airborne, Jumpmaster and Pathfinder schools.

“I am an avid combatives person,” he said, using the Army term for hand-to-hand combat skills. “Our doctrine trains troops to use nonstandard means to defeat threats.”

garland.chad@stripes.com

Could the “Machete” Lightweight Attack plane replace the A-10 Warthog?

It’s no secret that the U.S. military have plans to replace the A-10 Warthogs in the future. One aircraft that is in the conceptual plan phase is known as the “Machete” designed by Stavatti a Minnesota aerospace start-up company.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glUPxed2hLA
Stavatti is pushing (fighting for the big budgetcontract) to get their lightweight attack plane idea to the right people. This new lightweight attack aircraft is made from metal foam, this technology is lighter than the A-10’s armor but the material is more efficient at stopping projectiles.
There will be two versions of the Machete:
-Propeller-driven SM-27
-Jet Engine SM-28
Both types are single-seat and single engine aircraft. Obviously, the Machete will be built around the infamous A-10 30mm GAU-8 Gatling cannon weapon system.

Sources: Stavatti, U.S. DOE