U.S. Abrams v. British Challenger II

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, May 14, 2008.

  1. Indeed he did, Tranter. It would be difficult for me to name my favorite of Kipling's poems simply because I cannot think of one I believe qualifies as less than outstanding. For me, as a Vietnam War vet, perhaps the one that stands out most, that hits home the most though, is "Tommy," especially the last refrain:

    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

    No poet though captured the essence of war like another Brit, one of whom few have even heard today, Wilfred Owen. Owen was killed in the trenches of France just five days before the Armistice of 1918. Have you ever read his work, Dulce Et Decorum Est?

    DULCE ET DECORUM EST

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots4
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

    Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.
  2. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Yes Pistol, I have
    Some of the first war poets really seemed to catch the moment, an almost impossible thing to do.

    I often take tea and crumpet, yes we do, really, (damn that potter chap) in a tea house and garden in Granchester, near where I live. It was a favourite haunt of Rupert Brooke, another popular first war poet. Some of his writings and poetry are posted inside. Brooke died in 1915 on route to Gallipoli. His brother also died in 1915 on the western front about three weeks after arriving (I think I am correct here).

    There are some things in life that cannot be really understood unless you were there, unless you went through it.

    Perhaps re the Challenger II and the Abrams thing we should agree to remain allies and friends. Though that five to ten offer stands.
  3. The tea and crumpets aren't bad at all, Tranter. I can do without the cucumber sandwiches though! :D;):p

    Yes, I too have read Brooke's poetry and I entirely agree. Brooke has been accused of being a bit of a romantic, and some have argued that he "hasn't aged well," but I have always felt he had something very worthwhile to say, especially his poem, "The Soldier."

    The Soldier
    If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
    A body of England's, breathing English air,
    Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

    And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
    Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

    No, they cannot. "Seeing the elephant," to borrow Stephen Crane's allusion, cannot be explained to anyone who has not done so himself.

    I could not agree more, my friend. America and Great Britain have guarded each other's backs on many battlefields and through many a "sticky wicket" over the years, and they continue to do so to this day. It is always fun to compare military equipment on a theoretical basis--we do that a great deal around here as you will see--but when the chips are down, I want both the Challenger IIs and the Abrams shooting in the same direction! ;)
  4. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    There cant be many poems that move you every time you re read them, 'The Soldier' is one such.

    What Elephant's that then? sounds exciting, wont be scary will it?
  5. It's an allusion to some lines written by the American author Stephen Crane in his book, The Red Badge of Courage, Tranter. The book is a classic novel concerning a young man's experience during the American Civil War. To have "seen the elephant"--in the jargon of the time--means to have seen combat, with the concomitant understanding of what that truly means--not bands playing and flags waving and all that rot, but the harsh and bloody reality of war. You should give the book a try, Tranter; I suspect you would enjoy it. If we Yanks must be subjected to William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Percy B. Shelly, surely you Brits must read Stephen Crane, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Mark Twain. :D;):p
  6. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    I shall try to get a copy and report back.

    One of the finest 'war' books I have read is one of yours, 'Shots fired in anger' by JB George. Out of print I should think but get one if you can. A must for any weapon enthusiast, he really evaluates the various handguns, rifles mortars etc being used where he is in the pacific.

    Also 'Fix Bayonets and other stories' (MCA Heritage Library) copy given to me by a Marine Lt. friend.
  7. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    DULCE ET DECORUM EST was probably the first war poem I ever read. It's actually the prologue in a book...I think a novel by Harold Coyle.

    The "seen the elephant" reference is still used by some people...some sayings are too good to die easy I guess.

    I used to know a guy, a Sapper, out West when we worked in the mountains he would cut a staff from a straight sappling almost every day, decorating it with notches and 550 parachute cord or whatever was handy. After awhile they were laying or leaning everywhere and you almost couldn't help but pick one up and walk with it. Something about holding one of those staffs, shaved clean and the top adorned with long braided cord with no logical pattern....well it was satisfying in a primitive way. And new guys, coming with us, or strangers to us, would always ask in some way when they saw the first staff, "Sargeant, what is that?" He would always just say, "It's an elephant stick." The reply would always follow after a minute of thought, "There ain't no elephants around here." He would say, "Exactly."
  8. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Actually, to give one other advantage to the M4 Sherman:p the Brits came up with a rather ingenious portable gasoline stove that could be used to "brew up" on the move so they didn't even have to STOP for tea in War two...


    ...although pity the poor bog (or did the Brits refer to the bowgunner as an "alternate driver," I forget...) with that thing blazing between his legs with the Sherman rocking and rolling on to Berlin at 28 mph... :p:D:D


    And "Combined Arms" PS? That went out with the death of the Blitzkrieg in '43....even though people were still spouting it until at least the 70s....

    It's now an "integrated battlefield," with ALL assets complimenting each other, with not merely "cooperation"between services like back then, but actual one force, one mission. 'AirLand Battle" was truly that revolutionary in the 70s and 80s, even though it was not really used in battle until Desert Storm, and is even more so with the technology we have now...

    Whereas the grunts used to "ask for" cooperation from the Navy, or the Flyboys, and depending on the "liaison" may or may not have gotten it, it is now integrated with all forces reporting to one commander, who may be of any service.

    You may have a Marine in the F18 coming in hot flying under the control of the AF FAC supporting a Special Forces Team being extracted by an AF Spec Ops chopper that just put in a Seal Team to cover....all commanded by a NAVY officer on a DD offshore or in a JSTARS overhead...not merely "separate" forces temporarily "combined," as in WWII or even Vietnam custom, but truly "Integrated" into one team...it truly is revolutionary, and probably is the "zenith" of military command arts.
  9. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    Goodness me,
    It all sound so complicated. It's a good thing it could not possibly go wrong!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2008
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Actually it's amazing it works as seamlessly as it does!

    But it's taken DECADES to get this far though. Which is why too many people and politicians that see nothing but "waste" in military expenditures, need to also see the advances that have been made along the way too, taking advantage of capabilities across the whole spectrum, and eliminating a lot of duplication of effort.

    It's taken so long to get beyond the stupid interservice rivalries of the past, even though granted a lot still exists, but unlike the 40s, 50s, and 60s, where a lot of heartburn was expended over say, the 1947 Key West 'Agreement' where Congress had to "referee" the "fight" between the USAF and the USA over control of "armed aircraft," which had devolved into almost open warfare between the services. The AF wanting complete control of ALL "COmbat Aircraft," while devoting about zilch to close air support and troop carrying helicopters so they could spend more resources on missiles and "sexy" air to aire fighters and strategic bombers, that even effected operations as late as Vietnam.

    Now when you see for example the integration of Spec Ops, or the planning for "Iraqi Freedom," for example, compared with even the planning that happened for "Desert storm" 10 or 12 years earlier, we have much more than mere "cooperation" between services.
  11. Of course it couldn't go wrong, Tranter. As we both know well, the military NEVER makes mistakes . . . especially the officers in intelligence and those with the rank of brigadier or higher. :D;)
  12. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    I am no military expert, but it seems to this armchair General the key to success is 'flexibility'.

    That's because no plan survives the first few moments because the weather, our own support services, men and equipment and most of all, the enemy will often not do what their supposed to when their supposed to!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2008
  13. Too true! It is virtually axiomatic that military plans almost never survive contact with the enemy . . . at least I was never involved in one that did! Plans are logical, unfortunately, humans rarely are. :cool:
  14. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    It all comes down to this....The one thing you never thought of happening will occur at the worst moment when you are least able to deal with it.

    Rarely in combat will you ever say about some bulls*** that is happening, "Gosh, this is exactly what I had hoped would not happen!"

    Usually it's, "WTF!?? WTF!?? WTF!??"

    If you thought of it...there would be control measures to deal with it before the risk became reality.


    I wouldn't say it's always a matter of things NOT doing what its supposed to do. It happens, but for the most part gear and personnel do what they are paid to do. Timing will always be a problem but we have gotten extremely good at putting mass casualty producing efforts in motion at the right moment.

    We will plan a 1,000 hours...and train a 100 hours....for a task that will take 10 minutes to execute. We use technology that will take a decade for civilian industries to figure out a profitable way to convert from a military role and sell. (That tactical internet we use now....one day those servers will be in everyones' cars....your car will see every car around it before you do....cops will be emailing your ticket to your dashboard.)


    People love to say, "No plan ever survives contact etc etc etc". Yeah we know it's true. BUT if you want to experience disaster just go ahead and wing it with no plan at all!


    Battles are not won by the best; Battles are lost by the worst.
  15. Well said and quite true, Delta. It is perhaps worthwhile to note as well that one of the greatest strengths of our military is the emphasis that is given to initiative and flexibility at every rank level, from general down to PFC. The militaries of the past that have relied on rigid, no-deviation-from-orders kind of thinking have always ultimately failed, even if they were initially successful. The German Wehrmacht and the Japanese Imperial Army of World War II were certainly a cases in point.
  16. delta13soultaker

    delta13soultaker New Member

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    Yeah our Army is probably the only one who will give privates a top-secret clearance.

    I remember being a private in the '90's, being told while learning to land nav at Ft. Benning, "In the Soviet Army you have to be a f***ing lieutenant to learn to read a map! Kill the officers, always kill the officers, Privates! Then you wiped out a whole platoon!" As a drill sergeant I repeat the same story....the former communist armies only trusted a lieutenant with a compass, so understand how valuable what you are about to learn is.

    A staff sergeant in our Army has always had the authority of a captain in most other communist militaries.

    Our entire doctrine revolves around initiative at the lowest level.

    "If it don't work...it's wrong! If it does work...it's a technique!"

    "There's forty ways to skin a bobcat, boys."

    "I don't care how ya f*** this chicken! Just make sure you're holding the feet when it gets done!"

    Everything from battle drill 1A at squad level to SPORTS at individual level back up to conducting a screen line at task force level or break-out at division level....is all based on decisions of the guy most directly responsible at that moment...whether he be responsible for just his rifle, his squad, 3 battalions, or 4 brigades. Anyone who is about to fight an American has just really known one thing...he has no actual idea what the s.o.b. is actually gonna do. Anyone who thought otherwise got humbled. That's why 1 US Mech Division sent Saddam running into a hole.

    Anytime we've ever deviated from that core doctrine we paid dearly.
  17. Yup. Look, for example, what happened at 73 Easting during the First Gulf War. Captain H.R. McMaster, on his own initiative, attacked without waiting for heavier units to come up, and basically kicked Iraqi butt big time. :D
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