Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tactical retreat

Several readers pointed out the possibility of High Explosives being abandoned at National Guard Armories.

I don't want to dive down that rabbit hole because my ignorance is total. I could only speculate and would probably get important details wrong.

It does raise the question of likely actions by the National Guard if civil strife looked like it would go critical-mass.

My guess is that they would make a tactical retreat to major bases. In Michigan that would be Grayling in the middle of BF-Nowhere and Fort Custer which is mid-way between Detroit and Chicago.

Grayling is infinitely more defensible and Fort Custer is infinitely easier to support logistically.

The order of shipment would be fuzes, shells, then tubes.

Without fuzes, High Explosive is modeling clay. Fifteen fuzes take up the same space as one 105mm projectile so the least logistically demanding way to make ammo inaccessible to insurgents is to ship out or destroy the fuzes.

Without shells, tubes are very heavy telephone poles. One-hundred 105mm HE rounds weighs about as much as a 105mm howitzer.

A minimum amount could be kept together to ship with the tubes in case locals got ideas and barriers needed to be breached.

Any comments from the professionals will be much appreciated.


  1. Don't underestimate the effect of poor decision making by immature/inexperienced low ranking officers based on their indoctrination and desire to make their career bones.

  2. Last I heard (3 decades ago) no man-portable weapons, ammo or munitions were being kept at armories. This was because of them being broken into in the 60s. I do have a person or two I can ask and see what goes on these days. I know the local arty units have no tubes on site when I pass by.

    1. I would appreciate it if you tickled your sources. But I don't want any information that should not be public domain or might get your friends in trouble.

  3. Even though I am one of the commenters who posed the question, my ignorance is near total as well. In this story, the economic and societal collapse caused by Ebola would have been slow motion. Things collapsed over a timeframe of many months vs just a few weeks.

    So the National Guard units theoretically would have had time to transport their heavy weapons and themselves to the nearest Army base. And even though that Army base might be several states away, presumably a convoy of military transports protected by soldiers in armored humvees with machine guns should be able to make the trip unmolested. Theoretically.

    But what if the order to evacuate ordnance and munitions to the nearest Army base never came? Stranger things have happened. Or what if the order came, but most of the guardsmen decided to go home (or stay home) and protect their own families. Or what if the Army base was not letting anbody in, not even guardsmen, for fear of them bringing Ebola into the base?

    What if the National command authority was so decimated by Ebola that every military base and National Guard armory was making decisions more or less autonomously? Who knows what decisions might be made or not made concerning the disposition or relocating of various stockpiles of heavy weapons and munitions?

    Another thing to consider is that artillery pieces, mortars, and the munitions for them are all manufactured SOMEWHERE. Perhaps some of it is made right in Michigan. Rather than try to make large quantities of gunpowder from scratch, Dimitri and the other de facto leaders could see if any of it or at least the raw materials are made anywhere in Michigan. They might come up with a big fat zero. Or they might find truckloads of it not far away.

    1. Points regarding Army bases not wanting potentially infected NG is a good point. The military does drill on NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) warfare so they have procedures and materials to a higher degree than civilians.

      I would be very, very surprised if they didn't also have standing orders to destroy munitions before allowing them to fall into unauthorized hands. Those orders would be written in excruciating detail on the preferred methods of decommissioning...possibly including use of them to booby-trap military installations against being over-run by hostiles.

  4. While I also don't know details, I do know that for many years all energetics (ammunition and more) have NOT been stored at armories. In fact, more and more the armories have been sold off or given to local governments - I could point you to several used as community centers or DOT garages.
    The 'interesting' stuff is kept either at full military bases where the Guard goes to use it during drill weekends/ weeks, or at the smaller number of Guard only bases. Part of BRAC and other moves has been to move more Guard activities onto military bases instead of their own facilities.
    I have noticed that the current armories I have driven by don't have tanks, artillery, or APC's other than any decorations out front - their back lots are filled with trucks, HMMVs, construction equipment, etc.
    Even if things fell apart, I doubt you'd find anything more interesting than small arms at a local armory, and even those would be in a strongly built small arms vault. I don't know if mortars would still be there or not.

  5. I tend to agree with Jonathan. Decades ago I belonged to a Mech Cav unit. We rarely had tanks at our guard post. Why bother, you couldnt drive em anywhere. A nearby larger installation had the tanks but no rounds to speak of. A rule of thumb seemed to be if the base wasnt big enough for live fire of tank rounds then they certainly didnt need to store them. Again, our local armory had all the M16s. some WW2 style grease guns and plenty of 45s. Also so M2 50 cal machine guns and some M60. However, the only thing I ever saw was some limited blank ammo mainly for m16 and a haandfull of smoke grenades and a few CS teargas grenades. ( Yeah....caught a lung full in a training accident once.....but im not one to hold a grudge against the dumb ass sgt that did it....not much ) I DO know Camp Ripley MN at that time had plenty of everything. Although it was primarily a National Guard base it was ig enough for live fire of tanks, field arty etc. Many units did their Summer Camp there rather than on an Army Base.


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