Monday, April 27, 2020

Quest: Guess quickly

Quinn started working out with the fighters.

Livingston County had not been big on physical conditioning. It showed.

It was all Quinn could do to keep up with the most obese of the fighters, at first.

He spent a lot of time fiddling with how to wrap his healing ankle. He fiddled with his stride. It did not take him long before he was almost as fast as the middle of the pack on smooth, level ground. He swung his injured ankle through almost like swinging a golf club.

He kept driving himself.

Dysen worried. She saw the raw skin when he undressed for bed.

“Why are you punishing yourself?” Dysen asked.

“More pain now, less blood later” Quinn said.

“I don’t get it” Dysen insisted. “You are a leader now. Why would anybody shoot at you?”

Quinn looked at Dysen. “You know by now that I am a learn-by-doing person. I don’t know how to lead from behind. A lot of people probably can, but that is not me.”

“If we are in a battle then I need to be where I can SEE what is happening”
Quinn said. “A bullet isn’t going to stop and ask ‘Is he an officer?’ or ‘Is he disabled?’”

“But isn’t the whole point of Lieutenants so they can be your eyes and ears. They can tell you over the radio what is happening?” Dysen said.

“Words can mean a lot of things” Quinn said. “Words can lie. Words can mislead. I refuse to put my men at risk because I am too lazy, or too much of a do my job the best way I know how.”

Dysen’s concerns grew over the weeks. Quinn rarely spent the entire night in bed. He seemed to get by on three hours of sleep.

Dysen started keeping track of the gasoline they were using. Based on the rate it dropped in the containers, Dysen figured he must be motoring fifty miles a night.

She did the math in her head. If he was riding at a safe twenty miles-per-hour and motored fifty miles, that left about two-and-a-half hours unaccounted for each night. She did not suspect a mistress. Quinn was way too amorous every night for that to be a possibility. But she was very curious where Quinn was going and what he was doing in that unaccounted-for two or three hours.


Larry Tomanica gave Quinn’s Lieutenants an intensive, one-week training session on the capabilities of the Capiche-standard weapons.

They fired suppressed .22s, AR-15s in 5.56mm, and .30 armor-piercing. They not only fired the Capiche standard mortar, they lugged it and plugged it. Ranged it and then demoed surplus-to-need buildings with it.

“Just because it has a maximum range of 660 yards does not mean that is how far you should be from the enemy when you engage them” Tomanica lectured them.

“If you engage at max range then they can pull back fifty yards and send scouts in to take your scalp” Tomanica said. “Far better to engage at 400 yards and smoke their ass. And, if they try to outflank you, shift your azimuth and smoke their asses too.”

“David, what is ‘azimuth’?” Tomanica demanded.

“Azimuth and elevation are the two components to aiming the mortar” David said. “Elevation is that angle of the tube. Azimuth is the point-of-compass it is aimed.”

Tomanica did not care for David. Privately, he admitted that David was his best student but there was something about his half-hidden smirk that galled him. It was as if he had just picked Tomanica’s pocket and Tomanica didn’t know it.

“You are 66.7% correct” Tomanica said. “We also have the ability to vary the powder charge to increase or decrease range, although we rarely do that.”

John Galt perked up. He had used the mortars before and didn’t know that the powder charge could be varied.

“Why don’t we vary the powder charge?” Galt asked.

“Not much payback” Tomanica admitted. “If we had real mortars with more energetic propellants then lower charges would reduce hang-time and reduce the error caused by windage. As it is, you better be picking up your small arms if the enemy is within 200 yards of your position.”

David’s smirk became just a tiny bit more evident as if to say “I was right. There are only two components to aiming these rinky-dink mortars.”

Tomanica believed in competition. Striving to beat the other team will stretch a man more than a DI yelling at him. Tomanica set up two teams and gave them two buildings to collapse with the losing team having to run and fetch drinking water for the winning team.

Galt's team mopped up the floor with David's team both times. David’s team made small, incremental adjustments with David calculating each adjustment. Galt's team fired-for-effect and overshot on correction but quickly converged to a killing solution

Tomanica did a post-mortem. "Why did you choose to over-correct?" he asked Galt.

"Nine-times-out-of-ten poorly trained troops are going to retreat from explosions" Galt explained. "It is better to guess quickly and over-correct because they aren't going to be standing still. Even if I guessed perfectly, the chances of them being there when the next round landed is about zero" Galt explained.

"Explain what you did when firing with the cross-wind" Tomanica demaned.

"Except for max range, every target has two solutions, a high one and a low one" Galt explained. "When the wind is gusty the low solution will be less effected than the high one because it has a shorter time-in-flight."


Tomanica’s next round of training involved squad leaders. They were rotated out for a week of training. No east-west band was ever more than 33% depleted.

Their training was similar to the Lieutenants’ training but with a slightly different focus.

The Lieutenants’ training was designed so they could internalize the performance ENVELOPES around their teams and what reasonable expectations were withing that envelop. It was like teaching a neophyte chess player that the knight can jump two in one direction and then one perpendicular to the first direction. A knight cannot jump three in a single direction nor can it jump just one square. It can only do what it can do.

The Lieutenants had to know WHAT each weapon system was capable of doing so they could effectively site their men relative to the incoming threats. They had to be exquisitely aware of every weapon’s limitations. Asking troops to execute a task that was beyond the weapon’s capabilities merely alerted the enemy and depleted ammo.

The focus for the squad leaders was more the HOW of each weapon system. How and where do you position your ammo? How do you dig a fox hole. How do you withdraw your force when taking fire?

"The way to win against really bad odds is to use the ambush. Have them looking one way, attack from another, then gut them from the side when they reorient for the first attack." Tomanica drilled them.

"Terrain dictates tactics. Weapon capabilities define what terrain is significant and what terrain cannot be exploited. If you don't have the range, you cannot close the kill-sack."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.