Had to pass this one along…

A lot of times I get ideas for blog postings by reading the news, or I have something to communicate with my readers. Today is a little of both.

First, “Immolation” is well on track to be on the shelves in May, as opposed to June. I decided I wanted to get in early on the summer reading season (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) so I will launch fairly soon. Those of you who have subscribed to my newsletter list will get some additional classified info in regard to the launch, namely exact times and other goodies. However, I don’t want to put anything out there until results are set in stone. Those chosen few who are on the list will hear from me soon, however.

Can’t wait to put the keystone on the Paul Thompson saga.

The news itself, at least here ‘Stateside, isn’t really worth watching. For a while it was Trump 24/7 with the volume turned all the way up. I could barely stand to turn the TV on. Well, that’s quieted down a bit, but little has caught my eye except some depressing stuff in Afghanistan.

Definitely won’t get into that here.

One news article that did catch my eye, however, was about a Marine who was apparently in the thick of things when his weapon broke. So he called customer service back in the ‘States and they set him straight.

This is a little bit of a head-scratcher for me. Here’s why- I don’t know what the current state of affairs is with internet service in the Box, but how did he get the number? Did he have a smart phone with him, and was he able to Google Barrett’s customer service number? That could take minutes, time you don’t have. It could be, though, that for some odd reason the number was written on the inside of a Technical Manual (TM) that the guy carried with him. Still, though, internet service can be really patchy in some places that firefights occur in.

The next thing that got me was that the Marine bent something when he was maintaining his weapon the previous day. I’m not an expert on the M107 Barrett rifle, but I have handled and fired it. It’s pretty robust. He must have “maintained” the hell out of it to have caused a malfunction of the type listed in the article. Plus, if you suspect you have done something stupid to your weapon, the responsible thing to do is to test-fire it or at least do a thorough functions check.

After all, you only live once.

Finally, assuming he did experience a malfunction and was able to call customer service given a reliable number and cell phone service- how did he get past the gatekeepers on the customer service line? Was it the gunfire in the background? His no-doubt profligate use of profanity? Imagine the Marine’s state of mind if he overcame all obstacles and reached Barrett, only to hear hold music.

Freaky stuff can and does happen. For some reason, this story rings true with me, which is why I’m passing it along.

I can totally see Joe (shorthand for a lower enlisted troop) screwing up his weapon, the weapon goes down when he needs it, and he busts out his unauthorized smart phone bought in a haji-mart and dials up Customer Service in the ‘States. The bored teenager working Customer Service back in America gets the phone call of his or her’s life and he or she punches the panic button and gets a first-rate armorer on the phone at light speed. A little verbal jujitsu and a hasty field repair by the Marine, and life is good.

The Marine hangs up, resumes firing.

I’ll bet when they got back to the “rear,” though, his non-commissioned officers had some things to say to him.

And someone else got to carry the Barrett.

Combat Air Support


So the USAF has been talking for many years about replacing the A-10 Warthog in the CAS, or Close Air Support role. They haven’t done it yet, for good reason- the A-10 is a killer, and nothing but. The problem with the A-10 is that the airframes are old and there is always more demand for the remaining aircraft than the Air Force can supply.

I was never lucky enough to get an A-10 “on-station,” for some weird reason we had B-1’s a lot, sometimes F-18’s and the occasional F-15E. And of course we had AH-64s as well, along with the odd drone or two. So in my past life I have had some contact with the guys and gals in the air who dropped the random odd bomb or fired the occasional Hellfire missile.

I like the CAS mission, the Air Force hates it. Why? It’s not cool, it’s not glamorous Tom-Cruise-on-a-motorcycle “pushing the edge of the envelope” crap. The job involves endlessly circling around in the air over ground troops who seem to be traveling at the speed of an ant with the prospect of absolutely nothing happening for weeks on end.

However, when the bored pilot in the air gets the call to head earthward, there are lives at stake- including the pilot’s. It’s a gut-wrenching, tough, precision job that has to be done absolutely right.

That’s why I was quite interested when I read on a random news article this week that the DOD is considering a new aircraft for the CAS mission, and I discovered that a really cool little bird already exists, the AT-6 Wolverine.

By all means, click on the link, Textron’s website does a much better job of describing the tough little aircraft than I can, and there are all kinds of pictures.

Here’s my take-away from looking this mean little machine over. No, it can’t dogfight, and you would be a fool to get into one with the AT-6. However, it would be great as a dedicated CAS bird, which is what it was designed for. It would do a far better job than the DOD’s stupid wet dream, the way overpriced and overrated F-35.

The AT-6 has all the stuff that grunts in contact want. It can mount .50 cal machine guns, shoot Hellfire missiles, drop 500 lb bombs and deliver all the right devastation in all the right areas. It has a turboprop engine (tops for reliability and survivability), great maneuverability and excellent loiter-time.

This thing is the field commander’s CAS dream. I wish there would have been one or two of these flying around overhead at some points in my past, and if I was still doing the job now I would definitely have a warm-and-fuzzy when one of them would check in with my forward air controller (known as a JTAC).

The DOD needs to pull their heads out of their posterior, forget about the stupid F-35 in the CAS role, and buy a zillion of these cool little birds for the price of one (!) lousy F-35.

But hey, the cool guys with sunglasses and leather jackets love the F-35, so no AT-6 for the grunts.

What a shame.

Admin note

Hey everybody. I will ruminate soon about some stuff, but today I wanted to tell everyone my broken list button on my contact and Facebook page has been fixed with a new newsletter service. For those of you who tried to sign up earlier, my apologies. Go ahead and resubmit, it should work fine now.

Promise that those who sign up for my newsletter will be the first to know about all things Jason.


Immolation, Excerpt One

An excerpt from the concluding novel of the Valley trilogy, Immolation.

Fall 2345, H-476, invasion plus three to four days

Paul slurped at ration paste, which tasted like cherries this morning. He studied the fallen tower before him. His battalion was still holding the northern side of the cordon around City A, and Second Battalion was continuing to “clear” the city. Occasionally, Paul would hear gunfire as soldiers found Harpy civilians. The story never ended happily for those unfortunates.

He had been more or less camped out on this spot for the past forty hours or so. His mission was to stay in place and catch “squirters” as Second Battalion rummaged around in the necropolis before him. This city had not been hit with an orbital strike, obviously, but it had suffered some damage from the very high winds that had circled the globe after the battlewagons had dumped their rocks on the planet.

More damaging still, though, was the ash that had spread like a cancer through the atmosphere. The heaviest particles had fallen out by now, but the days were still dark. Paul would only periodically catch a pale glimpse of this world’s sun. It was dark and dreary, and Paul wondered about the big question: when would the Harpies be able to fly again?

Looking at the sky, he figured it would be any time now. The day was noticeably brighter than when Third Battalion had dropped, and he didn’t have to run his defrost constantly to keep the ash off his helmet’s visor. He flicked it on only from time to time.

He was confident the flyers would come soon. But when? Only God knew, as far as he was concerned. The lack of action was making him nervous. He wasn’t used to sitting and waiting for days.

He heard the distinctive roar of an M-372 from afar. He queried his halo where it was coming from. In an instant, he had the answer: to his south, in the ruined city, over a kilometer away. A private in Second Battalion had fired at a flying Harpy. A search team had flushed it out of a tower.

Paul placed a call to Major Sergeant Woodrow, who was visiting Echo Company. “You hear that, Woody?”

“Yeah. I guess some of them are starting to risk a flight.”

“Yeah, that’s what I figured, too. I’d tell everyone to stay sharp, but they already fuckin’ know that.”

“Uh-huh. No reason to joggle anyone’s elbow; people know what’s up.”

“Sky’s clearer today. I bet we start seeing more of ’em soon.”

Woodrow grunted. “I won’t take that bet.”

“Yeah. Hate this cordon shit.” Paul decided to brave the stink and have his second smoke of the day. He thought his visor up, and the reek of dead Harpy immediately pounded him. With haste, he got a smoke and lit up.

Woodrow answered. “I dunno. Beats watching everyone fuckin’ die around you.”

Paul nodded and drew on his cig. “Damn right. This shit grates on my nerves is all.”

“Yeah. Seriously, though, it gets on the guys’ and gals’ nerves too. This shit needs to wrap up soon. Any word on that?” Woodrow was fishing for info.

“Nope. I can tell you what I see on my regimental schematic, though. Dunlevy’s saying that three-quarters of the city is clear.” Paul checked the schematic again. Sure enough, there was the “pie chart” of the city, with a statistic next to it in bold green: 76.2 percent.

Woodrow laughed. “That city is three-quarters clear like my ass isn’t hairy. Even though these new suits can climb like bats, there is no way seven hundred or so soldiers have checked every nook and cranny of that place.” He paused to laugh again. “I’ll bet most of them go into those buildings and sit around and play vids for a while.”

“No way for them to sham with a halo, Woody. But I get your point. We’re going to declare the city clear, and then the Harpies are going to fly right back in.”

An M-372 went off to Paul’s right. He threw away his butt and slammed down his visor. Another one fired, and then his fired too. It was set on auto, so his systems had seen the Harpies flying way before his weak human eyes could.

He shifted positions immediately, a reflex granted to him by the fighting on Brasilia. A soldier who stood still while fighting Harpies didn’t live to be a veteran. He sprang behind a structure filled with glass-like tubes and waited. While he waited, his M-372 fired again. He pulled up the targeting screen and looked at what he had shot. Dozens of Harpies were pouring out of a tower to his front, flying north toward perceived safety. Unfortunately for them, that was the function of a cordon.

Paul and his troops were part of a noose around the city. There would be no escape.

As he watched, the fleeing Harpies died. And then he heard it: the zing of a rail gun and the crack of an impact. One of those bastards was armed. More Harpies poured from the half-ruined tower; their flight was doomed by Third Battalion’s fire. One Harpy almost made it past them. She was shot in midair as Paul watched. Her body landed a hundred meters away with a wet thud.

Finally, the flight became a trickle, and then it stopped. The Harpies that flew toward Paul’s position were dead to a being. His incoming-rounds counter told him that the rail gun had fired three times, and its wielder was dead. None of his soldiers had been hit, whereas 121 Harpies died.

It was the type of trade that he liked—that is, plenty of them and none of his.