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May 02, 2004

VARIOUS BLOGGERS have noted this story about the Army recalling some loaned howitzers from ski resorts. The idea that these are needed in Iraq or Afghanistan doesn't make much sense though -- we're not calling a lot of fire missions there, and tend to rely on air power.

So where might we actually need these? Korea?

UPDATE: A knowledgeable reader emails:

The howitzers they are calling in are probably needed because of the current TOE (table of equipment) that the military was moving to. The military was looking to standardize all artillery to 155mm howitzers, phasing out the smaller 88mm and 105mm howitzers which are not produced any further for the US Army. However, in Afghanistan these caliber of guns are needed because of the mobile/moutainous nature of this war. A 155 cannot easily be transported around the mountainous terrain, while the smaller calibers can- forcing a rethink for the Army's artillery. The smaller caliber cannons had probably been donated to these resorts in the expectation the Army would never have use of them, yet, lo and behold they do now and are recalled. There actually was an excellent article in the professional magazine of artillerymen detailing this tactic shift in Afghanistan where they actually load the smaller cannons onboard helicopters so as to conceal/transport them instead of the traditional slingloading method.

We do call a lot of air- but air's reponse time is measured in minutes, while artillery's is in seconds. For this reason, and its immediate availability in all weather as well, if you can get it, Artillery is the weapon of choice.... Thanks for your time and all the hard work you do!

Interesting. And, thanks for all the hard work you do, which dwarfs mine in significance.