Under attack you have to convince yourself that the armored vehicle will not betray you

(To Gianluca Celentano)
30/10/19

When the hell breaks out of the armored cell is the determination obtained thanks to the training that allows you to move according to planned standards.

In the Italian Constitution it is written that Italy repudiates war, so it would be "blasphemous" to let the term war escape, if anything the Latin saying would be more appropriate Si vis pacem, bellum for, at least in those contexts where the country is obliged to intervene across the border.

In light of this non-hypocritical paraphrase, our Army abroad carries out "peace missions" aimed at restoring peace and democracy or maintaining the latter. The defense of the civilian population is therefore one of the main cornerstones.

In reality, the scenario that our military experienced (and live, ndd) during the missions, especially in the Middle East and in Afghanistan, was (and is, ndd) that of a real war where fighters, insurgents and rebels , ignoring any international convention and despite the good intentions of the NATO contingent, they obliged (and oblige, ndd) ours to move out of the base camps with bulletproof vest, helmet and barrel shot.

We should recognize merits and risks

Even if he does not receive everyone's sympathy, a great merit for helping the civil population must be acknowledged to the doctor Gino Strada (founder of Emergency) and his medical staff who in Afghanistan - only between the 1994 and the 2007 - took care of more of six million people. It is also worth remembering that other organizations, such as Doctors without Borders and our military component of the Italian Red Cross, also played a very important role (and not without risks) in ensuring relief and treatment with admirable neutrality and altruism.

I listened to several speeches by veterans (understandably anonymous) with many missions behind them and lots of white ribbons on the left pocket: those who lived through the horror wore it not so much for boasting but rather because the experience marked it for life.

A TAAC-W Arena Camp - Train Advise and Assist Command West

A report by Enrico Silvestri appeared in the 2015 on the pages of "Il Giornale," he stressed, referring to the situation of the Italian base camp at Camp Arena in Herat, which "Not knowing thoroughly the uses, customs and codes of conduct of this country means exposing yourself to a deadly risk". Among the most disturbing aspects there is the possibility of seriously offending the local population with simple gestures, harmless by us, such as crossing the legs, giving a glimpse of the sole of the shoe, rather than involuntarily touching a sheet with Islamic prayers. For them it is to make the document unclean.

Outside the camp during patrols every insignificant detail can be lethal and sometimes conceal an IED. Someone told me that a bomb was hidden inside a corpse, properly emptied, filled with explosives and then abandoned on the side of a road waiting for someone to stop to help him ...

Even if the theme is complex, it would be interesting on other occasions to talk about post-mission psychological traumas, a topic that is not welcome, but real. The Americans themselves after Vietnam are familiar with this phenomenon they call post traumatic stress and that torments soldiers who have returned home for a long time. Understanding and accepting the situation when it happens to us to be a victim is not immediate and perhaps, despite the stunning, we are looking for justifications but soon after you realize that you are alive but not in what conditions you are.

The armored vehicle: out of the field is the only salvation

Our armored tactical means, we have already written several times, have been configured more and more effectively during international missions and conflicts, such as Ancient Babylon or ISAF. This has fueled our children's confidence in their protected vehicle.

When the turn includes an exit or a patrol, you leave your cot place set up in a container or tent and the close-knit team moves towards the assigned vehicle. Here formality and degree are only details; a professional but confidential relationship is much better that allows you to get to know your colleagues well.

A health care professional tells me of a sort of check within the team that allows you to exchange an analysis to understand the degree of emotion and, if necessary, suggest a replacement for that day.

The strengths and weaknesses of Puma first series, for example, are now known as well as the limits of protected VM90 - replaced out of area by Lynx (photo) - with underbody without armor, except probably for some slight modification later. However when a sniper shoots at the armor with a simple - so to speak - kalashnikov, the hail effect perceived inside makes you understand that there are no internal spaces where to shelter in case of perforations: it is the means on which you travel the shield between life and death.

Adrenaline rises, think of the family, your loved ones and maybe you feel a kind of selfishness that makes you hope that you may not be the victim. Is called survival instinct, completely human.

Also the fear that puts you in front of your limits rises and, at the same time, someone in the column placed in the tower must understand where to direct the defense. At that moment he is the one most at risk. It is good to never lose concentration: the attacks are isolated but sudden, after periods of apparent calm.

The glass surface of the wheels, even though armored and thick, is not perceived as an absolute barrier, but you cannot look elsewhere, it would be worse, only to drop the ballistic mask from the helmet knowing that if you do not move immediately after the first shots, the crushing of the first layers of the windshield will leave little space to see outside, making it even more difficult for the driver to leave without using auxiliary systems. In short, on the field it takes experience and it is also for this reason that missions on the front line are often carried out by veterans.

Even if the fears that gravitate around some tactical means are different, the safety of the personnel is always held in the highest consideration. But getting hurt is anything but difficult. It is good to remember that the overturning of the vehicle by shock wave is one of the causes that oblige the abandonment of the vehicle provided that, after the shock, the staff is able to do it independently.

IED and heavy weapons Vs. armored

If the ACRT version Advanced Combat Reconaissance Team of the VTMM Bear has the credentials to find improvised explosive devices - and is perceived among the safest rotates - it is also true that the amount of explosive lurking is unknown. When the device is not found in the subsoil, there are guidelines that facilitate the identification of people, not necessarily adults and perhaps apparently harmless, who head towards a team full of explosives.

In the face of this dramatic picture, as befits a "war scenario" in this case, there are armed sniper positions even in possession of AT-4 anti-tank missiles spigot, just to name one. These are among the most formidable attacks for the integrity of the armored vehicle.

It is useless to go around the "effects on the structure" after being centered by supersonic explosive ogives.
You too will know it well, there are limits beyond which the success of the mission is obtained only in synergy with different teams, a greater number of vehicles and maybe helicopters or drones in ahead and therefore funds for the Defense. Everything is coordinated and followed by remote stations - in many cases it should be so - and special frequency jammers activated on the vehicles prevent remote activation of any explosives.

A single vehicle in this theater is at risk. However some images on the net speak for themselves, when we observe armor of tanks drilled like butter in the thickest points, but also means literally exploded or melted by a heat wave that can reach thousands of degrees.

The ambush: driving under stress

Whether for reclamation or patrolling or otherwise, ending up in an ambush is not uncommon. Although the tasks are well divided among the crew in the event of an attack, it is the conductor who must keep the cold blood more than anyone else and, if appropriate, must not desist from falling back.

This way it seems easy but, between obstacles, unknowns and out-of-balance quality of the medium, it is not always so. In fact the speed, perhaps with a perforated tire or an uncertain trim - the memory goes to the Lynx VTLM 1 - although instinctive it is not always the best card to play. If there are differences in level in the ground, it may be better to leave the road and take cover towards them, even if they are muddy, just to get out of the attacker's shooting line, as long as the origin of the fire is identified. Opportunities and military training should always prevail without ever leading personnel into situations without apparent alternatives.

In the same technical operational guide, also in the civil field, the study of variants is fundamental. I could also mention the drivers of the medical or heavy vehicles, in particular the buses, which transporting people mainly standing, must always have on sight a line of escape to slow down the vehicle without nailing the bus or ambulance. When it does not exist, the speed must be drastically reduced.

As you can understand, the most feared element is the surprise effect after months of relative calm in an area of ​​war. Perhaps you could draw up a calculation of the probability of running into an ambush, but then, while you think there is a sort of logic in the attacks, the bang arrives and makes you understand that every day is at risk, even if you are there to bring peace .

It is also true that simulations and training, no matter how realistic they may be, will never succeed in constructing a framework where the error is experienced as a mortal risk for oneself and for the team, but they are certainly necessary to impress a personal automatic gesture capable of reducing risks under attack.

On the field much of the stress is not only physical but emotional and therefore difficult to reproduce. Imagine, if there was no training, the consequences of a gunshot fired inside an armored cell due to excessive excitement. It could bounce on armored surfaces hitting more soldiers before it stops!

Is media electronics an opportunity?

In some ways the electronic simplification of the controls of certain components, often discussed for reliability, can translate into help to relieve stress when you run into the unknown of an attack and the vehicle must give maximum efficiency on a specific terrain. Press a button to lock the differentials, entering the torque distribution on the two axles at 100%, it is certainly faster and instinctive than losing speed to operate the gearbox and then the longitudinal and transverse blocks.

Differential lock, automatic gearbox, gearbox insertion, although sold in packages alongside a long list of other parts managed by the control unit, also have a tactical and operational motivation.

The updating, however continuous of the weapon systems, requires to know in depth the most unthinkable details present on the tactical means of the Armed Forces. Probably when we talk about the modern versatility of a tactician we also refer to a study on the ergonomics of the interiors, on the simplification of the commands and on the possibility of communicating autonomously with remote stations.

Let us once again remember the motto of the tanks of the Italian Army: "Mezzo catch, half dead".

Dedicated to our Armed Forces at the 4 November.

Photo: Twitter / Defense / US Marine Corps / US Army