Q: Why is this 240-mm mortar round, with a point-detonating fuze, resting on sand in a pine forest in the American southeast? (You might recall that the 240 was for many months perhaps the most powerful weapon system used by government forces in the current Syrian war.)
A: It has something to do with the photograph beneath it, which hints at a particular type of (call it a classic) workout.
More soon on the NYT.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS.
Near the Gulf of Mexico. By the author. Last week.
Q: What’s This?
A: Not what (or where) it was supposed to be.
Soon on the NYT, uncovering and examining one of the modern battlefield’s dirtier tricks.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
By the author. Not long back. We’ll get to the rest soon. Meanwhile, those who think they know what this is, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comes complete with a sales pitch perfectly attuned to the Soviet style. Like this: “The ceremonial presentation of this cake fills with pride our country and great people!”
In its long and unchallenged run as the world’s most abundant and widespread firearm, the Kalashnikov assault rifle has inspired a considerable iconography, uncountable legends and a seemingly bottomless canon of kitsch.
Now that Christmas has passed, the Russian holidays are soon upon us. So, s novim godom to you and yours.
The link above will take you to the website of www.lubanka.ru, the “Internet Store of the FSB, MVD, Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Special Services.” (Lubyanka, in Moscow, is the former headquarters of the KGB, and the current headquarters of Russia’s domestic intelligence service.)
The price for one of these cakes is 2000 rubles (about $66) for each kilogram, with a minimum weight of three-and-a-half kilos. Thus, the least expensive cake runs about $230, plus shipping, which will cost you another $33. Never mind that there have been places where the real item could cost you less than that. It’s the holidays. Enjoy. (And consider serving with mayonnaise).
The ceremonial presentation of this cake fills with pride for our country and great people! However, it’s hard to live without a pistol when your neighbor has an avtomat.
100 % manual work. [ed’s note: “hand-made.”]
100% edible decoration. [ed’s note: it’s not just handsome.]
Only the best natural ingredients were used to make it. [ed’s note: believe that if you wish to.]
Size of the 3.5 kg cake is 35-25 cm
The cake’s complexity is “3D”. On the photo is 5 kg cake. [ed’s note: that’ll be $330, kind shopper. paper or plastic?]
What’s this? It’s video from recent small-arms training of Afghan National Police recruits at the Kabul Military Training Center. These recruits, part of a female class, are firing AMD-65s under the supervision of the Italian carabinieri. Why is it here? This is a companion post for a longer discussion soon to appear on the At War blog about the AMD-65, the short-barreled Hungarian Kalashnikov variant, made during the Cold War, that the United States has issued by the tens of thousands to Afghan police officers. Hint: Look at how this recruit uses her left hand to brace the rifle. She is clutching the magazine. This is, in two words, not good. And it points to some of the flaws in this rifle’s design. Those who follow military small arms closely would appreciate a discussion of this weapon’s characteristics and traits. But there is a larger significance. Rifles like this, and where they turn up, can say much about military decision-making, about national priorities, about how lives can be lost in war. Set aside the mythology of the Kalashnikov as a miracle weapon; the favorable press and abundant propaganda that surround the weapon often conflict with the truth. The AMD-65 offers a good example, and a means to look at some of the American missteps in Kabul.
It’s an x-ray image of an early M-16. Those of you who have carried and lived with an M-16 as part of your military service will notice the signs of its vintage: the short, straight box magazine, the forked flash suppressor, the handguards narrowing as they near the front-sight post, and more.
Why is it here? And why the bold red stamp of Esquire magazine? This is a companion image to a similar x-ray of an automatic Kalashnikov commissioned by Esquire in recent weeks. The editors sought an imaginative way to show two weapons that are beyond familiar to millions of readers, and that have been photographed in cliched fashion for decades. They turned to Nick Veasey. This was the result.
The upcoming issue of Esquire, due to subscribers in about two weeks and due on newsstands several days later, carries an exclusive adaptation from THE GUN. The article covers one of the effects of Kalashnikov proliferation — the Pentagon’s bungled reaction, which included a hurried introduction of the M-16 (and its ammunition) for widespread issue and combat service in Vietnam.
Those intimately familiar with the M-16 line will notice that the x-ray does not convey some of the problems that afflicted the early M-16, including the absence of chrome plating in the bore and chamber, and the poor protective finish. It’s worth noting that the more recent M-16 and its lighter-weight offspring, the M-4 carbine, is a very different weapon from the early variants. (CF, a few posts on the At War blog, including here, here and this one, too.) Esquire does a fine job in the upcoming issue of annotating these x-rays. More on that soon. I’m outside of Memphis, about to head to the airport, and have to switch off the laptop for the ride.
(Note: I have a long flight ahead. Due to the response of readers to the Taliban Gun Locker post on At War, I am considering putting up a sequel — an inventory of the Taliban weapons captured by Bravo Company, 1/26, after a platoon’s successful ambush in 2009 of an incautious Taliban patrol on the one of the ridges overlooking the Korengal* Ouptost. The ambush was also reported in detail in this article. I made a record of the Taliban’s weapons, and have their images, if I can fish them out of the depths of the hard drive.)
*Korangal by the style rules in The New York Times.