Category Archives: Air and Naval Weapons

A Warrior Rests

For a century, a Warrior has rested in the blind, silent deep of the North Sea off Norway. We refer to HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser that was mortally wounded, but not killed, at the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago this past summer.


Unlike the other ships, it wasn’t found in time for the anniversary.

The HMS Warrior is the last of the Jutland wrecks to be located, out of 14 British and 11 German warships that were sunk on May 31 and June 1, 1916, as the Imperial German High Seas Fleet tried to break out from the Royal Navy blockade of the North Sea.

“It’s the only wreck left from the Battle of Jutland that we can categorically say is completely unspoiled,” said Innes McCartney, a marine archeologist at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. [See Photos of the Search for the WWI-Era HMS Warrior]

“It’s completely upside down, and it sank down into an area of very soft seabed, right to the level of the upper deck — so everything inside it is completely sealed in,” McCartney told Live Science.

More than 250 warships took part in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval engagement of World War I, and more than 8,500 men were killed, according to British and German wartime records.

McCartney said the HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser, was heavily damaged during the battle by gunfire from the German cruiser SMS Derfflinger, but it had attempted to make its way back to Britain.

This painting, The Sinking of HMS Warrior at the Batle of Jutland, was painted by Alma Claude Burton Cull.

The Sinking of HMS Warrior at the Batle of Jutland, was painted by Alma Claude Burton Cull.

When the ship’s engines failed, the Warrior was towed throughout the night by a British aircraft carrier, the HMS Engadine. By morning, however, the Warrior had filled with water, and it was abandoned after its surviving crew of around 700 were taken off, McCartney said.

He added that the final resting place of the Warrior was unknown until the wreck was discovered on Aug. 25, using sonar scans and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) equipped with video cameras.

Warrior had several remarkable men and officers aboard, like Engineer Lieutenant Geoffrey Morgan, who was recommended for an immediate promotion to Engineer Lieutenant-Commander among a long list of battle-honored officers and petty officers.

Geoffrey Morgan. Captain Molteno, late of “Warrior,” (above – Photo Ships) reports: ”Utmost gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty in remaining in the enginerooms after the explosion and endeavouring to take action for the safety of the ship, by which delay he was imprisoned under the grating for over two hours, and very narrowly escaped losing his life by drowning, scalding and suffocation. Was almost overcome when rescued. He afterwards took part with energy and coolness in the work of salving the ship. This officer, under the able supervision of Engineer Commander Kitching, has run the engine-room department extremely well, and greatly increased ‘Warrior’s’ steaming efficiency.”

hms-warrior-at-speedSteaming efficiency was not enough, under a rain of 11″ and 5.9″ shells from German ships. But Morgan survived, to receive his promotion, dated 30 June 1916 (as were many of the meritorious promotions of Jutland heroes). Commander Vincent B. Molteno of Warrior was commended by Admiral Jellicoe, and invested with the Order of St. Anne by the Tsar of Russia. He did handle his ship with

Another officer, this one an aviator from the seaplane tender Engadine, made a hero of himself during the perilous transfer of Warrior’s survivors to Engadine at sea.

29703 – 11 AUGUST 1916 

Admiralty, 11th August, 1916.

The KING (is) pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class on:-

Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Rutland, R.N. (Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service).

The following is the account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred:

During the transhipment of the crew of H.M.S. “Warrior” to H.M.S. “Engadine” on the morning of the 1st of June, 1916, succeeding the naval battle off the coast of Jutland, one of the severely wounded, owing to the violent motion of the two ships, was accidentally dropped overboard from a stretcher and fell between the ships. As the ships were working most dangerously, the Commanding Officer of the “Warrior” had to forbid two of his officers from jumping overboard to the rescue of the wounded man, as he considered that it would mean their almost certain death. Before he could be observed, however, Lieutenant Rutland, of H.M.S. “Engadine,” went overboard from the forepart of that ship with a bowline, and worked himself aft. He succeeded in putting the bowline around the wounded man and in getting him hauled on board, but it was then found that the man was dead, having been crushed between the two ships. Lieutenant Rutland’s escape from a similar fate was miraculous. His bravery is reported to have been magnificent.

Magnificent, eh. One can just imagine what old Rutland would say to that.

Warrior’s class makes her an oddity today. She was an Armored Cruiser, a type of neither-fish-nor-fowl ship that would rise with the century and set with the end of the war, and especially with the Washington Naval Conference and other disarmament treaties of the inter-war years. By limiting capital-ship tonnage, the treaties obsoleted all those ships that were nominally capital ships, but not modern battleships. (If you only have so many tons to make warships of, you want the best quality tonnage you can buy). Today, only one armored cruiser of the scores built worldwide survives, as a commissioned museum ship in Greece.

And there’s an HMS Warrior that’s a museum ship in Portsmouth, England — but she’s an older ship, from the 19th Century.

The Danish Navy, 1962

Even if you can’t follow the Danish narration, there is some very cool stuff in this 1962 promotional film, Det Er Nodvendig… which means, This is Necessary. The point of the film is to introduce Danes to their Navy.

One of the first cool things you will see is a flotilla of ex-Deutsche Kriegsmarine S-Boats. The boats don’t show their age at all — they were probably never this clean in their wartime existence.

Other scenes include the S-Boat crewmen introducing themselves by name and hometown, destroyer operations, coastal defense with artillery and AA, and Denmark’s famous frogmen. (The nation was once a leader in scout swimming and undersea war, but ceased operating submarines about a decade ago after nearly a century of successful sub ops).

On the other hand, the Danes maintain a robust coast defense capability, but these days it’s with missiles, not last century’s cannon.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Historic Naval Ships Association

The HNSA is a sort of online clearinghouse for information about museum ships and related facilities. As they put it on part of the website:

We promote visiting the world’s historic naval ships and advocate for the need to save these important vessels for future generations so that they may continue to proudly serve their countries in honor of those who served and continue to serve at sea.

There’s information about preserved ships around the world. In a brief visit, we saw that this rare (2 built) classified-until-2011 OSS infiltration semisubmersible boat codenamed Gimik, is just two hours away in Massachusetts…


…but we also looked at pages for other vessels, like BAP Abtao, a sub that was built by Electric Boat for Peru and is on display in that Andean nation after a career that included over 5,000 dives and the rescue of the crew of another Peruvian sub sunk by collision.

We particularly like their reference library.

So what’sknow-your-pt-boat there? How about the text and some illustrations of a 1945 PT Boat manual, Know Your PT Boat. Written in a style reminiscent of the German Panzerfibel with cartoon illustrations, it gives the sailor newly assigned to PT Boats an overview of its systems and operations. Unfortunately, this version has been slightly bowdlerized; cartoons that made racist caricatures of Japanese have been removed. (And some haven’t).

Know Your PT Boat even deals with maintaining the refrigerator:

Your refrigerator can make ice cream, ice cubes, and frozen delights (especially good is frozen fruit cup). Once a Jap bullet punctured a refrigerator unit and drained it of all its freon. Several of the boats then decided to put armor plate about the refrigerator. So you see it’s really very important, for it contributes to the living comforts which are all too few in the Area. Your refrigerator pump and motor need servicing. Don’t let them wear down or overheat. To keep meat, your refrigerator must be in top shape. It is rare to have fresh meat and when issued it comes in 100-pound quantities. Hence the necessity for a good freeze or reefer. Have a drip pan properly placed or the meat juices will leak into the bilges and in a week you’ll be accused of carrying a dead Jap around in your bilges.

Of course, readers will probably be most interested in the gunnery.

Don’t be like one boot who ducked down inside his “armored” turret during an attack and then later when he discovered that the turret was made of 3/4″ plywood he fainted.

Aside from the actual firing of the guns the important thing is the preparation. Everything must be in perfect operating order. “Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto, it is the watchword of every fighting ship. You can make no excuses to the Japs for a jammed 50, a weak drive spring, or a 20-mm. magazine with no tension on it. The guns must fire when you want them. They will, only if you have done your drills so that you can do everything automatically. Strip your guns regularly, exercise the springs, and make other routine checks. Then you will know in times of action how to put tension on a magazine and how to blind load.

37-mm. Gun.-To the “Barge Hunters” this is a fondly loved gun. Its flexibility, ease of firing, destructive power, and flat trajectory make it a grand gun against targets at moderate range. A 37-mm. seldom jams of itself. The few jams that do occur are usually traced to faulty ammunition.

20-mm. Gun.-This gun is so powerful that it has earned the name “cannon.” When you hit something with a 20-mm., you really do some damage. Not small punctures but gaping holes are the marks left on the enemy by this powerful shell. Aside from the usual preparation and care of a 20-mm., the following are helpful hints:

  1. Precaution must be taken in clearing a 20-mm. jam. Always have a bucket of water on hand. When a jam occurs, souse the breech and barrel. If you cannot get the projectile out in a few seconds, secure the gun for about 5 minutes. In any case, never stick your nose or fingers into the breech. Keep clear and use your ram rod.
  2. Practice cocking of the 20-mm. It is a tricky operation and should be done speedily and with ease, especially in the dark. It is the only war to clear a jam, and to get the gun set to fire again.
  3. The loader must get a rhythm in his task and eliminate groping at night. The gunner and loader who drill in the daylight with their eyes closed are doing a wise thing. The magazine is quite heavy. On a high trunnion gun, the loader should be both strong and tall.20mm-spring-cartoon
  4. Be sure that prior to any imminent action all magazines are on full tension at 60 pounds. If your magazines have been in use a long time, it is wise to pull out a few rounds before loading, but be sure you still have on the full tension. This precaution will give the last few rounds in your magazine an extra push and will prevent jamming.

There’s a lot more in Know Your PT Boat, but it’s only one of the features to be found on this site.

Danish North Sea Ejection, 2015

Bad day at the office has about the best possible outcome:

As the caption to the YouTube says:

Den 27. oktober 2015 skød en dansk F-16 pilot sig ud af sit fly over Nordsøen. Flyet kunne ikke lande sikkert på grund af et ødelagt landingsstel, og den sikreste vej ud, var via katapultsædet. Piloten klarede den voldsomme tur uden varige mén, og her fortæller han sin historie.

Ah, yeah, in English (Hognose meatball translation, probably wrong; the video should have English subtitles, though):

On 27 Oct 15 a Danish F-16 pilot had to get out of his plane over the North Sea. The airplane could not be landed safely on account of a damaged landing gear, and the safest way out was via the ejection seat.  . and here he tells his story.

He had an unprecedented landing gear failure that left the extension strut that extends and braces the main gear leg shorn off the wing and dangling below the ruined wheel and tire, which then rotated about 90º to the direction of flight. (Normally, that extension strut is what keeps the lower part of the landing gear leg from rotating freely around the upper part. The leg is made in two parts to allow for oleopneumatic suspension).

Most of the video is this jet jockey describing the experience, but there’s other video inserted here and there, shot by the wingman and the rescue helicopter. That video shows the actual ejection, his parachute descent and water landing, and his helicopter rescue from the escape system’s survival life raft. He wasn’t in the water long enough to notice how cold it was!

He describes in greatest detail how he (with the help of his wingman, the Duty Ops officer, and the squadron’s experienced pilots back “home” at Skyddstrupp) worked through the decision and plan for the safest possible ejection. At each point where he might have panicked he instead told himself, “I’m OK, the plane is flying, I’ve got fuel, I’ve got time.”  As he says (using the English words!) Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

Because it’s a talking head in a foreign language (except for our Danish WeaponsMan fans, both of you) some of you may not have the patience for it. We found it a gripping story, but we’d rather hear it over a beer — like his squadron mates did that night!

Air Force Proves Auto-Save Technology

One thing that’s killed a lot of pilots since the dawn of air combat maneuvering — or perhaps, since aircraft developed the structural strength to pull 5 or more Gs in the 1930s — is G-LOC, G Induced Loss of Consciousness. Basically, this is when you pull too much G (usually +G in the Z axis, eyeballs down) and conk out. Conking out while conducting ACM has a high probability of being a death sentence.

With modern fly-by-wire aircraft, does it have to be? There is no technical reason a modern autopilot system can’t be programmed to pull the plane up prior to terrain impact, and that’s what the F-16 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) does.

Under development for 30-plus years, the system was tested and began being installed in the F-16 fleet three years ago. This year, it saved a foreign F-16 pilot being trained at the Arizona Air National Guard’s 152nd Fighter Squadron, which runs the Air Force’s international F-16 training program. Here’s the video of “Ocho’s” near-death experience, flying as #2 in Sully flight:

The peak G is seen just over the black secret-stuff box in the lower left quadrant, and the current “normal acceleration’ G is just above and to the right of the airspeed tape on the left. He’s doing OK as long as it’s just 5.7 or so, but when the G ramps up to over 7, you can see the jet go rubbery, as it rolls inverted and streaks for the desert. If you have time to watch it again, watch the airspeed tape, too. From a good maneuvering speed of 480 or so knots, he’s nearly at 700 before the recovery scrubs off some of the excess speed.

The thing is, “Ocho,” the pilot saved in this incident, wasn’t the first. Three other pilots’ lives have been saved by the system, and on combat missions as well as in training. Usually, the pilot quickly recovers from G-Loc when the excessive acceleration force is removed, but not always quickly enough to recover the plane. Now, in the Viper, the system takes over:

Auto GCAS is designed to prevent CFIT [Controlled Flight Into Terrain -Ed.] mishaps by executing an automatic recovery maneuver when terrain impact is imminent. The system predicts those conditions by means of a continuous comparison between a trajectory prediction and a terrain profile that is generated from onboard terrain elevation data. At the instant the predicted trajectory touches the terrain profile, the automatic recovery is executed by the Auto GCAS autopilot. The automatic recovery consists of an abrupt roll-to-upright and a nominal 5-G pull until terrain clearance is assured.

Computational power FTW. You can see this exact maneuver on the video. Ocho did recover and was on the stick and pulling up, but not as fast as the system. Might he have saved himself? He might. And he might have splatted the expensive jet and his own irreplaceable young self on the rocky surface of the Arizona desert, too.

Ocho and his instructor, Maj. Luke O’Sullivan (the guy you hear calling him, from a separate Viper, to “Recover!”), visited the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, to speak to the developers and testers of the system. The Air Force tells the whole story in a press release by Kenji Thuloweit. The engineers and testers knew about the previous saves, but they never got to meet one face-to-face before.

This advanced F-16 system is not yet available in other aircraft, but it should be able to be integrated in the software-centric F-22 and F-35 in the near future. And the Air Force is working to increase the capabilities  of the existing system.

Bad Day over the North Sea, 1975

Here’s audio-only 1975 peacetime ejection, resulting from a compression stall and inflight fire in an F-4E Phantom. Only the audio is live; the photographic slide show is a retrospectives on the mishap pilots career. The first 2 minutes, before the emergency audio begins , is accompanied by some pretty dreadful New Age music, so consider yourself warned.

The downed plane’s wingmen have a hard time coordinating the rescue for several reasons.

  • First, the weather’s crummy — not that they aren’t used to that, flying from England in the first place. But they have to fly low, under the overcast, and have limited visibility in the humid, misty air;
  • Second, crew visibility out of the F-4 Phantom, even with two sets of eyes per plane, is lousy. The jet was designed to grope its way to enemy targets by radar, and pilot visibility wasn’t something the designers at McDonnell took seriously in the 1950s. (This unlovely quality of the Phantom II is one reason the next generation — F-15 -16 and -18 — all had superior visibility).
  • Third, the lack of maneuverability of the F-4 (another artifact of its design as a missile-armed carrier-based interceptor) means that the pilot can’t simply turn around a point while keeping eyes on his buddy in his scroungy little raft, like he might have done in a 100-knot bugsmasher (or even a 150-knot C-130).
  • Fourth, the dynamic nature of the sea meant that the pilots and their rafts were easy to lose sight of in the waves, and that they were constantly being moved by wave action, currents, and especially wind — and so were the orbiting jets. It would be very difficult for an F-4 to orbit over a downed airman, or recover sight of one he’d lost his lock on, on terra firma; on the open ocean, it’s an order of magnitude more difficult.
  • Fifth, the state-of-the-art navigation system in the F-4E was unsuited for this task. It was  an inertial navigation system: good enough for bomb-dropping — if the bombs were nuclear. It was also prone to drift, to dump its data, and to lose its lock. And you could only put one thing in it at a time. (Listen to how nervous they were anytime the pilot had his navigator mess with the INS).

In the end, everybody got back home safe, with only one airplane lost (and one emergency-landed on a strip away from home). That’s a fantastic result, considering; every year of the Cold War, men ejected in these waters and died. Some of them were just never seen after bailing out. The water is so cold that surviving a night out here without an exposure suit (even in a survival raft) is probably not in the cards.

The wingmen really struggle to keep eyes on the ejectees, and to reacquire them when visual is lost. Not surprising: the deck is stacked against them.

The essential aerodynamic problem is that the F-4, despite having a very wide speed range, still had a speed range that was too high to let it operate with visual reference to a point on the ground. It’s a mathematical fact that the faster an airplane flies while orbiting in a turn of any given rate or at any given acceleration load, the bigger the circle has to get. The bigger the orbit, the greater the slant range to the airman in his raft (the slant range is the hypotenuse of an imaginary right triangle with its base the absolute range to the target and its height being the altitude above mean, or in this case, actual, sea level). The greater the slant range, the less of an arc the downed airman and his raft subtends in the eye of the orbiting airman — and the harder he is to see.

So how did these pilots beat the math and the aerodynamics, and get their two bailed-out buddies rescued? While dumb luck (or divine Providence) surely played a role, if you listen to that tape it seems like the key factor was sheer dogged persistence.

In the tag line of the greatest science-fiction series that never was, “Never give up. Never surrender!”

Thanks to the never-quit efforts of the crews of the orbiting Phantoms (not to mention the British rescue crews, and those merchant seamen or fishermen who turned their vessels towards the scene), two guys got to go home to their families, even as their jet sank forgotten in the muck at the bottom of the North Sea.

Air Safety, Circa 1955

Here’s a typical jet jock of the mid-1950s, a bit hung over, but nothing a little 100% O2 won’t fix.

Today’s Air Force pilots will be amazed at the safety culture of the decade… and the low-hanging fruit, like not flying with a head-splitting hangover, or checking current weather, that the 1950s safety culture was trying to pluck.

For everyone else, the pictures of 1950s aviation in the US Air Force Europe (USAFE, pronounced, ironically, “you-safe”) shoud be entertaining.

Still, there’s a lot to be said for a time when a guy could just sign for his F-86D and blast off on a VFR cross-country.

Meet the AH-64D Longboat

No, that wasn’t a typo. A Greek crew took their attack helicopter surfing. (NSFW warning: an obscenity, if you happen to know modern Greek).

The pilots both survived, although their military careers might not. (Russia Today says that the Greek military claimed the aircraft had engine failure. We note that the Apache is a twin-engine helicopter, and even on a hot day has no trouble flying on one engine at sea level.

Below sea level? That’s a problem.

Remember, pilots: you can never beat the World Low Flying Record. You can only tie.

We’d Have Called it the Drone Dropper… or Drone-B-Gon

This anti-drone device is going viral. They’ve clickbaited it well by calling it the Skynet anti-drone rifle, and it can directionally jam the GPS signals a drone needs to navigate, and the wireless video downlink.

skynet-anti-drone-rifle-3The two white and black “barrels” are directional antennae in two separate GHz ranges. The backpack is the necessary power source. Anyone who’s got Electronic Warfare experience will tell you jamming is a power-intensive activity.

skynet-anti-drone-rifle-1If you look at all the pictures available on the company’s website, and watch the video (below), the whole thing appears to be built on a (partial? modified?) AR-15 receiver, with a standard M4 receiver extension and stock. A bit overkill for just something to hang an arduino, a transmitter, and some highly directional (< 10º) antennae on, but it kind of makes sense to give people a familiar interface, and the AR-15 is the point and click interface for the 21st Century.

Along with this video, there’s a new one showing a live test. They claim a “suppression ratio” (difference between the range from the Skynet operator to the drone and the drone controller to the drone) of 8:1, which means (thinking of power squares here) that this jammer has vastly more power than the controller.

The two signal rangess it can jam are 1.450 GHz – 1.650 GHz and 2.380 GHz – 2.483 GHz, but it can only jam one at a time. Available hacks for, for example, the DJI Phantom drone (the one in the video) can take the drone control out of the target range, and could practically be developed for the video range.

There are a few other problems with it, to wit:

  1. As a jammer, it is almost certainly illegal to use in the USA. The Federal Communications Commission takes a dim view of jamming, and has considerable technical and legal resources it deploys to punish violators.
  2. It’s only effective against some common commercial drones and is unlikely to have any impact on a more sophisticated government or military system, which is likely to use robust, high-availability communications, and have backup onboard navigation (usually inertial) that’s immune to jamming or meaconing.
  3. It requires clear line-of-sight to the drone, ergo, it’s only useful as a point-defense weapon.
  4. It requires a human operator and visibility of the target. (How would it work in the dark, against a drone deploying LLLTV? We suppose there’s a Picatinny rail upon which you can mount an image intensifier or thermal sight).
  5. It has the scent of early prototype all over it, and is a long way from a commercial product or (alternatively) a flexible R&D platform. But even experimenting with this thing brings you back around into the sights of the FCC.

Finally, this is, we think, the firm’s first video, from May.

All in all, it smells to us like a gimmick. And within the range of this thing, there are other ways to take out a drone (one lady pestered by paparazzi drones seeking spy shots of a celebrity neighbor demonstrated her wingshooting skills and blew the drone to Kingdom Come. The paparazzi boarded their Range Rover — apparently invading privacy pays well — and were last seen heading back for Gawker HQ or whatever glutinous sump whence they emerged).

This is not the only anti-drone product out there. As well as other jammers, there are counter-drone drones that ram them or drop nets or cables onto their rotors. All of them are similarly immature at present, and no one knows if they represent a real market segment or just hobbyists tinkering.

French Ops against ISIL

FR Operation Chammal graphicOur often-forgotten (but appreciated here) allies, France, have been flying alongside American and Allied airmen in several international air operations, including Baltic Air Policing securing the threatened Baltic States of NATO, against Islamic terrorists in the central African band from Mauritania through Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad (the French commitment of air, ground and special-ops forces is called Opération Barkhane), and against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, yclept en français Opération Chammal.

The French joint General Staff has been tweeting out some facts about Chammal this week. And on September 1, they posted an update on all pending operations on Facebook. Naturally, they write in their own language, we’ll restate their social media points in English pour votre convenience. 

Chammal Statistics:

  • Operation Start: 19 Sep 2014.
  • Flights in Iraq & Syria: 4,540
  • Strikes on Da’esh (ISIS/ISIL): 829
  • Targets destroyed: 1,415

Mirage 2000 Participation in Chammal

  • Deployment Start: 12 Dec 14
  • Deployment Conclusion: 28 Aug 16
  • Sorties: 2,349
  • Flight hours: 10,810

FR Operation Chammal Rotation

Previously operating with a mixed Mirage 2k/Rafale combat equipment set, Chammal continues with 12 Rafales (like this one) on the scene:

FR Operation Chammal Rafale

The “all Rafale” force will be fully operational on 10 September.

Aside: thanks to Avions Marcel Dassault, France seems to have had the most consistently beautiful jets of any nation, although the beauty of the Rafale’s compound curves is somewhat hidden in the above all-business image.

We’ll pull a few lines from the French operational briefing. If there’s enough demand we’ll anglicize the whole thing later:

In the Levant, the security situation remains delicate. The crisis is evolving in a complex operational environment, but the advances of coalition forces on the ground are real. The objective of the coalition is to neutralize the military capacities of Daesh, and to frame the minimal conditions for security.

No doubt, that’s the coalition’s real security objective, and that mealy-mouthed mission, as converted to actual tasking, is the root of the coalition’s failure.

On the ground: In Iraq, Iraqi security forces have continued their reconquest operations launched in the spring, and have recaptured certain villages.

French forces assisted in the region of the al-Walid frontier post in the Anbar Valley, and in operations aimed ultimately at retaking the lost city of Mosul. Iraqi security forces with such Coalition assistance broke through north of Baiji on 15 July and retook the town of Qayyara. They’re now trying to completely secure the town and clear it of mines and IEDs left behind by ISIL. In Syria, Coalition (and French) forces contributed to the retaking of Manbij.

All this noted, French General de Villiers noted at a recent panel on the prospect of raising French defense spending to 2% of GDP (the on-paper NATO standard nobody meets):

There can’t be a gap between the goals, the threats, the missions and the means.

A fine sentiment, but he doesn’t appropriate the money; he has to do what he can with what the civilian government gives him. The French forces at home and overseas are small and stretched thin. But they’re not shrinking from the fight.