Peace Time: November 14, 1999


German Foreign Minister Fischer has called for world-wide ostracism of countries which send "children" (17 year olds) into combat. The US and Britain will deploy 17-year-old recruits into combat situations. Britain will accept volunteers who are 16 years old but will not send them into combat until they are 17. --Stephen V Cole

The US Army's 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (which comprises the OPFOR, or Opposing Forces, at the National Training Center) has received the first 50 of what will eventually be 160 Opfor Surrogate Vehicles. Another 36 will go to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. The OSV is a modified M113-series chassis modified to look (more or less) like a Russian BMP. The Army likes using the M113 for this role, since that vehicle series is readily available, cheap to operate, relatively reliable, and (since the Army has thousands on hand) easy to get parts for. OSVs are converted from M901 Improved TOW Missile Vehicles, which were M113s modified to fire TOW anti-tank missiles from a hammerhead turret. This allows the existing turret ring to be used to mount the new turret of the OSV. The vehicle is refitted with the M113A3 engine and drive train, then given the VISMODS (Visual Modifications, a fiber-glass and light metal shell that makes it look vaguely like a Russian BMP-2. A turret is fitted (using Bradley components so that parts are easy to get). Thermal sights and other equipment from old M60 tanks is then added. This is important because the previous Opfor vehicles did not have night sights, making night training difficult. Prior to the advent of the OSV, the Opfor used old Sheridan M551 light tanks. These were increasingly unreliable, and the 11th Cavalry could keep them operating only by continually shrinking the fleet and using some vehicles for parts. Most of the turret motors no longer worked, forcing Opfor crews to crank the turrets by hand in order to engage targets. Worse, they had no ability to carry infantry, and when the Opfor sent its "infantry fighting vehicles" into the attack, the actual infantry had to follow along in trucks and "pretend" they were dismounting from the Sheridans. --Stephen V Cole


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