Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Power of Chinooks

A friend of mine is in love with Chinooks. Whenever I see him he talks about them. Where other men have photographs of wives, children and/or lovers in their pockets, John has photographs of Chinooks. He has even persuaded the RAF to land the odd Chinook on his hill - and today was such the occasion for such a visit.

I went along. I've been before. It helps me 'get inside' articles about the theatre of war - Iraq, Afghanistan etc.. The sheer power of a Chinook helicopter is almost unimaginable. The visit happens like this.

First there is a drumming sound, which gets gradually louder. Then the ground starts to shake. And then this great ugly grey beast comes into sight, hugging the ground, hedgehopping, looking for all the world to be moving along on giant rails. The Chinook lands 40 yards in front of us - and the pilot gets out and gives us awestruck onlookers a casual wave. This elephantine beast then rises a few feet into the air and eases off some 100 yards to the West. And then the driver (or whatever) puts his foot on the gas and comes back about 50 feet directly above our heads. The sound is deafening. The sheer power is frightening. I can imagine a Vietcong soldier in the jungle dying of fright. I feel like throwing myself to the ground. Its just a little demonstration but it helps me understand how absolutely bloody hellish war must be. A Chinook is truly awesome - and its an educational aid as well.


johnny foreigner said...

Your awe is truly understandable, I have had a similar experience.

Unfortunately your suggestion of a Vietcong soldier dying of fright is way off the mark.

I would suggest that most Vietcong deaths were as a result of 'carpet bombing', Napalm and the results of Agent Orange, the after-effects of which afflict the population to this day. Truly shocking and really awful.

I would suggest a more realistic scenario would be the Vietcong soldier poking his head out from his subterranean bunker, aiming his Rocket Propelled Grenade at the large 'airprint' made by the fearsome beast and bringing the Chinook down easily.

I doubt very much if any Vietcong ever died of fright. Their reputation is one of doughty, resolute and brave warriors, who certainly put paid to the might of the USA.

True warriors always have the utmost respect for their opponents.

The USA have never shown this.

Unfortunately, the USA failed to learn these lessons and still seem to think that their mighty war machines are unstoppable.

Their campaign of "Shock and Awe", during their invasion of Iraq, wherein they 'carpet bombed' the civilian population of Baghdad was, I suppose, shocking and awful, but no less than the simple expedient of crashing two airliners into the WTC on 9/11.

I wonder which of these tragedies caused the most psychological damage?

The Americans, feeling safe and secure on their Continent, were astonished, to say the least, and now live in fear of the next attack, and have had many of their civil liberties curtailed as a result.

Whereas the Iraqis, well accustomed to warfare, just get on with life.

Is it more shocking or awful for a single determined suicide bomber being able to detonate a tanker and kill a couple of hundred people? Or is it the sight of heavily armed invading forces abusing a civlian population?

No tongues in cheeks on this one, Glyn.

Your politically psychometric pal.


Glyn Davies said...

johnny - as always I find myself agreeing with much of what you say - though I'm always wary of generalising about a people.
My reference to a Vietcong soldier was entirely allegorical. I'm not even sure that the Chinook was widely used in Vietnam. In fact, my Chinook loving friend tells me that they are essentially troop carriers - and would not normally be equipped with bombs or large scale armaments. All I can say is that a fleet of Chinooks flying low over my head would frighten the c*** out of me.

johnny foreigner said...

Glyn says....

"All I can say is that a fleet of Chinooks flying low over my head would frighten the c*** out of me."

johnny says....

Me too, but there again I'm not a Vietcong.

Your peace-loving pal.


Bwganbrain said...

Chinooks ARE awesome - but they are driven by the wrong crowd. They are essentially flexible taxis to fly soldiers around and to re-supply them or move reasonably light artillery pieces, but they are driven and cared for by the RAF. That means they face different priorities and are not as effective as they could be if they were "owned" by the Army.
That's one point you can dig into when you get to Westminster and look at the inefficient organization of our armed forces, which still manage to be the best in the world.