I had a nice afternoon, today. I got to teach some of the basics in Machine Gun tactics.
Without going into too much detail, we have a project going at work that involves putting a machine gun onto a "platform" that doesn't currently have one. (That seems adequately uninformative.) Naturally there are a bunch of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and some software engineers involved and just as naturally they all know what they need to do to make this a successful program. So, needless to say, they were more than a little bit miffed at having to come to a briefing by me on machine guns. Their body language spoke volumes... leaning back in their chairs, arms crossed, looking at their watches, doodling on their note paper and unabashedly looking bored.
The Program Manager had not been of a mind to give me any budget to brief his team, so I'd made the offer to give them a 1 hour "freebie", and the team's systems engineer twisted their arms to accept. We kind of backed them into a corner where they couldn't object without seeming petty. To make the point that it was a freebie, I prepared no powerpoint slides and said I was just going to speak extemporaneously and draw pictures on the whiteboard. (Not exactly true, I'd been mentally rehearsing for about a week .)
I didn't cover a quarter of what I had in my mental notes, but by the end of the hour, I had them totally convinced that they didn't know squat about machine gun operations and that they really did need to know some of the stuff that I had at the top of my head.
We started with the three kinds of effects that fires can have (destruction, neutralization and suppression) and why suppression was far more important in reality than the other two and why machine guns were good at it. From there I explained the basic reasons why MGs are employed with the Traversing and Elevating mechanism. (These are engineers, they were already very conversant with the weapon's operating cycle and why the bullets come out and the specs related thereunto, but none had heard of the T&E.) What they didn't have was a feel for the types of targets and how engagements actually happened. They only had war movies to go on for that stuff.
Next I explained that GFE didn't always mean "Government Furnished Equipment" - the abbreviation they were used to in executing contracts. In MG lore it is an accronym, or so I told them, for: "Grazing, Flanking, Enfilading" fire. We then defined all those terms and their complements.
Time was running out so I showed them how a company commander would employ his machine guns in the standard "linear defense" and explained about FPLs and PDFs and so forth. We had to give the conference room up for the next meeting at that point, and I lamented and apologized for not getting to alternate, supplemental and secondary positions. I told them that there was a lot more to cover in the defense, not to mention talking about the MG in the attack and all the special considerations of urban combat, special operations, night, etc. By this time everyone was leaning forward in their seats, frantically copying my figures off the whiteboard and asking questions like crazy.
At the end of the pitch, as we filed out into the hall, I heard those sweet words all good Ops Analysts want to hear from the Program Manager: "How many hours would you need to finish this discussion?"
I simply love that. Not because I need the charge number for my time..., I have plenty of work on my plate. I love it because, it was a day when my knowledge and experience was really making a difference in how engineers were going to think about their project.