Using The Right Tools

One of the things I like least about many movies, TV Shows and anime is that supposedly expert military or police forces will bring the wrong tools for the job they are expected to do. Here’s a case in point.  This is from the anime Bubblegum Crisis, which was produced in the late 1980’s.  The bad guys are humanoid robots loaded with advanced weaponry and armored with exotic materials.  The heroes, or heroines in this case are four ladies with heavily armored power suits.  Typical anime stuff.  Here’s the opening sequence.

Now we have a bunch of SWAT police officers who supposedly know what they are dealing with.  They have vans full of equipment and a truck carrying small helicopters.  So what gun to they bring to the party.  Light submachine guns.  Now SMGs are great for clearing hallways or trenches of unarmored targets, but pretty useless against anything more than the lightest body armors.   A LSG  throws a lot of rounds out, but typically they 9mm or .45 ACP at best. And a lot of it isn’t going to hit the target unless the fire lane is tight.  The LSG was invented for fighting in tight spaces like trenches and buildings at pistol ranges, not deal with armored targets.  The police officers knew what they were dealing with.  Yet they couldn’t bring anything heavier?  A grenade launcher and HEAT rounds for instance. A heavy machine gun?   The robot has no trouble just mowing the poor officers down, shooting down the helicopters and flying away to wreak more havoc simply because the SWAT team did not bring the right tools for the job. Of course if they had the anime would have been over, forensics would have been dealing with the mess and our armoured ladies would have had nothing to do.

This is a common TV or movie trope.  The military or police types go into a situation underarmed for a situation even if they knew what they were dealing with and without weapons or equipment that you would think that would be easily available. We live in a time where heavy weapons are available to rag tag insurgencies, let alone professional police or military.  Yet they keep bringing the wrong stuff.

And when they do bring something heavy, it’s usually for the coolness factor. Gatling guns seem to be popular, even though most of the time they aren’t exactly the kind of thing you just want to be just lugging around as squad support.  In the real world Gatling guns are crew served, fixed mount weapons used for suppression fire, fire support and defensive fire.  If they aren’t fixed, they are carried on vehicles and aircraft.  This isn’t because a man couldn’t carry a small Gatling, but because a man couldn’t carry the Gatling and keep it’s voracious appetite for ammunition going for more than  few seconds.  Certainly you wouldn’t be this guy.  For very long.

He’s spraying ammo all over the place. Only in the movies would you do that. When you have to pack every round, you don’t really want to waste very many.  You fire short bursts and try to aim.  Ideally if you are the machine gunner, your job is to just fire enough to keep the other guys heads down until the rest of your squad tosses grenades or fire support does it’s job.

Here’s real combat. This guy is firing short aimed bursts.  He’s not spraying all over the place. He’s also targeting for the A10 that cruising around providing fire support.

What not doing is expending ammo pointlessly. Backpack ammo feeders may seem like a good idea, but if you need one, you’re probably doing it wrong. Remember, that a machine gun’s role is fire suppression and keeping the bad guys from shooting you buddies while they toss the grenades into the room.

PK Machine Gun Predator Ammo Backpack

As this video shows, throwing bucketloads of lead around doesn’t necessarily accomplish very much.  Look how inaccurate the MG34 was.  A hand held minigun would be even worse, even if somebody could actually standup to the recoil. And a minigun weighs one hell of a lot more than a MG 34. Let alone a BAR.

The real world isn’t like the movies.  A real soldier doesn’t get to drop his load when a director yells, “cut!!”  He’s carrying that load wherever he goes and he wants minimize that load because overloading leaves him exhausted and vulnerable. What a soldier carries is likely to focused on the task at hand.  So if the troop expects something like a boomer, or an army of bears, he’s not going to bring peashooters that are going to be useless.

Art directors and directors like the peashooters.   I can understand that. Most of the peashooters look cool and make lots of bangs.  If they aren’t effective against the bad things, well that means that the movie goes on.  And the poor hapless sods, given the wrong tools to do the job end up with blood all over their red shirts.





  1. Basara549 · June 22, 2016

    In the case of BGC, “Military” Boomers (the artificial lifeforms) are supposed to be illegal in Japan (if not Earth in general), and the usual job of the AD Police is taking down rogue robot factory workers or restaurant server-bots. See the AD Police 3-part series (a prequel set 5 years earlier; specifically, look for the older one – both series got remade in the 90s) for what they were originally formed for. They’ve been begging the city, prefecture and national governments for proper equipment, but either have to come up with POV stuff (look at Leon’s revolver), stuff stolen from impound (ala Split Second), or a few military cast-offs (the open-cockpit police patrol helicopter things that’s been armed with miniguns as air support. And for the first few of the 8 episode series, you had political appointees ordering the barely armed cops to face the new threat with about as much effect as deck swabbing on the Yamato.
    The governments either want to sweep the incidents under the carpet out of fear of panic (the non-corrupt minority), or are actually on the payroll of the manufacturer, who privately uses the military models that have the ability to be disguised as humans until they deploy, and keeps the not-disguiseable ones as hidden security from corporate espionage (mostly the latter – the company is the 800 lb. gorilla of the Japanese economy, after a series of mergers that started after Tokyo was wrecked b a mega-quake). The incidents are tied to a rogue senior company officer looking to embarrass and dethrone the current CEO.

    As the BGC series progresses, the AD Police get better weaponry, including their own heavier powered armor, after the girls in the exosuits embarrass them too many times to the point it can’t be hidden; that the “special” cops have had the danger level jump up a couple magnitudes is part of the set-up. One of the series designers is actually a big fan of modern weaponry (and classic muscle cars, for that matter). One of the requirements for having him as a guest at American anime conventions is often taking him to a weapons range for a few hours. His earlier works “Riding Bean” and “Gunsmith Cats” are practically a love affair with a version of Chicago that was probably the setting for “The Blues Brothers” reimagined as much as BGC could have been the other side of the Pacific from the LA of “Blade Runner”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. penneyvanderbilt · June 22, 2016

    Reblogged this on KCJones.


  3. Cirsova · June 22, 2016

    On the other end of the spectrum, in Kerberos Panzer Cop, there was no problem that a domestic military police force couldn’t solve with full body armor and belt-fed machine guns. Well, except for a change in political climate that frowned on shooting up riot crowds with belt-fed machine guns…


  4. WhiteKnightLeo #0368 · June 22, 2016

    This happens in video games too. Like Resident Evil 5: they send Chris Redfield – a professional anti-bioterrorism expert – into the field, in Africa, armed with a handgun and one spare magazine? Why the hell wouldn’t they give him an M4 and tell him to carry at least 20 mags with him?


  5. rthtgnbs · June 23, 2016

    There is definitely a trope of government security forces (police) having the wrong guns. But I think that sometimes the trope is not unrealistic.

    The Mumbai terror attacks found the local police completely overwhelmed, armed only with revolvers. Often police in “orderly” societies are armed with only the bare minimum in order to save money and avoid looking like Soldiers. India, Japan, even Germany and Britain all follow this model. In Mumbai, it took a lot of time for NSG “Black Cat Commandos” to get on the scene and into action, and that was after the first national level forces arrived 5 hours after the first shots had been fired. In America, it seems like every police agency and Sheriff’s Department has a “tactical team” available, and while it isn’t a good comparison the Washington Naval Yard shooter incident had 69 minutes from first shot to being neutralized.

    I think a better comparison would be the “Killdozer” incident in Colorado, the Cops were clearly not ready with anywhere near the firepower to stop an armored bulldozer.

    Of course I don’t want my police force to be ready to take down the killdozer at a moments notice, nor would I want the “special tactics team” designed solely to destroy rogue military grade robots until that becomes their primary reason for existence. An RPG is a great weapon, but I’m not emotionally ready to say that Deputy Cletus from Podunk really needs one as a patrol weapon.


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