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Friday November 07, 2003
09:27 AM

A real life phalanx

[ #15642 ]

petdance sent me mail about Chicago.pm, life, and Phalanx---a lot of stuff has happened since I have been away.

The Phalanx project to improve tests on a lot of Perl modules takes its name from a formation on Greek dismounted warfare---a virtual human bullet that sliced through the enemy.

I got the chance to use a phalanx the other day. We were caught up on a highway north of Baghdad, and whenever traffic stops, the Iraqi drivers just switch to the other side of the road, the breakdown lanes, and the shoulder, then just keep going. This snarls traffic. We were able to get our four vehicles, all with turret mounted machine guns (one of them a grenade machine gun) around most of the snarls until we came upon a 10 lanes of traffic coming in our direction. There are only four travel lanes, two in each direction. Screw it---we formed our vehicles into a rectangle, looked as menacing as we can, and just started driving at the wall of traffic. We were playing chicken, four against several hundred. They blinked and we sliced through them, scraping a few cars in the process. I am amazed that it worked so well, especially since most Iraqis know we aren't really going to shoot them.

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  • I am amazed that it worked so well, especially since most Iraqis know we aren't really going to shoot them.

    Are you sure that it's the guns that make them worried? I'd assume that each individual Iraqi vehicle's driver figured out that in a smash, his/her vehicle would come off far worse than your (presumably very solidly built) military vehicle. I've always regarded this as a sort of top trumps, roughly Volvo trumps $car, Land Rover trumps Volvo. (At least as far as the vehicles I'd be able to buy round here and drive)

    Mmmm. Digression. My driving licence says that I also have a provisional licence for driving tracked vehicles. Presumably tank with L plates trumps most things.

    • No matter if it is guns or something else, it all comes down to the willingness to use the weapon. We're not as scary as the Republican Guard was, for instance. :)
      • Exactly. I once was riding with an acquaintance who wanted to make a multiple lane change through heavy uncooperative traffic. After a short while of requesting access (using his turn signal) he gave up and simply started moving over into the desired lane, saying "My car is older than your car." His clunky old station wagon quite readily trumped the vehicles of drivers who were more concerned about getting scratches on their paint, regardless of whether they were Volvos.