Copyright 2008 by Ernest Bywater
After about three years Uncle Chuck drives a large single frame truck out of the workshop and over to our house, he calls it a Road Dog. Being a Saturday morning we’re all at home, mainly because he asked us to be there. The truck is a triple axle one: forty feet long by thirteen feet high with a width of eight feet and the truck’s bed is twenty-seven feet long. Dad and Uncle Chuck are soon arguing over the capabilities. The maximum load for such a truck is sixty thousand pounds, including the vehicle, and Uncle Chuck is saying it can carry a pay load of fifty-five thousand pounds. Once Dad goes through the paperwork he can see Uncle Chuck is right because the truck is made from composite materials and alloys that are much lighter than the traditional steel.
Most trucks have a door on either side, but this one doesn’t. The cabin door is on the passenger side and it enters behind the front seat into the little area where there’s a fold down bed in the driver rest area with some emergency gear stored there as well. It also has a door into the truck body and a hatch in the roof. The storage body has the door from the cabin with the main back doors opening outwards and can be locked from inside or outside or both by using different lock sets. Examining the fuel usage figures I notice these trucks use a lot less fuel per ton per mile than the tractor trailer rigs do, but once you add in the driver costs the big rigs are just a little cheaper. Uncle Chuck points out they’ll be perfect for one way partial loads and certain specialty loads. He also mentions the strength of the body means they have a much higher ability to survive accidents on the road. Thus the drivers are less likely to be seriously injured while the vehicle is more likely to be easily repaired. He also has an armored car version which can carry a fifty thousand pound load for use in carrying very costly cargo that’s likely to be hijacked.
We climb into the spacious cab to look at the unusual driver station. As well as the windows it has some video screens giving you a three hundred and sixty degree view around the vehicle. The one at the back for reversing is very useful for backing into loading docks. The driver seat is very comfortable with the controls and screens wrapped around them. There’s a steering wheel to control the front wheels with extra slide style controls which control the motors to each wheel, by itself or in pairs. So they’re very maneuverable
It takes Uncle Chuck a while to convince Dad to start using the Road Dogs, but when he does start using them for the smaller loads and some special loads he finds them to be much more profitable. They’re also handy for deliveries around town. Uncle Chuck puts Dad’s current drivers through the special driver training course free of charge. What is interesting is the number of Uncle Chuck’s people who can already drive them, and many of the kids just out of high school with their licenses have no trouble driving them at all.
I ask a friend of mine Dad hires about how he can drive them so well, and he says, “They’re easy to drive once you get used to it. I had a hard time learning how when I first started playing HGH, but the truck controls are less complicated and a bit more responsive.” This got me to go and play Hell Ground Hounds, where I find out one of the control seats for the games is just like the driver control station in the truck. This got me to wondering about what Uncle Chuck was up to and where he got the game. After I do some more research into the game and software I make an appointment to talk to him about it.
At the appointed time of 9:00 a.m. on the Saturday morning I turn up at Uncle Chuck’s office. He smiles and asks me in. We sit down to cold drinks and he says, “So you’ve finally got around to asking me about what I’m doing. Why?”
I reply, “Uncle Chuck, I trust you completely. I know I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for you. However, I do wonder about things like how your new trucks are built on the frames you had on hand for the old tanks you used to drive, and what your game is. But, more importantly, I need to interview you for a school writing project, which is my main purpose today.”
He smiles and asks, “Who said the new trucks are built on the tank frames?”
I grin while saying, “I do. Once I looked at the HGH software and saw the same driver controls I checked out the vehicle specifications then I dug out the details of the game program. I found out it isn’t a game at all, but it’s a training simulator for the Hudson Hound Tanks.”
While slowly nodding his head he says, “I wondered how long it’d take you to find that out once you decided to go look. OK, what do you want to know?”
We talk for several hours. Over the next two weeks we talk for fifty or sixty hours and he has me ghost write some things for him because he has trouble writing them for his biography. It’s our intention to finish his biography as a joint effort in the coming years. The key point of the discussions is I learn what I need to find out for this assignment because some are brief points of his military career and his name.
Charles Phillips Meadows was the name he grew up with. It wasn’t until he was leaving home to sign up in the military he was told by grandfather his legal name was simply Charles Phillips. Granddad Meadows was in love with his childhood sweetheart, Alice Jennings. She was raped by a classmate, Barry Phillips. The rape had been caught on a very recently installed security camera at the school. When she reported the rape it didn’t take long to check the video and arrest him. The court case was quick. Barry’s family paid compensation and Barry died in a prison riot during the second year of his ten year sentence. Alice was pregnant due to the rape and DNA analysis after the birth confirmed it was Phillips’ child. She insisted on having the child and not getting married until after the child’s birth. Charles was born, and six months later they got married. Alice had mother a year after being married, but was unable to have any more children after that due to a complication. So, Uncle Chuck is Mom’s half-brother. He went through school as Charles Phillips Meadows while thinking Phillips was his middle name. Granddad raised him as his own son and he treated him as his son.
Uncle Chuck joined the Marines at eighteen years of age and moved to a classified Elite Special Forces unit when twenty. He was in a number of actions and he was awarded the Silver Star three times. He showed potential so he was soon promoted through the ranks then sent for Officer Training. Some years later, just after being promoted to major, he was asked to help evaluate a new unit concept called the Rapid Response Force (RRF) and to organize a pilot unit of a couple of companies. He took on the challenge and he was involved in the unit’s birth. He was the one who set out the unit structure and he developed their combat tactics with the other officers and senior sergeants in the just formed unit. When the unit grew into a battalion he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and, soon after, a full colonel was appointed as his senior officer when a second battalion was raised. When more units were added he trained the officers and men. Because of this he created the culture of the new unit.
I was surprised to find out Uncle Chuck was an officer. It was a great shock to learn he commanded the RRF Brigade for most of the battle as he was promoted to full colonel during the battle then to general some hours after the battle and to a two star general just before being retired on medical grounds. The biggest surprise was to learn he was presented with the Medal of Honor by the President. I’d always thought of Uncle Chuck as a senior sergeant or the like.
I was also surprised to learn eight of Uncle Chuck’s staff had been awarded the Medal of Honor as well. None of them ever wear their uniform to the Memorial Day Events they attend and I never ask them about it since I know they have their reasons, whatever they are.
After being discharged from the hospital and before his retirement was finalized Uncle Chuck bought, for next to nothing, all of the technology and left over hardware behind the Department of Defense program that created the Hudson Hounds because the Department had classified the equipment as obsolete due to political departmental in-fighting. Uncle Chuck and some of his old service mates are busy developing a better version. To fund this they first developed a better truck to sell so they can earn income to fund their tank research and development program.
In answer to the assignment question of: What did you learn about your relative? I learned a lot. I knew Uncle Chuck was a war hero, but I learned he was a much bigger hero than I knew and he’s a general. I learned he may be retired but he’s still a Marine because: ‘Once a Marine, Always a Marine’ is their motto and he still lives it. He’s a determined person who finds a way to rise over or to go through problems in his way. He’s a high achiever who really cares about people, especially his people: be they family, friends, or staff. He’s also prepared to put his own resources into solving what he perceives as a major problem that isn’t being addressed when he feels it needs fixing.
Note: He can afford to pay for his research project because the monthly lease fees are now in excess of one million dollars a month. The business is debt free and it has a net worth of seventy-eight million dollars. I look like being the richest ever graduate when I finish high school this year!
Addendum: My teacher was surprised I hadn’t seen any of the media coverage on the awards to Uncle Chuck and the others in his unit. But I was never one for watching the news, especially at that time, or watching the news from Washington as no one in our family is. Also, I think Uncle Chuck told Mom and Dad not to tell us about his awards at the time. I know he feels the others earned the awards he was given, so he’s a bit embarrassed about them.
From the History of Military Forces of the World, 17th edition, 2025.
Rapid Response Force
The Rapid Response Force (RRF) was designed to be airlifted to any trouble spot in the world and to be rapidly deployed to deal with any military threat short of a nuclear attack. The intention was to have a small hard hitting force that could eliminate small military forces or engage and delay larger forces so a bigger and stronger response can be safely deployed behind them. Each combat unit consisted of a fast heavy armored tank with its own designated infantry platoon which trained and deployed with the tank. The tank commander was in command of the unit, issuing tactical orders to both the tank and the platoon as well as the target designation orders to the tank crew. Once the platoon was deployed in the field the platoon commander had tactical command of the platoon while he operated within the general orders from the tank commander. This arrangement is the opposite of the standard practice of having tanks support the infantry force because this unit is built around the tank and the soldiers are there to support the tanks against close in enemy troops while providing some discreet scouting ability.
First proposed by an Australian and first created by the United Kingdom an RRF unit was much more versatile and responsive than the traditional methods of combining armor and infantry. Force combat capability varies with the speed and quality of the equipment assigned to the force. Changes in the United Kingdom’s relations with other governments, especially those in the European Union (EU), saw major changes in their military needs. All of the European Union members made major reductions in their military forces and spending when the EU became more of a super government of the region. Some of the military forces were combined into a new European Union Military Force. Since the European Union Military commanders focused on anti-terrorist and missile capabilities many of the Special Forces like the RRF were seen as unnecessary and disbanded, along with most of the regular armored units because they didn’t fit in their new military structure. Little is known on how the European units were structured as either no records were kept or they were lost after they were disbanded.
For some time the government of the United States of America had been taking on the role of the world’s policeman by deploying military forces to trouble spots around the world. At times as part of United Nations forces and sometimes as forces independent of the UN forces. On some occasions troubles in the mixed politics of the UN forces resulted in US personnel being put at unnecessary risk. This led to a major change in the way the US government dealt with these military deployments, eventually moving to deploying as a separate force not under the local UN Commander. Due to the changes in the military capability requirements brought about by the political situation the US military analysts started looking at the use of RRF units as part of their force capabilities. Especially for the more violent types of operations
Many people within the US military hierarchy saw the value of the RRF so they pushed for their creation. Others saw them as new untried forces competing for the same resources in troops, equipment, and funds they required for their existing traditional forces. Despite this resistance a program was initiated to establish an RRF unit within the US military structure as a Special Forces Unit. The decision was made to create first one battalion and to expand up to one brigade then up to two brigades as resources allowed. Response from within the existing forces to join the new unit was slow at first, but interest in the unit soon grew.
Over two years a full brigade was raised and equipped. Most of the force was still under training when a new financial year saw major budget problems within the US government and military structure. Funding for expansion of the RRF was removed from the following years’ budgets when a decision was made to keep it at its current level until further notice. The decision was a win because many wanted the unit to be disbanded, but it was retained as a separate Special Forces Unit of only one brigade raised from US Marine Corps personnel.
The only RRF force to see combat was the United States RRF at the Battle of Samara. They were deployed in a hurry to slow down the invading Chinese Army while a proper stopping force was prepared and made ready at a more viable combat line from the Volga River at Ulyanovsk to the Ural Mountains at Perm. The RRF Brigade was not expected to survive the combat deployment, but they were expected to severely blunt and slow down the fast approaching Chinese 1st Army spearheading the drive north to round the Volga to invade Europe proper. The main stopping force needed several hours more than the current estimated time of arrival if they were to be ready to stop the Chinese Army.
Deploying from the Kurumoch International Airport at Samara the RRF moved out to encounter the Chinese force of 5,000 tanks and 500,000 infantry troops. Despite many early losses due to having to deploy in a combat zone totally unsuited to their style of warfare the RRF proved the value of such a force. In a battle that lasted over five hours the RRF suffered the loss of all their tanks and 100% casualties of 3,401 dead and 232 seriously wounded while they destroyed the 5,000 Chinese tanks and inflicted over 220,000 casualties among the infantry troops in the Chinese spearhead. By then the Chinese forces were in such disarray the United States Marine division deployed via Ufa Airport had time to cross the intervening rivers unopposed to hit the disorganized Chinese flank at the end of the main battle, thus finishing off the main Chinese force by capturing or forcing into retreat the remaining forces. The Battle of Samara effectively ended the short war and it was the direct cause for the immediate withdrawal of all Chinese forces because it left their flanks wide open to a strong counter-attack by the United Nations Forces. Twenty-two Medals of Honor were awarded for actions by RRF members during the battle as well as one hundred and three Silver Stars. All of the medal recommendation reports came from several Marine officers who had observed much of the battle because most of the RRF officers died in the battle. For a more detailed account of the battle refer to the section on ‘The Battle of Samara’ in the book ‘Significant Battles of the World.’
Despite this proof of the value of the RRF it was not rebuilt due to political in-fighting for resources within the US military structure. The surviving non-combat personnel were redeployed while the surviving combat personnel were retired on medical grounds. The Battle of Samara saw the end of the RRF as well as the end of the Chinese dreams of controlling Europe and Asia.
The United States Rapid Response Force consisted of 121 heavy tanks and 4,100 personnel in seven battalions: six combat battalions with a support battalion of administrative, technical, mechanical, and supply staff. The 467 person support battalion was never deployed with the combat force because it stayed at their base in the USA.
The building block of the Brigade was the Mobile Combat Unit of a tank with a six person crew and a twenty-four troop support infantry platoon. A Lieutenant was the usual commander of the unit and tank with an electronics specialist, driver, and three gunners. The platoon commander handled the infantry troops under the general directives of the tank commander. The infantry platoon has an officer (most often a Second Lieutenant), two sergeants, a corpsman, and twenty troops.
Four Combat Units to a company of 120 troops, and the commander (often a Captain) doubled up as the commander of their own tank. Five companies to a battalion with the battalion commander (a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel) as a tank and company commander. A battalion of twenty Combat Units and 600 personnel. Six battalions to the Brigade split into two regiments plus the Brigade Commander’s tank for 121 tanks and 3,633 personnel. The Brigade Commander (a Colonel or General) did not command a tank and had two electronics specialists to manage the communications, command, and control equipment for the Brigade Commander. This tank was slightly larger to handle the extra people and equipment with most of it being computers, radios, and displays.
The Combat Units trained in groups of two, three, or four Units to support each other during combat operations. The emphasis in training was on groups of two or four and two coordinated groups of two as they were expected to be operating in the field as company level forces.
The RRF was equipped with the Hudson Industries Heavy Tank known as the Hudson Hound. This heavy tank was built out of steel, composites, and ceramics. They were forty feet long, twelve feet wide, twelve feet high, and weighed seventy tons. Powered with a multi-fuel turbine engine of 1,800 brake horse power they reached forty-five miles per hour on a good road and thirty-five miles per hour on most off road surfaces able to take their weight. The tread driven tanks had a range of three hundred miles before refueling. The unit was divided into four main areas: the command and control center, the turret, the engine bay, and the troop transport bay. The fuel tank was mounted at the rear of the engine bay, both of which had more protection because they were under the turret. Each area was separated from the others with light armor between them. This was to minimize the risk of damage in the case of enemy troops entering the troop bay.
The turret mounted the main armament of a long barreled 120 mm smooth bore cannon and a 25 mm chain gun as a sealed unit above the main hull armor. The fully automated turret included 100 rounds for the cannon and 25,000 rounds for the chain gun. The other armament consisted of three 25 mm chain guns in remote weapons stations loaded with 25,000 rounds each: two mounted just in front of the main turret and one mounted at the rear of the tank. The main turret had a three hundred and sixty degree arc of fire while the remote stations had two hundred and sixty degree arcs of fire. Between them the remote stations provided cover fire for all of the avenues of approach to the tank with double coverage on the main areas of danger.
The troop bay had two outwards opening rear doors to allow entry and exit for the troops. Inside it had built-in seating on munitions storage bays carrying extra ammunition for the troops.
The command and control center took up most of the interior with work stations for all six of the crew. The front left corner had the driver’s control center with the electronics specialist seated beside the driver. The electronics specialist handled the computers and communications. Just behind these two sat the tank commander with the three gunners in a curve behind the commander. Both the driver and the commander had three hundred and sixty degree periscopes they could open up and use. Normal practice was for the crew to use the information screens mounted on the inside of the tank displaying the views of the dozens of cameras installed in protected armored mountings on the exterior plus the weapons ‘target systems’ cameras. These gave multiple views in three hundred and sixty degrees. The driver had wrap around screens showing the view in all directions: it was like he was sitting in the open air. The commander had an array of double wrap around screens with an extra-large one hanging over their lap. All screens could be set to a wide range of display modes of visual, technical, tactical, infra-red, etc., and they could also switch input sources. The electronics specialist had a set of screens showing the status of the electronic and electrical equipment. Most screens were set to show a visual image with a tactical data overlay.
The commander often had the lower layer of screens show technical and terrain data for the area shown in the screen above it while the lap screen showed the relayed strategic data for the whole combat area. This allowed them to keep track of their relationship with the other units at a glance.
The gunners had a larger wrap around set of screens at the back of the tank curving around the three of them. By using a shared gun position the gunners could take control of any or all five weapons stations by looking at the general field display to select which weapon to use for which target then a glance at the aiming camera for that weapon, select the weapon on their control panel, aim, and fire. All of the equipment was managed by the extensive on-board computer systems.
The tank hull and all exterior surfaces were heavily armored with layered armor. The basic hull of steel was coated with an anti-ballistic ceramic plate covered with multiple layers of composites and other materials that are still classified. The layered approach was expected to defeat the majority of enemy rounds. The heaviest armor was applied to the turret, the front, the sides, and the small sections of the top that were not covered by the turret. These areas had one and a half times the armor covering the rest of the exterior. Since this same armor is also used on many other vehicles still in use the exact depth and capabilities remain on the classified list and are not available for listing here.
From the start the RRF was designed to be a different type of combat unit with the intent of being more of a guerrilla force style unit. Because of this there were significant changes in operational doctrine. In a normal ground combat force the tanks were there to support the infantry, but in the RRF this was reversed with the infantry being there to support and protect the tanks because the tanks had the primary mission assignment. Also, because this was designed as a small hard hitting force all of the vehicles were combat vehicles. Unlike most combat forces where the General has an armored staff car to operate from the RRF Commanding General operates from an over-sized tank with extra space and equipment to perform both of the functions. Since the main RRF combat doctrine was for the general to exercise strategic command with company commanders handling the tactical command it was felt a full command car wasn’t needed. This was not the case at Samara where the Brigade operated under strategic and tactical command as a whole, which was against all of the training doctrine for the RRF and outside of their original mission statement and intended usage. Many historians saw this command method as being a major reason for the high losses within the RRF at Samara.
Note: Because of the tank’s official designation as the Hudson Hound and the members of the RRF knew they would only ever be deployed into the worst sort of hell grounds they gave their tanks the informal name of Hell Hounds. Each tank was given an individual name with many following the hell theme and the name was painted on the tank’s side. When the Brigade Commander’s tank first arrived it was named Isis by the tank’s crew. Other tanks’ names included Cerberus, Styx, Hades, Orpheus, Diablo, Satan, Hellfire, Charon, Acheron, and Lethe. Others followed the Greek mythology theme with names like Achilles, Apollo, and Phaeton while other crews chose to use a different name theme like Rambling Rose, Earth Angel, and King of the Road. Names ran to a single theme within a company or battalion. The crews showed great imagination in some of the names they gave their tanks.
From Significant Battles of the World, 14th edition, 2025.