< The M113 Armored Personnel Carrier – DON’T CALL IT THE GAVIN!

M113 Armored Personnel Carrier – DON’T CALL IT THE GAVIN

The M113 Armored Personnel Carrier is not now and has never been, either officially or unofficially, called the “M113 Gavin.”


The manufacturer does not call the M113 the Gavin.
The soldiers who ride to war in them don’t call them the M113 Gavin.
The U.S. military does not call the M113 the Gavin
No military anywhere calls it the M113 Gavin.
(See quotes below)

Indeed, in U.S. service the M113 has never had a name either officially or unofficially. It has always been called the “M113”, “track” or just “the 1-1-3.” Naturally I can’t prove that these sources don’t use the M113 Gavin name because it is not possible to prove a negative, but you won’t find a DOD or BAE Systems document with name Gavin on it I assure you. Nor will you find it used in any of the authoritative published histories of the vehicle. It is thus completely improper and frankly just plain confusing to use the Gavin name in association with the M113 armored vehicle or any of its many variants. The vast majority of those who actually work on or with the vehicles have no idea what you are talking about.


Corroboration

Here are some quotes from other sources which further the fact that M113’s are not and should not be called “Gavins”.

From the Global Security entry on the M113:

One observer wrote that "In more than 30 years working in the defense industry, I have never, never heard anybody use the name “Gavin” for the M-113. Not in the US nor in any of the many countries that use the vehicle. Not in the military forces, not in the companies that build and equip it, not in the groups that retrofit and repair it. This usage appears not only to be “unofficial”, it is entirely fictional and I believe that you may have been the victim of a hoax or deliberate disinformation."

Or this from the Wikipedia entry for the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier:

U.S. troops tended to refer to the M113 simply as a "track". Some sources have referred to the M113 as the "Gavin" in an allusion to Gen. Gavin, but U.S. forces have never used the name.

Or this entry from Answers.com.

Unlike certain other US military vehicles, the M113 has never been named.

Over the years a few non-official sources have referred to the M113 as the "Gavin" in allusion to General James M. Gavin. This is, in fact, incorrect. The US Military has never used this name, and the M113 has never been given a name while in US service. The campaign, such as it is, to refer to this vehicle as the "Gavin" was launched by an M113 advocate (Mike Sparks) hoping to force adoption of the name through "common usage". This has been met with considerable backlash from members of the US military, defense researchers, and civilian armor enthusiasts, mostly due to the unnerving, penetrant way the proposition to name the vehicle "Gavin" is made; the sheer lunacy of other propositions by Sparks...

Then there is this comment posted at DefenseTech.org

The M113 has never, nor will ever be called the "Gavin". I wish you fan boy wanna-be GI's would quit trying to make this crap up. One of you said, "If we shrunk the M113 into a "Mini-Gavin" ". It was done quite a few decades ago. It was a very quiet but under powered thing called the M114... Hell, let's make up a name and call it the M114 "Buck Rogers"...

Before you decide to deride my knowledge, I was an Army E-5 11B in M113's when I got my commission and a armor team commander with 3/35AR, 1AD in Desert Storm.

Posted by: Melangell at February 7, 2007 10:55 PM

STOP THE INSANITY! Don’t call the M113 the Gavin.


So where does the Gavin name come from?

The idea of calling the M113 APC the M113 Gavin is not the result of some spontaneous groundswell of opinion from the troops in the field. Nobody, but nobody called the M113 APC the M113 Gavin before a self-proclaimed amateur military strategist, disgraced ex-Marine, Army National Guardsman and M113 uber-enthsiast Mike Sparks (unofficially known as “Sparky”) began promoting the idea during the mid-1990’s as part of his personal plan to reform the U.S. Military by re-equipping it with old M113’s and 106mm recoilless rifles. The Gavin name in particular was not chosen as an altruistic nod to an old war hero but rather as a shallow attempt to confuse people into thinking the M113 is in fact some sort of Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle when it in fact is not now and never has been anything of the sort.

It all started in an article authored by Sparky published in Armor Magazine, Jan-Feb 1995, Page 9:

”Why are we calling APC’s M113’s after all these years? The M113A3 is airdroppable and easily airlandable; why not name it the Gavin Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle or Airborne Infantry Personnel Carrier after the legendary U.S. Army General James Gavin.”

Why not? Because the M113A3 has never been airdropped nor is it designed to be to the best of this writers knowledge (the A3 variant is too heavy). The M113 is not now and never has been used in actual as an airborne fighting infantry fighting vehicle or airborne armored personnel carrier in any real capacity by any army anywhere either. If one were going to draw up requirements for a modern Airborne or Airmobile IFV the end result would probably look nothing like the old 113.

”The designation ‘Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle’ would address the inferiority complex some feel about their M113’s because they are not as complicated or as heavy as the M2…. Soldiers would be darn proud to put a ‘Gavin Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle” or an ‘I’ an Airborne Mechanized Infantryman” bumper sticker on their personally owned vehicle.”

Well, if ever there was a better reason to give an armored vehicle a name… If anyone has ever expressed such an inferiority complex if the 50 year operating history of the M113 I have not found them.

Seriously, armored vehicles are typically named after armored or cavalry officers. Exceptions would be the M2 Bradley and the Stryker family, which are infantry carriers and named after infantrymen. If the M113 really was an Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle then perhaps the Gavin name could be considered appropriate, since Gen. Gavin is best known as an airborne officer. But the M113 isn’t an airborne infantry fighting vehicle nor is there any realistic prospect that it is ever going to be. On the other hand some 80,000 M113’s have been built for traditional armor/troop carrier/cavalry roles. Indeed, perhaps the most famous use of the M113 is as a Cavalry Fighting Vehicle in Vietnam, as the M113 ACAV. 80,000 armored/cavalry M113’s vs 0 (zero) M113 Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicles means that, if you really have to give it a name to best honor this great vehicle, naming it for a armored or cavalry officer or even an armored infantry soldier rather than a fairly obscure airborne infantry officer is perhaps most appropriate.

If Sparky took down every one of his web pages referring to the M113 Gavin tomorrow the name would quickly fade into oblivion. Outside of his constant bombarding of the net with the name, the idea has no legs.


Military Reform – Sparky Style

To Sparky the M113 started as the answer what he perceives as shortcoming in airborne and airmobile warfare – the lack of armor. Over the years however, the M113 has become to him the answer to just about any and every military problem. The M113 can apparently replace most of the vehicles in the U.S. Army and Marines inventory and do their jobs better in every way. It can for example replace not only the Humvee but also the Stryker, Bradley and AAV7. Sparky has even declared the M113A3 to be tactically superior to the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank! Over the years Sparky’s obsession for the M113 has clouded his already limited perceptions of the real capabilities of the vehicle, which now border on science-fiction. For example, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq Sparky actually proposed landing fantasy flying-boat versions of the C-130 Hercules transport on the Tigris river. These would then drop their ramps and disgorge “M113 Gavin’s” out the back that would swim upriver and carry the fight directly to Baghdad!

No, really. I couldn’t make this up!

He doesn’t even realize that all M113’s since the A2 model was introduced nearly 30 years ago have been banned from performing in an amphibious role!

Sparky, having not been able to impress the U.S. Army or Marines with his ideas and apparently no longer able to get published in U.S. Military periodicals now promotes his M113-based, Airborne and Marine reform ideas through a series of self-proclaimed “military think-tanks” which are really just one-man rants. For those interested, here they are:

A word of caution too if you dare click on the links – turn your volume WAY down! He has many other web sites as well, far too many to document and many more old dead links. You can’t look up a military related subject no matter how obscure without hitting one of his pages on Google or Yahoo.

Sparky pursues his campaign of military reform the Sparky way with considerable vigor. In the beginning he would get articles published in any military periodical that would take them. Armor Magazine out of Ft. Knox was a favorite for example, but these periodical’s don’t seem to accept his submissions anymore. When the internet came along Sparky took to writing as many web pages as he could and ensuring that you could not look up even the most obscure military (and some non-military topics) without one of his pages being a top hit, ensuring the “M113 Gavin” name would be seen by amateurs as common usage. He posted his Gavin Petition, and even pretends to be other people who post glowing reviews of his work.

His military career having achieved nothing of consequence (see below) its seems getting his military reform ideas adopted – most importantly creating a force of M113 Gavin Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicles is I suspect Sparky’s path to eternal glory, his legacy.

To be fair, there is the very occasional reasonable, even intelligent idea that manages to crawl from the mind of Sparky. Bringing back the old M40A1 106mm recoilless rifle in some capacity and equipping the Delta Company of Airborne Infantry Battalions with armored vehicles of some sort are both ideas worth discussing at the least. One could easily come up with rational arguments both for and against both ideas in an open discussion. I don’t mean discuss it with Sparky of course, because you can’t. Anyone who questions him gets banned from his reform group.

Some of his other ideas, like his notion of heavily loaded paratroopers riding into combat across rough country on ultra-lightweight yet somehow durable mountain bikes are pretty daft.

Whatever plausible ideas emanate from Sparky are quickly overwhelmed by the man’s convoluted writings (be prepared to scroll and scroll and scroll), rabid tendency towards gross factual distortion, ignorance or armored vehicles of all kinds, absolute intolerance of contrary ideas or evidence and his utterly disrespectful and childish responses to critics, or even just casual doubters.

Sparky has become infamous on the net. It is hard to count how many discussion forums he has been banned from for his outrageous behavior – he holds the record for quick banishment at the former Heavy Metal (now Tanknet Forums back around 1997, having been banished for insulting, harassing and spamming other participants. In 1998 he was banned for life from SOCNET.

I first encountered Sparky during his very brief stay at Heavy Metal a decade ago and it is an experience I still remember. Not many people you encounter on the net make much of an impact. I had not given the man much thought for a long time though until I recently and quite unwittingly sent him an email when I accidentally stumbled upon one of his web pages. If I had realized at the time that it was his page I would not have bothered with the correspondence but I mistakenly believed I might be dealing with someone rational. I thought my correspondence was very civilized and expected an equally civilized response, if any. That is not what I received. For your pleasure here are some highlights of what I received in response, at which point I realized who I was actually dealing with. The subject was his proposal to replace the U.S. Marines AAV7 and EFV with “AmphGavin’s”:


  • Me: If you want a vehicle that carries fewer men you either need to re-design the infantry squad, platoon and company with a new TOE and new doctrine and supply them with more vehicles, or you need to carry the squad in more than one vehicle, again with a new TOE and doctrine. You have not done that.

    Sparky: FUCK USMC 13-MAN SQUAD STUPIDITY. IT WAS IMPLIED IN USING AMPHIGAVINS THAT USMC WOULD HAVE TO GET HEADS OUT OF ASSES AND REDUCE SQUAD SIZE.

    USMC NEEDS TO REFORM ITSELF OR BE ABOLISHED.

  • Me: Your assessment of the Battle of An Nasiriyah, in which you claims dozens of Marines were killed when their AAV7’s were hit by RPG fire also seems to be both utterly dishonest, mis-leading and also one-dimensional.

    Sparky: VERBAGE. DO YOU WRITE FOR FOX NEWS?

    (Ed note: I don’t even know what that was supposed to mean, but it certainly is not a response to my pointing out that his claim dozens of Marines were killed while riding inside of the AAV7 at Al Nasiriyah was demonstrably false. The battle is very well documented and his claimed sequence of events simply did not happen.)

  • Me: When track C211 was hit in the rear by an RPG it did ignite the fuel and 5 (five) marines were wounded, but none were killed by the hit."

    Sparky: CASE CLOSED.

    IF THE FUEL WASN'T INSIDE THE HULL THERE'D BE 5 NARCISSIST EGOMANIAC MARINES READY TO FIGHT INSTEAD OF CRYING FOR CORPSMEN TO BANDAGE THEIR BODIES.

    YOU FOREGT ABOUT THE AMTRACKS THAT HAVE BEEN HIT AND ALL OF THE MEN INSIDE WERE INCINERATED.

    (Ed Note: No evidence to back up this last claim was provided.)

  • Me: But how many troops have been saved by the protection of their AAV7’s and the fact that they carry such a large and effective dismounted fighting element? That’s a bit harder to quantify and certainly does not make as sensational a headline but in the end is I think, far more important.

    Sparky: SAYS WHO?

    YOU ARE TRYING TO EXCUSE AWAY INCOMPETENCE BY GREATER INCOMPETENCE (RIDING IN WHEELED TRUCKS OR WALKING).

    YOU ARE DISHONESTLY TRYING TO EXCUSE AWAY BETTER OPTIONS BY COMPARING WEAK OPTIONS WITH EVEN WEAKER OPTIONS.

    YOU MUST WORK IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION MINISTRY OF LIES.

  • Me: It (the M113) can not even be launched from landing craft offshore as you suggest without the ARISgator kit. (emphasis added)

    Sparky: WHAT'S THIS ATTACHED TO THIS EMAIL?

    DAMN! ITS A M113 GAVIN WITHOUT ARIS GATOR KITS BEING LAUNCHED FROM AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS TO SHORE.

    DAMN, I SHOULD GO TELL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED THEY ARE NOT REAL AND THIS WAS ALL A DREAM BECAUSE MARK, THE MARINE NARCISSIST CAN'T ACCEPT REALITY THAT RUNS COUNTER TO HIS PRO-USMC PREJUDICES.

    (Ed Note: For the record, the picture Sparky included was of a Brazilian Army M113 being deposited directly onto the beach from an LCU. It had to do no swimming whatsoever to get there. Indeed, the trim vane was not even deployed and the tracks may not have even got wet! I on the other hand was talking about launching armored amphibians from landing ships 25nm offshore, which was the point of the whole conversation to begin with.)

  • Me: The CH-53E can sling load 16,330kg which would allow it to carry a loaded M-113 even with appliqué armor kit installed. It can not carry the MTVL however which is the only M-113 family vehicle large enough to accommodate a full marine infantry squad.

    Sparky: SAYS WHO?

    DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THE EMPTY WEIGHT OF THE 6-ROADWHEEL MTVL GAVIN IS?

    DO YOU KNOW WHAT A 6-ROADWHEEL MTVL GAVIN WOULD WEIGH WITH BAND TRACKS AND HYBRID-ELECTRIC DRIVE?

    NO, YOU LIKELY DON'T BECAUSE IF YOU DID YOU WOULDN'T BE MAKING BS STATEMENTS.

    FYI FU*K YOU AND YOUR FU*KING MORONIC 13-MAN INFANTRY SQUAD.

    IF YOU AND YOUR OTHER EGOMANIACS WANT TO DIE IN 13-MAN CLUSTERFUCKS ON FOOT PLEASE DO IT ON YOUR OWN DIME AND NOT THE TAXPAYERS.

    (Ed note: Combat weight of the MTVL is 18,144 kg according to Jane’s Armour and Artillery)

  • Me: Nor is MTVL amphibious."

    SAYS WHO? (Ed Note: BAE Land Systems Division and Jane’s Armor and Artillery – the lack of the distinctive trim vane on both the prototypes and production vehicles is the dead giveaway.)

    I SENT YOU A PICTURE EARLIER AND ITS A MTVL GAVIN SWIMMING WITH A 25mm AUTOCANNON TURRET.

    DO YOU EVEN BOTHER TO OBTAIN FACTS OR DO YOU JUST POINTIFICATE ON YOUR PREJUDICES?

    (Ed Note: The picture sent was clearly of an AIFV – an infantry fighting vehicle based on M113 running gear but with a different hull and formerly used by the Dutch and Belgian armies – now largely retired. It was DEFINATELY not an MTVL.)

  • Me: It (2-man turret on an infantry fighting vehicle) dramatically increases situational awareness for the squad leader since he has much greater visibility in the turret than he does down in the hull with a large sector of his view blocked by the turret.

    Sparky: YOU ARE A FUKING LIAR AND AN IDIOT.

  • Me: Since EFV still manages to carry 18 dismounts along with its driver and 2-man turret crew I think the argument the troops are being squeezed out by the turret is spurious.

    Sparky: I THINK YOU ARE A LYING MOTHERFUKER.

  • Me: …troops in the field LOVE their Strykers. I have personally talked to many of them and the praise is universal. Interestingly enough, I have not heard of a single one harping for the-good-ol-days of the M-113.

    Sparky: WHAT TROOPS?

    THE TROOPS IN THE STRYKER TRUCK BRIGADES ARE LYING NARCISSIST EGOMANIACS LIKE YOU.

    IF THEY WERE RIDING IN MANURE WAGONS SUPPLIED BY THE MOTHER/DADDY OUTFIT THEY LEAN ON FOR THEIR SELF-ESTEEM THEY'D BE MAKING RATIONALIZATIONS: "ACTUALLY THE MANURE ACTS TO HIDE US FROM THERMAL DETECTION...AND AFTER AWHILE THE OLFACTORY SENSE STOP WORKING SO YOU DON'T NOTICE THE SMELL"

    NONE OF THEM HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER WITH FULLY MODERNIZED M113 GAVINS SO THEY HAVE NO IDEA "WHAT RIGHT LOOKS LIKE" (SORTA LIKE THE PROBLEM YOU HAVE). THEY HAVE NO STANDARD OF COMPARISON BUT WE DO KNOW THAT OLD TECHNOLOGY M113 GAVIN ACAVS KICKED ASS IN VIETNAM AND STRYKER TRUCK BRIGADES AND USMC TRUCK-INFANTRY UNITS ARE HAVING THEIR ASSES KICKED IN IRAQ. I GO WITH THE WINNERS, AND SO SHOULD YOU IF YOU KNEW WHAT WAS BEST!

    AIRBORNE!

    Mike


You get the idea. And yes, he really types all in caps like that.

And it certainly is not just me. A friend of mine, serving with a Stryker unit in Iraq and who also participated in the Ft Lewis M113A3/Stryker tests wrote to Sparky recently, questioning some claims Sparky made in one of his YouTube videos. In his reply Sparky called this serving combat veteran, who, unlike Sparky has actually fought for his country, a fucktard loser narcissist.

There are other examples too. This email exchange with Sparky was posted on the World Affairs Board.

As you can see it is not recommended to attempt to communicate with Sparky either to ask questions, make suggestions or to point out inaccuracies or inconsistencies in his arguments. That is why I have to waste my time with this web page. The man can not be reasoned with, but at least I can warn others and save them some grief.


Who is Mike Sparks?

Sparky has repeatedly refused to confirm any details of his military career. He claims to be an officer in a National Guard Special Forces unit but won’t identify which one (there are only 2 so far as I know and neither near where Sparky lives in North Caroline or Georgia). What we do know is that Sparky started his military career in the United States Marines were he reportedly washed out of USMC officer training, was told he would never be allowed to command men in combat and resigned some 7 months before his hitch was up after being offered a posting in supply. This subsequently led to a deep hatred of Marines and the Marine Corps that persists to this day – if you couldn’t tell from the e-mail exchange above.

After his rejection by the Marines, Sparky managed to achieve a commission as a first ieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve, maybe sometime around 1989-90 – a rank he still holds almost 2 decades later! He has since served with no particular distinction in, as best we can tell a National Guard parachute rigging unit.

Sparky informed me he has “been kicking ass in the U.S. military for 27 years. At around the same time Sparky informed an associate of mine that he is 34 years old. You do the math. One thing I am sure of – Sparky has not, so far as can be determined, ever kicked actual ass (seen combat) in those 27 years. Not in Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, the Gulf (I or II), Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan… you get the picture. Perhaps his genius can not be spared…

Sparky has claimed to have taken part in trials program between the M113A3 and Stryker ICV at Ft Lewis. Witnesses who were actually there never saw or heard of him and Sparky has refused to answer questions as to what capacity he was involved or who he was working for. Why they needed a reserve parachute rigger for these trials is hard to fathom.

Sparky operates under multiple aliases, which assist him in promoting his ideas and help sing his own praises. For example he goes by the names Sam Damon Jr. and his transsexual internet persona Carol Murphy to write glowing reviews of his own book and vicious reviews of books that don’t fit his worldview on Amazon.com. Here for example is Carol Murphy on Amazon praising Sam Damon Jr.’s glowing review of the book in which Sparky is credited as an editor:

As for Sam Damon Jr, God bless him, he can continue to review books and I will continue to enjoy reading his reviews!

What a narcissist!

At Defensetech.org Sparky posts as both himself and as Carol Murphy.

On YouTube Sparky rates his own videos under the names nomorenarcissism, Sealight007 and dynmicpara and probably a few others. On Wikipedia he has log-ins in the Talk section both under his own name and as IP 24.214.146.99.

Is this really the guy you want naming our armored vehicles?


Sparky’s antics have inspired some unique Gavin concepts:

The ever-popular “MerkaGavin”

The jack-of-all-trades “8-inch ARISGavin

Of course we have to have the “Airborne Gavin” – self-deploying no less.

If your going to bring the old 106 to the fight, you should do it right: OntosGavin

And finally, last but not least, Dreadnought Gavin


Fun but little known M113 facts