1980s drug war: WWII gear used

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(The WWII-veteran USCGC Cherokee on a 1980s narcotics patrol.)

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(A demilitarized WWII-veteran C-46 Commando which crashed while in use as a smuggling plane during the 1980s.)

The US Coast Guard was formed (as the Revenue Cutter Service) on 4 August 1790. The Posse Comitatus law of 1878 restricts use of the American military in law enforcement. However the US Coast Guard is specifically exempted from any restrictions, and in fact law enforcement is one of it’s core missions.

During the Cold War the US Coast Guard’s funding came from the Department Of Transportation, not the Pentagon, and money just to buy fuel was at a premium, let alone new construction. The fleet during President Carter’s term was in a bottleneck; as all Prohibition-era cutters were gone, but new modern hulls were not being launched fast enough to replace them. Some aged WWII ships were pressed into service as cutters.

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The stahlhelm in Latin America after WWII

Forever associated with the WWII Wehrmacht, the stahlhelm (literally, ‘steel helmet’) enjoyed surprisingly long use in Latin America after WWII, up until the present time.

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(Bolivian soldiers with stahlhelm M35 helmets and M16 assault rifles.)

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(Chilean soldiers in 2009 wearing the stahlhelm M35.)

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(Late 1950s Dominican Republic soldiers with stahlhelm M53 helmets, NATO-standard FN FAL assault rifles, and American M1936 belts from WWII Lend-Lease.)

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Lanchester submachine gun: post-WWII use

Great Britain’s Lanchester submachine gun was a WWII firearm largely irrelevant to the outcome of the war, but which had a surprisingly long career afterwards.

lanchesterThe Lanchester (named after it’s designer, George Lanchester of Sterling Armaments Company) came about as a “crash” program in 1940. After the Dunkirk evacuation but before Lend-Lease deliveries picked up, the British military was critically short of small arms including submachine guns. At the same time, the Royal Air Force was concerned that, if Germany were to proceed with an invasion of England, that it’s airfields might come under ground attack. The Royal Navy was also looking for a new submachine gun to equip watchstanders and boarding parties.

lanchesteraustraliawwii(A boatswain of the Royal Australian Navy with a Lanchester during WWII.)

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