Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spanish Legion

This is coolbert:

Another military unit that distinguished itself during the Spanish Civil War was the Spanish Legion. A military unit modeled upon the French Foreign Legion, but having a distinctive Spanish flair to it.

"Founded as the Tercio de Extranjeros ("Foreigners Regiment"), it was originally intended as a Spanish equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, but in practice it recruited almost exclusively Spaniards."

Did not necessarily recruit "foreigners". For the most part recruited Spaniards to the ranks. The term "foreign" more correctly describes a Spanish military unit specifically designated to engage in combat on foreign shores, NOT a military unit consisting of non-Spaniards.

The Regulares [Berber tribesmen] and the Spanish Legion, when combined, formed a Spanish unit known as the Spanish Army of Africa.

"Together with the Regulares (Moorish colonial troops), the Legion made up the Spanish Army of Africa."

The Army of Africa did form an elite force, commanded by the most capable officers of the highest caliber, marked professional troops of ability.

"the Regulares and the Spanish Legion ("Tercio") emerged as the elite corps of the Spanish Army - long serving professionals on more or less continual active service, attracting the best officers."

Again, the Army of Africa was absolutely INSTRUMENTAL to the victory of the Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. Politically reliable, well-led, professional, devoted and inspired military units that more than pulled their weight.

"Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Yagüe the Army of Africa played an important part in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side . . . The Army of Africa remained the elite spearhead of the Nationalist armies throughout the Civil War."

The Spanish Legion still exists! And is still an elite unit with well trained troops, very similar to the French Foreign Legion. Used to some extent as part of the NATO force in Afghanistan and also as a protective force for the small enclaves Spain still occupies in North Africa.



This is coolbert:

I had forgotten about these guys. Berbers from the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. volunteers for the SPANISH ARMY, regular, full-time serving troops.

Akin to the goumiers [goum] of the French Army. The goum! A popular topic of mine for which a number of previous blog entries have been made.

See here and here for previous blog entries regarding the goum!

"Regulares (Spanish for "Regulars", officially called the Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas) was the name commonly used to designate the volunteer infantry and cavalry units of the Spanish Army recruited in Spanish Morocco. They consisted of Moroccans officered by Spaniards. These Moroccan troops played a major role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). They were known for their ability to traverse "dead ground" without being detected."

Soldiers, volunteers from the High Atlas mountains, renowned for their ability in mountain warfare, adept at camouflage, concealment, silent movement in mountainous terrain, often in the dark. Persons from poverty stricken backgrounds, accustomed to hard living, making for good soldiers. NOT above fighting and doing well in a no-quarters given, close-combat type of situation. Tough men who fight in a tough manner.

These goum like soldiers did play an important role in the Spanish Civil War! Were the spearhead for the rebellion initiated by Franco and what became known as the Nationalist forces. Berber tribesmen above parochial concerns, obedient to their officers, politically reliable troops NOT above cutting throats and taking ears as souvenirs on command!

"In 1936 the Army of Africa, [including] Moroccan regiments, joined the rebellion led by General Franco against the Republican Government in Madrid. . . . The professionalism (and undoubted brutality) of the Army of Africa played a major part in early Nationalist successes . . . they retained a key role as shock troops until the end of the Civil War and were conspicuous in Franco's victory parade in Madrid in 1939."

[the above particular extract of course taken from the wiki entry!]

There is something missing from the wiki entry that should have been included? Regulares [Muslims] , while digging entrenchments or constructing strong points, would unearth buried statues of the Virgin Mary. STATUES DATING TO THE VISIGOTH TIMES [EIGHTH CENTURY A.D.] AND ORIGINALLY BURIED BY CHRISTIANS TO PREVENT THEIR DESTRUCTION BY THE ISLAMIC INVADER.

The Nationalists were able to make a lot of propaganda - - favorable to their cause - - out of these discoveries! IT SEEMED TO SAY THAT GOD WAS ON THE SIDE OF FRANCO AND HIS FORCES - - EVEN IF A GOODLY PORTION OF THEM WERE MUSLIMS!!


Saturday, August 30, 2008


This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune yesterday:

In some quarters, this is going to raise some eyebrows?

Nation briefing

Death sparks fearful rumors at Army base.”

“. . . the discover of a body has rattled close-knit Ft. Stewart.”

“The discovery of a woman’s body inside a home in a subdivision on the Ft. Stewart Army base got the rumor mill going at full blast this week. Some soldiers’ wives were so frightened that they moved off the Georgia post, fearing a serial murderer or rapist.”

“. . . many husbands are member of the 3rd Infantry Division deployed to Iraq.”

“. . . Internet, videos and MySpace pages were used by military families to quickly disseminate information - - true or not - - from Ft. Stewart to Iraq, often causing soldiers to be distracted by problems at home."

“I [Col. Todd Buchs, the garrison commander] want to assure installation residents that there is no threat to their safety and well being.”

NO details are forthcoming! An investigation is in progress. This sort of thing, violence, much less murder, is very rare and uncommon on military bases. A lot less prevalent than in the civilian sector. Military posts tend to be quite peaceful, felony criminal behavior being the exception.

Off post, in towns directly adjacent to a military garrison, it often is a different story? Phenix City, Alabama, for instance. Located on the border between Alabama and Georgia, right next to Ft. Benning. Phenix City was [maybe still is?] known as a sordid place, pawnshops, bars, gambling dens, houses of ill-repute, etc. A town where many of the inhabitants PREYED UPON SERVICEMEN, THE LATTER OFTEN VENTURING WHERE THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE!!

"Phenix City was notorious during the 1940s and 1950s as being a haven for organized crime, prostitution, and gambling. As a result, the city had a negative reputation, and many people still associate this legacy with Phenix City"

On-base - - safe! Off-base - - not so safe!


Thursday, August 28, 2008


This is coolbert:

"Never attack on ground chosen by the enemy."-- Gonzalvo Fernandez de Cordoba, “El Gran Capitán”

Interesting episode on the travelogue program "Globe Trekker" the other night.

American backpacker is exploring the remote areas of Peru. Attempting to find surviving remnants of Inca culture, as it existed before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores.

Looking for places where the language [Quecha], villages, culture, festivals, etc., have remained more or less unchanged for the last five hundred years.

During this particular episode of GlobeTrekker, the Inca uprising of 1536, is mentioned. Inca warriors, confronted by the massed cavalry charges of the Spanish, DID use a variety of stratagems to deal with Spanish tactics that hitherto they [Inca] had no answer for.

Confrontations between the wedges of Spanish cavalry, horses and men both armored, and the massed formations of Inca warriors, men-a-foot, almost without exception resulted in disaster for the latter!

Cavalry, men in armor astride horses, wielding steel weapons, were just something the Inca warrior had not encountered before. A type of warfare outside the realm of their [Inca] experience. Before the Inca could devise a means of combating the Spanish, their Empire had been defeated and the Inca subjugated!

See this previous blog entry of mine. Suggested ways by which the Inca could have defeated the Spanish cavalry:

Means and methods, stratagems, some which WERE adopted by the Inca during their rebellion of 1536.

Means and methods to include:

* Using archers. Tribesmen, probably Jivaro Indians, from the jungle area east of the Andes Mountains. Missile firing troops engaging the Spanish at a distance. Normally a form of warfare eschewed by the American Indian as being unmanly. American Indians preferred the close-quarters style of combat.

* Fighting from hillsides, craggy areas, slopes. Negating the mobility of the Spanish cavalry.

* Digging pits in the ground. Creating a landscape over which the Spanish horsemen would be hesitant to ride. Those heavily laden horses, stepping into a pit, might become lame, hobbled, or break a leg.

* Flooding of fields. Again, creating a landscape which impeded the forward progress of a Spanish cavalry wedge.

[during the Globe Trekker program, it is mentioned that the Spanish horsemen at times fought with the water up to the bellies of their horses!]

None of this "combat engineering" of itself would have defeated the Spanish cavalry. NOR was it intended to. Was meant to make the Spanish disperse, deploy, slow them down, channelize the cavalry wedge. Make the Spanish conform to the plans of the Inca, and not the other way around.

Alas, for the Inca, the uprising of 1536 was too little, too late. The Spanish, with the help of numerous American Indian allies, defeated the game efforts of the subjugated Inca! The Inca was learning how to combat and fight the Spanish - - but NOT in time!!


Northwest Passage

This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

"World Briefing."


"Rule bolsters claim to Arctic waters."

"TUKTOYAKTUK - - Canada’s prime minister moved to firm up control of disputed Arctic waters Wednesday, announcing stricter registration requirements for ships sailing in the Northwest Passage."

"registration [with Canadian authorities for ships sailing the Northwest Passage] is currently voluntary."

"Most countries, including the United States, consider the Northwest Passage to be international waters."

"This land is my land [Canada] - - and the contiguous waters thereof too!!" - - Bert.

Waters - - such as the Northwest Passage, once NOT navigable most of year, NOW, because of global warming, will become ice–free most of the year and open to INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING!!

The exercise of Canadian dominion over what it perceives as its arctic territories IS a matter of concern to the authorities in Ottawa. As well it should be. The Arctic regions will become a point of contention in the not so far off future? Already we see signs of this? Russians placing a placard on the ocean bottom at the North Pole, etc.

Plan to see an increased Canadian military presence in those areas adjacent to arctic waters. Also expect more activity by the Canadian Rangers too. SOV PATS [sovereignty patrols] demonstrating occupation and control of lands sparsely populated.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This is coolbert: Who has not seen this picture [click on photo to see a large picture]? Purportedly of Georgian soldiers, taken prisoner during the on-going conflict between Russia and Georgia. POW's, manacled and blindfolded, sitting atop an armored personnel carrier, guarded by a young Russian troop.

Please note carefully that rifle the Russian soldier is carrying. A silenced sniper rifle. Ordinarily carried ONLY by Russian Spetsnaz [special purpose troops] and those of the Russian paratroopers [VDV]. A rifle firing a 9 mm caliber round, scoped, silenced, accurate out to about 200 meters.

The Russians are now NOT using the "steamroller" approach to warfare that is characteristically their forte'? NOT using prodigious numbers of manpower, material, war munitions, employed quite often in a manner heedless of losses. NOW using a nuanced, task-tailored battle force relying upon politically reliable units that consist NOT of raw conscripts but highly motivated soldiers?

This appears to be the case?



This is coolbert:

From the wiki entry for the Tambor class submarine, this caught my attention right away:

"One key to the 'T' [Tambor] 'class' success was the development of a compact diesel engine designed in concert with the American railroad industry, which enthusiastically embraced the benefits of diesel-powered locomotives (and was delighted by the Navy's willingness to fund the huge research and development costs associated with their creation)."

In a "diesel" railroad locomotive, the diesel engine runs a dynamo which provides electric power to an electric motor, the motor actually turning the wheels of the locomotive.

In a diesel powered submarine, while surfaced, the diesel powers the submarine provides power to the propeller shaft, all the while [on the surface] charging electric batteries to be used when the sub is submerged, an electric motor powering the vessel while underwater.

Prior to this concerted R & D effort, there WAS NOT a diesel engine of adequate size or reliability to power a diesel railroad locomotive OR a Tambor class submarine [1500 tons]!

[when you are speaking of having a submarine with an offensive capability able to carry the war to the homeland of the enemy, reliability is A MUST!!]
Both the civilian [railroads] and the military [navy] sectors had a KEEN interest in such [large size, reliability] a diesel engine, and were willing to cooperate with one another in a manner NOT normally seen!

This R & D effort was eminently successful! Six diesels being used PER each Tambor class sub and you had - - a winner. The railroad industry standardizing on the diesel locomotive - - the traditional coal-fired steam locomotives very quickly becoming a thing of the past!

[U.S. made diesel locomotives were so well made and designed to be maintained in such a manner that the locomotive manufacturing industry actually put themselves out of business!! The Electro-Motive Company being just such a concern!]

Today, the railroad industry of the U.S. is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Trans-shipment of container vessels cross-country, bound from the Asian manufacturer to European markets.

Here is an idea that can be implemented rather quickly, with great benefit to everyone! Again, a cooperative venture of the railroad industry and the military.


I can envision the railroad industry, the military, venture capitalists, and philanthropic billionaires [Bill Gates?] of proven patriotism, providing financing and the appropriate collaboration to create a nation-wide series of R & D laboratories and processing plants FOR THE MANUFACTURER OF BIO-DIESEL!! Providing a wholly independent and indigenous capacity to process and refine a fuel [diesel] vital to both parties [railroad, military].

This is all a no-brainer? A can-do NOW, no serious impediments existing? Will-power and a mover and shaker is all that is needed. I would like to think so!


Final Surrender

This is coolbert:

"lieutenants thing tactics, generals think logistics!"

Here is a review [mine] of a book review: [Thanks to the FrontPage web site]

"Eagles of the Ocean Sea"

By Christopher S. Carson.

The book being reviewed is:

"Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945" By Max Hastings.

Max Hastings, eminent historian, has detailed the final days of the Japanese Empire during World War Two [WW2].

The final days of the Japanese Empire in WW2 by definition is a subject much more complex than the surrender, unconditional, of Germany, during the same conflict. German territory was invaded, the German armies crushed, the will of the German populace to resist further broken. Victory as traditionally defined in warfare, but rarely achieved!! Victory over Japan in a manner NOT traditional. Land not invaded. Armies not defeated, will of the people to resist NOT broken.

According to Professor Hastings, the unconditional surrender of the Japanese during WW2 was primarily not due to:

* The dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [??!!]

* Entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war.

* Various defeats on land and sea suffered by the Japanese prior to and during 1945.

* Saturation and incendiary bombings of Japanese cities.

Rather - - instead - - consider the unconditional surrender of the Japanese during WW2 as being primarily due to:

The defeat and decision to surrender, unconditionally, by the Japanese was due to real, pragmatic concerns and a realization by the ruling militarists that without resupply from OVERSEAS, via merchant shipping, Japan COULD NOT CONTINUE FIGHTING AND WAS DOOMED TO DEFEAT!!

Japan was then [during WW2], as it is now, highly dependent upon the import of raw materials, including food! An import, that during the war, had been severely curtailed by the predation upon Japanese merchant shipping from American submarines. Submarine warfare primarily carried out by the Tambor class of submarine.


According to Hastings:

"Japan’s large population was massively dependent on imports from East Asia, most famously oil (in the Roosevelt Embargo of 1941 that some argue led to war with the United States), but also food, rubber, tin and nearly everything else. Without its merchant fleet, Japan—and its millions of soldiers gamely ensconced in China and the Western Pacific--was a husk of corn waiting to wither on the vine."

[I have repeated this a number of times and will repeat again. Roosevelt NEVER cut off the flow of OIL from the U.S. to Japan prior to Pearl Harbor. The supply of REFINED AVIATION GASOLINE WAS CURTAILED!! NOT the flow of raw, unrefined oil. Aviation gasoline not being sold to Japan subsequent to the Japanese saturation bombing of Chinese cities in earnest.]

"With the submariners’ destruction of the enemy merchant fleet, the vast forces increasingly arrayed behind Kyushu’s fortifications would surely have turned, in a matter of months, into ghosts, driven mad by hunger, thirst and incessant aerial bombings."

And it cannot be forgotten that an adjunct to the American submarine campaign was the dropping of naval mines in Japanese waters by B-29 bombers in Japanese home waters! This campaign of aerial destruction, Operation Starvation, as it was called, resulted in the sinking of whatever Japanese merchant fleet remained!

"In what was helpfully named Operation Starvation, their mission was to mine the waters around Japan with thousands of magnetic anti-ship bombs and acoustic fuses. For a time, these also had an extreme impact on the remainder of the enemy merchant marine."

An American submarine warfare campaign to a degree planned and prepared for prior to the outbreak of WW2. A campaign to which the Tambor class submarine played a crucial and defining role.

"the U.S. navy began to see the potential for extended offensive submarine operations. Submarine operations with the fleet required boats each with a large cruising radius and a relatively high speed so that they could intercept and stay with their prey."

A pelagic [deep-water], long-range submarine [Tambor class] that could be used as an offensive weapon, attacking enemy shipping far from home base.

The concept prior to WW2 was for the American submarine to act in a defensive role. A coastal hugger used defensively. American naval planners did conceive of an OFFENSIVE ROLE for the U.S. submarine force in case of a war with Japan, carrying the fight to the enemy in the home waters of Japan!! Large, long range vessels with offense in mind, not defense. Such a submarine was the Tambor class of vessels.

"Only 1.6 percent of the US wartime Navy, or 16,000 men, served in its submarines. But this small, brave and hyper-competent elite brought 55 percent of all Japan’s shipping to the bottom of the Pacific. This translated to 1,300 vessels, or 6.1 million tons of merchant and naval shipping—a ravaging of unprecedented proportions and probably the true death-knell of the Japanese Empire."

"The US submarine war’s real period of effectiveness was relatively short in duration, perhaps only one year, but this was not by design. While the 1,500 [ton] Tambor class sub was the best in the world, with its priceless (to the crews) air-conditioning and its range of 10,000 miles, plus an ability to crash-dive in 35 seconds . . . the Tambor became a war-winning weapon, driving Japan’s bulk imports down by 40 percent in 1944 alone."

An American submarine campaign, however, that was NOT without heavy loss:

"The hard fact is that a whopping 22 percent of all American sailors who fought in Pacific submarines died from combat and accident, or 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men. As Hastings points out, this was the 'highest loss rate of any branch of the wartime US armed services.'"

I would stress that the Japanese prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs WERE considering surrender. The term "surrender" being very loosely defined. More of a cessation to hostilities. A negotiated surrender with conditions - - terms, etc. Terms that would not have been accepted by the allies.

"At no time did any member of the ruling military-dominated junta, however vocal in his desire for negotiations with the Americans, seriously propose anything resembling something the Allies could accept. After four years of appalling Allied combat casualties and national mobilization, the Allies could hardly be expected to sign off on a cessation of hostilities that allowed the ruling gangsters to remain in power, immune from war crimes prosecution, and still holding on to its dreadfully denuded and ill-gotten Manchuria."

Conditional cessation of hostilities [not even surrender?] would have consisted of:

* Ruling Japanese militarists left in power. [no war crimes trials either or punishment for perpetrators thereof!]

* Japanese military left intact to the extent it still existed.

* Overseas possessions and colonies still under Japanese control [Korea, Formosa, Paracels, Dagalet]

And - - it should not be forgotten that - - something less than unconditional surrender would have prolonged the duration of the war with disastrous consequences for millions of ASIANS and also the hundreds of thousands [excess of 300,000?] allied POW and civilian internees still being held in captivity by the Japanese! MOST OF THOSE INTERNEES WERE ON THEIR LAST LEGS AND WOULD HAVE DIED IF THE JAPANESE HAD NOT SURRENDERED WHEN THEY DID AND IN THE MANNER WITH WHICH THEY DID!!

The submarine campaign against Japan, as successful as it was, has lessons that can be used in the current anti-terrorist war, the focus of which is the Al Qaeda group of villains?

"The point is not to expect the enemy’s will to be broken, but to seek his fighting ability to be broken. This was done by the American submariners to a superlative degree in the final year of the war. In our current fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism, our war planners would do well to keep this lesson in mind. It is not that we can persuade the terrorists to give up, or to like us, or any such naïve dream. We must erase what fuels them—their money sources, and their sources of materiel, and their dependency on electronic communications. Do all these, and you keep Manhattan another day." [and keep up this pressure relentlessly, without let, unceasingly, as long as it takes, NO pity shown at all!!!]

"The obvious lesson of the Pacific War, implicitly proffered by Mr. Hastings, is to find your enemy’s weak spot and crush it with everything you have."

The Japanese were brought to their knees by the American submarine offensive - - the final coup de grace to end the war being the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Makes sense to me.

"Hit him as fast as you can, where it hurts him the most, and when he ain't lookin'!!" - - the principles of war, as enunciated by a British Sergeant Major to a then Cadet William Slim.


Forbidden Words

This is coolbert:

This is all NOT a coincidence. Part of an organized world-wide effort to "clean" up the global-war-against-terror [GWOT] lexicon? Many readers are already familiar with this?

1. "'Jihadist' booted from government lexicon"

Thanks here to Robert Spencer and JihadWatch!

"'Jihadist' booted from government lexicon." A reliable source has informed me [Spencer] that Condoleeza Rice has approved a new lexicon for State Department usage, absolutely forbidding the use of the terms "jihad" and "jihadist" by any State Department official."

"'jihadists' or 'mujahedeen,' according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like 'Islamo-fascism' is out, too."

Salafist, takfir - - those terms too are "out"? Forbidden words that can no longer be uttered!

2. "Denmark tries to clean up terror talk "

"COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Danish Intelligence Agency has introduced new guidelines for discussing terrorism, advising authorities to avoid words like jihad and martyr. "

3. "What Do You Call a Terror(Jihad)ist?"

"The word 'jihad' means to 'strive' or 'struggle,' and in the Muslim world it has traditionally been used in tandem with 'fi sabilillah' (“in the path of God”)."

Jihad is recognized to have two meanings and forms. The lesser jihad, meaning war as the term war is generally and commonly understood, and the greater jihad, the latter applying to the individual Muslim striving to achieve moral perfection in their own life.

Persons, apologists [?] for the jihadi, but mildly vociferous to say the least, are constantly lecturing "westerners" as to the "true" meaning of the word jihad? All part of the continuing attempt to portray Islam as purely a "peaceful" religion devoid of strive, friction, and conflict!

"Westerners", persons such as myself, can fully understand and appreciate the semantic difference here. Two valid meanings for the same word, depending upon the context. This is NOT rocket science.

However, surely there is no one that would deny that from the seventh century A.D., onward, THEIR HAS BEEN A MILITANT ASPECT TO ISLAM!! Mohammad was a war chief, military leader, and actually led his forces into combat. This is undeniable. The first three generations of Muslims, to include the generation of Mohammad, did spread the Islamic belief through military conquest. Surely no one would deny this? The Byzantines, the Visigoths, the Persians, etc., all fell victim to the military expeditions of Islamic armies. This too is undeniable!

Someone has suggested an alternative to jihadist or jihadi? YES! Singer and Noor [P. W. Singer is a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Elina Noor is an analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia.] recommend:

"what terms better describe [al] Qaeda members and other violent extremists? 'Muharib' or the more colloquial 'hirabi' or 'hirabist' would be good places to start. 'Hirabah,' the base word, is a term for barbarism or piracy. Unlike 'jihad,' which grants honor, 'hirabah' brings condemnation; it involves unlawful violence and disorder."

Piracy? Members and adherents to Al Qaeda should be considered to be in the same league as pirates? Pirates traditionally have been subject to the harshest of punishments, death by hanging the common and ordinary punishment! Those accused of piracy are said to have committed crimes so egregious and offensive that any and all means can be used to combat the miscreants, the normal safeguards of law not applying to the perpetrators.

My own personal perception is that the message of Noor and others is mis-directed. Rather than trying to educate the "west", approach those adherents of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and tell them, in no uncertain terms - - STOP!! As plain, pure and as simple as that!