Friday, December 31, 2010


This is coolbet:

"the kingdom [Saudi Arabia] no longer
needs to build its own nuclear arsenal
because it has acquired a source of ready
made arms to be available on demand."

Thanks to the Israeli DEBKAfile here is a startling and alarmist headline that make you sit up and take notice instantly.

Saudi Arabia NOW has nuclear weapons on-call, on-demand, courtesy of the Pakistani?

"Pakistan makes two nuclear weapons available to Saudi Arabia"

A retaliatory capability in response, ahead of the game, if and when the Iranian does succeed in developing and fielding their own nuclear arsenal.

"30 Dec. Saudi Arabia has jumped ahead of Iran by obtaining the use of two Pakistani nuclear bombs or guided missile warheads. DEBKAfile's Gulf sources believe the weapons are ready for delivery upon royal summons in Pakistan's nuclear air base at Kamra in the northern district of Attock."

The delivery systems, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, are already in place and only waiting for the warheads to be fitted, if and when needed?

"Already delivered is a quantity of Pakistan's Ghauri-II missile with an extended range of 2,300 kilometers. They are tucked away in silos in the underground city of Al-Sulaiyil, south of the capital Riyadh."

Delivery and deployment can be accomplished in the proverbial heartbeat? The protocols have been agreed upon, the arrangements made, everyone having "made-ready", waiting for the "word"!

"At least two giant Saudi transport planes sporting civilian colors and no insignia are parked permanently at Pakistan's Kamra base with air crews on standby. They will fly the nuclear weapons home upon receipt of a double coded signal from King Abdullah and the Director of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdel Aziz. A single signal would not be enough."

[During the Cold War, West Germany had deployed and in the field American Pershing missiles, sans warheads. The atomic warheads during peacetime in American possession, to be GIVEN to the Germans in time of heightened crisis or outright war with the Soviets! A nation having nuclear warheads "on-call" is therefore not without precedent?]


Thursday, December 30, 2010


This is coolbert:

"Gen'l Pemberton:

"You can expect no help from this side of the river.
Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you
can attack the same point on the enemy's lines.
Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion.
I have sent some caps (explosive devices).
I subjoin a despatch [sic] from General Johnston."

This is so very cool!!

Made some minor headlines the other day.

A secret message, encrypted, from the time of the American Civil War, ONLY NOW decrypted.

A message to Pemberton, the commander of the embattled Confederate garrison at Vicksburg. The garrison eventually surrendering en masse, a terrible defeat for the Confederacy, the southern states in rebellion cut into two pieces as a result, the capitulation occurring on the same day as the climactic defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. A one-two punch that the south never recovered from.

"Civil War Message in a Bottle Decoded: No Help Coming"

"AP RICHMOND, Va. - A glass vial stopped with a cork during the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago."

"A retired CIA code breaker . . . cracked the code in several weeks. "

"A Navy cryptologist independently confirmed Gaddy's interpretation."

"The code [actually a cipher] is called the 'Vigenere cipher,' a centuries-old encryption . . . The code was widely used by Southern forces during the Civil War"

This is not a cryptographic system that would have posed a problem for the Union cryptologic personnel, if and when the message had been captured. Union cryptologic personnel during the American Civil War were VERY GOOD. In contrast, Confederate cryptologic personnel were VERY POOR!

[I speak in a modern manner when I refer to cryptologic personnel. NO SUCH term was understood during the period of the American Civil War. The same persons today called "signallers" also performed the task of decrypting captured enemy messages that were in cipher!!]

Pemberton too was reviled at the time as an incompetent commander! Much was made of the fact that Pemberton was OF NORTHERN BIRTH AND NOT A TRUE SOUTHERNER! Fact of the matter was that Pemberton faced an impossible situation for which there was no amelioration. Besieged troops, a garrison and towns people starving, a highly competent and aggressive Union commander [Grant] AND NOT ONE WHIT OF HELP AVAILABLE FROM ANY DIRECTION!! Pemberton was faced with surrender being the only option!

"As is often the case, those farthest from the scene of the action
tend to make the most noise, it being much easier to criticize
someone else for choosing certain death by starvation or bullet
than it is to face such a fate oneself."



Prisoner X?

This is coolbert:

This is BIG?

The "retired" Iranian Revolutionary Guard general officer Asgari has committed suicide in an Israeli prison.

Held incommunicado for a number of years, finally ending his own life? So it is reputed.

"Iranian general killed in Israeli jail?"

"A source says retired Iranian general Ali-Reza Asgari may have been killed by Mossad in an Israeli prison"

"There have been 'new and astonishing developments in the case of Prisoner X,' . . . a source within the 'inner circle' of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has identified the prisoner as the Iranian general [Asgari]."

"Asgari may have been murdered, and not committed suicide as reports of the prisoner's mysterious death suggested."

I can recall very well this case when it first was made public. This high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards general officer, reputed to be now "retired", disappeared while on the trip to Istanbul, presumably on "business". All sorts of speculation was bandied about at the time. To include:

* He had defected to the Americans.
* He had defected to the Israeli.
* He was kidnapped by the Americans/Israeli/Iranian.


The whereabouts of the man were then [2007] and still is a mystery. Prisoner X is Asgari? Who knows.

My instantaneous and intuitive reaction to this case was - - RON ARAD! The missing IAF airman shot down decades ago now over Lebanon and supposedly held captive for many years by the Iranian.

The Israeli had kidnapped Asgari to either learn what exactly had happened to the disappeared Israeli airman [Arad], or were holding Asgari as a bargaining chip. "you want Asgari - - we want Arad"!

NOW, Asgari is gone? This is all speculative.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This is coolbert:

Thanks in this case to RIA Novosti and the tip from Jungle Trader.

How so very apropos. I was just blogging about this the other day.

The Soviet era "Night Witches".

Soviet female combat aviators from the era of World War Two [WW2].

Flying bi-planes at NIGHT over German positions, dropping bombs, creating havoc, waking the sleeping and tired enemy, making a lot of aggravation for the invader.

"A tale of two night witches and one war"

"The Soviet Union’s all-female air regiments flew more than 30,000 missions and dropped 3,000 tons of bombs along the Eastern Front in World War II. At home they were known as Stalin’s Falcons, but terrified German troops called them the Night Witches."

"The daredevil female Soviet pilots flew flimsy wood-and-canvas Polikarpov Po-2 planes against the better-armed, better-equipped enemy during one of the longest and most brutal campaigns of the Second World War"

"The material effects of these missions may be
regarded as insignificant, but the psychological
effect on German troops was much more noticeable.
They typically attacked by complete surprise in
the dead of night, denying German troops sleep
and keeping them constantly on their guard,
contributing yet further to the already exceptionally
high stress of combat on the Eastern front."

YES INDEED! Flying a biplane, the Po-2 into combat, and at night time, NOT just missions for scouting, surveillance, transport, etc. COMBAT!!

The "Night Witches", as with all these female combat aviators, have my greatest respect and admiration.

* Valerie Andre.
* Anna Yegarova.
* American WASPS.

Bully for them all.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This is coolbert:

"One of the most charismatic guys you will ever meet in your life.
But, he's very calm, cool and not scary"
- - Noman speaking of Osama bin Laden.

Thanks to a variety of sources and the tip from Robert of JihadWatch we have the pronouncements of Noman Benotman. A one-time jihadist who has now taken the peaceful route, living alive and well in London, "reformed"

Noman Benotman, a/k/a Abu Muhammed Al-Libi [Uncle Muhammed the Libyan].

Noman meeting with and advising Osama to abandon the path of jihad, this all prior to 9/11. Osama NOT anticipating the response of the U.S. to the degree that occurred, full and decisive action on the part of the American military NOT thought to be a "possible" by the leadership of Al Qaeda.

Further decisive intervention and war in Iraq ALSO not even anticipated! Osama having thought the U.S. to be a "paper tiger" without resolve. Such are the perceptions that lead to war and widespread devastation!

"Telling bin Laden that jihad against West was a total failure shocked and upset him: Ex-Libyan jiha"

Read too the "open letter" as written by Noman and addressed to OBL!

"An open letter to Osama bin Laden"

In the Odyssey, the name Noman of course was used by Ulysses to confound the Cyclops. Noman and his group has now abandoned the path of violent jihad? Noman certainly does not seem to be doing badly for a one-time insurrectionist. Even prospering! We are all in the wrong business?



This is coolbert:

Some more info, speculative, on the Stuxnet virus purported to have infected the industrial computers as used by the Iranian nuclear industry. In particular, those centrifuges used to process and extract the fissionable uranium as would be needed for a gun-type nuclear weapon.

The source in this case the Jerusalem Post, thanks to the tip from Ken:

"Stuxnet may have destroyed 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz"

"Malicious computer virus accelerated, wrecked motors and may have decommissioned uranium enrichment centrifuges, think tank concludes."

"The Stuxnet virus that has infected Iran’s nuclear installations may have been behind the decommissioning of 1,000 centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility earlier this year"

Many thousands of such centrifuges operating
in concert needed to process the uranium ore,
extraction of U-235 in sufficient quantity
and PURITY the goal!! The process being
laborious and time-consuming.
This particular photo is NOT of the
Iranian facility in question!

It is believed by some experts that Stuxnet has been active, insidious like, for over two years now, the problem only recently having been discovered. MORE THAN ONE NATION BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE "ROT", THE INTERNAL DISRUPTION OF THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR INDUSTRY HIGH ON THE AGENDA OF SOME PARTIES!!

"at least two countries were behind Stuxnet . . . according to a new analysis of the malicious"

Malicious, pervasive, effective, insidious!! Words alone cannot describe!

The centrifuge method to extract the fissionable uranium needed for either reactors OR a bomb was a process not pursued by the Manhattan Project. The technology at the time was not adequate for the task, i.e., alloy metals of the type and quantity needed were not available.

Too, the Jerusalem Post has "inside sources" that are giving the "inside story"?

Read here the entire description of the centrifuge process as used to process uranium ore, the extraction of fissionable material the end product.


Monday, December 27, 2010


This is coolbert:

Thanks to a comment to the Military Analysis blog, we have a link to another blog - - devoted strictly to the topic of the State Defense Forces [SDF]:

"Militia, Zombies and Cheese"

"Pertinent and impertinent commentary on the state of the various State Defense Forces."

"Currently, 23 states and territories have modern militias. As of 2005, these militias had a force strength of approximately 14,000 individuals nationwide"

ALL states and territories need these military entities. WHY don't all states and territories have them now? Seems they are an advantage, a valuable asset both in time of peace and war!

As stressed from an entry - - the SDF units have "two important advantages":

* Able to respond to crisis in a very timely manner, far faster and better than anyone else, AND KNOW THE TERRITORY!

"can be called up quickly and easily in times of need."

* Posse Comitatus restrictions DO NOT apply to SDF units!

"SDFs are exempt from the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal military forces from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities within the United States . . . SDFs permit a state military response uninhibited by legal obstacles."

Too bad my home state of Illinois does not have a SDF capacity. I might be tempted to join, health matters not withstanding. The body is weak but the spirit is still strong!



This is coolbert:

“It’s like after all the years it’s flown, the U-2 is in its prime again,”

“It can do things that nothing else can do.”

The Black Lady of espionage. The U-2!

Thanks to the New Duranty Times [New York Times], the full-dope on the famous American "spy plane", the U-2, alive and well and thriving in Afghan.

Well, at least flying 12 hour missions in support of American and NATO forces fighting the Taliban. The renovated, updated and improved U-2, still performing yeoman work, almost sixty years since the original design hit the drawing boards.

"U-2 Spy Plane Evades the Day of Retirement"

"The U-2 spy plane, the high-flying aircraft that was often at the heart of cold war suspense, is enjoying an encore."

"Because of updates in the use of its powerful sensors, it has become the most sought-after spy craft in a very different war in Afghanistan."

"Now the U-2 and its pilots, once isolated in their spacesuits at 70,000 feet, are in direct radio contact with the troops in Afghanistan. And instead of following a rote path, they are now shifted frequently in mid flight to scout roads for convoys and aid soldiers in firefights."

The U-2, flying missions out of some air base somewhere in the Persian Gulf area, in contact with the troops on the ground, NOT isolated and merely taking pictures, on-call when needed, able to deploy to areas where an emergency exists!

The U-2 first flying in 1955, the design of the basic airframe having to been placed on the drawing boards earlier than that, a most remarkable aircraft with a most remarkable history.


At least until the first operational flights of the U-2, it was said by the former director of the CIA, Richard Helms, that:

"For a ten year period beginning in 1945, it would have
been better if American intelligence had done nothing"!

[American intelligence across the board during that ten year period was duped on repeated occasions by the Soviets, believing all sorts of disinformation that was deliberately fed to confuse and obscure!]

That ten year period ending with the first flight of the U-2.

The Black Lady then, the Black Lady now, a success!!

Those pilots of the U-2, a very select bunch, also get some sort of award or recognition that is almost astronaut wings? Outstanding!


Friday, December 24, 2010

State Defense Forces.

This is coolbert:

This was very startling. So much so that it just amazes. I thought I had a good handle on this stuff, but this just goes to prove we are only dealing with a small part of the whole, whatever level of expertise and knowledge we are at.

State Defense Forces [SDF] .

A military organization, existing solely at the state level within the federal structure of the United States, a military force unique to each individual sovereign state of the Union [United States], strictly under the control and beholden to the executive branch [Governor] of each state, exempt from federal control in all circumstances, as specified by law!!


* Active duty forces of the U.S. [federal service]
* National Guard. [state service - - peace time], federal service - - war time]
* "Militia". [as understood under U.S. Code Ten.]

"State Defense Forces (SDF) (also known as State Guards, State Military Reserves, or State Militias) in the United States are military units that operate under the sole authority of a state government; they are not regulated by the National Guard Bureau nor are they part of the Army National Guard of the United States. State Defense Forces are authorized by state and federal law and are under the command of the governor of each state."

State Defense Forces NOT existing in all states, but existing in MOST states.

[my home state of Illinois, for instance, does not have a State Defense Force. ]

NOT necessarily of significant size or being combat arms in nature, but still an organized body of troops having a potential for military duty of some sort. Soldiers constituting the various units of the SDF having to buy their own uniforms and provide their own weaponry in many cases?

More importantly, it is a surprise that such units exist outside of the federal structure, totally independent?

Anyone else ever heard of the SDF before and are familiar with them?



This is coolbert:

Here thanks to the Internet please read the entire series as originally printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Killing Pablo".

As originally written by Mark Bowden, published in 2000, the story of the hunt, ultimately successful, for the notorious and very dangerous Latin American drug kingpin and mass murderer, Pablo Escobar.

A thirty-five part serial with conclusion that makes for interesting reading.

"Killing Pablo: Chapters One Through Seventeen"

Chapters Eighteen through conclusion.

Pablo, the dangerous, elusive and MOST wanted fugitive in the world, finally cornered and killed in a shoot-out with the paramilitary unit of the Colombian police, the Search Bloc.

The life of Pablo finally terminated by Search Bloc, the intensive hunt also including:

* American Delta Force operatives/Special Forces/Navy SEALs.

* American Centra Spike airborne electronic warriors.

* American CIA/DEA informants and operatives.

* Los Pepes. Colombian nationals devoted to the death and destruction of Pablo and his organization. Described as right-wing militia with revenge as the main motivation for their actions.

The threat as posed by Pablo not ever being overestimated. The man a danger to the entire structure of ordered life in Colombian AND an international menace as well, through his participation in the drug trade.

Pablo however, having the image in his own mind of being a "Robin Hood" character, indeed, many in Colombian society seeing him in exactly this way!!

Conventional ways and means of combating the danger as posed by Pablo not suitable, paramilitary and military forces required to eliminate "Robin"!

One thing is certainly made manifest when reading this serial. The BIG FOOTPRINT approach in locating and bringing to justice a fugitive such as Pablo does NOT work.

Lots of aircraft, troops, gringo advisers/technicians ONLY ALERTS the fugitive that measures are a-foot - - it then becoming even MORE difficult to find and apprehend/kill the miscreant.

This serial will take you a long time to read, but it is worth it. And thanks again to Mark Bowden, the author!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


This is coolbert:

Found this stuff serendipitously. The type of material that often makes persons scratch their heads and wonder what is going on here. Especially those prone to listen to and believe conspiracy theories.

War games - - simulated disasters, military preparedness "drill"! "Drills" and exercises the purpose of which was to actually simulate for the participants the events that unfolded on 9/11!

"War Games"

"Multiple War Games Were Being Conducted on 9/11/01"

"Several different war game exercises were in play on the day of the attack. The limited public information on these exercises shows that they simulated the following events":

* "Hijackings"
* "Attacks on buildings using aircraft as missiles"
* "Attacks using toxic or infectious substances"

Please note carefully the graphic accompanying this blog entry. Was the logo for one of the "exercises". The WTC in the cross-hairs! Very startling!

What are we to make of all this? Unforeseen [?] events occurring as they did on 9/11 were beyond comprehension, or were they?



This is coolbert:

This blog entry is borderline germane? Taken within the context of World Trade Center [WTC] and 9/11, some proper comparisons can be made. Thanks to the Chicago Tribune.

"100 years since Stockyards fire raged"

"Remembering Chicago's 'forgotten tragedy'"

One hundred years ago TODAY, a disastrous fire at the Chicago Union Stockyards, resulting in the deaths of twenty-one [21 firefighters, including the Fire Marshal [the top firefighter in the city, today called the Fire Commissioner].

"killing 21 instantly, including Horan [Fire Marshal]. Three civilians were also crushed."

"The furious fire that raged 100 years ago Wednesday ravaged the . . . Union Stockyards . . . stood as the single greatest loss of professional big-city firefighters in U.S. history until Sept. 11, 2001."

A building a-fire, collapsing, trapping underneath those fighting the blaze, the loss of life horrific, unprecedented, and UNTIL 9/11, NOT surpassed!!

Compare that twenty-one firefighters lost - - 1910 - - with the three hundred forty three [343 lost at WTC, the figures from the latter event [WTC] being just staggering, almost incomprehensible:

" [a total of] 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters [lost], including one FDNY Fire Chaplain, Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge"

OVER fifteen times as many firefighters lost at WTC, 9/11, than at the second most catastrophic firefighting incident, from 100 years ago now.

That surely places WTC in the proper perspective, does it not?

See here a tribute to all those of the FDNY that died that tragic and never-to-be-forgotten day!

And this too! ONLY today, two Chicago firefighters killed in another building collapse, on the south side, another tragic day for the CFD!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here is another woman combat aviator of which Bert has the greatest admiration and respect for.

Valerie Andre. French woman combat aviator from the era of the First Indo-China War. French Union forces versus the communist Viet Minh.

Valerie, NOT only a pilot performing helicopter rescue and medical evacuations, BUT ALSO a surgeon, and parachutist!!

This woman could do it all. And do it very well too!

"Captain Valérie André would rapidly become famous. An Army surgeon and qualified parachutist and pilot who had arrived in Indochina in June 1949, she evacuated 165 in 129 helicopter missions flown in 1952-1953 (out of a total of 496 fixed-wing and helicopter missions during her tours) . . . [during one mission] Captain André then flew into Tu Vu despite heavy mist and anti-aircraft fire. There, she triaged the casualties, operated on the most pressing cases and then flew the urgent wounded back to Hanoi, two at a time. In 1976, she became the first woman in the French Army to rise to the rank of general."

All these women aviators during war time, again, have my greatest admiration. To include:

* Captain Valerie Andre.
* Major Anna Yegarova.
* The Soviet "Night Witches".
* American WASPS.

What I as a young man always wanted to do, but never did, these women accomplished!

And in the case of Valerie, with typical French aplomb and panache!!

Tres bien!!

[my vision being what it is, I was never able to pass a flight physical! Also, the photo at the very start of this blog entry actually shows Captain Valerie at the controls of a Hiller helicopter during a rescue mission!]


Sunday, December 19, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here with more awesome and very cool technological stuff that has a military application. Thanks to the Telegraph as well in this case.

"New US military computer made from nearly 2,000 PlayStation consoles"

"The United States Air Force has transformed almost 2,000 Japanese Sony PlayStation consoles into a powerful supercomputer suitable for military tasks. "

"The new computer, which has been named the Condor, was created from the gaming devices . . . in a bid to create a cost effective and green alternative to conventional technology."

About 2,000 Sony PlayStations, conventional computer devices designed as toys for kids, linked and converted into a supercomputer with some pretty good potential. A supercomputer crunching numbers for the USAF - - military applications. AND EXTREMELY COST EFFECTIVE! "Green" too!

Someone was really on the ball here, had a good idea, and good work has been done.

Among the superlatives of this project - - Condor:

* "Believed to be the 34th most powerful supercomputer in the world"

* "consumes less than a tenth of the power of comparable supercomputers"

* "total cost of the Condor system was approximately $2 million, which is a cost savings of between 10 and 20 times for the equivalent capability"

* "Such capability exceeds any other interactive supercomputer currently used by the Department of Defence."

Extraordinary and good work USAF!



This is coolbert:

Thanks to the Mail Online a description of a laboratory apparatus, a rail gun, that while still is in the experimental stage, offers great promise.

A quantum leap forward for the U.S. Navy in naval gunnery. Allows - - a capability, hitherto impossible, if and when ever deployed.

"The gun that can destroy an enemy 100 miles away and fire bullets at eight times the speed of sound"

"It will obliterate a target 100 miles away through sheer power using a bullet fired at eight times the speed of sound."

"That is, if everything goes according to plan. This super gun has been described as the most powerful in the world after tests at a U.S. Navy firing range."

Right now, only an apparatus, a laboratory experiment, but workable as conceived.

ONLY an experimental apparatus, AWESOME when fired, but NOT to be deployed with the fleet at any time soon.

* Ten years at the least before deployment.
* Over $200 million spent already during development.
* NOT capable in the present form of rapid fire. [5 minutes to charge the apparatus between "shots"!]

Naval gunfire, ship versus ship, mano-a-mano battle at sea, in the old style, has been done away with by the modern naval aviation combat aircraft and the current versions of cruise missiles [Harpoon and Tomahawk]? To that extent, this "gun" will NOT be high on the agenda of the admirals - - NOT cost effective compared to other weapons systems?

Shoot em' up, bang-bang, your dead!


Saturday, December 18, 2010


This is coolbert:

It is reputed that during his military career Alexander of Macedon [The Great] was wounded, at one time or another, but every weapon known to man.

All weapons, to include the DART!

The dart, a weapon greatly resembling an arrow, but thrown by HAND. Weighted at the head for extra striking power, carried by the infantryman or peltist.

"Darts are missile weapons, designed to fly such that a sharp, often weighted point will strike first. They can be distinguished from javelins by fletching (i.e., feathers on the tail) and a shaft that is shorter and/or more flexible, and from arrows by the fact that they are not of the right length to use with a normal bow."

Flung at the enemy by HAND, the troop quite often employing some sort of device to gain a mechanical advantage. Devices to include:

* The atlatl. [throwing stick]
* Rope.
* Sling. [Greek version]

"The kestrosphendone, or kestros, was a sling-launched dart, invented in 168 BC for the Third Macedonian War, probably similar to hand-thrown darts of the period. Casting one (according to surviving records) requires a specially designed sling with two unequal loops"

Darts individually or even in bundles often flung at enemy troops with siege machines of some sort.

[it should be noted that the use of some sort of mechanical device of whatever type to gain an advantage when throwing a dart results in a remarkable and even awesome performance that has to be seen to be believed! Even the most modest of darts becomes a deadly weapon that can inflict great damage and kill]

The Roman infantryman in many cases carried darts [plumbata] as an ordinary part of his arsenal, mass produced weaponry with a pretty good potential for wounding and killing the enemy!

"the plumbata, was weighted with lead. In some legions, five of these were carried inside each soldier's shield; reconstructions show a range of 70 m (77 yd) or more when thrown overhand"

Weighted with lead. For increased striking power. Where ever the Roman legions marched, great was the desire to find a source of lead. For smelting into weights [glandes] either flung by sling-men [peltists] or incorporated into the design of a plumbata. Plumb in Latin meaning LEAD!

See here at the web site: "How to ... Make a Late Roman Plumbata" describing the fabrication of a plumbata, a re-creation that can be thrown, with deadly force. NOT a toy!


Friday, December 17, 2010


This is coolbert:

"The Ferghana horse is gamed among nomad breeds.
Lean in build, like the point of a lance;
Two ears sharp as bamboo spikes;
Four hoofs light as though born of the wind.
Heading away across the endless spaces,
Truely, you may entrust him with your life..."
-- Tu Fu, Chinese poet (8th century)

The Nisean breed of horse, now extinct, and as ridden by the cataphracts of the Parthians, THE BEST WAR-HORSE IN THE WORLD - - indeed, the BEST horse period in the world, highly prized, desired by the Chinese of the Han Dynasty. So much sought after that a war was fought - - the primary goal of which was to obtain breeding stock.


"Celestial Horses and Chinese Civilization"

Horses as possessed by the "barbarians" of the Fergana valley, horses thought to be of the Nisean breed, called "Celestials" or "Heavenly" horses by the Chinese, AND GREATLY COVETED by Emperor Wu Di!

"During the Western Han Dynasty the great Chinese political explorer Zhang Qian traveled through Central Asia and went deep into the Western Regions. There, in Dayuan (now commonly identified with the Ferghana Basin) he found out about 'blood-sweating' horses, said to be the finest in the world. Zhang Qian reported this to Emperor Wudi (157-87 B.C.), who immediately saw the strategic use of such horses."

"in 104 B.C. Emperor Wudi sent a punitive expedition against Dayuan . . . from the capital Chang'an. After four years, the troops returned with a selection of superior horses, which were named 'Celestial Horses.'"

"In 102 BC, Wu-ti embarked the second military campaign in an army of 60,000 men, marching out towards Fergana. They reached the capital and successfully besieged it. They returned to China with a great haul of the famous Fergana steeds. Fergana provided them with the best celestial horses as well as 3000 ordinary stallions and mares. Furthermore two celestial horses would be sent every year. The two campaigns had lasted four years."

"30,000 horses, 100,000 head of cattle and thousands of donkeys and camels"

War as fought by the various peoples of central Asia consisted of armies the soldiers of which were accompanied by what can only be described as moving menageries, a mobile stockyard of various domesticated beasts, horses, oxen, donkeys, camels, etc. NOT only providing transport but also meat-and-fuel on the hoof!!



This is coolbert:

From a previous blog entry:

"This disastrous battle of course was Carrhae. A "high-water mark" of history. Multiple numbers of Roman Legions annihilated by the Parthians, Roman eastward expansion forever thwarted."

Roman defeat at Carrhae in large measure due to the presence on the battlefield of the Parthian heavy cavalry, the cataphracts.

Cataphracts! Heavy cavalry, men and horse both covered with armor, the man-a-horse using the lance as his primary weapon. A massed charged of cataphract almost unstoppable by the infantry of the day, the man-a-foot!

"A cataphract was a form of heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe."

"The word [cataphract] . . . literally meaning 'armored' or 'completely enclosed'. Historically the cataphract was a very heavily armored horseman, with both the rider and steed draped from head-to-toe in scale armor, while typically wielding a kontos or lance as their weapon."

Men wearing chain mail, the horse covered with scale armor, a cataphract in addition to the lance also being able to wield either sword, mace, or horse bow during battle.

The Parthians also possessing light cavalry at Carrhae as well, those men-a-horse lightly armed, the horse bow their favorite weapon, Parthian light cavalry being famous for the Parthian shot [not parting shot], a horsemen during feigned retreat firing a shot backwards at the enemy.

Cataphracts riding into battle aboard a heavy "charger" type of horse, the Nisean breed, now extinct. A horse breed greatly prized during antiquity, valued for having great strength and endurance, able to carry successfully a ponderous weight of armor PLUS the weight of a fully armored [chain mail] cavalryman. And carrying that weight into battle in a desert climate to boot!

The "heavenly horses" of the Chinese seem to have been the Nisean breed?

Indeed, the entire concept of the heavy cavalry, an armored horseman whose primary weapon was the lance, was embraced in totality by the populations of western Europe during the medieval period, the knight, the man-a horse, the "paladin" of the Crusades being an embodiment of the cataphract!

"they are in part or wholly believed to have given rise to the Age of Feudalism in Europe and the later European equivalents of Knights and Paladins"

"The Romans deployed both native and mercenary units of cataphracts throughout the Empire, from Asia Minor all the way to Britain . . . This tradition was later paralleled by the rise of Feudalism in Christian Europe in the Early Middle Ages, and the establishment of the Knighthood particularly during the Crusades"


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carte Figurative!

This is coolbert:

Thanks to the tip from Steve a graph that illustrates in a manner easily understandable to all - - the catastrophe as suffered by the Grand Army of Napoleon, 500,000 man strong when embarking on the invasion or Russia - - 1812 - - ONLY 30,000 returning alive!!

[approximately 430,000 of that 500,000 man Grand Army actually participated on the march to Moscow. About 300,000 were killed during the campaign, their bodies being cremated, 100,000 captured, 30,000 returning to point of origin!!]

A catastrophe of the worst possible proportions, the most powerful and to that point in history probably the largest army ever assembled, commanded by arguably the most able general of all time, annihilated. Those surviving having faced an ordeal without parallel!

Click on the "graph" to see a full resolution image!

That portion of the graph [in tan color] shows the march
TOWARD Moscow, the diminishing size of the army most evident.
That portion of the graph [in black] shows the even much more
diminished size of the army during the march FROM Moscow.

With regard to the bottom-most portion of the graph, showing temperatures:
"The figures which Fezensac gives here are most probably degrees
below zero in the Reaumur scale, still widely used In the period;
they would corresponds to temperatures ranging from -3 degrees
to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually the cold was often much
more severe in late November and early December
than Fezensac indicates. Several times the temperature dropped
below -40 degrees Fahrenheit."

This too from the book by M. de Fezensac [French officer who survived the march to and from Moscow]:

After only one month into the Russian campaign, according to Fezensac:

"those of reflective temperament and the experienced officers were not without some concern. They had seen the army dwindle by A THIRD [my emphasis] since the passage of the Niemen with scarcely any fighting, simply through the impossibility of providing for its subsistence in any regular fashion, and through the difficulty in obtaining anything [food primarily], even by pillage"

Of those French army troops invading Russia, within one month ONE-THIRD had "melted away" without any serious combat having been fought!!

"generals think logistics, lieutenants think tactics!"


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here thank to the Telegraph, the results of some DNA testing that seems to lend credence to a theory, Roman soldiers from antiquity, settling in China, guarding the Great Wall, even before the time of Christ!

"Chinese villagers 'descended from Roman soldiers'"

"Genetic testing of villagers in a remote part of China has shown that nearly two thirds of their DNA is of Caucasian origin, lending support to the theory that they may be descended from a 'lost legion' of Roman soldiers."

"The genetic tests have leant weight to the theory that Roman legionaries settled in the area in the first century BC after fleeing a disastrous battle."

This disastrous battle of course was Carrhae. A "high-water mark" of history. Multiple numbers of Roman Legions annihilated by the Parthians, Roman eastward expansion forever thwarted. Roman troops taken prisoner, sent to further soldier for the Parthians as mercenaries in the Fergana valley.

Those Romans, subsequently, again, taken prisoner by the Chinese and sent to guard the Great Wall. This during the time of the Han dynasty.

Here is Cai the Roman. Judge for yourself. From antiquity, the ancestors of this man,originally from the Roman Empire, guarded the Great Wall?

Romans, tough men with a lot of military skill, experienced and valuable, performing yeoman work for the Chinese, leaving behind a characteristic DNA signature that is discernible today?

Such was the rumor, the legend, the speculation, the theory. Today, substantiated, to a degree?


Monday, December 13, 2010


This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune yesterday:

The Chicago police are looking to hire a few good men. And preference is being given to military veterans.

"A diverse 8,600 test for police"

"City's recruiting drive nets applicants for 1,100 positions in department"

Persons showing up to take the WRITTEN EXAM, the first step in the laborious, painstaking, and mandated hiring process to become a Chicago police officer.

"About 8,600 people showed up Saturday to take the exam. The recruiting drive in 2006 brought about 8,000 to the initial test, Weis [police chief] said. There are about 1,100 vacant positions in the department, Weis said, thought he does not expect to be able to hire that many officers.

. . . .

"City officials have said there were hoping to recruit more mature and technically skilled officers, and the minimum, age for nonmilitary applicants was raised from 21 to 25"

With the exception of military veterans:

"Military veterans can be hired at 21."

According to Weis:

"The city will make sure at least 20 percent of the candidates chosen from the pool each time are military veterans"

I would strongly suspect that many of those veterans applying to become a Chicago police officer already have experience as a military policeman, AND too have see combat experience in either Iraq or Afghan. Persons, even below the age of 25, who have a proven track record, able to control themselves in a dangerous environment, familiar with weapons, able to perform at some level ALREADY the tasks of the policeman.

Veterans, the transition from military to the quasi-military status of the police officer being very easy, even trivial. The learning curve is far easier and much less time needed for the veteran to become a valuable asset to the force.


Sunday, December 12, 2010


This is coolbert:

From the Quarry web site:

"First, I need to define what I mean by an 'assault rifle',
as there are various definitions around. The one I use is:

A standard military rifle, capable of controlled,
fully-automatic fire from the shoulder,
with an effective range of at least 300 metres."

The military assault rifle. First developed and fielded by the Germans during World War Two [WW2]. The standard issue weapon to the common soldier having attributes such as:

* High-capacity detachable magazine. [twenty or thirty rounds]

* Capable of both semi-auto or automatic fire. [use of a selector switch]

* Firing an intermediary round, halfway between that of a conventional high-power military rifle and a pistol.

The original German design using the 7.92X33 caliber round, referred to as Kurz [short]!

Other nations, such as the Soviets, adopting their own caliber and cartridge [Soviet 7.62X39] felt to be most appropriate for the assault rifle concept.

Post-war [WW2], a ferment of assault rifle design existing - - German expatriates, part of the German diaspora, at the forefront of weapons design. Vorgrimler and Loffler in particular doing some innovative and interesting work for the French.

Engineering design and development resulting in the CEAM assault rifle. A weapon, however, NEVER fielded, only existing in the experimental prototype stage.

"After the war ended, Mauser's Department 37 development group was placed under control of the French War Department's armament group . . . (DEFA) . . . [later becoming] . . . (CEAM) . . . Vorgrimler and fellow Mauser engineer Theodor Löffler were assigned the development of roller-delayed carbines [assault rifles] . . . during the late 1940s/early 1950s"

The CEAM Modèle 1950 was a prototype assault rifle . . . It was developed by Centre d'Etudes et d'Armement de Mulhouse (CEAM) of France during the late 1940s/early 1950s.

" between 1946 and 1949. Three versions were made, chambered in":

* .30 Carbine [U.S.]
* 7.92x33mm Kurz [German]
* 7.65x35mm [French]

ALSO under consideration as a possible "round" for the CEAM assault rifle but never went further than that:

* 7.5x38mm [French]

"[that] 7.5x38mm cartridge using a partial aluminium bullet was abandoned in 1947"

Vorgrimler and Toffler later continuing their work in Spain, the result of their labor being the CETME assault rifle, CHAMBERED FOR THE CALIBER 7.62 X 51 NATO ROUND!

That CETME assault rifle, however, NOT capable of "controlled, fully-automatic fire from the shoulder"!

It should be obvious that the considerations of the Spaniards were to be compatible with NATO standardization and NOT rock the boat, so to speak. This cannot have been very gratifying for Vorgrimler and Toffler, but you do as your masters tell you to do. Be unemployed in Germany and starve or work in Spain and eat! NOT much choice.



This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog by David:

"David said..."

"Our son just completed the final FTX PJ qual in Kirkland.
After two years of intense training he will graduate
as a PJ next week. As parents, we have seen the incredible journey
these brave men take to become part of this elite group.
His brother, a Marine pilot, will be with us to honor his
accomplishment and the others that will formally graduate
as a PJ. We are VERY proud parents."

This comment made in response to the original Pararescue Jumper [PJ] blog entry from some time ago now.

Congratulations are in order all around. Very much so. Completion of the PJ course is a major accomplishment. VERY MAJOR.

A course, the PJ training and qualification, most demanding in the extreme, ONLY THREE IN ONE HUNDRED PERSONS DESIRING TO BECOME A PJ ACTUALLY WINNING THE MAROON BERET! Within the Air Force only about one hundred seventy [170] slots actually exist for the PJ skill set, and only a portion of those slots filled at any given time!

The PJ, combining that exact proper and difficult to find combination of physical and mental abilities with a DESIRE TO EXCEL! Strenuous, again, combining the mental with the physical, the stress of training designed to "wash out" those with less than a strong will.

The PJ course having a lot of "filters" beyond which the less inspired and daring airman will not pass. To include:

* Parachute training.
* Mountain training.
* Winter survival.

All PJ grads too are placed on the civilian national registry of certified emergency medical technicians. PJ's can do just about all!

And do not think that training ends with the two year PJ course. NOW the newly graduated airman must train and learn further skills at the UNIT LEVEL. Function as part of a unit at the operational level.



Friday, December 10, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here from the DEBKAFile some interesting background info concerning the recent assassination of prominent [two of them] Iranian nuclear scientists. Assassination by persons whose identity is unknown.

Iranian nuclear scientists whose expertise is vital to nuclear ambition of the Iranian authorities.

These assassinations, obviously coordinated - - and a "blast" from the past. The perpetrators - - the assassins having at their disposal and using the STICKY BOMB!

The STICKY BOMB - - a legacy of the Second World War - - originally designed as a means for an infantryman to attack and defeat a tank with conventional explosives.


"1. The sticky bombs used by the assassins were of Iranian manufacture. Al Qods Brigades arms designers had developed them for Al Qaeda's use in its terrorist attacks in Iraq. Bomb fragments found in the two cars led investigators to the discovery that the bombs Al Qods had smuggled into Iraq had been shipped back to Tehran in a clandestine 'boomerang' operation set up by the party which orchestrated the attacks on the scientists."

The use of the STICKY BOMB characterized by the DEBKAFile as a "boomerang" operation, the very weaponry devised by the Iranian coming back to haunt them!!

The perpetrators, whoever they maybe, their identification unknown - - also employing a favorite tactic of the Latin American drug cartel assassin, the two-man "hit-team" riding motorcycles in heavy traffic!!

"Iran's rulers were appalled by the ease with which two-man teams mounted on two motorcycles were able to overcome the traffic jams at the heart of Tehran and escape after separate attacks on the professors' cars."

The target vehicle is approached from behind, the sticky bomb thrown, the motorcycle taking off at high speed, able to maneuver in heavy traffic with ease, evading all and any pursuit. A clean get-away.

And the perpetrators ARE? Keep in mind that fifty years ago, German expatriate scientists, working on "doomsday" weaponry for the Egyptian government, also were targeted for assassination. Letter bombs and such, threats sent in the mail from a local source, etc.

AND - - attacking you with your OWN weapons, the psychological damage is sometimes greater than the physical.

First Stuxnet, now STICKY BOMBS! What is next?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This is coolbert:

Thanks to Steve for the lead in to this blog entry.

The Citadel, Haiti.

A formidable fortification, built on the grand scale, the LARGEST FORTRESS IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

[built on a very grand scale. Has the appearance of a Crusader castle such as Krak of the Chevaliers. Built almost 700 years later, however!]

Designed by a pair of French architects, constructed in the aftermath of Haitian independence from French colonial rule, the Citadel a refuge of last-resort, a symbol of resistance and defiance, a structure of which seems impregnable against any and all attack!

"The Citadelle Laferrière or, Citadelle Henry Christophe, or simply the Citadelle (in English, spelled Citadel), is a large mountaintop fortress located in northern Haiti . . . It is the largest fortress in the Americas"

"Large cisterns and storehouses in the fortress's interior were designed to store enough food and water for 5,000 defenders for up to one year. The fortress included palace quarters for the king and his family . . . The Citadel's appearance . . . has been likened to the prow of a great stone ship"

The Citadel in some ways is reminiscent of Masada, Israel. A last-stand refuge, a fortification of such formidable character that ONLY a prolonged [years?] and difficult siege could EVER hope to defeat any defender occupying the Citadel. Indeed, modern day tourists trekking to the Citadel are told to bring their own water, and lots of it!

Required almost fifteen years to construct by impressed labor [20,000 persons] under military duress, WITH GREAT LOSS OF LIFE.

The Citadel was NEVER occupied during a time of war or EVER subjected to attack. I can only take look at the terrain and assume that a ONLY protracted siege of years, accompanied by a constant bombardment of heavy artillery would have been required to reduce the fortification and compel the surrender of those inside! Even sapping and mining in the old-fashioned manner would have been futile, the Citadel seems to have been built to a large extent on solid rock?


Sunday, December 5, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here from the obituary section of the Chicago Tribune - - two days ago, the death of the famous American physicist Samuel Cohen is reported:


"SAMUEL COHEN [1921-2010] "

"Neutron bomb's 'father,' advocate"

"LOS ANGELES - - Samuel Cohen, the father of controversial tactical nuclear weapon known as the neutron bomb, which was designed to kill people other living things but inflict minimal damage on buildings and other property, died Sunday at his home in Los Angles."

AH, YES, the neutron bomb! I remember the furor created in the late 1970's and early 1980's when the weapon was actually put into manufacture and deployed to NATO forces in Europe.

Such a controversial weapon. Kills people, leaves the buildings intact. "Such a perverse logic" was the comment you heard over and over.


The bomb, as I understand it, fired from a conventional artillery piece, the target being those mass formations of Soviet tanks as would have been employed by the Soviet during a blitzkrieg offensive against NATO forces.

Those tank armies and GROUPS of tank armies during a breakthrough offensive, threatening the very existence of the western European nations, NATO, the American army.

The neutron bomb, releasing an overpowering and overwhelming dose of neutron radiation, incapacitating either instantly or in a few hours the tank crews of the Soviet tanks, while LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE FROM BLAST AND HEAT!!


Here is an interesting quotation regarding the neutron bomb:

"to kill a man in such a way that his suit
will not be stained with blood,
in order to appropriate the suit."
- - N. Khrushchev.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


This is coolbert:

I see that the distinguished German combat aviator from the era of the Second World War [WW2] - - Hans Joachim Herrmann - - has passed away. Age ninety-seven, referred to has Hajo Herrmann, Hajo seeing extensive action as a bomber pilot on a variety of fronts, ending the war as a commander of air defense units [night fighters]!

"Hajo Herrmann (1913-2010) was an outstanding German Luftwaffe pilot who also distinguished himself during the Second World War as a courageous air force commander and innovative air defense tactician."

During WW2 [and before that too] piloting a bomber aircraft in the skies over:

* Spain. [Spanish Civil War]
* Poland.
* Norway. [the 1940 campaign and the attacks on the Arctic convoys both]
* England.
* Sicily.
* Greece.
* Malta.

"As a bomber pilot, Herrmann flew 320 missions and sank twelve ships totaling 70,000 tons. He also flew more than 50 night fighter missions, destroying nine Allied bombers He was shot down four times, and wounded twice."

Subsequently - - a commander and innovator of air defense tactics as used by the Luftwaffe to defend the skies over Nazi Germany. In command of and flying missions as a night-fighter pilot! Successfully completing fifty missions, nine allied bombers shot down.

At the very end of the war - - conceived of and directed the units known as the "Rammjäger Sonderkommando Elbe". Fighter pilots instructed to "down" an allied bomber by RAMMING!

[this tactic was not so very successful - - extremely wasteful of men and machines!]

Survived the end of the war - - incarcerated in a Soviet prison [forced labor camp] for ten years.

"At the end of the war Herrmann became a Soviet captive, and was held for ten years in Soviet Russian prison camps."

Subsequent to his prison release - - became a lawyer, his new career lasting almost until his death.


* Hajo flew 320 bomber missions. Shot down four times, wounded twice. Contrast that record with an American bomber pilot during the same conflict, twenty-five missions and your tour of duty was over! An American pilot having only a one in five chance of surviving twenty-five missions! Hajo flew - - 320!! The odds speak for themselves!

* German combat aviators should not be understood to be so totally omnipotent in the skies over Europe. The top pilots quite often were shot down on multiple occasions and yet kept going!!

* Freeman Dyson has stated that the German night fighter pilots were among the ONLY German military service that emerged from the war with their honor intact, highly respected by their allied adversaries. Hajo was among them?

* Hajo as did Erich Hartmann survived ten years in a Soviet prison [labor camp]. Such men by their very nature just seemed to have a robustness of mind and body that cannot be denied.

* I would be remiss to not mention that as an attorney, Hajo defended on occasion persons best described as "Holocaust Deniers"!


Thursday, December 2, 2010


This is coolbert:

From the comment of a person I reasonably infer is an expert on the subject:

"I certainly never saw any evidence of the Portugese using Mounted troops in Mozambique."

And this does appear to be correct. The Portuguese, during their various counter-insurgency campaigns - - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, did restrict their use of cavalry, dragoons, to Angola.

See this web site article about the Portuguese dragoes [dragoons]. Light infantry men, men-a-horse, riding into battle with pistol and rifle [G3] at the ready. The full dope, as I like to say!

"Fighting Insurgency from Horseback"

Evidently a phenomenon that for the Portuguese was restricted solely to Angola, particular sections of that nation [colony at the time] being most conducive for military operations involving cavalry.

The horse NOT BEING NATIVE TO ANGOLA - - imports only were used. Recruits [locals mostly] for the horse cavalry having to be trained both as soldiers and as horsemen, riding NOT be a "natural" for them!! [skill with the horse being more easily learned that I would have suspected to be possible?]

Please understand that the use of horse cavalry by the Portuguese in Angola was not merely for "show", a "cosmetic", an anachronism without merit. There was real value to these units of dragoes.



This is coolbert:

"within Russian military circles Mikhail Kalashnikov is as celebrated for the design of the PK/PKM as he is for the AK-47 itself."

This is pretty interesting stuff. For that special Christmas gift, a one-of-a-kind type item, consider your own personal machine gun. The Soviet/Russian PKM.


Thanks to the private concern MarColMar Firearms: "Complete Hungarian PKM Collectors Package - $6,690 or a Cash Price of $6,495"

Fires of course the 7.62 X 54R round, a rough equal to the 7.62 X 51 NATO round.

I would have to think the Soviet chose that particular caliber as they had numerous warehouses all over the old Soviet Union just BULGING with extra ammo left over from the Second World War [WW2]. That caliber and round really is useful at longer ranges of course and "chews" things up.

The PKM (Pulemyot Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy or Machinegun Kalashnikov Modernized) is "arguably the best General Purpose Machinegun (GPMG) in use anywhere in the world today".

The BEST! "Best" of course a subjective judgment. But in this, a judgment with some justification.

From the web site of MarColMar Firearms:

"PKM history."


* Lighter in weight. "The PKM is lighter than the M240 or M60E4 (18.5 lbs. vs. 32 lbs. and 23 lbs respectively). In fact the PKM actually provides the power of a .30 cal belt-fed weapon at almost 1 lb. less weight as the M249 5.56 SAW [.223 caliber], which weighs in at 19.2 lbs!"

* "easier to maintain"

* "incredibly versatile"

* "extremely accurate for a GPMG"

* [has] "a lot of useful accessories"

* "fewest number of moving parts for any GPMG"

* [a] “works in all conditions” GPMG.

Buy one - - try it - - you'll like it!