Monday, July 29, 2013

Gripen NG.

This is coolbert:

That Gripen already having been chosen by Brazil as the multi-role combat aircraft {MRCA] of the future, that proven winner the Gripen in the improved version referred to as the NG [Next Generation].


That "proven winner" the Gripen currently existing in the C/D and E/F models, that NG the future, attributes of the improve model to include:

* "a more powerful General Electric F414G engine with the ability to supercruise. Its redesigned airframe operates at higher weights, allowing more fuel and weapons to be carried."

* "all-new Selex-Galileo ES-05 Raven AESA (active electronically scanned antenna) radar, developed in cooperation with Saab Microwave."

* "the complete Gripen NG system is controlled by its user, with complete freedom to modify and adapt all of its components to meet national needs"

Swedish combat aircraft also possessing inherent positive features, able to take off and land from almost any 800 meter long concrete road-way.

Gripen re-arm and re-fuel and turn-around time for a trained technician and five conscripts [relatively untrained] TEN MINUTES TOPS!

NOT mentioned by Saab as a feature of great concern to consumers and potential customers is COST!

Gripen is just LESS expensive? NOT cheap in the quality sense, hardly that, but merely costing less money for an above average product, again, the performance is NOT much less than that touted for the American F-35 Lightning.

AND Gripen READY TO GO NOW! That must be a big plus in considerations.


Gripen vs. F-35.

This is coolbert:

Here some definitive and very worrisome indications that the EXPORT version of the American F-35 Lightning is slowly but surely becoming a NOT-WANTED item.

Too expensive and delivery too far down the line.

And AN alternative existing at a lower cost with not so much less capability and available NOW!

The Swedish Gripen. An advanced version of the original Gripen actively being considered as the go-to in the case of smaller nations needing a more modern and suitable fighter warplane and needing one NOW!

South Korea, Turkey and Holland all NOW questioning the entire F-35 acquisition program. This is a major hit and embarrassment to the Lockheed program, EXPORT seen as a major market for the warplane [F-35].

1. "Turkey’s $50-billion jet program in question"

"Turkey must spend nearly $50 billion if it goes ahead with its plans to build and buy 200 locally built fighter jets and acquire 100 more F-35s from an US arms maker. And that amount doesn’t even include the cost of engines for the Turkish fighter"

2. "F-35 to be first to bow out"

"Lockheed Martin’s F-35 faces the distinct possibility of being the first to be eliminated in the ongoing bidding for Korea’s next generation fighter program."

"The weakest point against the latest U.S. aircraft is that its price may go up significantly because it is still in development."

3. "The Gripen Proposition for the Dutch Air Force"

"2013 will be an exciting year for the Dutch Air Force and for Dutch politics. The reason: there is a decision to be taken on the new fighter to replace the outdated F-16s"

"In a report that looks at the various options that are on offer . . . while the U.S. F-35 was the dream candidate for the Dutch Air Force for years, the JSF project is anything but smooth: 'The costs are skyrocketing, there are numerous technical problems and the performance of the aircraft is disappointing.'"

Plus American military consumers of the Lightning already LOCKED into the program, the F-35 agreed upon as the one-and-only plane of the future, a done deal!

Woe to Lockheed!


Sunday, July 28, 2013


This is coolbert:

Again from the latest DEBKAfile  newsletter we have a description of an Israeli paratrooper exercise gone awry. NOT proceeding to plan and a number to troops having jumped and been injured:

"July 25, 2013: • Training jumps in heavy cloud leave 23 Israeli paratroops slightly injured
In a paratroop brigade exercise carried out before dawn Thursday near Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev in heavy cloud, one-third of the 1,100 participants didn’t get to jump. Eighteen who did were slightly hurt and carried on with the exercise and five were taken to hospital. These figures are par for this type of a nocturnal paratroop drill."

"These figures are par for this type of a nocturnal paratroop drill"

NOT only for a nocturnal [night] drill but any sort of paratrooper drill.

Even during peacetime and even when conditions for a paratroop drop are ideal, unquestionably so, injuries are quite common. AND as you might well expect, wartime parachute drops that rate of injury even higher, perhaps beyond expected or norm.

AND contrary to popular belief no amount of physical conditioning or training can mitigate the injury rate from a mass paratroop drop. This is well understood but never enunciated as such!!

AND in contrast to a lightly loaded civilian skydiver, a paratrooper when jumping does so with a full combat load and sometimes way beyond that, the landing and stress on the joints of the body most exacerbated, that chance of injury much increased.

Consider ONLY from the Sicilian operation of World War Two [WW2], allied paratrooper and air landing forces experiencing calamity on a number of occasions. Those most highly trained and most highly motivated of all infantry facing obstacles hard to overcome.

Thanks to: "AFTER THE BATTLE" Number # 77 "THE INVASION OF SICILY" by Karel Margry

"The Allied airborne assaults preceding the landings met with great difficulties. As unexpected gale over the Mediterranean and had bad visibility broke up the aerial columns flying from North Africa and caused the inexperienced pilot to lose their way."

English and American paratrooper and air landing contingents without resolution experiencing problems in some cases of a calamitous nature and this occurring a number of times:

1. "Of 144 gliders carrying British 1st Air landing Brigade in Sicily, some 60 were released too early and landed in the sea, with most of the men drowning. Only 54 arrived in Sicily a mere 12 of them on or near the correct landing zones. As a result less than 100 British airborne troops reached the objective."

2., "The 222 C-47's carrying 3,400 men of the 505th Parachute Infantry [American] and the attached 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry [American], dropped their loads all over south-eastern Sicily - - 33 sticks landing in the Eighth Army [British] area."

3. "despite assurances that they would not be fired upon by friendly forces if they flew the prescribed route, the aerial convoy carrying the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment [American] to Sicily was shot to pieces by Allied naval flak. The 2,000 paratroopers were to be dropped as reinforcement into the Gela Bridgehead. Of 144 C-47's, 23 were lost and 37 severely damaged. In all, 63 crewmen died. Paratroop casualties were 83 killed, 133 wounded and 16 missing."

4. "The night before [13 July] . . . [the] British 1st Parachute Brigade had dropped around the Ponte Primosole bridge . . . The Primosole operation was the fourth Allied airborne debacle in Sicily. Fired on by friendly naval vessels and heavy enemy flak along the coast, the troop carriers completely lost formation. Of 126 paratrooper planes, only 39 dropped their loads within a mile of the DZ's. Of the 19 gliders, only four landed near the bridge. of a total of 1,856, only 295 men reached the objective"

German paratroopers also having parachute assaults in a reinforcing role during the battle for Sicily, air drops somewhat more accurate and with much less poor results. Even described as TEXTBOOK:

5. "On the evening of July 12, the first contingent, Fallschirmjager-Regiment 3, made a textbook drop south of Catania"

6. On the night of July 16-17 . . . The German positions were bolstered too by the arrival of Fallschirmjager-Regiment 4 which had jumped that evening."

Parachutists of the Rhodesian military an integral component of the Fire Force concept during the Rhodesian Bush war many troops having made dozens of combat jumps, their injury rate was what exactly? Devoted readers to the blog have an answer to this?


Friday, July 26, 2013


This is coolbert:

As was once Afghan today is Sinai?

Thanks to the DEBKAfile:

"Al Qaeda’s Sinai commander was Bin Laden’s former physician"

"21 July. For more than two and a half years, Dr. Ramzi Mowafi, once Osama bin Laden’s personal physician, has led Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula,the most dangerous terrorist group in Sinai, in attacks on Egyptian military targets and rocket strikes against Israel.  A charismatic figure and able operational commander, Mowafi has gathered a following of 7,000 to 9,000 armed men. Incoming intelligence showing Dr. Mowafi to be organizing a large group of Sinai terrorists for a major cross-border attack in Israel has kept IDF border units on high alert for the past two weeks.

One, two, three, MANY Afghan. The Salafist adept at taking advantage of a chaotic situation. Zawahiri too that Egyptian and NOW the #1 man in charge of Al Qaeda!

That charismatic leader [Dr. Ramzi] rallying the jihadists following the death of Bin Laden, much in the manner of what recently transpired in Mali.

This group of Ansar [helper] devoted to creating a no-go zone for central government forces of Egypt, that safe-haven from which jihadi can be trained and dispatched to wreak havoc the world-over! This I surmise is the intent. The SANCTUARY from which operations can be mounted.

Attacks on the multi-national peacekeeping United Nations force in the Sinai not reported? At least not to my knowledge. That particular MNF if not already besieged having made proper preparations, if indeed the bad turns to worse. I might hope so!


Thursday, July 25, 2013


This is coolbert:

Jones & Hardy (GC)

George Cross.

This blog entry based in part on the article: "THE MASS ESCAPE FROM COWRA" by John A. Williams and found in the "AFTER THE BATTLE" magazine issue Number # 57.

Cowra that mass escape attempt by Japanese prisoner-of-war [POW] during the Second World War [WW2]. Cowra an Australian POW camp housing Italians, Koreans, Formosans and captured Japanese.

That latter about a thousand strong armed with home-made knifes, clubs, their bare hands and boots rushing the fence in an escape attempt.

Events at the fence and during the initial stages of the escape as shown probably almost exactly as occurring in the excellent YouTube video:

"The Cowra Breakout - Ben Hardy and Ralph Jones (GC)"

"Ben Hardy and Ralph Jones manned the no.2 Vickers machine gun and began firing into the first wave of Japanese escapees making for the fence line. They noticed a second wave attempting to flank them on the left but held their position. They were soon overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of Japanese and were killed. Private Jones managed to remove the gun bolt before he was killed which rendered the gun useless. The Australian soldiers killed that night were a total of four, if this gun remained operable, the death toll for the Australians may have increased. Ben Hardy and Ralph Jones were posthumously awarded the George Cross. This act of bravery will be remembered."

Regarding those Australian guards at Cowra to include Jones and Hardy:

"The responsibility for guarding the camp was entrusted to the 22ndf Australian Garrison Battalion which consisted mostly of those too old for active service, many of whom had seen service in the first World War. other were younger men who had some form of disability which restricted them from service overseas."

In this regard the Australian guards at Cowra greatly resembling the Invalid Corps of the American Civil War. Men suffering a war wound or other disabling injury that precluded their further service in a combat role.

Jones and Hardy awarded the George Cross [GC] for bravery but NOT the Victoria Cross [VC]. The VC awarded only for heroism during a time of combat in the face of the enemy, that foe armed and fighting in a conventional manner. That escape attempt at Cowra NOT combat as normally, commonly and generally understood!

P.S.:  See this amazing stuff. Cowra now the site of a Japanese Garden devoted to harmony between the nations of Australia and Japan. NO mention of events that transpired at the camp during WW2 however! "THE CENTRE OF JAPANESE CULTURAL HERITAGE IN AUSTRALIA"

"Origin of relations between Cowra and Japan":    "Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre was established to recognize and develop the relationship between the people of Cowra Shire and the people of Japan, a relationship that has its origins in the Prisoner of War Camp that housed the Japanese P.O.W’s during World War II."


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This is coolbert:

"Defense is the stronger form of combat"

Defense easier to do, you can accomplish more with less.

As was the case with the German 352nd "static" division defending Omaha Beach on 6 June, and also as was the case previously at Dieppe during Jubilee!

The German defender at Dieppe also second-class troops armed in a second-class manner. As related by Colonel John Hughes-Wilson in his book: "MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BLUNDERS".

"The actual unit [German] at Dieppe . . . was in reality the 571st Infantry Regiment of the 302 Division, a category two division consisting largely of Poles [?] and middle-aged ethnic Germans equipped with a motley mixture of horses, bicycles, captured Czech and French guns and anything else that the harassed Quartermaster staff at Wehrmacht GHQ West in Paris  could scrounge from Berlin."

Those "Poles" not necessarily POLES but more likely ethnic Germans!

Haase the German command at the scene also it seems a superior officer who knew his stuff well and had made the proper calculations, assumptions and preparations commensurate with his MTT-T considerations. [Mission, Troops, Training - Time]

Haase having a SINGLE captured French tank in his inventory, that tank CEMENTED INTO THE SEA WALL having a field of firing ranging down the length of the beach at Dieppe.

That "category two division" German army troops at Dieppe having arrayed against it the VERY FINEST SOLDIERS THE BRITISH EMPIRE COULD MUSTER. British army and marine Commando and Canadian Army units comprised of the physically best and most fittest individuals trained to the highest state of perfection, and in the case of the Commando, also forces with a pretty marked degree of combat experience.

And from the caption of an image as found in the magazine "AFTER THE BATTLE"  Number # 48 a pile of "surrendered arms" indicative of second-rate troops armed in a second-rate manner.

"Nice collection of surrendered arms stacked beside the road. The second rate status of these troops can be gauged by the fact there are no MG42's - - only older models, the MG34 and obsolete MG13 and MG30(t)."

From an acknowledged authority some comments on the MG-34 and MG-42 German general purpose machine gun:

"The MG-34, according to my machine gun collecting friends, is a far better (but more complex) piece of machinery than the MG-42. MG 42 used more stampings and was easier to manufacture. I think the barrel change on the 42 was much faster, though."

Those German second-rate troops using second-rate weaponry BUT commanded by superior commanders according to a well thought out plan, soldiers employed in a manner according to their ability CAN give a very good account of themselves.



This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog by Dan:

"Bert you need to read about one of those teenagers: Hein [Heinrich] Severloh who killed more then 3,000 U.S. troops during circa 9 hours firing a MG 42 and Karabiner 98ks, both weapons shot 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridges. A U.S. Destroyer with 5inch shells was unable to stop his slaughter. He was in an open firing pit and totally exposed otherwise."

And thanks for the comment Dan.

This Hein Severloh was a German troop defending Omaha beach on 6 June. A man by his own description also less than physically fit, the result of a punitive punishment regimen. Assigned to the German 352nd Infantry, that unit categorized and rated as a "static" unit not capable of offensive action.

I think that it is more correct to state that Hein participated [a MAJOR participant] in the battle during which 3,000 Americans were killed on Omaha. [About 5,000 U.S. troops killed total that first day in Normandy] NOT than Hein personally and single-handedly killed 3,000 Americans.

The wiki entry suggests the actions of Hein ALONE causing about 1,000 American casualties. Casualties to include all those killed [KIA] and wounded [WIA]. The rule of thumb during world War Two [WW2] in the U.S. experience was that for every 350 troops wounded about 100 were killed. Hein by such calculations WAS responsible for a lot of U.S. casualties but the number of KIA was probably far less than 3,000, perhaps more like several hundred? Still a big number, Hein standing his ground most resolutely, his devotion to duty most admirable.

By his own recollections Hein fired off about 12,000 rounds of ammo. This is plausible, his comrades continually bringing him replenishment, that weight of ammunition nearly half a ton [English], about four hundred kilograms!! German protocols during that period also called for a barrel change on the MG42 every two hundred rounds or so, the weapon having a tendency to malfunction otherwise?


Sunday, July 21, 2013


This is coolbert:

Thanks to "AFTER THE BATTLE" magazine issue number # 77 and the article by Karel Margry:

Extracts and my commentary.

Operation Husky.

The allied invasion of Sicily during the Second World War [WW2]

Some superlatives that are surprising:


* 3,300 allied ships in the invasion armada.

In contrast, 5,000 ships involved in the Normandy D-Day invasion]

* Allied paratrooper units used for the first time in large size contingents. Brigade size.

German and allied paratroopers all jumping into Sicily into opposition of one another. That former as reinforcements.

* Seven allied divisions landing simultaneously on the first day of the operation.

In contrast, six divisions landing simultaneously on 6 June.

Slightly more than a month required to clear Sicily of all Axis forces.

The allied invasion of Sicily NOT however a complete success.

German and Italian forces able to conduct a very well done reverse amphibious operation, crossing the Strait of Messina to safety, all men and impedimenta in totality accounted for.

YET ONE MORE HISTORICAL INSTANCE OF THE SUCCESSFUL REVERSE AMPHIBIOUS OPERATION. Amphibious operations generally agreed upon as that MOST difficult of all military operations, the reverse amphibious WHILE UNDER PRESSURE EVEN THAT MORE SO!

"Kesselring's evacuation of Sicily, which began a week earlier on 10 August, was perhaps the most brilliant action of the campaign. In spite of the Allies' superiority on land, at sea, and in the air, Kesselring was able to evacuate not only 40,000 men, but also 96,605 vehicles [way too many], 94 guns, 47 tanks, 1,100 tons of ammunition, 970 tons of fuel, and 15,000 tons of stores. He was able to achieve near-perfect coordination between the three services under his command" [the wiki]

"Between August 1 and 17, the Germans evacuated a total of 39,995 troops [including 14,773 wounded, 9,789 vehicles, 53 tanks, 163 guns, 16,791 tons of equipment and 1,874 [tons] of fuel and ammunition." [THE INVASION OF SICILY]

"During that time, the Italians using three steamers, one train ferry, and ten motor-rafts, also withdrew an estimated 59,000 troops, 227 vehicles, 41 guns and 12 mules." [THE INVASION OF SICILY]

It can be argued [??] that crossing the Strait of Messina was more of a river crossing than an amphibious operation? The strait only two miles [3.2 kilometers] across but also very treacherous waters.

German military planners for the crossing of the Strait of Messina having mustered and gathered at that most crucial point masses of anti-aircraft-artillery [AAA] and conventional tube artillery that latter used in the coastal defense mode of fire.

That German officer whose mission was to protect the crossing of Messina able to accumulate from various sources:

"500 guns of all calibers, including four batteries of 280 mm coastal guns, two of 170 mm guns and some 150 German 88 mm and Italian 90 mm dual-purpose guns."

Allied efforts to stop the crossing of the strait lackadaisical and haphazard, even almost non-existent, refusing to press the issue. Timid!!

[within the military context the use of the word TIMID pejorative.]

Husky however, deemed a qualified success, perhaps more so than qualified.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Krak & Beaufort.

This is coolbert:

Krak of the Chevaliers.

Krak of the Horsemen.

Krak! That most perfect Crusader castle. That best preserved Crusader castle. That most impregnable Crusader castle.

Krak now damaged as a result of the Syrian civil war.

"air raid on Crac des Chevaliers castle damage one of its towers"

As reported by YNet, Krak suffering damage, a direct bomb hit evidently on a turret. To what extent the destruction this unclear.

Krak virtually impregnable. Perhaps not even sustaining a concerted and determined assault, so formidable was the defenses of Krak.

Krak NOW the devastation and weaponry of modern warfare damaging that castle the structure hitherto basically untouched even after many centuries.

See here some interesting images of Krak and other "Levantine castles" as taken in part by French reconnaissance aircraft in that period just prior to the Second World War.

That area at the base of Krak on one side now a town of considerable size ONLY of recent origin?

Beaufort castle another Crusader stronghold the damage of which during a period of many centuries many times worse than Krak.

Images of Beaufort castle on the Internet showing a pile of mountain top rubble however not doing justice to the entire assemblage. Intact to an extent, again, the damage as sustained over a period of CENTURIES QUITE EXTENSIVE!

See here much better images of Beaufort castle in entirety.

Beaufort also a victim of modern warfare and modern weaponry. Beaufort castle occupying DOMINANT TERRAIN OF INTEREST TO VARIOUS WARRING FACTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO INCLUDE THE ISRAELI, PALESTINIANS, HEZBOLLAH.

These Crusader castles are justifiably so World Heritage Sites NOT being preserved as would be desired, Or EVEN AS THE RECENT CASE THE CITADEL OF ALEPPO A STRONGHOLD OF THE SYRIAN INSURGENTS AND REMAINING A PLACE OF BATTLE!

Crusader castles and in some cases the dominant terrain [such as at Beaufort castle] still in the modern age having both a symbolic and even a pertinent military value.


Festung Europa.

This is coolbert:

I am watching the other night an episode from the television series "Nazi Mega Weapons". Thanks in all cases to "Nazi Mega".

This particular broadcast detailing the Western Wall. That part of Festung [fortress] Europa as designed to stop an allied amphibious invasion.

Rommel in command, the preparations to thwart the allied invasion of Europe carried out in an almost frenzied manner, directives as implemented in an authoritarian and brutal manner, lots of impressed labor involved, draconian measures harsh and unremitting.

Construction of defenses relying primarily on emplacements and layered defense TO STOP THE ALLIED AMPHIBIOUS FORCE AT THE BEACHES.

That task of construction almost overwhelming for the German the defender, dissipated and unfocused energy and lack of concentrated effort a result, that location for the eventual and inevitable invasion NOT KNOWN TO THE GERMAN.

That German as the defender both at advantage and disadvantage:

1. Defense is the stronger form of combat, easier to do and you can accomplish more with less. [advantage]

2. That defender having to disperse his forces, again, dissipated and unfocused energy and effort the result. [disadvantage]

Rommel relying on four types of military obstacles to  impede landing craft as they approach the beaches.

Rommel relying on land mines laid in profusion to kill allied troops as they storm the beaches.

Rommel relying on concrete beach strong point emplacements and collections and groups of concrete strong point beach emplacements. Those German defenders cocooned in tons and tons of concrete, well-built fortifications.

Strong points generally as defined defensive positions NOT to be abandoned unless specific order requested and given. Fight more or less to the death.

Big-bore artillery as used by the German defender at Normandy too NOT used in the indirect fire mode, positioned to fire DOWN THE LENGTH OF A BEACH IN THE DIRECT FIRE MODE, MOW DOWN ALLIED TROOPS AS THEY LAND.

I find it strange at that stage of the war Rommel still insisting that the German make a concerted effort to STOP THE ALLIED INVASION FORCE AT THE BEACHES!

From experience, both the German and Japanese had arrived at the conclusion that such efforts were futile and doomed to failure. IT BEING IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP ALLIED AMPHIBIOUS FORCES AT THE BEACHES.

Allied naval gunfire in the direct mode, often at close-range too accurate and deadly. NO matter how well the defender emplacements and how dedicated and fanatical the troops, those big-bore naval guns of the allied warships in support of the landing troops again TOO ACCURATE AND DEADLY, OBLITERATION OF THE BEACH DEFENDERS GUARANTEED.

The German DID have a lot of success with a "stop em' at the beaches" mentality at Dieppe. Second-rate German troops armed with second-rate weaponry used effectively by a superior German commander and the results for the allied attackers during Jubilee were very bad.


No mention at all during the program that the German 352nd Infantry Division manning the defenses at Omaha Beach were rated as being only static troops, capable only of defensive action, that unit consisting in the most part of stunted and physically weak teenagers.

Much [?] has been made that if Hitler had "released" the panzer units under his direct control the allied forces at Normandy COULD have been defeated. The release from Hitler probably would not have been granted. The allied deception plan for Normandy continuing even for months in the aftermath of 6 June, Hitler and indeed the German High Command fooled more or less totally, Normandy thought to be a diversion of some magnitude but nonetheless a diversion!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013


This is coolbert:

Fanatico fascista?

Came across by accident this item as quite often is the circumstance.

Yet one more instance of Italian troops continuing the fight on the Axis side in the aftermath of Italian surrender in 1943. Part of what became known as the Italian Co-Belligerent Army.

Italian military units for whatever combination of reasons not willing to lay down their arms, part and parcel of the fascist cause, fanatics in many cases so it can be surmised. Loyalty in a manner hard to explain.

"After the Italian surrender, a significant part of the Nembo went over to the German side, eventually becoming the basis of the 4th Fallschirmjäger Division."

This was Nembo. Italian paratrooper division that a "significant part of" decided to retain a loyalty to Mussolini.

"184th Airborne Division Nembo or 184th Divisione Paracadutisti Nembo (Italian) was an airborne division of the Italian Army during World War II."

 "A significant part of the 184 Airborne Division Nembo went over to the German side, eventually becoming the basis of the 4th Fallschirmj√§ger Division"

Elements of that paratroop division as still existed Incorporated into A COMBINED GERMAN AND ITALIAN COMMAND! [4th Parachute Division]

These parachutists were fascist fanatics pure and simple? Italian participation in the Second World War [WW2] on the side of the Axis after 1943 more complicated than normally thought? Think of Decima Mas, the two Italian Waffen SS brigades that fought at Anzio, the Italian "Hell Ships" and that 1 million or so Italian military personnel interred by the German and sent to the Reich to work as impressed laborers.

An entire PhD thesis could be written about such events. Perhaps it already has been.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This is coolbert:

As found in a recent Fred on Everything blog entry the original from the book "The Sharp End".

“'Burn criteria' measures the hope of charring enough flesh that the crew will die. 'Air shock' means destruction of lung tissue[ flame inhaled]. These can be expressed less coldly. From 'The Sharp End', an excellent book about soldiers in World War II"

 "A tank that is mortally hit belches forth long searing tongues of orange flame from every hatch. As ammunition explodes in the interior, the hull is racked by violent convulsions and sparks erupt from the spout of the barrel like the fireballs of a Roman candle. Silver rivulets of molten aluminum pour from the engine like tears...When the inferno subsides, gallons of lubricating oil in the power train and hundreds of pounds of rubber in the tracks and bogey wheels continue to burn, spewing clouds of dense black smoke over the funeral pyre."

An armor vehicle "mortally hit" the danger to a tank crew from FIRE most terrible!

That "mortal hit" quite often from a HEAT round [high explosive anti-tank] the various materials such as rubber, lubricants, unexpended ammunition, fuel for the engine AND HUMAN BODIES burning with an undiminished intensity for a prolonged period, that spectacle frightening to say the least.

As it was during the Second World War [WW2] so was it too for the Israeli tank crews in 1973 manning the various American M48/M60 tanks in their inventory.

Tanks [M48/M60] quite vulnerable, those Patton tanks when struck with an enemy anti-tank guided missile [ATGM] having a tendency to send  hydraulic fuel of high temperature coursing through the crew compartment, scalding alive the inhabitants!

Those Egyptian ATGM gunners knowing full well the exact spot on the M48/M60 tank to aim for. Death for the Israeli crew a certainty.

"When the Yom Kippur War broke out, Israel had a total of 540 M48A3 (with 105mm gun) and M60A1 tanks. During the war, the tanks suffered heavy losses. The location of flammable hydraulic fluid at the front of the turret was discovered to be a severe vulnerability. After the war Israel had only about 200 M48A3 and M60A1 tanks, after a large number of Israeli tanks were destroyed or terminally hit during the war, mostly in the Sinai front in fighting against the Egyptian army"

"A once popular macabre joke in the IDF said that "Magach" stands for "Movil Gviyot Charukhot" — "charred bodies carrier", probably referring to the Yom Kippur War losses and particularly to the aforementioned flammable hydraulic fluid problem of the M48."

In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of 1973 the Israeli incorporating specially designed and tested fire suppression systems into the Merkava tank, far and beyond the normal, in response to the "charred bodies carrier" experience.



This is coolbert:

From StrategyPage as copied in entirety the Russian now emulating NATO and much to their credit. Tank gunnery competition crews demonstrating their proficiency. Driving skills also tested.

"Finding The Best Tank Crew In Russia"

  "July 12, 2013: In its continuing efforts to improve the capabilities of its armed forces, Russia has introduced a competition based on actual tasks a tank crew would be called on to perform in combat. The training course is ten kilometers long and each time a tank goes through it they are called on to halt when a target appears and fire one of their three weapons (main gun, machine-gun, or long range missile fired from the main gun barrel).The fourth event is an obstacle course where crews are graded on time and accuracy (not hitting certain obstacles). The crews are ranked according to their scores and those that do the best are rewarded in one way or another."

"Such competitions are costly, especially when they involve all similar units in the army, navy, or air force. But in the West such competitions were found to be worth the additional cost and effort. They are a big boost to morale as well because of the competitive element, and this is especially true for the teams (and the unit they are from) who win overall. Russia has picked up on this and has made these elaborate and expensive training/testing methods part of their military reforms."

"The Russian now emulating NATO".

This was CAT Canadian Army Trophy. Multi-national tank competition by NATO as held for decades which has apparently been discontinued as of the First Gulf War.

"The Canadian Army Trophy (CAT) was a tank gunnery competition established to foster excellence, camaraderie and competition among the armoured forces of the NATO countries in Western Europe."

"Scoring was based on target hits, hit times, ammunition bonuses (only if all targets were hit), and hit bonuses (only if all targets were hit), machine gun hits, and penalties with a maximum platoon score of 22,600 points. The main gun targets were at ranges between 1,600-3,000 meters and would remain standing after being hit until presentation time, 40 seconds, had expired. No target would be presented twice, so the judges could actually count holes in the targets to verify target hits; 'cookie bites' did not count as hits."

This NATO competition held for about thirty years, the various tank crews from those countries a part of the alliance displaying their mettle in almost real-world combat conditions NO ONE NATION DEMONSTRATING A DOMINATION OR AN EXPERTISE OVER THEIR RIVALS. AMERICAN TANKERS NOT NECESSARILY FARING SO WELL IN THE COMPETITION AS I UNDERSTAND!

"Such competitions are costly".

Without question this is so. The cost of firing ONE LIVE ROUND from the main gun of an English Chieftain tank costing $3,000 per shot.

And the wear and tear on a tank even in training quite severe, the longevity of a tank quite short.

Tank gunnery since the time of CAT is now quite different? A devoted reader to the blog knows better? Those gun stabilizer and laser range finders make the first shot hit a more or less certainty. And rounds now fired on the move and not after a stop as was the case during CAT?


Monday, July 15, 2013

FlaK 18.

This is coolbert:

From my previous blog entry:

"It was during the Battle of France 1940 that the famous German 88 mm gun was employed as an anti-tank gun? A role for the weapon was most suitable."

And thanks to the wiki we have the answer.

It would seem that I am part right and part wrong.

German units during the Battle of France 1940 employing the FlaK 18 [88 mm gun] in the anti-tank role with effectiveness, but as an expedient solution!

"Rommel ordered the division's 88 mm (3.46 in) FlaK 18 anti-aircraft guns and 105 mm (4.1 in) field guns be formed into a defensive line and fire anti-tank and HE rounds in a last-ditch effort to stop the Matildas. The BEF's advance was halted with heavy losses."

This was the destruction of Frankforce. Covering force for the British evacuation of Dunkirk [Dynamo]. Frankforce a multi-divisional command with armor augmentation [French and British both], the English Mathilda tank impervious to smaller caliber German anti-tank guns BUT NOT SO TO THE FlaK 18!!

FlaK 18 the German designation for the 88 mm gun.

"Frankforce, consisted of two divisions—the 5th Division and the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, plus 74 tanks from the 1st Army Tank Brigade and 60 supporting French tanks"

Let it be understood NOT the first time the 88 mm gun used in the anti-tank role.

"Despite common misconception, the FlaK 18 was not used for the first time as an anti-tank gun at Arras. Several years earlier, during the Spanish Civil War, the German volunteer unit Condor Legion had used FlaK 18s against armour and other ground targets.

Thanks be to the wiki, I am beholden!


Sunday, July 14, 2013


This is coolbert:

"inferiority of numbers, inferiority of equipment, inferiority of methods"
From Gamelin the French generalissimo as related to Churchill those reasons for allied defeat during the Battle of France 1940. Allied numbers, equipment and methods according to Gamelin all inferior.


NOT inferior numbers. According to Dupuy the allied forces prior to the Battle of France 1940 out-numbering the German adversary. Both in manpower and number of tanks available. The German possessing a greater number of warplanes available but not so much significantly so to make a major difference? Those allied forces consisting in totality of Dutch, Belgian, English and French.

NOT necessarily inferior equipment either. Those French and allied tanks generally speaking superior in quality and capability to the German counter-part.

Rather look to inferior methods.

Here we can be in agreement with Gamelin.

The German on the offensive and having the initiative. The allies content with defensive action at the strategic level of combat operations their combat posture demonstrably indicating a lack of initiative, almost totally so!

Most importantly so the German using CONCENTRATED AND FOCUSED ENERGY!

The German able to mass men and material in accordance with their overall plan at a point they had determined was decisive and critical to the overall campaign.

A decisive point and moment critical and being recognized by the high command as being such!

Keep in mind those three factors as identified by Dupuy contributing to success on the battlefield:

1. Officers are more dynamic and aggressive.

2. Doctrine, tactics, and equipment is more suited to the environment.

3. Troops perform team tasks better.

From the wiki entry for the Battle of France 1940 suggested reasons for allied defeat to include:

1. That German combat commander at all echelons was more aggressive and dynamic.

AND by doctrine allowed to exercise a degree of initiative in accordance with plan,  allowing for dynamic change under dynamic conditions.

"officers [German] were expected to use their initiative to achieve their commanders' intentions, and were given control of the necessary supporting arms."

2. German troops [armor in particular] performed team tasks better.

Those most critical to the offensive [armor troops] markedly able to do so. Performed better than their allied counterparts.

"The newer German Panzers had a crew of five men; a Commander, gunner-aimer, loader, driver and mechanic. Having a trained individual for each task allowed each man to dedicate himself to his own mission and it made for a highly efficient combat team."


 Each man a dedicated task allowing for more rapid and correct dynamic change.

3. The widespread use of radio communication by the various combat arms with inter-working allowing for concentration and focused energy in a coordinated manner. Ground and air combat units working together and networked with radio.

"The real trump card for the Germans was the radio. The Panzers all had radios that allowed voice communication with other units. This enabled German armour to respond rapidly to a constantly changing [dynamic] battlefield situation"

"The radio network went beyond tank to tank commands. The system also permitted a degree of communication between air and ground forces."

NOT ONLY the radio allowing for rapid communications between ground and air combat elements but also SECURE radio communications. Encrypted messages using the Enigma cryptographic machine allowing for that degree of security to the extent needed.

Those instances when the allies were able to "read" encrypted German communications too late in doing so or when time sensitive and producing actionable intelligence the allied combat commander on the ground not taking advantage of such intelligence.

It is NOT that the allied forces were not in possession of radio equipment. Merely that the allies had less radio equipment at their disposal and were less reliant on same. Also having a much less capability for networking between the various combat elements, ground and air both!!

4. German air force [Luftwaffe] doctrine was more flexible and responsive the main purpose of air power as envisioned by German military planners was to support the ground forces.


And flying artillery used in that concentrated and focused manner in an overwhelming manner.

"The task of German aviation was to provide close air support in the form of the dive-bomber and medium bomber. In 1940, the Luftwaffe was a broadly based force with no constricting central doctrine, other than its resources should be used generally to support national strategy. It was flexible and it was able to carry out both operational, tactical and strategic bombing effectively."

Again, it was so much that the allies had a numerical inferiority of combat aircraft, but that the German doctrine was superior, German units while the offensive better able to use concentrated and focused air power in furtherance of the objective.

5. German operational methods included a form of the strategic defensive?

German armor creating a breakthrough [a rupture in the allied defensive line] and capturing ground but that same armor NOT defending that same terrain.

"Although their tanks were not designed for tank-versus-tank combat, they could take ground and draw the enemy armour on to the division's anti-tank lines. This conserved the tanks to achieve the next stage of the offensive."

Armor can seize ground but cannot hold ground?

Terrain selected by the German as suitable for the defense then a stop line formed Nazi anti-tank guns in wait for the inevitable French counter-attack.

It was during the Battle of France 1940 that the famous German 88 mm gun was employed as an anti-tank gun? A role for the weapon was most suitable.

6. German FLAK [anti-aircraft-artillery] was numerically and qualitatively superior, furthering that mastery of the airspace over the battlefield?

"It is generally supposed that the Germans also had a major advantage in anti-aircraft guns, or 'Flak'".

German FLAK defenses at the Ardennes breakthrough sector in the vicinity of the Meuse river too strong for allied air power, massed FLAK defenses able to thwart the allied air forces.

"every available Allied light bomber was employed in an attempt to destroy the three bridges [bridges over the Meuse river, vicinity of the Ardennes]", but failed to hit them while suffering heavy losses. Some 44% of the Allies' bomber strength was destroyed."

NOT so much a major advantage in the numbers or quality or effectiveness of the German FLAK [anti-aircraft-artillery] but rather the concentration and focused use of such weapons at the most critical point? Concentration and focused energy!

Dupuy most adamant that stopping the German onslaught in 1940 was possible. IF the French with had a more dynamic and active response to the German offensive in the Ardennes, Gamelin replaced early by Weyand with De Gaulle as the operations Chief of Staff, disaster COULD have been averted. But it was not.

C'est le guerre mon ami!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Enemy Agents!

This is coolbert:

Passing through Cloquet Minnesota, USA the other day and saw this road-side sign and knew instantly that here was a story with a military dimension to it. And there is.

The Cloquet fire of 1918. A forest fire of prodigious proportions, about four hundred square miles of land burned to the ground, the loss of life horrific, a catastrophe. And occurring during a time of war, the local populace and in all probability many others believing or having suspicions that "enemy agents" were involved. Those "enemy agents" obviously German saboteurs engaging in a form of terrorism.

"The 1918 Cloquet fire was a massive fire in northern Minnesota in October, 1918, caused by sparks on the local railroads and dry conditions. The fire left much of western Carlton County devastated . . . It was the worst natural disaster in Minnesota history in terms of the number of lives lost in a single day. In total, 453 lives were lost and 52,000 people were injured or displaced, 38 communities were destroyed, 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) were burned, and $73 million in property damage was suffered."

Instantaneous and panicky blame as attributed to "enemy agents" incorrect. More mundane reasons for the fire being:

* Dry conditions
* High winds.
* Poor forestry methods.
* Inadequate firefighting equipment.
* Sparks from a passing railroad train.

"One cause of the fire is believed to be from sparks from the railroad tracks that lit the dry timber, but the rapid progression of the fire through northern Minnesota was caused by factors such as drought conditions, high winds, and a lack of firefighting equipment."

As it was almost one hundred years ago as it is now.

In the aftermath that most recent forest fire in Arizona, USA comes this headline:

"Arizona Officials ‘Unequivocally’ Reject Palestinian Jihadist Group’s Claim of Responsibility for Wildfires"

"A Palestinian Jihadist movement is claiming responsibility for the recently contained Arizona wildfires that left 19 firefighters dead. Local fire officials however, insist the conflagration was caused by lightning, not terrorists."


Daniel Pipes in his blog also commenting on the Arizona fire in the context what is referred to by Dr. Pipes as "Bushfire Jihad":

"Bushfire Jihad"

"As fires swept through a hot and dry Victoria State, Australia in February 2009, some observers (including myself) wondered if this might not be an Islamist attack on the country. But one stayed quiet, not having proof."

Proof not only NOT forthcoming but facts often impossible to verify!

Hysteria and exaggeration and claims of an outlandish nature always present during a time of conflict. Rumor an disinformation intentional and otherwise also part and parcel of the psychological measures as adopted by combatants as a methodology. Rational thought easily giving way to paranoia. ANYTHING SEEMS POSSIBLE!


Saturday, July 6, 2013


This is coolbert:

This was quite a surprise to me. Came across quite by accident. Japanese involvement in the Great War [WW1] not strictly relegated to the Asian and Pacific theatre.

Japanese naval forces on request entering the fray in the European theatre as well, warships on patrol, escorting commercial vessels and providing protection for same.

"World War One"

"Japan entered World War I on the side of the Allies, against Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary, as a consequence of the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance."

"In the Siege of Tsingtao, the Japanese Navy helped seize the German naval base of Tsingtao." [1914]

[pronounced Ching-dow]

"Concurrently, a battle group was sent to the central Pacific in August and September to pursue the German East Asiatic squadron . . ." [1914]
. . . .

"Following a further request to contribute to the conflict, and the advent of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany, the Imperial Navy in March 1917 sent a special force of destroyers to the Mediterranean. This force, consisting of one armoured cruiser, Akashi, as flotilla leader, and eight of the Navy's newest destroyers . . . By the end of the war, the Japanese had escorted 788 allied transports. One destroyer, Sakaki, was torpedoed by an Austrian submarine with the loss of 59 officers and men."

"In 1918, ships such as Azuma were assigned to convoy escort in the Indian Ocean between Singapore and the Suez Canal as part of Japan’s contribution to the war effort under the Anglo-Japanese alliance."

Various Imperial German colonial possessions in the Pacific the Japanese gaining dominion over in the aftermath of German surrender.

The Japanese gaining valuable combat experience and for the first time demonstrating a global reach impressive and in keeping with established treaties of mutual aid and support to an ally [Great Britain!

You gotta start somewhere.



This is coolbert:

Here with extracts and comments from the book "The RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN, 1812" by M. de Fezensac.

This book is highly recommended by a variety of sources, a first-hand account from a middle-grade officer, that invasion and ultimately disastrous retreat from Moscow of the Grande Armee during the  Russian campaign, 1812.

"I read the tale at one sitting and anyone who takes it in hand will probably do the same. Nothing that I know in military literature quite compares with it" - -  S. L. A. Marshall.

"a short, graphic, and accurate mid-level young professional officer's view of Napoleon's Russian campaign. Fezensac was a staff officer from the Niemen to Borodino . . . For any reader this lucid memoir is as close as he will want to get to what it was really like in Russia." - - Theodore Ropp.

Fezensac with the rank of Colonel first an aide de camp to the general staff of the Grande Armee and during the retreat from Moscow in command of the 18th Regiment of line, Third Corps.

That Third Corps of the Grande Armee during the initial stages of the Russian campaign consisting of three divisions, two French and one of troops from Wurttemberg.

Total infantry as deployed by Third Corps numbering about 36,000 men-a-foot, three divisions of about 12,000 men each.

The experience of the Wurttemberg division [25th Division] in a microcosm that entire ordeal of the Grande Armee, casualties even prior to the retreat from Moscow disastrous and overwhelming:

"A third division of infantry composed of Wurttemberg, under the orders of General Marchand, was reduced to 1,000 men. The Prince of Wurttemberg command it a the beginning of the campaign. The Emperor reproached him severely on the depredations committed by his troops, depredations which were much exaggerated by the French, The Prince of Wurttemberg tried to establish a more rigorous discipline, but since they could only live through pillage, the starving soldiers wandered off. The Prince himself, ill and embittered, left the army."

Of that 12,000 man contingent of Wurttemberg division that marched on Moscow, only 1,000 left standing during that occupation of the city. A lesser number than that in the ranks during those beginning stages of the retreat, the command structure evidently having disintegrated.

"The general who commanded the Wurttemberg Division under General Marchand was created a count of the Empire, with a gift of 20,000 francs - - a meager reward indeed for the suffering of 12,000 men whom exhaustion and privation  had now reduced to eight hundred."

Of that eight-hundred Wurttemberg infantry on the retreat from Moscow those that survived the journey to safety not made clear, but must have been minuscule even in comparison.

It also noteworthy that "princes" of Wurttemberg fought on both sides during the campaign.

Fezensac relating that at Borodino among those of noble rank dead on the battlefield including Prince "Eugene of Wurttemberg".

"The loss was heavy on both sides: it can be placed at 28,000 French and 50,000 Russians. I might mention among those who fell on the enemy side Prince Eugene of Wurttemberg and Price Bagration"

Eugene wounded but not a fatality? That Prince Eugene indeed a "prince" of Wurttemberg fighting with the Russians but merely wounded and not killed.

There also a "prince" Alexander of Wurttemberg serving with the Russians during that campaign of 1812, both men of the royal Wurttemberg household rather senior officers.

When I speak of a "prince" these men were of noble rank but rather more correctly titled a Duke?

Also this Prince of Wurttemberg nominally in command of the 25th Wurttemberg division is exactly who? I need some help with this. NO where I can find on the Internet this particular "prince" referred to by his given name.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Sloping Armor!

This is coolbert:

Here from the General George Patton Museum in Ft. Knox KY. we have this online exhibit of a Christie tank.

"Model of Christie Tank"

 This is a handmade, sheet metal model of a Christie “Fast Tank”, dating to the early 1930s. Over 30 inches long, the model has independently sprung road wheels on each side with a non-rotating turret. The maker is unknown."

That Christie tank most famous for the independent suspension, revolutionizing tank design.

Tanks as built prior to the tank possessing the Christie suspension unreliable in the extreme.

Unreliable contraptions that worth on the battlefield open to question.

Those "independently sprung road wheels" of the Christie tank allowing for fast movement and much more reliable. The tank as a battlefield weapons system now having a potency that prior was not the case. That combination of protection [armor], firepower [gun] and mobility [movement] that latter most item now RELIABLE and much less so susceptible to breakdown.

AND as previously discernible by myself, the Christie tank as shown in this online exhibit having SLOPING ARMOR.

 That sloping armor also at the time unique and revolutionary. Armor of the time after Christie also incorporating sloping armor into the design.


In some quarters the Soviet T-34 tank credited with being the "first" to incorporate sloping armor into the design. The French prior to the T-34 also having a pair of tanks also possessing sloping armor.

This is a French SOMUA 35 from that era prior to World War Two. At least by 1935 [that 35 signifies 1935] having sloping armor. Bears a remarkable resemblance to the Sherman tank or does the Sherman bear a remarkable resemblance to the SOMUA? That cupola on top of the turret also reminds me of the cupola as found on the American armor M48/M60 series of tanks.

Allow that online exhibit time to load and you can rotate the image to view the Christie tank from all angles and see the sloping armor that entire tank so as designed!!


Thursday, July 4, 2013


This is coolbert:

Thanks to National Public Radio and the Diane Rehm Show we have this most outstanding podcast, a discussion of the Battle of Gettysburg:

"150 Years After The Battle Of Gettysburg"

"Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to flood the 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Military Park and surrounding town this week to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The events of July 1-3, 1863, produced more than 50,000 casualties, with an estimated 7,500 soldiers killed. Many historians consider Gettysburg a major turning point of the Civil War after Northern forces turned away a Confederate advance. And in the decades following the conflict, the battleground became a symbol of reconciliation. Diane and her guests discuss the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg and how it's remembered."

The podcast is fifty-one minutes long but that panel comprised of experts does an excellent job. Bert recommends highly without qualification.

My own personal experience with the Gettysburg battlefield is from about thirty years ago. A December day, clear skies with no snow on the ground but air temperature was about plus ten degrees Fahrenheit with a thirty mile per hour wind. Dressed in parka with hood up I had the entire area to myself the whole day [and with good reason] a very rare occurrence for any visitor.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Fourth of July III.

This is coolbert:



Regarding that reporting from one-hundred-fifty years ago in the Chicago Tribune, it being noted that the far left hand column of the front page devoted to editorial comment:

"Major victories":

"Column One for years was a space for editors to comment on the news. On this day, they explain how important the Vicksburg victory was. They end with a remarkable discussion on the wisdom of offering bounties for Indian scalps."

That remarkable discussion from 1863 as follows:


"The news from Minnesota is highly important. One feature we are not quite ready to endorse. The twenty-five dollar bounty on Indian scalps would look better offered by the red skins themselves whose warfare it little becomes us to imitate. White men in Minnesota stringing dead Indian scalps for a tally at the Adjutant General's office is not well or wisely inaugurated. Shoot the miscreants, hunt them to their holes. Let every squaw's son of them be bored through with a Minie but scalping knives and tomahawks should pass away with the red-men."

Minie referring to the conoidal round as fired from a muzzle loading rifle common to soldiers of the period.

Scalping of American Indians as occurring in Minnesota at the time in the aftermath of the Dakota War of 1862 [also called the Great Sioux Uprising]. Those warfare methods of the American Indian when imitated by the "white men" not looked upon with favor by the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. WHITE MEN BEHAVING BAD AND CONDEMNED BY THE TRIBUNE!

For those that interested that purchasing power of $25 per scalp as was the bounty in 1863 now would be worth about $472 in value.

Such was the nature and tenor of the times.


Fourth of July II.

This is coolbert:


As was reported by the Chicago Tribune from one-hundred-fifty years ago, that most climactic battle of the American Civil War resulting in a complete Union victory. Followed closely by those readers of the Tribune. These particular headlines from 8 July. Readers of the Tribune aware of Federal victory, further report dealing with the aftermath of the battle.

"Chicagoans in 1863 experienced the two events separately. The telegraph dispatches from the great battle in Pennsylvania came quickly, a one-day delay that allowed Tribune readers to follow the action of the epic fight 150 years ago this week between Union Gen. George Meade and the Southern host led by Lee. But the news took much longer coming up the river [Mississippi], often delayed up to eight or nine days."


"Our Whole Army in Pursuit of Lee,"

"His forces in Rapid Flight Southward,"

"Prompt Measures to Intercept them,"

"Rumored Crossing Begun at Williamsport."

"A Great Battle Believed to be in Progress Yesterday."


That Army of Northern Virginia NOT being pursued. The "whole army" NOT in pursuit of Lee. "Prompt measures" NOT taken, a "great battle" NOT in progress. Meade content to fight strictly defensively at Gettysburg, also timid, having Lee on the run, not pursuing!

That Army of Northern Virginia generally acknowledged as one of the finest fighting forces in the history of all mankind, commanded by R. E. Lee, generally acknowledge as one of the finest fighting general officers in the history of mankind, ONLY ONE MONTH EARLIER VICTORIOUS AT CHANCELLORSVILLE, LEE AND HIS TROOPS SEEMINGLY UNSTOPPABLE AND ALL-CONQUERING.


Fourth of July I.

This is coolbert:

As reported in the Chicago Tribune from yesterday.

And as was reported in the Chicago Tribune from one-hundred-fifty-years ago!



The headlines and coverage of those two epic events as transpired on the Fourth of July 1863. Thanks to the Tribune and Stephan Benzkofer for the continuing series of such reporting. Outstanding indeed.

"1863: A jubilant Fourth"

First, headlines announcing the surrender of Vicksburg. That hitherto impregnable and most important city overlooking the Mississippi river, a long-lasting siege the finality resulting in unconditional surrender of the Confederate forces. These particular headlines as printed in the Chicago Tribune of 8 July, that transmission of dispatches delayed by modern standards but up-to-date by the means of the time [1863].


"Long Looked for Come at Last."

The City Capitulates on the 4th of July.


"Official Dispatches of the Surrender."








"Splendid Exhibition"




"NO. 7 Clark Street."

Those "Western Soldiers" contingents of troops from the states and territories of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. What was at the time [1863] the "western" territory of the United States.

That capture of Vicksburg crucial to the "Anaconda" strategy of the Federal forces. Strangulation, those states comprising the Confederacy now separated and unable to provide mutual support and assistance. That most vital river route down the very center of the country [the Mississippi river] now also totally under control of the Union, this too deemed as vital to continuing Yankee overall strategy.



This is coolbert:

So very apropos. From StrategyPage this item:

"Getting The Boot In Afghanistan"

"June 24, 2013: Twelve years of combat in Afghanistan have forced the United States to develop several generations of combat boots for troops fighting in the rocky hills, freezing cold, and scorching heat found there. Every two or three years a new boot design was created and issued."

Recall from that previous blog entry:

* "Doctrine, tactics and equipment are more suited to the conditions of combat and the environment."

That Rhodesian Fire Force troop going into combat as lightly encumbered as possible, wearing what is best described as a "running shoe". Equipment attention given to the combat "dress" that infantryman gaining an advantage.

Reducing the weight of the troop in the COIN environment vital, rapid and quick movement necessary when chasing an ephemeral insurgent.

American troops in Afghan going through several iterations of boot design, that which worked in Iraq NOT working in Afghan, and that general purpose combat boot too heavy - - adequate, but more than adequate desired on the part of all participants.

Combat boots as that term understood not worn by the infantry until at least that time of the Second World War [WW2]. Combatants of the era of the Great War for instance wearing for the most part what is best described as a low-quarter work shoe!

From my perspective speed-over-the-ground most vital during COIN operations that pair of modern combat boots weighing about three pounds [five kilograms] too much, an impediment that "stripped" soldier of the Rhodesian Bush War more suited for "the conditions of combat and the environment.".

That environment of Afghan rugged in way that is without equal. That understood! Merely replace boots [shoes] and socks when they wear out that cost small when compared to weapons and weapon systems.



This is coolbert:

Here is an instance of military force from history that has a surprising modern relevancy? Relevant even more so when considering the recent visit of President Obama to Africa and the obligatory visit to the Senegalese Atlantic port of Goree'.

An instance the use of military force that can be and perhaps even is being used as a precedent for the global war on terror [GWOT]?

That blockade of the African coast line by the Royal Navy. A blockade occurring during the Nineteenth Century.

The West African Squadron. Also called the Preventative Squadron.

A blockade long lasting [for decades] for the purpose of bringing a halt to the African Slave Trade.
For many decades this blockade exclusively the domain of the Royal Navy.

American warships participating at a later date, gunboats as defined at the time the vessel of choice for the onerous and difficult duty.

An effort at sea to stop the African slave trade taken unilaterally and without precedent, the legality of which was questionable?

And we must be clear about what we are talking about here.

NOT an end to slavery as such. This blockade solely for preventing the importation of slaves to the New World [western hemisphere]. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

NOR even an end either to the Arabic slave trade, the blockade concentrating on the Atlantic coast of Africa, that number of warships as deployed in the anti-slavery effort quite small indeed. But nonetheless effective.

That Atlantic coast line of Africa quite long but only a few ports and facilities as used at the time for the exportation of slaves needing to be blockaded

It is interesting that the British when a blockade runner captured with a cargo of slaves, that ship [the blockade runner] captured and impressed into service with the Royal Navy. An effort the blockade almost self-sufficient in itself! Such a ship was the Black Joke!

It is worth noting that less than 5 % of those slaves taken out of Africa and sent to the New World over a period of centuries ended up in what was British North America, those thirteen colonies that became the United States. The Spanish colonies and the Portuguese colony of Brazil continuing to import black African slaves long after the practice was discontinued by the British and Americans.

Terrorists it has been suggested being referred to as hostis humani generis . Enemies of all mankind. In the same category as pirates, war criminals, perpetrators of crimes against humanity, torturers and slavers.  All and any means can be used and will be used to apprehend or bring to bay the villains with justice being the order of the day, legalities and precedent not often established by consensus agreement!

Again, too, that anti-slavery effort and blockade long lasting for decades, pursued with a diligence that is admirable. NO ONE ever said such matters are ever easy!