Published on 11 Mar 2017
March 12, 2017
March 11, 2017
The Services should just acknowledge the reality of contracting anything in the seven-figure realm, and change initial award announcements to read: “The Initial Conditional Award of Contract XYZ is to Defense Conglomerate 1369. Work will commence after all Congressional Outraged Publicity-Seeking Posturing is exhausted and Butthurt Losing Contractor Challenges are adjudicated. We hope to run both those actions concurrently, and anticipate work will commence a minimum of 3-5 years behind schedule and costs grow at an exponential rate during this period, hence the budget supplemental is already in draft form for Newsies, Think Tanks, and Outraged Congresspersons to grind axes with.” Added caveat for this particular contract: “Additionally, a website has been established to collect all the comments from .40/.45 cal and steel-frame fanboyz to rant about How Stupid This Choice Is.”
John Donovan, posting to Facebook, 2017-02-28.
March 10, 2017
Published on 9 Mar 2017
Food shortages, an overall desolate supply situation and great political turmoil make Russia ripe for revolution and this week 100 years ago, the people take to the streets. The US adopts a policy of armed neutrality.
March 8, 2017
Published on 7 Mar 2017
The Cossacks are surrounded my myths and legends. For some they were the “Tsar’s dogs” for others they were more comparable to the cowboys of the Wild West. In any case, their history and culture is unique and is deeply intertwined with the rise and end of the Romanov dynasty. And that’s why we are taking a look further back than usual to introduce to the Cossacks.
March 7, 2017
Published on 6 Mar 2017
Russia’s history in the decades leading up to World War 1 where a time of great turmoil and social changes. The Romanov tsars held a tight grip on the country which remained an autocracy even though the people requested change. And by 1917, three years into World War 1, the people demanded change again.
March 6, 2017
Published on 13 Feb 2015
The first in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.
The A13 was the first British tank to have Christie Suspension. With a top speed of 40 miles per hour, it was much faster than the German Panzers, and had one of the best guns of its time. Despite this, many were lost in the battle for France in 1940. They fared better in the desert when their speed enabled them to cut off and defeat a huge Italian Army at Beda Fomm in Libya.
March 5, 2017
Published on 4 Mar 2017
Batman is answering your questions about World War 1, oddly enough. This week we talk about the European micro nations and about the quieter sectors on the Western Front.
March 3, 2017
Published on 2 Mar 2017
The new Austro-Hungarian Kaiser is not happy about his Empire’s dependence on the German ally. And he is also not happy about their own military decisions and over the winter has worked to replace key positions with his own men. The last step in that process is convincing Conrad von Hötzendorf to take a position on the Italian Front. At the same time, French Commander Robert Nivelle is trying to get control over the British Armies on the Western Front and the Zimmermann Telegram is released to the press.
March 2, 2017
Charles Stross speculates on a few ways that Il Donalduce could trigger the end of Britain’s nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines:
Working hypothesis #1: Donald Trump is an agent of influence of Moscow. Less alarmingly: Putin’s people have got blackmail material on the current President and this explains his willingness to pursue policies favourable to the Kremlin. Russian foreign policy is no longer ideologically dominated by communism, but focusses on narrow Russian interests as a regional hegemonic power and primary oil and gas exporter.
Clearly, it is not in Russia’s geopolitical interest to allow a small, belligerent neighbor to point strategic nuclear missiles at Moscow. But this neighbor’s nuclear capability has a single point of failure in the shape of the resupply arrangements under the 1958 UK-USA Agreement. Donald Trump has made no bones about his willingness to renegotiate existing treaties in the USA’s favor, and has indicated that he wants to modernise and expand the US strategic nuclear capability. Existing nuclear weapons modernization programs make the first goal pointless (thanks, Obama!) but he might plausibly try to withdraw British access to Trident D-5 in order to justify commissioning four new US Navy SSBNs to carry the same missiles and warheads.
(Yes, this would break the “special relationship” between the USA and the UK for good — but remember, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about: the original diplomatic bull in a china shop who decapitated the state department in his first month in office.)
Trump could present this as delivering on his promise to expand the US nuclear capability, while handing his buddy a gift-wrapped geopolitical easter egg.
Working hypothesis #2: Let us suppose that Donald Trump isn’t a Russian agent of influence. He might still withdraw, or threaten, British access to Trident as a negotiation lever in search of a better trade deal with the UK, when Theresa May or her successor comes cap-in-hand to Washington DC in the wake of Brexit. It’s a clear negative sum game for the British negotiating side — you can have a nuclear deterrent, or a slightly less unpalatable trade deal, but not both.
In this scenario, Trump wouldn’t be following any geopolitical agenda; he’d just be using the British Trident renewal program as a handy stick to beat an opponent with, because Trump doesn’t understand allies: he only understands supporters and enemies.
As for how fast the British Trident force might go away …
Missiles don’t have an indefinite shelf-life: they need regular servicing and maintenance. By abrogating the 1958 agreement, or banning Royal Navy warships from retrieving or delivering UGM-133s from the common stockpile at King’s Bay, POTUS could rely on the currently-loaded missiles becoming unreliable or unsafe to launch within a relatively short period of time — enough for trade negotiations, perhaps, but too short to design and procure even a temporary replacement. It’s unlikely that French M51 missiles could be carried aboard Dreadnought-class SSBNs without major design changes to the submarines, even if they were a politically viable replacement (which, in the wake of Brexit, they might well not be).
March 1, 2017
Uploaded on 20 Jul 2010
February 28, 2017
Published on 27 Feb 2017
The classic narrative of the outbreak of World War 1 is that everyone saw it coming and was awaiting it with patriotic fervor. But studying the people that profited most from a war, the bankers, that idea is definitely challenged.
Apparently the Royal Navy’s long
unbroken tradition of glorious victories had a few setbacks after all, like the 1667 Battle of Chatham, which a flotilla of Dutch sailing vessels will be commemorating this June:
The Dutch are preparing to invade English seas with a fleet of 90 vessels after a previous expedition boarded the Royal Navy’s flagship and stole the Royal Coat of Arms from her.
In a celebration of Dutch Admiral De Ruyter’s 1667 raid on Chatham Dockyard, which resulted in English flagship HMS Royal Charles being boarded and ransacked by Dutch sailors, their modern-day civilian counterparts are planning a memorial cruise to Chatham.
The raid is known in British naval history as the Battle of Chatham, and formed part of the endless naval scrapping of the middle of the last millennium which eventually forged Britain’s 19th century dominance of the high seas.
In the battle, the numerically superior Dutch fleet sailed right up the River Medway into Chatham, Kent, and generally caused mayhem amongst the laid-up English warships moored there. The English fleet, starved of money and manpower, could not afford to put to sea in numbers despite wreaking havoc on the Dutch in the previous year.
Amongst other booty, the Dutch made off with the English royal coat of arms from fleet flagship HMS Royal Charles, which adorned the warship’s stern. The ornate carving can be viewed in the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum today.
February 26, 2017
Published on 25 Feb 2017
Indy sits in a French Chair this time and answers your questions about World War 1. This week we talk about the German disc grenades and the heroes that were celebrated in Austria-Hungary.
February 25, 2017
Earlier this week, Ted Campbell offered his suggestions on how to address some issues he notes in the lower ranks of the Canadian Army, based on both Canadian and allied armies’ experiences:
There was always a problem with the old (1850s to 1960s) Army rank structure: there was some need to tie rank to trade, but not as tightly, many military people believe, as […] in the Canadian Armed Forces today. Some branches (corps) used to have fairly strict rules; in the old (1960s) Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, for example, the technicians, amongst the very highest paid soldiers in the whole army, could not attend the long, difficult and expensive, advanced (3rd of 4 levels) technician course until they had passed the junior leadership course and they could not attempt the senior leadership course until they had passed the advanced technician’s course, and so on. But that system always excluded some good people. There were, and still are today, many people who can be excellent, even outstanding technicians but cannot lead or manage soldiers. The United States Army addressed this same issue by creating the “specialist” grouping which allowed soldiers to “advance” through part of the pay system ~ higher salaries for technical skills ~ but not the other ~ even higher salaries for leadership. In past years there were many different (paid) grades of specialist but now it is a “rank” equivalent to the US Army corporal for soldiers who have not yet or cannot pass the first level junior leader course. The British Royal Air Force has a similar and, in my opinion, better system …
… which recognizes both technical skill and leadership requirements.
In my opinion we should undo much of what Mr Hellyer did, while thanking him for addressing the pay problem, and restore the junior leadership positions, especially the tank and rifle section commanders, to the real, and younger, junior leaders: those in the rank of master corporal. This will restore the senior leaders to their traditional roles as “guides” and mentors to the junior leaders: both to the corporals and the lieutenants. The ranks of sergeant ~ in several “grades” and warrant officer are often, and very correctly, referred to as the backbone or even the “heart and soul” of the army. That is partly because, traditionally, they stood ever so slightly “aloof” from the rank and file. The lieutenants gave orders, advised, coached and mentored by the sergeants, to the corporals who, then, directly led the riflemen but were also mentored by the sergeants. It was, to repeat the words I used to describe the US constitution, “a fine and finely balanced system;” we upset the balance 50 years ago to solve a pay problem. We should, also, adapt the RAF’s aircraftman/technician to our own needs to allow some soldiers to advance “up” in their technical field (and be paid more) without becoming leaders (and being paid more for that, too).
To do that the Army will have to reform itself.
First, it will have to repose trust in its junior leaders; that’s something that will be hard to do, even after the Army, of absolute necessity, makes junior leader training ~ making privates into corporals and civilians into second lieutenants ~ its highest priority and the job it assigns to its very, very best senior leaders.
Second, it will have to restore the “sergeant’s mess” to its traditional pride of place in the Army by giving the sergeants and warrant officers back the senior supervisory and management duties that have, in far too many cases, migrated “upwards” until they are now done by captains and even majors. Once again, it is a trust issue and we live in a world where many of the most senior leaders are timid because they have been “burned” too often, by their own superiors, when a subordinate makes a mistake. Mistakes are part of human nature; they have to be corrected, forgiven, in most cases, and, very often, used as teaching aids.
Third, the government will need to revise the pay system so that junior leaders are paid more and, meanwhile, the gap between corporal and master corporal and sergeant is maintained.
Fourth, promotions, in the Army, at least, to corporal and to captain must not be automatic. Promotion to corporal must require that one pass a very tough junior leaders course; promotion from lieutenant to captain should be by examination.
But, doing these four things will, in my opinion, give the Army a firm foundation upon which to build and fight.
February 24, 2017
Published on 23 Feb 2017
After the humiliating defeat at Kut last year, the British upped their game in Mesopotamia and this week 100 years ago the British Indian Army starts making gains towards Baghdad. In the occupied territories of Serbia the local population is rising up against the Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian occupants and on the Western Front, the British make surprisingly easy progress against the German Army.