Quotulatiousness

May 26, 2017

A noteworthy historical “Oh, shit!” moment

Filed under: Books, History, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At Catallaxy Files, a guest post on a most butt-puckering “Oh, shit!” from long ago:

My favourite Oh Shit moment of all time occurred a while ago. On the 4th of September 401 BC to be exact. At dawn.

Cyrus the brother of the Persian Emperor wanted to knock him off and take the throne. He had plenty of local soldiers, but to add some oomph he hired about 13,000 Greek mercenaries. Many of these were Athenians down on their luck after their city lost the Peloponnesian Wars. The Greek hoplites were the Abrams tanks of the day. Unstoppable.

The Battle of Cunaxa saw Cyrus and his brother face off. It was going reasonably well for Cyrus’s guys – the Greeks routed their Persian opponents. But then Cyrus spotted the Emperor and his guard. According to Xenophon he then took his bodyguard of 600 heavy cavalry off and attacked the Emperor’s 6,000. Cyrus went all in – he personally attacked his brother and wounded him. But in doing so he received a javelin just under one eye and expired.

Which brings us to dawn next morning. The Greeks had no idea that their paymaster had suffered a quite unsuccessful death or glory moment, until the news arrived just then.

The Persians, having sorted out their differences, were now united into a huge army under Artaxerxes the Emperor. Which left the small matter of the Greek mercenary force deep inside the Persian Empire and surrounded by a vast horde of very unhappy Persians.

Oh shit.

The story of their escape back to Greece is awe inspiring and amazing. Well worth reading. Xenophon’s Anabasis is available free from Project Gutenberg at the link.

May 23, 2017

The Ally From The Far East – Japan in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Asia, China, History, Japan, Military, Pacific — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 22 May 2017

Japan’s participation in World War 1 is an often overlooked part of their history – even in Japan itself. Their service as one of the members of the Entente marked the climax of a development that started with the Meiji Restoration, a way out of isolation and into the global alliance system. This brought Japan more power and was also very lucrative. And after fighting in the Pacific Theatre of World War 1, the Siege of Tsingtao and contributing the Japanese Navy to the war effort, Japan had a seat at the table of the Versailles peace negotiations.

May 5, 2017

QotD: The British Army before WW1

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When the Duke of Wellington described the British army as “the scum of the earth, enlisted for drink,” he was probably speaking no more than the truth. But what is significant is that his opinion would have been echoed by any non-military Englishman for nearly a hundred years subsequently.

The French Revolution and the new conception of “national” war changed the character of most Continental armies, but England was in the exceptional position of being immune from invasion and of being governed during most of the nineteenth century by non-military bourgeoisie. Consequently its army remained, as before, a small profession force more or less cut off from the rest of the nation. The war-scare of the [eighteen-]sixties produced the Volunteers, later to develop into the Territorials, but it was not till a few years before the Great War that there was serious talk of universal service. Until the late nineteenth century the total number of white troops, even in war-time never reached a quarter of a million men, and it is probable that every great British land battle between Blenheim and Loos was fought mainly by foreign soldiers.

George Orwell, “Democracy in the British Army”, Left, 1939-09.

April 16, 2017

Smoke Screens – Fortress Location – Recruitment Age I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 15 Apr 2017

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It’s time for Out Of The Trenches again where Indy answers your questions about World War 1, this week we talk about the recruitment age, smoke grenades and fortress locations.

April 15, 2017

Tank Chats #6 Vickers Light MKVI B

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 5 Jun 2015

The first mass-produced British tank.

Being, in terms of numbers, the most significant British tank at the outbreak of war, the Mark VIB saw service with the British Expeditionary Force in France, the Eighth Army in North Africa and in various subsidiary theatres. As a reconnaissance vehicle it was satisfactory, as a fighting tank quite useless since armour protection was minimal and the armament ineffective against enemy tanks.

April 11, 2017

Evolution of the British Infantry during World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 10 Apr 2017

The professional British soldier of 1914 had little to do with the British conscript of 1918. So, even though World War 1 is often perceived as something static, the British infantry underwent a considerable evolution during the war.

April 10, 2017

Small Arms of WWI Primer 022: German T-Gewehr Anti-Tank Rifle

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on Mar 29, 2016

Othais and Mae delve into the story of this WWI classic. Complete with history, function, and live fire demonstration.

C&Rsenal presents its WWI Primer series; covering the firearms of this historic conflict one at a time in honor of the centennial anniversary. Join us every other Tuesday!

Cartridge: 13.2x92mmR
Capacity: 1 rnd
Length: 5.5′
weight: 37.7 lbs

Additional reading:

Das Tankgewehr Mauser M 1918
Wolfgang Kern

DWJ – 1972 – Volume 4
Die Panzerbuchse 18

K. D. Meyer

April 9, 2017

Tank Chats #5 Lanchester Armoured Car

Filed under: History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 7 May 2015

Lanchester Armoured Cars were produced by the The Lanchester Company at the request of the War Office, during late 1920’s and 30’s.

The long chassis was fitted with a large armoured body that mounted two machine guns in a turret as well as a third, optional, hull mounted gun. The Lanchesters turned out to be much too big for reconnaissance duties and were almost impossible to turn around on the narrow roads found in Britain at that time. Only 39 cars were issued.

April 4, 2017

The Forgotten Ally – Portugal in WW1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 3 Apr 2017

Portugal’s participation in the First World War 1, especially the service of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps on the Western Front, is often forgotten. And even when the troops were still fighting, the political situation back home had changed so much that the soldiers were largely forgotten.

Tank Chats #4 Vickers Armstrongs Type E

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 15 Apr 2015

The fourth in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.

Alongside their work for the British armed forces Vickers-Armstrongs produced military equipment for foreign buyers. Their earliest commercial tank designs failed to sell but in 1928 they produced a masterpiece. Known as the 6-ton or ‘six-tonner’, it was a remarkable design, with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine driving to a gearbox and track sprockets at the front of the tank. There were two main variants; some tanks were supplied with two machine-gun turrets (Type A) while others carried a larger single turret (Type B) like our exhibit.

Following trials the British Army turned it down but the tank was a major export success. It sold all around the world, from South America to Japan and was even studied by the United States Army. It was built under licence in Russia (see our T-26 exhibit) and influenced tank design in many other countries. Our exhibit is displayed in the fancy camouflage style adopted by Vickers for their commercial offerings; it is seen at a mythical army equipment exhibition some time in the thirties.

Shortly before World War II Vickers built a new version, powered by a Rolls-Royce engine (the Mark F) but this failed to sell. Subsequent to this the government of Siam (Thailand) placed a repeat order but specified the original Armstrong-Siddeley engine. These were completed closer to the Mark F design but few, if any, reached their destination. With the outbreak of war the British Government impounded all commercial tanks still in the factories and the remaining stock of six-tonners, of which this is one, were used by British forces for training.

April 2, 2017

The (inevitable) failure of the “Revolution in Military Affairs”

Filed under: Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In an article about security incident response automation, Bruce Schneier provides a useful thumbnail sketch of a US Army attempt to dispel the fog of war in real time:

While this is a laudable goal, there’s a fundamental problem with doing this in the short term. You can only automate what you’re certain about, and there is still an enormous amount of uncertainty in cybersecurity. Automation has its place in incident response, but the focus needs to be on making the people effective, not on replacing them ­ security orchestration, not automation.

This isn’t just a choice of words — it’s a difference in philosophy. The US military went through this in the 1990s. What was called the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was supposed to change how warfare was fought. Satellites, drones and battlefield sensors were supposed to give commanders unprecedented information about what was going on, while networked soldiers and weaponry would enable troops to coordinate to a degree never before possible. In short, the traditional fog of war would be replaced by perfect information, providing certainty instead of uncertainty. They, too, believed certainty would fuel automation and, in many circumstances, allow technology to replace people.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way. The US learned in Afghanistan and Iraq that there are a lot of holes in both its collection and coordination systems. Drones have their place, but they can’t replace ground troops. The advances from the RMA brought with them some enormous advantages, especially against militaries that didn’t have access to the same technologies, but never resulted in certainty. Uncertainty still rules the battlefield, and soldiers on the ground are still the only effective way to control a region of territory.

But along the way, we learned a lot about how the feeling of certainty affects military thinking. Last month, I attended a lecture on the topic by H.R. McMaster. This was before he became President Trump’s national security advisor-designate. Then, he was the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. His lecture touched on many topics, but at one point he talked about the failure of the RMA. He confirmed that military strategists mistakenly believed that data would give them certainty. But he took this change in thinking further, outlining the ways this belief in certainty had repercussions in how military strategists thought about modern conflict.

McMaster’s observations are directly relevant to Internet security incident response. We too have been led to believe that data will give us certainty, and we are making the same mistakes that the military did in the 1990s. In a world of uncertainty, there’s a premium on understanding, because commanders need to figure out what’s going on. In a world of certainty, knowing what’s going on becomes a simple matter of data collection.

March 28, 2017

David Fletcher’s Tank Chats #3 Medium Tank MkII* (Vickers Medium)

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 Mar 2015

The third in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.

In 1923 Vickers Ltd. of Sheffield and Newcastle, started to manufacture tanks for the British Army. They were the first representatives of a new generation of tanks, designed to fight on the move and restore mobility to the battlefield.

As designed the Medium tanks had a 3 pounder gun in the turret; a Vickers machine-gun in each side of the hull and Hotchkiss light machine-guns in the turret. These last were later eliminated in favour of a single Vickers machine-gun, mounted alongside the main gun and described as co-axial, since it elevates on the same axis as the main gun. This modification altered the design from Mark II to Mark II*. Using these tanks the Royal Tank Corps established standards of gunnery which, in their day, were never equalled.

March 26, 2017

Comparing WW1 Helmet Designs I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 25 Mar 2017

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It’s time for the Chair of Wisdom again and this week Indy compares World War 1 helmet designs and we talk about the discrimination of Germans in the US during WW1.

March 21, 2017

British Weapons of World War 1 feat. C&Rsenal I THE GREAT WAR Live Stream

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Streamed live 9 hours ago

Othais’ channel: https://www.youtube.com/candrsenal

In our series about the rifles and pistols today, Othais got his hands on the standard issue rifles and pistols of the British Army in World War One.

March 15, 2017

Serbian Field Marshal Stepa Stepanovic I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 14 Mar 2017

Serbia’s turbulent history of the late 19th and early 20th century created some hard-boiled military leaders to the front lines of World War 1. One of these was Stepa Stepanovic – but he was not just hard boiled, he also stood with his country throughout the entire war which included the Serbian Exodus to Korfu.

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