Quotulatiousness

June 6, 2017

Austro-Hungarian Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

Published on 5 Jun 2017

For more details on Austro-Hungarian Uniforms: http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/

Austria-Hungary fielded probably the most diverse army of World War 1, the troops also had a proud tradition going back decades that influenced their uniform design as much as local customs. During the course of the war, the Habsburg Empire also suffered from a lack of supplies and still needed to modernise their equipment.

D-Day in Colour

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

Published on 1 May 2017

(c) D-Day in Colour (2004), narrated by John Hurt

D-Day, 6th June 1944: the launch of Operation Overlord. The battle that began the liberation of Europe. The last moment the German Army might have rescued the fate of Adolf Hitler. The beginning of the end of the Second World War. D-Day is a date permanently etched in our nation’s memory.

From the makers of Britain At War In Colour, this documentary takes an in-depth look at the events and experiences of the greatest sea-borne invasion in history, focusing on the personal stories of those involved including not only the men in combat but also the family and friends anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones.

Narrated by John Hurt, D-Day In Colour relives the events of those decisive yet perilous days and reflects on the private triumphs and personal tragedies that proved crucial to the outcome of the Second World War. It provides an intimate first-hand account of the arduous months and crucial hours that shaped the future peace of the civilised world. The vivid colour film and personal witness material combine with original sound archive to illustrate the reality of battle, the complexity of human emotions and the sacrifices that were made in the fateful summer of 1944.

May 27, 2017

Canada’s hollow army

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Thanks to a post at Army.ca, here is the rough outline of the NATO battle group that Canada will be leading in Latvia later this summer (oddly lacking in attached artillery support):

… the Canadian-led battalion level battle group will be composed of about 1,138 soldiers, as well as armor, armored transport and combat support. Of that number, 450 will be Canadian mechanized infantry bringing with them armored vehicles and various support elements. A specialized Canadian reconnaissance platoon will also be on the ground. Albania will send 18 combat (explosive ordnance disposal) engineers. Italy will send a mechanized infantry company consisting of 160 soldiers plus armored fighting vehicles. Poland will send a tank company with 160 troops. Slovenia will send 50 soldiers specializing in defense against weapons of mass destruction, (chemical, biological and nuclear weapon defense, decontamination operations etc). Spain will send the second-largest contingent: 300 soldiers from a mechanized infantry company and armored vehicles, combat engineers and support elements.

As Ted Campbell points out, this is an odd and unwieldy formation and seems unnecessarily multi-national for such a small tasking. Why isn’t the Canadian Army just sending a full battalion with the necessary supporting troops (artillery, armour, engineers, medical and logistics, etc.) to minimize operational and linguistic friction? It’s because we don’t have enough troops to do that successfully:

There is an old, tried and true, military expression to describe this: “it’s a dog’s bloody breakfast!” Can you imagine trying to command and control that organization? Especially under NATO’s rules that, as we saw in Afghanistan, allow each country to impose caveats on what where when and how its forces may be told asked to do anything at all.

So how did we, Canada, get to this? How is it that we cannot, it appears, deploy a complete battle group without Albanian, Italian, Polish, Solvenian and Spanish troops? After all, we had a full battle group in Afghanistan just five years ago, didn’t we?

Well, yes, but …

First, a “battle group” is rarely a formed unit (never in the Canadian Army). It is, usually, either a full up armoured (tank) regiment or infantry battalion with add-ons: tanks or infantry, artillery in direct support, engineers and so on and so forth. Our battle group in Afghanistan was always based on one of Canada’s nine infantry battalions with attachments from a tank regiment, an artillery regiment and so on. But even the infantry battalion, the “base” of the battle group had to be augmented. Canada has not had one, single, full strength, properly organized and equipped infantry battalion for more than a decade. A battalion ought to have 950± soldiers and its own, organic, mortars, heavy machine guns, anti-tank or assault weapons, and, and , and … but many years ago, in an effort to “balance” the army the infantry was (stupidly) stripped of its mortars ~ the artillery will take care of it, it was said … and, bless ’em, the gunners have not let the infantry down, but that doesn’t mean the decision to strip the mortars, especially, from the infantry made any military sense at all. It didn’t; it was a dumb decision ~ the wrong thing for all the wrong reasons. But, a good friend tells, me, the prevailing view in the Army, especially, is that nothing must ever be cut because it will never, ever be gotten back. Thus we strip the battalions but leave the empty shells ~ a Canadian battalions circa 2017 has 500+ soldiers, not the 1,000- it needs. Even at the height of the Afghan campaign, when Major General (then Lieutenant Colonel) Omer Lavoie led Operation Medusa (you know, the one which Harjit Sajan said he conceived as “the architect”) his battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment 1RCR) had to be augmented with a company from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry because there were not enough companies in all three of the RCR battalions that had not been deployed within the last 18 months … the Army, in other words, had been hollowed out for years, even decades.

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.

March 24, 2017

David Fletcher’s Tank Chats #2: The Carden Loyd Carrier

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

Published on 27 Feb 2015

The second 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 Carden Loyd Carrier or tankette: Designed by Sir John Carden and Captain Vivian Loyd this was a low cost, two-man Machine-Gun Carrier for infantry use. The company was taken over by Vickers-Armstrong in 1927 and the vehicle was mass-produced for the British Army in addition to a thriving export trade. Unpopular with the infantry, they were used mostly by the Royal Tank Corps as embryonic light tanks in the reconnaissance role.

January 22, 2017

German Jäger Corps – Russian Steamroller – Pickelhaube I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

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

Published on 20 Jan 2017

Indy sits in the chair of wisdom again to answer your questions about the First World War. This time we talk about the German Jäger Corps, the Pickelhaube and compare the Russian Army of WW1 to the Soviet Army of WW2.

December 18, 2016

Cheap and effective gear for infantry

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

Robert H. Scales is a retired major general with a few notions to help make US infantry (and marines) more effective in ground combat situations:

Those of us who have spent our lives leading soldiers and Marines in combat agree with President-elect Donald Trump on one major campaign issue: We are fed-up with the defense establishment paying for high-tech fighter-jet programs such as the F-35 that cost more than a trillion dollars when, after 15 years of ground warfare and thousands of dead soldiers and Marines, we still send these “intimate killers” into combat with inferior gear.

Take a closer look inside the Department of Defense’s weapons-buying cabal and you’ll see people mad at work cooking up still more Star Wars–type stuff — from magic electronic rail guns to plane-killing laser blasters to hypersonic space planes. All this future gear would make George Lucas proud. But this stuff is about as far out in space and time as Luke Skywalker.

Has anyone noticed that Vladimir Putin is spending his money on “little green men”? These men are infantrymen serving in Spetnaz, GRU, naval, special forces, and airborne units. They do Russia’s dirty work in Ukraine, Georgia, Crimea, and Syria. Putin’s military is poor by our standards. But Putin spends lavishly on his infantry. His “Ratnik” weapons-development program is uniquely tailored to give his infantry the cutting edge — yet inexpensive — equipment they need to succeed in close combat.

Maybe we should consider following Putin’s lead by buying affordable stuff for the guys who are doing most of the killing and dying in our contemporary wars. We need Popular Mechanics, not Star Wars. The Defense Department can order some of it on your Amazon Prime account today and skip its lugubrious and wasteful acquisition process. Here are some things to add to an infantryman’s Christmas shopping cart.

[…]

The stuff described above is on the shelf today. Most of it is made in America.

By the way, anyone with reservations about the veracity of equipping our soldiers and Marines with “cheap and quick” gear should talk to General James Mattis, the soon-to-be secretary of defense. Mattis comes from a service, the U.S. Marine Corps, known for getting the most killing power for the dollar. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s passionately advocated increasing the combat effectiveness of close-combat soldiers and Marines. I suspect, if asked, Mattis will confirm the wisdom of this Christmas list and suggest additional inexpensive ways to get superior gear into the hands of the men we send into harm’s way.

November 8, 2016

The Arditi – Italian Special Forces of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

Published on 7 Nov 2016

The Arditi (“The Daring Ones”) were special Italian assault troops in World War 1. And even though they were only able to really make a difference on the battlefield in 1918, the effects on morale and culture can be seen to this day.

Operational analysis: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

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

The Angry Staff Officer analyzes the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (called by some the Battle of Minas Tirith) in terms of the six warfighting functions:

… Which leads me to my problem statement for this impromptu mission analysis that I am forcing you into: how did the forces of Gondor wage unified land operations versus the forces of Sauron at the Battle of Minas Tirith? More specifically, how can a primarily infantry force defend against a numerically superior enemy that possesses significant air assets, fires superiority, and freedom of movement and maneuver?

Couched in these terms, the problem statement resembles the complex situation faced by our brigade combat teams in a potential peer-to-peer engagement.

The situation – for those who do not remember it – is as follows: the forces of Gondor have been driven back from their forward defensive strongpoints along the Anduin River in the population center of Osgiliath. The withdrawal had been conducted in an orderly manner until the rear guard covering the retreat came under air attack by the Nazgul, which used their air superiority to drive the defenders into a panic. Most significantly, this air sortie wounded the primary land component commander, Faramir, depriving the forces of Gondor of their most effective warfighter.

More than 30,000 orcs and men of the forces of Sauron then enveloped the battle positions around Minas Tirith and began a siege of the 4,000 or so defenders of the city, which was primarily an infantry force with little in the way of cavalry or artillery. Significantly, the defenders possessed virtually no anti-air defenses, allowing the Nazgul freedom of movement around the battlefield – a dangerous proposition as the Nazgul also wielded considerable psychological damage (not unlike the sound of Stuka dive bombers in World War II). The greatest asset for Gondor was the wizard Gandalf – a force multiplier by any definition of the term – who was serving as the principle mission command adviser to Denethor. The objective for Gondor was to maintain their battle positions and hold out until reinforcements could arrive. However, lines of communication were cut during the siege and Gondor could not be sure that cavalry reinforcements from neighboring Rohan could arrive in time to save the city. This uncertainty weighed heavily on the forces of Gondor.

As a good staff officer, I turn to Army Doctrinal Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations to understand the problem through the six warfighting functions. And given that J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a British signal officer during World War I, it would be appropriate to start out with mission command.

I imagine the author was grinning when he got to this section:

Luckily for Gondor, Gandalf then assumed command of all land forces, despite his position as a primary staff advisor to Denethor.

Yeah, that’s right, a staff officer took over operations.

Gandalf immediately provided vision and direction to the city’s defenders at a critical moment, as the forces of Sauron were conducting a breaching operation on the gates of Minas Tirith utilizing a battering ram named Grond. Arriving at the enemy point of breach, Gandalf rallied the forces in the engagement area, organized the defense, and directly opposed the primary enemy air and land component commander, the Witch-king of Angmar. The Witch-king was Sauron’s chief captain and commander of the Nazgul. Under his supervision, Sauron’s forces breached the main perimeter to the city and the Witch-king moved through the point of penetration into the far side of the breach, where he was confronted by Gandalf. The two land component commanders were prevented from close combat by the arrival of the primary maneuver element: the forces of Rohan.

H/T to John Donovan for the link.

July 25, 2016

The Evolution of German Infantry Tactics I OUT OF THE ETHER

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

Published on 24 Jul 2016

Indy sits on the Chair of Wisdom and reads out some of the best comments we get every month. This week, we deal with the evolution of German Infantry Tactics.

May 31, 2016

Stormtrooper – German Special Forces of WW1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

Published on 30 May 2016

The German Stormtroops or Sturmbattalions were elite infantry soldiers hand picked to overcome enemy trenches. These men were the creme de la creme of the German Army consisting of Jäger, Pioneer and Mountain troops at first and later on specifically trained in infiltration tactics. They brought changes in the chain of command with them and were the predecessor of modern warfare as we know it.

May 20, 2016

A reporter with the Lorne Scots at Meaford

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

My old regiment gets a bit of media attention, this time from the Orangeville Banner, as Chris Vernon goes along on a spring weekend exercise with the Lorne Scots:

As my handler Lorne Scot Master Corporal Christopher Banks drove through the gates of the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre, I was overcome with a familiar anxiety.

The centre, known by soldiers simply as Meaford, is approximately 17,500 acres of dense bush, limestone cliffs, open meadows, a lake and 22 kilometres of Georgian Bay shoreline. I spent two months here for basic training in the summer of 2005 and at age 35, I believe I was the second oldest recruit.

Soldiers in 32 Brigade Group complete their basic training at Meaford, other career courses and perform several weekend exercises on the base throughout the year, and every fresh-faced private in 32 Brigade knows the anxiety I felt, even now as a civilian, as Banks drove us through the gate.

You see, there is a certain “suckage factor” to Meaford.

“Welcome to the Meaford weather machine,” said Banks, an inside reference among soldiers that refers to the fact that it can be sunny on one side of the base while on the other side it can rain for hours while you are out on a foot patrol.

There’s also poison ivy, a rumoured ghost, mosquitos, and large ruts left in the ground from the 1940s when the army used the base as a tank range. These ruts have sent many recruits home with broken and sprained ankles, not to mention broken dreams, as the injured troop will have to wait till next year to complete basic training.

Headquartered in Toronto, 32 Brigade Group is mostly an infantry brigade consisting of more than 2,400 soldiers in 12 reserve units based in Toronto, Aurora, Barrie, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Mississauga, Owen Sound, Brantford, Simcoe, St. Catharines and CFB Borden. It also has two reconnaissance regiments, two field artillery regiments, a field engineer regiment, six infantry battalions and a communication (signals) unit.

Banks, who did tours in Afghanistan and Bosnia, drives us down a pothole-riddled dirt road. I recognize the road. It’s where I jogged every day between seven and 10 kilometres at 5 a.m. while on basic training.

Banks is taking me to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) where approximately 266 infantry reservists are camped out.

“We are doing raids. Offensive training. When they (soldiers) arrived last night there was no rest. We pushed them across that line of departure at 5 a.m.,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Mair from inside a command post tent where officers are milling about and looking over maps.

Reservists are part-time soldiers who serve generally one night a week, one weekend a month and a few weeks in the summer. Mair has been a reservist for 29 years and in the civilian world serves as a police officer.

Reserve units primarily respond to domestic situations, like ice storms or blackouts. However, they are trained for combat and many members have gone overseas to serve with the regular force in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

March 2, 2016

Erwin Rommel – Infantry Attacks During World War 1 I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?

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

Published on 29 Feb 2016

Erwin Rommel’s book Infantry Attacks in our Amazon Store: http://bit.ly/RommelAttacks (Affiliate Link)

Erwin Rommel had his baptism of fire during the initial offensives of World War 1 on the Western Front. His fearlessness and daring actions made him rise through the ranks quickly. When the German infantry tactics changed and the new Stormtrooper regiments were built, Rommel was the kind of officer needed. During the war in Romania and the battles of Italy he distinguished himself and already started building his legendary reputation that followed him into World War 2 as the Desert Fox.

February 22, 2016

Trench Raid Tactics – Into The Abyss I THE GREAT WAR – Special feat. InRangeTV

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

Published on 20 Feb 2016

Check out Ian and Karl’s video about WW1 melee weapons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIGIBJeRfnQ

Check out Ian’s and Karl’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/inrangetvshow

Trench raids resulted in the most brutal form of close quarter combat in World War 1. Armed with melee weapons and hand grenades, soldiers would fight each other to the death. But raiding parties and their tactics soon became more sophisticated and changed the conduct of war dramatically. This is the first part of a small series of the evolution of combat in the trenches for the centennial of the Battle of Verdun.

February 12, 2016

QotD: Military developments from 1870 onwards

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

The period of Colonial expansion coincided with three major developments in weapon-power: the general adoption of the small-bore magazine rifle, firing smokeless powder; the perfection of the machine gun; and the introduction of quick-firing artillery.

By 1871, the single-shot breech-loading rifle had reached so high a standard of efficiency that the next step was to convert it into a repeating, or magazine, rifle. Although the idea was an old one, it was not fully practicable until the adoption of the all-metal cartridge case, which reduced jamming in the breech. The first European power to introduce the magazine rifle was Germany who, in 1884, converted her 1871 pattern Mauser rifle to the magazine system; the magazine was of the tube type inserted in the fore-end under the barrel, it held eight cartridges. In 1885, France adopted a somewhat similar rifle, the Lebel, which fired smokeless powder — an enormous advantage. Next, in 1886, the Austrians introduced the Mannlicher with a box magazine in front of the trigger guard and below the entrance to the breech. And two years later the British adopted the .303 calibre Lee-Metford with a box magazine of eight cartridges, later increased to ten. By 1900 all armies had magazine rifles approximately of equal efficiency, and of calibres varying from .315 to .256; all were bolt operated, fired smokeless powder, and were sighted to 2,000 yards or metres.

Simultaneously with the development of the magazine rifle proceeded the development of the machine gun — another very old idea. Many types were experimented with and some adopted, such as the improved Gatling, Nordenfeldt (1873), Hotchkiss (1875), Gardner (1876), Browning (1889) and Colt (1895). The crucial year in their development was 1884, when Hiram S. Maxim patented a one barrel gun which loaded and fired itself by the force of its recoil. The original model weighed 40lb., was water cooled and belt fed, and 2,000 rounds could be fired from it in three minutes. It was adopted by the British army in 1889, and was destined to revolutionize infantry tactics.

The introduction of quick-firing artillery arose out of proposals made in 1891 by General Wille in Germany and Colonel Langlois in France. They held that increased rate of fire was impossible unless recoil on firing was absorbed. This led to much experimental work on shock absorption, and to the eventual introduction of a non-recoiling carriage, which permitted of a bullet-proof shield being attached to it to protect the gun crew. Until this improvement in artillery was introduced, the magazine rifle had been the dominant weapon, now it was challenged by the quick-firing gun, which not only outranged it and could be fired with almost equal rapidity, but could be rendered invisible by indirect laying.

J.F.C. Fuller, The Conduct of War, 1789-1961, 1961.

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