Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


This is coolbert:

"Buttons are a weapon of war" - - "soldiers need buttons to hold their pants up" - - Admiral "Jackie" Fisher, Royal Navy.

Interesting program on TV the other night about the Arctic expeditions of Roald Amundsen.

Amundsen was the first "European" explorer to travel the Arctic wastes, winter, and survive.

NOT only survive, but succeed. Where other expeditions had failed, disappeared, and were wiped out to the last man [the Franklin expedition, for instance].

Amundsen was a inquisitive man, made contact with the native Eskimo, observing their way of live closely, and learned a lot about their methods of survival. NOT only observing how the Eskimo survived, but thrived as well. A culture that was able to exist and thrive in an environment that is the most inhospitable to man on earth [cold climate such as the arctic is the one area of earth that man is least prepared to survive in!!].

[I use the term Eskimo for this blog entry. The Eskimo themselves consider the term to be perjorative and prefer the word "Inuit" to describe themselves. I do not use that term, "Inuit", as to an outsider such as myself, "Inuit" is of itself a perjorative term when applied all non-Eskimos. Eskimo means "eater of raw meat", which the Eskimo are. "Inuit" means People with a large P, all other folks in the world being called people with a small p.]

Among the observations Amundsen made were of the eating of raw meat [no fuel to cook, you eat the meat raw], housing [igloos], sharing of women for sex [done freely without inhibitions], how to handle a dog team and sled, and dress [light leather underwear covered by a one piece parka].

These cultural adaptations of the Eskimo were carefully thought out and followed with four thousand years of experience behind them. Living in the arctic climate allows no room for error. A simple error and you die. Plain and simple as that.

Of special interest to Amundsen was the one piece parka. The design of which was, again, carefully thought out and optimized for survival in the cold. A single piece pull-over parka made of caribou skin, the outside still retaining the hair, the inside smooth and tanned. It seems the hair of the caribou is the IDEAL insulator, being honey-combed and trapping air in abundance. Air being an excellent insulator, the caribou hair provides the maximum in protection from the elements. This the Eskimo KNOW from four thousand years of experience.

[and who has confirmed this?? The Canadian Ministry of Defense, in experimentation and research, has found this TO BE TRUE!!]

The Eskimo parka also has an integral hood that is also of special interest. A hood the design of which has also been carefully thought through. In his book, "Alaska", James Michener has this particular entry:

"his hood was a marvel, a capacious cavern in which his head could hide from snow and sleet, and from whose edges he would gain both protection and warmth, for it was trimmed with wolverine fur that had the mysterious quality of not allowing ice to form along it's tips [the outer edges of the hood's opening]".

When designing a winter warfare parka, the U.S. Army incorporated a lot of the Eskimo knowledge into it's own final product, the extreme cold weather fishtail parka.

To include a "capacious, cavernous" hood.

"Warm soft wool lining, cotton shell with synthetic fur trim. Drawstring and velcro closure. Can be buttoned on to the M65 field jacket and the extreme cold weather fishtail parka".

Please note the fur trim.

Just as would be found on the hood of an Eskimo parka.

DO NOT think that this trim is merely there for aesthetic purposes. It has a very utilitarian value to it. Sewn inside the outer rim of the hood is a "flexible wire support". A retaining support that allows the wearer to mould and shape the opening of the hood as it juts forward from the wearer's face. A tunnel is thereby created, the wearer NOT having to breath directly into the lungs the extreme cold air of the arctic. This is a big advantage, especially if ice crystals at the most extremely cold temperatures are hanging in the air [a fog!!].

The synthetic fur trim, a man-made equivalent to wolf fur, will not freeze if it becomes wet, serves the same purpose as the wolverine fur did for the Eskimo parka hood. Even at the lowest temperatures, the hood opening, if wet, will not freeze and the "flexible wire support" still can be shaped by the wearer.


How important??!! Consider that among the shopping list [at least as of 1961] of the Soviet GRU [Soviet military intelligence] S&T [Scientific and Technology] officers was the formula for synthetic animal fur:

"These thirty targets include even such a marginal military secret as the manufacture of artificial fur. But this was important to us. Our specialists still do not know how to manufacture artificial fur with cloth backing. Such fur is manufactured in a very simplee manner in Canada and in America, yet our scientific research institutes still have not been able to solve this problem."

[it is obvious that Soviet "specialists" were not able to master the process by which artificial wolf fur can be made. Obviously there is not enough wild wolverines and wolves to be harvested for their fur. You cannot make hundreds of thousands of fur-trimmed hoods for arctic parkas to stockpile. For the Soviets this was a problem of military proportions.]

Marginal military secret??!!




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