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

Thursday, November 30, 2006


This is coolbert:

During his conquest and subjugation of Gaul, Julius Caesar was brutal and cruel when required [of course by the standards that existed and were expected at the time]. Unremittingly so against those that rebelled subsequent to the surrender of the Gallic main force under Vercingetorix.

Brutal treatment was dealt to those that rebelled against Caesar in the Gallic town of Uxellodunum [Roman name].

[from the chronicle of Julius himself]:

"I heard of the siege of Uxellodunum. I was somewhat concerned . . . if the siege became drawn out it could give the rest of Gaul a bad example: even a small group of rebels could withstand the Romans through nothing but force of conviction. Others could decide to follow their example . . . they had access to water - there was a spring behind the city wall . . . we dug mines and managed to cut off the source of the spring, depriving them of water completely. At this point they saw their cause was hopeless and they surrendered."

"Now at this point my leniency and mercy are not in question, as I have taken every chance to forgive men when I could have killed them. So no-one could take me to be cruel if I chose to punish some. At the same time I needed to make an example to the Gauls . . . So I ordered my men to cut off the hands of each man who had borne arms against me. The men's lives were spared, so their punishment might stand on display for longer."

"cut off the hands of each man who had borne arms against me"


This of course is around 50 B.C. Over 2000 years ago now.

Cutting off of the hands. A cruel and barbaric punishment in wartime as practiced AT THE TIME!!


Two thousand years later, such cruelty is still going on. Seemingly used with relish against the perpetrators. But in an even MORE cruel fashion than as was done by Caesar.

Barbarity of a nature as seen in MODERN warfare. In the nation of Sierra Leone [west Africa]. Barbarity practiced by the RUF [Revolutionary United Forces]. Rebels who attempt by amputations to coerce recalcitrants into supporting them. Intimidate everyone who might even THINK of opposing them.

A barbaric and cruel practice PERPETRATED MOSTLY AGAINST CHILDREN!!!!!

"I begged them not to kill me so they cut off both of my hands"

"they cut off both my hands. First they cut off my right hand with a rusty axe I begged them to leave my other hand because I'm left handed, but they cut it anyway."

"one of three people in one family whose two hands were all amputated by an axe"

"Sheku, 17, lost both hands to 'rebels' machetes during an attack on his village. After they cut off his hands, he begged the rebels to kill him, but they refused."

Keep in mind that most people that live in that society and culture exist through HARD, MANUAL, PHYSICAL LABOR. If you cannot contribute in a physical way to your society, you are not worthy and wanted. Are a severe burden!!

At least Caesar chose only those persons "each man who had borne arms against me".

The RUF selects CHILDREN!!

Evil people. Evil, evil people. Join the Ayatollah in hell!!



This is coolbert:

Interesting photo in the Chicago Tribune today. President Bush is receiving the red carpet treatment in Amman, Jordan. Walking with King Abdullah and being saluted by a Circassian bodyguard of the King. Those Circassians that are the devoted servants of Abdullah, and before him, of his father, Hussein. Those Circassians that have been the subject of a prior blog entry.

You can see the somewhat archaic paraphenalia and various weapons of the bodyguard in detail. Archaic, but nonetheless, probably NOT JUST FOR DISPLAY.

* A holstered pistol with lanyard [cord] attached to belt.

* A dagger worn in the front.

* A dagger worn on the left side.

* A tunic with pockets for rifle cartridges sewn into the fabric.

* Three apparently symbolic daggers worn on the right side.

These bodyguards are ready for any eventuality?!

[Evidently there is a sizeable population [1 % of the total Jordanian population, as distinct from Arabs] of Circassians living in Jordan. Comprised 80 % of the Arab Legion when under British command!!??]


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wars & Rumors of War III. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

A third unreported and unheralded war raged throughout the decade of the 1980's. A series of military engagements between the armed forces of Libya and Chad sometimes referred to as the "Toyota War".

On face value, a war of grossly mismatched opponents.

A relatively wealthy nation, Libya, invading without provocation and occupying a portion of a very poor, destitute, and relatively powerless neighbor. Chad.

[Chad did have the backing and support of France in this unfair contest.]

A war fought over alleged mineral wealth. In this case, that area of Chad directly abutting Libya, about 100,000 square kilometers [1000 km. X 100 km.], was invaded and occupied by the Libyan military. This is the Aouzou Strip. Land, again, containing an abundance of uranium ore??

[purportedly rich in mineral wealth, primarily uranium ore. For the Islamic atomic bomb that Colonel Khaddafi ["The Colonel"] wanted to build. An atomic bomb to be used against Israel!!]

The Aouzou Strip has to be one of the most harshest, desolate, GOD-forsaken pieces of real estate on the planet. In the middle of the Sahara desert, basically uninhabited, but desired by a megalomaniac [Khaddafi] with megalomania ambitions.

[there are various spellings to the Colonel's name. I have chosen Khaddafi for this blog entry.]

These two mismatched combatants, Libya and Chad engaged in combat over a period of seven years. Libya consolidating their occupation of the Aouzou Strip, and the various forces of the Chadian government, bolstered by a modest French military presence, seeking to oust the invader.

Libya had, on paper, a formidable military machine. Wealthy Libya was able to buy, primarily from the Soviets, a whole range of equipment that made it, again, on paper, a formidable battlefield opponent. It is reputed that at one time, the Colonel had sitting out in the desert as many as 10,000 armored vehicles. This in a way is just absurd. The whole nation of Libya has a population of only about 6 million persons, with an army numbering, "some 45,000 men, including 25,000 draftees".

[this figure is pretty much in line with the equation that says that a nation should only be able to adequately support an army with one division of ten thousand men per one million citizens.]

Most of those 10,000 armored vehicles, to include about 3,000 top-of-the-line tanks, just ended up sitting in the desert rusting and getting coated with sand. Maintenance was not possible or feasible, given the limited number of trained personnel available.

The army of Chad, again, was very small, under-equipped, under-trained, and faced with divided loyalties [there were partisans of Khaddafi that fought under a Libyan flag].

It was not until 1987 that the guerilla-like army of Chad was able to gain the upper hand over the vastly superior [on paper] forces of "The Colonel".

This was the Battle of Fada.

The weapon of choice for the forces of Chad was the Toyota pick-up truck with recoilless rifles and anti-tank-guide-missiles [ATGM] mounted on it!! Employed with great effectiveness by an agile and determined guerilla strike force. Against a ponderous, poorly led, and dispirited Libyan Army.

"a large number of Toyota Pickup [trucks], and antitank and antiaircraft missile launchers, such as MILAN ATGWs. The FANT assault under the command of Hassane Djamous deployed almost 3000 soldiers for the coming battle."

A battle that resulted in a stupendous, humiliating loss for the forces of "The Colonel".

"In a short but brutal engagement the FANT almost annihilated the Libyan armored brigade that defended Fada: 784 Libyans died, 92 T-55 and 33 BMP-1 tanks were destroyed, and 13 T-55 and 18 BMP-1 captured, together with 81 Libyan soldiers. Chadian losses were minimal: only 18 soldiers died and three Toyotas were destroyed."

[You, Colonel Khaddafi, YOU NOTHING BUT PAPER TIGER!!!!]

This was a rout from which the Libyan military seems NOT to have ever recovered from. About $1 billon dollars worth of military equipment was captured intact by the forces of Chad. Libyan officers present appear to have behaved in a craven and cowardly manner, beating feet and leaving the enlisted men to fend for themselves. A long line of dead Libyan soldiers was later found in the desert, having tried to walk back to Libya and safety, NONE OF THEM MAKING IT. ALL SUCCUMBING TO THE SAHARA DESERT AND THIRST!!!

This is what is called a debacle of the first magnitude. And all this from a guerilla force armed with Toyota pick-up trucks!! Could not have happened to a better man, "The Colonel". Too bad for those unfortunates in the desert. When you have megalomaniac in charge, that is what happens.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Wars and Rumors of War II.

This is coolbert:

Beginning in the mid-1970's and raging for almost two full decades was another unreported and unheralded war. A civil war in Angola that had large scale participation from diametrically opposed outsiders.

[a civil war that also had wide-ranging international implications. The war in Angola and Soviet involvement was part of a far-ranging Moscow plan to deprive the "west" of one of it's two great "storehouses of wealth", namely, the vast mineral deposits of southern Africa.]

A war between coalitions of the odd fellows.

On one side you had the forces of the central Angolan government in Luanda. The MPLA. Backed on a large scale by Cuban troops with Soviet advisors. Also backed with the full panoply of Soviet equipment. At one time it was estimated that as many as 40,000 Cuban troops were serving in Angola.

On the other side you had the Angolan rebels of UNITA. Commanded by a nominal Marxist, Jonas Savimbi. Savimbi, trained and backed by Maoist Chinese, was supported in the Angolan civil war by the South African Army. The South African Army of the apartheid regime in Pretoria.

The latter was a coalition that best exemplifies the adage, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

Beginning, as I have said, in the mid-1970's, and continuing for a period of years, battle continued between the two warring factions, neither side being able to prevail over the other.

By 1987, a lack of progress on the battlefield and a desire for "total victory" prompted the combined forces of the MPLA/Cuban/Soviet to make one "big push" that they believed would result in the annihilation of UNITA.

[the Angolan troops of UNITA had the reputation as the best black fighters in all of sub-Saharan Africa.]

For the forthcoming "big push", the two opposing forces seemed to be sorely mismatched.

A force of about 40,000 MPLA/Cuban/Soviet troops massed with the full array of Soviet weaponry, poised itself for the "final" offensive on UNITA.

UNITA was able to oppose the MPLA/Cuban/Soviet advance with about 20,000 of it's own troops. Lightly armed. BUT SUPPORTED BY A BATTALION [??] OF REGULAR SOUTH AFRICAN TROOPS, EQUIPPED WITH RATEL [90 mm] ARMORED CARS AND A BATTERY OF G5 HOWITZERS.

[that G5 howitzer has tremendous range and power. Was at the time, and still maybe is, the best piece of artillery in the world??!!]

[a battalion of troops is not much numerically compared to several divisions. But that South African battalion had a combat power probably far in excess of a normal battalion. A battery of G5 howitzers [six guns] probably had the firepower of a much large unit of artillery.]

These two different and apparently mismatched forces met in battle at a place called CUITO CUANAVALE.

[this became the site of the largest battle in Africa since World War Two.]

Just as the two forces were diametrically opposed in a number of ways, the two versions of what occurred at CUITO CUANAVALE are also exactly the opposite. Each side claims a tremendous victory over the other.

What is the truth? You will have to decide for yourself.

The Cuban account.

[typical communist doggerel??]

"dog‧ger‧el  - - adjective 1. (of verse) a. comic or burlesque, and usually loose or irregular in measure. b. rude; crude; poor."

The South African account.

One anecdotal account the from South African "story" of things did catch my attention.

"The Ratels raced for the tanks, surrounding them and dodging back and forth until they could get behind them and shoot at the comparatively vulnerable rear ends of the tanks."

[this is a Ratel armored car versus a T-55 tank. NOT a match by any means. The tank should easily overcome that armored car.]

This greatly resembles, NO, exactly resembles what did occur in Romania during World War Two when German armor forces encountered the Soviet Joseph Stalin [JS] tank for the first time. German tanks were ABLE TO DEFEAT THE ONRUSHING JOSEPH STALIN TANKS BY QUICKLY MANEUVERING AND ATTACKING THE JS TANKS FROM THE REAR!!

Where does the smart money place the bet on who won at Cuito??

"The people's armed forces for the liberation of Angola have not been able either, even with the help of the Cubans, to decisively defeat the enemy and drive him out of the territory or the country. The result, frankly speaking, was an impasse."; M. Ponoromov; Krasnaya Zvezda Magazine; May, 20, 1988.


My guess is, with the South Africans!!

Here is a Google Earth web site that lists "all the bases, battlegrounds and other areas of interest of the Border War in Namibia [formerly South West Africa] and Angola, including Moçambique, Swaziland, Zambia etc."



This is coolbert:

[this blog entry was originally intended to be Part I of a three part series. Posted the first time on 2/3/2005. Other two installments did not follow the first time. This time they will.]

Wars and Rumors of War I:

In recent decades, there have been fought three wars that went more or less unreported by the international media and unheralded by the combatants themselves. For good reason. None of the parties involved wanted to ruffle the feathers of the international community. It was felt better to allow combat to go on without making a scene and stirring things up. Again for a variety of reasons.

One such war [1988] was fought in the Persian Gulf between the bog-hammers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. Navy/U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation [SOAR].

This war began when the Iranians, employing putt-putt type speed boats [bog-hammers], powered by outboard motors, with a rocket-propelled-grenade [RPG] wielding gunner standing on the bow, started to attack commercial shipping transitting the Strait of Hormuz, the "choke-point" leading from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. Oil tankers carrying oil from Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia were the target of choice.

[It should be kept in mind that Iran had been fighting an intense war with Iraq for almost eight years at this point. And was not doing well. Iran was seeking ways to gain an advantage by widening the war to include parties that hitherto had gone unscathed in it's conflict with Iraq.].

It should be understood that the goal of the bog-hammers was not to sink or even severely damage such oil tanker shipping. The goal was to damage, even if only in a minor and peripheral way, these ships. In doing so, insurance rates for such shipping would become prohibitive. Oil shipments from this area of the world would more or less cease, and Iran would be able to dictate policy and terms to all involved. This was the concept the Iranians were operating under.

And this tactic of using the bog-hammers was successful. Attacking at night, rocketing vessels sailing without protective escort, damage was caused that greatly alarmed governments and insurers all over the world.

And in response to treaty obligations, the U.S. Navy began to escort KUWAITI vessels as they transitted the Gulf and the Strait enroute to the Indian Ocean.

This however, represented only a defensive measure. It was realized that to further mitigate or even eliminate the threat of the bog-hammers, OFFENSIVE action had to be taken. In part this calculation was made with the realization that the bog-hammers could proliferate much as insects, very cheaply and in prodigious numbers if the Iranians so intended. OFFENSIVE action was needed.

And was done. Very successfully too.

The weapon of choice in this OFFENSIVE action was the stealth helicopters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment [SOAR}. Operating off the decks of U.S. Navy ships, using a variety of target acquisition devices [moving target indicator radar, infra-red detectors, night vision] and employing an abundance of firepower [grenades, missiles, mini-guns, rockets, cannon], in the words of one commentator:

"the water was swept clean of the bog-hammers".

Because of the offensive of SOAR, shipping transitting the Strait of Hormuz became secure. The governments of the world smiled, the ship's captains smiled, the oil producers smiled. All smiled. The Iranians did NOT smile.

Shortly after this period of bog-hammer "shooting ducks in the barrel", a negotiated settlement to the Iraq-Iran war was concluded. Relative peace once again reigned.



This is coolbert:

Which of Dupuy's thirteen timeless verities of combat are most applicable and pertinent to the Battle of Iwo Jima?

[emphasis here on the words applicable and pertinent!!]

* #2 Defensive strength is greater than offensive strength.

Defense is the stronger form of combat. On the defensive, you can accomplish more with less and do it easier than when on the offensive. That was true for Kuribayashi and his defenders at Iwo.

* #6 Defenders' chances of success are directly proportional to fortifications strength.

Having buried deep gave the Jap defender at Iwo a decided boost.

* #7 An attacker willing to pay the price can always penetrate the strongest defenses.

Marine commanders at Iwo were determined and willing to pay the price for victory. Also had resolute and high determined Marines under their command.

[the average age of a Marine at Iwo was nineteen years old!!!

* #9 Superior combat power always wins.

The Marines obviously had a vast amount of combat power at their disposal [land, sea, air combined]. And needed it. Could call upon whatever reserve strength they needed to accomplish the task at hand. As strong as the Japanese combat power was, it was not even a comparison to what the Marines could call upon.



This is coolbert:

 Retired U.S. Army General Robert Scales is being interviewed on National Public Radio this evening.

Says that the U.S. Army in Iraq, the all-volunteer army, is holding up far better than anyone would have anticipated. Especially when you consider that some troops are going to have completed three tours of duty in three years.

He attributes this to the non-commissioned officer [NCO] corps. The sergeants. NCO's that are the first and second line supervisors of the enlisted men. The men at the lowest level of leadership that actually lead the troops forward. Scales feels the relatively excellent performance of the U.S. Army in Iraq is due in large measure to the NCO corps.

Having a cadre of highly trained and experienced NCO's is a great asset to a military. A lot of effort has been made to create an American NCO corps of educated troops, educated both in the civilian and military sector. And this has succeeded for the most part. YOU CANNOT ADVANCE AS A NCO UNLESS YOU COMPLETE THE REQUISITE COURSE, THE PLC [primary leadership course], THE BASIC, AND THE ADVANCED NCO COURSES.

Courses that emphasize the basic tenets of leadership, principles and traits. You learn all the things a sergeant needs to know in the modern military. Drill and ceremonies, how to conduct physical training, training troops in how to do their job, filling out of forms such as the 2404 [daily maintenance] and duty rosters, etc.


[please recall that in the modern army, only about 1/2 of job skills that you need to know are taught at schools. The rest is taught at the unit level.]

General Scales feels that the current NCO corps in the Army is first rate. Also warns that the NCO's act as "canaries in the coal mine". If there is some basic systemic problem that is not being addressed, this will be reflected in NCO retention. HOW MANY CAREER NCO'S REENLIST IS A KEY TO KNOWING THE LEVEL OF SATISFACTION/DISSATISFACTION AMONG THE TROOPS. If reenlistment of career NCO's is high, things are going pretty good, if not, things are not so good.

This was observed during the latter days of the Vietnam War. By 1972 dissatisfaction among NCO's was so high that many career men just decided they had had enough and did not reenlist.

So far this has not happened with the all-volunteer army in Iraq.

Let us hope it does not ever happen!!


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Atomic Attack.

This is coolbert:

Here are several articles that highlight the possibility of atomic attack on the United States.

This is a fictional article describing an atomic attack.

This is a panel discussion concerning an atomic attack. A panel discussion with some folks that SEEM [??] to be in the know regarding the subject.

"David Dastych . . . A former Polish covert intelligence agent, he joined the CIA in South Vietnam (1973-1987) . . . He monitored illegal nuclear trades for an Israeli organization from 1992-1994."

"Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist . . . He has interviewed Osama bin Laden three times. He is an expert on Al Qaeda's nuclear ambitions"

"Paul Williams, a journalist and the author of The Al Qaeda Connection . . . Osama's Revenge: The Next 9/11, What the Media and the Government Haven't Told You."

"Harvey W. Kushner, Ph.D., the chair at a major university department of criminal justice. He advises and trains a number of federal agencies"

The original intent of my blog entry about Eric Hoffer was to stimulate thought regarding the idea of fear.

"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you." - - Eric Hoffer - - longshoreman/philosopher.


My impression is that the possibility of atomic bomb attack on the U.S. has been taken and should be taken with great seriousness by our government. IT MUST BE!!! Our survival as a nation/state depends upon it!!

I think it IS a given that the Al Qaeda jihadi DOES want atomic weapons, wants them bad, and is moving the proverbial mountains to obtain them. The general consensus is that right now, at this exact moment, the jihadi DOES NOT have atomic weapons. The thought is that if they did have them, THEY WOULD HAVE ALREADY USED THEM!!!


[Umma is the Islamic nation. All believers the world over.]

[the once-terrorist Walid Shoebat was interviewed on the radio recently. Was asked why there have not been further attacks since 9/11. Walid said that in his opinion Al Qaeda is waiting for the exact moment to conduct the GRAND EVENT. An attack that WILL bring the U.S. to it's knees. Make it cry UNCLE!!]

Presumably this would be a concerted attack of atomic, radiological, and biological weapons on a massive scale. Maybe six atomic bombs detonated simultaneously, a dozen or so radiological events, and maybe two dozen or so outbreaks of smallpox across the U.S.!!

Does anyone doubt such a catastrophe would bring the U.S. to it's knees??!! Hell, it would bring anyone to it's knees!!


What would work? What does scare the jihadi? What would cause the villains to pause and say to themselves, "maybe we had better reconsider what we have in mind!!" I do not know. Some persons such as Tom Tancredo has suggested a retaliatory attack on the Holy Places of Islam [Mecca and Medina] are an option. For this he was harshly criticized.

Does anyone have a better idea!!??



Saturday, November 25, 2006


This is coolbert:

In a previous blog entry, I have mentioned the various forms of martial arts combatatives developed for soldiers of the modern era.

Martial arts forms such as SAMBO, Krav Maga, or Defendu. NOT martial arts forms taught as a way to obtain physical fitness, self-discipline, mental awareness, etc. Martial arts forms designed as a military combatative style. For killing opponents with bare hands if necessary on the battlefield.

All that said, it is important to remember that all that training to kill with the bare hands is rarely, IF EVER used on the modern battlefield. NOT totally so, but extremely rare. Unarmed combatatives as taught [mostly to special operations type units], are just not used but with again, rare, exceptions.

About 80 % of the casualties in modern warfare is the result of automatic weapons fire or artillery. For soldiers to engage in mano-a-mano, one-on-one combat with bare hands or even using edged weapons is a great rarity.

Martial arts combatatives as taught to even special operations troops has more of the effect of a physical training regimen, which builds aggressiveness and self-confidence as a byproduct. Sort of like all the time spent in bayonet training.

Exceptions of course do occur. Even in the First World War [WW1] troops DID on a regular basis engage in hand-to-hand close quarters combat.

This occurred in the form of the trench raid.

Units, of up to battalion size, did carry out with frequency, trench raids. Raiding parties, specially equipped and prepared, did assault, mostly at night, the trenches of the foe, to capture prisoners for interrogation, along with documents of intelligence value. This did happen all the time.

"The tactic had several purposes; to kill or take prisoner enemy troops, to gather intelligence by seizing important documents or enemy officers for interrogation, to keep the enemy 'on his toes' (reducing his morale), and to maintain aggressiveness in troops by sending them on such missions."

Raiders assaulting a section of the enemy trench, did engage in hand-to-hand combat and close quarters battle with the foe. Battle necessitating forms of combat not normally seen in WW1. Soldiers on trench raids would use stealth techniques almost NEVER used in other WW1 style combat. Wool socks worn on the outside of boots, blackened faces, etc.

There could not be and was no need for the normal weapons of WW1, the machinegun and artillery, to be employed during a trench raid.

Soldiers on a trench raid would fight the enemy with:

* Grenades.

* Trench knife.

* Trench club.

* Pistol.

* Western boxing and wrestling techniques.

Some special comment is needed regarding these trench raid weapons.

* Grenades were used extensively for the first time in WW1. Trench raid teams of grenadiers were formed for task specific missions.

"The British bombing team usually consisted of nine men at a time: an NCO, two throwers, two carriers, two bayonet-men to defend the team and two 'spare' men for use when casualties were incurred.

As an attack or raid reached an enemy trench the grenadiers would be responsible for racing down the trench and throwing grenades into each dugout they passed: this invariably succeeded in purging dugouts of their human occupants in an attempt at surrender (often not accepted as they were promptly shot or stabbed)."

* The trench knife was a particularly useful and deadly weapon designed specifically with the trench raider in mind. Again, used in hand-to-combat, mano-a-mano. A knife that had a hand grip of brass knuckles [knuckle dusters to some]. With this weapon you could alternate between stabbing, slashing, and beating your opponent, depending on the blow and what you wanted to do! [a variety of Filipino martial arts employ knife fighting with a doubled edged knife.]

"The pommel incorporated a 'skull-crusher' extension"

* Of the trench club I am not sure of all the details?! Some sort of baseball like club with metal spikes hammered through it?

* Pistols of course would have been the .45 caliber American autoloading pistol or the British Webley .455 revolver. Handguns that with one round you instantly can incapacitate your opposition. Smaller caliber handguns do not have the stopping power of the former. The British had a lot of experience with handgun caliber and stopping power from their various colonial wars. Wars where officers need a handgun that could stop a charging spear carrying tribesman with a single shot and hit!

"were prized for their effectiveness at stopping charging opponents dead in their tracks, be they native warriors or German soldiers."

* Hand-to-hand combatatives would of course have involved western boxing and wrestling techniques of the most violent, quick and sure measures. The French of course had their home grown martial arts of savate' and la lette [some form of French traditional wrestling?].

[it has also been noted that some of the hand-to-hand combat techniques used in trench raids showed an influence from Oriental marital arts, not SOLELY western combatative skills. This is probably derived from the experiences of French and British long term career officers that had served in the European colonies of the Far East. These men had observed and absorbed Oriental fighting styles and taught them to their raiding parties!!]

Trench raids of WW1 were the sort of vicious, personal combat not normally seen in modern warfare.

After 9/11, a letter was posted on the internet from an American military man asking the U.S. populace the question, "are you ready for a knife fight??" Meaning the anti-jihadi, Global War On Terror [GWOT].

When thinking of how the GWOT has to be fought, think of the trench raid.



Wednesday, November 22, 2006


This is coolbert:

Here is an interesting article written by the eminent British military historian, John Keegan.

Writing about the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Keegan reiterates what I have mentioned before in a previous blog entry.

How those connected tunnel complexes and fighting positions give a definite advantage to the Hezbollah fighters. Allow Hezbollah "troops" to survive a bombardment relatively unscathed. Sort of like what the Japanese were able to do on Iwo Jima. And later, the Viet Cong [VC] in their war with American forces.

[it is reputed the Hezbollah used the services of professional engineers to develop and plan their tunnel fortifications. Same as did the Japs on Iwo!!]

Keegan specifically cites the VC example. The enemy in Vietnam had YEARS to build those tunnel complexes they used, such as at Cu Chi. Constantly lengthening, improving, expanding, maintaining. Think of the simple math. If you dig three feet a day, using teams of diggers, you have a thousand foot tunnel [s] dug in a year. Six years or so, and the complex will be a mile long. Dig a bunch of such tunnels, and you have fortifications of impressive size.

American forces in Vietnam used some novel ways to deal with the tunnels as used by the VC.

* Shaped charges were used to demolish the tunnels using a minimum of explosive.

* Persistent chemical agent [tear gas] was sprayed on tunnel walls, the tunnels being left intact. Future movement inside the tunnels would "stir-up" the persistent agent, releasing the tear agent. Life would become very uncomfortable quickly.

* "Tunnel rats". Specially selected and equipped troops of small stature but of great courage, who would enter the tunnel complex to hunt down enemy troops and extricate anything of intelligence value. Equipped with hearing protection, goggles, gas mask, knee pads, .22 caliber pistols, and various forms of lighting to see their way around.

[small stature was a requirement to be a "tunnel rat". The average Vietnamese man was SMALLER than the average American woman. Entrances/exits from tunnels were deliberately made small by the VC so that a westerner could not enter. A Vietnamese man could only enter by placing his hands over his head as he crawled through. A tight fit for him, much less for an oversize American man!!]

* Smoke generators. Smoke would be introduced into an entrance/exit, hopefully emerging at other locations and revealing other concealed entrances/exits.

* Dowsing sticks [??]. Results of the dowsing sticks is uncertain.

Tunnels allow the unconventional combatant on the modern battlefield to survive and endure massive bombardment, all the while providing fighting positions from which to conduct an effective defensive form of combat [defense is the stronger form of combat - - Clausewitz.].


Monday, November 20, 2006


This is coolbert:

One correction and one addition to my previous blog entries on chivalry.

It was Reynald, not Raymond [of Chatillon] that had caused grave offense to Saladin. Reynald=Reginald. For having the temerity to violate the person of Saladin's sister, Reynald met death. And was deserving of same, if you can believe the accounts attributed to "Sir" Reynald.

The commander of the Atlantis, Kapitan Rogge, WAS respected by his German crew, those Britishers that became his prisoners, and the allies.

"Rogge also was one of the few German officers of flag rank [general or admiral, either one] who was not arrested by the Allies after the war. This was due to the way he had exercised his command of Atlantis."

"The skipper of the British vessel, City of Baghdad, which the Atlantis sunk in July of 1941, stated, 'His treatment of prisoners left respect, instead of hatred.'"

And ALSO the Japanese.

The capture of one particular British ship [Automedon] by the Atlantis yielded the proverbial "treasure trove" of intelligence secrets, all instrumental to eventual Japanese victory in the Malaya campaign.

"15 bags of mail marked, 'Safe hand. By British Master only.' This mail included the whole of the Top Secret mail for the High Command, Far East, new code tables, and a War Cabinet report on British forces, defenses of Singapore, information regarding Australia and New Zealand, and an appraisal of Japanese intentions."

Accordingly, as described by Hughes-Wilson:

"after Singapore surrendered in 1942 Kriegsmarine Kapitan Rogge of the Atlantis was presented with a samurai sword from the Emperor of Japan's own hands; a Japanese honor almost impossible for any Westerner to comprehend"

[I may have mentioned this in a previous blog. But it IS worth repeating!]


Chivalry VII [End].

This is coolbert:

So, why all this interest in chivlary as presented in the previous blog entries??

My interest was stimulated by the web site of the PBS series "Secrets of the Dead".

Had an episode of an aerial combat over Guadalcanal in World War Two [WW2].

An aerial combat between a very matched group of Japanese and American combat fighter pilots. A combat for control of the air over Guadalcanal. A combat in the air that accompanied the combat also occurring on the ground. Vital combat for both sides. A turning point in the Pacific threatre of war during WW2.

This "dogfight" between the American and Japanese pilots resembles to me, the Combat of the Thirty. You cannot get, in modern warfare, much closer than this. Pilots, alone in a fighter plane, trying to out maneuver and shoot down other pilots that are trying to do the same to them. Generally speaking, matched aircraft with matched pilots in one-on-one combat of the type NOT usually seen in modern warfare.

What is most amazing is that both of the ace pilots, Southerland for the American side and Sakai on the Japanese side, apparently REFUSED [???] to kill one another?? Exhibited the highest form of chivalry on the battlefield by NOT killing the opponent, who was deemed very worthy and NOT deserving of death!!

This all seems far fetched, doesn't it. Southerland did not [??] offer a cogent reason why he did not "kill" Sakai when he had the drop on him [could not fire and was out of ammo was Southerland's rationale as he saw it]. Sakai, seeing the American pilot wounded, and realizing that "something" dramatic had happened, relates shooting at the Wildcat aircraft piloted by Sutherland, BUT ONLY TO DISABLE THE ENGINE AND ALLOW SOUTHERLAND TO PARACHUTE TO SAFETY!!!

"Why had Southerland failed to fire when he gained a brief advantage over Sakai? And had Sakai, an ace who finished the war with 64 kills to his credit, really aimed at Southerland's engine to give him a chance to bail out?"

[Sakai was the Imperial Navy's third-ranking ace and Japan's leading fighter pilot to survive the war.

OH, this sounds too good to be true, doesn't it??!! Sounds almost like something Saladin would have done almost one thousand years earlier!!

This "Secrets of the Dead" episode does not arrive at any definitive conclusion. From reading the article, it is apparent THAT SOMETHING VERY CHIVALROUS DID OCCUR IN THE SKIES OVER GUADALCANAL!! Something that to us moderns does not seem to EVER OCCUR in warfare as it is fought today.

[and quite often very rarely in medieval warfare for that matter either??!!]

Dig this about Sakai too. Seems to lend a lot of credence that he did only intend to shoot Southerland down, BUT NOT KILL HIM!!

"Early in 1942, Sakai was transferred to Tarakan in Borneo . . . The Japanese high command had instructed fighter patrols to down any and all enemy aircraft encountered, whether they were armed or not. On a patrol . . . Sakai encountered a civilian Dutch DC-4 flying at low altitude over dense jungle. Sakai initially assumed it was transporting important people, so he signaled to its pilot to follow him, but the pilot did not obey. Sakai came down and got much closer to the DC-4. He spotted a blonde woman and a young child through the window, along with other passengers . . . He decided, against orders, not to shoot down the Dutch aircraft and flew ahead of the pilot and signaled him to go ahead."


Apparently, very few! But not totally absent.

The great military historian J.F.C. Fuller has called the Boer War of 1899-1900 as the last "Gentleman's War". Primarily because of the chivalrous behavior of the Boer [Afrikaans speaking] Commando toward wounded and captured English soldiers. Particularly on the part of the Boer Commando leader Koos de la Rey.

"De la Rey was deeply religious and a small pocket Bible was rarely out of his hand."

[some might object that the Boer War WAS NOT a modern war. I would agree and disagree both. Had the characteristics of both pre-modern and modern warfare as we understand it!!]

Combat pilots of World War One [WW1] DID see themselves as gallant young men following in the footsteps of the knights of old. DID WANT to comport themselves in a chivalrous manner to the greatest extent possible.

"This show of chivalry was not uncommon, for in the beginning of the war [WW1], it was tradition to throw down a wreath if an enemy plane was shot down, to show respect and honor [fancy that nowadays!!]."

[there is a scene in the WW1 movie the "Blue Max" where George Peppard, rather than shoot down a foe, forces a British pilot to land at a German air field, much to the cheers of his German comrades. I think this sort of thing did occur in WW1?? Sparingly however, I would have to think!!]

[that combat pilots think this way is an indication that they quite often find themselves in a personal battle one-on-one with an enemy opponent in a manner that almost ALL other soldiers of the modern era do not!!]

During World War Two [WW2] WE DO find some other instances of chivalry as generally understood.

One instance of chivalry from WW2 is the "saving of the colors" as mentioned in a previous blog. The type of behavior on the battlefield that moderns think is passe' and so ancient as to be NOT done anymore. This particular incident of "saving of the colors" is of a Soviet officer wrapping his body with the unit colors to be saved from capture by the German invader.

As told by Suvorov:

"One most important element needed for the rebuilding of a new division is it's old colors. A fresh division can be set up very quickly around the old colors. But if the colors are lost - - that is the end of the division . . . Here is an example from the history of the 24th Samaro-Ulyanovsk Division "Iron" . . . it was active in the war against Germany from the very beginning of hostiltities . . . until as part of the 13th Army, it found itself encircled. Part of the divison managed to break out but it's colors were lost . . . A peasant, D.N. Tyapin, told the commission [a commission trying to locate hastily buried bodies of Soviet soldiers] how he had found the body of a Soviet officer, wrapped in a flag, and how he had buried the body, with the flag. The grave was immediately opened and the colors of the 24th Iron Division were found. The flag was immediately sent away for restoration and just as quickly, a new division was formed and given the old colors."

[saving the colors on the battlefield was considered to be the highest form of heroism in pre-modern warfare. Old habits die hard.]

I would include the "safe passage" guaranteed by the Luftwaffe in WW2 to a British bomber so it could parachute new artificial legs to the downed British ace Douglas Bader as an act of chivalry.

The various victories of the German surface raider Atlantis during WW2 were also the thing of chivalry. Clean warfare on the high seas. Captured and then sunk British ships had their crews taken prisoner, well treated by the German, and released where possible. The German Kapitän zur See Bernhard Rogge was held in high esteem by his own men and those Britishers that became his captives.

Anyone else can think of chivalrous behavior on the modern battlefield??



Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chivalry VI - - Edward.

This is coolbert:

Now for an instance of how NOT the chivalrous knights of old were supposed to behave.

[like I have said before, a lot of wags will say that there was no such thing as chivalry in medieval times. That a lot of instances can be cited that demonstrate a lack of chivalrous behavior. And this is true. Still, the concept was in place, was adhered to in many cases, was considered to be the IDEAL to STRIVE toward, and was not just the figment of imagination of some "romantics".]


"French word Chevauchee - - a cavalcade, and more particularly an ostentatious coat-trailing"

I am thinking here of the chevauchee of the Black Prince. Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward II the King of England. A prodigious military leader.

A prodigious military leader, skilled in conventional warfare of the time, but also one given over to a depraved form of warfare as well. The chevauchee.

"Edward generally avoided conventional battle, preferring to continue the chevauchee strategy of his father, wreaking havoc on the civilians of France through pillage, looting, slaughter, and rape. The aim behind this was to show the French that their king could not help them . . . It was also a successful form of economic warfare, and could be used to draw out armies who were avoiding battle, including guerrilla armies."

Rather than waging war in a chivalric manner, the chevauchee was designed as a form of warfare that with INTENTION would be decidedly un-chivalric.

"Troops" from the start were ENCOURAGED to kill, rape, burn, and pillage, and do so until sated or even beyond that. This TO A MODERN WOULD BE CONSIDERED TERRORISM!!

There is a modern equivalent for such behavior. What is occurring in Darfur, right now, as we speak.

Edward the Black Prince, for all his chivalry and nobility that HE DID possess, on occasion did NOT comport himself in the manner as he should have. He might even have felt at home as a commander of a janjaweed militia. I would like to think not, but there it is.



Chivalry V - - The Thirty.

This is coolbert: Chivalry V.

Here is an instance of battlefield chivalry as understood in medieval times.

Combat of the Thirty.

Chivalric battlefield heroics that left a lasting impression upon folks of the time.

"it was considered the finest expression of chivalry by contemporaries."

A force of thirty Bretons against the same number of Englishmen, Germans, and Bretons.

"The Combat of the Thirty (March 27, 1351), was an episode in the struggle for the succession to the duchy of Brittany. It was fought between thirty champions, knights and squires on either side, in a challenge issued by Jean de Beaumanoir, a captain of Charles of Blois supported by the king of France, to Robert Bramborough, a captain of Jean de Montfort supported by the king of England."

Men-at-arms versus men-at-arms. A combat of honor to settle grievances between the two groups. Victory in this case went to the Bretons.

This must have been a spectacle rarely seen or repeated. Remember that those men-at-arms had studied and trained with weaponry and prepared themselves for battle for years. Just to achieve an accepted level of performance was difficult enough. Constant training and improvement was also a necessity. Skilled combatants versus skilled combatants.

Many nobles and knights of the era were related to one another either through blood or by marriage. On familiar terms with one another. Once the "contest", began, it all became impersonal. Indeed, this sort of thing was probably SAVORED by the combatants.

[I cannot think of a modern equivalent of such an "event". Challenges issued and answered are just not done. Probably not even legal! If you were able to find two groups of martial artists of varying hand-to-hand styles, all the contestants black belts at least, facing off and fighting until only one combatant is left standing, this would be similar. BUT not to the death!! That is only in the movies??!!]

Read about the episode in verse.



Friday, November 17, 2006

Chivalry IV - - Saladin.

This is coolbert:

Moderns have an intuitive appreciation of military chivalry. Military men fighting honorably on the battlefield against other honorable military men. A fair fight without deceit or "dirty play" being a factor. The ideal.

Military chivalry on the modern battlefield would include such aspects as:

* Giving quarter to an enemy [allowing the vanquished to surrender and not slaughtering them!!].

* Respect for the enemy dead [no mutilation, trophy seeking, or desecration!!].

Non-chivalrous behavior on the modern battlefield would include such behaviors as:

* Flying a false flag or wearing the uniform of the enemy.

* Looting, rape, arson, mistreatment of non-combatants.

Such behavior was also considered to be an integral part of the medieval code of chivalry. As I have said, chivalric precepts were often violated. And much is made of this. However, there are examples of persons approaching the IDEAL with regard to medieval chivalry at war.

One such person who exemplifies chivalry in the medieval period was Saladin

Salah ah-Din. A ethnic Kurd from Tikrit in what is now Iraq. Yes, Tikrit. The same town where Saddam el-Tikriti was born. Better known to the world as Saddam Hussein.

As is known to most, Salah ah-Din [full name is Salah al Din Abu 'l-Muzaffer Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi] was a great Islamic war chief and ruler. Fought and was victorious over the Crusaders. And was very chivalrous in his manner of waging warfare. SO MUCH SO, THAT WHEN THE FIRST MANUAL OF CHIVALRY WAS WRITTEN, WITH EUROPEAN KNIGHTS IN MIND, SALADIN WAS THE ARCHETYPE OF THE CHIVALROUS WARRIOR!!! SUCH WAS THE IMPRESSION THIS MAN MADE UPON THE CRUSADER AND EUROPEAN KNIGHT!!

Even the great Dante was aware of the greatness of Saladin:

"When Dante Alighieri compiled his great medieval Who's Who of heroes and villains in the Divine Comedy, among the highest a non-Christian could climb was Limbo, Homer, Caesar, Plato and Dante's guide Vergil. But, perhaps what should not be most surprising in his catalog of 'Great Hearted Souls' was a figure 'solitary, set apart,' that figure was Saladin. When Dante--the most Christ-centered verse ever penned--wrote lionizing his name, Saladin had been dead for one hundred years."

Saladin displayed his chivalric courtesy to the Crusader enemy in a variety of ways. To include:

* A- Prevention of Christian bloodbath.

After capturing Jerusalem in October 1187, Saladin's civilized act in signing the peace treaty and saving Christian blood was indeed a pious act. He not only spared the lives of 100,000 Christians, but also guaranteed their safe departure along with their property and belongings. [gave quarter and safe passage to the enemy.]

* B- Releasing prisoners who were not able to pay their ransom.

Part of the condition of the surrender of Jerusalem, was that each Christian pays her or his ransom. Thousands of Christians, mainly women, were not able to pay their ransom. To save them from slavery, al-Adel, Saladin's brother, Geukburi, Saladin's brother-in law and Saladin himself, instead paid their ransom out of their own pockets. [paid in part out of his own pocket!!!]

* C- Beyond justice.

During the forty days respite that was given to the Westerners to leave Jerusalem, several Christian women approached Saladin stating that their guardians (husbands, fathers or sons) had been missing. They explained to Saladin that they had no one to look after them, nor did they have any shelter. The tenderhearted Saladin broke into tears upon hearing their case. He ordered his soldiers to find their missing guardians, and that for those of them whose guardian was determined dead, they should be given a liberal compensation.

* D- "Victory is changing the hearts of your opponents by gentleness and kindness." - Saladin.

In September 1192, during the siege of Acre, King Richard the Lionheart gained a lasting respect for Saladin. When Richard fell sick, Saladin sent him his own physician to treat him. Along with this health care, he frequently sent him ice to cool down his fever and plum fruits that were necessary for his recovery.

* E- A pure chivalric romance.

During an offensive made by King Richard against a Muslim squadron under Saladin's son al Zaher, King Richard's horse was killed and the King of England was down on the ground. Observing this scene, Saladin sent him two remounts so that he would not be at a disadvantage.

[Douglas Fairbanks Jr., during movie swordfights, used to take away the sword of his foe and then hand it back so the fight could continue. Usually with a smile on his face! That was in the make-believe of cinema. Saladin DID IT FOR REAL!!]

* F- Recovery of a snatched child.

During the siege of Acre, a Christian woman came to Saladin's camp weeping and wailing insisting that her child was snatched away by his soldiers. He was moved to tears by the pitiful condition of the woman and he himself returned the child to his mother and had them mount on the back of a mare to be returned safely to their camp.

* G- Romance in the freedom of religion.

Through an interpreter, Saladin used to communicate with virtually all the prisoners of war. During the siege of Acre several soldiers were captured. Among them was an old man who was so old that he was toothless and could hardly walk. Saladin questioned him as to why he was he there. The old man said that he had no thought but to make a pilgrimage to the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. Saladin was so touched by his answer and condition that he provided a horse for him and ordered that he be escorted to Jerusalem to fulfill his worship dream.

* H- Mischief is not tolerated.

Among the captures in the battle of Hettin were Crusade leaders such as King Guy of Jerusalem, Raymond of Syden, and Raymond of Chatillon. King Guy and Raymond of Syden were released and escorted to safety, but Raymond of Chatillon of the Kerak Castle who had often ambushed emissaries, pilgrim and merchant caravans, burned crops and destroyed fruit trees and vegetation was not spared.

[Raymond is also reputed to have personally made offense to the sister of Saladin while attacking a caravan.]

* I- A wedding spared bombardment.

In 1183, in the Castle of Kerak, during the wedding ceremony of Humphery of Toraon who was marrying Isabella, a royal princess, his mother Lady Stephanie sent out to Saladin some dishes prepared for the wedding asking that "he not be outdone in gallantry." Saladin asked which part of the castle housed the young couple and gave orders that it would not be bombarded.


"Historically and philosophically no one can question Islam's tolerance of other faiths and ethnicities."

Here we must pause and say a loud "AHEM".

If you take into account the actions of Saladin, this is true.

But, consider other actions of other Muslims in other parts of the world, during the same period.

"From Professor Rawlinson in his vivid summary of the chronicles of the victory"

[according to the myth man Joseph Campbell, describing the destruction of Hindu civilization by the Muslim invader.]

[speaking here about the conquest of the Hindu holy city of Somnath in the year 1023 by Mahmud of Ghazni [yes, that very same city Ghazni, where American troops now fight the hold-outs of the Taliban!!]]

"Fifty thousand Hindus were put to the sword; others tried to escape by sea and were drowned . . . The stone [a Hindu sacred lingam that was the subject of devoted worship in the grand temple of Somnath] was broken in pieces and a portion of it buried in the threshold of the mosque of Ghazni"


"The holy Hindu city of Benares fell in 1194 and the entire Buddhist province of Bihar in 1199, where the university of Nalanda was utterly destroyed, its population of some 6000 monks summarily put to the sword"

Much has been made of the contrast between the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem [bloody] and the manner with which Saladin regained claim to the HOLY CITY. Well, that was Saladin. In other parts of the world, in the same time period, the Muslim conqueror ALSO behaved in a bloody manner.

Saladin WAS a chivalrous Muslim, other Muslims were NOT!



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chivalry III - - Lewis.

This is coolbert:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - - George Orwell.

When a modern thinks of chivalry, they almost without exception think of courteous behavior toward women.

Holding doors open, lighting a cigarette, allowing a woman go exit from an elevator first. That sort of stuff.

Behavior of this sort WAS the type of thing that proponents of chivalry had in mind from the start. But not solely confined to. Chivalry, of course, as understood by the medieval person, pertained to war, GOD, and women. Three aspects.

War and GOD as part of the equation seem to have disappeared from the scene, as perceived by the modern. Chivalrous behavior toward women is also perceived as having been on the decline for some time too.

Is there ANY ROOM at all in modern society for the concept of chivalry?

The concept as understood in medieval times?

The writer C.S. Lewis certainly felt this was so.

Lewis is generally recognized as the foremost writer on all things Christian in the 20th century.

An Oxford Don [professor], writer, confidant of J.R.R. Tolkien. And MILITARY man.

[Lewis, Tolkien and a group of other Oxford Dons would gather weekly at an English pub for critique and review of one another's works. I wonder if the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy by Tolkien had input from Lewis?? Perhaps so!]

Saw combat action as an officer in World War One and was wounded at Arras.

Lewis did feel that the concept of medieval chivalry was totally relevant to the modern world. Essential from the standpoint from which Lewis viewed the world.

"Hence, we can consider Lewis a pioneer of the concept of Chivalry Today. Lewis called chivalry a necessity. He believed that we are either, by nature, stern or meek. A knight must be fierce and kind at the same time. Time and time again we see this ideal of chivalry in his work, as his heroes kill their enemies quickly, but do not take any pleasure in doing so."

[strong and meek is a contradiction??]

["Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth" - - Proverbs Proverbs 24:17"]

"Lewis believed that without the knight, we have two types of people: those who are fierce in battle but cannot be gentle elsewhere, and those who are gentle in their real lives, but completely useless. The knight is the person who can be both fierce and gentle, but such behavior is learned."

In his [Lewis] own words:

"The man who combines both characters - the knight - is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium."

The seven knightly virtues of the modern code of chivalry include:

* Courage.

* Justice.

* Mercy.

* Generosity.

* Faith.

* Nobility.

* Hope.

It is not only Lewis that has pondered the relevance of chivalry to the modern world. In Japan too this has occurred. The modern Japanese have given thought to the precepts of bushido and how the chivalric ideals of same pertain to modern Japan.

"modern bushido. The idea was derived from the fact that the Japanese male should be able to adapt his beliefs and philosophies to a changing world."

"In an excerpt of James Williams' article 'Virtue of the sword', a fairly simple explanation of modern bushido can be found:

The warrior protects and defends because he realizes the value of others. He knows that they are essential to society and, in his gift of service, recognizes and values theirs... take the extra moment in dark parking lots at night to make sure that a woman gets into her car safely before leaving yourself. Daily involvement in acts such as these are as much a part of training as time spent in the dojo, and indeed should be the reason for that time spent training... When faced with a woman or child in a situation in which they are vulnerable, there are two types of men: those who would offer succor and aid, and those who would prey upon them. And in modern society, there is another loathsome breed who would totally ignore their plight!"

The Japanese too see a need for the concept of chivalry in the modern world. The concept as understood by those of the medieval world.

[when I think of the "loathsome breed" the first thought that comes to my mind is the Kitty Genovese case. Over fifty years old now. A young woman in NYC was set upon and murdered by an assailant. Attacked repeatedly and knifed over a period of forty five minutes!! During which time, dozens of persons heard the screams and cries for "help", but DID NOTHING!! NOT EVEN to call the police???!!!]


Rough men - - but rough men that can be gentle!!



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chivalry II - - The Ideal.

This is coolbert:

Please do not think that the concept of chivalry is something common only to the Christian and European tradition. This is not the case!

More or less during a similar time period [1000 A.D.], a number of cultural domains developed simultaneously and perhaps independently, the same basic concepts and ideals of chivalry.

Create a noble ethical standard that the warrior could adhere too. Standards that have a great degree of commonality from cultural domain to domain.

The concept of chivalry can be found in the cultures of:


Bushido, meaning "way of the warrior", is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of life, loosely analogous to the European concept of chivalry.

"...Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe.

"concepts of an all encompassing loyalty to their master, filial piety, reverence to the Emperor. It indicates the need for both compassion for those of a lower station, and for the preservation of their name. Early Bushido literature further enforces the requirement to conduct themselves with calmness, fairness, justice, and politeness. The relationship between learning and the way of the warrior is clearly articulated, one being a natural partner to the other."

[learning and the way of the warrior were seen as NOT be incompatible. Rather, it was said that, "sword and pen in harmony".]

"Seven virtues [of the chivalrous warrior]"

* Gi – Rectitude

* Yū – Courage

* Jin – Benevolence

* Rei – Respect

* Makoto or Shin– Honesty

* Meiyo – Honor, Glory

* Chū – Loyalty

Others that are sometimes added to these:

* Kō - Filial piety

* Chi - Wisdom

* Tei - Care for the aged



Futuwa (sometimes translated as "courage", "chivalry" or "manliness") is a name of Sufi Islamic virtue that has some similarities to chivalry and charity.

[in some circles, it has been suggested that Islamic Sufi philosophy could be an antidote for various jihadi movements. Sufi practices tend to promote the "inner war" [greater jihad] component of Islam. Striving to achieve moral perfection rather than the "lesser jihad" or warfare as seen in the present time.]

"Another form was Warriors for the Faith, that is, warbands or warrior societies . . . However, for example, in 1100s in Damascus, Ibn Jubayr founded an organization called the Nubuya that fought the fanatic Shi'a sects in Syria."

"Abbasid Caliph an-Nasir (1158–1225) approved of and supported futuwas. In 1182 he organized a warrior futuwa that was for all practical purposes a knightly order with mounted warriors."


"Rajputs (from the Sanskrit Rajanya Tatpurusha compound rājaputra, "son of a king") are a prominent social group of India, Pakistan and Nepal."

"The Rajputs were designated by the British as a "Martial Race". Martial Race is a designation created by officials of British India to describe "races" (peoples) that were thought to be naturally warlike and aggressive in battle and to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, hard working, fighting tenacity and military strategy."

"They developed an ethos of warlike chivalry that served as the benchmark for other Indian communities as the latter ascended to regional dominance. This martial ethos did not preclude patronage of the arts: distinctive forms of painting and architecture developed under the aegis of Rajput courts, and classical music found support."

[again, the emphasis was NOT merely on the military. Cultural pursuits were also developed to a high standard. Much of the same behavior existed in Japan. The samurai, as a leisure class during time of peace, were patrons of high culture as well as warriors.]



The xiá is a Chinese term that refers to a righteous person who excels in personal combat and may use their armed expertise to right social unfairness or injustice. Xiá could be roughly compared to "chivalry" and identified with the Western concept of knights and knighthood, although they are not strictly interchangeable.

[not strictly interchangeable. Well, NO, but close enough.]

"The main identification of a xiá is a code of conduct and an ideology of honor and social justice dedicated to serving the good of the people."

"an ideal hero who wielded power by force, but could withhold it if necessary, and more importantly, possesses a sense of moral justice."

[Chinese society through the ages HAS NOT necessarily had RELIGION in the formal sense that worships a SUPREME being. GOD as is understood in the WEST is not necessarily a part of Chinese philosophy. Chinese belief systems are MORE of a way of explaining the cosmos and how the individual relates to it. Xia' is an example of moral conduct and honor as practiced by the warrior or martial artist.]

Many different cultural domains coming to the same basic conclusions on how to harness the warrior and put his skills to the use of society. The warrior, rather than becoming a bane, becomes an asset.

Chivalry was seen as the way to accomplish this.



Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chivalry I - - The Concept.

This is coolbert:

Chivalry. A concept that moderns with good reason must feel is irrelevant to warfare as it has been practiced for over one hundred years now.

The industrialized, mechanized, impersonal warfare such as was practiced in both World Wars.

Irrelevant? Is this so?

As taken from a previous blog entry concerning the one time dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin Dada:

"See this description of how a medieval chivalrous knight was supposed to not behave. According to Geoffroi de Charny, a French knight who was born in the first decade of the 14th century and who died at Poitiers in 1356:

"Men who want to wage war without good reason, who seize other
people without prior warning and without any good cause and rob
and steal from them, wound and kill them ... who use arms
(dishonorably) behave like cowards and traitors ... Indeed all
such people who are thus doers or consenters or receivers in
relation to such deeds are not worthy to live or to be in the
company of men of worth ... Cursed be these persons who devote
their lives to committing such evil deeds in order to acquire such
dishonorable fame! And indeed any lords who have such men under
their control and have knowledge of their ill doings are no longer
worthy to live if they do not inflict such punishment on them that
would persuade anyone else who might have a desire for wrongdoing
to draw back."

Chivalry as a concept that became institutionalized has an origin to a period PRIOR to the Crusades.

Is a concept fostered by the church with good reason.

In the minds of many, there was a perception that warfare and Christianity were totally incompatible. This is not so, but to many, there was such a perception. The church, through the promotion of knighthood and chivalry as institutions that had the blessing of the church, hoped to resolve this apparent incompatibility not only in the favor of the church, but for general society as a whole.

"the Church shared, through the blessing of the sword, and by the virtue of this blessing chivalry assumed a religious character. In early Christianity, although Tertullian's teaching that Christianity and the profession of arms were incompatible was condemned as heretical, the military career was regarded with little favour. In chivalry, religion and the profession of arms were reconciled."

It was also true that the evolution of the man-at-arms, primarily the mounted armored horseman, that occurred in the period falling the fall of the Roman Empire until the beginning of the Crusades, was indeed a DARK AGE where the peasantry was at the mercy of those skilled in warfare. A few persons proficient in warfare and weaponry could rule in a despotic manner to the great detriment of the lesser classes. This was a situation the church wished to avoid. For a host of reasons, the church did desire to restrain and channel the military "arm" [sword arm] of society into civilized behavior.

Chivalry as an institution and concept was a way to channel and mold the innate aggressive tendencies of the warrior that existed during at the time.

"Chivalry (derived through the French cheval from the Latin caballus) as an institution is to be considered from three points of view: the military, the social, and the religious."

"Medieval chivalry is most easily defined when broken up into three basic but overlapping areas:

* Chivalry in relation to countrymen and fellow Christians.

* Chivalry in relation to God.

* Chivalry in relation to women."

"One particular similarity between all three of these categories is honor. Honor is the foundational and guiding principle of chivalry. Thus, for the knight, honor would be one of the guides of action."

A concept and institution that for the most part succeeded??!!

You can probably cite many examples from history that seem to suggest that the ideal concept of chivalry was a mirage.

However, as an ideal that was aspired to by many, chivalry was a worthy concept that had great merit.

Better to have such a concept, even if not ideally practiced, than no such concept at all.

And, lastly, with regard to HONOR, even the most casual of observers can instantly and with ease understand that Idi Amin Dada WAS NOT a man who possessed chivalrous attitudes. Quite the contrary. The archetype of the military man GONE BAD!!

"Cursed be these persons who devote their lives to committing such evil deeds in order to acquire such dishonorable fame!"

Cursed be these persons INDEED!!



Sunday, November 12, 2006


This is coolbert:

From my previous blog entry on Tammy Duckworth:

"With regard to military flying, 'she hopes to get re-accredited to fly helicopters some day. Military cockpits, by regulation, cannot be modified for her prostheses, so she would have to find some other way to pass the physicals and flight tests'."

In the case of MODERN military pilots, having a prostheses would mean an end to your career. Period! NO WAY around it.

There is precedent, however, for military pilots, even with prostheses, to resume their flying careers, engage in combat, and DO WELL. Extremely well in two cases.

One such pilot is the famous Hans Ulrich Rudel. The "Eagle of the East". The most decorated German military man of the conflict [World War Two]. Perhaps the most decorated soldier of any military from that war. A man of the most protean accomplishments on the battlefield.

A man who when badly wounded, at the end of the war, and losing his right leg below the knee, was fitted with a prostheses and returned to combat, with vigor and valor!!

"In November 1944 he was wounded in the thigh and flew subsequent missions with his leg in a plaster cast."

"On 8th February 1945, his aircraft was hit by a 40mm shell and Rudel was badly wounded in the right foot, crash landing behind German lines. His life was saved by his observer who stemmed the bleeding but Rudel's leg was amputated below the knee. Amazingly, he returned to operations on 25 March 1945, destroying 26 more tanks before the end of the war."

Hans Ulrich was a HELLUVA MAN!!

Another pilot that distinguished himself in combat, prostheses or no prostheses, was the British flyer Douglas Bader.

Having suffered the loss of both legs in a pre-war flying accident, Bader, at the height of the Battle of Britain, was allowed to resume his flying career, COMMANDING and distinguishing himself in aerial combat, shooting down twenty two German aircraft.

"Bader is upheld as an inspirational leader and hero of the era, not least because he fought despite having lost both legs in a pre-war flying accident. His brutally forthright, dogmatic and often highly opinionated views (especially against authority) coupled with his boundless energy and enthusiasm inspired adoration and frustration in equal measures with both his subordinates and peers."

"His plane crashed when the tip of the left wing touched the ground. Bader was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where both his legs were amputated - one above and one below the knee."

"Although he was still able to fly with artificial legs, he was invalided out of the RAF."

Bader was not one to stay out of the fray when WW2 broke out. To the contrary.

"When war broke out in 1939, Bader used his RAF Cranwell connections to rejoin the RAF, despite his disability and reticence on the part of the establishment. His persistence in trying to regain a medical categorization for operational flying finally succeeded and led to a Flight Commander posting to 222 Squadron, flying Spitfires."

"By August 1941, Bader had claimed 22 German planes shot down, the fifth highest total in the RAF. On August 9, 1941 Bader was shot down and taken prisoner . . . As he tried to bail out, one of his prosthetic legs became trapped in the aircraft, and he only escaped when the leg's retaining straps broke."

"It was thought that Bader's success as a fighter pilot was partly due to having no legs; pilots pulling high 'G' in combat turns often 'blacked out' as the flow of blood from the brain drained to other parts of the body- usually the legs. As Bader had no legs he could remain conscious that much longer and thus had an advantage over more able-bodied opponents."

[this is just amazing. His abilities as a fighter pilot MIGHT HAVE BEEN ENHANCED DUE TO THE FACT THAT HE DID NOT HAVE LEGS!! This gave HIM AN ADVANTAGE OVER 'able-bodied opponents'.]


"Bader was captured by German forces, who treated him with great respect. General Adolf Galland, a German flying ace, notified the British of his damaged leg and offered them safe passage to drop off a replacement. The British responded on 19 August 1941 with the 'Leg Operation'- an RAF bomber was allowed to drop a new prosthetic leg by parachute to St Omer, a Luftwaffe base in occupied France."

"Bader tried to escape from the hospital where he was recovering, and over the next few years proved as big a thorn in the side of the Germans as he had been to the RAF establishment. He made so many attempts at escape that the Germans threatened to take away his legs."

"After returning to England, Bader stayed in the Air Force until February 1946. In June 1945, he was given the honour of leading a victory flypast of 300 aircraft over London . . . Bader resumed playing golf, an enthusiasm developed after his amputation, achieving a handicap in the low single figures."

"Bader's artificial legs are on display at the RAF Museum at Stafford"

"In 1976 Bader was knighted for his services to amputees and his public work for the disabled."

Douglas Bader too was one HELLUVA MAN!!

Hans Ulrich Rudel and Douglas Bader make the rest of us seem small by comparison!!



This is coolbert:

"On Sunday [today], Tammy Duckworth will celebrate "Alive Day."

"That's what she calls the anniversary of the day a rocket propelled grenade [RPG] tore through the helicopter she was co-piloting in Iraq - - an attack that destroyed her legs and shattered her right arm, but spared her life."

Tammy Duckworth. Major Tammy Duckworth. Illinois Army National Guard [ILARNG].

A recent candidate for seat in the House of Representatives. Lost in a narrow race to her opponent, but ran [in a usually very safe Republican district], a very competitive race with honor. She is one of the persons the Democratic party has slated to counter claims that the Democratic party is anti-military, anti-patriotic, and sometimes, in the perception of some, downright anti-American.

Tammy is a very remarkable person. Very accomplished and from what I read, the type of person YOU DO want to have representing you in Congress. Regardless of party affiliation.

Even with two prosthesis [needs a cane to walk and is seen from time to time in a wheelchair], she has a full schedule ahead of her:

"She talked of celebrating her first 'real traditional Christmas' with her husband since 2002.

"Plans to finish up a doctorate in public health."

"entertaining ways to parlay her campaign experience into ways to focus on health-care policy or veterans advocacy.

"And she is helping raise money to open a Fisher House - - a place for military families to stay while loved ones undergo hospitalization - - at Hines VA Hospital outside Chicago."

"She is also a major in the National Guard - - she has 14 years experience and once a month, she heads to Springfield [Il] where she inspects ground and air units on safety."

Regardless of prosthesis, she still intends to resume flying as well. Very noble and brave.

"Saturday at Schaumburg Regional Airport, she hopes to begin lessons in a two-seat airplane. The first benefit, she said, will be 'just to get the joy of flying back in me again.'"

[this is of course a fixed-wing private plane, not a military aircraft!!]

With regard to military flying, "she hopes to get re-accredited to fly helicopters some day. Military cockpits, by regulation, cannot be modified for her prostheses, so she would have to find some other way to pass the physicals and flight tests".

Like a said, a remarkable person.

Good luck Tammy.


Friday, November 10, 2006


This is coolbert:

Don Wade and Roma, on WLS 890 Chicago talk radio this morning are talking to Marine General Ron Christmas about the dedication of the U.S. Marine Corps museum. Dedicated today by President Bush in Quantico, VA.

It was announced at the dedication that a Marine is being awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq. It is a posthumous award. This is quite often the case with the Medal of Honor.

Hunter, the son of the Don and Roma, is a currently serving Marine officer who has done tour[s] in Iraq. So anything regarding the U.S. Marines is of keen interest to this pair of talk show hosts.

Don asks the General about the Clint Eastwood directed move, "Flags Of Our Fathers". Don questions General Christmas if he, the general, feels that the movie is an accurate depiction of events. And the general says he feels it is so.

Don Wade then goes on to say that just as there is controversy with the policies, strategies, and tactics being used in present day Iraq, there was AT THE TIME, controversy regarding Iwo Jima too. Once suggestion made AT THE TIME was that too few troops were used for the landing at Iwo.

And this has been, ever since 1945, been a criticism of the strategy followed by the senior Marine commanders.

It is true that the Marines had three divisions of troops present at Iwo. ONLY two of those divisions were sent ashore. One of course being held in reserve. Criticism suggests that ALL THREE DIVISIONS should have been sent into the Iwo inferno.

General Holland M. Smith ["Howlin' Mad], overall American commander at Iwo, DID make the conscious decision to retain one fresh division of Marines in reserve.

That the one fresh division present aboard ships was NOT committed has been a grave error in the eyes of some. Especially as the resistance on Iwo Jima was beyond pre-invasion expectations.

But, as even General Christmas said, hindsight is always 20/20.

H.M. Smith had future considerations in mind when he decided NOT to send that reserve division ashore.

This consideration centered around "Downfall". The invasion of Japan that would have commenced in the fall of 1945.

Smith was NOT privy to the atomic bomb secret. Indeed, at the time of the Iwo landings, the first atomic detonation had not even been accomplished. Smith had the invasion of Japan in mind when he DID NOT commit that fresh division.

"many proud regiments suffered devastating losses. With these same units already designated as key components of the landing force against the Japanese home islands, such losses had serious potential implications. These factors may well have influenced General Holland Smith's unpopular decision to withhold the 3d Marines from the battle. From the perspective of an exhausted company commander on Iwo Jima, Smith's decision seemed inexcusable, then and now; from the wider perspective of the commanding general, Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific, the decision makes more sense."

Sending another division into the bloodbath of Iwo would have been, from a manpower standpoint, with an eye to the future, a big mistake.

It is important to remember, that all throughout the Pacific campaign, those island landings on Jap held islands usually resulted in very heavy casualties for the American forces. Battlefield casualties were accompanied by a LOT of non-combat casualties, mental and disease both. Entire units had to be withdrawn to a rear area for refitting and recuperation after battles such as occurred on Guadalcanal and Tarawa.

Rather than debilitate through combat ANOTHER whole division on Iwo Jima, Smith decided to proceed with the plan as originally conceived [two divisions ashore/one in reserve].

It may also be the case that trying to put ashore three divisions of Marines at once on such a small island as Iwo Jima would not have been feasible. NOT enough terrain and land space period to deploy three divisions simultaneously and have them work harmoniously. Unit frontages and boundaries would have been too congested to apply tactics and doctrine as practiced in training with effectiveness.