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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors IX. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

"Wrap yourself in the flag!!" In modern parlance, a snide and pejorative phrase applied to persons who exhibit excessive patriotic zeal, often of a knee-jerk, reflexive nature. Such persons are often portrayed as having the nature of a buffoon, unthinking and pre-historic.

Here is an instance of a soldier that ACTUALLY DID WRAP HIMSELF IN THE FLAG!! Saving the colors from capture by the enemy. NOT during the Zulu Wars. NOT during the American Civil War or the wars of the Napoleonic Era, but from World War Two [WW2].

[this story has been told in previous blog entries, the devoted reader will recognize. Much more germane at this moment to the current series of posts.]

A Soviet soldier attempting to save the unit [24th Samaro-Ulyanovsk Motor-Rifle Division] colors from capture by German forces [Minsk encirclement, 1941]. Read from the wiki entry:

"At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the division [24th] was disbanded, apparently following the loss of its Banner (divisional colours)."

"As it was made known later, that the instructor of the political department of the division, senior Commissar A. V. Barbashev had the Banner while the division [24th] was trying to break out of the German encirclement. Barbashev died on August 6, 1941 near Anyutino village Cherykaw Raion Mogilev Oblast. Local farmer D.N. Tyapin later found the stained Banner on the officers corpse. He buried the body and the Banner in the local cemetery."

"After clearing village Anyutino by the Soviet armies the Banner was taken and directed on to restoration. On February, 20th 1944 the restored Banner of former division was handed over to 24th Rifle Division (2nd formation). For his finding of the division's Banner, D.N. Tyapin has been honoured by being forever listed on the rolls of the 1st company of one of the division's regiments."

Here is the same story as retold by Suvorov, with added context essential to understanding the story: [from the book, "Inside the Soviet Army"]

"One most important element needed for the rebuilding of a new division is its old colors . . . if colors are lost - - that is the end of the division. If such a thing should happen, all its former commanders are sent to penal battalions, where they expiate their guilt with blood . . . in the war against Germany [1941] from the very beginning of hostilities and distinguished itself in the fighting near Minsk until, as part of the 13th Army, it found itself encicrcled [the Minsk encirclement]. Part of the division managed to break out but its colors were lost . . . In 1944, when the Red Army once again reached and then crossed the Soviet frontiers, a special commission began question local inhabitants . . . A peasant, D.N. Tyapin, told the commission 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 brave 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"

It should well be understood that the 24th Samaro-Ulyanovsk Motor-Rifle Berdychivskaya, Iron, Awards of October Revolution, three times Red Banner, Suvorov's, Bogdan Khmelnitsky division was an ELITE unit of the communist RED ARMY. During the Russian Civil War, the troops of the 24th Division, Bolshevik Red Army were considered to be among the most loyal and fervent followers of the communist cause? Again, from Suvorov:

* "one of the best in the Red Army."

* "Lenin corresponded personally with some of its soldiers."

It should also well be understood that the Red Army from the time of 1918 onwards made an active, concerted and draconian effort to purge the military of all bourgeois tendencies.

"bour·geois - - n.

A person belonging to the middle class.
A person whose attitudes and behavior are marked by conformity to the standards and conventions of the middle class.
In Marxist theory, a member of the property-owning class; a capitalist."

Red Army troops were to be purged of all Tsarist pre-Civil War "tendencies", the Red Army adopting egalitarian communist mores to include:

* Election of officers.

* Abolishing badges of rank.

* Self-criticism sessions between troops of all ranks.

* Troops strictly told to address one another [officers and enlisted both] as "comrade" ONLY.

For a period of almost several decades AFTER the end of the Russian Civil War, a display of bourgeois tendencies, NO MATTER WHAT THE SHAPE, MANNER, OR FORM, would result in a quick banishment to the GULAG, a ten year sentence being the same as a sentence of death.

Surely - - saving the colors - - from capture by the enemy - - by wrapping your body with the unit standard - - would have been thought to be a manifestation of a bourgeois tendency?? THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH THE COLORS OF THE 24TH DIVISION SAMARO-ULYANOVSK MOTOR-RIFLE DIVISION, THE APPELLATION OF WHICH WAS "IRON"!!

Saving the colors in this case, an action CARRIED OUT BY A RED COMMISSAR!!



Thursday, April 24, 2008

Standards/Banners/Flags VIII.

This is coolbert:
The ancient ways die hard. [especially in the military]

See here at this web site a description of a ceremony where colors are consecrated.

Blessed by a whole host of religious authorities. An ecumenical/inter-faith service that cannot fail to impress. NOT a ritual from the is that is passe'. Held in 2001.

Colors being consecrated are those of the Royal Military College. Canadian military school of higher learning.

"The original regulation in the Canadian Forces stated that the consecration of colours had to be carried out by a revered religious figure . . . our consecration ceremony included the main religions represented at the College. Namely First Nations of Canada; Buddhist; Christian; Hindu; Jewish; Muslim; Sikh; Zorastrian."

"The year 2001 marks the 125th anniversary of the Royal Military College of Canada . . . This important milestone has been celebrated through number of significant events . . . One such event was the consecration of new colours (flags) for the College, on Saturday 29th September 2001."

Go here and view the index from which all the prayers offered can be seen. Truly an ecumenical gathering.

Act of Consecration.

Chaplain General:

"In the name of all that is sacred to us, we do consecrate and set apart these Colours that they may be a sign of our duty toward our Queen and Country. "


"So Be It!"

Chaplain General:

"We pray that the prayers which we offered this day be accepted.
To those whose Colours have been consecrated we now return them as a sacred trust."

"May the members of the Royal Military College of Canada serve their country with Truth, Duty, Valour."

This stuff [consecration of the colors] IS TAKEN WITH THE UTMOST SERIOUSNESS. As well it should be!!

"So Be It!"



Standards/Banners/Colors VII.

This is coolbert:


"Zulu Dawn is a 1979 book and war film about the Battle of IsandHlwana between British and Zulu military units in 1879 in South Africa."

[a sequel to the movie "Zulu". Both movies are MUST see for military history buffs!]

Isandhlwana. British 24th of Foot [Welsh] versus the massed Zulu army. Total victory to the Zulu. Annihilation almost in totality of a British unit by "savage forces". At the climactic end of the movie, the British commander, Pulleine, orders two of his officers to save the colors. This was the ride of Melvill and Coghill! Futile effort at escape, again, illustrating the superhuman efforts that have traditionally been made to safeguard the colors of a unit from being captured by an enemy.

"During the last minutes of the battle, the camp's commander, Colonel Pulleine, entrusts the Union Jack [Queen's Colors/national flag] to two junior officers, Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, who attempt to carry it to safety in Natal . . . While attempting to cross the Buffalo River, the three lieutenants - Melvill, Coghill, and Vereker - are cut down by Zulus and the Union Jack is captured"


"The film generally avoids historical inaccuracies and is fairly true to the events of January 22, 1879."

"The scene depicting Lts. Melvill and Coghill's escape with the Union Flag is inaccurate. In the film, Lt. Melvill carries the Union Flag unfurled, whereas in reality the Union Flag of the 24th Regiment was furled up inside its leather case. In addition . . . Melvill was too exhausted to hold onto the heavy flag while trying to swim the river, and it slipped from his grip. It was later recovered, so probably was never captured."

NO, floated downstream and settled to the bottom of a pool, then covered by a layer of silt. WAS RECOVERED TWO WEEKS LATER, CLEANED, AND NOW HANGS IN A PLACE OF HONOR. The Queen's flag was NOT CAPTURED BY THE ZULU!!

"The colour floated downstream and was later recovered from the bottom of a pool: it hangs in Brecon Cathedral, adorned with a wreath of immortelles placed upon it by Queen Victoria in memory of the events of that day."

"im·mor·telle - - n. - - having flowers that retain their shape and color when dried. - - French, from feminine of immortel, immortal [a wreath of dried flowers, symbolizing immortality!]"

A sacred consecrated object, the colors, hung in a sacred consecrated place.

". . . It was Melvill's responsibility to save the regimental colours as he did not have any troops directly under his command. Lt. Coghill likewise did not have any responsibility for troops, therefore there was no necessity for him to remain"

The two junior officers without troops to command were entrusted with guarding the colors [only the Queen's flag was present at Isandhlwana]!

Both posthumously [1907] were awarded the Victoria Cross. Highest British decoration for valor.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors VI.

This is coolbert:

"A contributor to the New Statesman, writing in October 1973, affected to believe that 'all the stories of deeds of heroism in defence of military colours can only have been so much myth-making.'"

So much myth making??


From the American Civil War, there are numerous instances, perhaps too many to count, of courage of the most extreme sort displayed on the battlefield by those protecting the colors, and also by those attempting to capture the colors of the enemy.

A standout in this regard was Thomas Custer. Twice winner of the Medal of Honor. On both occasions, capturing Confederate colors.


"Capture of flag on 10 May 1863."


"2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy's works and captured 2 stands of colors. having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound."

Custer IS ONE OF ONLY SEVERAL ARMY COMBAT SOLDIERS TO TWICE WIN THE MEDAL OF HONOR!! [called the Congressional Medal of Honor [CmoH] at the time.]

The actions of Thomas Custer can only be described as foolhardy? NOT by the standards of the time? Thomas Custer of course is the younger brother of the famous George Armstrong Custer. Both George and Thomas perishing at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The behavior of Thomas Custer was NOT an anomaly?

Just from the state of Pennsylvania, heroic efforts were evidenced over and over by soldiers protecting the colors, preventing capture by the enemy!

"Among all the duties assigned to infantrymen during the Civil War, the job of color bearer was perhaps the most honored, yet most deadly upon the field of battle."

"Benjamin Crippen the color sergeant for the 143rd PA Volunteers was one of these bearers. During the fighting on the first day of Gettysburg, Crippen kept turning around as the regiment retreated, shaking his fist at the Confederates and daring them to take his color. Crippen paid for his bravery with his life and Confederate General A.P. Hill expressed sorrow at seeing him killed".

"At the battle of Fredericksburg, during on of the tragic assaults on Marye's Heights, the entire color guard was decimated. Colonel Henry I. Zinn of Carlisle grabbed the falling state color and cried 'Stick to your standard boys! The Hundred and Thirtieth never abandons its standard!' Moments later a bullet struck the colonel in the skull. He was carried to the rear with the color and died in about thirty minutes. During the battle, 32 bullets hit the flag."

"Sergeant Hiram Purcell of the 104th PA. At the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, color sergeant James Slack was seriously wounded Purcell surged forward to grab the falling state color. Carrying both the state and national colors, he ran for the rear. He was struck by bullets in the thigh, arm and neck but managed to save both of the colors. Purcell survived his wounds and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions."

Dig this stuff too! Controversy stirred up decades after the end of the war! Action on the part of President Cleveland that actually cost him a re-election.

"Cleveland [President Grover Cleveland] . . . had not fought in the Civil War . . . Furthermore, he had offended many Union veterans by returning captured Confederate battle flags to the South."

[Cleveland, as had Theodore Roosevelt Sr. [father of the famous President Teddy] had BOUGHT a replacement!]

According to the eminent historian Shelby Foote, a Great Compromise was struck between the northern and southern states in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Southerners admitted that it was probably a good thing that the Union was preserved [and it was!]. Northerners on their part admitted that the southerners had fought with bravery and courage [and they had!!]. Recriminations were set aside and a consensus was agreed upon by participants that was to the benefit of everyone. Allowed healing to proceed with “all due speed”.

The return of captured Confederate battle flags was seen by President Cleveland as being part of the healing process? Union war veterans were indignant - - YES! But a higher purpose was served?! It would be interesting to know exactly what the motivations of Cleveland were, if such could be determined.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors V.

This is coolbert:

The Napoleonic Era.

Yet once more from John Keegan: "The Face of Battle":

"A contributor to the New Statesman, writing in October 1973, affected to believe that 'all the stories of deeds of heroism in defence of military colours can only have been so much myth-making.'"

So much myth making??



"Those [the colors] . . . were carried by the two most junior officers of the battalion, each escorted by two senior sergeants, and these posts were the most dangerous which could be held in action.”

At Waterloo, astounding feats of heroism were recorded in defense of colors:

”Sergeant Lawrence of the 40th [British unit], ordered to the colours at four in the afternoon [at Waterloo], recalled his reluctance: 'This . . . was a job I did not at all like; but I still I went as boldly to work as I could. There had been before me that day fourteen sergeants already killed and wounded while in charge of these colours, with officers in proportion and the staff and colours were almost cut to pieces.'"

"Ensign Christie of the 44th [British unit] was charged by a Frenchman whose lance 'entering the left eye, penetrated to the lower jaw . . . Christie . . . flung himself upon the (the colour] . . . and fell to the ground on top of it."

"Volunteer Clarke, carrying the new Regiment Colour of the 69th [British unit] . . . received twenty-two saber wounds, but hung on to the colour and killed three French cavalrymen with his own sword . . . Clarke was only sixteen [years of age]" [!!!]

At Waterloo and other battles of the Napoleonic era, the French also displayed great courage and heroism both in defense of their own colors and in attempts to capture enemy colors. THE FRENCH WERE SECOND TO NO ONE IN THIS REGARD!!

"the many accounts [at Waterloo] of extraordinary heroism displayed in defence of, or attempts to capture, colours. Several Frenchmen virtually committed suicide in hopeless and quite unnecessary efforts to carry British infantry colours back to their lines."

"Frenchman Aristide-Aubert Dupetit Thouars, captain of the Tonnant, during the Battle of the Nile. Thouars had his right arm shot away, then the left and finally one of his legs was taken off by a cannonball . . . One of his final orders was to nail the Tricolour to the mast so it could not be taken down in surrender."

With Paris threatened in 1814, the French even took the most desperate measures to destroy enemy colors in their possession. Kept as prizes and trophies of war and museum pieces. What can only be described as A MASS of colors captured in battle over a span of HUNDREDS OF YEARS!!

"As Allied forces closed in on Paris in late March 1814, Marshal Jean Serurier, governor of Les Invalides, oversaw the mass burning of battle flags taken from enemy units over hundreds of years. Some 1500 of the battle trophies were burned."

C'est le guerre dude!!



Monday, April 21, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors IV.

This is coolbert:

Thanks here to Crisis Magazine December 2006 H. W. Crocker III this exciting read through FreeRepublic.

[the name of H.W. Crocker III is not familiar to me. He is a historian who writes good history! Seems to!]

Lepanto (1571).

Naval battle, fought off the coast of Greece. Decisive action between the forces of the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire. Victory for the Holy League.

Another “high water” mark of history. Defeat from which the naval power of the Ottomans in the Mediterranean never did recover.

"This Turkish defeat stopped Turkey's expansion into the Mediterranean, thus maintaining western dominance, and confidence grew in the west that Turks, previously unstoppable, could be beaten."

[we do not normally think of the various Muslim nations as being seafarers? But for almost a thousand year period, Muslim raiders [corsairs] had harried Christian communities along the southern coast of the Mediterranean, AND EVEN MADE RAIDS AS FAR NORTH AS ENGLAND, IRELAND, AND ICELAND!!!]

The Holy League fleet consisting of naval vessels from Spain, Genoa, Venice. Commanded by the Austrian Prince Don Juan. A naval force the fighters aboard to include Sir Knights from a variety of nations [including contingents of the Knights of Malta], gentlemen adventurers, and many individual Protestant soldiers[?], [willingly serving under the Papal Banner with the blessing of the Pope!].

"Catholic knights not only from the papal states and the Knights of Malta, but from Italy, Germany, and Spain; and even from England, Scotland, and Scandinavia, Catholics and freebooters, gentleman adventurers and convicts"

A Pan-European force to confront the external and alien threat [Ottomans]

During the battle, both sides prominently flew enormous banners aboard their flagships proclaiming their allegiance.

Banners to include:

* The Papal Banner. "He [Don Juan] also had the blessings of the pope and the papal banner"

* The Banner of the Knights of Malta.

* The Banner of Ali Pasha [Ottoman commander].

* The Sultan’s Own Banner. "the sultan’s own undefeated standard made of green silk and with the prophet’s name threaded through it 28,900 times in gold"

SOP [standard operating procedure] for combatants on both sides would have been to grapple with and board an enemy ship, engaging in close quarters combat with your adversary, overcoming same, CAPTURING THE BANNER OF THE ENEMY VESSEL IF POSSIBLE BEING A MAJOR GOAL!!

At Lepanto, honor to the Holy League, disgrace to the Ottomans. The banners of BOTH ALI PASHA AND THE SULTAN WERE CAPTURED BY THE CHRISTIAN FORCES! Symbolic of the ignominious and total Ottoman defeat!

"He [Don Juan]. . . made gifts of two captured banners: The imperial Ottoman banner went to the pope; the fabulous green silk banner went to Philip II, along with his after-action report."

Do not think, however, that the Holy Leaguers emerged from Lepanto totally unscathed. The banner of the Knights of Malta was captured by a Christian turncoat, an Italian convert to Islam and corsair.

"Uluch Ali Pasha, an Italian turned Barbary corsair. Uluch Ali had his prize—the Knights of Malta’s banner—and he knew how to skedaddle when necessary. A realist, he knew the bigger battle was lost." [It is as if the man was saying, “I did my bit, I’m outta’ here!!”]

Read the comments on the FreeRepublic link. Most interesting.



Sunday, April 20, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors III.

This is coolbert:


Standards as carried by the Roman legions were not a set of flags as the modern colors. Were a pole with a golden eagle atop. An Aquila [eagle]. As with modern colors, the aquila were consecrated, devotion to them of a religious nature being more profound, the Romans of course being pagans. The aquila would have been thought to have a spirit actually present within the golden image itself?

Again, as with modern colors, the Roman legions would have taken the most extraordinary and even desperate measures to safeguard an aquila during battle. To lose a standard to an enemy would have been the ultimate disgrace, death before dishonor being the watchword!

"The Roman Standards"

"the Romans commonly considered it a point of honour to preserve their standards . . . A wounded or dying standard-bearer delivered it, if possible, into the hands of his general, from whom he had received it signis acceptis."

"Roman standards were held in awe. They were symbols of Roman honour. So much so that to recover lost standards Roman leaders might engage on campaigns"

There are several significant defeats in Roman military history where the standards of multiple legions were lost. A catastrophe of this nature was taken with the utmost seriousness by the rulers of Rome. Redemption was essential in these instances, the recovery of the standards being an undertaking pursued with the greatest resolve.

Defeats to include:

(1) Belgica. "In the winter of 17/16 [B.C.], the governor of Gallia Belgica, Marcus Lollius, was defeated by the Sugambri, and the Fifth legion Alaudae lost its eagle standard: the ultimate disgrace to a Roman army unit."

"It seems that at least one military standard was returned [more than one was lost?], because a coin minted by a man named Lucius Caninius Gallus in 12-11 [B.C.]"

(2) Carrhae. NO further elaboration needed here. Carrhae was one of the two "high-water" marks in Roman military history. Defeat of the legions [commanded by Lucinius Crassus] at the hands of the Persian Parthians. NO additional eastward expansion of the Roman Empire became possible after Carrhae.

"The Battle of Carrhae was fought in June 53 BC.

"Rome was humiliated by this defeat, and this was made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles [Aquilae]."

"The legionary standards lost at Carrhae were not recovered until 20 BC [that is thirty-three years after the initial loss], when Augustus negotiated their return from the Parthians, a diplomatic triumph celebrated the next year by the dedication of the Arch of Augustus."

"The capture of the golden Aquilae (legionary battle standards) by the Parthians was considered a grave moral defeat and evil omen for the Romans. It required a generation of diplomacy before the Parthians returned them. Their return was considered a great triumph by Augustus, and celebrated like a military victory."

(3) Teutoburger Wald. As with Carrhae, no elaboration required with regard to the Teutoburger Wald. Further Roman eastward expansion into the lands of the Germanii and even eastward of that if possible was forever stymied. Three legions annihilated, two standards being captured and desecrated by the barbarians.

"Battle in the Teutoburg forest (German Teutoburger Wald): the defeat of the Roman commander Publius Quintilius Varus against the Germanic tribesmen of the Cheruscian leader Arminius in 9 CE [common era]. Three legions were annihilated"

"Of the three Eagle standards [aquilae ]of the legions - XVII, XVIII, and XIX - two were captured. The standard bearer with the third plunged with his standard into the swamp."

[that standard bearer of the third standard may have very well lost his life in the process of hiding the Eagle. But THE AQUILA WOULD NOT HAVE FALLEN INTO THE HANDS OF THE BARBARIANS!! Death before dishonor!!]

"Florus, quoting a source written between 17 and 40 [C.E.] . . . says that one standard-bearer was able to escape with an eagle, which he buried in the bog."

NOT ONLY were the Roman standards captured, but DESECRATED AS WELL!! An offering from the barbarians to their gods! Such desecration must have been that even more traumatic and humiliating to the Romans. The Germanii understood full well the devotion and sanctity given to the aquila by the Romans and sought the ultimate debasement possible for the icons of the hated invader [the Romans]!

"according to Tacitus, that 'In the groves of Germany were still to be seen the Roman standards which he had hung aloft to the Gods of their fathers'"

"Tacitus, quoting Pliny the Elder, mentions . . . that the eagle standards had been desecrated."

Such was the response to the loss of standards at the Teutoburger Wald that the Romans embarked on a special military expedition to recover the lost standards!

"a special campaign was launched against the Germans to recover the standards lost by Varus in the Teutoburger Wald."

An expedition that was only partially successful [?], if at all, one standard alone being recovered, and that thirty-two years after the initial loss!!

"In 41, one of the Roman eagle standards was recovered among the Chauci"

In the process to recover lost standards, the Romans were certainly persistent!!



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Standards/Banners/Colors II.

This is coolbert:


"There is nothing quite comparable in modern armies to the Roman standards, signa, except perhaps the regimental colours. They performed the function of being a recognition signal and a rallying point. Army units required a device to watch and follow in battle conditions and the soldiers also needed to recognize their own at a glance."

Here, again, thanks to John Keegan/"The Face of Battle", a description of how the Romans would use and employ their standards in battle [rallying point, keeping formation, location of the commander, recognition signal]!

From the narratives ["The Commentaries"] of Julius Caesar himself.

Describing here a Roman combat against the Nervii, B.C. 57:

"The soldiers were crowded too closely together to be able to fight easily, because the standards of the Twelfth legion had been massed in one place. All the centurions of the fourth cohort had been killed, together with its standard-bearer [the most dangerous place on the battlefield] and its standards had been lost. . . . shouting encouragements to the rest [of the Romans] he [Caesar] ordered them to advance the standards and deploy into extended order, so that they could use their swords more easily."

[The Romans standards were too closely bunched. Consequently, the soldiers [of each cohort] found themselves unable to swing their swords freely. The ability of the Roman to fight was severely impeded by bunching of the standards.]

Caesar, single-handedly reorganized the cohorts so they could fight in an effective manner.



Friday, April 18, 2008

Standards/banners/colors I.

This is coolbert:

The military parading of colors [flags] today is largely a ceremonial function. But was not always so. Precious little is known by the lay public of the military tradition or significance of carrying into battle standards/banners/colors. The practice [carrying colors into battle] that ONLY RECENTLY, WITH THE ADVENT OF MODERN WARFARE AND THE WIDESPREAD USE OF AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, HAS CEASED!!

"In military organizations, the practice of carrying colours or standards, to act both as a rallying point for troops, and to mark the location of the commander, is thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt some 5,000 years ago"

Originally a staff or standard, such as the Roman aquila [eagle]. In the modern sense, “colors”, two flags, one a national flag, representing the sovereign [king], the other a unit [organizational] flag.

"The first is the National Color . . . The second is the Organizational Color"

“As armies became trained and adopted set formations, each regiment's ability to keep its formation was potentially critical to its, and therefore its army's, success. In the chaos of battle, not least due to the amount of dust and smoke on a battlefield, soldiers needed to be able to determine where their regiment was.”

Think of the phalanx of the Greeks, the cohorts of the Romans, the regimental squares of the black-powder era. Closely bunched troops, forming “squares” and other tightly packed formations as used during the particular era. Where the standard or colors went, so went the soldier. A point of reference that could be relied upon during a time of chaos."

NOT merely objects or “pieces of cloth”! Have a significance and symbolism of marked proportions! CONSECRATED ITEMS, BLESSED!!

"Colours are consecrated. Consequently they can serve as an altar for a drumhead service"

Legal proceedings [courts martial] or religious services can be held in the presence of the colors, regardless of the location. [drumhead refers to ”in the field”!] Perjury or irreligious behavior while the colors are present IS CONSIDERED TO BE AN ESPECIALLY EGREGIOUS VIOLATION, PUNISHABLE IN A SEVERE MANNER!!

See here the blessing of the colors - - the Russian Women's Legion of Death [all woman combat battalion from World War One].

As to heroics that can be involved in guarding the colors from enemy capture!

". . . in most modern armies, standing orders now call for the Colours to be intentionally destroyed [or saved if they can be] if they are ever in jeopardy of being captured by the enemy."

From John Keegan: "The Face of Battle"

"A contributor to the New Statesman, writing in October 1973, affected to believe that 'all the stories of deeds of heroism in defence of military colours can only have been so much myth-making.'"

So much myth making??


"for a regiment to lose its colours was (and still is) a major disgrace, with the capture of an enemy's colours (or equivalent) being seen as a great honour. This is why that, whenever the colours are paraded, they are always escorted by armed guards and paid the highest compliments by all soldiers and officers, second only to those paid to the sovereign."

Escorts for which the defense of the colors was intended. Escorts willing to pay the ultimate price to prevent the colors being captured and the unit dishonored!

The ultimate price equals DEATH!!




This is coolbert:

Here is the group that runs the simulations, "games" that are of a geo-political nature, having a military dimension? "Game" playing the participants of which are from the highest echelons of the U.S. government, elected and otherwise!

"Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)"

From the web site of CSIS listing just a smattering of "Simulations and Tabletop Exercises"!

(1) Steadfast Resolve.

"The Steadfast Resolve exercise was planned to address the concern that poorly designed government response to the next terrorist attack could disrupt America’s economy and society as much or more than the attack itself."

(2) Dark Winter: Bioterrorism Simulation Exercise

"Dark Winter simulated a U.S. National Security Council meeting at which senior officials were confronted with a smallpox attack on the United States."

(3) Silent Vector: A Critical Energy Infrastructure Simulation Exercise

"The events of September 11 and additional intelligence on al Qaeda demonstrate the potential for an attack against the infrastructure of the United States."

(4) Black Dawn: A Scenario-Based Exercise on Catastrophic Terrorism

"The exercise aimed to develop a set of actionable recommendations for the EU, NATO and individual European governments to prevent terrorists from acquiring and using WMD."

This is the type of simulation that Senator Obama and the congressman were involved in?




This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

Trail Guide:

Boy, did this congressman misspeak

“Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) said he recently participated in ‘highly classified, national security simulation’ with Barrack Obama and added, “That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button.' Davis later apologized for the 'boy' comment, saying that ‘my poor choice of words is regrettable.’”

It is not so much the “boy” comment but the “highly classified, national security simulation” that I am interested in.

Simulations, “games”, of a geo-political nature, quite often having a military dimension to them of far-reaching proportions, are a common aspect of life for “authority” at the highest echelons of the U.S. government? For both elected and non-elected officials?

Finger - - on the button - - I would have to assume - - refers to the release of nuclear weapons! The military has been authorized, in the “game”, to use nuclear weapons!

Simulations, “games”, of a sophisticated nature, computer-generated, were a part of the Washington scene all throughout the Cold War? At any hour, an official could be called upon to be a participant in a “game”? Simulate scenarios, test hypothesis, in the process allowing officials, whatever their capacity, the opportunity to gain experience [even in a notional, make-believe world] in decision-making, the consequences of which could mean war or peace!

Obama, a man that is getting close to the Presidency, is “getting his feet wet”? Experiencing, if only in simulations, what goes on behinds the scenes. Finding out how decisions are made, and under what circumstances!



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Iceberg .

This is coolbert:

Place this one in the strange but true category.

Project Habakkuk.

A plan by the British to build an aircraft carrier of immense size - - out of a material that is a mix of ice and wood pulp.

A material, pykrete, "The building material . . . a mixture of ice and wood pulp", fashioned into a ship, THAT WILL NOT MELT!! [pykrete]

I think it has been common knowledge that the original concept was to "move" [towing or pushing by tug?] an iceberg from the polar regions to the south Atlantic. Become an aircraft carrier [after proper contouring] that would allow allied anti-submarine aircraft to operate in territory hitherto deemed "out of reach" for land based aircraft.

"breaking off huge sheets of ice from the Arctic [I had thought is was from the Antarctic icecap. The bergs available are much larger and last a lot longer, and are closer to where the area of operation would be??] icecap, towing them to the war zone in the mid-Atlantic, and using them as landing fields for aircraft—a sort of combination iceberg-aircraft carrier."

[there did exist in the south Atlantic [south Atlantic alone?] a gap of ocean where German U-boats could operate on the surface with impunity! Within this "danger zone" protection as normally available from allied aircraft was not possible.

"an aircraft carrier out of Pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice), for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic, which was out of range of land-based planes."

A "ship" made of pykrete could be fashioned that would DWARF any existing vessel of the period, OR EVEN NOW!!

"was to be approximately 2,000 feet (610 m) long and 300 feet (91 m) wide, with a deck-to-keel depth of 200 feet (61 m), and walls 40 feet (12 m) thick.[1] It was to have a draft of 150 feet, and a displacement of 2,000,000 tons or more"

[by contrast, the Queen Mary, a liner used for troop transport, displaces about ONLY 80,000 tons. A MODERN U.S. aircraft carrier is about 1,000 feet long!!]

"it would have housed an airstrip and up to 150 twin-engined bombers or fighters"

"The Habakkuk was imagined to be virtually unsinkable as it would have effectively been a streamlined iceberg or floating island kept afloat by the buoyancy of its construction materials, and to be highly resilient to damage by virtue of its sheer bulk."

A "ship" that would have had a propulsion system, but basically would have more or less floated with the currents, holding station, not even needing any degree of maneuverability, other than turn into the wind when taking off and landing aircraft.

And more or less impervious to damage from enemy torpedoes, bombs, OR ANY FORM OF ATTACK PERIOD!!!!

Read here an intesting forum where the concept of a pykrete aircraft carrier is discussed.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Russia Forever?

This is coolbert:

Mark Steyn the Canadian writer is being interviewed on the Michael Medved radio talk show this afternoon.

Makes some startling comments and cites statistics concerning Russia that are most alarming [from the Russian viewpoint].

Statistics such as:

* 70 % of pregnancies in Russia result in abortions.

* By the year 2015 at least 50 % of the troops in the Russian military will be Muslim, nominal or otherwise.

One hundred years ago, a German general staff officer would have referred to the Russian military as "the steamroller". An army [Russian] using a supply of seemingly inexhaustible manpower to crush opposition using inexorable force applied without subtlety or finesse', quite often heedless of losses.

"I am sending out battalions and only squads are returning!!" - - Russian Prince at Plevna.

Gist is that the Russian nation will not have enough able-bodied men to man a military of the size needed to guard their vast territory. Do NOT have enough now, will have even less in the future. It is not only numbers alone, but having enough healthy young men to choose from. [especially when NOT from the traditional Slavic population that has always formed the historical base of Russian nationhood!]

These trends do not bode well for the future of the Russian nation. They are a people on the way out? NOW awash in petro-dollars - - BUT - - all for nought if your population is declining and sickly?

Russia in the future will not EVEN HAVE THE BATTALIONS TO BEGIN WITH - - much less be able to "send them forth" into battle?


Monday, April 14, 2008

A la baionnette! - - Again!!

This is coolbert:

Here are some photos and commentary thanks to the excellent web site by Professor Rudy Rummel. A man who has been a finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The photographs speak for themselves. What was it the guy said? OH, YES, "one picture worth a thousand words" - - Confucius!!

"One picture is worth more than ten thousand words."
----Chinese proverb

"the military [Japanese] frequently used their prisoners to give their new soldiers bayonet practice and to harden them to killing."

"During the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945, one of the many ways the Japanese military would murder their Chinese prisoners was by bayonet. But this was not a simple execution. Often the purpose was to give their new soldiers real life bayonet practice, and especially to remove their normal inhibitions against killing other human beings."

"Amongst the heathen we shall find none that exceed the Japanese in manners!!" - - Saint Francis Xavier.

They Japanese once again exhibiting a contradiction in their basic character? The oh-so-polite-and-mannerly Japanese behaving as a savage and barbarian when outside of the home islands!!

And those Japanese soldiers COULD HAVE NOT GOTTEN MUCH BAYONET TRAINING AND PRACTICE!! Those victims are tied, on their knees, weaponless, helpless and not resisting.

Unfortunately, the practice of, "harden [ing] them to killing", and "remove [ing] their normal inhibitions against killing" did not begin or end with the defeat of the Japanese during World War Two [WW2].

Was a common practice in the old Soviet Union [and maybe still is in Russia today??]. According to Suvorov, the Soviet Spetsnaz troops, on occasion [??], were given the opportunity to engage in hand-to-hand combat TO THE DEATH WITH A CONDEMNED CRIMINAL AS PART OF THEIR NORMAL TRAINING!!

More on this topic from the writings of Suvorov:

"What we call 'a puppet' is actually a man. A special kind of man for training purposes. For example, you can hit him. But unlike your partner in a match [sparring] or your instructor [SAMBO master], a puppet also puts up a fight, and may even kill you . . . Our work is very risky and exceptionally responsible. Just imagine . . . a group of Spetnaz who have the task of slitting the throats of some sleeping enemy soldiers hesitate because they are not used to killing or simply because they suddenly experience feelings of compassion, charity or humanity . . . To prevent that happening, they invented the 'puppets' . . . In the Cheka [Soviet secret police] they are called 'gladiators', in the NKVD [Soviet secret police] 'volunteers' and in Smersh [war-time counter-intelligence] 'Robinsons'."

" A 'puppet' is a criminal who has been condemned to death . . . They are . . . used as training material . . . They get their lives prolonged, and we have an opportunity for real-life training . . . . A fight with a 'puppet' - - very often a very tough criminal - - is a serious and very risky business . . . He fights back . . . It's not a phony fight . . . It's a real fight, involving real risk."

Spetsnaz [special purpose] troops, after being given extensive training in the Soviet/Russian martial art of SAMBO, are sometimes put into a room with a condemned criminal, and told to fight to the death. According to Suvorov, today [1986], only the professionals are allowed such a privilege!! Those persons, full time active service career cut-throat elite soldiers, are allowed to fight and kill a puppet. Elite troops whose tasks in wartime, for instance would be to kill the President of the United States and the most senior commanders of the military.

I would suggest, that the degree to which this odious practice [if it can be determined] has either been eliminated or ameliorated is an indication of whether or not the modern "democratic" Russia has shed the spots of the totalitarian communist leopard!



Sunday, April 13, 2008


This is coolbert:

Words alone cannot express. You just have to read for yourself. Thanks here to the BBC.

"Albania's relics of paranoid past"

"Looking down from every hillside, sprouting out of every bank, are the cracked and rusting domes of the defence bunkers - a concrete legacy of the paranoid imagination of Albania's communist ruler for 40 years, Enver Hoxha."

"More than 700,000 of these cement and iron monsters were built between 1950 and the dictator's death in 1985."

700,000 cement and iron monsters. Those cupola tops are very thick and resilient? Can withstand a direct hit from a tank round! And there appears to be a below ground construction to the bunkers? I might ask too, is there underground connecting tunnels between the various bunkers of a complex?

Some comments here: [thanks for the figures to the CIA Fact book]

* The total population of Albania is about 3.6 million.

* The total military age male population is about 800,000.

* The total FIT military age male population is around 670,000.

That means that more of these bunkers were constructed than the TOTAL number of persons you had to man them [normally such a bunker would be manned by a squad of ten men or a team of five troops]. And you would never reach that TOTAL, even with a full mobilization.

I guess it was the idea that counted?!




This is coolbert: Q.

Once again, alarming headlines that capture the attention of the media. Pirates at work again. An age-old menace has again reappeared. Something [the practice of piracy] that the average-everyday-man-on-the-street had thought was banished to the history books along with the cavalry is now enjoying, in certain parts of the world, a resurgence of surprising proportions.

Pirates, attacking merchant vessels or cruise ships, seizing valuable cargo or taking hostages for ransom. Bad folks [the pirates] that need to be taken "care of" through a variety of means. APPEASEMENT NOT BEING ONE OF THEM!!!

[pirates have "enjoyed" in the past the same degree of condemnation that today is directed toward terrorists. Hanging captured pirates "with all due dispatch" historically being the usual punishment!!]

This past week has seen pirates hijack a French luxury cruise ship in the Indian Ocean. Somali pirates operating off the Horn of Africa. An "incident" that lasted a week, only being resolved this last Friday.

"Pirates seize French yacht"

"PARIS, France (AP) -- Pirates seized control of a French luxury yacht carrying 30 crew members Friday in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast, the French government and the ship's owner said."

"Attackers stormed the three-mast Le Ponant as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, toward the Mediterranean Sea, said officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM."

[no passengers, just crew, an exclusive cruise ship with all the ammenities. Looks very fancy.]

"Sarkozy: Pirates have released hostages"

"PARIS, France (AP) -- The 30 hostages held on a tourist yacht by pirates off the coast of Somalia have been released, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday."

"France sent elite commando troops to the region earlier this week to bolster efforts to free the captives."

"A French frigate was diverted from its NATO duties and tracked the yacht, while a French plane dispatched from a French base in Djibouti flew over the boat, military officials said"

Military force by a special French hostage rescue force was an option. NOT employed, but still an option. The threat of the use of force was enough to guarantee the release of the hostages? It is not clear.

Here is another blast from the past, a weapon of war and a legacy of World War One [WW1] again thought relegated to the history books, that could be useful in combatting pirates, where ever they are found?

The Q-ship.

A merchantman, disguised with hidden arms [and fighting men], designed originally "intended to lure submarines [German U-boats] into surface attacks, in order to sink them".

"Q-ships also known as Q-boats, Decoy Vessels, Special Service Ships or Mystery Ships are heavily armed merchant ships which are intended to lure submarines into surface attacks, in order to sink them."

"the Q-ship, one of the most closely-guarded secrets of the war . . . The Q-ship would pose as an easy target for the U-boat but in fact carry hidden armament."

[submarines of the WW1 era in particular could carry only a limited number of torpedoes. More often than not, a U-boat would generally try to sink a merchant vessel using naval gunfire from a gun mounted on the deck of the submarine than use a valuable torpedo!]

A modern Q-ship, disguised as a slow-moving and "helpless" merchant vessel, lures pirates into an attack. Once the pirates commit themselves, voila', the Q-ship becomes a fighting vessel, much to the detriment of the pirates.

Will this ever transpire? Q-ships being deployed by whoever, designed to lure pirates into attack. Put the fear of GOD into the bad guys. Play a deterrent role that will make the villains think twice before attacking what is apparently a defenseless freighter!

I doubt we will ever see such a thing. But does the idea have merit? I think so.


Labels: ,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amateur vs. Professional II. [Conclusion].

This is coolbert:

From the era of the American Civil War we have another amateur who was able to best the professionals on repeated occasions. Time and again, able to flummox professional soldiers on the battlefield.

"flum·mox - –verb - - to bewilder; confound; confuse."

(2) Nathan Beford Forrest.

"git thar fust with the most men" - - N.B. Forrest.

"War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'." - - N.B. Forrest.

American Civil War General [Confederate]. Enlisted as a private. Ended the war as a general officer of the highest repute. Conducted mobile warfare using measured audacity to accomplish the mission.

"Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self made and innovative cavalry leader during the war. Forrest is also one of the war's most unusual figures."

"Forrest was physically imposing and intimidating— six-foot, two-inches tall (1.88 m), 210 pounds (95 kg) —very large for the day. He used his skills as a hard rider and fierce swordsman to great effect."

"It has been surmised from contemporaneous records that Forrest may have personally killed more than thirty men with saber, pistol and shotgun"

"Forrest had no prior formalized military training or experience. He applied himself diligently to learn. With strong leadership abilities and apparently an intuition for successful tactics, Forrest soon became an exemplary officer"

[Forrest may have himself lacked education, military or otherwise, but DID appreciate the value of formal schooling. With his considerable assets was able to send his two younger brothers to college when ALMOST NO ONE ATTENDED UNIVERSITY PERIOD!!]

"historian Shelby Foote states that the Civil War produced two authentic geniuses: Abraham Lincoln and Nathan Bedford Forrest."

[it is suggested the no less figure than Irwin Rommel visited the U.S. during the 1930's specifically to study the battles and campaigns of Forrest!!??]

As a military man:

* "enlist[ed] as a private and end[ed] the war as a general officer."

* "discovered and established new doctrines for mobile forces."

* "accused but cleared (by the US Congress) of responsibility for war crimes at the Battle of Fort Pillow for leading Confederate soldiers in a massacre of unarmed black Union Army prisoners."

To a degree is remembered by most historians for his post-war activities, to include:

* "opposed Reconstruction policies and federal occupation" [Union troops were garrisoned in southern states for ten years in the aftermath of the war!]

* "first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan" [this once episode in his life has left an everlasting opprobrium?]

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a man of great accomplishments during his life. Possessed a maniac energy, coupled with a shrewd intelligence.

Forrest was at one time or another:

* "a businessman"

* "a planter - owner of several plantations"

* "a slave owner"

* "a slave trader"

* "a Memphis city alderman"

* "a millionaire" [at a time when being a millionaire meant something very big!]

* "one of the richest men in the South"

* "Mississippi gambler" [riverboat?].

* "Captain of a boat"

* "a man of obscure origin and low associations"

* "a shrewd speculator"

* "a duelist"

* "a man of great energy and brute courage"

With regard to his owning and trading slaves, consider this particular entry from the wiki. [said to be of dubious origin]

"Forrest offered freedom to 44 of his slaves if they would serve with him in the Confederate army. All 44 agreed. One later deserted; the other 43 served faithfully until the end of the war. Although they had many chances to leave, they chose to remain loyal to the South and to Forrest."

To most people, the very idea that black slaves, property of Forrest, would be willing to serve as soldiers under his command is absurd! [I guess the question I would ask is: "serve in what capacity?" I can reasonably believe that freed negro slaves could have been animal handlers - - servants - - camp cooks - - etc. Fighters? Perhaps NOT!]

Consider also, from the wiki entry:

"According to a report by a Union commander:

'The forces attacking my camp were . . . Texas Rangers . . . Georgia Rangers . . . There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day.'"

Nathan Beford Forrest. A controversial character if there ever was one. Add his name to the growing list of amateur soldiers able to beat the professionals.



Amateur vs. Professional I.

This is coolbert:

I am once again on the subject of the amateur soldier [commander in particular] who is able to beat the professionals. A man in command, often of a force that best be described as motley, who is able to out-think, out-maneuver, and generally out-perform his professional adversaries.

Commanders such as:

(1) Koos de la Rey.

South African [Afrikaner] military man. Noted for his skills at guerrilla warfare during the Second Boer War. Was able to lead and sustain a protracted insurgency when other Boer [Afrikaner] forces had folded and surrendered. A leader of the highest repute, admired and trusted by friend and foe alike.

"Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey (22 October 1847 - 15 September 1914), known as Koos de la Rey was a Boer general during the Second Boer War and is widely regarded as being one of the strongest military leaders during that conflict."

[and not a young man either. Was in his early 50's when the war began [1899]. Koos was a man used to extreme privation, hard work, tough living!!]

"He is generally regarded as the bravest of the Boer generals during the Second Boer War and as one of the leading figures of Afrikaner independence. As a guerrilla, his tactics proved extremely successful."

Again, we have the UNEDUCATED military leader who is an amateur at war, but still able to beat the professionals at their own game!!

"As a child De la Rey received very little formal education"

Prior to the Second Boer War, did have some military experience of a minor nature. But NOT TRAINED OR EDUCATED AS A PROFESSIONAL SOLDIER!!

"De la Rey fought in the Basotho War of 1865 and Sekhukhune's War of 1876. He did not take a very active part in the First Boer War"

As has been said, continued to fight when other compatriots had given up. And fought well, even when the odds were even more stacked against him.

"for . . . two years he led a mobile campaign, winning battles . . . and inflicting large losses of men and material on the British at Ysterspruit where enough ammunition and supplies were captured to reinvigorate the Boer forces"

Most insurgencies are noted for their often brutal-no-holds-barred-combat, "no surrender, no prisoners mentality". This was not the case during the latter stage of Second Boer War. The Afrikaner forces under the command of de la Rey comported themselves with dignity, honor, and CHIVALRY toward vanquished British troops!!

[The Second Boer War has been described as the last gentlemanly war!]

"De la Rey was noted for chivalrous behaviour towards his enemies."

Jacobus Herculaas! Hercules! Koos was able to emulate the mythic hero on the battlefields of South Africa. But with honor and poise much to his credit!



Friday, April 11, 2008

Boots II. [End]

This is coolbert:

"Commando? What kind of word is that, Commando?" - - from the movie "Breaker Morant"

"Give us this day - - our daily Afrikaner!" - - Bert.

General Casey, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff [CoS], is being questioned several weeks ago by a Congressional committee. The ability of the U.S. Army to continue operations in Iraq AND fulfill other obligations is being questioned.


NOT enough boots on the ground, stretched too thin, insufficient dwell time, inadequate troops available for contingencies, etc.

[dwell time is a period of rest between continued deployments to a combat zone. During the Vietnam era, a career man was allowed twenty-five months between further deployments to the war zone!]

A real dilemma. Quality of the military force is going down. And still not enough troops can be trained in time and deployed, even when an astronomically high enlistment bonus is being offered?

What to do?

Recruit and form an American Ghurkha Legion for one thing. This has been the subject of a previous blog entry. Touchy subject, hiring mercenaries to fight American wars. Has now become a necessity?

Here too is another ethnic group that is worthy to be formed into an American Foreign Legion?

The Afrikaans speaking people of South Africa. An American Afrikaner Legion? [Afrikaner is the accepted nationality. Afrikaans is the language spoken by same!]

About 8,000 South Africans have already served in Iraq. Mostly of the Afrikaner nationality? Private independent contractors primarily performing duties such as mine-clearing and sentry duty. Accomplished their tasks quite well from what I understand. Most have now returned to their homeland.

Recruit these folks, perhaps several brigade size contingents [5,000 men/brigade], almost exclusively devoted to combat arms skills [infantry, armor, artillery, air defense, aviation].

At your disposal you ALREADY HAVE A LARGE GROUP OF TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED INDIVIDUALS TO CHOOSE FROM!! NOT RAW RECRUITS! Persons bilingual, able to speak excellent English in addition to their native tongue [Afrikaans]. Superior personnel both mentally and physically! Can be officered at the lower echelons of command [platoon, company] by Afrikaners who possess military command experience and ability!

An American Afrikaner Legion equipped with Stryker or Buffalo vehicles and Panhard ERC 90 Sagaie (Engin de Reconnaissance à Canon de 90 mm) armored cars. Provide a modern variation of the Boer Commando. Hard-hitting and fast moving military units capable of waging unconventional warfare if necessary. Light infantry toops of the highest quality, deployable to any point in the world at a moments' notice!

[harness old traditions to create outstanding esprit' among Afrikaner troops!]

Innovative incentives can be offered prospective recruits.

* Serve four years, automatic U.S. citizenship.

* Serve six years, citizenship, and guaranteed tax free lot and new home in small town USA.

* Serve ten years, citizenship, guaranteed lot and home, and large parcel of land that can be farmed.

[again, the old traditions of the Afrikaner can be harnessed. Boer means FARMER!]

I also realize that in some circles, within Congress and American society, this idea of recruiting Afrikaners for a distinct American Legion unit will be met with skepticism and downright hostility.

As I have said before, "if it works, so what!!" Go for it!



Boots I.

This is coolbert:

The News Hour this evening has a short but interesting discussion about the current state of the U.S. Army.

The feeling is that the army is near the breaking point. Forces stretched too thin, repeated and lengthened deployments to Iraq, not enough dwell time, NOT enough troops for contingencies, etc.

Statistics that startle:

* Three times as many moral waivers are being given to recruits as were given out only three years ago. Waivers for repeated misdemeanor violations or a single felony conviction. Normally, pre-2003, any misdemeanor or felony would have been a bar against enlistment.


[consider that a $40,000 signing bonus is now being offered to persons willing to enlist!!]

President Bush has promised - - NOW - - NOT to extend anymore deployments to Iraq beyond a 12 month period!

This all sounds bad. Iraq is a millstone around the neck that cannot be gotten rid of?

Solutions anyone?



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pour le Merite.

This is coolbert:

In the years prior to and during World War One [WW1], the highest military decoration that could be awarded by German was the Pour le Merite.

"The Pour le Mérite, known informally during World War I as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max), was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order until the end of World War I."

Known colloquially as the "Blue Max", was normally awarded ONLY to general officers of the highest echelons of command. Those most senior officers who had displayed long and continuous service to the German Empire, and done so with excellence.

Rarely awarded to junior officers, and NEVER [?] to an enlisted man.

[enlisted men and junior officers displaying great courage on the battlefield in a single act of heroism would be awarded the Iron Cross in varying degrees of accomplishment.]

Again, the "Blue Max" was rarely given to a junior officer. But, on occasion, certain select persons were recognized as having performed in such a significant and outstanding manner, that no other decoration was suitable.

From World War One, we find the names of: [junior officers receiving the "Blue Max"]

* Irwin Rommel.

* Manfred von Richthofen.

* Karl August Nerger.

"Karl August Nerger (25 February 1875 – 12 January 1947) was a naval officer of the Imperial German Navy in World War I, who achieved fame and recognition during the war for his command of the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf."

"Karl August Nerger, German auxiliary cruiser commander; one of only two junior officers to receive the highest military honors of the five main German states: the Pour le Mérite, Bavaria's Military Order of Max Joseph, Saxony's Military Order of St. Henry, Württemberg's Military Merit Order, and Baden's Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order."

* Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien.

[translation from the German]

"Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien, German auxiliary cruiser commander; one of only two junior officers to receive the highest military honors of the five main German states: the Pour le Mérite, Bavaria's Military Order of Max Joseph, Saxony's Military Order of St. Henry, Württemberg's Military Merit Order, and Baden's Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order"

The names of Rommel and von Richthofen of course need no introduction. The latter two junior officers commanders of German auxiliary cruiser [surface raiders].

Please look closely at the photographs [one of course is a watercolor [?]] accompanying this blog entry. NO smiles, long over-coats with the up-turned collars, crush caps, medal displayed around the neck, the faces displaying a condescending arrogance? Haughty demeanor well deserved and merited? After all, these are men who have won the Pour le Merite.

In the case of Richthofen ["Red Baron"] and the Graf [count] Dohna-Schlodien, both were men of minor German nobility but impeccable lineage nonetheless. Appearances of an arrogant and haughty nature are an expected part of their station and rank!!??



Wednesday, April 09, 2008


This is coolbert:

Add this one to the strange but true category?

A "relic" from the Vietnam War, the AH-1 [in much improved variant], still beats, in competition, much more advanced designs of attack helicopters, to include the ultra-sophisticated Ka-50-2?

From the wiki entry for the Kamov Ka-50 attack helicopter.

"Ka-50-2 Erdogan"

"In 1997, Israeli Air Industries (IAI) in cooperation with the Kamov bureau entered a Turkish design competition for a $4 billion contract for 145 (later changed to 50) combat [attack] helicopters. The helicopter designed for the competition became the Ka-50-2 Erdogan, a tandem cockpit twin-seater variant of the Ka-50 that featured a modern, Israeli-made "glass cockpit" avionics and a turret-mounted side-folding (for landing clearance) 30mm cannon as opposed to the fixed cannon of the Ka-50 . . . The Erdogan beat the Eurocopter and Apache [U.S.] helicopters, but lost to an improved version of AH-1 Cobra."

This much improved variant of the Huey Cobra is the Z version? As used by the U.S. Marines, but with a slightly "souped-up" engine, additional pair of rotor blades, and some advanced avionics. But NOT a whole lot different than the original HueyCobra as developed and fielded during the Vietnam War [mid-1960's]!!

I can understand - - that the HueyCobra does have some advantages EVEN OVER MORE RECENTLY DEVELOPED AND FAR [??] MORE SOPHISTICATED MODELS OF ATTACK HELICOPTERS!

Is a KNOWN PRODUCT! By now, four decades after initial development, all the bugs have been worked out.

But - - for a AH-1Z to beat in competition an improved version of the Ka-50, does come as a surprise to me. I am sure the joint Israeli-Russian design team knew full well what they were doing.

Those super-sophisticated attack helicopters ARE SUBJECT TO MUCH DOWN TIME FOR MAINTENANCE! Require a lot of work just to keep flying, much less perform well in combat. Simplicity of the HueyCobra gives it an edge over more sophisticated competition?

With the Cobra, especially the Marine version, the Zuni five inch [127 mm] rocket [the "Holy Moses" round] is available if the "chopper" is being used in the fire support role against ground troops. Like having a FLYING ARTILLERY PIECE!!

For a variety of reasons, the Cobra attack helicopter contract and delivery was not finalized, the Turks in the end adopting the "Italian A-129 Mangusta."



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Flying Tank IV. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

In his book, "Inside the Red Army", Suvorov devotes an entire chapter to the subject of the "Flying Tank".

NOT, however, the Antonov A-40. Rather, Suvorov has in mind the Soviet Mi-24 "Hind" helicopter.

In the perspective of the Soviet general officer, according to Suvorov, there is almost no difference between a tank and a helicopter [attack version that is].

From the chapter, "Flying Tank":

"the Soviet generals believe that to all intents and purposes the helicopter is a tank. In fact they find it difficult to distinguish between the two."

A helicopter is related to the tank in that it can:

* "seize territory" [and hold].

* "high speeds and unrestricted cross-country performance".

* "approximately the same firepower[ helicopter has] as a tank".

* "can operate in open ground" [both tank and helicopter].

* "see[s] the enemy in front of them".

With regard to firepower and the ability to "seize territory", the Mi-24 helicopter is uniquely qualified. Very potent task-tailored weapons array can be employed AND CAN CARRY A SQUAD OF EIGHT INFANTRY AS WELL. BOTH AN ATTACK AND TRANSPORT HELICOPTER AT THE SAME TIME!!

The Mi-24 [in various versions] can be equipped with:

* Quad 12.7 mm machine guns.

* Anti-tank guided missiles [ATGM].

* Rockets.

* Cannon.

* Bombs.

Acquires and engages targets using:

* Forward looking infra-red [FLIR].

* Radar with moving target indicator [MTI].

* Low light television [LLTV].

The Mi-24 was also unique in that it possessed considerable ARMOR!

"Armored cockpits and titanium rotor head able to withstand 20-mm cannon hits."

The role of the Mi-24 is now somewhat passe'? The most recent versions of Russian attack helicopters [Ka-50 and Mi-28], while being able provide devastating firepower support, no longer have the capability to carry an eight man infantry squad! Territory can now be seized, but NOT held!?

Tank and helicopter almost one and the same? In the minds of the Soviet generals - - at the time - - yes!



Flying Tank III.

This is coolbert:

When considering the hypothesis of "M-Day", as initially proposed by the Soviet General Grigorenko and expounded upon at length by the defector Suvorov, a flying tank, such as the Antonov A-40, or a similar species of tank thereof, and A TANK THAT COULD SHED IT'S TRACKS AND MOVE WITH GREAT SPEED VIA ROAD WHEELS ALONE would both have been absolutely essential.

"M-Day", the Red Army moving west in July of 1941 to "liberate" Nazi Germany and all of Europe in the process, required units and weapons whose mission is fundamentally OFFENSIVE IN NATURE!! Specifically, paratroop units to operate BEHIND ENEMY LINES and tanks designed for use in nations that possess GOOD road networks.

Paratrooper units can be thought of AS ONLY OFFENSIVE FORCES [name an instance of paratroopers have been dropped behind FRIENDLY LINES!!?? A flying tank deployed in support of paratroopers COULD HAVE ONLY BEEN DESIGNED WITH OFFENSIVE ACTION IN MIND!!

Same with the Soviet BT series of tanks. The BT tank was not a tank that possessed both good OFFENSIVE and DEFENSIVE capability. NOT a tank with versatility!

"The tanks [BT series] that were being produced . . had the name Mark BT, initials for the Russian words “high-speed [bistro] tank.” The Mark BTs had a speed of one mile per minute [100 kilometers or 60 miles per hour] and a radius of action without refueling of 440 miles. These tanks were also the first ever to have a diesel engine and they carried a weapons system that was very powerful at the time. Having said so many good things about these tanks, let us note one disadvantage: it was impossible to use them on Soviet territory."

[the tanks [BT series] did not have good cross-country mobility. It was not "impossible" to use them on Soviet territory, but they were not effective.]

"The tanks substituted [for] heavy armor speed and the ability to produce enormous quantities of them . . . They were only useful as an invasive tank [used for offensive purposes on territory other than Soviet territory] . . . They had a pair of detachable caterpillar tracks that let them travel anywhere, but slowly. To go fast, they must be on a good road and discard the tracks to continue traveling on wheels."

[track treads could be shed at will and the tank could proceed on road wheels. Quantity over quality. Enormous numbers exerting pressure en masse' on FOREIGN TERRITORY was the way to go with the BT series of tank!]

As to the hypothesis ["M-Day"] of Suvorov, here is what the British officer General Sir John Hackett has to say concerning the Soviet defector: [from the foreword to the book, "Inside the Soviet Army"]

"There is no doubt at all of the author's [Suvorov] right to claim unquestioned authority on matters which he, as a junior officer, could be expected to know about at firsthand and in great detail. Nevertheless, not everyone would agree with everything he has to say . . . I am sometimes bound to wonder whether he is always interpreting the evidence correctly . . . He tells the reader how he, being what he is - - that is to say, a product of the Soviet Army and the society in serves - - judges the military machine created in the Soviet Union under Marxism-Leninism, and how responded to it . . . Where he may seem to some readers to get it wrong, both in his conclusion about his own army and his opinions on military matters in the Western world, he is almost certainly representing views very widely held in his own service"

Right! Suvorov is seeing "the evidence" in the light of his training and experience as a Soviet military officer. Seeing "things" as a Soviet would see them. NOT as a western military "expert" would see the same thing! Absolute certainty is not so important here as is PERSPECTIVE!!



Sunday, April 06, 2008

Flying Tank II.

This is coolbert:

Here is another version of the flying tank that was proposed during World War Two [WW2]. A flying wing type of glider [Baynes Bat], of British design, that actually flew in prototype version.

Did not ever come to fruition. The tank needed to meet specifications was not available. You had a wing without a tank rather than a tank without a wing!!

As without other proposed flying tanks, glider wings strapped to a tank, the glider/tank towed aloft to landing zone, released, flown to ground by a pilot, wings then discarded, the tank moving directly to combat.

[those eccentric British put the horse before the cart, or is it the other way around!?]

"The Baynes Bat was a famous experimental glider of the Second World War, designed by L.E. Baynes. It was used to test the tailless design that he had suggested as a means to convert tanks into temporary gliders so they could be flown into battle."

"In 1941 the British Sailplane Designer L.E.Baynes made a proposal that armoured fighting vehicles, such as the 8 1/2 ton tank, could be provided with detachable glider wings to enable them to be flown to battlefields behind tugs."

"a swept wing with vertical stabilizers on the wing-tips"

[the flying wing has become only "fly-able" with the advent of modern computers correcting constantly and supplementing the handling by a human pilot. Those vertical stabilizers have ONLY become common and popular on modern commercial aircraft as of recently [the last decade or so?]]

A flying wing glider designed to accommodate and fly into the landing zone a tank of no more than eight tons. This was evidently the British Tetrach tank.

Again, the idea was to have a light-weight [relatively speaking] tank land on the battlefield BEHIND ENEMY LINES in support of lightly armed paratroopers. Provide fire support besides what the parachutists could carry on their backs.

"The Tank, Light Mk VII, Tetrarch I was a British light tank produced during the Second World War, initially for the reconnaissance role but later for use by airborne forces."

The Tetrach was flown into combat, but INSIDE OF A GLIDER, NOT AS AN AUTONOMOUS FLYING VEHICLE!

"Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, 6th Airborne Division- landed by Hamilcar glider as part of Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944 on the River Orne"

No mention is made of whether the pilot of the Bat WOULD ALSO BE A CREW MEMBER OF THE TANK! I would have to think that training a man to be both tank crew member and pilot would be too difficult, time consuming, and a waste of resources?!

The Bat was tested in 1/3 scale as a prototype and found to be suitable for operations. Had good handling characteristics, according to the test pilot, Kronfeld.

With a caveat:

"Robert Kronfeld finishes with his conclusions:"

"'In spite of its unorthodox design the aircraft handles similarly to other light gliders with very light and responsive controls and is safe to be flown by service pilots in all normal attitudes of flight'. So it is strange that when Captain Eric Brown, who was an extremely experienced test pilot flew it, he found such poor harmony of controls."

The name of Captain ERic Brown has been mentioned in a previous blog entry. The most highly respected British test pilot. Test flew a German Me-163 and Me-262 AFTER the war.



Flying Tank I.

This is coolbert:

Place this one in the oddities and curiosities category. The flying tank. An idea that was worth of consideration?

A tank that would be flown into battle in support of airborne forces. Paratroopers landing FAR BEHIND enemy lines have always been susceptible to counter-attack. Parachutists can only go into battle equipped with what they can jump with and carry on their back. A flying tank would provide fire support and protection for the friendlies on the ground!

[think of Arnhem where the British paratroopers were subject to continual counter-attack by German tank units. The German parachutists jumped at Crete carrying only a pistol and dagger. Terrible losses incurred just trying to recover equipment dropped separately.]

We need to clear here! We are NOT talking about placing a conventional tank INSIDE of a glider or a transport aircraft. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT STRAPPING WINGS TO A TANK, TOWING THE "APPARATUS" TO A LANDING ZONE, RELEASING, ALLOWING THE "FLYING TANK" TO BE FLOWN TO THE GROUND BY A PILOT INSIDE OF THE TANK!! Once on the ground, the "beast" sheds the wings and goes into battle as an ordinary armored vehicle!

Developments of the flying tank prior to World War Two [WW2] included:

1. Soviet Antonov A-40.

"The Antonov A-40 Krylya Tanka ("tank wings") was a Soviet attempt to allow a tank to glide into a battlefield after being towed aloft by an airplane, to support airborne forces or partisans."

[and also for sowing mass panic in rear areas where you have administrative and logistic type soldier in abundance. Folks NOT figuring they will ever "smell smoke"! NOT prepared to handle the attack by tanks for which they do not have organic capability to fight. OR ARE EVEN EXPECTING TO ENCOUNTER!! Tank fright and mass flight from the battle scene is the result!!]

2. American "The Christie Flying Tank Project"

"How formidable a weapon the flying tank will be in actual warfare can be understood from the drawings. Tanks can land almost directly on protected enemy territory, shed their wings, and plunge into action with their 75 millimeter guns blazing."

"Flying Tanks that Shed Their Wings (Jul, 1932)"

"Imagine those two formidable weapons of modern warfare, the airplane and the armored tank, combined into one terrible machine of destruction! Fantastic as the idea sounds, it is fast taking physical shape as a reality for Uncle Sam’s army. The whole amazing story is presented to you in this important article."

[an article, mind you, written in 1932!!]

"IS WAR, already made terrible to contemplate by the invention of too-efficient methods of destruction, on the verge of being banished forever by an amazing new weapon so horrible in its possibilities that nations of the world will not dare to risk its fury?"

[war never became too horrible to contemplate, even after the advent of atomic weapons. This is a popular idea that has been around for some time? Some terrible weapon will be developed and the nations of the world will just up and say, "this is too much for us, now peace is the only way for us!!" Never seems to materialize!]

"This is the idea conjured up by J. Walter Christie"

"John Walter Christie (May 6, 1865 - January 11, 1944) was an American engineer and inventor. He is best known for developing the Christie suspension system used in a number of World War II-era tank designs, most notably the Soviet BT and T-34 series"

The flying tank of Christie would have differed in one significant area from that of the Soviet version. WAS NOT MERELY A GLIDER THAT REQUIRED TOWING TO THE TARGET LANDING ZONE AREA. Had an INTEGRAL ENGINE AND COULD FLY AS WOULD ANY CONVENTIONAL AIRCRAFT!!

Christie incorporated some interesting features into his design BESIDES the ability to fly. Could shed the tank treads and operate solely on the road wheels when used for fast movement on a conventional highway!

J. Walter Christie. One of the most significant weapons engineers and developers of all time? Prior to the Christie tank suspension system, tanks were very ponderous vehicles, slow and subject to constant breakdown [the original tank as fielded by the British in the First World War carried a mechanic as a crew member, the mechanic being needed to attend to constant breakdowns]. Tanks with the Christie suspension system became infinitely better at cross-country mobility with speed.

The Soviet trade and espionage organization, Amtorg, through subterfuge, was able to purchase, and evading trade restrictions, ship to the Soviet Union two Christie suspension equipped tanks, these tanks being reverse engineered for study. The Christie concepts for tanks were adopted whole-heartedly by Soviet designers, EVEN, IT WOULD SEEM, THE IDEA FOR A FLYING TANK!!!